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Nikon D3100 18-55VR Kit review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £459
inc VAT

Not without flaws, but sumptuous photos and videos at a sensible price make it an unbeatable package


23.1×15.4mm 14.1-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (27-82.5mm equivalent), 505g

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.

Nikon D3100

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.

Nikon D3100 side

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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Basic Specifications

Rating *****
CCD effective megapixels 14.1 megapixels
CCD size 23.1×15.4mm
Viewfinder optical TTL
Viewfinder magnification, coverage 0.80x, 95%
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 230,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 27-82.5mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,608×3,072
Maximum movie resolution 1920×1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 24fps
File formats JPEG, RAW; QuickTime (AVC)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied none
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 550 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, mini HDMI, GPS, remote
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material plastic
Lens mount Nikon F
Focal length multiplier 1.5x
Kit lens model name Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S VR DX Zoom
Accessories neck strap
Weight 505g
Size 96x124x75mm

Buying Information

Warranty two-year RTB
Price £459

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 30 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture range f/3.5-22 (wide), f/5.6-36 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 100 to 12800
Exposure compensation +/-5 EV
White balance auto, 6 presets, manual
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness, brightness, hue, Active-D Lighting, noise reduction
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 28cm
Auto-focus modes 11-point
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer

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Reviews | DSLRs