Excerpt: The D3100 is Nikon's entry-level digital SLR, priced from just $699 with an 18 - 55 mm lens. The D3100 is a very user-friendly camera, with help screens and a unique "guide mode" that literally spells out what you need to do in order to get the shot you want. It also has plenty of features to excite camera enthusiasts, including a 14.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor, 11-point AF system, a 3-inch LCD with live view, plenty of manual controls, and a Full HD movie mode.
Summary: A very good entry-level dSLR, the Nikon D3100 delivers excellent photo quality in a body that's streamlined for experienced photographers, but relatively unintimidating for the less advanced. Its only weakness is performance; though solid, it nevertheless lags behind the competition.
Pros: Excellent photo quality; well-laid-out controls; interesting, user-friendly Guide mode; full manual controls in video capture.
Cons: Smallish viewfinder; slower than the competition; no bracketing.
Excerpt: Entry-level (APS-C) digital SLR Nikon has enjoyed plenty of success in recent years in the entry-level sector, although in the last year or so, the specifications of its models was increasingly being matched or bettered by rivals. The arrival of the D3100 couldn't have been timed any better, with Christmas – the time of year when budget DSLRs sell as fast as fir trees – only weeks away.
Summary: In short, the Nikon D3100 is an excellent entry-level camera. The only real detraction from this camera is the crippled video capture mode, which fails to completely serve the needs of the consumer (no reliable autofocus) or enthusiast (no manual exposure controls) as a video camera. Otherwise, if you are looking for an affordable DSLR that captures great photos, the D3100 is a hit.
Summary: The new 14 Megapixel sensor records noticeably finer details than 10 Megapixel models, while noise levels are kept in check at high sensitivities – indeed as you'll see in our results pages, the D3100 performed similarly to the pricier Canon EOS 550D / T2i, at least when both were equipped with their kit lenses.
The presence of Live View and HD movies may not make much difference to DSLR traditionalists, but they're essential features in today's market.
Pros: 14 Megapixel sensor with great quality., Friendly goal-oriented GUIDE mode., 1080p HD video with autofocusing., Decent metering and 11-point AF system.
Cons: Relatively expensive for an entry-level DSLR., Continuous AF in movies can be slow and noisy., No bracketing, DOF preview or AF with non AF-S lenses., Changing multiple settings requires many clicks.
Excerpt: Ho-hum–another new DSLR that shoots HD video. That was our reaction at the announcement of this new Nikon geared for first-timers to interchangeable lens ranks. And yet there’s something unique about this camera we’ll share with you in a click or two… No need to spend too much time dissecting the industrial design of this baby since it looks like every other DSLR on the market. It does have a nice textured grip and is blessedly clean of icons and decals.
Pros: Terrific 14.2MP stills, Noise well under control at high ISOs, Good ergonomics, menu system
Cons: Mic picks up lens noise when shooting videos, Jelly effect when panning, No USB cable supplied
Summary: Although the Nikon D3100 may stretch the ‘entry-level' price point (thus its biggest drawback on the score board), it equally stretches the sheer amount of specification you're getting too. Usually always on the money, it's only the slightly sluggish autofocus during live view (and, therefore, movie mode) that may frustrate.
Excerpt: The Nikon D3100 ups the D3000’s megapixel ante from 10.2 megapixels to 14.2, adds Live View, video capture, and support for all functions of AI-P Nikkor lenses except autofocus and 3D Color Matrix Metering II.
Summary: Thanks to the improvements in features and build quality, the Nikon D3100 has reached a level of quality that surpasses its D3000 predecessor and that of any entry-level DSLR currently available. The addition of Live View, Full HD video, increasing the resolution by four million pixels and enhancing the build quality are all factors that have pushed the D3100 to greater heights.