The Nikon P5100 is the top-of-the-line COOLPIX point & shoot camera in Nikon’s lineup. It features 12.1 megapixels, a 3.5x zoom (35-123mm), a hotshoe for Nikon Speedlights and the EXPEED digital image processor. Further, the P5100 has the ability to shoot images at ISO 3200 with image files sizes at 5 megapixels. The P5100 also features Nikon’s lens-based VR (Vibration Reduction). The street price of this point & shoot digicam is about $300.
But take the Nikon P5100 on a walk and it really shines. Size is one of the Nikon Coolpix P5100’s strongest arguments. Packing this much photographic control and quality into such a light and compact form is an unusual achievement, and enough to call the Nikon P5100 a Dave’s Pick.
The Nikon more closely resembles the form and cost of other compacts, so won’t be too daunting to users wanting to get more involved in the photographic process without taking on the weight, size, cost or initial complexity of the G9 – or an SLR.
It really is a cool little camera, and it’s exciting to see cameras in this class get beefed up to a point that allows the user to decide if they want total control over the image creation process or the fully automatic options.
Despite its image-quality strengths, sluggish performance tarnishes the appeal of the otherwise well-equipped, compact Nikon Coolpix P5100.
The Coolpix P5100 is designed to be both a point and shoot and a camera that can satisfy the needs of a more assiduous photographer thanks to the inclusion of more advanced modes and a fully manual mode. And once printed, or reduced in size so as to be seen whole on a monitor, or on high definition television or through a projection system, the images from the Coolpix 5100 should please most people.
In all, the Nikon P5100’s ergonomics feel ‘just right’. It’s therefore a real shame that, when the resultant maximum quality JPEG images are examined on your desktop, its low light and performance is considered to be below par. Using any setting above ISO 400 seems somewhat pointless, and if in doubt the P5100’s auto settings will veer on the side of overexposure, also blowing out highlights.
The Nikon Coolpix P5100 creates the illusion that consumers can have DSLR components and quality in a camera the size of a pocket. It has a 1.6-inch thick body with a decent handgrip, extending 3.5x optical zoom lens, optical image stabilization, a hot shoe, and a full set of manual exposure modes and controls. However, it is missing a key component that DSLRs have: speed.
The Nikon Coolpix P5100 gives the photographer a quiet feeling of confidence that it can handle any photographic challenge. It will appeal to the serious amateur photographer desiring a compact and light digital camera with an effective image stabilization and full control over camera operations.
Where to Buy
First off, consider going to your local camera store. By going to your local camera store, you’re supporting your community and you just might build a lasting relationship with people you can rely on when you need some help or answers. If you’re buying online, I recommend sticking with Amazon, B&H Photo or Adorama. These three vendors are reliable, trustworthy and generally have the best (legitimate) prices.