Nikon D3100 18-55VR Kit review
The D3100 is the latest incarnation of a line of cameras that – if we’re brutally honest – we find a bit annoying. In an effort not to bamboozle first-time SLR users, it presents most photographic options via the LCD screen and navigation pad. That might feel familiar for compact camera owners, but are labelled buttons really so terrifying? We much prefer controls that keep key settings within easy reach and encourage experimentation.
So it is with a heavy heart that we’re forced to admit that the D3100 is comfortably the best entry-level digital SLR currently available. It’s a big upgrade on the D3000, with a vastly improved sensor, live view, 1080p video recording and an HDMI out. Lens distortions and chromatic aberrations are now corrected in-camera, and the faster processor means using these features and others doesn’t diminish performance.
Continuous shooting is still at a relatively pedestrian 3fps (2.9fps in our tests) but lasted for an impressive 25 RAW frames, and then only gently slowed to 2.1fps with a fast SDHC card. Unlike most of its competitors, the D3100 continues to focus in continuous mode, and the 3D Tracking feature helps it follow moving subjects. There’s still no exposure bracketing or in-body focus motor, though. The latter means Nikon’s excellent 50mm f/1.8 lens doesn’t work on this camera, but the 35mm f/1.8 lens is a superb alternative.
1080p videos were packed with detail and remarkably little noise. However, there are still a couple of issues. We saw some aliasing problems (jagged edges) and the continuous autofocus was slow and spoiled the soundtrack. The solution is to use fixed focus, or focus manually. It's good tat there’s control over aperture and exposure lock but you don't get full exposure control. There’s no socket for an external microphone, but soundtracks were reasonably clear.
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