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Nikon D3000 DSLR Review

If you’ve always hungered for a DSLR and more importantly, a Nikon DSLR, but never had ‘the ready’ to fill your ambition … The Nikon D3000 DSLRcould be your opportunity.

It’s hard to quantify the allure of the breed but undeniable is the bloodline, the technical excellence and innovative achievements of Nikon cameras and lenses. Priced just above point-and-shoot fixed lens digicams and well beneath the semi pro and full pro model DSLRs, the D3000 is an excellent pathway to the higher quality such a camera can deliver.

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Nikon D3000 DSLR Features

In the hand, the camera is delightfully compact, light and — to the novice’s eye — ‘unsplattered’ by intimidating external controls. You view via an optical turret viewfinder or the rear 7.6cm LCD screen.

The review camera was supplied with the f3.5/18-55mm VR lens that handles hand-induced vibration. With this lens attached the gear weighs just under a kilo — no penalty in my book.

Of course, there are a few issues when you deal with a Nikon DSLR: image stability is provided by the lens’ internal optics, and some of the attractively-priced kit lenses usually offered with the D3000 do not provide this.

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With 10.2 million pixels on its CCD the camera can shoot a maximum 3872×2592 pixel image; when printed this accounts for a 33x22cm output at 300 dpi.

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The mode dial has settings for auto, Program AE, aperture and shutter priority as well as manual exposure plus a number of scene modes (landscape, sports, portraits etc).

The built in flash can be useful especially as a ‘fill’ for portraits; the more adventurous can also experiment with light trails thanks to the flash’s ability to sync with the rear shutter curtain.

And note: DSLRs at this level have a macro mode, not available on the upper level reflex cameras. So, if you’re into ECUs (extra close-ups) of bugs and beetles, a camera like the D3000 is ideal.

Fire up the camera and the first thing you see is the LCD display confirming that the CCD is being cleaned — pre-shoot; post-shoot, cut the power and the camera cleans the sensor again. With an interchangeable lens camera, this function is important, eradicating dust that may enter when you switch lenses.

Right from the start the beginner can feel at home, thanks to the Guide, selectable from the mode dial and shown on the LCD display. This will hold your hand through the various shooting modes and even help you move through some of the more advanced techniques. As well as this, settings made with Guide mode can even be tweaked before making the shot.

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There is a Scene Recognition System that optimises exposure, white balance and autofocus; continuous shooting can be made at up to 3 fps and an 11-point selectable autofocus scheme tracks focus in any of four modes (static or moving subjects, auto area and 3D tracking).

The D3000’s photo editing functions give you in-camera retouching, and here again is a Tilt-Shift mode that I first encountered in the Ricoh CX2 … it creates a miniature mode effect from normal shots. Cute.

The ISO range runs from 100 to 3200.

Nikon D3000 ISO 100 f7.1 1:13 second.jpg
Optimum ISO at 100.

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Still very clean at ISO 400.

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Minimal noise at ISO 800.

Nikon D3000 ISO 1600 f7.1 1:200 second.jpg
Noise becoming evident at ISO 1600 but still useable.

Nikon D3000 ISO 3200 f7.1 1:400 second.jpg
Hitting its straps at ISO 3200 this is only when you really have to!

Statue State Theatre ISO 3200 2.jpg

A movie house foyer, shot at ISO 3200 — with the right subject, quite a useable setting. Detail in the picture covers the noise.

Photography at this level lets you into the exalted arena of RAW capture, where you can manipulate your shots to a degree not achievable with JPEG shooting. However, the D3000 will still shoot JPEGs, if you sometimes need only snapshot quality.

Digging around the manual I found a terrific mode that can shoot stop motion clips from a series of stills. You can make short video sequences from puppets or even hand-drawn animation that will run successfully on an SD TV set at 640×480 pixel res or you can even smaller create clips for use on the Web. Magic!

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Comment

A great piece of kit. Beginners star here!

Why you would buy the D3000: attractive price for a DSLR; entrée to Nikon system and lenses; RAW capture.

Why you wouldn’t: no Live View; no video capture (but you can make a stop motion movie from still shots!); low resolution LCD.

nikon-d3000-Ferry and bridge.jpg

I figure the D3000 is a perfect entry-level camera, with some modes (like stop motion movies) that will give you a lot of fun, without the need for a lot of techy knowledge. Good one Nikon!

Nikon D3000 Specifications

Image Sensor: 10.2 million effective pixels.
Metering: Matrix and centre-weighted metering, spot.
Effective Sensor Size: 23.6×15.8mm CCD.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1:5x.
Compatible lenses: Nikkor AF-S and AF-I.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: 30 to 1/4000 second, Bulb. Flash sync: 1/200.
Memory: SD/SDHC cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 3872×2592, 2896×1944, 1936×1296.
Viewfinders: Optical pentamirror, 7.6cm LCD (230,000 pixels).
File Formats: RAW, RAW+JPEG.
Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 3200.
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC adaptor.
Dimensions: 126x97x64 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 485 g (body only).
Price: At Amazon the Nikon D3000 is $448.93 with 18-55mm lens or $369.95 Body Only.

Body only: $799. With Nikkor f3.5/18-55mm VR lens: $949.

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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

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