วันอาทิตย์ที่ 9 ตุลาคม พ.ศ. 2554

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Nikon has developed a habit of making very attractive entry-level DSLRs, which are rarely the best specified but cleverly designed so that they're easy and enjoyable to shoot with. The D3000 fitted this pattern perfectly, a gentle refresh of the D60 (which was itself a slightly updated D40X), it added ease-of-use features to make it a pleasant little camera to use, despite a specification that was beginning to look rather out-of-step with the rest of the market.
The D3000 sold well, despite its rather aged 10 megapixel sensor and lack of both live view and video. However, there's only so long that clever product design and feature integration can make up for a specification that looks dated. So with this in mind, Nikon has announced the D3100 - probably the biggest refresh of its entry-level offering since it really attacked the low end market with the original D40.
The D3100 is built around a 14.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, bringing not only live view but also Full HD video capture to Nikon's entry-level model for the first time. In fact, this made it the first Nikon DSLR to offer 1920x1080 movie recording. It can only record clips up to about ten minutes long (due to a 4Gb maximum file size limitation shared by all DSLRs), but this still counts as an impressive feature addition at this level.
The body gets a slight refresh from a basic design that essentially dates back four years to the D40, gaining an extra button to the left of the screen, a drive mode switch at the base of the mode dial, a sprung lever to engage live view and a direct record movie button. Revisions have also been made to the feature-teaching, hand-holding 'Guide Mode', and an additional autofocus mode that's designed to allow better focusing in live view and autofocus during video shooting.
All of this adds up to a DSLR that incorporates all of 2010's 'must have' features but looks like the product of evolution, rather than dramatic innovation. And 2010 has been a year during which the rest of the market hasn't devloped along such predictable lines, not least during the expansion of the large sensor, mirrorless interchangable lens camera crowd.
Camera makers always try to stress that mirrorless cameras are creating an entirely new market, rather than competing with entry-level DSLRs, but it's pretty clear that many people planning to upgrade from their point-and-shoot compact will consider both types of camera when making their decision. So, while the D3100 is unequivocally a DSLR (in a time where the line between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras is becoming increasingly hazy), its beginner-friendly guide mode puts it squarely in competition with several of the mirrorless models that are equally eager to welcome point-and-shoot upgraders.
Many of these cameras, such as Sony's NEX-3 and 5, Olympus' E-PL1 and Panasonic's GF2, offer similarly accessible interfaces in a smaller, competitively-priced packages. They also, by eshewing the conventional DSLR design, are able to offer a shooting experience that is much closer to that of a compact camera - which even the best DSLR live view implementation can't easily mimic at the moment.
So, while the D3100 offers an improved feature set when compared to a camera we really liked, it remains to be seen whether these additions will be enough to make it stand out as well as its predecessor did.

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)

Nikon D3100 vs D3000: Key Differences

The D3100 substantially refreshes the D3000, taking a rather outdated-looking specification and turning it into one of the most competitive in its sector.
  • Higher resolution sensor (14.2MP vs. 10MP)
  • Ability to shoot Raw + Fine JPEG
  • Socket for connecting Nikon GP1 GPS unit
  • Optional wired remote via GPS socket
  • No wireless remote option
  • Live view
  • 1080p HD movies
  • HDMI output
  • Wider ISO range
  • Full-time AF mode (AF-F in live view)
  • Revised focus screen (different AF point illumination)

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Nikon D3100 review

Nikon's D3100 is the company's latest entry-level DSLR. Announced in August 2010, it's the successor the best-selling D3000 and makes several key upgrades to that model. Most notably the new D3100 now features Live View and video recording facilities – indeed it becomes the first Nikon DSLR (hotly followed by the D7000) to offer 1080p video recording in addition to 720p. To satisfy market demands, the resolution has also received boost from 10 to 14 Megapixels and there's a number of tweaks to the controls and ergonomics. Like the D3000 before it, the D3100 features a Guide mode which asks simple questions about what you'd like to take before setting up the camera appropriately. It's a great option for beginners which also teaches you about camera settings, and the D3100 builds upon its predecessor by sensibly showing example images before finally asking if you'd like to shoot with the viewfinder or screen, or film movies instead.
Live View and movies are the two major new features on the D3100, which were sorely missing on the earlier D3000. Rather than simply lifting the existing capabilities of models like the D90 and D5000 though, the D3100 offers a choice of HD resolutions and frame rates, and a more efficient encoding system which allows longer recording times. Better still, it's one of the first DSLRs which takes a decent stab at continuous autofocusing while filming, unlike most rivals which effectively become manual focus once you start recording.

  Review contents
1 Design, controls and flash
2 Viewfinder
3 Screen and Live View
4 Menus and shooting information
5 Lenses and stabilisation
6 Focusing
7 Exposure modes and metering
8 Sensor and processing
9 Drive modes
10 Movie Mode
11 Results: Real Life resolution
12 Results: High ISO noise
13 Results: Sample images gallery
14 Verdict
15 Rival comparisons
16 Final verdict and rating
The screen, viewfinder, main AF system and continuous shooting may be unchanged from its predecessor, and enthusiasts still won't find exposure bracketing, an optical depth-of-field preview or a built-in AF motor to drive older (non AF-S) lenses, but the new higher resolution CMOS sensor coupled with Live View, HD video with continuous autofocus and an HDMI port, not to mention everything from a guide-based auto mode to full manual means there's a lot to like about the new D3100. It brings the somewhat dated D3000 bang up-to-date, while trumping most rivals in this category. Indeed while many entry-level DSLRs attempt to hit the lowest price point, Nikon's applied its mid-range and semi-pro strategy here of offering a step-up in features for a slightly higher price. As such, the D3100 is more expensive than many rivals and to cover itself it at the budget end, the earlier D3000 will continue to sell while stocks last.
But the D3100's price and feature-set clearly proves that Nikon is trying to tempt new buyers into spending a little more than they may have originally intended. It's a strategy that worked a treat for the D90 and D300s before it – and looks set to make the new D7000 another best-seller – but will it work for entry-level buyers with often stricter budgets?

Find out in our Nikon D3100 review where we'll compare its features and quality against key rivals and answer the question of whether it's worth spending the extra.
Testing notes
We tested a final production Nikon D3100 running Firmware versions A 1.00, B 1.00 and L 1.002. Following our convention of using default factory and best quality settings to test cameras unless otherwise stated, the D3100 was set to its best quality Large Fine JPEG mode with Auto White Balance and the default Standard Picture Control, with Noise Reduction and Active D-Lighting switched on (both the default settings on the D3100); note Active D-Lighting was disabled for our High ISO Noise tests.

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