If you've got a friend or relative who's outgrown their compact and looking for their first SLR, point them in the direction of the D3000.
The combination of beginner-friendly features and Nikon optical quality is hard to resist. Owning this camera for a couple of years will give anyone an excellent foundation in serious SLR photography.
Be warned though, more intermediate users will outgrow it pretty quickly, and soon rue the lack of decent video recording and Live View.
This is the best attempt so far to make a D-SLR truly beginner friendly.
While purists may dismiss the GUIDE mode as a time-wasting nanny or crutch, there's no doubt that it will really help beginners figure out the core creative controls, namely Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO and lighting, and so on
And once you graduate from the hand-holding GUIDE mode, there's the full range of PASM exposure modes to experiment with. We also like the impressive ISO performance, intelligent metering system and sturdy build quality. The kit lens is great value too.
The GUIDE mode doesn't always make it clear how to use the PASM dial yourself to achieve a particular effect, and the lack of Live View is a real drawback – more so than the lack of decent video recording, as it restricts how you can compose the shot. We also missed a dedicated ISO button and soon became impatient with the sluggish image preview on the rear LCD.
This is a great first SLR and a genuine pleasure to use. It's fast and intelligent, with a good quality kit lens, and comes with all the advantages of Nikon's optical heritage. The ISO performance is great for the money, and the clear LCD makes it easy to make adjustments as you go along.
If Nikon could see fit to throw in Live View or decent video recording (or both), we'd have the perfect first SLR. As it stands, though, it comes pretty close.