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The new Nikon D5100 has an estimated street price below $900 (with an 18-55mm lens), and a number of fine features for nature photographers. There’s an excellent image sensor, a compact body, in-camera HDR and compatibility with Nikon’s GP-1 geotagging GPS unit. The articulating LCD monitor offers unlimited composition options, and the camera has full 1080p HD video.
As with all Nikon DSLRs, you can attach a wide range of current and past Nikon lenses to the D5100, but it will autofocus only with those that contain AF motors—the AF-S and AF-I NIKKORs (the D5100 doesn’t contain an AF motor in the body).
A 16.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor that’s certainly similar, if not identical, to the highly acclaimed one in the D7000, along with EXPEED 2 image processing, gives the D5100 an impressive standard ISO range of 100-6400, expandable to 25,600. These are noticeable improvements over the D5000’s 12.3 megapixels and standard ISO range of 200-3200.
The D5100 has simple Retouch Menus that make it easy to process RAW images in-camera, straighten images, correct distortion, add filter and fisheye effects, combine two RAW images and much more.
Image Sensor: 16.2-megapixel (effective) CMOS
Resolution: 4928×3264 pixels
Sensor Size: 23.6×15.6mm (APS-C); 1.5x
LCD Monitor: 3.0-inch, 921,000-dot Live-View Vari-angle
Video: HD 1280x720p/25 fps; SD 640x480p/25 fps
AF System: 11-point
Shutter Speeds: 1/4000 30 sec., X-sync up to 1/200 sec.
ISO Settings: 100-6400 (1/3 increments), expandable to 25,600
Continuous Firing Mode: 4 fps
Recording Format: JPEG, 14-bit NEF (RAW)
Metering: 420-pixel RGB evaluative, CW, spot
Storage Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC
Power Source: Rechargeable EN-EL14 lithium-ion battery
Dimensions: 5.0×3.8×3.1 inches
Weight: 19.2 ounces
Estimated Street Price: $899 (with 18-55mm VR zoom)
Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com
This Article Features Photo Zoom
The new D5100 can shoot HD video up to 1920x1080p at 30 (29.97) and 24 (23.976) fps—with continuous autofocusing. A built-in microphone records mono sound, or you can add an external mic for stereo sound (Nikon introduced the optional ME-1 at the same time as the D5100). The camera can record up to 20 minutes of video in a single clip, using the AVCHD H.264 codec.
The D5100 can make two bracketed exposures in rapid succession, then combine them into a single HDR image with expanded detail from shadows through highlights. The camera also features Nikon’s proven Active D-Lighting, which effectively tames overly contrasty scenes—and can be used in conjunction with HDR if desired.
The D5100 has a new 3.0-inch, 921K-dot LCD with Vari-angle capability. The LCD is hinged at the side for good ergonomics and to give you more shooting options.
Gridlines To Keep Level
You can activate gridlines both in Live View mode and in the SLR finder when desired, which is incredibly useful for keeping the horizon level in landscape images.
Like all current Nikon DSLRs, the D5100 has a built-in sensor cleaner. Each time you switch the camera on or off, high-frequency ultrasonic vibrations remove dust from the low-pass filter over the image sensor to keep images spot-free. We find this to be a great feature for nature shooters who frequently need to change lenses in the field.
For shooting video with the D5100, we suggest SDHC or SDXC cards that are at least Class 6 (Class 10 is better) and at least 16 GB.
The Tamrac Explorer 200 has plenty of space for the D5100 along with a few lenses and accessories.
A landscape photographer’s best friend is a polarizer like this HOYA circular polarizer.