Nikon D5100 Buyers Review

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I am a photography teacher in NYC and online. I teach beginner and intermediate photography students every week. I've also been a professional photographer for the last five years with images published in The New York Times, GQ, New York Magazine, Women's Wear Daily, The New York Observer, The Village Voice and Time Out New York.

Nikon D5100
This review is for beginner photographers

If you're a beginner, you're most likely asking yourself: Nikon or Canon? Really, I feel confident in saying that you can't go wrong with either. I've used both brand's cameras extensively and find that they both offer amazing image quality with well-built, solid cameras that, if taken care of, will last decades. There are two differences between the cameras, though, that can be taken into consideration.

The user-interface: If cameras were computers, Nikons would be PCs and Canons would be MACs. PCs are built for people not afraid of technology whereas Macs are built for people who want things super-easy. Nikons excel at customization options which means you'll see so many more options with the Advanced features of a Nikon than you will with a Canon. Canons, on the other hand, excel at ease-of-use for beginners. Canons offer less advanced options and can be easier to learn on. This can be frustrating down the line, though, once you've learned a lot about photography. At that point you may want all of the options that Nikon offers and be frustrated with your Canon. If you're someone who really likes to delve deep into your hobbies or if you're intent on becoming a professional photographer, I'd say a Nikon would be your best bet. If you're someone who wants to learn the basics of photography and only imagine yourself being a hobbyist, Canon would be a better option for you.

Where Nikon excels: Flash photography. I often find myself in situations where I'm shooting event photography (weddings, movie premiers, benefits and galas) where I need to use a lot of flash. For this kind of photography, I'll always prefer to be shooting with a Nikon. Nikon's flash metering (how the camera magically decides how much light to fire out of the flash) is much more consistent than Canon's. You can take a Canon and shoot the same scene three times in a row with flash and all three images will be at different brightness levels. You can do the same thing with a Nikon and all three images will be wonderfully the same. If you're somebody who plans on shooting a lot with flash (indoor photography, event photography, etc.) you'll want to consider going with Nikon.

Where Canon excels: Richness of colors. I've been in numerous situations where I've been on the red carpet taking the exact same picture as the photographer next to me. I'll have a Canon and the person next to me will have a Nikon. This has provided quite a few opportunities to compare the images side-by-side. What I've found is that the colors on the Canon's images look richer and make the image pop more. If I'm doing fine art photography (anything I'd like to someday hang in a gallery), I'll always want to be shooting with a Canon for this reason.

If you're set on Nikon, there are three cameras you should be considering and it all comes down to what your budget is: (current prices as of 2/19/11)

  • D7000 $1,400 without lens
  • D5100 $750 without lens
  • D3100 $600 only available with lens
Here's what you get for spending extra money (each camera compared to the one below it):

D3100 vs. D5100:

The D3100 is an EXCELLENT camera so if you only have $550 to spend total on camera and lens then go out and buy this camera. You won't regret it. If you're considering spending more money, here's what you'll get from the D5100 in comparison:

  • Better performance in low light situations.
  • A higher resolution screen on the back of the camera so you can see your images more clearly and make out if they actually turned out well
  • An external mic jack. (If you're planning on shooting video with an external mic, you'll want the D5100 over the D3100.)
  • A flip out screen (handy if you want to put your camera anywhere but at your eye level and be able to see what your camera is about to capture before you shoot it)
  • Faster continuous shooting. If you're often shooting sports or any fast moving subject, continuous shooting allows you to capture multiple images in a single second. The D3100 shoots at three frames per second whereas the D5100 shoots at four frames per second.
  • Higher ISO options. The D5100 offers one more stop of ISO than the D3100 does. If you don't know what ISO means (or what a stop is) just know that this allows you to more easily shoot images in low-light situations.
  • Longer battery life. The D5100's battery will last 20% longer than the D3100
The two advantages of the D3100 over the D5100 are: less expensive and less weight. Whenever a camera is less expensive, it means you'll have more in your budget for the lens. The D3100 weighs 10% lighter and is 10% smaller than the D5100.

D5100 vs. D7000:

The D5100 is Nikon's latest and greatest and is even newer than the D7000. Phenomenal camera! If you're stuck, though, between the D5100 and the D7000, here's what you'll get by spending more money on the D7000:

  • More focus points. When using auto-focus, the D7000 will have an easier time focusing on what you want it to focus on. -60% longer lasting batteries.
  • Faster continuous shooting. If you're often shooting sports or any fast moving subject, continuous shooting allows you to capture multiple images in a single second. The D5100 shoots at four frames per second whereas the D7000 shoots at six frames per second.
  • Weather sealed. This means you can shoot with the D7000 in the rain.
  • Two memory card slots. This is really a cool feature. The D7000 has two memory card slots which means you'll be less likely to find yourself standing in front of a gorgeous scene with no more memory left.
  • Faster shutter speed. The fastest shutter speed on the D5100 is 1/4000th of a second; on the D7000: 1/8000th of a second. To be honest, I can't think of any practical reason why this would benefit you unless you're planning on shooting some really bright scenes like directly into the sun.
Advantages of the D5100 over the D7000:

  • A flip out screen (handy if you want to put your camera anywhere but at your eye level and be able to see what your camera is about to capture before you shoot it) 
  • Smaller and lighter: The D5100 is 10% smaller and 30% lighter than the D7000. This is something to consider if you plan on carrying your camera around with you a lot.
  • Less expensive so you can spend more on your lens!
If I can clarify any of this, please email me! Written by jpullos of amazon

1 comments:

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