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Nikon D5100 Viewfinder

As with most DSLRs, the Nikon D5100 has an optical viewfinder that lets you view your subject through the lens. Following a popular trend, though, the camera also offers a Live view mode, in which the mirror flips up and the main image sensor continuously captures a live image of the subject, displaying it on the rear-panel LCD screen. Like the D5000 before it, the Nikon D5100 has an articulating LCD, but the side-swivel mechanism means it is now visible from in front of the camera on a tripod or flat surface, making its Live View mode even more useful.

Nikon says the D5100's viewfinder provides a magnification of 0.78x and a coverage of about 95%. The Nikon D5100's dioptric correction (for eyeglass wearers) has a range from -1.7 to +0.7 diopter, adjusted via a slider on the right side of the viewfinder eyepiece housing. The viewfinder has an eyepoint of 17.9mm at -1 diopter, enough that most eyeglass wearers should be able to see the full viewfinder area without having to mash their glasses against the viewfinder bezel. The Nikon D5100's viewfinder employs a pentamirror design, rather than the brighter but heavier and more costly pentaprism system.

The graphic and table below shows what information is displayed in Nikon D5100's viewfinder.

Focus points
Flash compensation indicator
Focus indicator
Exposure compensation indicator
Autoexposure (AE) lock indicator
Auto ISO sensitivity indicator
Shutter speed
Number of exposures remaining
Aperture (f-number)
Number of shots remaining before memory buffer fills
Battery indicator
White balance recording indicator
Bracketing indicator
Exposure compensation value
"K" (appears when memory remains for over 1,000 exposures)
Flash compensation value
Flash-ready indicator
Capture mode indicator
Flexible program indicator
ISO sensitivity
Exposure indicator
Warning indicator
Exposure compensation display
Electronic rangefinder


Viewfinder Test Results

Average coverage accuracy from the optical viewfinder. Very good accuracy from the LCD in Live View mode.

60mm, Optical
60mm, Live View LCD

The Nikon D5100's optical viewfinder showed just over 95 percent coverage vertically and just over 94% coverage horizontally, with our reference Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 prime lens. This is about average for a consumer digital SLR. The viewfinder image was tilted and shifted somewhat compared to the imaging sensor, which unfortunately is not that uncommon with SLR optical viewfinders. In Live View mode, the Nikon D5100's LCD showed just over 100% coverage vertically, and slightly below 100% coverage horizontally, which is very good.


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon D5100 Photo Gallery.

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