Review: Nikon Coolpix S5100

You may recall towards the end of last year, our post on an Epson and Nikon picture event held in Soweto. Well over the last few weeks we have been playing with the gear we used that day and thought we could share our reviews of them kicking off with the Nikon Coolpix S5100.

Build and Handling

Let’s begin with at what I feel are the most critical factors in determining if I will even want to use a camera or not. To my mind, unless a camera does something really unique and spectacular, there should be no reason why I should be expected to use it if it’s not enjoyable to use.

As far as compacts go the S5100 is up with the best. Well built and compact in size, this little body packs a 12.2MP CCD, 5x Optical Zoom with VR (Vibration Reduction) and HD Video clips. If I have one complaint about the build of the camera it is that being small with a smooth metal body I was paranoid about dropping it, other than that the controls are laid out well for its size and it handles well.

Performance and Image Quality

Lately the compacts I have reviewed are a bit of a mixed bag in this department, not so with the Coolpix S5100.

On the front of the camera is a sticker which proudly proclaims a feature referred to as “Quick Response”. In essence this means that the camera should turn on in an instant and be ready to shoot. This camera does have one of the quickest power ups I have seen in a compact but let me clarify a little. When you hit the power button the camera’s zoom springs to life popping out in an instant with the screen almost immediately giving a view of the scene. In bright conditions if you hit the power button and then right after that the shutter button you should find it gets the shot no hassles. If on the other hand you first want to turn the flash on before you hit the shutter – just as an example – be prepared for the camera to think a little first before it gives you options to change any such settings.

Images with titles were edited in Lightroom 3 as a personal project to see how one can maximize images from compact cameras

Image quality, focus, metering where all great for this camera, certainly in the top of its class and it is in fact my time with this camera that has made me realize that we too quickly right off compacts as to small to do the job of daily documenting great images and consign them to snapping only. Indeed one must play with things a little more at first but in reality (once you know the boundaries of the compact you own) these little cameras are very capable machines. I think I took some of my best images in the past year with this camera – and in some cases a little editing in Lightroom 3.


If you are looking for a great compact camera that is slim and has a little more flexibility in the zoom range this is a great camera to consider. I certainly wouldn’t be upset it I was given one, nudge, nudge, wink, wink to Nikon 🙂

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