Scene Modes

Nikon D5100 operation mode dial, SCENE
Nikon D5100 operation mode dial, portrait

Explanation: Scene modes are the ones with pictograms and additional ones available in the setting SCENE.
When you push the info button or the i-button you can see the name of the mode at the top left of the camera monitor. And in the setting SCENE you can choose between different modes using the command dial.

The D5100 will choose all camera settings automatically as in the AUTO mode but the settings are optimised for several typical shooting situations.

There is no magic behind, the SCENE modes alter only settings that you can also set yourself the same way in other modes.

When using SCENE mode several menus appear grayed out and cannot be selected because the D5100 manages the related settings automatically.

The following table gives an overview which settings are changed in which of the scenes compared to the standard AUTO mode:

SCENE mode specific camera settings
portrait large aperture for soft, unsharp background
flash: automatic
picture control: portrait
landscape preferred aperture: 8-11 for good depth-of-focus
picture control: landscape
flash: off
child flash: automatic
I haven‘t noticed any difference to AUTO.
sports short exposure times
flash: off
autofocus: single focus point
close up flash: automatic
autofocus: single focus point
night portrait flash with slow sync
picture control: portrait
night landscape flash: off
party/indoor flash: slow sync with red-eye reduction
beach / snow flash: off
picture control: landscape, sharpening slightly reduced to 3
sunset flash: off
picture control: landscape, sharpening slightly reduced to 3
dusk / dawn flash: off
white balance: 4550K = warm light ? color rendition is corrected towards cooler (blue) colors
picture control: landscape, sharpening slightly reduced to 3
pet portrait flash: automatic
autofocus: single focus point
candlelight flash: off
white balance: 4350K = warm light ? color rendition is corrected towards cooler (blue) colors

picture control: standard, sharpening slightly reduced to 2

blossom flash: off
picture control: landscape, hue -1
autumn colors flash: off
picture control: vivid
food flash: has to be switched on or off manually using the flash button

picture control: Standard, saturation +1

Recommendation: See the beginning of this chapter – SCENE mode can produce better pictures if the chosen scene fits with your shooting situation.

But it should be seen only as a help for users who are not so familiar with the basics of digital photography.
You get better results if you know at least the basic settings and can set them according to your specific situation yourself.