Nikon D5100 Teardown



Teardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

It seems as though all the hot new electronics these days are tablet-this, phone-that. Frankly, our engineers had enough. Their spudgers were getting soft; we needed to do something that would present a *challenge* and get them sharp again -- none of the take-off-a-display-to-find-a-motherboard baloney.

We knew exactly where to turn. We've done a set of Nikon D70 repair guides in the past, and we saw how difficult it was to take apart an SLR. What better way to infuse a bit of fun in our teardowns than taking apart another SLR?

So, in the name of science and all that is right in this world, let's see what's inside the brand-new Nikon D5100!

Edit Step 1 Nikon D5100 Teardown  ¶ 

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Edit Step 1 Nikon D5100 Teardown  ¶ 

  • We here at iFixit are very fond of cameras. It is our pleasure to provide our fans with what we believe will be an amazing teardown. Without any further ado, we present the D5100 teardown.

  • The first thing we noticed about the D5100 was that the body was nowhere near the same heft as our standard workhorse camera, the D90. It just felt... punier.

  • And then we took some photos with it.

  • The photos came out amazing. The colors were crisp, and we could even get away with usable (albeit super-grainy) ISO 6400 shots, which is certainly not the case with the D90's ISO 3200.

  • For those who need a brush up on the definition of ISO, click here.

Edit Step 2  ¶ 

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  • The flippy rotating screen is very useful -- especially if you're trying to record yourself for YouTube.

  • Unlike the D90, the top of the camera does not include an informational LCD. Instead, we get the rotating mode selector on the right.

  • The specs:

    • 16.2 MP DX-format CMOS sensor

    • 4 FPS continuous shooting

    • 3.0 inch, 921,000-dot display

    • 1920x1080 recording at up to 30 FPS

    • 11-point AF (auto-focus) system

Edit Step 3  ¶ 

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • First thing's first: take out the battery. We don't want any electric juice running through the D5100's veins while we're taking it apart.

    • Especially not to the large-and-in-charge 330µF flash capacitor.

  • The 7.4 V 1030 mAh EN-EL14 Li-ion battery is used by the D5100, D3100, and the COOLPIX P700. Sadly, it's not compatible with other cameras in the Nikon lineup, such as the D90 and D7000.

Edit Step 4  ¶ 

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • The camera has roughly 4 billion screws holding it together. We'll be skipping a lot of the "unscrewing this screw" pictures (like the ones shown in this step) in order to keep the teardown interesting.

  • Trust us, after the 50th screw, it gets boring.

  • As if exposed screws weren't enough, Nikon also chose to hide screws underneath covers and the rubberized thumb grip.

Edit Step 5  ¶ 

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  • After a good twenty #00 Phillips screws were removed from the perimeter of the device, we managed to separate the rear cover.

  • A ribbon cable for the rear control buttons and a hefty 40 pin cable responsible for transmitting information to the rear display still attached the rear cover to the rest of the camera.

  • Fun fact: to eliminate the complexities of a slip ring on the rotating rear display, its motion is limited to 180 degrees.

Edit Step 6  ¶ 

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • After removing a couple more screws, the protective steel shield was removed from the motherboard.

  • Then we had the pleasure of disconnecting nine cables (not all can be seen) and de-soldering a few wires; finally, the motherboard was lifted out of its home.

Edit Step 7  ¶ 

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • Front view of the motherboard. (High-res version of the motherboard, click here):

    • Nikon EXPEED 2 EI-154 1051 Z05 image processor

    • Samsung K4T1G164QF-BCE7 1Gb DDR2-800 SDRAM (total of 3 Gb = 384 MB)

    • MXIC MX29GL128EHXFI-90G 128 Mb parallel flash memory

  • Rear view of the motherboard. (High-res version, click here):

    • Toshiba TMP19A44FEXBG low-power microcontroller

    • Nikon EI-155 M4L1BA00 00151044

    • Nikon NHHS-2 049M8

Edit Step 8  ¶ 

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • After much time spent hunting around to figure out how the front cover was attached, we decided to peel off the rubber grip beneath the shutter button.

  • And we found the answer. To remove the front cover, a bunch more creatively-placed screws had to be removed.

Edit Step 9  ¶ 

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • And just like that, the front cover can be pulled off the camera body.

  • With it gone, you can get a good look at most of the components that make the D5100 roar.

  • An electric motor (presumably linked to the shutter) can be seen next to the battery door, and the gigantic flash capacitor is housed right behind the lens release button.

  • The light blue pad wedged between the end of the flash capacitor and the bottom frame conducts heat away from the capacitor to cool it down during flash-intensive shooting.

Edit Step 10  ¶ 

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • Nothing to explain here. We're just amazed by the dizzying amount of electromechanical systems contained within a mid-priced SLR camera. Just look at all that stuff!

  • Feel free to use these photos as wallpapers. Check them out in full size: Photo 1 and Photo 2

Edit Step 11  ¶ 

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • The top cover is a feat of engineering by itself. Within its walls are contained:

    • Main control wheel, shutter/aperture control wheel, live view lever, On/Off switch, "info" button, record button, shutter button, exposure compensation button, IR sensor, AF lamp, flash, flash control circuitry, flash actuator, and the microphone.

  • The flash is actuated by a linear solenoid that pushes on a lever to release the spring-loaded flash -- either automatically if the sensor detects a low-light situation, or when the flash button is depressed.

Edit Step 12  ¶ 

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • It's time to take a look at the D5100's sensor. To get to it, we have to first remove the side cover for the ports, as well as the frame surrounding the ports.

  • With a couple more twists of a screwdriver, and a couple more cables disconnected, the sensor board comes out!

Edit Step 13  ¶ 

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Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • The D5100 utilizes a 16.2 megapixel DX format CMOS sensor to capture images.

    • This sensor has the same specs of the sensor used by the Nikon D7000.

  • Chipworks reports that each pixel is 4.8 µm wide. That's about half the diameter of a red blood cell!

  • The sensor has a special glass cover that turns red when viewed at an angle. Neat! (This is the "hot mirror," which filters out the infrared spectrum.)

Edit Step 14  ¶ 

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Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • Nikon D5100 Repairability Score: 2 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)

    • The battery can be easily replaced by opening the compartment with your thumbnail.

    • The rear cover comes off with minimal unscrewing/desoldering (for this kind of device), allowing you to access the motherboard.

    • The D5100 has several wires that need to be desoldered in order to take it apart.

    • Approximately 4 billion screws hold the device together.

    • Components are very tightly packed, making it more difficult to disconnect and remove them.

    • For absolute safety, you need to discharge the flash capacitor, otherwise you risk accidentally killing your camera.

Required Tools

Phillips #00 Screwdriver

$5.95 · 50+ In stock

Soldering Station

$24.95 · 50+ In stock


$4.95 · 50+ In stock


$4.95 · 50+ In stock


$4.95 · 50+ In stock

Recommended Tools

54 Bit Driver Kit

$29.95 · 50+ In stock

Pro Magnetic Project Mat

$19.95 · 50+ In stock

Pro Tech Screwdriver Set

$59.95 · 50+ In stock

Anti-Static Project Tray

$4.95 · 50+ In stock

Comments Comments are onturn off

Thanks a lot! This camera has already made history for me. Because on April 10th I bought a Nikon D3100, not knowing about the new D5100. The day the camera arrived I went to the Nikon web site, where I could now look at the "New Nikon D5100". I was very uncomfortable about that and couldn't sleep all night. In the morning I packed up the D3100 and send it back. The advantages of the D5100 over the D3100 make the couple a hundred bucks extra look ridiculously cheap. Alone the LCD Panel!

While it is with great pleasure to see You doing what I always loved to do, but my new 5100-Baby shall not be tampered with by Yours truly.

macsophie, · Reply

This is GREAT !! This has already helped me (by letting me know it was safe to wriggle-off the rubber side-plate over the a/v area). Just to confirm though: Am I correct in thinking that the front can be removed independently from needing to (previously) disassemble the back ? For most consumers - their audacity ends with ribbon-cables and certainly before desoldering... but "screws, i can do". Also - how exactly does one "non-destructively" remove the rubber hand-grip?

These questions are likely to become increasingly relevant because this camera is bound to be a runaway hit. But since N_kon doesn't want to undermine their more-expensive "pro-ish" offerings, they seem (IMHO) to be "de-faciliting" certain features and accessories (like a vertical grip). This means than D5100 owners will be searching for hacks that don't discernably void their warranty (i.e. "future un-doable hacks"). THANKS !!

Nebulo, · Reply

I have a D3100, I am looking at replacing the sd memory card cover that broke. Did you have take the back off the camera first, or is there a trick to taking the cover off without unscrewing the camera.

Bruce, · Reply

Super, used this to repair a D3100, the only extra trick was removing the diopter adjuster label to access hidden screw, otherwise as per your guide!

John in NZ, · Reply

How did you remove the diopter label?!


I just bought a D5100 for Infrared photograpy. Therefore, I have to take it apart and replace the hot mirror. Could you please share, what are the exact dimensions (width, height, thickness) of the hot mirror? I want to have a replacement ready before I open up the camera.

Tamas, · Reply

Approximately 4 billion screws hold the device together.

o.0 Not realy?!?!

vegas, · Reply

i got the flash stuck in the camera and i don't know how to fix it. When i push the flash button the lamp does not came out. can someone give me a helping hand with out without making the process shown above??


Giorgio, · Reply

Sames With Me. Do You Come With A Solution.

Shikhar Jaiswal,

how did you get the screw out from under the rubberized thumb grip, the screw itself is much smaller than the others?

Slate, · Reply

Thank you very much for this guide which helped me to solve a problem I was very concerned over...

DIOPTER FAULT: The moral of the story is leave your valued D5100 in your backpack when on your bicycle and carry an old cheap 35mm outside for those unexpected cannot miss shots... I was stupid as I attempted too turn left after it was too late to turn left and ended up in a heap... My D5100 in a shoulder bag took a hit as did my chest. I found out later that my view finder was now almost useless to me due to impact..

SYMPTOMS : Diopter wheel has no effect : Viewfinder has varying clarity, the worst area being the bottom right corner.

CAUSE: Impact led to the plastic spring loaded pin which the diopter wheel pushes had shot forward and trapped itself in that position...

SOLUTION: Follow this tear down to remove back and then just tickle the pin which shoots back out to its normal position and hence viewfinder now back in action..

I wonder has any one else ever had or will have this same situation ?

Stephen Rea, · Reply

I have the same problem with my D3200 I bought second hand. I may be trying your solution because it's very frustrating. Did you have any problem with re-assembly?


Hello, Nice pictoral guide. I didn't see specific mention of the shutter and blade assembly. My shutter blades are torn and need to be replaced. Because they look deep in the bowels, are the shutter assembly or blades able to be replaced without a total teardown?

Thank you

DSA, · Reply

Is the ruber grip glued to the front cover? If i peel it off afterwards i need some special glue to put it back? or it goes back in place whitouth a problem?

Lori, · Reply

The special glass cover on the lens is the infra-red filter/low pass filter.

smatele, · Reply

The glass in front of the sensor is probably an infra-red rensor preventing infrared photos with the Nikon D5100. Can anyone confirm ? Thanks

Vincent RAMPAL, · Reply

The red tinted glass is a light filter known as a "hot mirror". The image sensor in digital still cameras is sensitive to the near-infrared spectrum (720nm or so). The hot mirror filters out this near infrared light so that it doesn't cause odd tints in your pictures. Incidentally, cameras which have been converted for IR photography have this filter replaced with one that does the opposite, so that only infrared light will reach the sensor.

Travis Reed, · Reply

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