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Nikon D5100 Digital Camera Review$799.00
The Nikon D5100 preserved dynamic range very well across the ISO range, with a maximum of 8.4 stops at ISO 100, only falling to 4.65 stops at ISO 6400. This are superb results, as the Canon T3i, for example, fell to 2.48 stops at the same sensitivity. More on how we test dynamic range.
We tested without utilizing any of Nikon’s D-range optimization or D-lighting features, though generally found they merely shifted exposure to better preserve detail in the darker parts of images, losing some from the highlighted areas.
With three other cameras in this comparison group that share the same image sensor, we expected to see similar results. Instead, we found that the D7000, Pentax K-5, and Sony A55 all performed with slight variations, depending on how they processed images. The Pentax preserved dynamic range very well, maintaining around three stops through ISO 51200. The Sony A55 and Nikon D7000 both performed well, but lagged behind the D5100 at both the high and low end overall.
The D5100 took home the top score for this section of our test, as it was able to preserve the most range of any of our comparison groups at both low sensitivity (ISO 100) and high sensitivity (ISO 6400). The Pentax K-5 and Sony A55 both offer higher ISO speeds without resorting to extended ISO options, but these do not preserve the same level of detail as the Nikon D5100.