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Nikon D3100 - Verdict

By Gavin Stoker



  • Recommended by TR
Nikon D3100


Our Score:


User Score:

Of course this model has been constructed to hit a certain price point and there are features that we would have inevitably liked to have had to hand that aren’t here, such as a tilting LCD screen for a greater creative variety when it comes to lining up shots.

As with all kit lenses, in trying to be all things to all men, the supplied 18-55mm standard zoom may be no match for a dedicated prime, but at the same time it isn't bad at all. If we've a grumble it's that the results from our sensor and lens combo were generally a tad soft for personal taste. However we were really impressed with what this DSLR for beginners can do when faced with shooting in low light without flash. Almost unbelievably it was only really at the top whack expanded ISO setting of ISO12800 that we felt image noise/grain was starting to become noticeably intrusive. Check out our test examples over the next couple of pages to see for yourself.

Overall then, with the bonus of minimal effort and a shallow learning curve, Nikon has created a camera that emphasises ease of use as well, while offering a smattering of the latest must have technology.

Despite this, the Nikon D3100 DSLR doesn't come across as 'dumbed down' in an obvious way, but rather provides gentle hand holding, if and when necessary, to enable the less experienced to up their photographic game.


In summation then, the D3100 feels solidly constructed when gripped in the palm, is fast and responsive, and is capable of some sharp and colourful results thanks to combination of sensor and supplied 18-55mm test lens and is fairly priced. As such the D3100 is something of a no brainer choice for anyone who doesn't already own a digital SLR, but desires the more professional in appearance results that such a set up can bring.


January 11, 2011, 1:47 am

Informative review, thanks. I have had my eye on this camera for a few months now and I'm pretty certain this is what I'll opt for. For that price, how could I go wrong?


January 11, 2011, 2:48 am

That ISO performance is remarkable at this price point. It looks the same or better than my 5D2. IMO, light and how you handle lack of it is absolutely crucial at this price point. It takes away much of the need for expensive fast glass, and makes the world of difference to someone at entry level.


January 11, 2011, 4:43 am

I wish this was the original spec for the D3000, as I invested in one, and only for this to come out a year later...grr.

It has all of the features and performance I would like, and as my 1st SLR, the D3000 was good, but this simply is so much better. I want to upgrade, but its very difficult finding this body only for a decent price. The D3000 is almost defunct now, thanks to this :(

Martin Daler

January 11, 2011, 2:07 pm

@ theDman

Can't help with buyer's remorse, but if you are chasing prices you could do worse than look over at www.camerapricebuster.co.uk.

Of course, Nikon might come out with something even better next year...


January 11, 2011, 3:04 pm

@theDman: personally I'd resist the temptation to upgrade to a camera within the same price bracket so soon after your initial purchase. The body makes such a small difference relatively speaking to what you shoot upgrading just for a couple of extra features isn't going to make a vast difference to your end product. Either put the cash towards going up a level to something like the D90 (or whatever its replacement is) / D7000 or work out what sort of photography you do most and stick the cash on a suitable lens. That said the D3000 did have a fair few problems (which was a shame as they seemed to be unique to that camera, didn't crop up anywhere else in the range) so the upgrade might be a bit more noticeable than normal.


January 11, 2011, 3:29 pm

I am contemplating the move to digital SLR having used a variety of compact cameras over the past few years. The price/performance of this camera seems a no brainer, especially as most of my photography is done indoors in low light. I just don't know if I'm ready to take the jump to a bigger camera.


January 11, 2011, 11:44 pm

What was the iso setting on the last duck shot? I guessing ISO12600 as the full sized image looks simply atrocious.


January 12, 2011, 4:58 am

I bought this camera last November (after, ahem, a Significant Birthday where i got a fair bit of cash instead of presents, as such... so bought something I wouldn't normally let myself stretch to - not to mention without the TR review that I normally look for guidance from ).

It's my first foray into DSLRs, and the picture quality is amazing, eepecially the low light performance WITHOUT the flash. I'm still learning about photography and feel this is a great step up from the 'photography as a commodity' mode/approach that everyone (including myself) has gotten into. The liveview mode is welcome; but could do with more continuous shooting capacity. I actually find it a tad small on the physical handling side (i'm only 5'7" tall without sausage fingers!) but it does feel bulletproof (actually feels heavier and better-built than my old Canon EOS SLR from days gone by). Got a good package deal with a 85-200 zoom, memory card, filters and bag from Jessops (nothing like buying online and collect - with Quidco cashback - to make you feel good as you got a decent deal AND you get to Play With Your New Toy on the same day... :-) not necessarily the best deal, but you get the gist!)

As a first step up from Point&Shoot camera phones/c£200 digitals, I honestly think it's a cracking piece of kit which will fire your creative tendencies. Well, it did mine...

John Shewsbury

January 24, 2011, 7:45 am

Being a fan of Canon, I was considering either the Canon 1000D or Canon 550D but after I knew that this camera can still produce good result at ISO 1600 - that seriously is something impressive and remarkable for an entry level DSLR and that can be an important factor for me to consider this camera as well. In general, this D3100 kick out all the "features" that Canon 1000D can offer (though it's unfair to compare this latest model against the old 1000D)... sigh...


February 18, 2011, 9:27 pm

It compares pretty well against the new 1100D though too, John, especially taking into consideration the price difference.

I've just purchased this camera to replace a Sony a700 (which I found awkward to use, not terribly well built and far too big and heavy for day to day use) and I couldn't be happier. The only gripe I have is the lack of a USB cable in the box. Luckily any old 5 pin will work happily.


April 30, 2011, 4:46 am

Bought this DSLR about a month ago with a bag, UV filter, 4Gb SD card and the kit lens for £518 (£478 with the £40 cashback) from Jessops and they threw in a USB webcam this had the missing USB cable even though I have plenty of the same cables.
I bought it to replace a Sony a200K which I found heavy even without a lens attached. The D3100 feels a lot lighter than the Sony a200.
Although the only photos I have taken are of the pets in low light using the guide mode it produced far better results than I expected, I just wish this DSLR had being out when I bought the Sony, I would have bought the D3100 without doubt.

uEDGE Business Cards

October 8, 2013, 12:28 am

This is my first SLR and i am an amateur. It has very good essential features and so easy to operate. You will buy this camera if you do not plan to be a pro in the future.
Best for beginners with decent Megapixels for high-detailed photos and videos.

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