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Nikon is announcing the D5100, the cropped-sensor (1.5X) DSLR successor to the D5000.  The D5100 uses a new 16 megapixels CMOS sensor with a high-sensitivity range of  100-6400, expandable to 25600.  It also features a special Night Vision mode which reaches a whopping ISO 102400! This is the highest ISO achievable by any cropped-sensor DSLR.

The Nikon D5100 captures full 1080p HD movies with continuous autofocus (AF-C). Users can quickly switch focus modes using a variety of AF functions, including Face Priority which tracks up to 35  faces, Subject Tracking and standard AF. The D5100 digital SLR offers variable frame rates and resolutions, and can record 1080p at 24 FPS.  Video can be recorded up to 20 minutes using the AVCHD codec.

Once recorded, movie clips can be edited directly in-camera. The D5100 records stereo sound via a mini-jack input which can be used with wireless or hot-shoe-mounted microphones such as the new Nikon ME-1. Even during recording, the Nikon D5100 can apply effects directly to both stills and video.

The D5100 is the first Nikon DSLR to provide a built-in HDR function to capture scenes where the dynamic-range exceeds the sensor’s capabilities by taking 3 consecutive exposures and blending them together.

This new DSLR features a rotating 3″ LCD with 920K pixels resolution, a 1000:1 contrast-ratio and 180° visibility both horizontally and vertically. The D5100 is equipped with a 11-point AF system and 420-pixel 3D Colour Matrix Meter RGB sensor which uses a database of over 30000 images to determine the optimal exposure.

A new ME-1 stereo microphone is being launched simultaneously with the D5100 to address photographers abandoning their video cameras for the versatility of a digital SLR. Engineered specifically for DSLRs, the new ME-1 attaches to the hot shoe and has noise dampening components designed to minimize autofocus noise. It has a low-cut filter to reduce wind noise not already blocked by the wind screen. The ME-1 also features a cable stop to keep the cable out of the way when using the camera, and reduce instances of noise from unintentional contact. Because it utilizes a standard 3.5mm stereo jack, the ME-1 is ideal for the D5100 and other Nikon HD movie capable digital SLRs such as the D3s, D300s, D7000 and the compact Coolpix P7000.

The Nikon D5100 digital SLR camera is scheduled to be available beginning late April 2011 at a suggested retail price of $899.95 CDN for a kit that includes the Nikkor DX AF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens. The Nikon ME-1 microphone is scheduled to be available at in May 2011 at a suggested price of $159.95 CDN.

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