Nikon D3000 review: Nikon D3000

  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 23.6mm x 15.8mm 22.2mm x 14.8mm
Magnification factor 1.5x 1.5x 1.5x 1.6x
Sensitivity range ISO 100-ISO 3,200 ISO 100-ISO 3,200 ISO 100-ISO 1,600/3,200 (expanded) ISO 100-ISO 1,600
Continuous shooting 3.5fps
4 raw/5 JPEG
2.5fps
n/a
3fps
6 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
Metering 16 segment 40 segment 420 segment RGB 35 zone
Flash sync 1/180 sec 1/160 sec 1/200 sec 1/200 sec
Live View No No No Yes
Video No No No No
Built-in wireless flash controller Yes Yes No No
LCD size 2.7-inch fixed
230,000 dots
2.7-inch fixed
230,400 dots
3-inch fixed
230,000 dots
2.5-inch fixed
230,000 dots
Battery life (CIPA rating) n/a 510 shots 500 shots 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 18.8 17.6
Mfr. Price $449.95 (with 18-55mm lens) $549.99 (with 18-55mm lens) $599.95 (with 18-55mm lens) $599.99 (with 18-55mm lens)
$599.99 (with 18-55mm and 50-200mm lenses) $749.99 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses) $849 (estimated; with 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses) n/a

On one hand, Nikon introduces some in-camera-playtime features. After shooting you can build stop-motion movies from selected images on the SD card or apply a selective blur in Miniature effect (which simulates tilt/shift). And it will allow you to enable or disable uploading if you have an Eye-Fi card. Plus Nikon added a date stamp, but--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. But there are a lot of more useful shooting features missing that other cameras in this price class provide, including wireless flash control and an HDMI connector. Most egregiously, though, the D3000 lacks simple exposure and flash exposure bracketing.

A middle-of-the-pack performer, with the exception of very fast start-up times, the D3000 doesn't improve much on the D60. It's odd, because there's no increase in resolution and an improved AF system; I guess those extra AF points add precision but also add overhead without a compensating increase in processing power. That said, the D3000 isn't slow, just not as fast as category leaders like the Pentax K2000. It wakes and shoots in a zippy 0.2 second, and under bright conditions focuses and shoots in a solid 0.4 second; that increases to an average 0.8 second in dimmer conditions. It typically takes about 0.6 second for two sequential shots, increasing to 0.9 second when incorporating flash recycle time. It does fare relatively well at burst shooting, where it achieves a 3.0fps rate--adequate for moderately active kids and pets.

As for photo quality, by most metrics the D3000 fares very well for its class. In some ways, that's not hard: get the colors mostly right and do a decent job with noise suppression for midrange ISO sensitivities and you've already got a lot of them beat. Color, exposure, and sharpness (we tested with the 18-55mm VR kit lens) are generally very good and its noise profile looks better than most of its competitors, rendering usable images up to and including ISO 1,600, depending on scene content, of course.

If you're looking for a dSLR that piles on the features for a pittance, the D3000 probably isn't it. But if you want to make the step up from a point-and-shoot, the Nikon D3000 provides the right combination of newbie-friendly operation coupled with the performance and image quality that made you want to upgrade in the first place. But if you can stretch your budget a little, consider bumping up a class to the D5000: it has a more robust feature set, is noticeably faster and delivers better photo quality.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Raw shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim light)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Pentax K2000
0.7 
0.5 
0.5 
0.2 
Sony Alpha DSLR-A330/A230
0.4 
0.7 
0.6 
0.3 
Nikon D60
0.4 
0.5 
0.7 
0.4 
Nikon D3000
0.2 
0.6 
0.8 
0.4 
Canon EOS Rebel XS
0.2 
0.7 
0.8 
0.4 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Nikon D3000
3 
Nikon D60
2.8 
Sony Alpha DSLR-A330/A230
2.4 

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Aug. 24, 2009
  • Digital camera type SLR
  • Optical Zoom 3 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 10.2 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical
  • Lens 27 - 82.5mm F/3.5
  • Optical Sensor Size 15.8 x 23.6mm