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Nikon Unveils D5100 d-SLR

4/05/2011 12:09:00 AM Eastern
Melville, N.Y. - On the heels of last fall's successful D7000 d-SLR launch, Nikon unveiled Tuesday a midlevel consumer d-SLR employing a D7000-like 16.2-megapixel CMOS sensor and FullHD 1080p video recording. It also introduces a new Special Effects mode for a range of advanced creative image treatments.

D5100At launch this month, the D5100 ($800 suggested retail for the body only, $900 with a AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens) will fit in the consumer d-SLR line between the D5000 and D90 models, but will bring many of the new advancements found in the D7000. These include a similar (not identical) 16.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, Expeed2 image processor, and an advanced high ISO range from 100 to 6,400 (expandable to 25,600) for clean image quality even in low available-light conditions.

Nikon said the camera was designed for photographers who are "ready to artistically express themselves." This is especially true when using the camera's Special Effects mode on the top mode dial.

This new setting can be applied to either stills or D-Movies to add Selective Color effects in which the photographer can choose to isolate from one to three different colors in a scene while converting the rest of the image to black and white.

The technique previously had been limited to advanced video or still editing software programs.

The Special Effects mode also features a Color Sketch option to create photos and stop-motion movies with a colorful sketched drawing appearance, and a Miniature effect records photos and high-speed movies that convey a mini-scale.

To record photos in extreme lighting conditions or to produce movies with a gritty appearance, a new Night Vision mode yields extreme low-light shooting at up to a super-high 102,400 ISO level.

Beyond the Effects mode, Nikon also offers a selection of high dynamic range (HDR) photo-taking options, including the Active D-Lighting system available in the past models to bring out details in extreme bright or dark areas of a scene; a bracketing system to take multiple images at different settings for use with HDR features in image edition programs outside of the camera; and Nikon's new "HDR" function within the camera that automatically exposes two consecutive images in rapid succession -- one over- and one underexposed up to 3EV stops to produce a finished photo with a wide range of midtones and highlights.

Active D-Lighting also can be selected by itself or combined with HDR for a more dramatic effect.

Other features in the D5100 include a 3-inch, 921,000-dot Vari-angle LCD screen that flips out and rotates 180 degrees (horizontally and vertically), a single SD card slot, and FullHD (1080p/24 fps and 30 fps) movie recording with full-time autofocus and AVCHD, H.264 video compression.

A range of retouching tools is also available in the camera, including color and filter effects, red-eye correction and NEF (RAW) processing.

The Picture Control system provides a selection of Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait or Landscape settings to apply a personal look and feel to their pictures, while Scene Modes include: Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close-up or Night Portrait.

For video, the camera records FullHD 1080p movies at either the 24 fps or 30 fps rate in addition to 720p, and offers an improved full-time autofocus system to track moving subjects.

 Users can quickly switch focus modes to stay with the action through a variety of AF functions, including face priority that tracks up to 35 human faces, subject-tracking, and normal or wide-area autofocus. A new on-camera switch is added to activate D-Movie mode and Live-View.

To offer improved sound recording, Nikon is introducing along with the D5100 its first video accessory item -- the ME-1 ($180 suggested retail) hot-shoe-mountable stereo directional mic. It uses a standard 3.5mm stereo jack and will work with most movie capable d-SLRs on the market.

The camera also includes an 11-point AF system for rapid focus acquisition, and a Scene Recognition System analyzes subject information from a database containing more than 30,000 images to optimize focus, exposure, i-TTL flash exposure and white balance.

The system reads data from the 420-pixel 3D Color Matrix Meter RGB sensor that examines the scene's brightness and color data then optimizes the camera's performance prior to the actual exposure.
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