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About six months ago I decided that my own samll, handheld digital camera was not up to scratch and began a search for something better. For months I yearned for a digital camera to take great quality pictures and then I stumbled across this gem for not too steep of a price. I wanted the camera because many others had similar ones and were bragging about how good it was to have a camera of insane quality. So I took the plunge and believe it is one of the best choices I have made of late. The camera has many features for any type of light (for which I cannot even begin to comprehend) and for anyone with just very little knowledge of Cameras, this can feel bewildering in kind of a good way. The features have been fully utilised by my friends who are more in the know and have said how impressed they are with its features. One resoundingly good point I need to make is that when I first uploaded pictures I had taken of a recent event I was actually shocked to see myself in more detail than even a mirror had seemed to provide me with. It truly is astonishing how the quality of the pictures from this camera are at such a high level. I could not recommend this camera more. I have even began dabbling with extra lenses and seeing how much I can do with my not so widespread knowledge. This camera really has fueled my ambition to become a better photographer.
I bought this camera roughly a year ago from Jessops after deciding that's it's rediculous to pay someone to take pictures of the kids when we can do a perfectly decent job at home (or wherever we are in fact) we purchased the basic camera, a standard lens, and a zoom lens. We also took out extra insurance to cover if it got dropped or smashed by one of the children (insurance was covered by another company so we are safe even though Jessops have gone bust). We decided to go for an SLR over a point and shoot as we wanted a higher quality of picture, we also decided the 14 megapixels would be brilliant for canvas blow ups for the home and gifts.
When we got it home we had a little play with the lenses and exposure etc the first thing we noticed was the large LCD screen on the back and also the quality feel in the hand. We have been using it on auto settings and had some fantastic pictures (I know, I'm hoping to take a course in October to teach me how to use other settings) On the camera screen you can crop, zoom and edit pictures without using a computer (you can also add effects such as black and white, sepia and negative. These options are particularly useful should you wish to use the memory card straight into a printer or at a printing shop. The camera also has a useful video camera function, we haven't used this extensively as yet, but what we have recorded seems to be excellent quality.
The camera is very easy to use, however I find we sometimes avoid taking it with us due to the bulky size, and other lenses we have to carry too!I would also advise you to buy a sturdy camera bag, we chose a Trek bag although there are many on the market that are similar. I would also recommend an HD SD card over a standard one, especially if you wish to use the video camera function. I would definitely recommend this camera as an entry level SLR, but I would also suggest that you take a course to learn how to use it at full potential!
I got the Camera around 2 years back and haven't looked back since! at around £600 it came with a memory card, Camera bag, extra Zoom lens etc. I brought this simply to take pictures of family and my 2 son's.
The Build of the camera is probably the best feature of this camera. The camera is fairly weighty especially compared to rival camera's but to me this was a selling point as i liked the weighty real feel to it.
The ease of use was also a great feature the auto setting was more than adequate in most settings light and dark. The only time the auto really struggled was with fast moving object's or people. The images normally would come out sharp and full of deep colour.
I did find the extra lens i got was actually better than the standard one that you got with the camera however. This is a common thing to find with DSLR however as each lens works to its own strengths.
For the price of the normal camera standard i would highly recommend bu i would also advise gettings and extra lens for the extra sharp photo's.
All in all the camera was great and if you are new to DSLR or a photographer you will not be disappointed.
This will not be a technical review by any stretch of the imagination but rather one from my own personal experience of the camera and with this camera. If you want technical details you can find that by going to the Nikon website and researching about the camera.
I usually take two cameras with me when I go on holiday so that I always have a back-up in case something goes wrong. Can you imagine visiting the Taj Mahal one of the greatest sites on earth and one of my cameras decided to go gaga, the anti-tremor mechanism went into loopy mode and started to shake the picture all over the place. Fortunately I had a backup but there were two other people in our group whose cameras decided to play up or would not work or the battery died or some other malfunction.
The last three cameras I have owned have all been Sony cameras but I wanted something that was a bit more powerful and would take slightly better pictures. Although there was nothing wrong with the majority of the photos I took, the cameras really could not handle photos taken at night or with poor lighting.
I tend to take rather a lot of photos for example on my first day in Bangkok I visited the Grand Palace and three quarters of the way around the palace my camera started to flash stating the memory card was full. My friends told me not to be so daft and when I checked I had taken 1500 photos. I was so disappointed because I did not have a spare memory card on me so a quarter of the palace remains to be visited again at some point! It is not unknown for me to take 6-7000 photos on a two week holiday. Thank goodness for digital photography because you have the luxury of deleting those photos that are not quite up to scratch.
I bought the camera the Nikon D3100 from Jessops as part of a kit which included the camera body, the lens which is a Nikon 18mm to 55mm lens and has a vibration reduction motor inside it, I also bought a Tamron compatible telephoto lens 70mm to 200mm, and a carry bag. With the amount of photos I take on holiday I also bought an extra battery and three 8GB memory cards. Although I have several cameras two of which are point and shoot and one is an SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera of a higher specification. This camera the D3100 is aimed at entry level for SLR camera owners as there are many useful features to the camera. Not only does it take photos but also takes video films too. Not only that there is a handy guide to talk you through taking pictures so as you get used to the camera you can learn more along the way to get the best photographic results possible. The camera also comes with two CD's for loading on your pc and a Nikon programme for editing your photos. I use a card reader to transfer the photos and these transfer them really quickly. In total I spent just over £700.
The body of the camera is quite well built and is made of a metal construction rather than previous models which were made of plastic. It feels fairly sturdy and not light weight and is black in colour. The lens looks quite impressive when attached to the camera. It took a bit of getting used to as it was slightly heavier than the Sony one I had and I have found it to be easy to hold.
Along the top of the camera body there is a setting dial which can be set at different settings for example automatic, night time mode, macro mode for close up shots, portrait, child mode, sports mode, and guide mode which will take you through various settings depending on what you are trying to take snaps of. There are also different settings for example multiple picture mode, timer so that you can fly into the photo if you want to be included in a shot. All standard features like other cameras.
There is also a power switch and the picture depress button. There is an automatic flash on the top which is covered and rises automatically when the lighting is too poor however in some poor light it manages to take really clear pictures without the flash being activated.
To the rear of the body there is a LCD screen where you can look at what you are taking a photo of without using the eye lens. Once having taken the photo it is displayed for about 3-4 seconds. The camera can take continuous photos of three frames per second which is quite fast by keeping your finger depressed on the photo button. Along the left hand side at the rear there are five buttons which allow you to preview photos, camera set up, an information button, navigation buttons to increase the size of the photo or reduce it. There is also a record switch to change the mode of the camera to Video mode.
I tried taking photos using different settings some that were successful and some that were not.
I decided to book myself on an introduction to DSLR photography course. The guy was really good and showed me buttons on the camera I had not even realised were there. We took simple still life photos and then something really quite amazing by catching photos of moving objects. The results were quite impressive using different settings but without someone telling me what settings to put the camera on I wouldn't have had a clue what to do with it. However although it was really interesting to use these settings I am actually quite lazy and just prefer to point and shoot automatic feature. I felt as soon as I came out of the class all that I had just learnt went swiftly out of my head. ISO settings, F settings etc etc.
A couple of weeks later we went to Windsor castle the sole purpose of which was to try to use the camera to its full potential. Some of the results were absolutely disastrous but some shots were quite good. However it is so easy to slip the switch back to automatic and let the camera do all the work........ Call me a philistine but when time is of the essence I just cannot be bothered. If you really have the time you can use the guide that is inbuilt in the camera but to be honest who really wants to or has the time to use it but it is there for you to use should you wish to.
Taking the photo!
When you decide what you are taking a photo of, you just point it at the subject then slightly depress the button. The anti-shake motor kicks in and freezes the picture so that you can take your shot. What I found quite useful is that there are markers you can see through the lens viewer which highlight faces and various points around the photo that highlights certain things and fades other more prominent features of the photo. It is all quite clever stuff which aims to give the photos more depth to the photo. The majority of the photos I have taken are quite clear and have not been blurred or fuzzy unless I have moved the camera myself and my finger off the button. The dials are easy to use and all the buttons are easily accessible which can be changed manually or through the screen display and the direction ring on the back of the camera next to the screen.
I must say I have been quite impressed with the results. I did use the night setting in St. Michael's caves in Gibraltar just recently and the pictures came out dreadfully so I flipped the switch back to automatic mode and the pictures seemed to come out better when I prevented the flash from flashing. One of the features I found really good is that when taking photos indoors for example in a museum or church you do not need to use the flash and the pictures come out really clearly.
I have used the video mode and the quality is quite good. The film is clear and the colours appear really quite good however the microphone does pick up all sounds but if I wanted to use this as a camcorder the possibility is there without having to lug yet another camera or camcorder around with me.
What are the pictures like?
I am pretty pleased with the high resolution of the pictures I have taken with this camera although most of the pictures are in excess of 3mb and some more than 4mb but can be chopped about and reduced for ease of uploading to web sites or for sending in emails. Most websites and emails cannot cope with photos larger than 2mb so they need to be reduced or compressed. The colour quality has been really good and I am pleased with the photos I have taken. I have also taken photos using the telephoto lens. The lens is really quite powerful and really takes brilliant photos from a distance however I find it rather a chore to change the lens. I am contemplating a different lens so that I do not have to change them however the lenses work out nearly as expensive as I paid for the camera in the first place. I am still undecided about this though at the moment mainly due to the cost.
Do I like the camera?
Yes I do, it is supposed to be a basic entry level camera but for me it is quite advanced. I think what I need to do is spend more time with it just getting the feel for the camera and taking photos at different settings in different situations and taking different subject matter. I think that you tend to find what is useful and what is not through experiential learning. One thing I am certain of though is that at the moment I am still not using the camera to its full potential and that there is far more that this camera can do than I am currently using it.
At this precise time I think that this camera is enough for me and my ability to take reasonable photos but if you were really into photography then it may not be suitable for you. Some of my friends who have better cameras think that the camera is really quite good (and I do not think they are just being polite) but they are also impressed with the quality of build and the quality of the photos it takes. For me I am quite happy with the camera and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to venture into digital SLR photography. You can buy much more advanced cameras that are much more expensive but you won't be disappointed with this camera.
The D3100 camera is a low end digital SLR (Single Reflex Lens) camera. It is the cheapest SLR model that Nikon has for sale. I bought it because I wanted to get started on photography without the price tag in the middle to top end cameras, but I did want the features that an SLR offers. Needless to say I am happy with my purchase, the sensor offers good enough megapixels to print larger than normal photos without loss of detail (A4 or at a stretch A3 if captured tack sharp). It offers interchangeable lenses from the Nikkor range (so you can have just about any flavor lens you like as long as its DX format). On this basis the camera has allowed me to toy around with lenses and settings, depth of field and even the larger type flash guns which make portrait photography possible in studio settings - it's great! The view finder seems small in my opinion, it does the job but having seen larger models and more expensive models their view finders are more comfortable to use in comparison to this unit. The menus are helped by Nikons no fuss menu systems, it's easy to change settings and the camera even offers a no hassle setting that takes load should you just simply want to point and click.
The camera takes SD cards and has good battery life, spares are cheap to buy so adding to the kit bag for this unit is easy and cheap.
It's no surprise why most users new to SLR turn to this unit. Would I recommend to a friend in a similar position to me? YES. Would I buy it again? If I were starting out again, then YES, but since it's done its job (and still forms part of my photography kit range because of its superb functionality and quality of build) NO - but hence its done its job!
Better alternatives? Not really, the canon EOS1100 is the nearest competitor but in comparison to this model lacks the rubber grips and feel of quality that the Nikon has. The only thing I would say is that Nikon now has a D3200 out with higher megapixels. Maybe worth a look at if you are going to print A3+, what it does mean is that this unit is now even cheaper, you can pick up a great digital SLR for next to nothing now that the new model is taking the lead. OK the new model does a few things better, but again this unit still turns out professional quality pictures with the right lens.
I like this camera because: It's small and compact, it is quality in both build and in output, adaptable because of the lens range and accessory range.
Things I don't like: I cannot see the ISO setting when the camera is on auto mode, I cannot preview depth of field, the screen lacks the pixels so the preview is lower (but not too low) in detail. I cannot use lenses unless they are DX format.
I bought the Nikon D3100 camera along with the 18-55mm AF-S lens kit back in May and have been a keen user ever since. I wanted a camera that was easy to use so that I could start to take good pictures straight away and learn more of the camera's functions as I went along.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was that ther was no instruction manual. I panicked a little thinking how could I possibly figure out how to use this camera, only to notice that the manual is in fact provided on a CD-Rom.
Assembly of the camera is incredibly straightforward. Simply remove the caps from both the camera and the lens, put the lens in place and twist to secure it.
Pictures can be taken from then on by simply selecting the auto function on the picture dial. This means you simply point, allow the camera to focus and then click to take the shot. Once you become more familiar you can use more of the presets for different shots, for example portrait or macro shots.
I have begun to use the manual settings now and so far have found the settings easy to find and alter and the general menus easy to navigate. Some of the pictures I have taken are really impressive (probably more fluke than anything!), but the D3100 does make it easy to take good pictures right from the outset.
The battery life is okay, but can drain quickly on longer sessions. I purchased an additional battery and a dual-battery grip to extend the battery life when in use for longer periods.
At £363, the Nikon D3100 is a dSLR truly worth considering, with a pixel count of 14.2 million and a 23.1 x 15.4 mm CMOS sensor. Though counted as entry-level, it serves its purpose well, appeasing even the most experienced of photographers. Even if you might be a total newbie to the fascinating area of photography and have had no previous knowledge of how to use dSLR cameras or how they operate, the Nikon D3100 does its best to help you, incorporating a guide mode specifically there to help those who require it.
However, if you're a professional, don't worry, as the camera also has manual focused settings such as shutter speed and aperture priority, a programmable setting and a purely manual setting where one's able to control everything from ISO to exposure with a little button pressing.
The screen's easy to navigate, with bright colours and clearly labelled menu options, and the camera itself has a few snazzy photo-editing features that you can use to spice up your pictures. Moreover, the weight of the camera isn't too at approximately 505g, so you can take all the time you need creating those perfect little moments.
I love this camera, I've had it over 2 years now and still enjoy using it and am impressed with the pictures it produces. I have to be completely honest and say despite promising myself on purchasing it that I would, I have yet to learn how to use it properly, but the auto setting works a dream, most of the time.
I bought it initially for work, taking close up product shots, but the lens that comes with the body, just isn't really up to this, so I continue to use an eight year old Nikon compact on macro setting for those. I expect that one day I will add more lenses to the camera, but for now I am happy using it for personal family shots.
I'm certainly not tired of it yet and expect it will stay with me for many years yet.
It's a great camera for taking your first steps into the world of SLR cameras, it's really easy to use, fairly portable and takes great pictures (I get compliments on mine all the time). It also has a fantastic battery life, mine lasts so long between charges I can never find the charger when I do need it!
I would definitely recommend this camera to others.
The Nikon d3100 is a DSLR entry level starter camera that prices around £400 pounds best price £330 SLRhut which features a 14.2mp APS-C 23.1*15.4mm CMOS sensor which has a total ISO rating of 3200 expandable on high to 6400 which for most people is enough to cater for their needs as it is a DSLR it has a big variety of Nikon lenses available a total of 169 but some only featuring manual focus the main kit you buy is the 18-55mm kit lens that I recommend getting another lens either the 50mm prime lens or the 55-200mm depends on the type of shooter you are street photography 50mm prime if you want the zoom go for the 55-200mm zoom lens.
The camera has a built in pop up flash which does a decent job a hot shoe provides the option for an external flash. The guide and menu are simple and friendly to use with an enhanced guide mode compared to other similar models in the market I believe Nikon have the best menu out there but the 230k pixel screen lets it down although 3 inches I am very disappointed that they have not upgraded it to at least 920k. Another feature of the Nikon is its video mode which features 24fps with this you can get the film feel one big bonus is that of its video autofocus mode which i think gives it a big advantage over other models another disappointment that it does not include an external microphone which for video fanatics is a big let down the camera also features a 3fps continuous shooting mode which is pretty awful for a camera of this standard
In conclusion this makes a great camera but if you are looking for more quality if you have another £50 pounds buy the sony a35 excellent camera for a little more of the price.
I've had this camera for about a year now and I'm fairly happy with it. You can get some absolutely brilliant shots provided you know what you're doing with it - though a quick and easy mode dial is conveniently located up top - so pretty much anyone can use this even if it does look a bit scary.
The provided kit lens is very versatile and enables you to compose landscape shots or take cool macro shots - and autofocus will ensure you get really nice 'bokeh' (blurred backgrounds) - that or you can switch it off at the lens using the convenient AF button and go manual with the focus ring.
Photos from the camera are pretty amazing. Up close images can appear a little soft; the first camera-enthusiast forum I went to I was told that Nikons shoot softer by default instead of sharpening like other cameras. You can change this in the settings though or process them later.
Not every exposure will be perfect and whilst it's a brilliant camera - it does, in certain conditions, overblow bright areas if you are shooting on automatic. Enabling RAW NEF is handy if you need to sort anything like this out; you can import your photos to LightRoom and/or PhotoShop without any JPG compression quality loss.
HD video recording possibly the only area that I can fault on this camera. Whilst it can take great-looking 1080p video, the microphone picks up noise from the AutoFocus mechanism motors and there's only a monophonic microphone.
Construction quality is top-notch - my D3100 has survived a few nasty drops and still looks new. Couldn't be happier with this camera.
I have owned this camera for about 7 months now and really enjoy it. I came to this DSLR from a Panasonic compact and an Olympus Micro 4/3 model. Wow, what a difference!!
The D3100 is the entry-level DSLR from Nikon, but still features a lot of camera for the money. It has a large, 16mp sensor which delivers some brilliant results, and the kit lens (18-55mm) is capable of nice sharp images.
I find the camera body very comfortable in the hands, but this is always subjective so please try and give one a try in the shop and compare it to a Canon etc to see how you feel. The controls are all placed conveniently and within easy reach at all times. The body is really quite compact, which means those with larger hands may find it a little too small.
The D3100 has very good low light performance and when paired with something like the 35mm or 50mm f1.8 lenses, the results are wonderful. I use mine almost extensively with the 35mm f1.8G lens and it's a match made in heaven! Pin sharp photos, great low light results, clean and sharp indoor shots without using a flash - just brilliant.
The HD video recording is very useful and highly capable. The D3100 also features continuous autofocus during video recording, which works very well for the most part, but can be a little slow to re-focus if the subject is moving forward/back at any real speed. The video quality is very nice and when the camera is paired with a nice prime lens, the results look very professional. Just make sure you use a tripod or a nice steadycam of some sort if you want really smooth video ;)
Colour reproduction is wonderful on the D3100, delivering accurate, but bold and saturated colours, without being over saturated. If you shoot in RAW mode, you'll have more control over each photo during the editing process, but if you're not into editing photos very much, you'll be better off in JPEG mode, since the image files will be smaller in size (not resolution) and will look slightly more impressive straight out of the camera. However, the RAW images would look better after some quick editing and should be slightly sharper than JPEGs take straight from the memory card.
The D3100 has very good autofocus, with multiple AF modes which come in handy when photographing different situations. There is an Auto mode for users who are new to DSLR's or just don't want to get involved with all of the different settings. However, the camera really comes into its own when using the different modes such as Program, Aperture priority and Shutter priority, and there is plenty of scope to get creative and for the camera to grow with your needs and progression as a photographer, from noob to enthusiast.
The depth of field with the kit lens is good - at the largest aperture of f3.5 @ 18mm, there is a fairly pleasant background blur, but the bokeh is really something special when you start using prime lenses such as the aforementioned 35mm f1.8 AF-S.
Being the budget model of the range, the D3100 uses a cropped sensor (as do most DSLR's that cost less than £1000!) so the 18-55mm kit lens is actually equivalent to 27-82mm in 35mm (full frame) format. It also lacks any kind of autofocus within the body itself. This means that AF is only available when using AF-S lenses, which have the focus motor built into them. This means the lenses are slightly more expensive than their equivalent versions from Canon or Sony for example, but the plus point is they are very quiet and I've been so happy with the Nikon AF-S lenses that I don't really mind the slight price difference. If you buy used then there are some great lenses available for a reasonable price. You can use older lenses but you'll have to use manual focus with them. This wouldn't be a problem for something like Macro work though.
The flash built into the D3100 is good, and quite useable if diffused with a cheap (or home made) diffuser, but for portraits I would recommend a good external flash. The entry level SB-400 is quite a capable and by compact model, making it rather useful, and it can be bounced off the ceiling to reduce unwanted results when shooting portraits.
To sum up, I would highly recommend the D3100 - it is a comfortable, versatile and very capable camera, with high resolution images, sharp results from the kit lens and plenty of features. It's a great starter DSLR, but that doesn't mean it's only suitable for beginners. I am a photography enthusiast but was limited by my budget, so had to get the D3100. However I am not disappointed one bit, and I feel that I can upgrade the camera by way of lenses and flashguns, rather than needing to upgrade the body itself. All in all, a great investment!
Nikon D3100 SLR digital camera
We have owned this camera for about 1 year and have been more than happy with the ease of use, picture quality and general durability. The camera came with a rechargeable battery pack and holds its charge for 4 to 5 hours of constant use. The USB, HDMI and AV connecters are easily accessible on the body and are protected by a rubber flap. The Nikon D3100 is a single lens reflex (SLR) digital camera. The camera body did not come with a lens. We have a couple of lenses and find we use an 18-70mm Nikon lens most of the time. We paid around £400 for the camera and today it can be bought from Amazon for around £485 (includes basic lens). This type of camera holds its price and is a good investment if kept in good condition.
The main body of the camera has many functions. The mode dial, situated at the top of the camera (when it is held in the normal upright position), controls the aperture and shutter speeds, the auto settings and scene settings. Each setting has a relevant symbol or capital letter to help you to recognise them quickly (i.e. a stick person running for sport mode). Next to this dial is the release mode selector which allows you to change how the camera takes photos (single shot, multiple shot etc) and also controls the self timer. The last mode on the selector allows you to take a silent shot which is perfect when taking outdoor/wildlife settings for example. Situated in front of these dials and selectors is the shutter release button (the button which actually takes the picture). It sits in a good position on the top of the body and has a good sized silver/chrome button (about the size of the end of an average finger). A handy button which sits behind the shutter release button is the information button; this button allows you to quickly access all your settings before you take a picture (they are displayed on the monitor). Next to this is the exposure compensation button, this is the button you use when you're on manual mode (M), where you have to hold it down and use the command dial to change to aperture (f/stop). You use the command dial to also change the shutter speed. In my opinion this button is in the wrong position as it is difficult to control both with one hand. The command dial is in a good position as it levels with where the thumb would be when holding the camera. On top of the body is the flip-up flash and also an additional 'shoe' for optional flash. Sitting just below this is the viewfinder which has a removable rubber eye cap. This eye cap is handy if you spend a lot of time doing close-ups as it allows you to rest your eye socket comfortably while focusing. There are many other options based on the front (monitor face) of the camera. These include:
* A range of buttons mostly connected with recording and playback of recent photos
* Multi selector button
* Movie record button
Under the camera you will find the battery chamber and tripod socket; this can be a little tricky to secure sometimes but is worth the effort for the benefit of tripod use.
The monitor or information display is, for me, the most important part of the camera as it is very visual and will give you pretty much everything you need to know about your current settings so you can take the best photos. The symbols are matched with the mode dial which I find very helpful. The monitor can also be used as a viewfinder for 30 seconds. There are around 30 different pieces of information that can be displayed at any one time on the display.
This is what you use to capture your image, what you see in the viewfinder is the image that you will eventually take. It is well positioned and gives you 15 important pieces of information along the bottom of the view; shutter speed and aperture are the ones I find the handiest.
~~ Recording Facility~~
I haven't used this much but you can get 10 minutes of recording facility with sound. What I have done has been good quality, sound and picture. My main love is photography hence the little use.
This camera is a very versatile yet concise camera. It takes brilliant pictures with ease. It is sturdy but fairly light; light enough to hold for periods of time to take a good amount of pictures. I have been very happy with Nikon and would definitely buy another Nikon if this needed replacing.
There is so much more to this camera that I haven't covered but I hope to have given you enough to make an informed choice if considering buying a SLR camera.
14.2 effective pixels
1.5 x lens focal length
23.1x 15.4 mm CMOS sensor
SD, SDHC and SDXC supported memory cards
Having wanted a DSLR camera for quite some time I decided to take the plunge. I shopped around for various options and decided for Nikon over Canon due to the recommendations that a Nikon is better for a beginner, having its own built in guide is always a bonus! This review comes from a beginner who previously only ever had very simply point and click cameras. The camera has a dial on the top right which gives you all the various options and different modes that it can be switched to. However, trying to understand all these different modes and figuring out which is best under different circumstances is something which seems to come only through practice and spending time with the camera in different lighting. Whilst it does appear straight forward to take photos I should point out that trying to get those quality shots without blur and with the right lighting really isn't something which happens instantly. I woudl recommend attending a photography class, something I have signed up for, if you really want to get the best out of your camera.
My warning aside about really getting to understand the camera, it is amazing. I am in love with my camera, even taking shots at a beginners level I can see the difference in the quality of my shots. Further, the ability to take numerous shots over such a short time period is fantastic to ensure you get the right picture at the right time. The camera itself is light enough to carry around with you on various trips but yet sturdy enough to know that it is durable and will withstand any mishandling (to a degree). The live mode is great, especially from a beginners perspective as I am able to focus in on the specific face I want to take. The battery life as far as I can tell is great, I get to take a lot of photos and am constantly using live mode which I know uses more battery.
Nikon is such a great brand and for the price I paid I really would recommend it. This is a great starter camera and one that I know I will get a good few years out of before upgrading, if I ever do.
Nikon are one of the leading companies in DSLR manufacture.
They battle the title out with the other Giant Canon, and constantly these two companies lock horns in the battle for the budget DSLR.
The budget DSLR is a funny beast. Its design is one of comprimise, but also of innovation.
It must be cheap.. otherwise no-one will buy it.
It must be easy to use, as its primary market is amateur or beginner photographer.
It must be small and light, to appeal to those used to small pount and shoots.
It must have lots of selling points.. To beat Canon.
Well the D3100 does all of these things, and does them pretty darn well.
I bought a D3100 purely to review for my photography website and also for the HD video function, to film my photography video reviews and tutorials.
My main camera is a Nikon D700, which is one of Nikons top proffessional range DSLR's with a price to match at over £1800 just for the body.
I hadn't held one of the budget models before, and coming from my big, heavy, Magnesium alloy body to this tiny, lightweight, plastic body was quite a shock. This camera weighs less with the 18-55mm Kit lens attached than just one of my proffesional grade lenses alone!
This however should not always be regarded as a bad thing. In fact for me, this is a godsend.
So many times, Im out and about and see so much, but I dont have my DSLR with me, as I just dont want to carry 5KG of camera and lens around with me all the time. The D3100 with the kit lens weighs in under half of that. On top of this, the physical size of the combo is so much smaller, I can fit it in my Briefcase and take it to work with me, for those "just in case" moments.
Of course, for those with large hands, the small size may be an issue. The buttons in particular may be very uncomfortable to reach, and the shallow grip of the camera wont instill confidence when carrying the camera without the included neck strap.
Thankfully, I have rediculously small girly hands, therefore it is not an issue!
So, we know the camera is small and light, one of the pre-requisites for a budget DSLR, so what about the price?
I bought mine second hand, with the kit lens and some other extras for about £30 under £400. Current retail prices for the kit are hovering at around £400, so as you can see, they hold value very well!
For this money you recieve a 14.2 MP sensor with Nikon's latest Expeed 2 image processor. You recieve a large 3 inch screen and the abilty to use Live view on this screen instead of the traditional viewfinder.
You also get Full 1080p HD video, with the abilty for fulltime autofocus, although as I will describe later, this isnt as good as it first sounds.
You also get the Nikon 18-55mm VR kit lens. A great little lens to get you started and covers a wide range of focal lengths perfect for learning photography. It also has Nikons VR (Vibration Reduction) system, which allows you to shoot at shutter speeds much slower than you could without it.
As a package, it seems very good value to me. A high end compact camera isnt much less, and although they may boast longer focal lenghts, the quality and control wont hold a candle to the D3100.
One of the big selling points for this camera is the included Guide mode. This is akin to a personal helper standing over you telling you what to do.
If you have no experience in photography at all, turn the large mode dial on top of the camera to "Guide", and let the camera take you through step by step exactly what you need to do, to get the type of image you want. You choose from a large list of different photograph types, from blured backgrounds, to frozen motion, and the camera will not only set itself up for you, but also tells you what and why its done what it has. This is a great tool, to learn the fundamentals of photography. With this type of help, you are almost guarenteed to get the photo you want.
Aswell as the guide mode, the camera also features an info screen, which with the press of one button, the huge LCD on the back of the camera lights up with all the information you could possibly need to know about the camera's current set up.
It shows the shutter speed and aperture, aswell as a nifty little interactive diagram with shows the effect of the lens and you raise and lower the aperture.
It shows you the current ISO, metering mode, drive mode, quality settings, White balance and much more.
What is even better, is if you press the button again, the screen changes into and edit mode,where you can actually scroll through the different settings to change them. This is a much better method than using the menu, which at first can seem very illogical and take a long time finding the setting you wanted to change.
This is a great implementation by Nikon, as a consequence of a smaller body, means less room for the buttons found on bigger DSLR's, which provide quick and direct access to the most used functions.
This info menu screen maybe a few steps more than one button press, but its certainly a vast improvevement on previous budget DSLR's.
One of the big debates is why you need a DSLR, when you can seemingly get small compact cameras with umpteen Megapixles for half the cost, and no lenses to have to change, surely they are just as good or better right??
A compact camera has a sensor at least half the size of even the smallest DSLR, and its the size of the sensor combined with the amount of MP that makes the difference.
A sensor with 19 MegaPixles but the size of a postage stamp is never going to be as good quality as a traditional DSLR sensor with 10 MP. In fact those 19MP will actaully lessencthe image quality considerably.
Its quality, not quantity that matters here, and thankfully the D3100's sensor is most definately quality.
Images produced from the sensor are rich in colour and contrast. Skin tones are represented faithfully, and the option to change the picture style to suit the scene mean you can get rich, vivid landscapes and then switch to more muted tones for portraits. In additon to this, the D3100 contains in camera editing, where you can add special effects, adjust saturation and contrast and much more.
Noise at higher ISO is controlled very well. At ISO 1600, images are still relatively clean and noise free. Perfectly acceptable for printing. This allows you to shoot images in very low light, without using the flash for more natural looking photographs.
One huge new feature in the D3100 from its predecessor is full 1080P HD video recording at 24 FPS. Although clips are limited to 10 minutes in this setting, its still a great way to get high quality video footage. The camera includes a built in microphone,which predictably isnt really the best tool for the job. Sadly the D3100 does not have an external Mic input, so you are stuck with the internal mic, or use an external sound recording device.
The latter may not be a bad idea. The new fangled AF-F, Nikon's code for full time autofocus on video sounds brilliant, but sadly its execution is lacking.
The autofocus uses a contrast detect method, meaning the camera is constantly searching for contrast to lock onto, and this manifests itself as the lens pretty much constantly moving its focus back and forth. Not only does this ruin your video, but the internal mic also picks up the sound of the lens gears moving the hunks of glass back and forth, and also ruins your soundtrack.
A much better method is the old "half press of the shutter" to activate focus, or go old school and use manual focus for much smoother video.
In conclusion. Despite its small form, its cheap price and its lightweight build, the D3100 can easilly hold its own against its bigger siblings.
Sure, it may not have the fast framerate, the build quality or the wealth of indepth options that the likes of the D5100 or the D90, but for what it is, which is a first time, beginner camera, I dont think it can be beat.
I shopped around a lot, in search of a reliable "get your moneys worth" DSLRs. But after purchasing this wonderful beauty I can honestly say that I couldn't be happier.
Primarily I bought this product for the HD Movie setting which I have used several times to create some really dynamic shots. I also bought it for the fantastic variable shutter speed options and "welcoming" options menu that is easy to navigate around with.
I have previously owned a Canon DSLR however due to my "inexperience" with an advanced camera I found it difficult to adjust the camera to the setting that I desired. Whereas the Nikon D3100 is for those, like myself, who are keen photographers who are looking for a professional look to their films and photographs but will have the chance to explore the cameras settings and modes in order to see what works best for them.
I would highly recommend this camera.