Nikon D3000, new entry-level SLR

Unsurprisingly, Nikon's replacement for the D40, the D3000, is faster with higher resolution.

Nikon USA

It's had a loooong run, but now it's over; the Nikon D40, which the company unveiled in November 2006, is finally being put out to pasture. That's a pretty good lifespan for a consumer dSLR, and I'm sure Nikon is hoping that its replacement, the D3000--announced today along with the D300's replacement, the D300s and a pair of lens updates --can match or surpass its popularity.

The body remains mostly unchanged from the D40, but as you'd expect, Nikon beefs up some of the performance and features aspects of the camera, including a much-needed update of the AF system, which includes behind-the-scenes face detection. Other improvements inherited from across the line include enhanced air flow for improved dust reduction and better midtone correction in the Active D-Lighting.

Here's how the D3000's specs compare with its predecessor and its up-the-line sibling, the D5000:

  Nikon D40 Nikon D3000 Nikon D5000
Sensor (effective resolution) 6.1-megapixel CCD 10.2-megapixel CCD 12.3-megapixel CMOS
23.7mm x 15.6mm 23.6 mm x 15.8mm 23.6mm x 15.8mm
Sensitivity range ISO 200 - ISO 1600 ISO 100 - ISO 1600/3200 (expanded) ISO 100 (expanded)/200 - ISO 1600/3200 (expanded)
Continuous shooting 2.5 fps
n/a
3 fps
n/a raw/100+ JPEG (medium/fine)
4 fps
9 raw/100 JPEG (medium/fine)
Viewfinder
magnification/effective magnification
95% coverage
0.80x/0.53x
95% coverage
0.80x/0.53x
95% coverage
0.78x/0.52x
Autofocus 3-pt AF
n/a
11-pt AF
center cross-type to f5.6
11-pt AF
center cross-type to f5.6
Live View No No Yes
Video No No 720p at 24fps
LCD size 2.5 inches fixed
230,000 dots
3 inches fixed
230,000 dots
2.7 inches articulated
230,000 dots
Shutter durability n/a 100,000 cycles 100,000 cycles
Battery life (CIPA rating) 470 shots n/a 510 shots
Dimensions (inches, WHD) 5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 5.0 x 4.1 x 3.1
Body operating weight (ounces) 18.5 18.3 (estimated) 21.6
Mfr. Price $499.95 (with 18-55mm non-VR lens) $599.95 (with 18-55mm VR lens) $729.95 (body only)

As has become common among the various entry-level lines, Nikon distinguishes between the D5000 and D3000 via video capture and the flip-down LCD. The D3000 retains the older viewfinder, which may possibly be better than that in the D5000. However, as we've seen a lot lately, it's also following the trend of incorporating the larger, but same-resolution, LCDs, for a resulting coarser display.

Compared to its competition:

  Pentax K2000 Sony Alpha DSLR-A230 Nikon D3000 Canon EOS Rebel XS
Sensor (effective resolution) 10.2-megapixel CCD 10.2-megapixel CCD 10.2-megapixel CCD 10.1-megapixel CMOS
23.5mm x 15.7mm 23.5mm x 15.7mm 23.6x15.8mm 22.2mm x 14.8mm
Magnification factor 1.5x 1.5x 1.5x 1.6x
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 3200 ISO 100 - ISO 3200 ISO 100 - ISO 1600/3200 (expanded) ISO 100 - ISO 1,600
Continuous shooting 3.5fps
4 raw/5 JPEG
2.5fps
n/a
3 fps
n/a raw/100+ JPEG (medium/fine)
3fps
5 raw/unlimited JPEG
Viewfinder
magnification/effective magnification
96% coverage
0.85x/0.57x
95% coverage
0.83x/0.55x
95% coverage
0.80x/0.53x
95% coverage
0.81x/0.51x
Autofocus 5-pt AF
n/a
9-pt AF
n/a
11-pt AF
center cross-type to f5.6
7-pt AF
n/a
Live View No No No Yes
Video No No No No
Built-in wireless flash controller Yes Yes No No
LCD size 2.7 inches fixed
230,000 dots
2.7 inches fixed
230,400 dots
3 inches fixed
230,000 dots
2.5 inches fixed
230,000 dots
Battery life (CIPA rating) n/a 510 shots n/a 500 shots
Dimensions (inches, WHD) 4.8 x 3.6 x 2.7 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.7 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4
Body operating weight (ounces) 20.7 18.3 18.3 (estimated) 17.6
Mfr. Price $499.95 (with 18-55mm lens) $549.99 (with 18-55mm lens) $599.95 (with 18-55mm lens) $599.99 (with 18-55mm lens)

The AF system, which has trickled down from the D90, should be a real strength for the D3000. Otherwise, there's nothing here which screams "I'm the must-have model" it its price segment, especially since Canon's overdue with its Rebel XS replacement, making it a bit of a wild card. Like Sony, Nikon has put some work into redefining the interface for the entry-level market, including a new Guide Mode, which holds your hand and walks you through the settings for different photographic challenges. it also adds some in-camera-playtime features like stop-motion settings and a Miniature effect (which simulates tilt/shift). Plus Nikon added a date stamp, though--I beg of you--please don't add a permanent stamp to your photos unless you're in insurance or crime scene investigation. Learn to read EXIF data, people.

The D3000 will be available in late August, just in time for your back-to-school purchasing pleasure.

Read the full CNET Review

Nikon D3000 (18mm-55mm VR lens)

The Bottom Line: Its feature set is basic even by entry-level standards, but the Nikon D3000 delivers the photo quality and performance you expect when stepping up to a dSLR, with an optional interface that's very beginner friendly. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Nikon D3000 (with 18mm-55mm and 55mm-200mm VR lens)

The Bottom Line: Its feature set is basic even by entry-level standards, but the Nikon D3000 delivers the photo quality and performance you expect when stepping up to a dSLR, with an optional interface that's very beginner friendly. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Nikon D3000 Body Only

The Bottom Line: Its feature set is basic even by entry-level standards, but the Nikon D3000 delivers the photo quality and performance you expect when stepping up to a dSLR, with an optional interface that's very beginner friendly. / Read full review

About the author

Lori Grunin is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering cameras, camcorders, and related accessories. She's been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 1988.

 

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