Nikon D5100 – A Retrospective Review

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Lauren McDonagh-Pereira

Lauren McDonagh-Pereira is a photographer from Massachusetts, USA. She captures the beauty of the world around her, favoring Nikon cameras and lenses. She is drawn to shooting landscapes, wildlife, flowers, and people enjoying time together.

Nikon D5100 – A Retrospective Review


The Nikon D5100 was my do-it-all camera from 2012 until 2016. 

It was a great balance between size and functionality for travel.

With my D5100, I explored Iceland, Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Portugal, and Jamaica.

The Nikon D5100 also served as my road trip workhorse and created images of the gorgeous National Parks of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Maine, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee. 

My name is Lauren McDonagh-Pereira. I am a photographerNFT artistNFT collector, and web3 blogger. I have been shooting with Nikon DSLR and Mirrorless cameras since 2008. 

Read on beyond my disclaimer to learn what I loved about my Nikon D5100 and some of my favorite shots I got with this camera. 


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The NIKON D5100

The Nikon D5100 was released in 2011, but as you can see from the sample images in this post, it still packs a a punch. 

If you are looking to get started on your photography journey and are ready to upgrade from your smartphone, a used or refurbished Nikon D5100 would be a great way to get your feet wet. 

The Nikon D5100 is a crop-sensor DSLR. It has a 16.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and an EXPEED 2 image processor.

The camera features an 11-point autofocus system. It can shoot 4 still frames per second in continuous shooting mode, and can it can record 1080p HD video at 30 fps.

It can shoot clear shots at ISOs ranging from 100 to 6400, and it can be pushed all the way to ISO 25600 at its extended range. 

An empty paved road winds through the Icelandic landscape. Volcanic mountains are seen in the background.
Shot with the Nikon D5100

NIKON d5100 Pros

My favorite feature of the Nikon D5100 is its variable-angle LCD screen.

The LCD screen on the back is attached to a hinge. It can be flipped out on the side of the camera and tilted in most directions.

This was great when I wanted to set up my tripod to take a shot with myself in frame, or when I wanted to shoot from an awkward angle. I would simply switch switch over to focusing with the LCD screen instead of the viewfinder, flip the screen out, turn it so I could see what I wanted to focus on, and fire away. 

My current camera, the Nikon Z50 features an LCD screen that can be flipped down for handheld selfies, but the screen is poorly positioned for tripod use, and is not as effective for use during macro photography. 

The brilliant reds and golds of fall foliage in New England reflects onto a rippled lake. Swimming across the water is a male hooded merganser. His bold black and white feathers are reflected in the water.
Shot with the Nikon D5100

NIKON D5100 COns

I had no complaints when I was using the Nikon D5100. I loved that camera and I created many of my all-time favorite images with it.

However, it is an entry level DSLR. When my camera met its bitter end (more on that below), I was ready to upgrade to a model with higher resolution, faster shooting speeds, and increased ISO sensitivity. In 2016, I stepped up to the Nikon D7200

If you are just starting out in serious photography, these limitations shouldn’t bother you. By the time you learn why you need more features, you will have years of great shots from your D5100 to enjoy. 

A street performer stands about the crowd. The performer and the crowd are cast in a harsh silhouette in front a beautiful Key West sunset.
Shot with the Nikon D5100


I would’ve happily held on to this camera body for years, but sadly, it met a tragic end after only 4-years. 

In April of 2016, I set up my tripod on a narrow path by a waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. My husband tried to get by my setup and, in the shuffle, my tripod tipped over, and my poor, beloved Nikon D5100 went for a fatal swim in the river below. 

Invest in good tripods, people. Trust me.

A snowy owl has just taken off in flight.
Shot with the Nikon D5100

The Current Model

The Nikon D5100 has been updated a few times since I purchased mine in 2012.

The modern equivalent is the Nikon D5600 DX-Format Digital SLR.                             


I loved my Nikon D5100. I would recommend it, or the upgraded Nikon D5600 to anyone who is ready to graduate from mobile phone photography to DSLR photograpy. 

Photography Tips

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MEET Lauren McDonagh-Pereira

Lauren McDonagh-Pereira is a photographer from Massachusetts, USA. She captures the beauty of the world around her, favoring Nikon cameras and lenses. She is drawn to shooting landscapes, wildlife, nature, and people authentically enjoying life.