DSLR video enthusiasts are well catered for with an improved movie mode that offers 1920x1080 Full-HD recording at up to 30 frames per second, in H.264 MOV format. Autofocus remains operational while recording is in process and itâ€™s possible to attach a stereo microphone using the connection panel on the side of the camera. Mindful of the increasing popularity of DSLRs for video work, Nikon has also announced the introduction of a dedicated ME-1 stereo microphone designed specifically for use with Nikon DSLRs, priced at Â£120.
In addition to the stereo microphone input, external connectivity includes an HDMI port for attaching the camera to your HDTV with, a port for attaching external GPS devices such as Nikonâ€™s GP-1 unit, and a USB 2.0 port.
In terms of styling the D5100 signals something of a departure from recent Nikon DSLR designs, with sharper edges and pronounced curves. More importantly, itâ€™s also 10% smaller and a hundred or so grams lighter than its predecessor. The outer shell is plastic with some mottling effect around the side and back, imitating the magnesium alloy cages of more expensive DSLRs. As might be expected for a camera of its price, there is no dust or weather sealing.
In-hand it feels quite small and delicate, especially when compared to rivals such as the Canon 600D or Pentax K-r. More detailed impressions will be included in the full review, but this is one area that could cause some concern â€“ especially for photographers with larger hands. Thankfully the finger grip has been rubberised and is deep enough to accommodate three fingers, giving a fairly reassuring grip.
The styling refresh also extends to button placement, with the addition of a new easy-to-reach slider control next to the Mode dial that toggles live view on and off. When in live view mode, instant movie recording is facilitated using a red-dot button moved from the back of the camera to the top-plate, next to the shutter release button. Nikon claims this makes switching between stills and movie recording more intuitive, although anyone already used to a video recording button on the back, it may require a little readjustment of muscle memory.
At its launch RRP the D5100 is slightly more expensive than the Canon 600D and significantly more than the Pentax K-r and Sony A580, all three of which are its natural competitors within this segment of the entry-level and first-time-upgrade DSLR market. Depending on demand, weâ€™d expect to see the street price of the D5100 fall within a month or so of launch, bringing it much closer to the current street price of the Canon 600D.
The Nikon D5100 will be go sale in the UK from 21 April, priced at Â£610 for the body only, or Â£780 when purchased with the Nikkor 18-55mm VR kit lens.
The D5100 looks like a another solid entry into the Nikon DSLR range. Its headline specifications make it an instantly attractive proposition, while premium features such as the hi-res tilt-and-swivel LCD monitor and Special Effects are sure to bolster its appeal. Our only real reservation based upon what we have seen so far is that in a attempt to reduce the cameraâ€™s physical size, Nikon may have made it too slight for folks with large hands. As ever, keep an eye on TrustedReviews as weâ€™ll be bringing you a full review as soon as possible