Image: The D-Lighting control manages to lift detail in the shadow areas of the image without causing the result to look artificial
The 3D Color Matrix Metering II system employed by the D5100 does an impressive job and, despite having a lower pixel count on its sensor compared to the D7000, appears no less able. Highlights are maintained in all but the most extreme scenes, and in many cases the tone curve will fall into the shadows rather than peak at the highlights, making the retrieval of detail far easier.
This means that for most scenes it is possible to leave the exposure compensation untouched. For extra control the Active D-Lighting system will automatically bring out those shadow details without causing the image to appear fake.
For selective metering, centreweighted places a 75% weighting on the central 8mm circle, making it more suited for portraits or objects with bright backgrounds; for precision use, the spot mode meters from the central 2.5% of the frame.