While today's compacts are very capable camera's that produce very good images , there is still a big difference between an SLR when it comes to quality and especially control. There are just some photos you will not be able to get with the limitations of fixed lens cameras.
My first impressions are very favorable and the D5100 feels very comfortable in your hands and the buttons are well laid out. I have tested the camera out at a local Costco, so there are no real surprises as far as the general camera body goes. The LCD screen is an articulating screen, which eliminates the left side of the body for function buttons, but that isn't a big deal as accessing camera functions is very simple with one button that allows you to cycle through available options with out accessing a menu.
For functions that are only accessed through the menu, you will be able to find them very easily as the entire menu is broken down into sections relative to the type of function and you even have a recent settings menu that displays (and allows you to modify) the menu settings you have changed previously.
I am excited to share my learning experience, tips and photos I take along the way - starting with a photo of some Hibiscus flowers taken at my in-laws.