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Nikon D5100 18-55mm VR Kit review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £780
inc VAT

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


23.6×15.6mm 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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Basic Specifications

Rating ****
CCD effective megapixels 16.0 megapixels
CCD size 23.6×15.6mm
Viewfinder optical TTL
Viewfinder magnification, coverage 0.78x, 95%
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 921,000 pixels
Articulated screen Yes
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 27-82.5mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,928×3,264
Maximum movie resolution 1920×1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 30fps
File formats JPEG, RAW; QuickTime (AVC)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied none
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 660 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, mini HDMI, GPS input, mic input, IR wireless trigger
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material plastic
Lens mount Nikon F
Focal length multiplier 1.5x
Kit lens model name Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S VR DX Zoom-NIKKOR
Accessories USB and AV cables, neck strap
Weight 775g
Size 97x128x156mm

Buying Information

Warranty Two-year RTB
Price £780

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 30 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture range f/3.5-22 (wide), f/5.6-36 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 100 to 25600
Exposure compensation +/-5 EV
White balance auto, 13 presets with fine tuning, manual
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness, brightness, hue, noise reduction, colour space
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 28cm
Auto-focus modes 11-point (optical viewfinder); flexible spot, face detect, tracking (live view)
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, spot AF point
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, interval, AE bracket, WB bracket, Active D-Lighting bracket, automatic HDR

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Reviews | DSLRs