Pros: Excellent Image Quality
High Resolution Images
Variety of Options
1080P HD Video Recording
Cons: No Focus Motor
This is a review of the Nikon D5100 DSLR camera with a kit 18-55mm lens. Here you will read about my personal experience and why I LOVE this camera.
3-inch, 921,000-dot Super-Density horizontal type Vari-Angle LCD In-camera Special Effects Mode
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
Stunning Full 1080p HD Movies with Full Time Autofocus
ISO Sensitivity: 100-6400 (Extended Mode: 100-25600)
Lens mount: Nikon F mount (with AF contacts)
File Format: NEF (raw), and JPEG
Viewfinder: Eye-level pentamirror single-lens reflex viewfinder
Speed: 1/4000 to 30 s in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV, Bulb
Frame advance rate: Up to 4 FPS
Focus Points: 11
Ports: A/V out, HDMI, 3.5 Mic input, GPS
My Experience: The Nikon D5100 is an amazing camera. In my experience, it is extremely versatile - it takes great photos (16.2 MP) and also great videos. Video-wise, the audio is not fantastic, but certainly usable, but I would recommend the purchase of an external microphone like the Rode Videomic Pro. Where the camera really excels is in its image quality.
As for the lens, do not underestimate the kit lens. Kit lenses are extremely versatile and on a non-full frame you're going to have an effective range of around 35-85mm. Very good for starting out. To get that "blurred background effect," on this lens, you will need to zoom out to 55mm, set your f/stop to 5.6 and get real close to your subject. When used correctly, this lens can produce fantastic images.
This camera has the same sensor as the Nikon D7000 (a camera costing nearly 100% more than this one) and thus its images are just as good. Nikons have very nice noise standards as well, producing exceptional images up to ISO 3200, with noticeable degredation beginning only after that. Image resolution is very high - up to 4,928 x 3,264, thus good for printing.
There are many options within the camera such as HDR photography, exposure bracketing, and of course manual controls over everything from white balance to focus mode.
Then, after you've taken the picture, there are many options for in-camera post production. Different color modes such as monochrome and sepia, cropping, retouch, selective coloring, and more are available in an easy to operate menu.
Why did I buy this product?
After weeks of research, the obvious conclusion was that out of all cameras in the $500-$800 price range, this is THE best camera for the price. Superior image quality drove my purchase (as picture taking is the purpose of a camera), but other factors such as HD video recording, rotating LCD screen, and plethora of options sealed the deal. I haven't regretted a second of owning this product.
What do you love about this product?
After everything I've mentioned, need I say more? I LOVE everything about this camera. Everything it CAN do, it does wonderfully. No complaints.
What do you hate?
Hate is a strong word. I don't "hate" anything about this product, but there are a few things that I wish this camera had. I wish it had more focus points, and the hardware lacks a focus motor. Because of that you can ONLY use AF-S lenses, but the price of those are going down and are certainly worth the purchase. I would also love if it had better low-light capabilities, but to get anything better you would have to spend thousands more dollars. ISO 100 is very good, and is the standard for most cameras. Anything lower starts to get very expensive.
All in all, I give this product a 5/5 stars - it is the perfect camera for someone starting out, up to amateur professionals.
In response to one of the comments -
This camera does indeed have a hotshoe. It DOES have a built-in/pop up flash, but as a photographer I will tell you, you will want to get an external flash after some time because the pop up flash can create a very flat image and sometimes looks unnatural. I would recommend Vivitar or Sunpak external flashes to start out. But if you want to use the pop up flash, I still do sometimes, you may want to invest in a pop up flash diffuser. I purchased some from Amazon for about $5 and they have really improved the lighting from the pop up flash.
This camera uses SD card memory, including SDHC and SDXC. I myself use a SDHC card - I would recommend class 10 varieties because they have the fastest read/write speed. The video quality will indeed be better with better SD cards.
The camera battery is awesome. I've taken over 1000 pictures at an event and still had half power. Video does drain the battery very fast though. Filming in full 1080P HD, I was able to go for about 50 minutes before the battery signal went to red. I would recommend buying an extra battery (Li-ion Battery EN-EL14) and battery grip to help with power consumption. This would double your effective battery life and makes the camera easier to hold.
Hope this helps, and I wish you the best in making an informed decision on purchasing a camera.