• APS-C 372.9mm2
  • 12.3 megapixels
  • ISO 200 - 3200
  • APS-C 368.2mm2
  • 16.2 megapixels
  • ISO 100 - 6400

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Differences

Nikon D90 advantages over Nikon D5100

  • Fast startup
    ~0.30 vs 0.5 sec
    Faster startup lets you catch the moment
  • Longer battery life
    More info 850 vs 660 shots
    Capture more photos
  • Top deck display
    Yes vs No
    Check settings with a screen on top of the camera
  • More viewfinder magnification
    0.63x vs 0.52x
    Get a bigger view of the scene through the eye-level viewfinder
  • Pentaprism viewfinder
    Pentaprism vs Pentamirror
    Much better viewfinder picture fidelity
  • Bigger JPEG buffer
    Unlimited vs 100 shots
    Take more JPEG shots before waiting (burst mode)
  • More kit lens zoom
    5.8x vs 3.0x
    Zooming is easier than walking

Nikon D5100 advantages over Nikon D90

  • Tilt-swivel screen
    Tilt-swivel vs none
    Tilt and swivel the screen for maximum shooting flexibility
  • Less expensive
    $900 vs $1300 (MSRP)
    Save money for lenses or accessories
  • Higher effective ISO
    1,183 vs 977 iso
    Take photos in low light with less noise
  • External Mic Jack
    Jack vs No jack
    Improved sound fidelity when shooting video
  • Shoots 1080p video
    Yes vs No
    You'll want this if you shoot video
  • More pixels
    16.2 vs 12.3 megapixels
    Higher resolution photos
  • Newer
    4 years vs 7 years old
    Newer cameras often support more advanced features
  • Lighter weight
    829g vs 1133g
    Lighter weight
  • Higher extended ISO
    25600 vs 6400 ISO
    Higher extended ISO can give more low-light flexibility

Similarities

Common Strengths

  • Eye-level viewfinder
    Both provide
    You'll be able to frame photos even when the sun is out
  • HDMI out
    Both provide
    Use an external screen to monitor or review video
  • Hot shoe
    Both provide
    Off-camera flashes open new possibilities
  • Internal flash
    Both provide
    Useful in a pinch for fill flash
  • Bulb shutter
    Both provide
    Hold the shutter open manually for long exposures

Common Weaknesses

  • Focus peaking
    Neither provide
    Your camera will highlight what's in focus
  • NFC
    Neither provide
    Simplifies pairing your camera with supported phones
  • Touchscreen
    Neither provide
    Select your focus point more intuitively.
  • In-camera panoramas
    Neither provide
    Stitches multiple shots into a panoramic photo
  • In-Camera Image Stabilization
    Neither provide
    Reduces the effects of camera shake at slower shutter speeds
  • Wi-Fi
    Neither provide
    Share your photos wirelessly
  • GPS
    Neither provide
    Geotag your photos
  • On-sensor phase detect
    Neither provide
    Usually improves live view and video AF performance
  • Headphone jack
    Neither provide
    Monitor audio recording while you shoot video
  • Dual card slots
    Neither provide
    Gives you more storage flexibility
  • Slow-motion videos
    Neither provide
    Shoot slow-motion videos

User reviews

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Your purchases support this site

Review Excerpt

  • Side-mounted tilt / swivel LCD screen; same sensor and processing as the Nikon D7000; good speed and battery life; in-camera HDR and filter effects; Full HD video capture with aperture control; audio levels control and external microphone jack.

  • AF-S lens mount doesn't offer autofocus with screw-drive lenses; popup flash isn't the greatest; no built-in wireless flash control; HDR function doesn't microalign source images.

The Competition

Compared to Canon 50D

Nikon D90
Canon 50D
  • $1300
  • APS-C
  • Higher effective ISO
  • Longer battery life
  • $1000
  • APS-C
  • More cross-type AF points
  • Less shutter lag
Nikon D5100
Canon 50D
  • $385
  • APS-C
  • Tilt-swivel screen
  • Less expensive
  • $1000
  • APS-C
  • Fast startup
  • Top deck display

Compared to Nikon D300S

Nikon D90
Nikon D300S
  • $1300
  • APS-C
  • Higher effective ISO
  • Bigger JPEG buffer
  • $1248
  • APS-C
  • More cross-type AF points
  • External Mic Jack
Nikon D5100
Nikon D300S
  • $385
  • APS-C
  • Tilt-swivel screen
  • Higher effective ISO
  • $1248
  • APS-C
  • Fast startup
  • Longer battery life

Compared to Sony DSLR-A550

Nikon D90
Sony DSLR-A550
  • $1300
  • APS-C
  • Lens selection
  • Fast startup
  • $859
  • APS-C
  • Less expensive
  • Tiltable Screen
Nikon D5100
Sony DSLR-A550
  • $385
  • APS-C
  • Tilt-swivel screen
  • Less expensive
  • $859
  • APS-C
  • In-Camera Image Stabilization
  • Longer battery life

Compared to Nikon D3100

Nikon D90
Nikon D3100
  • $1300
  • APS-C
  • Fast startup
  • More dynamic range
  • $700
  • APS-C
  • Less expensive
  • Shoots 1080p video
Nikon D5100
Nikon D3100
  • $385
  • APS-C
  • Tilt-swivel screen
  • Higher effective ISO
  • $700
  • APS-C
  • Less expensive

Compared to Sony DSLR-A560

Nikon D90
Sony DSLR-A560
  • $1300
  • APS-C
  • Lens selection
  • Fast startup
  • $750
  • APS-C
  • Less expensive
  • Tiltable Screen
Nikon D5100
Sony DSLR-A560
  • $385
  • APS-C
  • Lens selection
  • Tilt-swivel screen
  • $750
  • APS-C
  • Less expensive
  • In-camera panoramas
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