The entry-level sector of the digital camera market is always a busy place. The manufacturers know that if they can get you to commit to their system over a rival, they've probably got you as a customer for life. By the time you've outgrown the entry-level model and are ready to upgrade, you'll probably already have invested a small fortune in those highly profitable lenses and accessories, so you'll most likely choose to stay with the same brand rather than replace your entire system. All of the main DSLR manufacturers produce sub-£450 models that compete to offer the best performance and specification at the best price.
Nikon's newest entry-level model is the D3000, a basic 10.2-megapixel camera designed to be exceptionally easy to use, but nonetheless offering a taste of the build quality, performance and advanced creative features that make Nikon's more sophisticated DSLRs so popular with professionals and enthusiasts. It will replace the successful D60 as the base model in Nikon's DSLR range, and is currently on sale for around £420 complete with the excellent 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 image stabilised kit lens. The D3000 shares much of its bodywork and some of its features with the next model up in the range, the D5000 that I reviewed last month. However it dispenses with the articulated monitor in favour of a fixed three-inch 230k screen, and also manages without live view and video recording.
The D3000 is up against some strong competition, most notably from the Canon EOS 1000D, currently selling for around £385 with an 18-55mm non-IS lens. Other rivals include the Sony Alpha A230 (£340 kit), the Pentax K-m (£350), and even the Olympus E-420, available for around £290 with a single lens, or £375 in a twin-lens kit. Be comparison the D3000 is still quite expensive, although it's only been on sale for a little over two months so that price will probably fall.