If you’ve been internet surfing the last couple of months you’ve probably run into at least one site which purports to offer insights into a new Nikon DSLR. After weeks of rumours and suspected sightings – tada! It’s the 16.2-megapixel Nikon D5100 DSLR, a camera the company says is “designed for those ready to step up and be artistically expressive,” and which replaces the D5000.
Nikon Canada offered a number of Canadian journalists an opportunity to get the scoop a few days before the official launch, on condition we didn’t breathe a word about it to anyone. As well as giving us the details behind it, Nikon candidly offered insights into its design and features, many of which can be found on current models such as the D7000.
The D5100 has a new 3-inch Vari-angle LCD screen pivoting 180 degrees horizontally and vertically. This has meant reorganizing the camera back’s real estate to accommodate the expected controls.
It also has full 1080p HD movie recording with full-time autofocus.
And it’s also the first Nikon DSLR to offer in-camera effects applicable to photos and movies. By selecting the Effects position on the mode dial located on top of the camera, photographers can apply effects such as Selective Colour and choose up to three different colors while the remainder of the scene is converted to monochrome. Colour Sketch creates photos and a stop-motion movie in a colorful sketched drawing style, while the Miniature effect records photos and high-speed movies to bestow a feeling of a mini-scale scene.
Users can select the high dynamic range (HDR) function within the camera. With this selected, the D5100 will automatically bracket up to three exposure stops with two images. Additionally, Active D-Lighting can be selected and combined with HDR for even more dramatic effects.
Camera features include full manual controls (P,S,A,M on the mode dial) and, once a photo is captured, photographers have the flexible retouch menu at their disposal to apply additional in-camera effects and editing options including colour and filter effects, red eye correction and NEF (RAW) processing.
The D5100’s ISO range is 100-6,400, expandable to 25,600. The Picture Control system allows the choice of Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, or Landscape settings, and the Scene Modes let photographers choose from Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close-up or Night Portrait.
About that 1080p HD movies with full-time autofocus: Users can switch focus modes through a variety of AF functions, including Face Priority which can track up to 35 human faces, Subject Tracking and normal or wide-area autofocus. To activate movie mode and Live View, a new switch is positioned on the top of the camera near the shutter button.
The camera offers variable frame rates and resolutions, and can record 1080p at a cinema-like 24 fps. Alternatively, it can record at 30 fps or 720p at either 24 or 30 fps. Clips max out at 20 minutes in the AVC-HD H.264 codec. Once recorded, movie clips can be trimmed in the camera. Whether utilizing a wireless or hot shoe-mounted microphone, sound can be recorded via the stereo microphone input. Captured movies can be shared via HDMI output, and controlled remotely with HDMI CEC compatibility.
The 16.2-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor is coupled with Nikon’s Expeed 2 image-processing engine, which also drives the 11-point AF system.
The D5100 utilizes Nikon’s Scene Recognition System to analyze subject information from a database containing more than 30,000 images to optimize focus, exposure, i-TTL flash exposure and white balance. The Scene Recognition System reads data from the 420-pixel 3D Color Matrix Meter RGB sensor which examines the scene’s brightness and colour data then optimizes the camera’s performance prior to the actual exposure.
The Nikon D5100 scheduled to be available late this month, in kit form, with an 18-55 mm lens.