Nikon D3100 review

Nikon's 14.2MP D3100 is a great choice for novices and those on a budget

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Nikon d3100

You wouldn't expect a camera at this price, with a plastic shell, to feel as solid as Nikon's semi-pro bodies like the D300s but, even so, it feels reassuringly robust and rugged. There's no hint of any creaking or flexing when you're using the camera, and all the buttons, switches and dials feel precise and tactile. The same goes for the covers and catches that make up the flaps for the battery bay, memory card slot and external connections panel.

As for what lies behind the flaps, a new EN-EL14 Li-Ion battery pack has enough juice for about 550 shots between recharging, the memory slot is compatible with SD, SDHC, SDXC and Eye-Fi cards, and external connections include USB 2.0, GPS, HDMI (Type C) and A/V out.

Notable exceptions are a PC sync socket for firing studio flash and an input socket for using an external mic, which is a major letdown when it comes to high-quality movie recording.

Nikon d3100 side

On the plus side, the newly designed shutter mechanism should be good for at least 100,000 cycles, and comes with a novel 'quiet' shooting mode, which we'll come to later. Another neat novelty is the Airflow Control System, which teams up with the usual vibrating sensor cleaning function to direct dust away from the low-pass filter.

At 124 x 96 x 75mm, and weighing in at just 505g (including battery and memory card), the D3100 is refreshingly compact and lightweight. The flipside is that the camera feels a little cramped for the big-handed in life but, even so, the chunky rubberized hand grip makes for handling that feels more natural than with some similarly sized cameras, like the Canon 550D.

Nikon d3100 live view

One of the few corners cut in the D3100's design is around the back of the camera. While build quality in practically every other respect is very impressive at the price, the 3.0-inch LCD retains the relatively low 230,000-pixel resolution of the older D3000, whereas most new cameras feature LCDs that have four times this, at around 920,000 pixels. Even so, the LCD looks fairly accurate in terms of brightness, contrast and colour balance, and that's what is most important.

The most noticeable difference in layout between the Nikon D3000 and D3100 is the addition of the Live View lever and video capture button on the back of the camera. As with the other controls, these make for intuitive handling, as the Live View lever flips across to activate both Live View and video shooting. You then either press the regular shutter release button to take a still image, or press the red button to start a video sequence.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital SLR Camera with Lens
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution14.2 Megapixel
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Optical Zoom3.1x
Digital ZoomNo
Brand NameNikon
FeaturesLive View, Aperture Priority, Face Detection, External Flash Shoe, Manual White Balance
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsQuickTime MOV
Viewfinder TypeSLR
Weight (Approximate)505 g
Image Sensor Size23.10 mm x 15.40 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4608 x 3072
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height96 mm
Width124 mm
Depth74.5 mm
Focal Length18 mm to 55 mm
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerNikon Corporation
Product ModelD3100
Product NameD3100 Digital SLR Camera
Exposure Control
  • Program (P)
  • Shutter-Priority Auto (S)
  • Aperture-Priority Auto (A)
  • Manual (M)
Manufacturer Part NumberVBA280KU02
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

The stunningly simple-to-use D3100 is every family's answer to beautiful images. Whether the moment calls for a family portrait or a sharp shot of toddlers on the run, Guide Mode shows you how to capture stunning photos in no time at all. D-Movie lets you record full HD movie clips and capture the action in superb quality day or night. Nikon's advanced EXPEED 2 image processing engine maximizes the performance of the 14.2 megapixel CMOS sensor for amazingly clear images with vivid colors. Incredibly lightweight for an SLR, the D3100 makes it easy to capture your family looking wonderful wherever you go.

Package Contents
  • D3100 Digital SLR Camera
  • 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6GII AF-S DX Nikkor Lens
  • Rechargeable Li-ion EN-EL14 Battery
  • Battery Charger MH-24
  • AN-DC1 Neck Strap
  • Hot Shoe Cover BS-1
  • DK-5 Eyepiece Shield
  • BF-1B Body Cap
  • DK-20 Eyecup
  • CD-ROM
Limited Warranty1 Year