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Nikon D5100 Digital Camera Review$799.00
Buttons & Dials
With an LCD screen that now swivels out to the side of the body, Nikon has had to redesign the button layout to accommodate the necessary hinge. As a result things have been moved about a bit, with the playback, zoom in/out, and menu button moved to the right side of the camera back. Live view is now activated with a lever on the mode dial, and the redesign now puts most controls conveniently within a thumb’s reach.
Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes
The Nikon D5100 includes a picture effects setting right on the mode dial. Effects are chosen by rotating the thumb dial, as an on-screen graphic shows the various effects available. If in live view mode, the D5100 will process the effect even when not recording, though this produces an obvious hitch in the screen’s responsiveness as the processor is taxed.
The effects are fairly standard, but work even in 1080/30p recording, allowing for some very simple, creative opportunities for users. We had the most fun with the miniature effects mode for videos, but there are also effects for easy silhouettes, night vision, high and low key, as well as a color sketch mode.
Within each picture style, users are able to make subtle changes that enhance or reduce sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation, and hue. These settings can then be saved for later use from within the menu.
There are several picture filters that can be applied through the retouch menu on the Nikon D5100: skylight, warm filter, red intensifier, green intensifier, blue intensifier, cross screen, and soft. Each filter is applied and a new image is saved, preserving the original. Each can also be adjusted for intensity, with a preview of the effect shown before application.
The menu on the D5100 is divided into several sections, with separate screens for playback, shooting, custom, system, and retouch settings. This does place some settings off screen, so you occasionally have to dig to find what you’re looking for. The first option in most of the menu sections resets everything to default. It’s a beginner-friendly touch and a clear sign that the menu is designed to encourage users to experiment without feeling like they may change something and forget how to turn it off.
The D5100 comes packaged with a fairly standard owner’s manual that runs through the settings of the cameras, touching on a few more advanced items. There isn’t much in the way of general photography tips or other learning material provided, but Nikon does sell their Nikon School DVDs separately that are generally camera-specific and fairly informative.