In recent years, we have seen DSLRs go down in price thanks to a lot of entry-level models being introduced by the big companies such as Canon and Nikon. This last one in particular has made it a habit to create some attractive entry-level products for professional consumers. Even though they were fully fledged DSLRs, they are easy to use and elegant like a point and shoot, and they are priced aggressively enough so that people who go for their models will be amazed at the quality from what they consider to be a low cost investment.
This is a pattern the company has followed for many years now, and the D3000 in particular was fully into this mold, being enjoyable to use, elegant, and cleverly designed for people who wanted good quality photos without having to deal with the complexities of pro gear. This model in particular was a refresh of the D60, adding some ease of use features and better technologies. As a result, the D3000 sold nicely even though it only had a 10MPx sensor, and could not even do video.
But now, the marketplace requires more, and Nikon is answering this need with the D3100, a complete redesign and refresh of the previous generation. Instead of the older 10MPx sensor, this one has a 14MPx CMOS sensor along with full HD video. This means you can record 1920×1080 pixel resolution movies with it, even though it is still sold as a photo camera. While there is no limitation on the length of movies, because it only has a 4Gb file size limitation, you can record up to ten minutes of video at this quality.
The design itself sees a refresh, with an extra button added to the side of the LCD screen and a mode switch under the mode dial. There is also a direct video recording button as well as a sprung lever for live view. Nikon added something called Guide Mode, which is an easy to use system that can focus automatically to give you decent photos at a click of a button, and can also do auto focus during video recording.
The D3100 is not a complete upgrade, but instead a redesign that brings the 2010 device into a more modern era. People no longer accept the quality that we used to have back then, and now even an entry level device needs to deliver stunning images. This is what the Nikon D3100 provides thanks to its increased sensor size and better technology. A mirror-less interchangeable lens also helps deliver better images with little mess.
The advantage of the mirror-less camera is something a lot of companies have been trying to push in recent years, and the D3100 takes full advantage of it. This allows these lower cost cameras to look more like small, thin point and shoot cameras, but still provide full DSLR quality shots. Nikon is quite clearly positioning this particular model at those who want to upgrade from their current point and shoot or camera phones.
This new model competes with many others already on the market, like the Sonys NEX-3, Olympus E-PL1 and the Panasonic GF2. They all have easy to use interfaces, focusing on the lower end market of those people who want good quality photos at a low price and without the added complexity of higher end models. Nikon already has its legacy of D60 and D3000 to drive sales for the D3100, and it already seems like this new generation has everything to please. As it makes it onto the shelves, it seems likely to become a success.
A natural born writer, Stacey Barton writes professionally and for fun across a wide range of niches with particular attention to how classic brands can continue to offer the same product for decades and somehow survive the turbulent and ever changing consumer market.