ReviewGist Report for Nikon D3100
A brand new Nikon DSLR, the D3100 trotted out of the Japanese camera major's stables in mid-August 2010. This latest member in the d3 family has been projected as an affordable first companion for enthusiasts stepping into the world of DSLR's.
This report looks at the special features that the manufacturer has fitted the D3100 with. Additionally, we will provide you with the gist of reviews from 35 camera experts like Camera Labs , NeoCamera, Photography Bay and T3-The Gadget People , who have pronounced their respective verdicts after analysing the camera threadbare.
What the Manufacturer Says
The manufacturer's most notable marketing USP is that the D3100 is an affordable entrance into the world of DSLRs. The Nikon D3100's key features are the 14.2MP CMOS Sensor, a unique Guide Mode, full 1920 x 1080 HD Video at 24p with full time, 11-point AF, a 3 inch LCD Monitor and the interchangeable 18-55mm VR Kit Lens.
Apparently the Guide Mode is akin to a personal tutor accessible from an easy-to-use interface. Nikon is confident that users can get familiar with their D-SLR using this kind of on-demand, step-by-step assistance and get professional-looking images. This mode can help the user get soft backgrounds, capture a special moment or convey motion, in short provide the novice user with tools to enhance creativity.
The brand new AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm VR lens has been introduced as D3100's ideal companion. This lens is meant to provide super-telephoto zoom capability. It is also projected as a great complementary lens to be combined with the AF-S 18-55mm VR kit lens or any of Nikon's 40 legendary NIKKOR AF-S interchangeable lenses. A new version of Nikon's powerful image and video editing application, View NX2 is part of the package.
Nikon claims that the D3100 is the world's first D-SLR with full time auto focus (AF) in Live View and D-Movie mode to easily get the perfect focus needed when shooting full HD 1080p video (1920x1080) movies. Nikon also says that D3100 can record cinematic quality 24p video clips. Additional simplicity in movie shooting is provided by Live View getting activated in a single smooth operation. This Nikon product records movies in the versatile H.264 AVCHD codec (.mov file).
As part of renowned Nikon technology, the D3100 includes such features like -
- EXPEED 2TM image processing engine
- Scene Recognition system
- Auto Scene Selector feature in Live View
- Advanced 3D Subject Tracking and active D-lighting system
- Split-second shutter response and quiet shutter release mode
- Extensive in-camera retouch menu
- Integrated Dust Reduction System
What the Reviews Say
The overall quality of the bright, clear, razor-sharp images resulting from the D3100 have met with repeated appreciation from camera critics, like Photography Bay and Imaging Resource. DigitalReview.co and PocketLint are quite happy with the usefulness of the Hi1 and Hi2 ISO boost settings. The approval however stops short of admiration because of the influx of noise at high sensitivity settings that has been noted by several analysts.c
The full HD 1080p video output from the D3100 seems to validate the manufacturer's claims of delivering stunning cinematic quality clips, according to most trusted reviewers like NeoCamera and AssociatedContent. The newer movie format H.264 MPEG4 in the DSLR is certified to be several shades better than the Motion JPEG format used in earlier Nikon models, notes Stuff.tv. But note that Photography Bay faults the absence of such basic video needs like manual exposure and mic inputs, and is willing to state only that the D3100 can capture usable footage for informal uses.
Expert reviewers like PC World find that the 14 Megapixel sensor records quite fine details, and noise levels are not intrusive even at high sensitivities. Also appreciated is the rather useful Guide mode and the several exposure options possible with the 3x NIKKOR 18-55mm VR (vibration reduction) image stabilization interchangeable zoom lens. However, the provision of continuous autofocus during still and video shooting has one downside - MacWorld and CameraLabs point out that this same feature is both loud and noisy.
At first feel, the user interface is simple and straightforward and end up making the D3100 easy to use. Macworld, PocketLint and PhotographyBay have commended D3100's compactness and intuitive control. But several of its external features have been remarked upon, some adversely - the hand grip has been termed as somewhat small, buttons as relatively large, layout as looking crowded, and screen as rather unremarkable, dull and not at all vibrant.
Most experts feel that the Nikon's claims of a great entry-level DSLR are fairly vindicated with the D3100, but for some excusable failings in AF in video mode.
The D3100 is a great package overall with the 14.2 Megapixels, HD movies with auto-focusing, a sophisticated 11-point AF system, the large 3in screen, faster continuous shooting in RAW, an HDMI port and a friendlier user interface for beginners.
Since the D3100 offers great image quality and the rather unique helpful Guide Mode for new users, Nikon may just have hit upon the right recipe for an entry-level DSLR to be a success in the market.
No wonder then that the D3100 stands at the number one spot in entry-level DSLR's, and is a hands-down winner at its price, even among Nikon's own products.
Whether you are a complete novice or an aspiring pro, the D3100's high-end specs and output will make you all the happier. You will need to reconsider your option only if you wish to go in for a pure high-end compact like Nikon's own Coolpix P7000 or the Panasonic Lumix LX5 or a high-end DSLR like the Nikon D7000.