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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.
As this page is copyrighted and formally registered, it is unlawful to make copies, especially in the form of printouts for personal use. 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.
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.
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.



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