Nikon D3100 review

October 30, 2010

Overall Rating:


Nikon D3100

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Price as Reviewed:


The Nikon D3000, one of 2010’s best-selling cameras, has had a makeover. We put its successor, the Nikon D3100, to the test


Nikon D3100 at a glance:

  • 14.2 million effective pixels
  • 3in, 230,000-dot LCD screen
  • 1080p HD video
  • Live View
  • Street price £499 with 18-55mm kit lens

With sales of micro-system cameras (MSCs) increasing, the position of the MSC’s direct competitor, the entry-level DSLR, comes under the spotlight. While Nikon has hinted that it is looking into launching an MSC model, nothing has been announced yet. Instead, the company is continuing with the development of its entry-level DSLRs, with the Nikon D3100 being its latest model. Nikon is hoping to build on the success of its popular predecessor, the D3000, which was released in July 2009. For Nikon, this entry-level DSLR represents the biggest hope in sales, acting as a gateway for the consumer into a more expensive world of DSLR camera bodies and accessories such as lenses and flashguns.

Without becoming embroiled in an argument over MSC versus entry-level DSLRs, it is safe to say that each system has its own benefits. Until now, micro-system cameras tended to have a broader range of features, a more compact body and a slightly higher asking price. While the Nikon D3100 sits below the bigger D5000 as an entry-level camera, its initial RRP of £579 with kit lens is higher than that of the D3000 when it was first released. In fact, it is on a par with the price of many MSCs. This suggests that Nikon is broadening the specification of its entry-level DSLRs to compete with MSCs and lead the way in the DSLR market. These key changes to the specification have probably increased the production costs, and therefore the asking price.

It will be interesting to see whether the performance and new features of the Nikon D3100 will be enough to maintain Nikon’s success in the entry-level DSLR market. We will also see if the company is able to persuade the first-time buyer to part with a few extra pounds and choose to enter the world of the more highly specified DSLR rather than the micro-system camera.

  • White Balance: Auto, 6 presets (with fine tuning), plus custom setting
  • External mic: No
  • Video: 1920x1080 pixels (at 24fps), 1280x720 pixels (at 30fps, 25fps or 24fps), 640x424 pixels (at 24fps), MOV files with MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression
  • Built-in Flash: Yes – GN 13m @ ISO 100
  • Dioptre Adjustment: -1.7 to +0.5 dioptre, 18mm eye point
  • Shutter Type: Electronically controlled focal-plane shutter
  • Memory Card: SD, SDHC or SDXC
  • Viewfinder Type: Pentaprism
  • Output Size: 4608x3072 pixels
  • LCD: 3in LCD with 230,000 dots
  • Field of View: Approx 95%
  • White Balance Bracket: No
  • AF Points: Nikon Multi-CAM 1000 AF, 11 focus points (one cross-type), individually selectable AF points
  • Sensor: 14.2-million-effective-pixel CMOS sensor
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/200sec
  • Focal Length Mag: 1.6x
  • Exposure Modes: Auto, program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual and 6 scene modes
  • Weight: 500g approx, including battery or card/s
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion EN-EL14 battery
  • File Format: Raw, JPEG, raw + JPEG simultaneously
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/4000sec in 1/3EV steps plus bulb
  • Drive Mode: 3fps
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • RRP: £499.99 (body only)
  • Lens Mount: Nikon F mount (with AF contacts)
  • Focusing Modes: Manual, single-shot AF, automatic AF, continuous AF, predictive tracking AF
  • ISO: ISO 100-3200 (Hi mode 6400 and 12,800)
  • DoF Preview: Yes
  • Dimensions: 124x96x74.5mm
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
  • Metering System: 3D colour Matrix metering (evaluative), centreweighted (75% in centre of frame), and spot (2.5% on focus point)
  • Compression: Three-stage JPEG
  • Exposure Comp: ±5EV in 1/3EV steps
  • Tested as: Entry-level DSLR

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