Nikon's 12.1Mp Nikon Coolpix P5100 outguns its P5000 10Mp predecessor. Best viewed as a more portable, full-featured alternative to the likes of Nikon's excellent D40 DSLR, not only is the Nikon Coolpix P5100 small, it also boasts a light but strong magnesium alloy body.

The Nikon Coolpix P5100's small-but-comfortably rounded grip and spongy rear thumb indent mean you get a good hold.

Although it features an only slightly-better-than-average 3.5x, 35-135mm focal range, the Nikon Coolpix P5100 is backed up with in-lens Vibration Reduction for low-light photography without flash. This is complemented by a light-sensitivity setting of ISO3200, although the trade off is a resolution drop to 5mp and a loss of more subtle detail.

The Nikon Coolpix P5100 powers up in just over a second, there’s no discernable shutter delay and just a two second write time between shots at the highest quality JPEG setting.

Under most conditions, the Nikon Coolpix P5100 delivers impressively true-to-life colours. White balance and exposure are generally good.

The Nikon Coolpix P5100 boasts a range of optional accessories including wide angle and tele converter lenses, plus its on-board hot shoe allows for an additional Speedlight flashgun.

You also get face-priority auto focus and a less essential smattering of in-camera editing facilities. Although scene modes and auto settings offer the ability to point and shoot, the Nikon Coolpix P5100's program, shutter priority, aperture priority and manual are very useful.

A DSLR-like command dial lets you race through exposure and ISO settings on the Nikon Coolpix P5100's screen.

A 2.5in LCD may be nothing special these days, but the Nikon Coolpix P5100 does offer a high 230,000-pixel resolution so you can see accurate focus. There’s an optical viewfinder too, though it’s small and murky.

NEXT PAGE: close ups, zoom and our expert verdict > >

Best viewed as a more portable, full-featured alternative to the likes of Nikon's excellent D40 DSLR, not only is the Nikon Coolpix P5100 small, it also boasts a light but strong magnesium alloy body.

The ability to take close ups down to 4cm is so-so, but at least the Nikon Coolpix P5100 has 52MB of internal memory provided in the absence of an SD card.

While responsive, the Nikon Coolpix P5100's zoom, controlled by a small lever encircling the shutter button, annoyingly buzzes like a gnat.

Nikon Coolpix P5100: Specs

  • 12.1Mp, 1/1.72" Compact CCD sensor
  • 4000x3000-resolution images
  • 2.5in LCD viewfinder
  • 3.5x optical zoom, 4x digital zoom
  • automatic: from 64 to 800 ISO, manual: from 64 to 3200 ISO, 3200 ISO in 5 megapixel mode or higher High ISO Mode: from 64 to 1600 ISO
  • f/2.7-5.3
  • EN-EL5 lithium battery
  • 640 x 480 video at 30 fps
  • 98 x 64.5 x 41 mm
  • 200g
  • 12.1Mp, 1/1.72" Compact CCD sensor
  • 4000x3000-resolution images
  • 2.5in LCD viewfinder
  • 3.5x optical zoom, 4x digital zoom
  • automatic: from 64 to 800 ISO, manual: from 64 to 3200 ISO, 3200 ISO in 5 megapixel mode or higher High ISO Mode: from 64 to 1600 ISO
  • f/2.7-5.3
  • EN-EL5 lithium battery
  • 640 x 480 video at 30 fps
  • 98 x 64.5 x 41 mm
  • 200g

OUR VERDICT

All said and done, if you’re looking for a portable backup to your DSLR the Nikon Coolpix P5100 may well be the answer to your prayers. A RAW mode and better handling of image noise at the higher ISO settings might just have made the P5100 perfect.

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