Nikon D3100

Nikon D3100

Product Summary

  • Model name: Nikon D3100
  • Release Date: August 19, 2010
  • Focus Type: Autofocus / Manual
  • Format : APS-C / Crop Sensor
  • Mounts: Nikon
  • Purchase options: Adorama | AmazonB&H

Nikon D3100 Key Features

  • 14.2 megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor
  • 3.0″ LCD monitor (230,000 dots)
  • Image sensor cleaning (sensor shake)
  • 11 AF points (with 3D tracking)
  • IS0 100-3200 range (12,800 expanded)
  • HD movies (1080p, 720p or WVGA)
  • Continuous shooting speed of 3 fps
  • Lightweight only 455 grams (body only)
  • Compatibility with Eye-Fi SD cards
  • Viewfinder with BriteView Clear Matte Mark VII screen
  • Easy to understand Guide Mode ideal for first time DSLR users

Features explained

Nikon’s affordable, compact and lightweight, the D3100 is an entry level DSLR from Nikon featuring a DX format 23.1mm x 15.4mm CMOS sensor. It offers a healthy 14.2 megapixels that should be more than enough for any type of photography.

ISO Range

The D3100 has an ISO sensitivity range of 100-3200. At Hi-1 and Hi-2 modes it is further sensitive to ISO 6400 and 12,800.

Auto-focusing points

When comparing between the D3100 and the entry level offerings from Canon such as the 1100D or the 550D and the 650D, they have only a 9 point auto-focusing system. The D3100 has a 11 point auto-focusing system. Technically though there is a difference, the extra 2 point does not make that much of a difference.

Viewfinder & coverage

The D3100 has an eye-level pentamirror SLR viewfinder. If you’re confused as to what is a pentamirror, then it is a cheaper variety to a more professional option of using a pentaprism. The brightness of the pentamirror viewfinder is less compared to a pentaprism viewfinder. The D3100’s viewfinder gives 95% frame coverage basically it means you capture more than you see through the viewfinder.

LCD Display

The back of the camera is dominated by a 3” 230,000 dots resolution TFT LCD monitor. This is probably where the D3100 really loses out on other entry level DSLRs. While other competitors have migrated to a brighter 921,000 dots or even 1,040,000 dots resolution, this leaves a lot to ask.

AF motor

However the D3100 has a definite disadvantage in the lack of auto-focusing capability with some of the older Nikkor lenses. These lenses don’t have an auto-focusing motor built in and rely on the AF motor of the camera which the cheaper entry level DSLRs like the D3100 does not have. If you’re planning to use a modern G type Nikkor lens or anything else which comes with a built-in auto-focusing motor then this camera is just perfect for you.

Stills & movies

The 14.2 megapixels sensor produces the largest image size (by pixels) of 4,608 x 3,072. The D3100 captures full HD movies in 24 fps. At 720p HD it can capture videos in 30 fps. The built in microphone can capture monaural sounds.

What’s missing & wish list

The camera can surely do with the option for plugging an external microphone jack. Also it does not have a built-in AF motor which makes it impossible to use older AF lenses.

Similar products

Two cameras immediately comes to my mind first is the Canon 550D/Rebel T2i and the 600D / Rebel T3i. They are both available at a similar price of $699. Another camera that should be mentioned is the Sony Alpha a65 which retails also at $699 but has one of the fastest continuous drive of 10 fps.

Should I buy it?

The D3100 is a very light DSLR something that should appeal to first time DSLR users. Although it’s more powerful and much younger sibling (D3200) has been out for a few months, the D3100 is still going strong. I hope Nikon keeps it going for some more time as it is a great camera. The D3100 is a lot lightweight too (455 grams without lens and battery). Comparing with some of the older models such as the D90 or the D40, the D3100 has certainly lost a lot of bulk. A good thing too, if you’re migrating from a compact / point & shoot and the thought of a big bulky DSLR intimidates you. Unless of course you have the money to indulge in a full frame DSLR or your definition of better photography begins with more megapixels then the D3100 is a perfectly good DSLR to begin with. Available at Adorama | AmazonB&H

Images by Nikon D3100 on Flickr

Nikon D3100 Specifications

Camera TypeSingle-lens reflex digital camera
MountNikon F bayonet mount
Sensor factorEffective picture angle 1.5x (Approx.) conversion factor (Nikon DX format)
Effective Pixels14.2 million
Sensor Size23.1 x 15.4mm
Sensor FormatDX
Sensor TypeCMOS
Total Pixels14.8 million
Dust-reduction systemImage sensor cleaning
Airflow Control System
Image Dust Off reference data (optional Capture NX 2 software required)
Image Area (pixels)DX-format
(L) 4608 x 3072
(M) 3456 x 2304
(S) 2304 x 1536
File FormatNEF (RAW)
JPEG: JPEG-Baseline compliant with fine (approx 1:4), normal (approx 1:8), or basic (approx 1:16) compression
NEF (RAW) + JPEG: Single photograph recorded in both NEF (RAW) and JPEG formats
Storage MediaSD
SDXC memory cards
File SystemCompliant with DCF (Design Rule for Camera File System) 2.0
DPOF (Digital Print Order Format)
EXIF 2.21 (Exchangeable Image File Format for Digital Still Cameras
ViewfinderEye-level pentamirror single-lens reflex viewfinder
Viewfinder Frame Coverage95% horizontal
95% vertical Approx
Viewfinder Magnification0.80x (50mm f/1.4 lens at infinity; -1.0m-1) Approx
Viewfinder Eyepoint18mm (-1.0m-1)
Viewfinder Diopter Adjustment-1.7 to +0.5m-1
Focusing ScreenType B BriteView Clear Matte Mark VII screen
Reflex MirrorQuick-return type
Lens ApertureInstant-return type
Electronically controlled
Compatible Lenses 1AI-P NIKKOR: All functions supported except autofocus and 3D Color Matrix Metering II
AF-S, AF-I: All functions supported
Non-CPU: Can be used in mode M, but exposure meter does not function; electronic range finder can be used if maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster IX Nikkor lenses cannot be used
Electronic Rangefinder usable with lens with maximum aperture of f/5.6 or faster
Compatible Lenses 2Type G or D AF NIKKOR not equipped with an autofocus motor: All functions supported except autofocus
AF-NIKKOR for F3AF not supported
Other AF NIKKOR: All functions supported except autofocus and 3D color matrix metering II
Type D PC NIKKOR: All functions supported except autofocus and some shooting modes
Shutter typeElectronically controlled vertical-travel focal-plane
Shutter Speed1/4000 to 30 sec. in steps of 1/3 EV, Bulb
Flash Sync SpeedUp to 1/200 sec, Synchronizes with shutter at 1/200s or slower
Shutter Release ModesSingle-frame [S] mode
Self-timer mode
Quiet Shutter Release
Frame Advance RateUp to 3 fps (manual focus, mode M or S, shutter speed 1/250 sec or faster, and other settings at default values)
Self-timer2 sec, 10 sec Timer duration electronically controlled
Exposure Metering SystemTTL exposure metering using 420-pixel RGB sensor
Metering MethodMatrix: 3D color matrix metering II (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other CPU lenses)
Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 8-mm circle in center of frame
Spot: Meters 3.5-mm circle (about 2.5% of frame) centered on selected focus point
Metering Range0 to 20 EV (Matrix or center-weighted metering at ISO 100 equivalent, f/1.4 lens, at 20 deg.C/68 deg.F)
2 to 20 EV (Spot metering at ISO 100 equivalent, f/1.4 lens at 20 deg.C/68 deg.F)
Exposure Meter CouplingCPU
Exposure ModesAuto modes ( auto, auto [flash off])
Scene Modes
Programmed Auto with flexible Program (P)
Shutter-Priority Auto (S)
Aperture-Priority Auto (A)
Manual (M)
Scene ModesPortrait
Night Portrait
Exposure Compensation±5 EV in increments of 1/3EV
Exposure LockLuminosity locked at detected value with AE-L/AF-L button
ISO SensitivityISO 100 to 3200 in steps of 1 EV
Can also be set to approx. 1 EV above ISO 3200 (ISO 6400 equivalent) or to approx. 2 EV above ISO 3200 (ISO 12800 equivalent
Auto ISO sensitivity control available
Expanded ISO Sensitivity Options1 EV above ISO 3200 (ISO 6400 equivalent)
2 EV above ISO 3200 (ISO 12800 equivalent) Approx.
Auto ISO sensitivity control available
Active D-LightingOn
Auto-area AF ModeSingle Area AF
Auto-area AF
3D-tracking (11 points)
Autofocus SystemNikon Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection
Detection Range-1 to 19 EV (ISO 100, 68 deg.F/20 deg.C)
Lens ServoAutofocus (AF): Single-servo AF (AF-S); Continuous-servo AF (AF-C); Auto AF-S/AF-C selection (AF-A); Predictive focus tracking activated automatically according to subject status
Focus PointCan be selected from 11 focus points
Focus LockFocus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF)
Focus can be locked by pressing AE-L/AF-L button
Built-in FlashYes
Night portrait
Auto flash with auto pop-up [P], [S], [A], [M]
Manual pop-up with button release
Guide Number39/12, 43/13 with manual flash (ft/m, ISO 100, 68 deg.F/20 deg.C) Approx.
Flash ControlTTL: i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL flash for digital SLR using 420-pixel RGB sensor are available with built-in flash and SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, or SB-400 (i-TTL balanced fill-flash available when matrix or center-weighted metering)
Auto aperture: Available with SB-900/SB-800 and CPU lens
Non-TTL auto: Supported flash units include BS-900, SB-800, SB-80DX, SB-28DX, SB-28, SB-27, and SB-22S
Distance-priority manual: Available with SB-900 and SB-800
Flash ModeAuto
Auto with red-eye reduction
Auto slow sync
Auto slow sync with red-eye correction
Rear curtain with slow sync
Flash Compensation-3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3 EV
Flash-ready indicatorLights when built-in flash or optional flash unit such as SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, SB-400, SB-80DX, SB-28DX or SB-50DX is fully charged
Blinks for 3 sec. after flash is fired at full output
Accessory ShoeISO 518 hot-shoe with sync and data contacts and safety lock
Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS)Yes
Advanced Wireless Lighting supported with SB-900, BS-800, SU-800 as commander; Flash Color Information Communications supported with built-in flash and all CLS-compatible flash units
Flash Sync TerminalSync Terminal Adapter AS-15 (available separately)
White BalanceAuto
Fluorescent (7 types)
Direct Sunlight
Preset Manual
All except preset manual with fine tuning
Live View ShootingYes
Live View Lens servoAutofocus (AF): Single-servo AF (AF-S); full-time-servo AF (AF-F)
Manual focus (MF)
Live View AF-area modeFace-priority AF
Wide-area AF
Normal-area AF
Subject-tracking AF
Live View AutofocusContrast-detect AF anywhere in frame (camera selects focus point automatically when face-priority AF or subject-tracking AF is selected
Live View Scene Auto SelectorAuto mode
Auto (flash off) mode
Movie MeteringTTL exposure metering using main image sensor
Movie Metering methodMatrix
Movie Frame size (pixels) and frame rate1920 x 1080 (24p): 24 fps (23.976 fps)
1280 x 720 (30p): 30 fps (29.97 fps)
1280 x 720 (25p): 25 fps
1280 x 720 (24p): 24 fps (23.976 fps)
640 x 424 (24p): 24 fps (23.976 fps)
Movie Maximum recording time10 min
Movie File FormatMOV
Movie Audio recording formatLinear PCM
Movie Audio recording deviceBuilt-in monaural microphone
Monitor Size3 in. diagonal
Monitor Resolution230,000 Dots
Monitor TypeTFT-LCD with brightness adjustment
Playback FunctionsFull frame
Thumbnail (4, 9 or 72 images)
Movie Playback
Histogram display
Auto image rotation
Image Comment (up to 36 characters)
Highlight point display
InterfaceHi-speed USB
Video output: NTSC, PAL
HDMI output: Type C mini-pin HDMI connector
Accessory terminal: Remote cord: MC-DC2 (available separately); GPS unit: GP-1 (available separately)
GPSGP-1 GPS unit
Supported LanguagesChinese (Simplified and Traditional)
Battery / BatteriesEN-EL14 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
AC AdapterEH-5a AC Adapter
Power Connector EP-5a available separately
Tripod Socket1/4in (ISO1222)
Operating Environment32 to 104 deg.F (0 to 40 deg.C)
Less than 85% (no condensation)
Dimensions (W x H x D)4.9 x 3.8 x 2.9in / 124.46 x 96.52 x 73.66mm
Weight16oz / 455g camera body only


Product Images

Additional Info

Purchase options

Nikon D3100

Nikon D3100 available at Adorama | Amazon | B&H

12 thoughts on “Nikon D3100