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Nikon D3000 Review
|Review Date: Aug
Category: Beginner Amateur - Family DSLR
Photoxels Editor's Choice 2009 - Family DSLR
HANDLING & FEEL
The Nikon D3000 DSLR is Nikon's new entry-level digital SLR and you can expect Nikon's famed craftsmanship thru and thru. Why mess with a winning design? The D3000 retains the comfortable body of the more expensive D Series digital SLR cameras and handles
pretty much the same way. The body is constructed
of high grade plastic and has an unmistakable
feel of solid quality. It has one of the best handgrip
of the entry-level DSLRs, providing a secure and comfortable hold.
In the hand, the Nikon D3000 -- with the AF-S DX
Zoom-Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Lens attached,
and white, silver, chrome and gold engravings
-- is a beautiful camera to behold and use.
The D3000 accepts all AF Nikkor lenses, but only the AF-S and AF-I series lenses that have a built-in focus motor allow auto focus. The other lenses can be used but with manual focus only. (This is because the lens mount on the D3000 is lacking a
mechanical focus drive pin and the D3000 does
not have an internal focus drive motor.) If you only intend to use the kit lens or add other AF-S lenses, this does not affect you one bit. If you have existing Nikon
lenses and/or do intend to purchase other lenses
that are not AF-S and AF-I, then you need to ask
yourself if autofocus is a big deal for you. You may also have to use Manual mode. Recommendation
is to stick to the newer AF-S lenses.
The lens mount system used in the Nikon D3000 is
the standard Nikon "F" mount with a
1.5x field of view (FOV) crop. The 3x zoom 18-55mm kit
lens therefore translates to a 27-82.5mm equivalent
field of view.
The Nikon D3000 uses the Secure Digital (SD) Card
(including the large capacity SDHC cards).
Here are the Nikon D3000's closest competitors and how the entry-level digital SLR cameras measure up against one
another, without lens attached and without battery
|Canon XS / 1000D
As you can see, the Nikon D3000 is about
the same size and weight as the Canon Digital Rebel XS/1000D
but has a slightly deeper and more comfortable
AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G
The AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Lens is optically image stabilized. It has dimensions of 73D x 79.5L mm (2.9D x 3.1L in.) and adds in a further 265g (9.3
oz.). Filter/Attachment Size is 52mm. Minimum
Focus Distance is 0.28m (11 in.). The big ring
is the manual Zoom Ring,
and the smaller ring in front of it (almost to the tip of the lens)
is the thin manual Focus Ring.
||Colors: black body with white and
silver letterings, and chrome accents;
kit lens has silver and gold letterings
and chrome accents
||Looks: professional, a beautiful camera
||Ergonomic and high quality
||Controls & menu are precise and
easy to use
||Light, nice heft
||Dimensions: 126 x 97 x 64mm
||Weight: 485g (body only)
||Takes 1 rechargeable Li-ion battery
EN-EL9a 7.2V 1080mAh
SPEED OF OPERATION
||Startup is approx. 3 sec. with Dust Reduction at startup, quasi instant with Dust Reduction turned OFF
||Shot to shot time as fast as you can
press the shutter, but dependent on
Continuous Shooting: @ 3fps for 8 frames, then the burst rate progressively slows
down to about 1.3fps as the buffer fills up and the
camera has to momentarily pause to
save images. I took the maximum 100
pictures in about 75 sec.
I used a regular SanDisk 2GB and
the camera was set to M mode, 1/250 sec., Manual AF and no
||No practical shutter lag
||Overall, superb performance
Included in the box is a rechargeable Li-ion
battery (that can take approx. 550 shots in single-frame
shooting and approx. 2,000 shots in continuous
shooting mode on a fresh charge (CIPA)) and a
Battery Charger MH-23 (with power cord) that will
recharge a new battery in about 1 hour 40 mins.
Note that there is
no Video cable included as standard accessory. If you want to be able to connect your D3000 directly to a TV, be sure to purchase the optional Nikon EG D100 Video cable [QuickPrice Check].
Mouseove image for close-up of controls
The top of the camera has a clean layout. The
D3000 has a nice handgrip and your index finger
falls naturally on the Shutter-release button.
The Power Switch is around the Shutter-release
button with 2 settings: OFF and ON. I believe Nikon's Power Switch design around the Shutter Release button is the best and don't know why all camera manufacturers do not standardize on this design; it's quick and easy to turn on and off your camera, and does not require hunting for an oddly placed (and sometimes shaped) Power Switch somewhere on the back of the camera amongst all the other control buttons.
Behind the shutter release button are the Exposure Compensation and Info buttons.
The Mode dial is slightly redesigned with a double row of straight ridges (linear) knurling for easy grip. It allows you to select Auto, Guide, PSAM, Night Portrait, Close up, Sports, Child, Landscape, Portrait, and Auto Flash Off. Since the flash will automatically pop
up when needed in fully AUTO mode, the Auto Flash
Off mode is a convenient alternative AUTO mode to use for times when you
do not want to use flash (e.g. in Museums and other locations where flash photography is prohibited).
The Guide mode is new and is a nod to beginner users, displaying help for basic and advanced camera functions on screen. Depending on your answers, it will even set the right shooting mode for you and allow you to further refine your choices.
Note that the strap eyelets are inset (recessed into the camera body) and so are not in the way when you're holding the camera. It's small touches like this that contribute to making the D3000 one of the most comfortable camera to hold and operate.
Nikon has successfully designed the back of the
Nikon D3000 so that it does not look cramped or
overwhelming for the first-time DSLR user. The
controls are nicely sized and positioned and there's
still lots of space for your thumb to rest comfortably
without inadvertently hitting any button. I like
the fact that the LCD is positioned right underneath
the viewfinder (and not to the left or right)
and the nice soft but precise touch of the control
buttons ("press" vs. "clicking" on hard plastic buttons).
The Nikon D3000 has a large 3.0-in. high resolution
LCD monitor with wide-angle viewing and the 230K
dots are put to the best use with beautifully
legible text and graphics. There is no live view
and this LCD is strictly used for Playback. It
also functions as a Control Panel (Shooting info display).
The Nikon D3000 lacks Live View and Movie mode. For these, you'll need to move up to the Nikon D5000 which has an articulated LCD, Live View and Movie mode for about US $250 more.
On the left side of the LCD screen, there are
4 buttons: Playback, Menu, Thumbnail/Playback Zoom out/Help, Playback
Zoom in/Info display/Quick Settings/Reset. Tip: the last button [i] is a convenient
shortcut to directly access the shooting settings
displayed on the Info display without going into
The Playback Zoom in and Zoom out are very convenient to check focus. Just press and hold the relevant button and the image zooms in or out really fast.
There is also a bright and large viewfinder with
approx. 95% coverage. The exposure settings are
displayed on a black strip at the bottom of the
viewfinder and are also displayed on the large LCD screen.
Gone is the Eye Sensor under the viewfinder that turns the LCD display off when you bring the camera to your eye. We are sad to see this feature gone and it was a small but very convenient feature that added to the overall enjoyment of using a DSLR.
Falling under your thumb is the Command dial.
You use the Command dial to quickly set your exposure
- In Manual mode, it allows you to select a
shutter speed; press
the +/- exposure compensation button and rotate
the Command dial to select an aperture.
- In Shutter-Priority mode, use the Command
dial to change shutter speed.
- In Aperture-priority mode, use the Command
dial to change aperture.
- In Programmed Auto [P] mode, rotating the
Command dial switches you into Flexible Program
[P*] mode (i.e. Program Shift) and allows you
to select different combinations of shutter
speed and aperture while keeping the same exposure.
There are 3 AF Area Modes to choose from:
- Single point (camera focuses at selected focus point);
- Dynamic area (user manually selects focus point, but camera will follow subject);
- Auto-area (camera selects focus point; and,
- 3D-tracking (camera tracks subject using 11 AF points)
area and Single point modes, you can use the Multi
selector to specify one of 11 focus points you want
the camera to lock focus on (convenient when your
subject is not centered in the frame). The focus
brackets are black lines which blink red when
you half-press the Shutter-release button.
To the left of the Command dial is the AE-L/AF-L
button that allows you to lock exposure and/or
focus. The Multi selector is used to navigate
the Menu, in Playback, and to select a focus area.
Press the Delete button twice to delete image
displayed (best single image delete implementation I've used). However, to delete all images, you'll need to
access the Playback Menu. The SD Card compartment
door can be seen at the right.
The Fn button is the customizable Function button, by default set to the Self-timer. The Self-timer
can be set in Custom Settings to be 2s, 5s, 10s
or 20s. While the number of choices is great,
only the one you select will be available when
you press the Fn/Self-timer button. I would have
preferred that each press of the Fn/Self-timer
button would simply cycle thru each available
button can also be customized [Setup Menu - Buttons - Fn button] to Release mode (Continuous), Image
quality/size, ISO, WB, Active D-Lighting, or Set Framing Grid.
Above the Fn button is the Flash mode button:
press it to raise the flash. Keep it pressed and
rotate the Command Dial to select a flash mode:
Auto, Auto+red-eye reduction, Auto slow sync+red-eye
reduction, Auto slow sync, Rear-curtain sync.
Below the Fn button is the Lens release button.
Depress it and twist the lens clockwise to remove
On the kit lens, there are two switches: the A-M mode switch
allows you to switch back and forth between
autofocus and manual focus modes; the VR switch allows you to turn optical image stabilization (Nikon calls it Vibration Reduction) On and Off. Note that the lens ships with VR set to Off. This is because it needs to be set to Off when you're attaching or removing the lens. There is no indication in the viewfinder or LCD whether VR is turned On or Off. Would be nice if there was.
Underneath the camera, as expected, the metal
tripod mount is located in line with the center
of the lens. The battery
compartment is in the handgrip and you should
be able to change the battery with the camera
mounted on a tripod. The battery compartment door
has a small spring-mounted catch that locks the
battery in securely. When the door pops
open, the battery slides out slightly but
does not fall out; you need to give it a slight tug to pull the battery out completely.
As you would expect, there are tons of customizable
settings to choose from. They
will be more or less familiar to Nikon users,
but can at first seem too many and too complicated
for the point-and-shoot target audience. Reading
the excellent Reference Manual (on CD) carefully should clarify most
of the available choices.
Overall, the programmer/designer did an excellent
job on the menu design.
The Nikon D3000 is one of the most comfortable DSLR camera ever, especially because of its large handgrip, light weight and compact size. Controls placement and a user friendly implementation of its features make it point-and-shoot easy to use.