Saturday, May 21, 2011

Nikon D5100 Outstanding Camera

I own a Nikon D300 and I love that camera. It's a work horse, but it's heavy. I was looking for a camera that I could use as more of an every day type of camera. You know, something to grab to take a few shots without a lot of fuss, weight and fooling with settings. In other words, a fun, easy to use camera.

I had purchased one of the Micro Four Thirds cameras because it was light and small, but I found the quality lacking when compared to APS-C cameras. Also, most of the available Micro Four Thirds lenses are way too expensive for the quality you get with them; they're not that great. (The exception is the Panasonic 20mm lens - that's a good lens. Perhaps still a bit expensive.)

Enter the Nikon D5100. When I saw this camera, I knew it would be exactly what I was looking for. It's small, lightweight, easy to use but still maintains superb image quality. It's really outstanding in low light. I don't know what kind of algorithms Nikon is using, but shooting at ISO 1600 is no problem. Even the shots at ISO 3200 look good and clean up nicely.

The great thing about Nikon D5100 is that it's versatile and flexible. You can shoot in auto, or you can use Aperture or Shutter priority for more control. If you're an advanced user, you'll be happy for the manual mode that allows you total control.

Nikon D5100 really is the best of both worlds. A camera that an advanced amateur can use and at the same time feel confident that he/she can hand over to an inexperienced spouse or friend and know that the camera won't be too much for them to handle.

It's really a nice fit between the D3100 (more features, same sensor as the D7000) and less expense and bulk of the D7000. Plus, I love the flip out LCD.

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Nikon D5100 Nice DSLR! Great images!

I have been a retired SLR photographer for several years so the Nikon D5100 is my re-entry into DSLR. Previously, I had an N90s and one of the first digital Nikons; the D20. I have been shooting a Canon G10 for several years even doing some HDR with it. I've had the Nikon D5100 about a week and have shot a 100 photos on a variety of subjects - family, landscape, sunset, and macro - all with the 18-55 kit lens.

It shoots great! Detail is way better than I expected for a "consumer" model. Actually, I chose the Nikon D5100 because the quality of the pics was my foremost goal. It comes with the same 16mp chip as the D7000 for $400 less. I wanted to spend that money on glass. I've had almost no trouble figuring out how to set the manual controls and have had good luck with the SCENES modes for most shooting. (I haven't tried the EFFECTS and I'm not sure that I will - more of a Photoshop processing kind of guy). My biggest challenge has been getting correct focus as the camera tries to do way more than I'm used to and, if I have it in the wrong SCENE mode, there's no telling what might happen. The dancing yellow squares on the face recognition function is a little disconcerting. I have also had to learn patience as the VR function is nice but a little slow when handheld. I have learned to leave it off until I really need it.

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I think that most of the professional reviewers overstate the weaknesses of many of the products out there and the D5100 is no exception, maybe because it's hard to difference a crowded competitive product line. At any rate, here is my take on some of the deficiencies. First, the location of the LiveView button work great for me. Because it is a lever rather than a button it is easy to locate and use without moving my hand on the grip. Another complaint has been the lack of an ISO button. I do prefer buttons over menus but there are too many functions which I would like to have on a button that there wouldn't be room for all of them. I programmed the fn button (which is done easily in the menus) to allow me to control the ISO. It works well both when I'm working through the viewer or the display screen. I will agree with complaints that the fn button is too close to the flash button. I've inadvertently mixed them up and it cost me a pic or two. However, I only need to make that kind of mistake a couple of times before learn to avoid the problem.

The rear screen is great...very high resolution. The zooming function works well and I have been able to check image focus easily. The side tilt is very elegant and I like that if flips to protect the screen when not in use.

I'm not much of a videographer but I did shoot some video and the image quality if fantastic. I put it on my TV and the quality was great. The focus works pretty well although you can see it occasionally get behind for a few seconds for quick moving subjects - like cars and kids. The microphone isn't worth much so it may be worth investing in the add-on microphone for more serious video projects.

All in all, the quality and fit of the camera is very good in spite of being made from plastic. i wouldn't want to drop it or the lens for that matter - they are not made like my old N90s or my 70-200 f2.8 but, on the other hand, I won't won't miss the extra 5 lbs. of weight because this camera is LIGHT! It is small but fits the hand well and is joy to carry around.

To summarize: As you would expect from a Nikon, great photos; as good as the D7000 (according to dpreview) and $400 less. Easy to use, light, good manual control, and good assisted control through scenes. The D5100 is a good choice if you are looking for high quality images without all the bells and whistles of the D7000.

No "cons" except don't drop it...probably won't survive! Battery life isn't great either (I tend to use the display and LiveView a lot) so I've already invested in a backup battery.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Deciding Between the Nikon D5100, D7000, D3100, and D90,

The Nikon D5100 brings the high quality 16.2 megapixel sensor, great low-light performance, and full HD video capability with all the frame rate options from the popular pro-sumer D7000 to the enthusiast level model - and then includes a fully adjustable side-mounted rotating screen to boot. The Nikon D5100 should prove to be an excellent option for new dSLR users plus those experienced enthusiasts wishing to upgrade their D50, D60, or even their D3000 to gain additional megapixels, shooting and processing speed, video, and an improved rear LCD screen. The variety of features and functions offered on the various Nikon dSLR cameras might make it difficult to choose between them, but there are some important differences.

The new Nikon D5100 sits just above the D3100, a bit below the aging D90, and several steps below the fully-featured and highly customizable Nikon D7000. The D5100 boasts a 16 megapixel image sensor (just like the D7000), shoots 4 frames per second in continuous mode, has HD video capability at 24, 25, and 30 fps, and includes the fully rotating rear LCD screen improved in flexibility from the screen of the D5000.

Generally as the cameras increase in price and capability from the entry level model to the enthusiast pro-sumer model they gain more sophisticated autofocus and exposure metering systems, shoot faster (more frames per second) in continuous shooting mode, have more controls and buttons for changing settings on the camera body, and offer more menu and custom function options.
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Sensor and Image Quality: The sensors of the D5100 and D7000 are greatly improved over the older D90 in a couple of ways. The D5100 and D7000 have 16.2 megapixel sensors, where the D90 has 12.3 megapixels. The relatively new D3100 has a 14.2 MP sensor. This increase in resolution allows for more intrusive editing of the files in Photoshop, the ability to crop a picture and still obtain an image with high enough resolution for printing or display, and allows for larger prints. In addition, the improved sensor results in better performance at high ISO settings and in low light, better dynamic range, tonal range, and color sensitivity. Have a look at the dxomark website to compare the sensors.

Exposure Metering: The D5100, while sharing a similar sensor to the D7000, does not have the same advanced metering system. It shares the less sophisticated 420 pixel RGB metering sensor of the D3100 and offers matrix metering, non-adjustable center-weighted, and spot metering modes. This system may be more than sufficient for many users, especially those not intending to adjust their exposure settings and dig into their menus in reaction to complex lighting situations. But if your shooting demands require more precise exposure metering and control over the size of the areas being metered, you need to consider the D7000 or D90. The 2016 pixel RGB metering sensor of the D7000 is also improved compared to the D90, and will result in more accurate metering performance of straightforward and complex lighting scenes and situations. Both these cameras offer matrix metering, center-weighted, and spot metering modes. With center-weighted metering on the D90, you can select the size of the center-weighted area to be a 6, 8, or 10mm center circle, and the D7000 adds a 13mm circle option.

Autofocus: The autofocus systems of the D3100, D5100, and D90 all have 11 autofocus (AF) points with the center one being a more accurate cross-type. These AF systems may be more than sufficient for most users, and they can successfully track moving objects in the frame such as athletes, performers, or animals. However, if you specialize in sports, action, wildlife, or bird photography, you are going to want to consider the much more sophisticated, accurate, and customizable AF system of the D7000. The D7000 boasts a significantly improved AF system of 39 AF points with 9 of them being cross type. The AF system of the D7000 allows for you to use these points in various ways including automatic AF point selection, single point AF, and dynamic area AF using your choice of 9 points, 21 points, all points, or all points with 3D-tracking. It is important to note that the D5100 and D3100 do not have an autofocusing motor built into the body so you have to be sure to purchase lenses with built-in AF motors. For example, the Nikon "Nifty 50" 50mm f/1.8 will not autofocus with these cameras. The D7000 and D90 have the built-in motor.

Body, Construction and Size/ Weight: The D5100 is just slightly larger and a tiny bit heavier than the D3100, both weighing just over one pound. Both have plastic bodies and more limited buttons and controls that the higher end models. Many users should find its size and weight great for using and carrying around, though some prefer the ergonomics of a larger body. The D90 and D7000 appear very similar at first glance, but the plastic body of the D90 has been upgraded to the partially magnesium alloy body (top and rear) of the D7000. This adds slightly to the weight: 1.5 lbs for the D90 vs. 1.7 lbs for the D7000. The D7000 also has weather sealing at the memory card and battery doors, which the D5100 and D3100 do not. The higher end D7000 and D90 include not only the 3" rear LCD screen but also a top LCD panel for viewing and changing your settings. This is essential for photographers who are constantly changing their settings to deal with various shooting situations. For most users, including even those using the camera daily or in travel situations, the non-magnesium construction of the D5100 should be far more than good enough, strong enough, and durable enough.

ISO: As mentioned in the Sensor and Image Quality section above, the high ISO performance of the D7000 is greatly improved over the D90. The tests at tell this story, along with the fact that the native ISO range of the D7000 is 100-6400 expandable up to 25,600. The D5100 shares these specifications, and should offer similar results. The D3100 has a native ISO range of 100-3200 expandable to 12800, and the range of the D90 is 200-3200. This means that with the D7000 and D5100 you can use higher ISO settings when required, such as in low light situations, and not have as much difficulty with digital noise, particularly in the shadow areas of images.

Controls: As with construction, the buttons and controls vary with these cameras. The D3100 and D5100 offer more limited, basic controls on the exterior of the camera. However you can use the rear LCD screen to quickly change many settings, or else go into the menus. The D7000 offers an extensive array of controls on the camera body, allowing one to quickly change an large number of settings as they work, including focus mode and focus area settings, shooting mode, and exposure mode. The controls of the D7000 are similar to the D90 with some changes including the addition of the shooting mode ring under the mode dial (to change from single shot to high speed continuous to self timer, etc.), and the live-view switch with movie record button inside it. The D7000 also offers 2 customizable user settings (U1, U2) on the mode dial, and you can assign functions of your choice to buttons such as the Fn Button.

Menus and Custom Settings: These allow for greater control over customizing how the camera functions. The D5100 has less Menu and Custom Settings options than the D90 and the highly customizable D7000, and more than the D3100 (which offers no custom settings). These settings enable you to customize the operation, function, and controls to work how you want them to, including things like exposure increments, Live View options, tweaking how the autofocus system operates, setting more precise white balance settings, and customizing which button does what. There are ebooks such as my Nikon D7000 Experience - The Photographer's Guide to Operation and Image Creation with the Nikon D7000 and Nikon D5100 Experience - The Still Photographer's Guide to Operation and Image Creation with the Nikon D5100 which walk you through all of the Menu settings and Custom Settings so that you can set up your camera to work best for how you photograph, and also begin to learn to master all the advanced features, settings, and controls of these powerful dSLR camera.

Wireless Flash: The D7000 includes the feature of advanced wireless lighting using the built in flash as a commander for off-camera Nikon Speedlights. However, the D5100 and D3100 do not have this capability. With the D7000, you can set up one or more Speedlights in remote mode, then trigger them wirelessly with the built in flash of the camera.

Viewfinder: The D5100 has a pentamirror viewfinder with approximately 95% coverage of the actual resulting image, the same as the D3100. The higher quality pentaprism viewfinder of the D90 gives 96% coverage of the actual resulting image, while the D7000 has an even larger, brighter pentaprism viewfinder with 100% coverage. Author's note: this review was written and posted on Amazon by dojoklo - please do not steal it, post it elsewhere, and claim it as your own writing. Thank you. While in-and-of-itself, a 95% viewfinder works just fine, when you compare it side-by-side with the large, clear view of the D7000, you can see and understand the advantages of a clearer view of your entire scene with a 100% view, pentaprism viewfinder.

Processor: The Nikon D5100 and D3100 use the fast Expeed 2 image processor just like the D7000. This allows for more video options including full 1080p HD at 24, 25, and 30 fps, overall faster processing of stills and video files, and the ability to maintain fast continuous speed shooting for numerous frames. The D90 has the older Nikon Expeed processor, which is also generally fast enough to handle its processing needs.

Continuous Shooting Speed: As you work your way up the Nikon dSLR line-up the cameras' continuous shooting speed and maximum shots at that rate increases. The D3100 shoots 3 frames per second (fps) in continuous shooting mode, the D5100 shoots 4 fps, and the D7000 shoots 6 fps for up to 100 shots. The D90 can shoot 4.5 fps up to 100 images. If you often capture action and really need the higher frame rate, such as for sports, action, or wildlife shooting, you are going to have to seriously consider the D7000 over the other cameras. Paired with its advanced autofocus system, this fast frame rate can sharply capture moving objects is all types of situations. A nice feature of the D7000 is that you can adjust the low speed continuous mode to shoot anywhere from 1 to 5 fps, using the custom settings.

Memory Card: The D5100, D3100, and D90 all use a single SD memory card. The D7000 accepts 2 SD cards, where the second card can be used in a variety of ways: overflow when the first card fills up, JPEG on one / RAW on the other, or mirrored backup of the first card. The second card can come in handy as well if one is shooting video files, and one card can be designated for stills and the other video.

Battery and Battery Grip: The D5100 and D3100 both use the EN-EL14 battery, and the D7000 uses the new, higher capacity EN-EL15 battery. The D7000 accepts the optional MB-D11 battery pack/ vertical grip which is constructed of magnesium alloy. The D90 uses the EN-EL3e battery and its optional battery pack/ vertical grip is the MB-D80. The D5100 and D3100 don't accept a battery grip. The battery grip is handy for providing the ability to use a second battery and thus prolonging shooting time, and also creates a larger camera body which some users find more comfortable, especially when shooting in portrait orientation.

Full HD video: The D5100 shoots 1080p and 720p video at 24, 25, and 30 fps. The D3100 shoots 1080p at 24 fps and 720p at 24, 25, and 30 fps. The D7000 also shoots 1080p at 24 fps only and 720p at 24, 25, and 30 fps, up to 20 minutes with full-time continuous autofocus. The D90 offers 720p video at 24 fps, with a 5 minute shooting time.

Ease of Operation: While beginners may find all the buttons, controls, and menus of any dSLR difficult and confusing at first, the menus and controls of the D5100 and D3100 are pretty basic and simple to learn for a dedicated user. The additional controls and menus of the D7000 and D90 are all quite intelligently designed and will become intuitive and straightforward for the more advanced user once they are learned and understood. Again, have a look at helpful guides such as my Nikon D7000 Experience - The Photographer's Guide to Operation and Image Creation with the Nikon D7000 and Nikon D5100 Experience - The Still Photographer's Guide to Operation and Image Creation with the Nikon D5100 to begin to learn to master all the advanced features, settings, and controls of these powerful dSLR cameras.

Hands on Experience: The camera body of the D5100 fits nicely in the hand, and is a little bit taller than the D3100, so the pinky doesn't fall off the grip quite as easily. The rubber gripping surface and rubber thumb spot work nicely, and help retain the grip on the body, even when holding it at your side or carrying it around without a strap, and the light weight of the camera also adds to this ease of portability. Those who prefer the ergonomics of a larger, more solid feeling camera body will have to look at the D90 or D7000. The Live View switch, placed on the top of the camera at the mode dial, feels and sounds a little plasticy, but works find, and the record button for movies is conveniently placed on the top of the camera, near the shutter button. The FN button, on the front near the lens mount, can be customized to adjust one of a number of settings quickly, like image quality, white balance, HDR, or +RAW (to take a RAW file in addition to a JPEG if set on just JPEG). I prefer to make it an ISO button. The side mounted rear LCD screen is a definite improvement over the bottom mounted, limited screen of the D5000, and rugged and durable. The view through the viewfinder is a bit tiny and cramped, as is typically the case in this level of dSLR. Changing settings is quick and easy with the "i" button and rear LCD screen. Overall, the body, feel, controls, and LCD screen of the D5100 make for a great image taking experience.

Nikon D5100 outstanding "prothusiast" D-SLR, solid upgrade from my D5000,

As a long-time owner of the Nikon D5000, and former owner of the Nikon D60, I was eager to purchase the Nikon D5100 after seeing the announcements and pre-reviews. Being one of the lucky ones to buy the D5100 with 18-55VR kit earlier this week, I've had a few days to play with this camera and can honestly say it's a solid upgrade to the D5000 I'm replacing, and should be on the short list of consideration for any "prosumer" looking to purchase a D-SLR with outstanding image quality, performance, and low-light capability in a lightweight, compact (for an SLR) body. And, unlike the D5000, this D-SLR finally has a usable Live View and HD video capabilities both with continuous autofocus.

First of all, it's important to understand where the Nikon D5100 fits in Nikon's capabilities. It is considered a "high-end enthusiast" D-SLR which means that it shares the same image sensor as the high-end D7000 without some of the higher-end features. If you're like me, very few of the D7000's features justify its extra cost and weight. The Nikon D5100 offers nearly the same image quality as its bigger brother in a less-expensive, smaller package, while adding a few tricks the D7000 doesn't have including an articulating display that helps you frame hard-to-reach spots.

Compared to its lesser-priced but still excellent brother the D3100, the D5100 offers improved image quality, speed, and resolution, along with a higher-resolution articulating display. For me, this is the sweet spot in Nikon's consumer D-SLR offerings.

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The 18-55VR (3x) f3.5-f5.6 kit lens provides surprisingly good performance and image quality, although you'll likely outgrow it quickly. I have uploaded a few sample images taken with the D5100 and 18-55VR to show its performance and surprisingly good bokeh (pattern of blurred background) in large-aperture and macro shots.

For lens upgrades that include an AF-S autofocus motor, if you don't mind changing lenses, the Nikon 55-200VR is an outstanding value with excellent image quality, or consider the Nikon 18-105VR (5.8x) lens included with the D7000. If you don't mind some distortion and image softness, the 18-200 VRII (18x) lens may be your perfect "walkabout" lens. For me, I bought the pricey but outstanding Nikon 16-85mm VRII. Don't forget the Nikon AF-S 35mm f1.8 (if you can find it).

Low-light performance is outstanding with this camera, and the level of detail captured by the D5100 is excellent, even at higher ISOs. You're best capturing in RAW or RAW+JPEG mode (three different JPEG compression levels are offered) if you need to go back and fine-tune exposure or other settings after the shot. Nikon also offers "Active D-Lighting" which is a highly effective method for improving dynamic range of a photo to equalize the difference between high and low-light areas of a photo.

Interestingly, the improvement in image quality compared to my D5000 isn't dramatic. Given the incredible improvement I saw when upgrading from my Nikon D60 to the D5000 perhaps I had unrealistic expectations for this new sensor. But in most image settings, even low light, the improvement is noticeable but subtle. That speaks more for the outstanding quality and low-light sensitivity of the D5000 sensor (which is shared with the D90) than it speaks against the D5100. With the D5100 you get higher resolution for improved cropping, and the 14-bit RAW images offer greater dynamic range for more flexibility after the shot is taken.

Speaking of RAW format, as with any new camera, there is a bit of a wait until updates are available for your favorite camera software. As of May 18th, Adobe, Apple, and Nikon have added support for the D5100 RAW files, so you can use Aperture, iPhoto, Nikon View NX2 (v2.1.1 and later), Nikon Capture NX2 (v2.2.7 and later), Lightroom 3 or Photoshop CS5 (via Adobe Camera RAW 6.4 or later). If you use other photo software or another platform, you may want to verify RAW support for the D5100.

Compared to my D5000, Nikon has gone back and addressed most of my concerns on ergonomics and performance:
- camera body is roughly 10% smaller and 10% lighter
- 16.2 megapixel CMOS DX-format image sensor (shared with D7000) captures 14-bit RAW images and offers +1fs greater low-light sensitivity
- ISO 100-6400 range with expansion to 25,600 ISO (D5000 minimum is 200 and expansion to 12,300)
- high resolution (920k pixel) display for greater detail in image previews (although I had to bump up the default brightness one notch for accuracy)
- side-mounted articulating display no longer interferes with tripod (the D5000 display is inconveniently hinged at the bottom)
- dramatically improved (now usable!) LiveView mode with continuous autofocus even in HD video mode (more on that later)
- full HD 1080p movie capture without the "jelly effect", in more standard H.264 mode up to 22 min (D5000 is AVI format 720p up to 5min)
- slightly better control position (LiveView is now a rocker switch on the mode dial, Video Record is just behind and to the left of the shutter release)
- significantly quieter shutter release (plus, a "Quiet Mode" is available although hardly necessary)
- faster performance (4 frames per second)
- SDXC compliant supports higher capacity cards
- remote control sensor on rear now in addition to front-mounted sensor
- improved battery life, and an improved battery release
- battery charger now has built-in collapsable plug instead of requiring separate power cord
- MUCH better eyecap design no longer comes off in my small Nikon camera bag; also an improved diopter (eyeglass) control
- additional in-camera editing capabilities, including ability to trim video
- new "gimmick" special effects: in-camera HDR, selective color, night vision, etc

Let's start with the display - moving the hinge to the side not only makes the articulating display usable with a tripod, it makes the camera body shorter, so that it matches the height of most popular Nikon DX-format lenses and no longer leans forward when set down on a table as the D5000 did. It makes a surprising improvement in shooting comfort also. Nikon has improved the rubberized grip of the body and the thumb rest in the rear, although some have said that the grip is a bit shallow for larger hands. For my average-sized hands it is very comfortable.

The improved control placement is mostly welcome as well. LiveView is now a spring-release rocker on the side of the Mode Dial (VERY handy) and the video record button is also now on the top of the body, in front of the mode dial and behind the shutter release. What I didn't care for is the placement of the rear camera buttons, which now all shift above and to the right of the display to accommodate the left-mount hinge. What I don't like is that the "i" button (used to display and change shooting info) is too far away from the 4-way mode switch, so changing default shooting settings is a bit more of a stretch on my thumb. On playback, the delete button is just to the right of the Zoom buttons, instead of being far away like it should be. I didn't find myself accidentally deleting photos, but I'd rather have had a button closer by that I use more frequently (like the Menu button?)

What has dramatically improved from the D5000 is LiveView performance and HD video capture. Neither are perfect, but compared to my D5000 both are quite usable in the D5100. In LiveView mode, the D5100 tracks faces and subjects quickly and accurately, although still nowhere near fast enough for sports events or that "quick shot" like you might be used to with a compact camera. On my D5100, LiveView autofocus typically took half a second in lower-light conditions, which is no match for the viewfinder, but a huge improvement from the D5000.

Video capture is another notable improvement in the D5100, capturing single videos up to 22 minutes of 1080p HD (if you have the SD card capacity), in H.264 format, with continuous autofocus. Gone is the "jelly effect" of the D5000 when you quickly panned horizontally and the video appeared to bend. In theory, the continuous autofocus sounds like a great improvement for video capture, but in practice I found it slow to react (especially in low-light situations). Too often I found the camera "searching" for the correct focus, even with the (optional) Nikon 35mm F1.8 AF-S lens. It was so distracting that I ended up disabling autofocus and learning how to manually adjust focus as I moved from subject to subject. Also disappointing is that like the D5000, the built-in microphone is monoral. For stereo sound, you must buy the (forthcoming) ME-1 external microphone. Overall, the video capabilities are promising, especially at 1080p, but I am more satisfied with the native 720pHD stereo video captured from my Canon S95.

Rounding out the list of improvements and new features of the D5100 are the new "special effects", including the first in-camera HDR mode for any Nikon D-SLR. In practice, while there may be edge cases for these effects, I am not particularly impressed with any of them, including HDR. First of all, you cannot capture RAW with any of the effects. For HDR, there are further limitations (can only be used in P-S-A-M modes, not auto, no flash, etc). When you can get HDR mode to work, it can only be enabled one shot at a time, and then you have to go back to the menus to turn it on. Luckily, you can assign HDR mode to the Fn menu button. HDR mode takes two quick shots for each shutter press and then combines them in-camera to create a single JPEG. You can specify the exposure difference (Auto, 1EV, 2EV, 3EV) and level of "smoothing" (Low, Normal, High) between the captured images. I took a number of high-contrast shots with HDR enabled and honestly couldn't see a difference, although I'm still going to try. If there is any good news, it's that Nikon has chosen a fairly conservative / realistic HDR algorithm as opposed to an "eye-popping" but over-processed result.

In summary, I'm quite happy with the D5100. It provides the optimal balance of top image quality (even in low light), lightweight and compact (for a D-SLR) body, articulating display (the only D-SLR from Nikon to have this), and HD video (not perfect) that can leverage the outstanding collection of Nikon lenses (understanding that only AF-S lenses will autofocus).

Notable comparison with the higher-end D7000:
- same 16.2megapixel image sensor with 14-bit RAW image capture for outstanding dynamic range, low-light performance, and detail
- ruggedized plastic body lacks weather seal (it's also smaller and lighter weight)
- no builtin focus motor for older lenses (you'll need to buy an AF-S lens if you want autofocus)
- fewer autofocus zones (11 vs 39) and lower-resolution matrix meter
- pentamirror viewfinder (smaller, not as bright, 95% coverage) vs pentaprism viewfinder (100% coverage)
- no flash commander mode (unless you buy an external flash with TTL triggering)
- slower continuous performance (4 vs 6fps)
- 1 SD card slot instead of 2
- no top-mounted LCD display
- fewer dedicated controls for advanced settings (you must use the menu system more frequently)

Notable comparison with the lower-end D3100:
- higher resolution 16.2megapixel sensor with 14-bit depth
- high resolution (920k pixel vs 230k) display, articulating for hard- to-view shots
- higher low-light sensitivity
- faster performance (4fps vs 3fps)
- better battery performance (660 vs 550 images on the same EN-EL14 battery
- slightly larger and heavier body