Nikon D5100 18-55mm VR Kit review

Takes beautiful photos and videos but at this price it needs more accessible controls. We'd stick to the cheaper D3100.

22 Apr 2011
Our Rating 
4/5
Price when reviewed 
780
inc VAT
Buy it now for 

Specifications

23.6x15.6mm 16.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (27-82.5mm equivalent), 775g

Nikon's latest mid-price consumer SLR is pitched to go head-to-head with the Canon EOS 600D The two cameras are uncannily similar, with very little to separate their dimensions, weights and prices. Both can record 1080p video at various frame rates and both have articulated, high-resolution LCD screens - a major asset particularly for video capture.

The Canon nominally has the edge for detail with its 18-megapixel sensor to the Nikon's 16 megapixels. However, the Nikon compensates digitally for lens distortions and chromatic aberrations; the latter can make a big difference to sharpness towards the corners of frames.

Nikon D5100 side

The Nikon's 11 autofocus points are two more than Canon offers, and it's a tad faster in continuous mode at 4fps to the Canon's 3.7fps. That advantage only lasted for 13 frames, though, after which it slowed to 1.9fps. The Canon was a little quicker to fire off shots in its Single drive mode, too. However, the Nikon has a dedicated autofocus-assist lamp, so it's quicker to focus in low light when the flash isn't raised. So far, it all adds up to a big fat draw.

In most other respects they're both pretty similar to their entry-level siblings, the Canon EOS 1100D and Nikon D3100. There are 18-55mm stabilised kit lenses all round, along with similarly sized optical viewfinders, solitary command dials and other controls that mostly rely on the LCD screen to relay settings back to the user.

Nikon D5100 screen

The D5100 is shorter than its predecessor, the D5000, partly because the screen is hinged at the side rather than the bottom. That makes more sense, as it can be flipped out to the side for self-portraits or when the camera is flush against a wall. It also means that the strip of buttons that appeared down the left side of the D5000's screen have been scattered to other parts of the camera.

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