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Hint: I've been telling my normal friends who want a great camera to get the D3100 now while they still can, since it's the same thing as the D3200, for a close-out price. The D3100 has a new playback feature copied from the LEICA M9: when you look at the histogram, as you zoom and scroll around the image, the histogram shows only what's in your zoom window.
The two biggest external improvements over the D3000 and D5000 are a dedicated advance-mode switch (Single, Continuous, Self-Timer or Quiet), and dedicated movie-start and live-view controls. The D3100 becomes my first recommendation for a low-cost, high-performance DSLR to replace the Nikon D40.
Nikon claims the D3100 autofocuses as you shoot movies, but it tracks poorly and spoils the audio in the process.
The D3100 has no AF motor of its own, so just like the D5000, D3000, D60, D40 and D40x, it only autofocuses with newer AF-S (or old professional AF-I) lenses. Canon's best cameras still only see in black-and-white, and Canon's newest 7D only sees in two colors, not full-color as have most Nikons since the F5. Nikon also shares that Flash Color Information Communication is supported with the built-in flash and all CLS-compatible flash units.
PC (Prontor-Compur) Sync Terminal for studio strobes: No, but Nikon will sell you a Sync Terminal Adapter AS-15 to add it, but heck, I use an old Nikon SB-30 flash on my cameras as a remote trigger for my studio strobes instead of a PC cord. White Balance: Auto, incandescent, fluorescent (7 types), direct sunlight, flash, cloudy, shade, preset manual. It's interesting to note that Nikon just can't keep up with the video resolution of Canon's DSLRs like the 7D and 5D Mark II. EN-EL14 Li-Ion battery, which is, at least as of October 2010, unique to the D3100 and the P7000. The great news about the charger is that Nikon finally got smart and gave it a folding plug, not another cord we need to carry. Nikon says the Nikon D3100 is equipped with a Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) bus that enables remote control playback of images and movies recorded with the camera when the camera is connected to a high-definition TV. Nikon claims the Nikon D3100 is equipped with a new exposure compensation algorithm for greater flexibility and performance with NEF (RAW) processing. The kit with 18-55mm VR sold for about $640 in 2010-2011, and was down to $547 the day before the D3200 was anounced.
Forget the Quiet mode, which isn't that much quieter and is very slow to respond; the D3100 is super quiet in its regular modes. The Info screen rotates as you rotate the camera, but a firmware defect prevents the playback images from rotating as you rotate the camera.
Even though the focus screen is clear even if there is no battery in the D3100, if the lens isn't mounted correctly the focus screen goes almost black as a warning. The charger now uses, at least for the USA version, an integral folding plug, saving us from having to carry a cord with us. At 14MP, its resolution is effectively the same as any 12MP camera, be it a DX D300s, FX D3 or D700. Here are two enlarged crops from images made at the same angle-of view and presented at the same print size. This comparison was shot on a closed test range with synthetic reference vegetation and a controlled atmosphere. At ISO 3,200, image quality looks like it came from a cell phone: it's grainy and softer. A firmware defect causes the Auto ISO to rise to the same high ISO it would pick without flash. The D3100 suffers from Nikon's chronic firmware defect of leaving Auto ISO active in the manual exposure mode, also requiring we switch off Auto ISO in the menus when shooting in manual mode. ADR works great, often filling shadows that otherwise would go black, or highlights that would have washed out. Simply turn Auto Distortion Control ON in the green Camera menu, and JPGs pop out with straight lines perfectly straight! The S95 doesn't actually track focus, but due to its smaller sensor, the laws of physics give it a huge depth-of-field, so everything stays in focus, instead of having to hunt for it as does the D3100. I like the playback functions, the D3100 scrolls around the image very fast, and it also can scroll diagonally.
As a consolation, the D3100's playback zoom zooms so far that we easily can see each and every image pixel greatly enlarged on the LCD.
If you're looking at the RGB histogram, zoom-in and you'll see the histogram computed for only the region shown in the zoom. I'd get a D3100 instead of other bigger, heavier and more expensive cameras unless you have a very clear, stated reason that the D3100 won't work for you. The reason I prefer to shoot FX cameras is mostly because the viewfinders are much bigger and I like to shoot old manual-focus lenses. For flash, I'd get an SB-400, since it will allow much faster shooting than with the little built-in flash.
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You can use a camera line art in your conversations to let your friends know that you are going for a professional photo shoot. Contact us with a description of the clipart you are searching for and we'll help you find it. You can pay a lot more, but no camera does anything significantly better than the D3300 for most people's photography. The D3300 is far superior to any mirrorless, superzoom or compact camera because it's a real DSLR, meaning you view and the camera focuses live directly through the lens optically, not via an electronic screen.
If you already have a preference for Canon, the Canon SL1 is even a little bit smaller and equally excellent. I start with normal camera recommendations for normal people who just want great pictures, then get to suggestions for dedicated photographers, and end with great gift suggestions. If you find this page helpful, you can help me keep helping you by using these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. I've been buying my own gear from Adorama and B&H Photo Video since the mid-1970s and have had nothing but great service and the lowest prices, which is why I recommend them so highly. DSLRs, Digital Single-Lens-Reflex cameras, are the best camera for shooting action and motion.
If you're the sort of person who's an accomplished photographer and reads this site everyday, then you'll appreciate the many extra external controls of the Nikon D7200. The Nikon D7200 is better than anything else if you really know what you're doing, but bigger, more confusing and more expensive if you're not an expert.
See Is It Worth It, which says that if you have the money, sure, go for the D7200, but if you don't, then don't worry and you'll LOVE the less expensive cameras.
If you have the money, then the benefit of the D7200 is that it does everything just a little bit better.
The difference between the D7200 and less expensive cameras is mostly in how pleasant it is to hold, to own, to use and to shoot. I cover the larger Nikon D610 and other even more expensive DSLRs under more costly cameras. While you're saving all this money over more expensive cameras, I suggest getting the Nikon SB-400 miniature external flash ($175 used).
The best telephoto lens for general photography and portraits is your choice of the inexpensive Nikon 55-200mm VR (about $250 or less) or the Nikon 55-300mm VR (about $400 or less). For action and sports, get the 70-300mm VR (about $587 or less), which focuses much faster. While not cheap, if you need wider than the excellent 18-55mm VR lens lens, the Nikon 10-24mm (about $810) is the one to get. For carrying everywhere, for photographing people under any and every available lighting condition, for silent shooting and for macro, there is no camera that compares with the Fuji X100T.
The X100T is also the very best camera available for new families, travel and vacation photography. The X100T is the smallest and lightest serious camera available (half the weight of a LEICA and a fraction of the size and weight of a pro DSLR), and also gives the best results for people pictures under every sort of crazy light you'll find people being people. No camera captures life like the Fuji X100T, and it's so easy to carry everywhere around your neck since it's even smaller and lighter than the Nikon D3300. All the pros I've talked to prefer their X100T to the LEICAs they used to shoot for reportage photography. New as of July 2015, the RX100 Mark IV is head and shoulders above other pocket cameras because it works essentially instantly, and the pictures look fantastic. The Nikon and Canon cameras look great for everything, while the Fujifilm X100T is optimized for people photos. Take the Fuji for better results in low light, or take the Sony if you need a zoom lens and are shooting in better light. Built-in flashes are excellent, but can't be pointed to bounce off the ceiling to improve your indoor photos.
Even if you don't bounce it, the SB-400 lets you shoot faster since it recharges much faster than the built-in flash. If you want a larger flash to get more range or to bounce sideways, the Nikon SB-700 is my favorite.
The huge SB-910 is too big unless you really need all that power as a full-time journalist or or sports shooter.
The huge Canon 600EX RT is intended for full-time journalist or wedding shooters who use several of them in multiple portable flash setups. My recommendation on tripods is not to bother with one, or if you must, get something so small and light that you won't mind carrying it.


When I do use a tripod, I use the lightest one I can find, a $49 Dolica GX600B200 which I always carry in my trunk.
The Dolica GX600B200 has padded, adjustable-angle legs with rubber feet and or spikes, and includes a ball-head with a quick-release, a compass, a level, a center column with hook, and a nice padded shoulder-strap case in its low price! The Dolica GX600B200 is a premium product, complete with loads of nice extras (like the case) usually sold separately with more heavily-advertised brands. If you want a bigger, stronger and even nicer tripod (I don't), the amazing $130 Dolica ZX600B300 is carbon-fibre is also a steal, weighing 3.8 pounds with padded non-rotating adjustable-angle legs, a ball-head with a quick-release, non-rotating center column with hook, and a nice padded case with shoulder strap. My Dolica ZX600B300 carbon-fibre has more features and advanced design than my other two real Gitzo tripods.
I bought my original Gitzo 1228 carbon-fibre in 1995 and a smaller metal G106 Gitzo in 1997 for travel, both of which have legs that rotate making them harder to lock. My Dolica ZX600B300 has a spring-loaded center-column hook that retracts automatically (my $500 Gitzo carbon-fibre hook doesn't retract, and is broken anyway), and the Dolica is extremely solid, much more steady than my smaller metal Gitzo G106 that weighs more! Not a bargain, but I use my existing Novoflex Mini Magic Ball I used to use on my Gitzo G106 on my Dolica ZX600B300. All in all, my Dolica GX600B200 is all I carry with me, and I use it with its included head. The key is to have a tripod light enough and in a convenient case so that we'll actually take it out and use it.
For you guys who use tripods a lot, the Dolica ZX600B300 carbon-fibre is the new standard for nice triploids done right at the right price. I'll also always carry a graduated neutral-density filter only for shooting into a sunrise or sunset. The Nikon D3300, its kit lens, and maybe a separate flash, are all anyone really needs for anything. I go on vacations for a week at a time with my D7200, one lens and an SB-400 flash, and never miss anything.
If you have special needs, or need a lens for a camera which sells without a lens, keep reading. I usually use just this lens all day instead of a zoom because it lets me shoot indoors without flash, without a problem! Because it gathers so much more light than zoom lenses, my cameras don't have to shoot at such a high ISO or slow shutter speed, so I can take great photos in bad light. I'd suggest everyone who shoots indoors or in dim light get one of these lenses, since its a wonderful lens with a wonderful price. The only reason for longer lenses is if you can't get close enough, like to kids on stage or playing sports on the field. For wildlife photography, the best pictures aren't made with expensive telephotos; they are made by carefully sneaking up on the animals. It's always better to get closer and use the regular lens, but if you can't, here are my suggestions.
If you prefer, you can spend more for the 55-300mm VR to get longer range and a metal lens mount. If you want to get serious shooting sports, get the bigger, longer more serious Nikon 70-300mm VR lens which autofocuses much faster than the two above. You're paying much more because this lens is ideal for shooting sports at night and stage indoors, and also because it's a heavy metal professional beast.
I carry the 70-300mm VR for my FX or film cameras, or the Nikon 55-200mm VR if I'm carrying a DX camera.
As of 2016, for FX and 35mm film, I bring my 28-300mm VR instead of any of these other teles. For FX and 35mm cameras, the Nikon 16-35mm is the world standard for ultrawide performance.
If an 18-55mm lens isn't wide enough, my favorite for all Nikon DX camera is Nikon's 10-24mm DX. For DX cameras, Nikon's 18-200mm VR II has been the top do-it-all lens since it came out in 2005. Today's -II version is the same as the original, with a zoom lock at 18mm I never use anyway.
For FX and 35mm cameras, Nikon's 28-300mm VR does everything except for action in low-light or crazy-wide angles.
With the 28-300mm VR, I can dump all my other lenses into the lake; the 28-300 is perfect for 99% of what I do on serious photo outings.
For FX and film, Nikon has made fantastic lenses ever since the 1950s, many of which are available for almost free, used.
See Recommended Nikon FX lenses, the Nikon FX Dream Team, Nikon D3 Lens Suggestions, and Nikon FX Cheapskate Lenses for suggestions. My favorite wides for Canon are either the 17-40mm L (for light weight and bargain price) or 16-35mm L II (wider and faster). I own fancier cameras because they make it even easier to do fringe-element things, like burn away at 10 frames per second for sports. I love my 5D Mk III over all my Nikons and LEICAs because it handles and feels so much better.
For less money, many people prefer the Canon 6D, which also adds GPS and Wi-Fi in exchange for a few features removed. I prefer the D610 or D7200 to the more heavier and more expensive D800, D800E and D4 because the D610's and D7200's ergonomics are far superior, and the images are the same or better. Honestly, the biggest difference between full-frame (FX) in the D610 and the smaller DX sensor of the D7200 is that the D610 viewfinder is bigger.
Spend $30 of what's left on a copy of The Art of Photography, and give the rest away to the needy. With RealRaw, you both have the actual image captured on film forever, and it's easy to get digital files if you want them, too. Shot on 35mm film, the F6 gives digital images of equal 24MP resolution to the D3X, with better color and dynamic range. Other favorite Nikon 35mm cameras available used are the Nikon FA, the indomitable Nikon F4 and Nikon F5. I'd also suggest a PME metered prism finder, which lets you see the image as you expect in an SLR. The Canon AE-1 Program is one of my very favorite manual-focus Canon FD cameras, and it sells used for next to nothing.
The LEICA M7 (2002-today) is a rangefinder version of the Nikon FE that uses Leica's superior lenses.
Another reason to use the LEICA is that it and its lenses are much smaller and lighter than SLRs.
Its 70 x 56mm images are over double the area of the largest medium-format digital sensors. It has been one of the most popular cameras for decades for serious landscape and outdoor photography because of its ultra light weight, ability to fold up about as big as a book, its ample set of movements, and great screen. It has recently been discontinued; I need to test some newer cameras to give personal recommendations, however I suspect that the $990 Toyo Field 45CF is also excellent, and built a lot tougher out of metal. Of course you can go whole-hog and buy the classic of classics, the timeless Linhof Master Technika, for $10,000. It's big, but a bit grainy; you can see each pixel, unlike the high-resolution screens of the D90 and above. This makes it trivial to check highlights more precisely than ever before on any Nikon: just zoom in and look around!
The D3000 took way too long to process and record images made with ADR (Adaptive Dynamic Range), had awful high-ISO performance, and the D3000 locked-out image review controls until after you hit the PLAY button!
The rear dial can select the AF point, but if you want to go between the auto-area select mode, single point mode or multipoint tracking modes, you have to stop and set it using the LCD. Just bring the right passive plug adapter, plug it in, and you're good to go, without any cords!
The AF marks are little more than tiny dots, and only one red LED dot lights for a moment when first activated. It doesn't do this if there is no memory card, even though by default it won't shoot either. If each image was printed in its entirety at this magnification, presuming your computer has a standard 100 DPI monitor, each print would be 46 x 31" (117 x 78cm).
For these shots, I used a tripod and the atmosphere was set to no heat shimmer and no wind, with normal humidity.
Changing lenses to the kit lens wouldn't have looked any worse on the D3100, and resampling or JPG quality didn't change anything, either.
In other words, with Auto ISO and flash, you'll usually be shooting at ISO 3,200, or whatever you've set for the maximum Auto ISO ISO! If you need even more power (not likely), the SB-600 is ideal; the bigger flashes are too big and complex as far as I'm concerned. If you wish to make a printout for personal use, you are granted one-time permission only if you PayPal me $5.00 per printout or part thereof. Below I cover the best cameras for general use, and at the new Best Camera page I suggest exactly the best camera for each kind of subject, situation and application. What's the best camera that can handle every kind of photo situation, but still lightweight and at a reasonable price?
Especially if you have kids in sports, a DSLR like the D3300 is a huge step up from a point-and-shoot or iPhone because it can zoom-in (especially with a telephoto lens) and focus fast enough to track all the action. The reason guys like me pay more for fancier cameras isn't for better pictures; it's for more controls and options that let us few who actually know how to use all these controls to get to them faster.
The D3300 focuses fast enough to catch people and kids doing anything in any light, while other kinds of cameras get lost hunting.


The differences between the SL1 and D3300 are a matter of which fits your hands better or which has controls or menus that you personally might find more convenient.
Most of these places ship internationally, and if you are outside the USA, B&H Photo Video even has a calculator which shows the final, total cost to-your-door including taxes, shipping and duties before you complete the order. Using these links costs you nothing (and probably saves you money), gets you the same great service I've enjoyed myself, and most importantly, is what helps me keep adding to this website for everyone's benefit. Just as your signature is uniquely your own no matter what sort of pen you use, it's the same with pictures and cameras. The biggest differences among these cameras is not technical picture quality (the pictures from these cameras are indistinguishable from each other), but how many knobs and buttons they have to allow skilled and experienced photographers to adjust the things that most people don't even understand.
It is more pleasant to use because it has a bigger, brighter viewfinder, and everything works a little faster and more smoothly. These are for special purposes; the D7200 is the best you can get overall, and the less expensive Nikon DSLRs like the D5300 that adds a swivel LCD screen are no slouch either. The D3300 and D7200 have built-in flashes, but this tiny external flash gives a lot more range, and most importantly, saves the camera's batteries and lets you shoot a lot faster because it recharges almost instantly after each shot. The difference is that the 55-300 can zoom-in closer than the 55-200; each works as well otherwise. It's best for families and people because of its unique ability to get great skin tones in any light, and great for travel because it's a full-featured camera in a very small package. It's low-light, auto fill-flash, auto ISO, auto WB and color rendition under difficult conditions is far better than any of my Canons, Nikons or LEICAs. Even if it seems wiggly, it's still good enough to hold your camera so long as you're not trying to wiggle it while you're taking the picture.
It's all-metal, and lighter than any of the far more expensive brands that advertise like crazy, only 2.5 pounds total for head and legs.
My new Dolica ZX600B300 has legs that don't rotate so it's much faster to open and close them. No, it's not the sturdiest if I'm going to bang on it during exposure, but I don't jiggle the camera while shooting and this way I need not lug a heavier tripod.
It's bigger and tougher than the Dolica GX600B200, but also a bit heavier and more expensive, too. I wouldn't expect it to hold up under regular use, but as an inexpensive tripod to hide away for when you need it, or one light enough to take everywhere in case you need it, for $15 you can't go wrong.
They are also expensive, but I'm still using the Tiffen grads I bought back in the 1990s as well.
If you want to go whole-hog, I see no reason ever to need to buy anything other than the DX Dream Team lenses. Imagination is the important part, with which any lens will do, and without imagination, any lens will make awful portraits.
All of these lenses are super sharp and zoom and focus well, the difference is in what you want to do with them not just today, but tomorrow, too. Except for low-light action or crazy-wide angles, the 18-200mm does everything I need in DX. The 28-300 also covers every reasonable focal length, has vibration-reduction so you can forget the tripod, and you can get instant manual-focus override just by flipping the focus ring.
It's ultra sharp, extremely well made, has image stabilization for hand-held shots in the dark, and it's small and light.
I put the camera around my neck, and if I'm on a dedicated photo trip, maybe have a bag with me with just two more lenses. No one needs this, but if you have the cash or use cameras so much that even little improvements are appreciated, go for it. The old 5D was also the king of landscape and nature photography, and to be honest, if you can find a deal on an old 5D, it's a bigger pain to use with a dreadful LCD, but also gives spectacular results.
The pictures are as good; the difference being that you get more depth-of-field with the D7200, or more subject isolation (narrower depth of field) with the D610. Even today in 2016 pros wished they could afford a new Hasselblad, the same as they've wished for over 50 years. I love my 503 CX because it's the least expensive Hasselblad new enough to have the super-bright Acute-Matte screen. As shown above with a waist-level finder, you have to look down to see a reversed image, exactly as on a TLR. Everything on it just works, as opposed to more expensive Canons, like the New F-1, that cost a lot more and do a lot less. Shooting 6x7cm medium-format film, this lightweight interchangeable-lens rangefinder camera is the same or smaller in size and weight than 35mm SLRs and DSLRs, while offering far superior image quality and more convenient size and weight. They are as good as LEICA, but for a format with over four times the image area of full-frame 35mm. I also use a 1956 Linhof Technika IV which is the same thing, but I grew tired of carrying the weight. And the EOS 1300D is the newest addition to Canon's line-up of basic digital single lens reflex cameras.
The quiet helps us photograph without disturbing others, and the low vibration ensures sharper hand-held shots. Instead of big etchings for each AF area, there are subtle, fine lines and tiny LED dots that light, only for a moment, to highlight the AF point selections.
At higher ISOs, noise reduction blurs the images to keep the D3100's noise about the same as FX cameras.
Those problems were unique to the D3000 and fixed in the D3100, so good riddance to the D3000. Heck, I can see artifacts better on the D3100's LCD than I see them on my 30" Apple monitor, mostly because I never dare enlarge them beyond 100% as the D3100 makes so easy. The D3300 has the same adjustments, just that you'll more often have to use a menu to set them instead of a knob or button. If you know what you're doing, all a better camera does is make it easier, faster and more convenient to take great pictures. If you want to take better pictures, your efforts are better spent learning how to take better pictures, not in buying new cameras. In-camera flashes drain the camera's battery and can take a long time to recycle after each shot. The catch with the Tokina macro won't autofocus on the less expensive DSLRs (the wide will focus on everything). Yes, I can get the same results after fiddling with my Nikon or Canon or LEICA for half an hour, but the Fuji X100T always nails the first shot in difficult light all by itself without fiddling, when means the Fuji gets my shot while I'd still be fiddling with one of the other cameras. The LEICA is great for nature and landscapes as I suggest below, but for the people shots that LEICA used to do best, today it's Fuji. Companies that spend money on advertising and sponsoring big-name photographers aren't spending that money on making me a better tripod, so I'll stick with Dolica where we get a much better tripod for less money.
I use it for travel, and I use a huge Bogen Manfrotto 3275 410 Geared Head on my big Gitzo 1228 in the studio sometimes. They are expensive, but you'll be using your polarizing filter on many lenses in the future; filters don't go obsolete.
Cameras drop in price and go obsolete every year, while lenses can stay current for decades, and their prices usually go up. Unlike the 55-200mm VR, which only works with DX cameras, the 70-300mm VR also works on professional FX and film cameras if you upgrade later. It covers every reasonable focal length, has vibration-reduction so you can forget the tripod, and you can get instant manual-focus override just by flipping the focus ring. It is about 25% bigger in every dimension from the 18-200mm; I'm showing them at the same size for detail. It's new enough that any you buy will probably work perfectly without needing service, and old enough to be inexpensive. Even though the light Tachihara feels flimsy, its results are what get published every month in your landscape calendars and seen on gallery walls. The Canon EOS 1300D is an evolved version of the EOS 1200D and thus, essentially improves upon the features that were already present in its predecessor(s). You don't even need the Quiet mode, which is as easy as flipping a big switch on top; the D3100 is supremely quiet in all its modes. This makes it much easier to compose than with many other inexpensive DSLRs, like the nasty AF point display in the Canon 7D. A thousand-dollar lens on a five-thousand-dollar camera, and all this still looks the same as the D3100 and a regular lens. If you shoot all day every day as I do, it's worth it, otherwise, there's no reason to pay more since most people have no idea what these other settings do.
If you want to save money with the Tokina lenses instead of Nikon, that could pay the difference in price between the D7200 and the D3300. Easy manoeuvrability is essential for beginners and so is the ease of access to the various functions of the camera.
The positioning of the controls and buttons is well thought out for the convenience of the user. Furthermore, the Canon EOS 1300D has a very comfortable and textured grip which makes it easy to hold.
The ISO sensitivity scales up to 6400 and remains unchanged from its predecessor, which is understandable as they both use the same sensor. This is a considerable number because the better the camera, the more charge it requires per shot.



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