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Review Written for Beginner Photographers
on October 19, 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)
Since you're on the D3000 Amazon page, though, I'm going to guess that you're considering the D3000 which Amazon is currently selling for $530 (with lens). If you're considering buying the D3000 because you didn't realize that Nikon has replaced it with a new camera model (the D3100), then you may want to go straight for the new model, depending on your budget. If you were already aware that Nikon has a newer model and are still considering the D3000 then here's how the D3000 stacks up to the D3100. (The D3000 is such a great camera that, even though Nikon has a newer, replacement model, they still sell the D3000!)
D3000 vs D3100
Where the D3100 excels:
-Higher resolution: The D3100 is a 14 MegaPixel camera whereas the D3000 is only a 10 MegaPixel camera. This effects how big you can print your images and have them remain high quality prints. 14 MegaPixels will print as big as 23 inches by 15 inches whereas 10 MegaPixels will print as big as 19 inches by 13 inches. A higher resolution also means you can crop an image and have the remaining image still remain high quality.
-Has live view. (This is the screen that pops up on the back of the screen that allows you to see what you're going to shoot before you shoot it. This would be used as an alternative to the viewfinder but, be aware, does eat up battery power quickly and, generally speaking, results in the camera not focusing as fast.)
-Higher ISO options. The D3100 offers two more stops of ISO than the D3000 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.
-Shoots movies. (If you want to be able to create video with your camera, you won't be able to do it with the D3000.)
Where the D3000 excels:
-It's a more affordable camera. By saving money on the D3000, you'll have more money in your budget for an awesome lens or two!
To sum this all up, if you can only afford the D3000, then you'll be really happy with it. The D3000 is a solid camera. If you can afford to spend the extra money for the D3100, though, there's no reason to not go with the D3100. Overall, it's a better camera for not that much more money.
If I can clarify any of this, please email me!
-JP Pullos, photography teacher, NYC and online (see my Amazon profile for my website)