Nikon D3100 Review

0Comments

This review got off to a bad start: the DX format camera arrived just before a long holiday break… without a battery and fitted with a less than ideal (for review purposes) f4.5/55-300mm lens (equivalent to 82.5-450mm on an SLR). So it just sat on the review bench for nearly two weeks, uncared for and bereft of admirers.

Nikon D3100_18_55_front34l_l.jpg

But once the power cell was fitted and the Nikon D3100’s neurons started surging through its circuitry, the little beast rapidly assumed a compelling appeal.

First up, the price: I figure it would tickle the tendrils of newcomers to the DSLR level of photography, those who have tired of compact digicams and their limitations but who don’t want to be bamboozled by the hard edged technicalities of upper level reflex models.

Nikon D3100_18_55_SLup_fr34r_l.jpg

So what you get is a responsive camera that can fire its first shot barely a second after startup. And heh! It’s small! Whilst only a few mill smaller than its earlier sibling the D3000, its stocky body sits well within an average male hand. Weight? With battery and card it tips the scales at a measly 500 grams.

Nikon D3100_18_55_top_l.jpg

Nikon D3100 Features

The 14.2 megapixel CMOS sensor captures a maximum image size of 4608×3072 pixels. That means a print of 39x26cm can be made at 300 dpi.

Kuan Yin 3.JPG

In the movie department it can shoot at levels up there with the best: 1920×1080 at 24p in MPEG4 with mono sound; maximum shooting time is 10 minutes. Movie mode is well served in that you can select continuous auto focus while you shoot; in this I was a bit hampered by the 55-300mm review lens, with its narrow depth of field band and the challenge of using it handheld, but patience eventually triumphed.

The D3100 also offers in-camera movie editing that lets you save a single frame as a still image or delete unwanted slices from either end of movie clips. Note: when shooting movies you do get a fair bit of handling noise if you move the zoom in the middle of a recording.

Temple arch 1.jpg

Temple arch 2.JPG

If you want an alternative to the reflex finder, you’ll enjoy Nikon’s Live View mode, accessed by single-touch lever. In still capture mode it is live for only 30 seconds.

What sets the D3100 apart from most other DSLRs is its opening LCD screen which displays a guide that, in some ways, resembles an instruction manual built into the camera. For example: select Program AE for your exposure mode, then revolve the command dial, a graphic display shows how the lens aperture diminishes as the shutter speed increases… and vice versa. The really neat thing about this guide is that, when you revolve the camera, so the display pivots 90 degrees!

On the mode dial is the usual selection of Program, shutter and aperture priority plus manual and auto exposure options. Scene modes include portraits, landscapes, macro etc.

A novel Guide setting opens the door to suggestions as to how to shoot subjects in a more adventurous manner: challenges such as softening backgrounds, freezing motion are explained on screen… IMHO an encouraging way to advance your photographic skills.

The flash variations include auto, red eye reduction, flash forced off as well as the choice of front or rear curtain sync.

If you’re into mass portraits, hang onto this: the camera’s face detection system can pick up 35 faces!
You can shoot a burst of stills at a rate of three per second, the setting easily accessed via a four position lever that also silences the shutter sound for single frame shooting.

And here’s one I haven’t seen before! If you’ve shot an image and want to match the white balance in a subsequent shot, you simply select the stored shot and capture a new one that matches.

Sat nav-ready: an optional GPS unit can be attached which records the camera’s current position.

Nikon D3100 ISO 100.JPG

Nikon D3100 ISO 400.JPG

Nikon D3100 ISO 1600.JPG

Nikon D3100 ISO 3200.JPG

Nikon D3100 ISO 6400.JPG

Nikon D3100 ISO 12800.JPG

Nikon D3100 ISO Tests

A pretty good performance up to ISO1600, with sharp image and low noise. At ISO3200 noise is slightly up. At ISO6400 even more so but not objectionable. AT ISO12,800 noise is up even more and definition is well down: ideal for night shooting.

Lantern 12800.jpg

A good idea of the camera’s low light performance is this shot taken at ISO12,800. Aperture: f4.5 at 1/4000 second.

Comment

Prowling through the 200 plus page manual, I found a number of other features that I consider are photographer friendly helpers that would be of prime use to the enthusiastic, novice photographer. And not just for the sake of clever technology.

And that just about sums up the camera itself: it’s photographer-friendly! I have rarely come across a DSLR that was easier to use, immediately after opening the box. Go! Enjoy!

Why you would buy it: you hanker for an entry level DSLR; you’re keen but a bit lacking in skills; you crave Full HD video capture.

Why you wouldn’t: you’d like a tilting/swivelling LCD screen.

Nikon D3100_ambience_1_l.jpg

Nikon D3100 Specifications

Image Sensor: 14.2 million effective pixels.
Metering: Matrix, centre-weighted metering and spot.
Effective Sensor Size: 23.1×15.4mm CMOS.
A/D processing: 12-bit.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1:5x.
Compatible lenses: Nikon F mount (with AF contacts).
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: Bulb, 30 to 1/4000 second, Bulb. Flash sync: 1/200 sec.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4608×3072 to 2304×1536. Movies: 1920×1080 to 640×480 at 24/25/30fps.
Viewfinders: Eye level pentaprism, 7.5cm LCD (230,000 pixels).
File Formats: NEF (RAW), NEF (RAW)+JPEG, JPEG, MPEG4.
Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 12,800.
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI mini, DC input, remote.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC adaptor.
Dimensions: 124x96x74.5 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 500 g (with memory card and battery).
Price: Get a price on the Nikon D3100 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens at Amazon.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Nikon D3100
Author Rating
4

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

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

  • I just bought mine last 3 weeks ago and it’s better than what I read online. easy to learn controls, fast response and most of all.. clear/crisp photos.

    I’m still trying to learning the ins and out of the camera. 🙂

    http://www.teknisyan.net/2011/04/unboxing-nikon-d3100-using-one-hand.html

  • Loralie

    I’ve had mine 5 months. These are things to know – you cannot force the flash on, have to reset the Auto Focus setting every time you turn it on, cannot turn off LCD monitor.

  • Loralie

    I’ve had mine 5 months. These are things to know – you cannot force the flash on, have to reset the Auto Focus setting every time you turn it on, cannot turn off LCD monitor.

  • adi

    my wife just showed me the new D5100 and suggested i do my research over again since it might be worth getting this one instead of D3100.

    any thoughts would be appreciated

  • Emei Feyi

    Question for anyone.

    I’m new to cameras in general. I usually use my phone…but i have a new baby and want to take great pictures..i like what i hear so far about the D3100. I just don’t hear much about the video. what’s the deal on that feature.

    Appreciate any and all responses.
    Thanks

  • TJ

    I just received the D3100 as a birthday gift – my first thought was how heavy but then I guess it is my first one after the usual everyday compact camera. Apparently, I have a different lens so perhaps that is what makes it heavier ? Can’t manage to get it off yet 🙂 I think all the reviews here are great and really useful for an amateur like me.
    I have also been given a days tutorial with a photographer because unlike many of the reviewers – I am not sure if I can pick it up and start using it.

    All I know about the video is that it can take 10 min and can be edited easily – just what I read as I haven’t tried it yet.
    great to be an owner and I can’t wait to really feel comfortable with the beast:)

  • Alfred

    I got this beuty 2 1/2 months ago, and i absolutely love it. It really impreses me that this camera can do BIG STUFF. I just take pictures, but in reality i know that my camera can do better 🙂 . I dont know what this means F1.5 or 1/6 or 1/600 or the apreture .. I would love to receive tips that u may have, to make my photography look awesome 🙂

  • For the cost of this camera, I don’t think you can get anything better. The low light performance is off the charts. As a wedding photographer I regularly shoot with Nikon’s high end professional equipment and I was amazed how close this camera is to a pro camera. Now let me get specific. In order to compare I took a look at 100% files out of each camera I own.

  • most people ignore the kit lens that comes with thinking that it cannot do much. i disagree. just check this link of a test video i did to show the DOF effects done using the standard 18-55 VR kit..

    http://youtu.be/K0BHAJobISc

    well, a fast prime would have done better but that doesn’t make the kit lens rubbish..

  • I love my D3100–I only wish I had the “average male hands” that you mention. My big mitts dwarf the camera, and my nose triggers the image playback button, but other than that, the camera’s easy to carry and a blast to use. Thanks for the review. I compare my new D3100 with my old D70 at http://www.canyonartphotography.com/2011/08/nikon-d3100-review-1st-impression.html

  • bhagya senanayake

    i m loving Nikon d3100.
    i am going to buy it in near future..
    so d3100 is the first dslr that i am going to use.
    i think Nikon d3100 is the best camera for the amateurs.

  • tiffani

    I bought my D3100 almost a year ago and I LOVE it. It is my first DSLR camera and I did tons of research before I purchased it. My grandpa was an avid photographer and he assisted me with my purchase. He has since passed and now everytime I use it I feel like I am keeping his memory alive. He was very excited that I shared his love of photography.

    I am very happy with my decision. Someday I will upgrade but for now I am perfectly satisfied with my D3100.

  • Ann

    I have a question concerning the 3100. I noticed on the standard lens that the aperature goes from 1:3.5-5.6 G. If this is true, what happens when you want something with depth of field comparative to F8, F11, F16 or F22? Also, what separate flash must you use with this camera to get pro results and how much?
    Thanks for your apt reply.

  • I received a D3100 as a Christmas gift and I love it. I am however having a problem figuring out how to set the “AM” & “PM” on the time setting. I have the time set correct but it keeps saying all my photos are taken in the “AM”. How do I fix this?
    Wendy

  • Konsam Surajit

    I have just purchased nikon D3100 and I bought extra 55 to 300 mm lense. How it will help me for telephotography..?

  • DHawk

    I am looking into buying the D3100 as an upgrade from my point and shoot. I plan to use it mostly with my active toddler. Right now it is on clearance for $494.00 and it comes with the 18-55mm VR lense. Or there is also a bundled package that includes the 55-200mm VR lense for $629.10. My question is..would it be beneficial in the long run to go with the bundled package? Or could I just get by with using the 18-55mm lense? I don’t mean to sound dumb, but what is the big difference in the two lenses? (distance?)

  • raquel flores

    how i will upgrade the iso from 100 to higher?
    can you send me a basic procedure of photography?
    i want to learn
    thank you

  • I agree, i have this camera as my first SLR and it never fails. It simply work! good photo and video qualities. This is best for beginners like me who simply need a decent SLR for personal use. Very easy to operate.

  • Chadwick

    The D3100 is what: I own my wife bought it for me last year and I’ve never been happier. The performance of this camera is 2nd to none . Anyone who wants a great camera and does not want to take a second mortgage on their house should seriously consider the D3100 as their main choice!!!!!!!!!

  • Portia

    what kind of external flash can I use my D3100?

Some Older Comments

  • raquel flores February 16, 2013 07:48 pm

    how i will upgrade the iso from 100 to higher?
    can you send me a basic procedure of photography?
    i want to learn
    thank you

  • DHawk March 23, 2012 06:00 am

    I am looking into buying the D3100 as an upgrade from my point and shoot. I plan to use it mostly with my active toddler. Right now it is on clearance for $494.00 and it comes with the 18-55mm VR lense. Or there is also a bundled package that includes the 55-200mm VR lense for $629.10. My question is..would it be beneficial in the long run to go with the bundled package? Or could I just get by with using the 18-55mm lense? I don't mean to sound dumb, but what is the big difference in the two lenses? (distance?)

  • Konsam Surajit March 5, 2012 02:10 pm

    I have just purchased nikon D3100 and I bought extra 55 to 300 mm lense. How it will help me for telephotography..?

  • Wendy H. February 3, 2012 09:27 am

    I received a D3100 as a Christmas gift and I love it. I am however having a problem figuring out how to set the "AM" & "PM" on the time setting. I have the time set correct but it keeps saying all my photos are taken in the "AM". How do I fix this?
    Wendy

  • Ann January 29, 2012 05:31 am

    I have a question concerning the 3100. I noticed on the standard lens that the aperature goes from 1:3.5-5.6 G. If this is true, what happens when you want something with depth of field comparative to F8, F11, F16 or F22? Also, what separate flash must you use with this camera to get pro results and how much?
    Thanks for your apt reply.

  • tiffani January 27, 2012 09:13 am

    I bought my D3100 almost a year ago and I LOVE it. It is my first DSLR camera and I did tons of research before I purchased it. My grandpa was an avid photographer and he assisted me with my purchase. He has since passed and now everytime I use it I feel like I am keeping his memory alive. He was very excited that I shared his love of photography.

    I am very happy with my decision. Someday I will upgrade but for now I am perfectly satisfied with my D3100.

  • bhagya senanayake November 29, 2011 01:10 am

    i m loving Nikon d3100.
    i am going to buy it in near future..
    so d3100 is the first dslr that i am going to use.
    i think Nikon d3100 is the best camera for the amateurs.

  • Greg Aitkenhead August 30, 2011 04:53 pm

    I love my D3100--I only wish I had the "average male hands" that you mention. My big mitts dwarf the camera, and my nose triggers the image playback button, but other than that, the camera's easy to carry and a blast to use. Thanks for the review. I compare my new D3100 with my old D70 at http://www.canyonartphotography.com/2011/08/nikon-d3100-review-1st-impression.html

  • Chamitha de Alwis August 8, 2011 05:13 am

    most people ignore the kit lens that comes with thinking that it cannot do much. i disagree. just check this link of a test video i did to show the DOF effects done using the standard 18-55 VR kit..

    http://youtu.be/K0BHAJobISc

    well, a fast prime would have done better but that doesn't make the kit lens rubbish..

  • nikon d3100 June 29, 2011 06:12 pm

    For the cost of this camera, I don't think you can get anything better. The low light performance is off the charts. As a wedding photographer I regularly shoot with Nikon's high end professional equipment and I was amazed how close this camera is to a pro camera. Now let me get specific. In order to compare I took a look at 100% files out of each camera I own.

  • Alfred June 29, 2011 07:00 am

    I got this beuty 2 1/2 months ago, and i absolutely love it. It really impreses me that this camera can do BIG STUFF. I just take pictures, but in reality i know that my camera can do better :) . I dont know what this means F1.5 or 1/6 or 1/600 or the apreture .. I would love to receive tips that u may have, to make my photography look awesome :)

  • TJ June 17, 2011 02:20 am

    I just received the D3100 as a birthday gift - my first thought was how heavy but then I guess it is my first one after the usual everyday compact camera. Apparently, I have a different lens so perhaps that is what makes it heavier ? Can't manage to get it off yet :) I think all the reviews here are great and really useful for an amateur like me.
    I have also been given a days tutorial with a photographer because unlike many of the reviewers - I am not sure if I can pick it up and start using it.

    All I know about the video is that it can take 10 min and can be edited easily - just what I read as I haven't tried it yet.
    great to be an owner and I can't wait to really feel comfortable with the beast:)

  • Emei Feyi June 15, 2011 05:11 pm

    Question for anyone.

    I'm new to cameras in general. I usually use my phone...but i have a new baby and want to take great pictures..i like what i hear so far about the D3100. I just don't hear much about the video. what's the deal on that feature.

    Appreciate any and all responses.
    Thanks

  • adi May 23, 2011 04:03 am

    my wife just showed me the new D5100 and suggested i do my research over again since it might be worth getting this one instead of D3100.

    any thoughts would be appreciated

  • Loralie May 23, 2011 02:42 am

    I've had mine 5 months. These are things to know – you cannot force the flash on, have to reset the Auto Focus setting every time you turn it on, cannot turn off LCD monitor.

  • Loralie May 23, 2011 02:41 am

    I've had mine 5 months. These are things to know – you cannot force the flash on, have to reset the Auto Focus setting every time you turn it on, cannot turn off LCD monitor.

  • Teknisyan May 20, 2011 06:29 am

    I just bought mine last 3 weeks ago and it's better than what I read online. easy to learn controls, fast response and most of all.. clear/crisp photos.

    I'm still trying to learning the ins and out of the camera. :)

    http://www.teknisyan.net/2011/04/unboxing-nikon-d3100-using-one-hand.html

  • Adi May 19, 2011 03:12 am

    Ok - I told my wife to surprise me with this one for my bday ;) I guess it's the right choice for a beginner.

  • minhnd May 18, 2011 03:27 pm

    I already owner this one. I like it because of very good quality image, light weight and good price. But it cannot autofocus on old nikon lens (except AF-S and AF-I). That's a pain! Any way, get it, you will joy.

  • Zach S May 15, 2011 12:14 am

    I just recently purchased the D3100. I like it very much and it is rather easy to use, but it can be frustrating for those wanting to have complete control over its settings. It can take time to dig through menus to change settings. Another thing is that the D3100 doesn't have bracketing. This is a drawback for me, but not something that would make me reconsider my purchase. Other than that, it is a great camera and takes stunning photographs.

  • Floyd P April 14, 2011 06:51 am

    I have owned the D3100 for approximately two months and thoroughly enjoy using it. I previously owned a D80 and decided to purchase the D3100 ahead of the D90 or D7000 mainly because of its size and therefore much easier to carry around on long hikes. Reviews that I have read refer to this camera as a beginners DSLR, however in my opinion more experienced photographers will enjoy using this camera and it takes photographs as well as cameras higher up the range.

  • john c. April 9, 2011 10:28 pm

    I am about to purchase the d3100 but am not sure what lens kit to get> Should i just get the 18--55 lens it comes with or get the additional 55-200 vr lens as a kit. Im mostly gonna be using this as an everyday camera. Ill b shooting mainly in outside environment

  • Ruben Rubert April 6, 2011 11:39 pm

    ISO handling is much better than canon EOS 6000D and image quality is also very sharp and crisp. thanks for this review

  • Ershad Isak April 6, 2011 03:04 am

    l just purchased the D3100 and so loving this camera, anybody got an idea if this camera can work with a Nikkor Zoom lens 55mm - 300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR DX AF-S ED

  • Morris April 1, 2011 06:18 pm

    I just purchased the D3100, and so far I'm loving it. This (like many of the posters have stated) is my first DSLR camera, and it's quite a change from the days of simple 35mm photography. But I like the ease of finding the controls I need, and in Auto mode it is simple and user friendly. Looking forward to exploring all the ins and outs of it in the coming days.

  • Jaykrish March 30, 2011 05:28 am

    Please Check http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D3100/D3100A.HTM

    Found a bit different review. I think d 5000 better pics than d 3100

  • new March 29, 2011 06:40 am

    Does the D3100 come with a glass lens? I know it won't have all the things the D7000 has but what doesn't it have. How does it compare. I am looking for a very short shutter lag as I said and also the most user friendly one.

  • new March 29, 2011 06:33 am

    Sorry I mean D3100 in my post just before. I need to know about the shutter lag in auto focus. :)

  • new March 29, 2011 06:30 am

    If you shoot with D3000 in auto focus how fast it the lag? My point and shoot is a great little camera but it takes to long to focus before you know it you have lost the shot of the 2 year old.

  • Tim March 28, 2011 05:39 am

    Adi
    I don't know if its better and i am not going to say one is better than the other but if your looking for an entry level dsr, I use the Canon Rebel XS and love it. I think at the time I am writing this its roughly $100 difference. But with the Nikon your getting 14.4 mp compared to the Canon 10mp. Both companies put out excellent cameras. Might be something to look into if MP isn't a huge issue with you.

  • Adi March 23, 2011 03:08 am

    ok - this is going to be my bday present..unless someone else comes up with a better/less expensive model by june ;)

    thanks guys!

  • Diane C March 22, 2011 01:05 am

    I bought my Nikon D3100 4 months ago and I'm still in love with it as though I bought it yesterday. I mainly take photos of infants and this camera does everything I need and more. Best camera I've ever bought.

  • Tom March 22, 2011 12:39 am

    Wow, you guys are WAY into cameras. Way too technical for me. I bought a 3100 cause I'm trying to get better low light picture's such as weddings, a night out with friends, bar bands, that kind of stuff. Any suggestion's for the proper settings?

  • Demelza March 18, 2011 07:14 pm

    I bought the D3100 a couple of months ago, my first DSLR and I LOVE IT! While I've been taking photos for too many years than I care to admit to, it's been with point and shoot, or prosumer thus far. I did the research, and within the fairly limited budget I had, I decided upon the Nikon. I'd recommend it to others wanting to step up to DSLR.

  • Rich Copley March 18, 2011 12:51 pm

    @kalyan fouzder I was replying to a specific question on this thread from @Virginia Beach Wedding Photographer about Nikons comparable to the 5D MKII.

  • Jerry March 17, 2011 03:38 pm

    I have been shooting with a D300 and D700, along with great Nikon glass (17-35, 24-70, 50 1.4, 105, 70-200, etc) for a long time, but also bought a D3100 recently because its size and weight intrigued me. I have not been disappointed. It is a fabulous piece of equipment that does exactly what it is supposed to do, particularly with good lenses, at a truly elegant size and weight. True, it lacks some of the more advanced features of the D700 in particular, but if you can photograph, this camara will get out of the way and let you make great images. Have fun!

    Read more: https://digital-photography-school.com/nikon-d3100-review#ixzz1GpOG6zHn

  • Jerry March 17, 2011 03:27 pm

    I have been shooting with a D300 and D700, along with great Nikon glass (17-35, 24-70, 50 1.4, 105, 70-200, etc) for a long time, but also bought a D3100 recently because its size and weight intrigued me. I have not been disappointed. It is a fabulous piece of equipment that does exactly what it is supposed to do, particularly with good lenses, at a truly elegant size and weight. True, it lacks some of the more advanced features of the D700 in particular, but if you can photograph, this little baby will sing for you. What fun!

  • Barrie Smith March 17, 2011 10:53 am

    To Adi

    any Nikon F mount (with AF contacts) lens should fit. If still a little wary, I suggest you try the lenses on your camera in the shop.

  • Adi March 17, 2011 06:14 am

    Hi all,

    I am planning on buying my first DSLR and I am considering this one. Now, are there any lens limitations if I go with the Nikon D3100 and want to buy additional lenses in the future?

    Thanks!

  • Kalyan Fouzder March 14, 2011 12:14 am

    Hi all, I'm shooting with this from this January. I think there are alternatives of this camera in terms of image quality (i guess IQ is the most important thing to the people around here), exists in the market and sometime cheaper too, but the size and the weight of D3100 is amazing and worked for me very well. I didn't feel before having this camera that size & weight can be an issue to consider. Nice entry level camera and can be a backup of main gear easily.
    @ich Copley: No offense buddy, but we are here following an entry level DSLR, so why we shall worry about the advance features of 5D MKII or D3s...
    @kanika: It's a fantastic camera to begin DSLR shooting.

  • kanika March 11, 2011 03:14 pm

    I am planning to buy nikon 3100D, this would be my first DSLR camera . Do you think it would be a good deal. I love taking macro shots and doing smoke photography. Please suggest if i should go for it or if there are better options available??

  • Rich Copley March 11, 2011 02:45 pm

    @Virginia Beach Wedding Photographer - Yay! Photog from my hometown. Anyway, I think Nikon users are still waiting for the 5D, Mark II equivalent in price as well as all other aspects including the video. The D3s is an amazing camera, and Nikon's only full-frame DSLR with video, but it's twice the money and has a smaller sensor. I currently use a D300s, which is a terrific camera and has video. But it is not full frame, and in video you do not have as much control as the 5D, I understand. I'm sort of anxious to get my hands on a D7000 to see what its features are like, but I would guess Nikon users will see something close to the 5D MII when Nikon updates the D700.

  • Loralie March 11, 2011 01:44 pm

    Bought my D3100 in January. Liking it mostly...
    A VERY DISTRESSING thing occurs however, I hope to help anyone reading this.
    When changing settings in set-up mode, advanced operation, etc. make sure to have your SD Card removed from the camera!!!
    Twice it has completely erased all pictures on my SD Card while I was changing settings :(
    Sure - somebody will say that I accidentally formatted the SD card myself...there are safety steps in place to protect from that.

  • Shokinen March 11, 2011 08:30 am

    @ Dominic

    As per the following post, thanks to Osmosis Studio,
    https://digital-photography-school.com/forum/nikon-digital-cameras/150601-dx-does-not-get-same-results-fx.html#post1200104

    The difference you see is call Focus Breathing. When I did my first test yesterday, I was at 10feet from my subject, and the picture wasn't the same. The subject with the FX was more magnified.

    I did the same test tonight (camera on a tripod, first shot at 70mm using a 16-85mm DX, second shot at 70mm using a 70-300 FX) but this time I focus on someting very far. I get the same picture. Try it.

    DX is only telling you the lens is not design for a full frame sensor.

  • manuel March 11, 2011 08:20 am

    There is just one thing I would like to say. The high iso performance of this little inexpensive offering by Nikon is sensational . Those pics you display are fantastic all the way to 1600 , hardly any perceptible noise. At 3200 it is still great , extremely usable and even 6400 y darn good . I'm very impress by this little cameras high iso performance . No wonder so many people are talking about the D7000 . If it is better then this it should be the best High ISO performance of any DX type camera on the market .

  • Shokinen March 11, 2011 07:35 am

    D700, D3,D3s

  • Harish Nair March 11, 2011 04:15 am

    hi.

    Thanks for the detailed and honest review on this one..I've been ogling around the D3100 for quite some days, and this review just adds to my love for this camera..i'm a newbie and I think this would be the best camera for me..
    - Harish

  • Caroline (Frogmum) March 11, 2011 03:01 am

    @ Chris re the tilting screen ~ actually if you are looking at entry level NIKON DSLR's you will probably be considering the D5000 as well, which DOES have the tilting screen and is one reason I went for it over this model (also it's a little cheaper now). I am surprised that Nikon omitted it from this model ~ it seems nonsensical to me!

  • Virginia Beach Wedding Photographer March 11, 2011 01:42 am

    I shoot with Canon 5d, Mark 2 bodies. Nikon body would be most comparable to that?

  • Shokinen March 11, 2011 12:08 am

    You are right, I tried it last night.

    2 shots were taken using my tripod to ensure the integrity of this test. I shot with a D90.

    1st shot: 70mm using my 16-85mm DX
    2nd shot: 70mm using my 70-300 FX

    ... the 2nd shot is closer meening there is more magnification... I was sure I was going to get the same picture, hence, reason I wrote my first reply in the comment section.

    I'm bringing this to the equipment forum section (under Nikon tab). I need some clarifications..

  • Paul Chambers March 10, 2011 11:19 pm

    Dominic
    Although this would be nice for those who love wide angle, it is not correct. A DX and FX lens measures focal length the same. The DX notation indicates the lens has been designed for DX cropped sensor and will not fill the larger sensor at all aperture sizes (larger). As per shokinen comments. This makes the DX lens cheaper and allows some very low focal lens to be made with less distortion.

    If you have the DX 35 f1.8 & 50 f1.8 try them and you'll see DX 35 is not 2x as log (35 vs 50x1.5=75mm)

  • chamitha de alwis March 10, 2011 10:30 pm

    @dominic

    a 300mm lens will give the same 300mm focal length in both FX and DX. in DX one can only get a cropped view (2/3 of the full view) and that can be seen as a 1.5x magnification. so a 300mm lens, regardless of being DX or FX will give a feeling like using a 450mm when used in a DX body. a DX lens generally cannot be used in FX bodies because they are not designed to be used with a large full frame sensor (some cameras, for instance the nikon D3 is compatible with DX lenses only using a portion of the sensor giving less megapixels for the image and the crop factor applies then too). this is physics.

  • Dominic March 10, 2011 12:08 pm

    A 300mm DX lens on a APS-C body is equivalent to a 300mm FF lens on a FX body.

    A 300mm full frame lens on a APS-C body is equivalent to a 450mm FF lens on a FX body.

    If you try a 55-200mm DX lens at 200mm on a D300 and compare the image magnification with a 70-300mm (or a 70-200mm) at 200mm on a D700, you'll see that they are the same.

    Next, try the same 55-200mm DX lens at 200mm on a D300, then a 70-300mm (full frame lens) also zommed at 200mm and you'll see the the 70-300mm (at 200mm) gives you a greater magnification the the 55-200 at the same focal length because the DX lens already takes into account the 1.5x factor. The 70-300 at 200mm is equivalent to a 300mm lens on a full frame camera.

  • Blas March 9, 2011 08:19 pm

    Dominic,

    You mean to say, is a 300mm DX lens on a APS-C body has the very same reach as a 300mm FX lens on a FF camera? I thought if you had a DX 300mm lens on a cropped sensor camera, it would give you the reach of an FX 450mm on a FF? Correct me if I am wrong?

  • Dominic March 9, 2011 12:50 pm

    What I meant was that if you take this 55-300mm (DX lens), zoomed at 300mm, on a DX body, you will get the same result as if you were using a 70-300mm (FX lens), zoomed at 300mm on a D700 (FX body).

    But if you put the 70-300 zommed at 300mm on the DX body, you would need a 450mm lens on the D700 to get the same magnification.

    Crop factor has nothing to do with distortion.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_factor

  • Shokinen March 9, 2011 11:08 am

    Correction to the first post from Dominic.

    A 55-300mm lens is a 55-300 mm lens. While the crop sensor gives you an impression of beeing closer with the same lens, it doesn't change the lens specification. The milimeters are for the focal lenght (check it on wikipedia). That's physics. Most people use the 35mm on a crop sensor = 50mm on a full frame example but this is like explaining the different between an addition and a multiplication using 2+2 = 4 while 2 x 2 also = 4. Better example would be something like 2+9 = 11 while 2 x 9 = 18 / 9+9 =18... Way different when you are learning something and you know have the entire concept in mind.

    If you get the opportunity, try something like 16mm on a crop sensor body and a 24mm on a fullframe. Compare the distortion. The difference in distortion from a 35 to 50 (and cropped) is smaller and you won't notice unless you carefully compare. That's where it's confusing people.

    The only information DX is giving you is that is you put that lens on a full frame body, you will get a lot of vigneting (to the point that it's not usable depending on your aperture / lens / etc.). They are cheaper because the lens designers don't have to bother making it sharper as you get close to the edge since the sensor is smaller.

    Hope this helps

  • Chris March 9, 2011 07:56 am

    Is it just me or is "Why you wouldn’t: you’d like a tilting/swivelling LCD screen." an odd inclusion for the review? Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of articulated screens, but they're not nearly as ubiquitous as I'd like. Off the top of my head I can only come up with a couple of entry-level DSLRs that have them, and that's including the very recent T3i release. If an articulated screen is important to you it's a legitimate downside, but such is the case for a lot of cameras, not as if this model is an odd omission with all the others in its class sporting a swivel.

  • John Davenport March 9, 2011 07:09 am

    I bought this camera about 3 weeks ago and love it. It's my first experience with a DSLR and definitely (as promised) is an excellent and affordable way to get your feet wet.

    I can't wait until next tax refund season so I can go out and add a lens or two!

    Thanks for the review!

  • Alex B March 8, 2011 10:39 pm

    Alternatively, there are some great bargains on the (now discontinued) D5000 whilst the D5100 is on its way. The D5000 adds a tilt and swivel screen (though it's from the bottom, rather than the side, which means it's impossible to use with most tripods), bracketing, IR remote control (pick up a cheap control from eBay for a few quid, rather than Nikon's inflated price) and a lower-resolution but lower-noise sensor borrowed from the D90.

  • md_eric March 8, 2011 10:28 pm

    for people who are not so sure if they will really consider photography as a hobby or somebody looking for creativity in their photos without burning much their wallet. Its a good starter DSLR and a winner at its level.

  • John Richardson March 8, 2011 07:34 pm

    Bought a 3100 for my daughter 2 months ago. I am more than pleased at it's performance, I am less pleased that she has raided my lens collection :-) But then agin she makes good use of what ever I am not using, hey you can only use one at a time right? Great camera and the photos are stunning. For a starter camera it is a winner.

  • Marlon March 8, 2011 03:30 pm

    Any suggestion what best setting for portrait & landscape that will look good in print and monitor. Sharpness, saturation... Etc. Thanks

  • chew March 8, 2011 12:24 pm

    it seems that per nikon site, it's using an eye level pentamirror, not pentaprism. thanks for the review though. as usual, ISO performance is impressive.

  • Maricel March 8, 2011 11:32 am

    I bought the Nikon D3100 last year, it is my first DSLR and I am loving it, I like the size and the weight, I find it easy to use and l love the results I get with it. Like mentioned in the post it is a great choice you are just starting in the world of SLR cameras, my hope is to buy a more powerful one once I have more experience but for now I am very happy with this camera.

    Some of the photos that I've taken with it are published in my blog http://maricelquesada.blogspot.com and in Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/mquesada/ if you want to take a look.

  • nacho March 8, 2011 10:28 am

    @dominic As far as I know crop factor does ALWAYS apply on non-full frame bodies. When we talk about DX lenses we imply that the angle that the sensor sees will be narrower, so if you use a DX lens on a full frame body you'll get vignetting due to the narrower angle the lens projects on the sensor.

    55-300mm is the same focal length for a full frame lens and for a DX lens, but the angle that the sensor sees is not the same, so we still have to apply the crop factor.

  • GradyPhilpott March 8, 2011 08:35 am

    Thanks for the review. One thing I'd like to point out is that per the Nikon site the D3100 employs an eye-level, pentamirror single-lens reflex viewfinder.

    I have a D3000 and just bought the D7000, because of the low light performance, which apparently the D3100 shares, and the (in my opinion) well-laid out controls, offering many shortcuts for changing settings on the fly.

    I wish the D3000 had somewhere near the sensor that the D3100 has, but the truth is I'd have bought the D7000, anyway.

  • Dominic March 8, 2011 08:31 am

    The 55-300mm is a DX lens, so the crop factor (1.5x) doesn't apply on this DX body.

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