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Nikon D3100 DSLR hands-on

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In addition to the S1100pj and S5100, we also had a chance to play with Nikon's 14.2 megapixel D3100 earlier today. Sadly, due to the non-final firmware, we weren't allowed to obtain live sample stills and 1080p H.264 clips from the prototype DSLR, so we can't comment too much on the new CMOS sensor's picture quality. Still, there were some interesting features to point out here. Most notably, the seemingly solid D3100 has an improved grip compared to its predecessor and our own D5000 -- it certainly felt nice and secure in our hands despite the small (and slightly lighter) body. We also dig the new switch (resting by the now-larger dial) for quickly toggling various shooting modes, along with the new spring-loaded live-view trigger and video recording button (both at the top-right corner of the 3-inch 460k-dot screen).

Of course, we couldn't have gone home without having tested the video mode's headlining continuous autofocus feature -- we weren't able to tell how much motor noise might have gone into the clips, but the bundled 18-55mm lens was able to autofocus or track subjects at reasonable speeds, provided that we weren't zooming or moving about too rapidly. The only real bug we noticed was that sometimes the tracking may get overridden by large nearby objects with similar colors, so hopefully the final firmware will reduce this error. Another concern is with the new 1,030mAh battery -- no word on how many shots or video hours it can provide, but we shall find out when this $699 DSLR comes out next month.

Gallery: Nikon D3100 hands-on | 58 Photos

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