Nikon updates entry dSLRs, lenses

The company adds video capture to its entry-level model.

Nikon USA

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):

  Nikon D3000 Nikon D3100 Nikon D5000
Sensor (effective resolution) 10.2-megapixel CCD 14.2-megapixel CMOS 12.3-megapixel CMOS
23.6 x 15.8.mm 23.6 x 15.8mm23.1 x 15.4mm 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
Continuous shooting 3fps
n/a raw/n/a JPEG
3fps
n/a
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 11-pt AF
center cross-type
11-pt AF
center cross-type
11-pt AF
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
Live View Yes No Yes Yes
Video No 1080/24p; 720/30p AVCHD MOV 720/24p
LCD size 3 inches fixed
230,000 dots
3 inches fixed
230,000 dots
2.7 inches articulated
230,000 dots
Wireless flash Yes Yes No
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)
n/a n/a n/a
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:

  Canon EOS T1i Nikon D3100 Pentax K-x Sony Alpha DSLR-A550
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 23.6 x 15.8mm23.1 x 15.4mm 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
Focal-length multiplier 1.6x 1.5x 1.5x 1.5x
Continuous shooting 3.4 fps
9 raw/170 JPEG
3 fps
n/a
4.7 fps
5 raw/17 JPEG
5 fps
14 raw/32 JPEG
Viewfinder
magnification/effective magnification
95% coverage
0.87x/0.54x
95% coverage
0.80x/0.53x
96% coverage
0.85x/0.57x
95% coverage
0.80x/0.53x
Autofocus 9-pt AF
center cross-type
11-pt AF
center cross-type
11-pt AF
9 cross-type
9-pt AF
center cross-type
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
Live View Yes Yes Yes Yes
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
920,000 dots
3 inches fixed
230,000
2.7 inches fixed
230,000 dots
3 inches tiltable
921,600 dots
Wireless flash No No Yes Yes
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.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Show Comments Hide Comments
Latest Galleries from CNET
15 crazy old phones from a Korean museum (pictures)
10 gloriously geeky highlights from 2014 (pictures)
2015.5 Volvo XC60: updated tech, understated design
Busted! CNET readers show us their broken devices (pictures)
Take a closer look at the BlackBerry Classic (pictures)