Setting Automatic Features on a Nikon D5100 - dummies

Setting Automatic Features on a Nikon D5100

By Julie Adair King

Your Nikon D5100 offers a variety of fully automatic exposure modes, which you access via the Mode dial. Your choices include Auto, which is a general purpose, point-and-shoot type of option, Auto Flash Off, which does the same thing as Auto but without flash, plus Scene modes, which are geared to shooting specific types of pictures.

These modes are designed for people without any knowledge of photography. You just frame the shot and press the shutter button. But even in these automatic modes, you have a few ways to control the camera’s behavior. You can adjust the following settings:

  • Focusing method: You can enjoy autofocusing, if your lens supports it, or focus manually. On the kit lens, select the focusing method via the A/M (auto/manual) switch.


  • Vibration Reduction: When enabled, this feature helps produce sharper images by compensating for camera movement that can occur when you handhold the camera. On the kit lens, turn Vibration Reduction on or off via the VR switch. Select On for handheld photography; set the switch to Off when you mount the camera on a tripod.

  • Flash: In Auto exposure mode, as well as in some Scene modes, the camera automatically raises and fires the built-in flash in dim lighting. In other modes, flash is disabled.

  • Image Quality and Image Size: By default, pictures are recorded at the Large Image Size setting, producing a 16.1 MP (megapixel) image, and the Normal Image Quality setting, which creates a JPEG picture file with a moderate amount of compression.

  • Exposure: In the Scene modes, you have access to one exposure-adjustment option, ISO Sensitivity, which determines how much light is needed to properly expose the image. At the default setting, Auto, the camera adjusts the ISO Sensitivity as needed.

  • Advanced Shooting menu options: You also can control the following more advanced Shooting menu options:

    • Auto Distortion Control: This feature attempts to correct for the slight distortion that can occur when you shoot with wide-angle or extreme telephoto lenses.

    • Color Space: Again, stick with the default setting, sRGB, unless you’re familiar with the others.

    • High ISO NR (Noise Reduction) and Long Exposure NR: These features try to compensate for image defects that can occur when you use a high ISO setting or a long exposure time, respectively.