Nikon D3100

Now a year-and-a-half old, the D3100 was the first D-SLR in Nikon’s lineup to offer full HD video and is built around an APS-C 14.2Mp CMOS sensor, offering a maximum 4608x3072 pixel resolution.

Nikon D3100

Nikon D3100

Though the 100-3200 ISO range of the Nikon D3100 appears conservative on paper, there’s the option of expanding this to Hi1 (ISO 6400) and Hi2 (ISO 12800) if required.  Fitted with the 18-55mm image stabilised kit lens, it offers a focal length range that’s equivalent to 27-82.5mm in film terms. This works out slightly wider but not quite as long as Canon’s 1100D.

Features & performance

There’s an 11-point AF system with one cross-type variant in the middle with a selection of four AF area modes, including 3D tracking that’s designed to keep moving subjects sharp in focus as they pass through the frame. A full-time Servo AF mode known as AF-F offers continuous focus when Live View is deployed and can be used with HD video recording, but as we found out, the lens isn’t totally silent in operation so you can expect some AF noises to be picked up by the internal microphone. Supporting full HD video (1920x1080 @24fps) the D3100’s maximum record time is limited to 10mins, with movie files recorded in the MOV format. Below the optical viewfinder lies a 3in, 230k-dot screen and though this doesn’t offer the same clarity as some of its rivals, the layout of the menu is excellent and the info button can be used to toggle through your most commonly used settings including image quality, exposure compensation and focus modes.

In the hand the D3100 has an excellent feel for an entry-level model thanks to the rubberised, well-sculpted handgrip. The toggle switch at the rear makes Live View a breeze to operate and the movie-rec button lets you start video capture at a moment’s notice. The Phase-Detect AF system is responsive, offering an almost identical speed to the 1100D and the switch around the perimeter of the mode dial is superbly placed to control Self-timer and Continuous shooting, which it does at 3fps.


  • Street Price: £100 (Secondhand price as of July 2016)
  • Resolution: 14.2Mp
  • Lens Mount: Nikon DX
  • Crop Factor: 1.5x
  • Focusing: 11-point selectable
  • Viewfinder: Optical 95% coverage
  • Burst Rate: 3fps (10 RAW & Unlimited JPEG)
  • ISO Range: 100-12800
  • Shutter range: 30sec-1/4000
  • Screen: 3in, 230k-dot
  • Video: 1920x1080@24fps
  • Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC
  • Weight: 455g
  • Dimensions: 124x96x74.5mm
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This review was first published in the January 2012 issue of Digital Photo - download back issues here.