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on October 16, 2011
I am a photography teacher in NYC and online. (See my Amazon profile for my website.) I teach beginner and intermediate photography students every week. I've also been a professional photographer for the last five years with images published in The New York Times, GQ, New York Magazine, Women's Wear Daily, The New York Observer, The Village Voice and Time Out New York.

(This review is for beginner photographers.)

If you're a beginner, you're most likely asking yourself: Nikon or Canon? Really, I feel confident in saying that you can't go wrong with either. I've used both brand's cameras extensively and find that they both offer amazing image quality with well-built, solid cameras that, if taken care of, will last decades. There are two differences between the cameras, though, that can be taken into consideration.

The user-interface: If cameras were computers, Nikons would be PCs and Canons would be MACs. PCs are built for people not afraid of technology whereas Macs are built for people who want things super-easy. Nikons excel at customization options which means you'll see so many more options with the Advanced features of a Nikon than you will with a Canon. Canons, on the other hand, excel at ease-of-use for beginners. Canons offer less advanced options and can be easier to learn on. This can be frustrating down the line, though, once you've learned a lot about photography. At that point you may want all of the options that Nikon offers and be frustrated with your Canon. If you're someone who really likes to delve deep into your hobbies or if you're intent on becoming a professional photographer, I'd say a Nikon would be your best bet. If you're someone who wants to learn the basics of photography and only imagine yourself being a hobbyist, Canon would be a better option for you.

Where Nikon excels: Flash photography. I often find myself in situations where I'm shooting event photography (weddings, movie premiers, benefits and galas) where I need to use a lot of flash. For this kind of photography, I'll always prefer to be shooting with a Nikon. Nikon's flash metering (how the camera magically decides how much light to fire out of the flash) is much more consistent than Canon's. You can take a Canon and shoot the same scene three times in a row with flash and all three images will be at different brightness levels. You can do the same thing with a Nikon and all three images will be wonderfully the same. If you're somebody who plans on shooting a lot with flash (indoor photography, event photography, etc.) you'll want to consider going with Nikon.

Where Canon excels: Richness of colors. I've been in numerous situations where I've been on the red carpet taking the exact same picture as the photographer next to me. I'll have a Canon and the person next to me will have a Nikon. This has provided quite a few opportunities to compare the images side-by-side. What I've found is that the colors on the Canon's images look richer and make the image pop more. If I'm doing fine art photography (anything I'd like to someday hang in a gallery), I'll always want to be shooting with a Canon for this reason.

If you're set on Nikon, there are three cameras you should be considering and it all comes down to what your budget is:

D7000 $1,400 without lens
D5100 $750 without lens
D3100 $600 only available with lens
(current prices as of 2/19/11)

Here's what you get for spending extra money (each camera compared to the one below it):

D3100 vs. D5100:

The D3100 is an EXCELLENT camera so if you only have $550 to spend total on camera and lens then go out and buy this camera. You won't regret it. If you're considering spending more money, here's what you'll get from the D5100 in comparison:

-Better performance in low light situations.
-A higher resolution screen on the back of the camera so you can see your images more clearly and make out if they actually turned out well.
-An external mic jack. (If you're planning on shooting video with an external mic, you'll want the D5100 over the D3100.)
-A flip out screen (handy if you want to put your camera anywhere but at your eye level and be able to see what your camera is about to capture before you shoot it)
-Faster continuous shooting. If you're often shooting sports or any fast moving subject, continuous shooting allows you to capture multiple images in a single second. The D3100 shoots at three frames per second whereas the D5100 shoots at four frames per second.
-Higher ISO options. The D5100 offers one more stop of ISO than the D3100 does. If you don't know what ISO means (or what a stop is) just know that this allows you to more easily shoot images in low-light situations.
-Longer battery life. The D5100's battery will last 20% longer than the D3100

The two advantages of the D3100 over the D5100 are: less expensive and less weight. Whenever a camera is less expensive, it means you'll have more in your budget for the lens. The D3100 weighs 10% lighter and is 10% smaller than the D5100.

D5100 vs. D7000:

The D5100 is Nikon's latest and greatest and is even newer than the D7000. Phenomenal camera! If you're stuck, though, between the D5100 and the D7000, here's what you'll get by spending more money on the D7000:

-More focus points. When using auto-focus, the D7000 will have an easier time focusing on what you want it to focus on.
-60% longer lasting batteries.
-Faster continuous shooting. If you're often shooting sports or any fast moving subject, continuous shooting allows you to capture multiple images in a single second. The D5100 shoots at four frames per second whereas the D7000 shoots at six frames per second.
-Weather sealed. This means you can shoot with the D7000 in the rain.
-Two memory card slots. This is really a cool feature. The D7000 has two memory card slots which means you'll be less likely to find yourself standing in front of a gorgeous scene with no more memory left.
-Faster shutter speed. The fastest shutter speed on the D5100 is 1/4000th of a second; on the D7000: 1/8000th of a second. To be honest, I can't think of any practical reason why this would benefit you unless you're planning on shooting some really bright scenes like directly into the sun.

Advantages of the D5100 over the D7000:

-A flip out screen (handy if you want to put your camera anywhere but at your eye level and be able to see what your camera is about to capture before you shoot it)
-Smaller and lighter: The D5100 is 10% smaller and 30% lighter than the D7000. This is something to consider if you plan on carrying your camera around with you a lot.
-Less expensive so you can spend more on your lens!

If I can clarify any of this, please email me!

-JP Pullos, photography teacher, NYC and online (see my Amazon profile for my website)
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on November 14, 2010
This Nikon D3100 is a phenomenal deal for non professionals, the rest of us people that want to take family and travel shots. I've owned DSLRs since 2004, starting with a Nikon D70 and then moving to D40, D200 and Canon Digital Rebel XSi 12.2 MP Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens (Black) and Canon EOS 40D 10.1MP Digital SLR Camera (Body Only). Those are all excellent cameras, but this Nikon D3100 is better than all of those in one crucial area, the area that matters: it takes excellent pictures without having to fiddle with the settings between shots. Yes, the other cameras are better in other respects: They have more buttons to change settings without delving into menus, they are bigger (is that a plus?), heavier (another plus?), and have better specs (1/500 flash sync speed for D70 and D40), but in the end I would have to fiddle with the settings to get the best results: change the white balance, fiddle with the ISO (my Canons would default to ISO 400 for flash shots, why? Who knows. That meant disabling auto ISO and choosing ISO settings manually), the exposure (+0.7 indoor, 0 outdoor), and so on. D200 was noisy at higher ISO, D70's pictures tended to be cool (i.e. not warm), 40D had cool custom buttons (C1, C2, C3, very cool), but I found its ergonomics worse than XSi or any Nikon; why place the on/off switch at the bottom of the body? Who knows. Fortunately, new Canons have fixed this).

This D3100 also makes the D3000 and D5000 obsolete. The D3000 is slow and noisy at high ISO. The D5000 only shoots 720p (not 1080p), no autofocus in movie mode, less resolution. Old technology.

What sets the D3100 apart from all the other cameras above is this: set the camera in P (program) mode, auto white balance, -0.3 exposure compensation, slow flash sync mode (for people shots), auto distortion correction on (great!), auto chromatic aberrations correction on (great!), and you are set; now you can concentrate on the only aspect of photography that matters: composition, i.e. framing your shot in the best possible way. There must be a photography mantra that says, "thou shalt buy the D3100, and the D3100 will set you free." Now this is if you shot jpeg. If you shoot raw, you can then use a program like DXO, Aperture 3, or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 to further play with the pictures. My workflow with the XSi was to shoot raw, then use DXO to batch process all the pics according to two settings: people (low contrast, no saturation added) and landscape (contrast, saturation, etc.). DXO would then batch-remove lens distortion, chromatic aberrations, vignetting, apply custom curves, change white balance when necessary, and apply its (almost magical) auto lighting settings to make the shots pop. For now DXO does not have a custom module for the D3100 (still too new of a camera), so I'm shooting jpeg for now. Once DXO adds the module for the D3100, I'll takes shots in both raw and jpeg fine and compare the jpegs straight out of the camera with the raw images processed with DXO. I'm curious to see the comparison.

This is great, not only for you, but also for your non-photographer spouse; my XSi took phenomenal shots, but I had to know how to set it. Can you imagine me going to my non-photographer wife and say, "okay, when you take indoor shots of our kids, set the camera on A mode (Canons expose for ambient light in A mode and adjust flash for fill, that's great), +0.7 exposure compensation, ISO 400 or 800, white balance on cloudy, and shoot." My wife was lost at "okay." Sure the custom modes on the 40D would have helped, but the 40D is old technology; can it take 1080p video? I didn't think so. Plus, what lens are you going to use with the 40D? The 17-55 IS? Great lens, but who wants to spend $1,000 for a non-weather sealed 17-55 dust collector (google Canon 17-55 and dust)? Will 17-55 be enough for your telephoto shots? Your kids' baseball games? Didn't think so. What about the Canon 18-200? Sub-par quality, noisy, overpriced.

Back to the D3100. Auto white balance (the second most important thing after composition) works great, even indoor (no cloudy setting necessary), the only changes are extreme situations (outdoor shade, or indoor fluorescent or tungsten lights at night, but that is true with every camera. Why that is is beyond me; can't they make smarter cameras that account for these situations as well?); movie mode is excellent; yes, the mic is mono, but that's okay for family use (and that's why you buy this camera; if you are pro, you landed on the wrong page); if you really want to push it, you can use this camera for video, your iphone/ipod touch for audio with an app like FourTrack, and then sync video and audio in post with the excellent Singular Software Dual Eyes program. Your choice. Matter is: DSLR video can look awesome if used the right way, but keep in mind its limitations: jerky camera horizontal panning will give you the infamous jello effect (courtesy of the CMOS sensor), so pan slowly. You'll also have to play with autofocus vs manual focus settings sometimes; I've used the camera in autofocus; it has worked great so far.

What lens(es) should you use with the D3100. You should sell the (excellent) 18-55 that ships with the camera. Quality is good, but not enough reach. You can sell it for $140 or so. Take the money and use it toward a more useful lens. What lens? The target market for this camera is moms and dads that want to take shots of their kids; even advanced amateurs like me don't want to travel with a camera bag full of primes and heavy zoom lenses that you have to swap every 10 minutes; this is 2010 (almost 2011), for crying out loud; choose a single zoom and enjoy life and photography; I would use the excellent but underrated Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR ED Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras, the excellent (but expensive) Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX ED VR Nikkor Wide-Angle Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras, or my choice, the jack-of-all trades, the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S ED VR II Nikkor Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon DX-Format Digital SLR Cameras. Yes, yes, if you check sites like Photozone, they will tell you that the optical quality of the 18-200 is not as good (or consistent) as the 18-105 or the 16-85, but it's good enough for moms and dads bitten by the photography bug. A great shot of your kid at 200mm is better than no shot with either of the other two lenses. The optical superiority of the 16-85 disappears at 135mm or 200mm, simply because it can't do it. The 16-85 and the 18-200 are about the same price. The 18-200 will set you free. It won't help you if your kids play baseball at night (too slow), but you'll have to live with it, unless you are willing to drop $2,000 on a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens For Nikon Digital SLR Cameras. Sure, we'd all like a 16-300 VR VIII lens with a 20-stop VR reduction, constant 1.4 aperture, with optical perfection, weighing only 500 gr. and below $1,000, but alas our engineers are not as good as the random mutation and natural selection that gave us our eyes ;-0

My settings:
Display mode: detailed photo info > check RGB histogram and data > Done (why? You want to check if you are clipping the red, green, or blue channels)
Transition effects: OFF
Set picture control: portrait (for people shots)
Landscape: for, well, landscape shots: increase sharpness to 4 (D3100 shots are unsharpened by default)
Image quality: raw + jpeg fine (or jpeg fine, if you don't want to mess with raw)
White balance: auto (I played with the settings to A1, A2, A3, but images were to yellowish for my taste, as if my kids had jaundice). Auto works fine
Auto ISO: on
Min shutter speed: 1/30 (1/15 if you have steady hands)
Max ISO: I set 800, you can push to 1600 or even 3200 (your choice)
Standard ISO: 100
Active D-Lighting: on (it works well)
Auto distortion control: on (Great)
Movie settings: 1080 24p. You can also do 720 at 30p for less jerky movements
Info display format: i prefer classic black (your choice)
Auto info display: off
Image comment: your choice. I have my name, copyright (haha), and phone number
Beep: off (please)
AEL-AFL button: I only lock exposure, not focus.

My accessories:
67-to-77 ring adapter (if you have the 18-105 lens)
72-to-77 ring adapter (if you have the 18-200 lens)
77mm haze filter. I use the best, The B+W 77mm UVA (Ultra Violet) Haze MRC Filter #010 one. You don't want to use a cheap fIlter on top of a $350 or $650 lens.
77mm circular polarizer fliter; again I use the best, the B + W 77mm Kaesemann Circular Polarizer Coated Glass Filter. This filter is for your travel shots. It will make blue skies bluer and will remove reflections from that gorgeous Maui ocean. This is an expensive filter at $180 or so; you don't have to get it right away, unless you are going to Maui soon.

Why 77mm filters? Because you don't want to go nuts buying filters of different sizes for your lenses. If buy the 67mm filter for your 18-105 lens and later decide to upgrade your lens to the 72mm 18-200, you are screwed. It's cheaper to buy a $5 lens ring adapter to 77mm and use 77mm filters. It'll keep you sane too.

Remember why you purchase this camera: you want to enjoy photography; enjoy it then.
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on September 23, 2010
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.
5150+ comments| 2,610 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on September 28, 2010
For people looking for new DSLR camera, stop, this is it. It has none of the D3000 drawbacks: Fast buffer, never overloaded. When intentionally overloaded by myself on continous shots, it will clear the buffer very fast(ADL on if you're wondering). Image sensitivity at high ISO is great acording to random reviwes, but I'm still waiting a prof test. But think about it, on Auto ISO the range goes to 3200 - WOW, and I can't see any noise. You can shoot everything with it, but you need a flash - SB 400 will do.

Cool stuf:
You can take photos from the liveview LCD screen. I shot a few movies and seem great, in focus most of the time. I don't care much about video, I have a video camera HD.
You can still set AUTO ISO from the menu and set minimum shutter speed. Downside is you cannot override the AUTO ISO in any mode including Manual. You have to change it back to off from menu and than loose time figuring out which is the best ISO/aperture/shutter speed.

For shortcomings, I have to look hard but here they are:(BTW I've been using it daily for 1 week)

1. LCD sceen has a lower resolution and one cannot see if the foto taken is slightly out of focus - bummer, but they have to save some features for the D5100.
2. No bracketing - who brackets anymore? 3 pics of each just to be 100% sure seems a waste of memory card and time (deleting the other2. We are talking about exposure bracketing, not focus bracketing BTW.)
3. ADL only on or off - lol, if you really are worried about small shadows and highlits you can always add more
ADL from the retouch menu in the camera, after you take the photo. Or on photoshop or iPhoto etc. On is plenty for the prosumer ;)
4. Easy to get image out of focus: one can change the focus point from the screen by pressing the arrows from the OK ring. You use the OK ring a lot and if the LCD screen has returned to ready to shoot position and you press the ring one more time(goof) the image now focuses to the right/left/up/down depending on what you pressed. Combined with a low resolution LCD in the hands of a beginer = out of focus images. Just pay attention.

I'm still waiting for standard high ISO tests to confirm my love for this camera. Best camera for travelers, no questions. If you want more get ready to bend your neck hauling close to 2 lbs of gear. Not me. BTW buy the 35mm 1.8 lens for low light/no flash IT BLOWS YOUR MIND.

*Update 1 year later:

I downgraded the rating from 5 to 3 stars. I have beed using my camera for one year now and I wanted to sell it.
1. Unknown to us initially there is an problem with the sensor's software: it overexposes the pictures frecvently on auto ISO, especially in difficult light situations with high contrast. Nikon's response was that it is not an error but rather they changed the algorithm which calculates exposure on purpose. They wanted a good camera for low light. What happens in practice is that on Auto ISO (which most people use) the camera will push the ISO very high even in bright sun (will do 400-1600 ISO !!). Huge issue - burnt highlights - no way to recover it (maybe bracketing is missed after all: Worse off, the problem is the same with the D7100 and to a lesser degree D5100 (acording to reviews). NIKON, NIKON...Why did you change the algorithm????????? Updates to original camera software do not fix the problem - it is not considered a problem by Nikon. My next camera will be a Cannon T2i or whatever will be available from that series. It is more expensive but now it's worth it given this exposure issue. The only solution I found,a compromise, is to limit the range of auto ISO from 100 to say 200 or 400. This pretty much makes high ISOs useless and guess what ISOs your photo's will have? The max ISO you set.
2. The LCD is moderately scratched and blurry from whear which adding to the low resolution - yep, hard to see if picture is in focus. I did not overuse the camera or abuse it. I am an amateur photographer and I wear it on my side (over shouder) or across - so there is allways rubbing with the clothes. And I'm not using the standard Nikon strap (which is too short for comfort and slides off your shouder) rather the smaller UP strap (which is great).

I didn't want to write the upadate initailly but I felt it is my responsability not to mislead but inform everyone about what I know (which is not much). Take care.
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on September 23, 2010
Hurray! The long wait is over! Nikon had us wait for such a long time for its newer models (D3100 and D7000) and it was just when we started thinking if Nikon will ever have an answer, anytime soon, to Canon's T2i, 7D and 60D) they released these two wonderful cameras - D3100 and D7000. Let's focus on D3100, shall we?

So I finally had a chance to get hold of this D-SLR at Best Buy today. I am not a pro by any means but I have used many different D-SLRs including Canon (40D, T2i, XSi) and Nikon (D90, D5000). When I picked-up the camera for the first time, my initial reaction was, "whoa - this is so small and light weight"! It wasn't that I wasn't aware of the specs - I knew them beforehand but I was still blown away by how small and light it felt when I held it in my hands. Then, I thought, the grip would not be very comfortable but I was wrong as holding and operating the camera is just fine - thanks to Nikon's well-thought-out design and grip. For the size and feel, it's very similar to D3000 but has more goodies from the higher versions. So from an initial wow factor, I quickly moved on to focusing on features and capabilities.

I have just started using this camera so more update will follow but in the meantime my initial assessment of this camera is - I am impressed! It is one heck of a camera which can certainly compete against the best in its class (Canon T1i, T2i, Nikon D5000). Check out detailed reviews at dpreview (.com) and cameralabs (.com) - they should be added soon if not already there.

I love this camera because it:
+ has enough mega pixels for my needs (14.2).
+ captures crystal clear images (thanks to EXPEED2 processor & the CMOS sensor, the sensor is slightly smaller than the one used in D7000).
+ offers 1080p (HD) recording, AF subject tracking is awesome (10 min max is fine with me; it records outstanding videos even in low light and to me that's big).
+ offers ISO from 100-3200 (D90 starts at 200), it can go higher but I really don't think why I would need anything above that.
+ is small & light weight yet has good grip, easy to carry around in hands or neck.
+ supports SDXC cards on top of SD and SDHC - now that's nice.
+ (25-Sep-2010): has buttons that are well organized especially the video recording mode with a lever so you cannot mistakenly activate recording. That video recording lever once unlocked, gets locked in 30 seconds if you do not record and the countdown begins as soon as you unlock the lever. Also you can record video while you're in any dial (imaging) mode (Auto, P, A, S, M, and so on) where as in Canon T2i, etc. you have to move the camera dial to movie mode. So this is a great convenience - you can jump between taking pictures and recording videos with a simple unlocking of the lever. Additionally, you can be in a preferred dial (imaging) mode (Auto, P, A, S, M, and so on) and change the release mode to Single, Continuous, Self-timer or Quiet mode (this is located right underneath the main dial) - another great convenient feature.
+ (04-Oct-2010): In-body photo and movie retouch menu. This is great as we don't need any special software to apply certain touches. I love it.

Could have been even better if:
- it had the bracketing option (not too much to expect at this price point level but oh well I don't use that much but for some people this could be a big plus).
- grid lines were available (I miss them in both in live view and in the view finder).
- Active D Lighting was not limited to just ON or OFF (either you have it or not at all, instead of low, medium, high, etc.). Don't get me wrong the ON just worked fine (better than Canon T2i) but I can't compare with all other modes.

Recommendations (optional accessories):
* In my personal order of importance - your preference may differ. *
1. Nikon UC-E4 USB Cable - not included. (~$6)
2. UV filter - a must for protecting your lens against accidental damage. (~10$)
3. Carrying case is a must to protect your investment. There are many cases to choose from and it's up to you to decide but I suggest getting something like Lowepro SlingShot 102 AW (all weather proof carrying case) so if it rains, you can pull out the weather guard and cover it up. ($90)
4. Additional rechargeable Lithium Ion EN-EL14 battery so you never run out the juice when you're traveling and do not want to miss capturing a moment for good. (~$35)
5. SB-600 Speedlight. Those who have used speed lights would know what difference it can make to an image with adjustments you can make to light for an image. (~$225)
6. 18-55 VR lens has its limitations so if you have extra $$$s, buy body only (if that even is an option) and get yourself a 18-105 VR lens. But at that point, you may want to consider D90 which still is a good camera and offers many more controls. (~$325 to $350)

I give this camera 5 Stars because it takes excellent pictures in almost all conditions (bright or low-light) and that is exactly what I wanted this camera to do for me. Period.

I must commend Nikon for not getting into the mega pixel race (read marketing). They instead kept the photographer in mind and focused on delivering greater picture quality. Kudos to Nikon for having that courage.
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on October 18, 2010
I bought the D3100 about a month ago after my D70 died. I write for magazines and have to include both product and outdoors photos with my articles.

Plus: The D3100 is easier to use on a tripod than the D70 because all the info is displayed on the rear LCD, not on the top of the camera where I can't see it when the tripod is set high. The light weight and small size are major plus factors for the way I work. Controls are very easy to use and quit intuitive. The NEF and fine JPG combo is nice. I suppose the live view is a plus for some people. Photo quality, when the settings are correct, was excellent. Much nicer than my D70 when using the same lens.

Minus: No remote, no grid lines, no bracketing, no Speedlight remote command mode for my 800 flash. Auto focus did not work with my 6 year-old 70~300 non-VR lens (but it works fine with my first generation 18~200 VR).

BIG minus: Nikon has a firmware problem. If I am in Program mode and if the ISO Auto to "On", in dim light conditions it uses high ISO whether or not the flash is used. The auto ISO setting does not recognize the flash. Ken Rockwell pointed this out. You have to manually set the ISO when you use flash. If you use the built-in flash for fill-flash, this ISO thing will be a real issue, just as it is when the flash is your mains source of light.

I don't care about the video capabilities, but the auto focus certainly does mess up the video's audio.

In all, I think it's a good camera with that one serious ISO/flash flaw.
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on December 12, 2010
I did not heed the multiple warnings I found online about how Nikon cut corners on this cameras construction. Look for yourself.
One 8 inch drop from my hands to a wooden table and the lens separated from the camera, something broke inside and is now ratlling around (clearly plastic) and the lens will not reattach at all. Now those of you who have been at this longer than a few years know that a properly constructed camera will 9 times out of 10 survive a drop to the ground from your hand and 999 times out of 1000 will survive an 8 inch drop to a table top.
Shame on you Nikon for putting this product out there.
Besides that the movie mode is a waste. All bells, whistles and smoke and mirrors. Such a cheap made product doesn't deserve further technical review.
Thankfully I purchased full coverage repair, I'm going to get my money back and go with another camera.
Should have kept my D90. I'm so disgusted that Nikon has dipped into the cheap thin plastic department I may take my money to Canon.
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on September 30, 2010
My interest in this camera was mainly to video our kids in hd (well, that was hubby's selling point to me anyway). Unfortunately, there is all kinds of noise on the videos from the auto focus. Another problem is it takes two hands to zoom. There isn't a zoom button, you have to use the actual lens. What in the world? What kind of camera doesn't have a button to zoom? Ladies, if your husband tries to use your desire to capture your small children in HD during these fleeting early years to convince you that he needs this expensive, fancy camera, don't be fooled. It's meant for pictures, not video.
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on November 20, 2010
This camera is not worth the money you are going to spend on it. I have been involved in photography for over 30 years and I realize that plastic has helped keep prices low. But this is crazy. The camera looks and feels cheap, the lens is all plastic(even the mount), and I am hoping that the optics are at least glass. OOPS.
For a company like Nikon to build and sell a camera of this quality is very sad. And forcing you to buy this junk lens is even worse.
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on September 23, 2010
Before reading further please be sure to read my comments below!

Tentative on checking this camera out further, I'm writing this review fast to warn people of the shortcomings of the D3100. I wish that I'd saved my money. My first thought is suckered once, suckered twice. The same defect of the movie mode that I now wished had been fixed is still there. The manual warns of strong light sources, namely sodium and fluorescent lights. They produce banding or flickering, albeit I haven't yet seen as I just got this camera and haven't given it a good test. There is a fix, supposedly, but I have to check that out. My intent was to use the low light features profusely and shoot lots of neon during magic hour. Being that by the manual the movie mode is near useless in this regard, if it's like my previous camera, my aim to buy this upgrade, for me, is defeated.

There are cool features such as the added memory capacity support that I needed to upgrade to, from my Coolpix L5 point and shoot. It supports SDXC, which seems to be the future. 14.2 MP is good to have although not worth the money for my purposes. My goals were met using my older 7 MP camera, and for me this upgrade to a DSLR, for now, is totally unnecessary. I can stitch together photos to have the wide angle equivalent, and I had a good telephoto to get as good as with any extra lens, for the most part. I have been into Nikon photography for some 33 years, and I should have left it as that. Instead I decided on the spur of the moment to achieve the professional level in digital, as I couldn't argue about the price.

It is full of bells and whistles, and seems to be chock full of tech goodies to appeal to digital novices like me. Maybe I'll get to know this camera better, it is not too intuitive to learn. There are warnings in the manual, you cannot point it at the sun lest you damage the sensors. Fire warnings, even.

It is designed to be used by the viewfinder, not by the monitor which I am used to. Maybe an energy saving feature but doesn't work well for me. I have bad eyes and need the larger LCD image to see what I'm shooting. With eyeglasses it is somewhat inconvenient. You can set it to use the monitor but it shuts off quickly and I fail to see how this can be enabled to do it all that way, yet. If I find better later, I will change my review and rating, but as this seems to have some big appeal, I wish to get out the news that this camera is a big no for me, so far, and maybe then others.
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