Rumors of a D5100 arriving fairly soon are making the rounds, and with the introduction of the D7000 as the D90 successor Nikon's DX sensor (APS-C) fleet now awaits only the unveiling of the D400 (possibly late 2011) to complete a re-do of the cropped sensor family of cameras. More importantly, the new lineup offers clearly defined entry and prosumer level equipment, leaving Nikon free to make the D400 a full-blown pro body if they so choose.
The D3100 was the first Nikon DX sensor camera to push past 12.3 megapixel resolution, going to 14.2 megapixels along with EXPEED 2 processing technology and full HD video with automatic AF. The native ISO sensitivity range widens to 100 to 3200, expandable to 12800 - the D3000 managed 100 to 1600, expandable to 3200. The 11-point AF system of the D3000 is retained, and in a nod to the D3100's entry-level clientele, the Guide Mode has been "enhanced" to now provide sample assist images that change with camera settings so novice users can better visualize the impact upon the final product, or help them to the camera settings that will deliver the image they have in mind.
There's a fairly comprehensive suite of options for in-camera retouching of images and a quiet shutter setting. The camera is offered in kit form matched to the AF-S 18-55mm VR (stabilized) zoom lens, covering approximately the 27 to 83mm focal range in 35mm equivalents. Here's a look at both ends of that zoom:
Lens compatibility is full functionality with Nikon AF-I and AF-S lenses: there are currently 39 AF-S lenses in the Nikon catalog, spanning focal lengths from 10 to 600mm. I used my 400mm f/2.8 VR, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, and 105mm f/2.8 micro Nikkor lenses in this review in addition to the 18-55 and 55-300 zooms provided by Nikon. The D3100 uses the Nikon "F' bayonet mount first introduced in 1959, so there's a wide range of archival glass that can mount on the camera, but non-CPU lenses (those without a connector to transfer basic lens information to the camera) won't meter for exposure and require manual focus and exposure. SD/SDHC/SDXC memory media are compatible and Nikon includes a Li-ion battery and charger, eyepiece cap, eye cap, camera strap, hot shoe cover, body cap, CD-ROM software (including detailed user's manual) and printed basic user's manual with each camera.
The D3100 looks to be a logical progression from the D3000. Let's see how Nikon's newest low guy on their DSLR totem pole measures up in the shooting department.
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