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Nikon Coolpix P5100 Review

November 2007 | By Richard Butler, Simon Joinson

Based on a production Nikon Coolpix P5000 Firmware version 1.0

Announced just six months after the launch of the P5000, the Nikon P5100 is a gentle re-working of the existing model with a slightly larger, more pixel-dense sensor and hardware-based face-detection. Beyond that, the changes are predominantly cosmetic alterations to the existing model. The camera is Nikon's flagship compact camera, with the 'P' denoting 'performance.' Although it may not visually leap out from a line-up of contemporary compacts, its magnesium alloy body and manual exposure controls belie the unassuming appearance. It aims to offer a greater degree of manual control than the majority of compact cameras and has a strong feature set to help it stand apart. We were actually very impressed with the P5000's image quality and feature set, and only really complained about the sluggish performance. So has Nikon fixed the P5000's Achilles' heel in this update? Lets find out!

Differences compared with P5000

  • Faster, hardware-based face-detection, allowing more faces to be identified
  • Expeed processing 'concept'
  • Continuous flash shooting mode (3 consecutive frames at ~1fps)
  • Distortion control to counteract lens distortion
  • Improved user interface
  • Marginally larger sensor making the lens slightly wider-angle (35mm vs 36mm)
  • Fractionally shorter battery life (240, rather than 250 shots, CIPA standard)
  • 1:1 aspect ratio shooting mode
  • Can add black borders to images

Unlike the names applied to image processors by many of Nikon's rivals, Expeed doesn't specifically refer to any particular technology or set of features. Rather, it is a "digital image-processing concept," so shouldn't be taken to imply any kinship to the D3 and D300 DSLR models that share the name, beyond the the use of similar Nikon algorithms and know how.

Key features

  • 12 megapixel 1/1.8-inch CCD
  • 3.5x Zoom-Nikkor lens
  • Lens shift VR (Vibration Reduction)
  • ISO 64-1600 (3200 in 5MP mode)
  • BSS (Best Shot Selector) identifies and saves the sharpest image automatically from ten sequential shots
  • P/A/S/M modes plus 16 scene modes
  • Compatibility with system-expanding accessories
  • Macro shooting enables shooting from as close as 4cm (1.6 in.)
  • SDHC card compatibility
  • Approx. 52 MB of internal memory
  • Face-priority AF, In-Camera Red-Eye Fix, D-Lighting
  • 2.5-in wide viewing angle TFT LCD with anti-reflection coating

Nikon Coolpix P5100 specifications

Street price

• US: $370
• UK: £260

Body Material Metal and plastic
Sensor

• 1/1.72 " Type CCD
• 12.43 million pixels total
• 12.1 million effective pixels

Image sizes

• 4000 x 3000
• 3264 x 2448
• 2592 x 1944
• 2048 x1536
• 1600 x 1200
• 1280 x 960
• 1024 x 768
• 640 x 480
• 3984 x 2656 (3:2)
• 3984 x 2232 (16:9)
• 2992 x 2992 (1:1)

Movie clips

• Motion JPEG (AVI) with sound
• TV movie (640) at 30fps/15fps,
• Small size (320) at 15fps
• Smaller size (160) at 15fps
• Sepia (320) at 15fps
• Monochromatic (320) at 15fps
• Without sound: Time-lapse movie at 30fps

File formats • JPEG Exif V2.2
• DCF
• DPOF
• Motion JPEG AVI
Lens

• 3.5x Zoom-Nikkor (35-123mm equiv.)
• f/2.7-5.3
• 7 elements in 6 groups

Image stabilization Lens-shift VR
Conversion lenses Yes (optional)
Digital zoom up to 4x
Focus • Contrast Detection AF
• Macro
• Infinity lock
AF area modes

• Auto (9-area automatic selection)
• Manual (99-area manual selection)
• Center
• Face-priority AF mode

AF assist lamp Yes
Focus distance

• 30cm (1 ft.) to infinity (∞) [W], 70cm (2 ft. 4 in.) to infinity (∞) [T]
• Macro close-up mode: 4cm (1.6 in.) to infinity (∞) [W], 40cm (1 ft. 4 in.) to infinity (∞) [T]

Metering • Through-the-lens (TTL) metering
• 256-segment matrix
• Spot
• Center-weighted
• Spot AF area
ISO sensitivity • Auto (64 - 800)
• ISO 64
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 2000
• ISO 3200 (5MP or lower only)
Exposure compensation • -/+ 2EV
• in 1/3 EV steps
Exposure bracketing

• 3 shots
• +/- 0.3, 0.7, 1.0EV

Shutter speed 1/2000 to 8 s
Aperture • Six blade iris diaphragm
• 10 (in steps of 1/3 EV)
Modes

• Auto shooting mode
• Program (auto)
• Shutter Priority Auto
• Aperture Priority Auto
• Manual
• Movie mode
• Scene mode
• High-sensitivity shooting mode
• Anti-shake mode

Scene modes Face-priority AF, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night Portrait, Party/Indoor, Beach/Snow, Sunset, Dusk/Dawn, Night Landscape, Close up, Museum, Fireworks show, Copy, Back Light, Panorama Assist, Voice recording
White balance

• Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Fluorescent
• Incandescent
• Preset

Self timer • 10 or 3 secs
Continuous shooting

• Single
• Continuous (approx.1.0fps ,image quality Normal, image size 12M)
• Continuous flash
• Interval timer shooting

Image parameters Normal, Softer, Vivid, More vivid, Portrait, Custom, Black-and-white
Flash • Built-in
• Range: (W) 0.3 to 8.0m (1 ft. to 26 ft. 3 in.), (T) 0.3 to 4.0m (1 ft. to 13 ft. 1 in.)
• Flash Hot Shoe
• Auto, Auto with red-eye reduction, Anytime flash, Flash cancel, Slow sync., Rear-curtain sync.
Viewfinder • Real-image zoom viewfinder
• Approx 80% vertical x 80% horizontal
LCD monitor • 2.5-in wide viewing angle TFT LCD with anti-reflection coating
• 230,000-dot
• Approx 97% vertical x 97% horizontal (record mode)
Connectivity • USB
• AV out (NTSC / PAL)
Print compliance PictBridge, DCF, DPOF, EXIF print
Storage • SD / SDHC / MMC card (optional)
• Approx 52MB internal memory
Power • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL5 (supplied)
• AC Adapter EH-62A (optional)
Weight (No batt) Approx. 200 g (7.1 oz.) without battery and SD memory card
Dimensions Approx. 98 x 64.5 x 41 mm (3.9 x 2.5 x 1.6 in.) excluding projections


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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This article is Copyright 2007 dpreview.com and the review in part or in whole may NOT be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey

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