These things no longer make even a $900 DSLR special: 15+ megapixel resolution, 1080p video recording and a swivel LCD screen. So Nikon's 16.2-megapixel D5100 tries to stand out by slathering on the in-camera special effects. This is the appification of your digital camera.


Here's what we've got, special sauce-wise:

• A monochrome night vision mode that pushes the sensor from its standard 100-6400 ISO range to 102,400, like the D3s. (Expect the photos to look more like cheap night vision goggles than the D3s's shots, though.)


• HDR mode that shoots two photos, three stops apart, and combines them. From what I was told, you're still gonna wanna use a tripod rather than hand-hold, unless you've got cybernetic arms that can remain deathly still.

• A faux tilt-shift miniature mode, that works on photos and video (which is shot at "high speed" to accentuate the mini-ness). Also for photos/video, there's real-time color sketch and selective color effects.

The rest of the camera is fairly standard for this class of beginnerish camera, fighting Canon's T3i: HD video recording's 1080p or 720p at 24/30fps, using h.264; 11 AF points; 420-pixel 3D Color Matrix Meter; 4FPS bursts; 921,000-dot 3-inch swivel LCD. All told, it's $800 for the camera alone, $900 with the kit lens.


I'm somewhat skeptical of the special effects stuff until I see what the results look like, but I understand why Nikon is going there in a mainstream camera—it seems like half of all the pictures I see from friends shared on social networks are digitally altered to look completely different for the sake of aesthetics.

Oh! And maybe my favorite thing is that Nikon's dropping a stereo mic built specifically DSLRs—it's designed with dampeners to shut out AF motor noise. It's $180. [Nikon]