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TopTenREVIEWS - Silver Award - Awarded for excellence in design, useability and feature set

Nikon has the technology and means to create the best entry-level DSLR cameras on the market. And they've done it again with the Nikon D5100, which is a true testament to the photographic genius of this heralded company. This entry-level DSLR camera allows you to let go of your inhibitions and just capture the beauty all around you. Just because you are an entry-level photographer doesn't mean you deserve fewer features, functions and abilities than a professional. And with the Nikon D5100, you don't have to settle for less. For its fantastic list of features, ease of use and dynamic range of artistic and creative filters and modes, we are pleased to present this DSLR camera with the TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award.

Camera Features:
10/10
Compare
Canon Rebel T4i
Nikon D5100
Sony Alpha SLT-A57
Canon EOS 60D
Nikon D3200
Sony Alpha SLT-A37
Olympus Pen E-PL5
Sigma SD15
10
10
9.6
9.5
9
8.4
8.1
6.3

You are unique, one-of-a-kind, special – so your photographs should be, too. This DSLR camera offers several modes that allow you to be creative with your photographs as you take them. Traditional modes include portrait, landscape, sports, children and close up. Each of these automatic modes optimizes the available settings to make sure lighting and color levels are ideal for the situation. The sports mode chooses a fast shutter speed to capture quick movement. For even more customization, simply move the mode dial to Scene and spin the command dial. The command dial will bring up over 10 different scene settings, including:

Night Landscape – This mode is different from the typical night portrait mode, as the Nikon D5100 DSLR camera surveys the landscape area and reduces the noise and aberrant colors. What you get is the cityscape in its purest form.

Sunset – Those gorgeous oranges, reds, purples and yellows found in a sunset usually do not translate well from what you see to the printed image. Not anymore. This DSLR camera turns off the built-in flash and auto focus illuminator and captures the richest hues.

Beach/Snow – The best lighting and levels may prove difficult for some cameras to capture, but this digital SLR camera preserves the blues of the waters, the whites of both drifting clouds and snow and the soft tones of the sand.

Candlelight – For birthdays and special occasions, this may become your favorite setting. This DSLR camera turns off the built-in flash and your subject is illuminated purely by candlelight.

Food – Food can be rather beautiful. Whether you are a chef, food stylist or stay-at-home mom who loves to cook and showcase new recipes, this DSLR camera will bring out the vibrant colors of the food.

The Nikon D5100 is fully or partially compatible with most NIKKOR lenses. (For a full list, see the Specifications tab.)

We are extremely impressed with the special effects that you can apply to photos while you are taking the images. Selective Color, according to the Nikon website, "isolates specific colors within the scene." Night Vision, another artistic mode, allows you to take stunning photographs of family and friends who are silhouetted against a setting sun. Miniature Effect takes the person, place or thing you are taking a picture of and creates a miniature scale model. Color Sketch makes outlines of your subject. You may be an avid Photoshop user, but with these features, you can go straight from taking the picture to printing the image.

You may have all of the artistic filters and modes available, but if your camera is missing the specifications such as a wide ISO range, CMOS sensor and high resolution, your photos will not have that professional look. This DSLR camera has an ISO range of 100 to 6,400, which allows the camera to increase the shutter speed to capture fast-moving objects and reduce the noise and blur. Nikon has included the latest technologies into this DSLR camera, including 16.2 megapixels and High Dynamic Range (HDR). If you are shooting in an area that is either too light or too dark, the HDR combines the two exposures to create one perfectly lit image.

To be one of the best entry-level DSLR cameras on the market today, there must be something that sets you apart from the throngs of other DSLR cameras. The Nikon D5100 has several features, in fact, that do just that. One of our favorite outstanding features is the ability to shoot full-HD video with exceptional sound. If you have an HDTV, you can connect the DSLR camera to your TV with an HDMI cable. 

Ease of Use:
9.4/10
Compare
Canon Rebel T4i
Nikon D5100
Sony Alpha SLT-A57
Canon EOS 60D
Nikon D3200
Sony Alpha SLT-A37
Olympus Pen E-PL5
Sigma SD15
10
9.4
9.4
9.3
8.8
8.8
8.1
7.5

You can program your camera with customized settings, such as time, date, language, etc. A dialog box will appear the very first time you turn your camera on, and in only six easy steps, your photographic journey can begin.

You may be deciding if a DSLR camera is right for you, especially if this will be your very first DSLR camera or digital camera. Making the transition from a film camera to digital can seem difficult at first, but have no fear, the Nikon D5100 is here. The D5100 is one of the best entry-level DSLR cameras because of its excellent point-and-shoot modes that will not only ease you into the digital SLR world, but also convince you never to go back to your old camera. Although this DSLR camera boasts professional-grade features and functions, it has a variety of modes that allow you to simply select an appropriate mode, point the camera at your subject and shoot. So simple!

Design:
10/10
Compare
Canon Rebel T4i
Nikon D5100
Sony Alpha SLT-A57
Canon EOS 60D
Nikon D3200
Sony Alpha SLT-A37
Olympus Pen E-PL5
Sigma SD15
9.9
10
9.4
9.4
9.4
8.1
8.1
5.6

The Nikon D5100 is expertly designed from top to bottom, front to back and side to side. The back of the camera sports our favorite feature: the flip-out monitor. This monitor flips out 180 degrees, and can be rotated 90 degrees up or down. Now, whenever you go to a concert, sporting event, or want to take a self-portrait, you'll never be at a disadvantage.

The digital SLR comes equipped with a built-in flash that will pop up automatically when you are in low-light situations; however, it only engages when you've selected the appropriate modes. Many creative modes turn off the built-in-flash to obtain their desired effect. Also, if you place an additional flash in the accessory shoe, the built-in flash will not pop up.

The number of buttons placed on the back of the camera is minimal in comparison to other entry-level DSLR cameras. The multi selector button is centrally located on the right side of the camera. This button helps you navigate the camera menus, so you don't need a separate button for each feature.

Customer Service:
8.1/10
Compare
Canon Rebel T4i
Nikon D5100
Sony Alpha SLT-A57
Canon EOS 60D
Nikon D3200
Sony Alpha SLT-A37
Olympus Pen E-PL5
Sigma SD15
8.8
8.1
8.8
8.8
8.1
8.8
8.8
5

The Nikon D5100 operation manual is excellent, easy to navigate and packed with images, step-by-step instructions and other user information. You can access the Support tab on the product page. Here, you will find links to the register page, the product manual and a product brochure. You are also able to search the product information by specific keywords or phrases. If your keyword is found, a list of FAQs will populate and you can find your answers this way. Users of the D5100 write many of the answers to the questions. Nikon does not have live chat support, which is disappointing.

Summary:

The Nikon D5100 more than proves itself as one of the best entry-level cameras. As an entry-level photographer, you'll have access to so many fantastic features that will allow you to take stunning photographs, each as unique as you. We appreciate the variety of creative modes and love the artistic filters that you can apply to your images as you take each photo. This camera will serve your basic needs now, but as you grow in your photography prowess, this DSLR camera will continue to serve you very well.

 

Nikon D5100

Pros
This DSLR camera has full-HD movie capabilities.

Cons
Live chat support is missing from this camera's repertoire.

The Verdict
: 9.63/10

The D5100 enables you to use your imagination and create a scene instead of just capture what is already there.