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Customer Review

353 of 371 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars D3100 with one year update, September 28, 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 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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Showing 1-10 of 25 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 29, 2010, 9:01:17 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 29, 2010, 9:02:43 AM PDT
I use it with the 35mm as well and it does an awesome job. Your review echoed all my thoughts, especially the lack of auto ISO override in manual mode. The nikon d3100 is so light that I find it difficult to put on the 35mm's lens hood and attaching a camera strap. I prefer it without the extras and simply drop it in a Lowepro topload mini when I need to carry it. I primarily use this for family outings and also for mountain biking photos. Terrificly light weight and powerful. ISO performance is great to 1600, but I'm not sure I trust 3200 just yet.

Posted on Sep 30, 2010, 7:50:44 AM PDT
J. Austin says:
Bracketing is a very useful feature. It isn't about taking 3 pictures to get one 100% right as you said. In difficult, or extreme lighting situations, t is very helpful to have 3, 5 or 7 exposure bracketed photos so that you can capture the full dynamic range of the photos (e.g. sky not blown out, shadows have detail) and merge them into an HDR image using Photoshop, Nik HDR EFX Pro, or any other product that builds one image w/ a wide range of exposures from multiple shots.

It is too bad this, otherwise excellent, camera doesn't have it. But for the price point, I didn't expect it to given all the other extras. Overall, an excellent camera, definitely the best in it's class.

Posted on Jun 15, 2011, 10:03:06 AM PDT
dani says:
i put 50mm 1.4 lens on it. it is really really awesome.

Posted on Apr 16, 2012, 1:51:28 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 16, 2012, 11:15:35 PM PDT]

Posted on Apr 16, 2012, 1:51:47 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 16, 2012, 9:01:25 PM PDT]

Posted on Apr 16, 2012, 9:01:05 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 16, 2012, 9:03:49 PM PDT
T. Irwin says:
Re: Dan Aurel Cristescu's 1 year downgrade of D3100.
I shot over ten thousand images with two D3100 cameras (mine and a friend's) as well as Nikon's D5100 and own a D7000. I got fantastic images from the D3100 that were indistinguishable from the D5100 or D7000 in most situations. To address your issues with your camera:
!). As far as the good ISO in low light the D3100 is rated higher than Canon's T2i/3i/60D by DXO Labs. Sounds like you know how the camera works but to recap- in AUTO Mode (green) as well as all SCENE Modes the camera takes over ALL settings including ISO and in these modes typically does push ISO, especially indoors. The photographer can control ISO in M, P, A or S modes either by setting a range (low, high and minimum shutter) or by turning the Auto ISO OFF and selecting the exact ISO you wish to shoot in. Unlike your experience with the camera always going to the high end of the specified range I found it selected the lowest one commensurate with the aperture/shutter speed and that was typically not the highest ISO in the range. Having said that I found that for the most part I got excellent results up to ISO 800 and even 1600 or more in daylight. By the way, the D5100 and the D7000 work the same way.
2). LCD blurry- Not my experience. While 230k dpi is not as clear as the 920 found in upgrade models I never had any difficulty deciphering images with its LCD and neither my D3100 or that of a friend's showed the least bit of wear after a year when we each upgraded to the D5100 and D7000.
3). Weight of carrying multiple lenses. No getting around it, the lenses make all the difference and having a few lenses to choose from does make the bag heavier (I carry three). But there are walk around lenses zoom with f/stops of 2.8 from Tamron and some variable aperture single lens options that run from around 20-270mm.
We all have our own experience with technology products and it sounds like it may be time for you to consider another camera. But I think the D3100 is the best value in DSLR cameras. Check my review in Street Level Reviews D3100. I give it five stars plus.

Posted on May 11, 2012, 10:01:47 AM PDT
Rich56 says:
"Auto ISO (which most people use)"?! This, my friend, is why you're having that problem. NEVER use auto ISO. It's much easier, faster, and far more accurate to set your ISO and then leave it there.

Then use your aperture, shutter speed and metering to get the photo right on the money. If you are under the impression that most people use their DSLRs in the Auto ISO position, then the people you know shouldn't really be wasting their money on DSLRs. Go to a point and shoot and let the camera decide everything for you.

Your other option of course, is to spend a few weeks reading a good "How to" guide in photography.
Then, you'll understand why you should set the DSLRs in auto exposure if you're anywhere near serious about the pictures you take. Really, I'm not 'dissing' you, I'm just saying that the choice to use that kind of camera in the "Auto ISO" mode conflicts with the reasoning of buying a DSLR in the first place. I shoot a pro model Nikon, (D2Xs), and I think that one even offers an "auto ISO" position but I can't imagine why!

There hasn't been one time in 40+ years of shooting that I could think of a good reason why I would want to use an AUTO ISO feature whether it was or wasn't an option on the camera I was shooting at the time. Just give it a try. Set your ISO on 100 or 200, (medium to bright light conditions), or 320 to 800, (low to dark light conditions), and learn a little about how a camera works by using your Aperture priority, Shutter priority, or Manual modes.

I think that you'll find yourself actually beginning to be proud of the photos you take knowing that you deliberately intended to get whatever affect you were after.

Posted on Jul 7, 2012, 11:22:02 AM PDT
RJJ says:
I think most people should and do use a single iso speed and change it themselves as a situation changes. I would never use auto iso. I think it's a bad habit to get into.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2012, 2:29:22 PM PDT
Rich56 says:
When it comes to those Point & Shoot cameras, I think most people let the ISO get picked automatically. Though I fully agree with you when it comes the DSLRs, 'most' people use point & shoots if they're not using their telephones and iPads.

I do customized photo restoration work and almost all the customers that came to me with their pics wanting to get them restored, things removed and/or added, and enlarged haven't got the first clue about why that picture looked so good on their phone and looks so bad when they put it through a Wal-Mart kiosk for enlargement.

I try to explain to them that they're little display, (even the ones on the back of point & shoots), are too small to show the fact that they weren't holding the camera device still and properly braced when they hit the shutter release.

I always send them a rough-draft of their photo at an enlarged size if the photo is blurry, (which is often), so that they can see how bad it really is. I can spend hours just sharpening the eyes on the subject before I even start the other work so it gets pricy pretty quickly. After they see the enlarged 'rough-draft' of the photo they gave me to work with they're so surprised at how bad it was and the costs to fix it.

It's rare, but some have even implied that the problem is my enlargement program, ("Perfect Resize 7Pro" by OnOne Software). The program uses a fractal logarithm method that even Photoshop can't touch.

It was formally called Genuine Fractals 7 Pro and then OnOne changed the name and made it a stand-alone program as well as a plug-in. It is hands down the best program used for enlarging photos on the market today, (and I have tried many until I got to PR7 Pro).

It's used by pros everywhere from photographers to Law enforcement, FBI and a number of federal, '3-letter' crime labs to name a few and still, the person can't believe their little 3.5mp cell phone takes such terrible pictures, lol.

My point is, (I was getting away from it there for a moment), that I think that most people who buy DSLRs do try to learn something about photography and their camera but the casual cell-phone and point & shoot shooters probably wouldn't know where to find the adjustment if they had one.

But it wouldn't surprise me to find the 'dabblers' who have some extra change set their brand new DSLRs to 'full auto everything'. That's fine but it will certainly limit their ability to get anything that's much more than a 'snapshot'. Some get lucky though.

Posted on Aug 2, 2012, 9:15:28 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 2, 2012, 9:25:15 AM PDT
Ken says:
I would respectfully suggest that although some settings will often perform reasonably in automatic mode (ie focusing, metering) ISO is not of of those settings. Permitting the camera to automatically decide the ISO setting is simply not the way to go. This is not a reflection on the Nikon D3100 but rather getting the best images any camera can deliver. Changing the ISO setting can be done with the FN button and takes only a second. Use a low ISO (100-200) for natural lighting and 400 - 1600 for most artificial lighting (indoors) and you should be fine. The most important part of any camera is the person using it.
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