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I bought this camera in Decmeber 2007 as I needed a better digital camera for a 2 month trip to the Indian sub-continent. I wanted a camera that was better than your standard point-and-shoot and didn't want to spend so much on a massive SLR that I would have to lug around and would be difficult to use when trying to capture those candid street shots you take, especially in a place like India.
After a bit of research opted to buy the P5100. It is a compact camera that is aimed at SLR users who would like a camera that is more convenient to carry around. Tha camera is light with a magnesium alloy body, is very well built and sturdy, and feels great in the hand due to the SLR style grip on the side of the camera. The camera has 12 megapixels and a 3.5x optical zoom lens. The screen on the back is a 2.5 inch LCD which isn't the greatest but there is also a small optical view finder which is very useful in conditions when there is too much sunlight!!
The controls buttons are well laid out on the back of the camera, and there is a mode dial on top mode dial with PASM exposure modes and other scene presets. There is also a simple thumb wheel for changing things like aperture or shutter settings. The menu system is well designed and easy to navigate around to change settings.
The plus points of this camera over typical point-and-shoots is that there is a host of manual exposure controls and other options you can change. However the Auto Mode has 15 scene modes which are useful for those who just want to point-and-shoot. The Optical Image Stabilization is also very helpful when taking photos, as it usually helps in avoiding those blurry images you can get!!
The camera produces great photographs. The colours are very natural, which took some time getting used to when I compared them to those taken by other digital cameras which are typically over-saturated. However now I am fully converted and everyone says that the picture quality is great when they see my photos.
The only problem I have with the camera is that the camera is a bit sluggish, with a bit of shutter lag which can be a bit annoying. Also the shot-to-shot time is quite long so it is difficult to keep shooting continuously.
Overall the camera is great, very easy to use, and if I could eliminate the sluggish performance, it would be the perfect carry round camera. I think Nikon has upgraded the model in the last year, so you might be able to pick one of these up for cheaper now.