Nikon D5100 - Entry level Camera

iamnikond5100.jpg Bought a D5100 about a year ago. It is an entry level / consumer level DSLR and yet it is a powerful one. The wonderful thing of SLR / DSLR is that you can change the lens. I like Nikon for it’s compatible of wide range of lens including very old manual lens from the 80’s with superb image quality for very low price.

By the time I bought my D5100, its about 14.000.000vnd ~ US$ 700 come with 18-55mm VR kit Lens. Good enough for a newb like me.

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Well, I suppose the dog is not included :D . But I think he’s cute.

I’m not going to look into details about the specs. you can ask Mr. Google for the specs of this D5100, and he’s hardly wrong.

This is just about my random feeling toward this great camera.

The feeling in your hands
Body make from plastic in small form look solid but too small to fit in your hand. If you have small hands, it’s just OK.

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When I bought D5100, I though I would use with grip to make it bigger and more comfortable, But I found out that Nikon decided D5100 is not supposed to use with grip.

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Actually there are grips for D5100 from 3rd party (Chinese brand name MeiKe) which is not provide full control like the genuine one, there is only 3 benefit on D5100 grip:
- Make the camera bigger and fits in your hand
- Double battery life - grip MK support 2 battery EN-EL14
- Shuttle Release button - but you have to connect an extra cable to use this button - O_o

No support for control wheel, menu, navigator buttons… Ok, it’s suck.

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So, I decided not buy this grip. Cause I don’t want an extra cable that will be obstacle to hold the camera properly, which the grip is suppose to provide.

Nikon D5100 just lost a point.

The shutter sound
If you are not using a pro DSLR before, then D5100 shutter sound will be fine. But if you are more passionate on photography you will find that the shutter sound of D5100 is kind of odd, just like you can feel the mirror start open and then go slowly all the way up let the light come to sensor then hit the top gently, and wait for some time then go down slowly and then hit the bottom to block the light. I think I can feel the shutter moving slowly very clearly. The shutter sound of D5100 much likely my D7000 in Mirror Up function.

Some people say, Nikon has made it that way so the shutter module last longer for a cheap shutter module in cheap camera. But D5100 is not that cheap.

Well, in the other hand, the slow fliping shutter of D5100 don’t make much momentum to make camera vibrate during the short time of exposure - but I can feel my D7000 vibrate because of momentum from shutter flipping fast and hit the top, and give blur image. Btw, I like D7000 shutter sound.

You can say it’s an advantage!

The image quality
D5100 use APS-C 23.6×15.6mm in DX format (crop frame) which give out 16 Mega Pixels. It is the same as D7000, I think.
16MP resolution is big enough for your daily picture, family picture, even art photos.
But when it come to serious comercial stuffs, you’ll need more and more details in your frame. Then, this entry level camera is not for you.

There are a say: Image quality is decided 60% by lenses, 30% by the camera body and 10% by your skill

Here some sample pictures taken with D5100 that I grab on the net.

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Some more sample pictures taken with D5100

The compatibility with nikon lenses
When I bough this camera I though I *use* 2 lenses only. It’s kind of *close* to the real number. In fact I have 10 lenses, but I usually carry 3 lenses in my camera bag. All of my lenses are old used cheap lenses, some are MF lenses from the 80′.
There are a large number of used AF-D lenses and MF lenses which give very good images from vary focus length for your need. And they all are quite cheap.
But sadly, D5100 can not handle these lenses. It only works on AF-S lenses which is more expensive.
With AF-D lenses, you still can take picture in A, S, P mode but lose the AF function. It’s kind of pain in the ass when you have to manually focus in the low light situations.
With MF lenses, it’s even worse. It won’t allow you to take picture in A, S, P mode. Only M mode is available, and it won’t do exposure metering. Also flash won’t work in iTTL either. You have to do it all manually: focus, shutter speed, apature, iso, flash power… If you can make it, you are one hell of a photographer!

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Articulating screen
Sometime, they call it vari-angle screen. I like this feature, it will help you to take picture in some special situations, such as self portrait, low perspective shot, or over-head shot when you are in crowds of people.

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overheadshot1.jpg overheadshot2.jpg

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I find it very useful, and I miss this feature in my D7000.

Video shooting
D5100 can do 1080p - 30fps, which my D7000 can’t. It can do auto focus and metering real-time. You can take control on Apature as well, but you want to change it, you have to stop the video first.
Audio recording is quite good and very sensitive. The build-in mic can pick up voices from a distance in a quiet room.It also pick up all kind of noise from the background, even camera handling and autofocus drive noise.
Anyway, it has 3.5mm input jack for external mic which should solve the problem.

I am not doing video shooting a lot, so I prefer D7000 in better handling and better shooting experience (of course with extra bucks).

Conclusion
Afterall, this is an entry level camera for people who just want a nice, clean, sharp image from kit lenses to replace the compact cameras.