D5100 first impressions

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D5100 first impressions

Postby chrisk on Sun May 15, 2011 10:35 pm

a first impression of sorts as opposed to a review of any substance at this stage. i have had the camera now for a couple of days and have now shot around 200 frames with it aswell as i suppose a couple of dozen small movie clips, lets say about 25mins in total.

why did i buy this ? i have been longing for a smaller camera that does video for quite a while for times when i dont want to take the d700. i have had a few hit and misses with micro 4/3'ds and compacts and when the d5100 was announced it just fit my needs, on paper, perfectly. i realised after my experience with the gf1 that photographic capability is still absolutely my #1 priority. if the shots dont cut it then i'll stick to my lx3 for the lightwork. the gf1 for me was an epic fail. the af sucked, the video was average, the low light capability was piss poor and it wasn't small enuf to be convenient. so i've made a few compromises on size/ portability in favour of better quality.

my initial impressions are a mixed bag. i'll start with the negatives in no particular order...

1. wtf is up with AF points being tiny little dots in the screen ? this is freakin ridiculous. i'm used to nice large rectangles but the illuminated points are tiny little red dots that make it very difficult to see.

2. the button setup doesn't feel right. i cant put my finger on exactly what it is, (excuse the pun), but things dont seem to be intuitive and at my fingertips. it feels very un-nikon like in this regard. the button placement just feels a bit off and doing thing one handed is proving difficult in some instances.

3. no one touch record for video. you have to engage LV by pulling a lever down and then hit the record button. i dont like this and it is counter productive to what this camera is all about.

4. crippled customisation. i don't mind that we cant customise this thing to death, thats the deal when you are buying at the bottom end. but with the 2 things you can customise, the Fn button and the quick access info menu, why not let the user pick what they want ? it gives me the choice of a number of options but they are not the options i want which is annoying as this is crippling the customisation for no apparent reason other than to say to you "if you want better then you should've paid more money asshole."

5. Limited ability to adjust playback features. like one touch zoom to check for focus. why the hell not ?

6. when shooting video in 16:9 format, the top and bottom of the screen is only faded, not blacked out. this makes it quite difficult to frame your videos and i quite often was cutting heads off cos it wasnt clear when taking the video that i was out of the frame.

7. my glass isn't as good on this camera. now this isnt perhaps an issue with the d5100 as it is an issue with DX vs FX. the 50G and in particular 85G are not as sharp wide open with the 5100. i dont know why, but i shoot these 2 lens' without hesitation at 1.4 on the d700, i think i'll stop down to f2 most of the time on the d5100.

ok, they are my pet peeves for now. so onto the good points....

1. first and foremost...the IQ is outstanding. it lacks the clarity and sharpness of the d700 but it clearly outdoes my past d300.

2. AF performance is excellent. seems accurate and fast. no issues there.

3. metering is ultra conservative. perhaps after copping flak for the d7000's OE the d5100 meters under by a third to half stop consistently. i dont mind this at all.

4. video quality is excellent. it is difficult but when you get it right the video is just beautiful to look at on a big screen.

5. low light capability left me a bit speechless. it is honestly freaky for a crop sensor to perform this well. its a stop better than the d300. it maintains its colour very well even up high and the noise is quite uniform and tightly packed so its not that unattractive even when you do get noise. i was shooting video at 6400 and honestly it looked very good. impossible to do with my camcorder so its liberated me in this regard. images up to 3200 i wont even hesitate. shooting in auto iso up to 6400 i was pulling shots that i would be very happy with while not being d700 standard of course.

6. the flip screen is a joy to use and look at. every dlsr should have one. it is insanely useful and just feels right on the camera godammit. why there has been such a slow uptake of these is beyond me.

7. its small but comfortable. its a tiny bit larger than my d60 but feels comfortable to hold even with big hands.

8. price. $780 brand new for a camera this good is quite simply outrageous. to pull this sort of IQ and feature set from a camera even 2 years ago may have cost you double.

so there we have it in a nutshell. its a highly recommended camera from me so far. with of course some caveats. hope this helps someone who is curious about the d5100. happy to answer anyones specific questions and below is my favourite shot so far. 85G @ f2 SOOC

Image
Untitled by .Chris.K, on Flickr
EM1 l 7.5 l 12-40 l 14 l 17 l 25 l 45 l 60 l 75 l AW1 l V3
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chrisk
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Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2007 8:50 pm
Location: Oyster Bay, Sydney

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