August 19th 2010 1:59 am

Heads up! A newer version of this product is out!

final rating

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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Image quality No comments so-so
  • Video quality No comments so-so
  • Battery life No comments good
  • Design and form factor No comments good
  • Durability No comments so-so
  • Speed (start-up time, lag) No comments so-so
  • Ease of use No comments good
Detailed review
The D3100 is the first DSLR I've owned, so I don't know what a better DSLR feels like, other than my friend's recently-purchased D7100, and I haven't used that extensively. Over the years, the lens I've used most with this camera is a manual 50mm 1.8 prime without an AF engine. With that lens, picture quality is for the most part good, so long as subjects aren't too far away. If subjects are further away, light metering becomes spotty. This is a particular problem when trying to autofocus using other lenses. In particular, I have horrid luck when pairing the D3100 with the Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR. The 55-200 gets alright reviews, but when I use it, photos lose all contrast and are usually background-focused.

Moreover, the fulltime video AF is a joke. Taking video using the D3100 is convoluted and necessitates MF, as any attempts at AF almost always focus on the wrong things. Lack of a mic input accentuates the AF problem, since the AF motors on most lenses generate a considerable amount of noise—all of which beautifully overlays your videos.

I've never had any problems with battery life. I always keep a spare battery when I go out on shoots, but I can usually shoot several hours before having to switch. Since I typically use my camera only briefly every day for photojournalism during the school year, this means I have to swap batteries once a week, maybe less.

In the end, I probably wouldn't buy the D3100 again. It's an alright camera for beginners, but the quirks with autofocus and light metering make it a nuisance to use.