Product Type: Nikon digital cameras
Newest Review: ... 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... more
Fantastic DSLR for the money, great starter kit!
Member Name: Anewfoundglory82
Advantages: Good value for money, very capable camera, plenty of features, compact, sharp
Disadvantages: None at this price point. Only works with AF-S lenses..
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!
Summary: Brilliant budget camera. Great starter DSLR but enough functions to grow with the photographer.
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