Refreshingly inexpensive for an SLR body, this camera has had real mass-market appeal over the years
The D3100 set minds racing and hearts aflutter when it was launched back in 2010. Breakthrough features like Live View and full HD video recording, on an entry-level camera no less, made it an instant hit. At the time, its 14.2-megapixel image resolution also put some of Nikon’s fully professional bodies in the shade. Best of all, the D3100 was, and still is, incredibly beginner-friendly. Its interactive, illustrated Guide mode really helps users make the transition from fully automatic shooting to making effective use of all its creative settings.
It’s a testament to the D3100’s quality that many of its features, for example its autofocus and metering systems, have been carried over onto the D3200 and even the D3300 (see p86). In other respects, however, it’s starting to show its age. The 14.2-megapixel image sensor looks a little low-res in the current market, the maximum drive rate of three frames per second is a bit sluggish and the 230,000-pixel LCD screen is also relatively low in resolution and lacking in clarity. Similarly, the standard sensitivity range tops out at ISO3200 – but it’s worth bearing in mind that it still matches the D90 and D300s here, while offering a higher sensitivity of ISO12800 in expanded mode.
Apart from the relatively sluggish continuous drive rate, performance is very respectable considering the rock-bottom price. Automatic scene analysis works well in Live View shooting mode and, in keeping with its beginner-friendly design philosophy, the D3100 delivers consistently good results in fully automatic and scene modes.
Pros… Inexpensive to buy, good automatic and guided shooting modes, compact lightweight build.
Cons… This ageing body has been largely overtaken by the newer D3200 as an entry-level SLR.
Based on a polycarbonate body that lacks weather seals, the D3100 nevertheless feels well engineered for a budget camera.