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- Nikon D5100
- Read on to see if the Nikon D5100 lives up to the hype as one of the best DSLRs under $1000 yet.
Nikon D5100 Digital Camera Review$799.00
There are 13 shooting modes on the dial of the D5100, with many of the usual suspects: manual, aperture-priority, shutter-priority, program auto, full auto, auto without flash, scene, portrait, landscape, kids and pets, sports, macro, and the new effects mode. The effects mode is the most interesting, as it allows easy access to a number of picture effects explained below.
The D5100 does trail its big brother, the D7000, in one key area for Nikon enthusiasts: the lack of an internal focus motor. As a result, the D5100 will have to make use of AF-I or AF-S lenses if users wish to take advantage of autofocus. Nikon has continued this trend with their entry-level cameras since the D40, and it looks to continue. The lack of a motor helps reduce weight, of course, but it does limit the number of fully-functional Nikkor lenses available. When an AF-S lens is attached, however, the focus is quite snappy, with full-time autofocus during video recording a welcome addition from older models.
The D5100 allows users to select from a number of focus area settings. There are options for single-point autofocus, dynamic-area autofocus, 3D-tracking using all 11 AF points, and auto-area AF. Single point focuses on one point in the frame, while dynamic area will use information surrounding that point should the subject leave that era. 3D tracking will actually choose a new focus point should the subject move, and auto area chooses an area where the camera believes the subject is. When in live view, these options are limited to face-priority AF, wide-area AF, subject tracking, and normal-area AF.
The D5100 features many quality and size options, topping out at its maximum of 16.2 megapixels. The camera has three JPEG quality settings (fine, normal, and basic) as well as the ability to record in NEF RAW image files. Those can be converted through a number of programs, or with the included software. One thing to especially note: whenever the shooting settings are reset to default, the JPEG quality will be reduced from fine to normal, which can impact picture quality.
The D5100 features a hardware auto reset function that will allow users to quickly set all the camera’s shooting settings back to default. This is accomplished by holding down the information button and menu buttons down for about two seconds. This does not affect any changes made in the custom settings menu, just shooting settings.