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Customer Review

2,591 of 2,656 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nikon D3100 VS. D300 VS. D700, September 23, 2010
This review is from: Nikon D3100 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Auto Focus-S Nikkor Zoom Lens (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Camera)
For the cost of this camera, I don't think you can get anything better. The low light performance is off the charts. As a wedding photographer I regularly shoot with Nikon's high end professional equipment and I was amazed how close this camera is to a pro camera. Now let me get specific. In order to compare I took a look at 100% files out of each camera I own.

Which camera excels Nikon D3100($Cheap) VS. D300($1600) VS. D700 ($2,700):
* Lens = The D3100 is the only camera that comes with a lens at it's normal price
* ISO Performance = Tie between D3100 and D700! (It could be Nikon's new processing but the JPEG looks fantastic I was shooting D3100 on 6400iso with very little noise at all)
* Low Light Focusing = D700
* Focus Speed = D700
* External Buttons & Controls for Pros = D700
* Menu Navigation = D3100
* Ease of Use = D3100
* Megapixel = D3100 (14.2)
* Sensor size = D700 (Much more important than megapixels but I won't get into this)
* Can use older lenses with functionality = D700 & D300
* Video = D3100 of course! 1080P video looks amazing.
* Frame Rate = D300 at 6 photos a second
* Weight = D3100 (light as a feather)
* Ergonomics = D700 (big enough for all my finger)

The lens is a kit lens, it will work outside but not so great in low light. The Vibration Reduction will help indoors but Vibration Reduction can't stop a child or pet in motion indoors. Consider buying a 35mm 1.8dx AFS for around $200 and you will be super happy with this camera.

I purchased the 3100 specifically to shoot video, so I put on Nikon's brand new 85mm 1.4g Nano lens and shot video with it. The lens costs more than double the camera but I wanted to see how the 1080P video looked. It has the look of a cinematic movie. After the 85mm, I put on Nikon's 50 1.2 manual focus lens and was able to take very cinematic video in manual mode. In order to make it brighter or darker you either need to use a really old lens like the 50mm 1.2 and hit the AE-L (auto exposure lock) and twist the aperture to change exposure. Or you can hit the AE-L button when you get the exposure you like. Its not a perfect system but it works well for me. Inside the menu options you can change the AE-L button to hold the setting until you reset which is helpful.

Jello Cam (What's not so great):
This camera still suffers from the "Jello Cam" look in video if it is not on a tripod and you are shaky. The video can look like jello if moved too quickly. Use a monopod or tripod when shooting to avoid this. I'm not sure if a faster video frame rate 60fps would help - but at 24 and 30 it can suffer badly.

This is an amazing deal! Unless you make most of your income from photography or have a stockpile of old lenses (this camera can only autofocus with AFS lenses) then this camera is the must have camera of the year. If you have good composition skills and an eye for light you can take photos worthy of a magazine with this. Seriously, you won't regret buying this camera. When you do, do yourself a favor and buy an additional Nikon AFS lens that has a maximum aperture of 2.8, 1.8 or 1.4. These lenses will take better portraits and deal better in low light than the kit lens.
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Tracked by 13 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 59 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 2, 2010 4:14:44 PM PDT
Yi says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 3, 2010 10:19:04 AM PDT
Mark French says:
The D300 and D700 are also 3 year old cameras and the D3100 is using a new kind of sensor, the backside illuminated sensor which is, in fact, more sensitive. In my use of it I found just the same as above however the software noise reduction doesn't do as good of a job as the software in my computer so I keep that stuff all the way off.

Technology IS increasing at a very quick clip so don't be surprised when new stuff is better than old stuff. I just switched to this over my D300 and am quite impressed (I am getting a D7000 the moment it is available as my primary camera). I'm a wedding and portrait photographer and am no stranger to technology. Get with the times and realize things are getting better.

Posted on Oct 6, 2010 6:47:59 PM PDT
Paul D. Bui says:
Wonderful, wonderful findings! Thanks goodness the DX format finally is catching up with D700 in the high ISO game. I am a new guy to this DSLR world, have recently got a D5000 then a D40 (refurb) per Ken Rockwell's recommendation and can't wait for such a D700 killer which can perform better in low light. DX lenses are much more affordable than FX lenses, and that's one major reason I am staying with DX format for now.

Anyone knows when the D7000 will arrive?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 25, 2010 5:41:15 PM PDT
Yi says:
While it is definitely reasonable to say technology is improving, saying it is at D5000 level is reasonable, comparing it to something that's 4X its price is not.

As an owner of the D40 and tried the D3000, I can tell you that it's not always better just because it is newer. Granted the D3100 is now finally a replacement to my D40, it is definitely not as good as the FX cameras nor would I expect it to be.

Posted on Nov 25, 2010 1:45:47 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 25, 2010 2:08:30 AM PST
Pankaj Gupta says:
I am sure you have ample experience with professional Nikons (D700 to begin with). However, comparing an entry level amateur camera to a professional-grade D700 seems wrong. Before I proceed, I am adding that I do have a D700 and FX lenses to match.

I can agree that under good lighting conditions, and using a similar lens (and aperture) both camera's could come up with a similar looking photograph. However, I think, similarities end about there. Now, we are talking about two entirely different classes of cameras.

One (D3100) is an entry level amateur camera meant as a basic DSLR. The other (D700) is a full professional equipment, which costs about 8 times the other (when taking an appropriate lens into account. I am taking a 70-200f2.8 as an example lens). A basic setup of a D700 with a 70-200 f2.8 lens (or a 24-70 f2.8 lens) would cost about 5000 USD.

- D700 feels and operates on a different level than amateur cameras. The first time you hold it in your hand and use it, it feels like a professional equipment, not an amateur toy.
- D700 has amazingly low noise. When light is ample (day time), I prefer to use 200 iso and not 100. At 200, you cannot detect any noise visually in the D700. At 1600 iso, the colors and noise level of the D700 are still aesthetically pleasing.
- D700 has a body of a tank, and fits the higher profile professional FX lenses like nikon 70-200 f2.8 perfectly.
- D700 has features like frame-burst of 8fps, intervalometer etc. which are not to be found in the amateur range.

I am sure that what are saying is that D3100 is a decent camera, and will fit the bill for most people. To compare it feature by feature with a D700 seems like a futile exercise to me, unless you were doing it for your own amusement!

[Just wanted to supplement your review]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2010 7:47:16 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 7, 2010 8:08:08 AM PST
RC says:
Have you even looked at images from the D3100? The D700 is a VERY old camera, so it isn't surprising that with some clever processing from its new software, images from the D3100 could look very nice compared to those from a D700. And the D3100 IS better than the D300. Take a look at the sensor ratings yourself. While the D3100 is no D700, it's clearly better than the D300. Better processing brings the D3100 a little closer. I have a D300, and the D3100 and D7000 are pulling at my feet.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2010 7:50:01 AM PST
RC says:
Where did you see that the D3100 uses a backside illuminated sensor?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2010 7:55:45 AM PST
RC says:
The D300 is below the D5000. The D3100 is lightyears beyond the D5000. So no, it is not reasonable to say that the D3100 is at the level of the D5000. Nikon's latest DX bodies are good enough to keep me from wanting an FX body. Unless Nikon makes a D700s that has the high ISO performance of the D3s, FX is of no interest to me.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2010 8:07:35 AM PST
RC says:
He did not claim that the D3100 is a replacement for the D700. He simply said that images from the D3100 were comparable to those from the D700. And no, it's not just under "good lighting conditions." You're making it sound like the D3100 needs special lighting conditions to make photos that look like those from the D700, which isn't true. Challenge me to a duel, and I'd gladly take on a D700 shooter with a D3100 =) I wouldn't say the same if I were using a camera with an inferior sensor/processing system such as a D300.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2010 8:18:23 AM PST
Paul D. Bui says:
Very well put. I had the D5000, recently have D7000 beside a trusty D40. Nikon-wise, newer body = better sensor, usually better quality overall.
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