Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nikon D5100 Announced + My Thoughts

Today Nikon released the D5100, the newest addition to its' lineup of digital single lens reflex cameras. The D5100 comes in as a replacement for the D5000, which was discontinued a few months ago. The D5100 features the same 16.2MP DX CMOS image sensor found in the D7000, but there are a few features that separate the two models. The D5100 features a swivel 3" LCD, while the D7000 has a fixed 3" LCD. Nikon had to change the button layout of the D5100 due to the positioning of the swivel screen, so the buttons are not in their traditional location along the left back side of the body, more on that in a moment. The drive mode switch that was placed on the top of the D3100 has been replaced by a switch that turns on liveview. The movie recording button is also on the top plate, beside exposure compensation button. The info button has been moved slightly behind those two buttons, in the middle.

Due to the placement of the rear LCD screen a number of buttons on the back of the camera have moved from their traditional location on most Nikon DSLRs. The menu button is now up on the upper left side of the camera beside the viewfinder, while the "i" button is now on the right side of the viewfinder near the AE-L/AF-L button. The playback button is now over the D pad, while the zoom buttons are under the selector. The trash button has moved slightly to the right, due to the placement of for-mentioned buttons.

The D5100 does not have a focusing motor, and thus does not support auto focusing on non AF-S/AF-I lenses. The D5100 also lacks support for older AI and AI-S manual focus lenses (stop down metering is required, as the meter is disabled). Non-CPU lenses will work in liveview, so they can be useful for shooting video. The D5100 has gained a few new features, such two inferred ports for use with the ML-L3 wireless remote. The camera also has support for the Nikon GP-1 GPS unit and the MC-DC2 wired remote. Nikon also announced a new microphone (Nikon ME-1) designed for use with the D3s, D300s, D7000, D5100 and the Coolpix P7000.

For more information, check out the Nikon Canada D5100 page

My Initial Thoughts on the D5100

The D5100 looks to be a good replacement of the D5000, and comes in at about the same MSRP as the latter. Nikon fixed some of the biggest issues that some users had with the D5000, such as the placement of the hing of the rear LCD. It is clear from the button layout that this camera is designed with video makers in mind. The new control layout makes the camera look a little awkward for still photography, but that is likely not to be a big issue, since like the D5000 before it, the primary controls of the camera are menu driven. The camera supports a faster video frame rate, 30FPS max at 1080p, although it still does not support 60FPS at 720p like the Canon T2i/550D and T3i/600D. Also, like all Nikon DSLRs, short of the D3s, there are no manual controls while shooting video. The only way to gain any kind of control is to use non-CPU lenses, in which case you can change the aperture while recording.