Nikon updates its entry-level dSLR with the addition of video capture, new processing algorithms, and the de rigeur bump in resolution. The D3100 adds HD video capture with continuous autofocus. Continuous AF is unusual in dSLRs, but for good reason; the focusing mechanisms in the lenses are generally too noisy and an unwelcome addition to your soundtrack. This remains true for Nikon's solution, and without a mic input, you really have no way around it. Consider it a tradeoff. The camera does have a direct-access button for movie mode rather than shunting it off to the mode dial.
Here are some basic comparisons with Nikon's other current entry-level models (tables updated with more specs):
|Sensor (effective resolution)||10.2-megapixel CCD||14.2-megapixel CMOS||12.3-megapixel CMOS|
|23.6 x 15.8.mm||23.6 mm x 15.8mm|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 100 - ISO 3200||ISO 100 (expanded)/200 - ISO 3200/12,800 (expanded)||ISO 100 (expanded)/200 - ISO 1600/3200 (expanded|
n/a raw/n/a JPEG
9 raw/100 JPEG (medium/fine)
center cross-type to f5.6
|Shutter speed||1/4000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync||1/4000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync||1/4000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync|
|Metering||420-pixel 3D color matrix||420-pixel 3D color matrix||420-pixel 3D color matrix|
|Video||No||1080/24p; 720/30p AVCHD MOV||720/24p|
|LCD size||3 inches fixed|
|3 inches fixed|
|2.7 inches articulated|
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||500 shots||n/a shots||510 shots|
|Dimensions (inches, WHD)||5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5||4.9 x 3.8 x 2.9||5.0 x 4.1 x 3.1|
|Body operating weight (ounces)||18.8||17 (est)||21.6|
|Mfr. Price||n/a||n/a||$629.95 (body only)|
|$549.95 (with 18-55mm lens)||$699.95 (with 18-55mm lens)||$699.99 (est, with 18-55mm lens)|
|Ship date||July 2009||September 2010||April 2009|
Other enhancements over the D3000 include an improved guide mode which provides more interactive help and which leads you through some of the operations. Nikon says the camera also has improved noise reduction and Active D-Lighting algorithms, in-camera raw processing, a 100,000-cycle shutter and support for SDXC, among other things.
Here're some competitors:
|Sensor (effective resolution)||15.1-megapixel CMOS||14.2-megapixel CMOS||12.4-megapixel CMOS||14.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS|
|22.3 mm x 14.9mm||23.5 mm x 15.6mm||23.5 mm x 15.6mm|
|Color depth||14 bit||n/a||12 bit||n/a|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 100 - ISO 3200/12,800 (expanded)||ISO 100 (expanded)/200 - ISO 3200/12,800 (expanded)||ISO 100 (expanded)/200 - ISO 6400/12,800 (expanded)||ISO 200 - ISO 12,800|
|Continuous shooting||3.4 fps|
9 raw/170 JPEG
5 raw/17 JPEG
14 raw/32 JPEG
|Shutter speed||1/4000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync||1/4000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync||1/6000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/180 sec x-sync||1/4000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/160 sec x-sync|
|Metering||35 zone||420-pixel 3D color matrix||16 segment||40 segment|
|Image Stabilization||Optical||Optical||Sensor shift||Sensor shift|
|Video||1080/20p; 720/30p H.264 Quicktime MOV||1080/24p; 720/30p AVCHD MOV||720/24p Motion JPEG AV||No|
|LCD size||3 inches fixed|
|3 inches fixed|
|2.7 inches fixed|
|3 inches tiltable|
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||400 shots||n/a shots||1,100 shots (lithium batteries)||950 shots|
|Dimensions (inches, WHD)||5.1 x 3.8 x 2.4||4.9 x 3.8 x 2.9||4.8 x 3.6 x 2.7||5.4 x 4.1 x 3.3|
|Body operating weight (ounces)||18.6||17 (est)||24.0||24.0|
|Mfr. Price||$649 (body only, est)||n/a||$599 (body only, est)||$749.99 (body only)|
|$799 (with 18-55mm lens)||$699.95 (with 18-55mm lens)||$649.95 (with 18-55mm lens)||$849.99 (with 18-55mm lens)|
|Ship date||April 2009||September 2010||October 2009||November 2009|
Nikon also announced four new lenses. The first,the AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR ($399) is a consumer-grade lens that seems destined for life as a dual-lens kit staple. It features automatic tripod detection, to automatically tweak the VR when mounted, can focus as close as 4.6 feet at all focal lengths, and the currently in vogue 9-blade aperture.
The AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR ($1299.95) is a higher end full-frame lens which incorporates VRII, an ultrasonic motor and internal focus.
Another full-frame lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4 G ED VR ($1049.95), incorporates ED glass and Nikon's Nano Crystal coat for a meat-and-potatoes midrange lens.
Finally, the last lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G ED ($1699.95), which Nikon says is optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness across both DX and FX sensors, and which incorporates the usual pro glass elements and coatings, sounds like it has the makings of a very nice portrait lens.
The lenses will be available starting in September.