"D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" Mon 01-Oct-12 05:28 PM by avigar
Northern IL, US
I'm considering the D5100 as a vacation DSLR due to its lighter weight and smaller body. I also like the idea of having an articulating screen available for self portraits on a mini tripod. I have a Nikon 18-200 lens that I can pair with it. Any input from those that have done the same? Is this a good choice and match? I'll have a Canon S100 as a secondary camera.
As a side note, I do already own a D3S. I'm just looking for something lighter, yet capable of generating great vacation pics.
#1. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 0
I just did the same thing myself. I bought a D3200 and borrowed a D5100. I also bought a Nikkor 10-24 and a 24-120, all for a three week trip to Europe. I have since sold the 10-24 and the D3200, but it was a fantastic combination. There was no way that I was going to lug my D3S and a second body as a backup. Of the two cameras, I liked the D3200 the best, but there was nothing wrong with the D5100 either. Sometimes I carried both cameras with a lens on each, and the rest of the time I carried one camera on a BlackRapid strap with the other lens in my vest pocket. I was more than pleased with the results and am still sorting through my 1,000 plus pictures.
One other thought. I just bought the D600 and if it had been available before I left, I probably would have taken that instead of borrowing the D5100 since I would not have needed to buy the 10-24 as I have a 16-35. Also, the D600 is reasonably light although certainly not as light as the D3200 and D5100.
As for the Canon S100 point and shoot, I brought a Nikon S8100 and there is no comparison in the shots. I'm sorry that I brought it since it would have forced me to take one of the other bodies on the one occassion that I decided to use it.
#2. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 1
Northern IL, US
I thought about picking up a D600 instead since I have a Nikon 28-300 lens. That combination would probably be a bit heavy since we may be on all-day excursions. What made you favor the D3200 over the D5100 since you carried both on your trip?
#3. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 2
I haven't sorted through all of my photos yet so my judgement might be somewhat premature, but I had the D3200 for about 5 months before the trip and the images coming out of that camera are some of the finest that I have ever produced. From what I can see so far from the shots that I took on the trip, I like the looks from the D3200 images a little more than the ones with the D5100, but I shot about 2/3 with the D3200. I would take these comments with a grain of salt since the D5100 is definitely a fine camera. I did like the additional controls on the D5100.
DXO Mark rates the sensor in the D3200 as the second best DX sensor made, to date, and one of the 10 best in the world so that may have subconsciously influenced my otherwise "objective," or maybe it's "subjective," opinion. They both cost the same amount of money with the kit lens, and if I had it to do over, I would buy the D3200 again. The D600 and D3200 would have made better sense for me since I had almost all FX lenses. The $900 that I wouldn't have had to pay for the 10-24 would have brought the effective cost of the D600 down to $1,200.00. I bought it at Berger Bros and Brad bought it back from me after the trip for $725.00. They're nice people to do business with. Needless to say I bought the D600 from him too. Sorry, I had to add that "plug." jP
#4. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 3
Northern IL, US
From what I've read online, the D5100 shares the same sensor as the D7000. That, and the additional controls over the D3200 is why I'm leaning towards the D5100. But, it's also the total weight factor that's swaying me to go DX rather than the D600. I believe there's also a $200 instant savings promo going on now for the D5100 + lens kit or body only.
#5. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 4
I was trying to be subtle, but the D5100 is really much older technology. I don't know why Nikon chose to include their most advanced DX sensor in their entry level camera, but it is what it is. I would have liked the additional controls of the D5100, but the D3200 is really the camera to own. Frankly, I should have bought a second D3200 for the trip rather than taking the D5100.
#6. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 0
Fort Myers, US
I did similar... I have a D700 and got a D5100 with the kit 18-55 VR, then got an additional 55-200 VR for travel (both are really great lenses for the money) and I also have a Canon S95.
It's a good camera, the weak point is the less sensitive autofocus system, but picture quality otherwise is great as the sensor is the same as the D7000 like you said. For sports, the focus system is a little bit too simple, otherwise everything works great. It has a lot features I like compared to the D3200 (bracketing and flip screen, better controls), so i didn't go that way. The D3200 was way too dumbed down, and I didn't need the extra MP from 16-24... 12 would be fine.
I have a perfect case that holds the body with the two lenses, all very compact.
BUT... I don't use the D5100 much, the S95 is very handy, and the D5100 is not that good for sports. Now I'm thinking about selling it before the value goes down.
#7. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 6 Tue 02-Oct-12 07:47 AM by avigar
Northern IL, US
Based on the online comparisons I've read, the D5100 should suffice as a general purpose travel DSLR. I'm not too worried about the less sensitive autofocus as much since it will most likely be used for landscape shots anyways. It's certainly a step up from a point and shoot without being too "dumbed down", like the D3200, for an advanced shooter. Besides, I have my D3S for the more "serious" type of photography.
If anyone else has used a D5100 as their travel DSLR, please feel free to post your experiences with it.
#8. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 7
I spent last summer with a D5100 paired with two lenses; 18-200mm VRII & 70-300mm VR. I also have a S95 that goes everywhere I go. It worked well for me in the environment that I used it for.
I personally wasn't as enthralled with its articulating screen as I thought I would be. I got too much refection from it to help me much You have to shoot Live View & Aperture Mode to shoot video. I shot a lot of video in the blind due to the reflection. There is nothing like a 5 minute video of grass. I did get some good videos when there wasn't too much reflection.
Because of the video restrictions, I shot my stills in Aperture Mode as well with the Fn button set to ISO. Missed some of the displays and controls of other Nikon DSLRs. Also, it won't auto focus manual lenses.
I now have the D7000 as well.
Someone talked about their S100 which I have read a ton of bad reviews. Just wondered if they were thinking about the S110? Yes, I know it's from the darkside.
#10. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 9
Northern IL, US
@jp...no, you didn't waste your time. I appreciated your input into this thread. I'm merely repeating what's been posted on other sites. The menu options and controls of the D3200 is not as varied compared to the D5100. That's why I never really considered it. I was looking more for input and experiences from people that have used the D5100. If my response came across to you as something else, that wasn't the intention.
#11. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 7
Hatboro, Pa, US
I have both the D5100 and the D3200 and use them interchangeably. The operating interface of both cameras is quite similar. The resolution of both cameras is very high and for normal size photos nearly the same. I like the articulating LCD and use it very often when the camera is mounted on a tripod and when I use LiveView to focus my manual focus lenses. I don't shot video or use any of the P&S modes. I like the size of both cameras for walking around with just the 18-55mm VR lens and maybe the AFS 35mm f1.8. I have no problem at all with the auto focus of either camera. I would not like to give up either one but if I had to make a choice I would keep the D5100. Since I don't need to make a choice I'll keep both. Considering the picture quality and the low price of both cameras they're both a bargain.
#13. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 11 Wed 03-Oct-12 03:44 AM by avigar
Northern IL, US
Len, I agree with the fact that the D5100 is a bargain right now due to Nikon's offering of $200 in instant savings. As far as reflection/glare on the LCD, I intend to place a non-reflective screen shield to protect it and help reduce the glare. Thanks for your input. It's good to know that your experiences with both cameras have been very positive.
#14. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 12
I apologize for my post last night, and I agree that the D5100 is both an excellent camera and a bargain ar the current price. Anyone in the market for one of these cameras must be seriously tempted to scoop one up.
#15. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 13
I bought the D5000 about a year ago to use as a travel camera. I like it, but I am considering selling it to get the 5100 because there are a few things I think I would like better on the newer model. I like the screen options, but would much rather have it go to the side instead of down like mine does. And there are some changes in the controls too.
I got to play with a friends 5100 and just liked it better. I have considered the 3200, but like someone else said, I think I am too used to having more control. I normally shoot with a D3 and it is sometimes hard to go from that to a more consumer friendly camera. I have several lenses I use with it. I am not overly impressed with the kit lens. I use my 18-105 Vr, 18-200 Vr, and 35mm.
#16. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 0
I bought a D5100 before a trip to Italy and was very happy with it.
It's light enough that I didn't notice the weight on a long strap over my shoulder/neck, less than 2 lbs with the 55-200mm kit lens. I wore the camera all day, easy to just grab and snap a shot instantly. An 18-200mm would make it about 2.5 lbs; I would have preferred this over swapping with the 18-55mm I brought, but it's a pricier lens.
I was somewhat disappointed with the PD auto-focus. A lot of pictures are a little soft, which I didn't notice until I got home. Mostly this was using Auto-Area AF with people in the foreground; the little AF red lights flashing in the viewfinder led me to think it was choosing well. I saw no camera/lens problem after doing some tests, so I think my expectations were too high or technique poor. I took photos before the trip with most every photo well focused, but I think the vacation scenes were probably much more complex. If I'd better understood the AF limits beforehand, I could have managed them--taken some extra photos, used center single-point AF more often, Live View when time permitted. I also have a lot of trouble focusing on black dogs running around; the D5100 AF is just not up to that.
I expect the D7000's superior AF module would do better; you might consider that, with the trade-offs of ~+6 oz to carry, price, and articulating screen.
Otherwise, image quality was great. Matrix metering almost always worked perfectly. Low-light or under-exposed images look great after Lightroom recovers the shadows. Sensor quality amazes me. VR on the lenses is like magic.
Switching settings on the D5100 for different situations is rather slow with lots of button presses for ISO, AF modes, AF area, exposure delay mode, HDR, etc. I took quite a few bad shots because I didn't have time to switch it all back or forgot something. The U1/U2 modes on the D7000 sound really nice.
The articulated screen was pretty useful--to get the camera above crowds, low to the ground, and into odd places where I could never position my eye. It's also handy for the occasional video.
I had a Canon S90 as a pocket/backup camera but only took a handful of pictures with it. I took a lot of pictures with the D5100 that the S90 would have been too slow turning on/focusing to get.
I brought a pocket-sized Sima tripod (3oz), which, surprisingly, can (just) hold the D5100 even with 55-200mm lens. This, along with the articulated screen, was useful for long-exposure night pictures from balconies. I was thinking it would be useful for portraits with a remote, but between crowds and little time in one place, there was no opportunity.
The D5100 was a good choice for me. Not too expensive, light enough to wear all day, lots of great results.
The problem that I've discovered is that this collection of lenses weighs as much as my D700 and accompanying glass. This is the temptation of a lightweight kit that needs to be avoided. I've now sold the 50-150, am currently selling the fisheye and 10-20. My new kit will be much simpler:
#18. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 16
Fort Myers, US
MKNISTER - That's a very accurate writeup of what the D5100 is about, well said, thank you.
I'll only add that my favorite part of the articulating screen is being able to stow it out of the way, so that I don't get it scratched up, or get distracted by the display. This sounds trivial, but it's a nice feature... better than the clear cover on the D300S/D700. Too bad it's necessary to open for reference of the many menu accessed settings such as ISO or WB or AF mode, etc.
#19. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 17
Northern IL, US
Well, I just just took delivery of a D5100 body a couple of days ago with an extra Nikon battery. I've paired it with my Nikon 18-200 and I'm seeing great results so far. It feels like a mini DSLR, when held, compared to my D3S/Nikon 28-300 combo. To me, getting to the settings is just a minor inconvenience. It has just enough manual settings to satisfy my needs for creative control. The articulating screen is definitely a plus. I think that this one's a keeper and will keep me occupied for a while. Thanks to all who have taken the time to provide their input and experience with his little camera. I'm now looking forward to using the D5100 during my upcoming vacation.
#20. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 18
I was just the opposite--I use the display so often that I got frustrated trying to set something or check an image, realizing the screen was facing the camera, then doing the open/flip/close maneuver. I added a Zagg screen protector just so I could leave it showing all the time without worrying about it.
#22. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 19
I got a D5100 for a similar reason--as a smaller, lighter walkaround and travel alternative to my D300. It works very well with the 35mm f/1.8 and the 16-85mm zoom. The 16-85mm is just a couple of ounces lighter than the 18-200mm, which should balance equally well.
#23. "RE: D5100 as a lightweight travel DSLR?" In response to Reply # 22 Mon 08-Oct-12 06:27 AM by avigar
Northern IL, US
I just sold my Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 screw-drive lens and bought the same type lens, but with the built-in motor. The D5100, with the Nikon 18-200 and Tamron 17-50, will make a great travel set. I'll be bringing along an SB-400 to supplement the onboard flash as well.