If you are in the market for a camera, then you have probably learned that there are a lot of options out there. So many, in fact, that deciding which camera you need can be time-consuming and even frustrating. In this article, we want to narrow down at least a few options for you by doing a Nikon D3100 review with a few other models, so you know exactly what you are looking at.
What Is the Nikon D3100?
The Nikon D3100 is a DSLR that sits on the entry-level end of the spectrum. It is simple to use and understand with only a little time spent in the manual and is one of the easier DSLR cameras to start with. It offers the manual shooting mode and the interchangeable lenses that are so coveted in DSLR cameras, but it does not over-complicate settings or functions either.
The Nikon D3100 would, of course, make a great DSLR camera for someone ready or wanting to make the jump into having more freedom and options in shooting. It also works well as a backup camera for those who have moved on to the full-bodied cameras but want something fast to use as well.
The Nikon D3100 offers a little over 14 megapixels, which works well for on-the-go or daily photography. The ISO is standard at 100-3200, though it is expandable to 12800. It has six automatic shooting settings to choose from like portrait, night, and sport as well as the coveted manual. In this Nikon D3100 review, you'll learn about the added in-camera editing, which can be both useful and fun.
Compared to its previous model, the Nikon D3100 has more buttons to offer faster shortcuts for users. Live view, video, and editing features are literally a click of a button away. The body of the camera is fairly lightweight too, and for a DSLR it is one of the more compact options.
This model has 11 AF points to work with as well as 1080p video, which completes the Nikon D3100 and bring it around full circle as a well-built standard DSLR.
Prices on the market are always changing - and that is especially true for cameras. The price for the Nikon D3100 will be slightly different depending on where you look, but on average we found it for around $500 if you want the lens kit. Around $250 if you just want the body.
How It Compares: Nikon D3100 Review
We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.
While $500 will get you a new camera with a lens kit, you can easily find used options on places like Amazon for around $400.
- ease of use
- design quality
As the Nikon D3100 is built for users starting in the DSLR world of photography, they have designed it well to be simple to navigate and use. The added extra buttons on the body of the camera especially make it very easy to get exactly where you want to go.
As a first DSLR camera, the Nikon D3100 works wonderfully. Even with the standard ISO range, because of their use of EXPEED 2, images are much more crisp and colorful even when they should have noise.
The only area this model seemed to have a problem in was low-light shooting. Between the sensor size and the ISO range, it does struggle with low-light environments, so that should be taken into consideration.
Externally, the body of this camera is made from plastic and does not have any weather sealing, so be careful where you take it. This is pretty standard for DSLR cameras, but if you are dropping the extra cash for a DSLR, you will want a way to protect it - in this case, it means buying a good camera bag.
Internally though is another story. The menu navigation is designed to be intuitive and having all the often-used options readily available in the form of buttons on the body just cuts navigation time in half.
While Nikon offers warranties, the Nikon D3100 is hard to find with a warranty because they have been discontinued. This also means that if you buy this model, you may find it hard to replace parts in it as well.
Approximately $420 for this camera.
- ease of use
- design quality
Overall, this is still an easy camera to use and start with, but compared to the Nikon D3100, it just does not have all the shortcuts needed to make navigation faster.
There are a lot of creative modes this model offers that make it a creative photographer's playmate. The HDR background control is one of our favorites because it takes away the need to have to compromise color and light in highly contrasting photos. There are also modes like fish-eye, watercolor, and art bold (and more) that can artistically style your photos.
Similar to the Nikon D3100, there is not weatherproofing for this camera, so for those wanting to use the video features especially, take that into consideration.
Canon offers a 1-year warranty for parts and labor for manufacturer errors, which is a fair warranty, but when going for DSLR cameras, a little longer or a little more goes a long way when you are spending more money on the camera.
Moving on with the Nikon D3100 review is one of Nikon's biggest competitors: Canon. This camera also works well for beginners though we would suggest it for those wanting to focus more on videography than still shots. It does offer 18 megapixels and a good ISO range of 100-12800, with 9 AF points, but the full HD video and rotating touchscreen are made for videography.
For the specs this model offers, this is actually not a bad price at $430. It is a beginners' DSLR, but the features and specs are fairly high tech, so getting them for this price would be a bit of a steal. Of course, used or refurbished options will always be less expensive if you want something in a lower price bracket.
- ease of use
- design quality
As a beginners' DSLR, this camera works well in terms of ease of use and simplicity. Navigation is not difficult, and it does not take a lot of fiddling to figure out how to operate. Our only disappointment was the lack of shortcut buttons.
This has been a well-loved camera by users and reviewers. It works well for daily photography but also has the specs for travel photography, landscapes, portraits and more. It has at least decent specs in most areas, making it a well-rounded camera for most beginners. Our only complaint was the lack of an external mic port, as video quality will definitely take a hit if videographers are looking into this model.
Similar to the previous models, no weatherproofing or sealing. However, menu design and external grip and handling design work well and have been well-thought out.
Nikon offers a limited warranty for their cameras that cover errors on their end. Given the price point for this camera, we feel that their basic warranty is well-fitted.
With 24 megapixels, full HD video, and EXPEED 4 processing, this model takes a little bit of an edge on the previous two models. This camera also has 3D tracking and a wireless adapter for on the go photo transfers. It is lightweight and easily portable as well.
This camera is actually hard to find, so there are not often a lot of competing prices. Expect to pay around $600. Buying used will definitely help drive the price down.
- ease of use
- design quality
Like the Nikon D3100, there are a lot of external shortcut buttons for often-used features like video or specific specs. While this helps in navigation, users have said that this camera is easier to pick up and learn than other brands. This means that learning how the specs and features work is simple and does not take a lot of toggling back and forth between the manual and the camera.
One downfall we have to point out is that sometimes users have a hard time with the initial setup. Some manual instructions are apparently east to misinterpret which can make for a frustrating setup. While we did not come across this issue, we did want to make sure potential users are aware.
Overall, users love this model. It seems like a hidden gem among the larger camera companies. It works great for daily photography, and like Nikon or Canon, Pentax has a lot of lens options to add on as well. The lens is actually where we had our disappointment with the model. The lens is not terrible, but it is definitely not as crisp and clear as we wanted. However, this is easily fixed with other lenses.
Finally, we get a weatherproofed DSLR camera - and one that does not even break $1,000. Many photographers have felt the desire to have their DSLR camera be a little more rugged-friendly as a rainy or windy day can ruin not only a photo shoot but potentially the camera as well. Backing the money spent on this camera with durable sealing is what most of us have been looking for.
There is a 1-year warranty for errors in workmanship or product defects, which will for the most part cover this camera. However, with the weatherproofing, we feel a longer period would be beneficial to cover any wearing down of the weather sealing.
We are taking a step out of the two big camera companies to focus on this model. It offers 20 megapixels and 4K video. It is Wi-Fi enabled and has the highly-desired, yet hardly ever found weatherproof sealing to protect the camera from water, dust, and temperatures. It is great for beginners who know they will get into some more rugged environments but still want quality shots - and the added rotating screen can be beneficial there too.
Conclusion: Nikon D3100 Review
Regarding our first contender on this list - the Nikon D3100 - we feel that it has some pros and cons to consider. After looking through the rest of these cameras and what they offer users, we feel that the Nikon D3100 deserves 3 out of 5 stars.
It is by far one of the simplest cameras to start with, and it has many of the options a DSLR camera should (along with a few other creative ones). However, it does have a lower megapixel count, and any low-light shooting is out of the question.
Compared to the other models we have looked at in this Nikon D3100 review, it just did not match up in terms of price and specs. However, if you need a beginners' camera and can find the Nikon D3100 for under or around $500, we would say that is a worthwhile purchase.