The 16.2 megapixel entry to mid-level DSLR is largely comparable to Canon's EOS 600D, with both sporting similar specs and price tag.
The D5100 comes with full manual controls, a wide ISO range of 100-6400/25600, and full 1080p HD recording with full-time autofocus and manual exposure control but Nikon seems most excited about the camera's new range of on board creative effects.
Included in the Special Effects menu is an HDR (high dynamic range imaging) mode, a Color Sketch mode, a Miniature (tilt-shift) mode and a Night Vision mode, all of which can be applied to both photos and movies.
"Now more than ever, consumers want to pack only one device with them when travelling on excursions both far away and close to home," said Lisa Osorio, general manager of marketing at Nikon Inc.
"By providing consumers with a simple path to creative freedom for both stills and movies, the Nikon D5100 is designed to become an essential camera for capturing all of life's occasions."