Pros: Vivid Colors, Clarity, Light Versatility , Sharpness, In-Camera Editing Options
Cons: Can't think of any.
My first SLR was a Nikon D90. It was certainly a step up from what I had and within my price range. Time passed and my want of more from my camera increased.
A sale for Nikon's 16.2 megapixel D5100 with lens and camera bag did the trick. It didn't hurt that it had a reputation for the "same sensor and processing as the D7000."
I wished that the D90's batteries were compatible with the D5100's, but alas, they were not. In terms of the battery life, it is not bad. However, if you are someone that uses your camera to show people the pictures you have taken ---- or you look through them a lot to see if you "got it" (whatever "it" is that day) --- or you use the in-camera editing functions a lot ......... the battery life plummets. For simple point and shoot use, the battery is sufficient and you will not be on vacation far from your hotel and your charger wishing for another battery. At any rate, I would buy a spare and charge them and use them in tandem. Additionally - I would make sure to shut it off between snapshots and to resist editing them in the camera until you are near a charger or no longer needing the camera.
The Camera Body:
While I have heard complaints that the eyepiece is "small," it genuinely does not bother me. There is also a swivel LCD monitor that you may opt to use with the click of a button. The tilt is good for self-portraits. :) Additionally, you can flip it and close it to protect the LCD.
I like the weight of the camera. Not too feather-light so I cannot steady my hand, and not too heavy that I tire of using it all day (and I have Chronic Lyme/Arthritis AND I photograph weddings sometimes, so I can attest to this). It is sleek and compact, smaller than the D-90. I have heard complaints that the grip is not deep enough, but this does not bother me.
It has a pre-flash light to help with brisk focusing in low light situations.
The buttons on the back are laid out differently than the D-90's (remember, that was my prior, right?). So it was not intuitive for me. In fact, the cameras looked JUST enough alike that I was already confused. Then add different buttons laid out every which way and I'm confused. I would love it if Nikon had some continuity so that upgrading was easier to adjust to ........ but I'm over it.
A Brief About the Lens:
I like the Nikkor 18-55mm lens okay. However, if something happens a ways away from where you are or you have a chance encounter with wildlife then you may find yourself with an indescernible dot. But it is good for scenery and photos of things in which you would prefer not to "back up too far." You must switch the focus options from Manual to Automatic or vice versa when the need arises.
It also features - as most do - a Vibration Reduction function. This is awesome for low light situations that call for a slower shutter speed and thus a steadier hand. It will help prevent blur -- though it cannot prevent your subject from moving or blinking, right? It is comparable to Image Stabilization on competitors' cameras. [cough, no names, cough]
The flash is really good for a built-in. If you have high standards and are a serious enthusiast then feel free to make use of the flash adaptor as well. With nighttime flash photos, the subjects tend to retain their color without "cooling" as with other built-ins. It performs okay from a distance as well. There are ways to override what the camera thinks is suitable flash output per picture, and this option is under "Flash Compensation" at the bottom (see dummies.com for full and simply worded instructions with pictures). The light seems evenly diffused over its subjects and the shadows don't seem as apparent as with other built-ins.
While we are on the subject, the camera has built-in red-eye reduction option as well as an editing feature within the camera. The features is stellar. I was surprised. However, it dislikes editing red out of ANIMAL'S eyes. My cat is such a red eye victim. This is , actually, lamentable. :)
In-Camera Editing Options:
There are the standards that need minimal explanation:
Monochromes - converting photos to B&W or Sepia. Fisheye - who doesn't love the warping of reality througha fisheye lens? Color Sketch - gives your photos that artsy sketched look, sketched with colored pencils ... Color Balance. D-Lighting. Quick Retouch ........ they all sort of speak for themselves, don't they?
Some less obvious ones:
Selective Color: Ever see those B&W photos with one painted flower? People love that. Including me. With selective color, you select a photograph and it permits you to choose up the 3 hues. The rest of the photo is converted to B&W. This is not something you can use to make a living, 'mind you. I mean, if you try to make a lady's lipstick red and that's IT, it won't work out. There is a hint of red in her face and it will also ignite pinks or anything on the "red spectrum." Her face may appear streaky. No, it does not fare well with HUMANS. If they wear a yellow shirt, then maybe the light will cast a hint of yellow on the subject's chin and you'll have a yellow streak there. It is most effective with nature, but I LOVE this option. It's just really cool.
Miniature Effect: I'm not crazy about this. I tinkered with it and just felt that it made parts of my photos blurry. It supposedly (according to the official Nikon site) makes things look like "miniature scale models." On the site, it offers a "before and after" photo. Yes. It gives it an artsy and surreal slant. I can't seem to dig it, though.
Filter Effects: Yes, this was in my D90 before. You can enrich the reds, greens or blues here. There is a "warm filter......." oh, what that does with the right light and skin tones! Then there is "soft." It changes pictures to a soft focus with a lovely haze. You can control the intenseness of it.
Effects - While Shooting:
Turn the dial to "Effects" and give the command-wheel a whirl. Choose from such options as shooting in B&W, Low Key, High Key, Night Vision (shoots in VERY low light, giving spooky and grainy B&W photos), Color Select, Miniature Effect (here we go again .........)
Turn the dial some more and there are potrait options, Macro, "Children" (I forget what I read about this, but I use it because it seems great with skin tones and seems more forgiving of slight movements..... or it may be the placebo effect. :) ), Sports, Scenery/Nature.
I have heard MARVELOUS things about the movie mode. However, I have not used it much. I have played with it enough so that I will not be ill-prepared should I see a mythological beast and wish to get it in full motion. I was surprised at the fact that it had sound - is that weird? What I didn't know the first time is that I have to lightly depress the shutter button for it to focus; it does not do this on its own like my actual "movie camera" (an older model Sony).
You simply pull the LV lever with the LCD monitor facing you for reference and then pressing the small red dot next to the on/off switch. It quickly becomes intuitive.
There is a port on the side that says "Mic," so I presume there is even more to be done with the sound!
This is a versatile piece. I've asked beginners to photo me and my boyfriend together or me and my son and have decent pics. It's been done with just a one sentence explanation after I've slid the option to "Auto:" I tell them lightly depress that silver button for it to autofocus then press it for the picture. Done.
I bristle at the sentence "Your camera takes good pictures" because a PERSON takes good pictures and there are still use of space and lighting considerations. But these beginners have proven that a camera can be superior to others --- even if my son and I ARE photographed with our knees on down cut off and LOTS of empty space surrounding us. :)
However, as a sometimes-wedding photographer, it gets professional results. The camera is versatile for low light situations and makes beautiful use of available light. It captures action with little blur so you don't miss a moment. It has RAW capability, perfect for pro-caliber prints. The effects allow so much more without having to sit and suffer in front of the computer and its limiting software.
This is a great buy, a great value. Its construction and reputation attest to its durability and the technology will probably NOT become obsolete too too soon -- and when it does, if you're like me, the camera will be an extension of you that you'd be reluctant to give up. I consider it a shrewd investment.