Nikon D3100

Re­fresh­ingly in­ex­pen­sive for an SLR body, this cam­era has had real mass-mar­ket ap­peal over the years

NPhoto - - Test Team -

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.

Per­for­mance

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.

Build

Based on a poly­car­bon­ate body that lacks weather seals, the D3100 nev­er­the­less feels well en­gi­neered for a budget cam­era.

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