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Nikon D3000 Digital SLR - Nikon D3000 Digital SLR

By Cliff Smith



  • Recommended by TR
Nikon D3000 Digital SLR


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The D3000 makes a good first impression. It's small for a DSLR, measuring 126 x 97 x 64 mm, although that's actually slightly thicker than the EOS 1000D. It's around 35g heavier than the Canon though, and certainly feels a lot more solid and well made. The body is made of plastic over a steel frame, but the panel joins are very tight fitting, and there's no trace of the slight air of flimsiness that bedevils some entry-level models.

The D3000 has a very basic specification. It has what I suspect is the same Sony 10.2 megapixel CCD sensor used on the D60, the Sony A230 and a lot of other low and mid-range models from both companies for the past several years. It's always been a good reliable sensor, and the D3000 marries it up with a fast Expeed processor and manages to coax a bit of extra speed out of it.

One weak point of the D60 was its weak three-sensor autofocus system. The D3000 however features the same excellent Multi-CAM 1000 11-point system found in the D5000, and based on the acclaimed AF system of the D3 and D300. The centre sensor is a more sensitive cross-type, and the addition of a good powerful AF assist lamp results in excellent low light performance.

Other stock components include the shutter system and exposure meter, which are both the same as those of the D5000 and the D60. The shutter has an excellent speed range of 1/4000th of a second to 30 seconds, plus a B setting. The exposure meter uses a 420-pixel RGB sensor, and has proven to be reliable and accurate on its previous outings.

The D3000 is intended for beginners, and to this end it features a Guide setting on its main mode dial. This selects a special simplified menu system taking new users step by step through the process of basic camera setup, taking a photo and viewing options for the results, setting the camera up automatically according to the operation selected. This system is so ridiculously easy to use that's it's hard to imagine anyone having a problem with it. For more advanced operation the camera has the same easy-to-use graphical interface as the D5000, and the same informative monitor data display.

Once you've mastered the basics, the D3000 offers a reasonable level of creative control for more experimental photography. Main shooting options are all selected via the big mode dial, and include the usual P/A/S/M exposure options as well as six basic scene modes. The main menu system is somewhat simplified, but does include the Picture Control option, with six different tone presets that can be customised by the adjustment of contrast, saturation, hue and sharpness. Exposure compensation is +/- 5EV, and there are multiple flash modes to play with.


October 23, 2009, 7:49 pm

"Entry level" !!!!! This description sounds so smug and patronising. This and many other "entry level" cameras are highly sophisticated picture taking machines that can last a lifetime's photography! Just because they don't have the added array of complicated and confusing claptrap built in doesn't mean they are "entry level" If anything they are probably closer to the spirit of photography.


October 23, 2009, 11:20 pm

Terry, don't be so touchy! At least to me, "entry level" means an affordable price to allow the less well-heeled to enter the DSLR world where the real performance cameras reside. I entered clutching a Pentax K110D and when I could afford to be soled as well as heeled, I upgraded to a Nikon D300. Can't see much difference in the technical quality of the pics they both produce though which neatly supports your last paragraph.:)


October 24, 2009, 1:13 am

Terry, I agree that so-called "entry level" SLRs are excellent devices in their own right. However I disagree on the use of the phrase. For the purposes of clarity and comparison we need to have some kind of description for "the least expensive digital SLRs". This is the level, in terms of price point, at which the majority of consumers can "enter" any given digital SLR system.

For me the question is: how else would you describe this category? "Basic"? "Beginner level"? Such alternatives clearly sound disparaging, while I feel that negative connotations can be read into the phrase "entry level" but are not inherent. Meanwhile words like "affordable" are far too subjective. The only really fair description would be "Those dSLRs which are less expensive and with fewer controls and features than other dSLRs of the same brand, but nevertheless more than adequate for the majority of users". A little unwieldy, no?

I do understand your concern, but at the moment I cannot think of a suitable replacement for this phrase. I'm open to suggestions. Ultimately I suspect that whatever word or phrase you pick, people will read all sorts of connotations into it. Think of "amateur" versus "professional". There is no logical reason why someone should be offended by the suggestion that their equipment is designed for "amateurs", as "professional" simply indicates receiving payment for one's images, and is not necessarily an indicator of quality or talent. Yet still some take offence at being called "amateurs", while others will take disproportionate pride in the fact that they own "professional" equipment. It only becomes a real problem if you actually are a professional and ill-informed potential customers turn you down because your equipment is "amateur". Otherwise it's a purely psychological issue.

Sorry I have gone on quite a bit... I've been passing the time while backing up my own images, many of which were shot with an "entry level" dSLR. Others were taken with a so-called "advanced amateur" camera. They each have their advantages and disadvantages, and I would rather enjoy using either than worry about what someone else thinks.

Cliff Smith

October 25, 2009, 8:24 am

An interesting discussion, but until you esteemed gentlemen can come up with an alternative phrase that everyone understands to mean "relatively inexpensive, and designed to be easy to use for for first-time buyers", I'm going to stick with "entry level". The D3000 has a Guide mode specifically aimed at inexperienced photographers, not a feature you're likely to find on something like the D3X.

David 38

January 9, 2010, 11:36 pm

I have always been interested in Photography, im 50 now and my son bought me the Nikon D3000 camera for Xmas. I found it a lovely camera and ive read with interest all comments on it. BUT: the words entre level is quite right and its a learning device and does that perfectly as well as being an excellent camera for first time users of DSLR,s. Im actually going to buy the D90 now, and use my D3000 for travel which i do extensively with my job. If i could afford it, i'd buy the D700 or at least the D300s. Within a month ive learnt how to use a DSLR camera, now all i need is talent ha. But i feel confident only as a bit of fun or as a hobbie to attempt some higher levels of photgraphy, like birds flying off etc and capuring that perfectly, otherwise within a short month ive mastered the D3000 without any tuition and feel ready for a Mid range Amatuer DSLR like the D90. IM ALWAYS VERY HAPPY WITH CLIFF SMITHS REVIEWS WHICH ARE INFORMATIVE AND USUALLY SPOT ON, REMEMBERING ITS ALL AN OPINION ONLY.!!! Im a chef, some people love my cuisine, some dont, its all an opinion. www.davidcourtneyjones.co.uk

I love my D3000 and wouldnt part with it. But i would like to add to it a D90 if anyone knows of one going second hand kindly let me know. Thank you.


August 24, 2010, 12:55 am

The D3000 has recently dropped in price, probably in anticipation of the D3100. Compared with what is available, do you think the D3000 is now a bargain, considering that newer models now just add stuff like HD video & live-view which really doesn't affect the end quality of a what the camera was supposed to do?


August 4, 2011, 3:45 am

Hmm... the iso/noise levels seem a bit depressing to me looking at those photos. A timely reminder why I got rid of my D5000...(and why I still have my "old" 20D...).

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