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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Nikon D3000 Review


Nikon D3000 Review

Review Date: Aug 24, 2009

Category: Beginner Amateur - Family DSLR

Nikon D3000

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2009 - Family DSLR
Photoxels Editor's Choice 2009 - Family DSLR


The Nikon D3000 DSLR remains one of the easiest entry-level DSLR camera to use. With 10.2 megapixel resolution on an APS-sized (23.6 x 15.8mm) CCD image sensor, the Nikon D3000 captures well-exposed images with balanced exposure and pleasant colors in all kinds of lighting situations, including in the very difficult noonday sun when images on a lesser-capable camera usually come out flat, unflattering and high contrast with blown highlights.

The Nikon D3000 has excellent image quality, including excellent low-light performance up to ISO 400 with plenty of details preserved. Active D-Lighting works well to retain detail in the shadows. The Matrix metering works flawlessly and those who like their colors intense will love the vivid saturated colors right out of the camera (especially when "Landscape" Picture Control is selected).

3x Optical Zoom
18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Wide-angle 27mm Tele 82.5mm
Wide-angle 18mm
(27mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 55mm
(82.5mm, 35mm equivalent)

One of the advantage of a digital SLR is the ability to use interchangeable lenses suited for specific jobs. The Nikon D3000 comes with the optically image stabilized AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 G VR Lens as standard kit lens, which provides a 27-82.5mm equivalent field of view.

55mm, Programmed Auto, Multi-Pattern, 1/320 sec., F9.0, ISO 100

The actual macro capability is a function of the lens you use. Since this lens has a closest focus distance of 28cm (11 in.) at all zoom settings, I find that I obtain my best macro results by zooming in max.

If you are into macro photography, check out the Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor Lens lens which features a silent wave motor and Vibration Reduction technology that Nikon claims allows photographers to shoot hand-held at up to 4 shutter speeds slower than otherwise possible.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 100
ISO 100
ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1600
ISO 800 ISO 1600
ISO 3200  
ISO 3200  

The Nikon D3000 has 5 ISO settings going from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, plus the ability to "boost" to a higher ISO setting dubbed "HI 1" which is equivalent to ISO 3200. The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate the noise at the available ISO Speeds. At ISO 100 to 400, noise is under control and detail is preserved. Noise starts to be visible at ISO 800 but is still quite usable. ISO 1600 and the boosted ISO 3200 are noisy, with increasing detail loss.

White Balance Indoors
AWB Preset WB
AWB Preset WB

As the above two pictures show, the auto white balance (AWB) indoors under two energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs is not accurate. Fortunately, the Nikon D3000 allows WB to be set manually via the Menu: Preset WB allows us to correct the colors to real white. AWB works well in natural light.

Chromatic Aberrations

CA is not a problem in everyday shots. In the very high-contrast shot above, the corner delimited by the red square at top left, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, shows some purple fringing.

Long Shutter Speed

Long Shutter Speed

55mm, Manual, Spot, 25 sec., F36, ISO 100
Manual WB, Self-timer 5 sec., Tripod Used
Long Exposure Noise Reduction ON
using the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G VR lens

The Nikon D3000 allows the use of a long shutter speed of up to 30 sec. in Program AE, Shutter-Priority, Aperture-Priority and Manual modes (plus Bulb in Manual mode), therefore allowing nice night photography. Generally, with image sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent at slow shutter speeds. When you set Noise Reduction to ON in the menu [Shooting Menu - Noise Reduction - ON], the Nikon D3000 has special noise reduction algorithm that automatically kicks in when an ISO 400 or higher is used and/or a shutter speed of 8 sec. or longer is used. (Note that even if NR is set to OFF, noise reduction is still performed for shots taken above ISO 800.) For shutter speed of 8s and longer, you'll notice a longer processing time (approx. twice as long) before the next picture can be taken.

To test this noise reduction algorithm, we decided to take a low-light indoors shot. I experiment a bit to obtain the optimum exposure, eventually settling on 25 sec. at F36. Even at this long shutter speed, the Nikon D3000's noise reduction seems to be working well, producing a nice smooth blurring effect of the background.

We find that the AF is very responsive and images snap quickly into focus. There is a very powerful and very effective AF-assist illuminator (white light) to aid in focusing.

The Nikon D3000 does not incorporate a live histogram. In Playback mode, press the Multi-Selector up/down and you can view a Histogram.

We find the overall image quality of the Nikon D3000 up to ISO 400 to be excellent with details preserved in the shadows and highlights. ISO 800 is very usable.

The pictures in the Nikon D3000 Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of what the camera is capable of. I have provided unprocessed samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop Elements) as well as the 3872 x 2592 pixels original size (click on the image for the original version). Any of the 800x600 image that is adjusted for levels and/or sharpened in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended to the file name. Original images are never adjusted.

You can safely assume that most macro shots and slow shutter speed shots required the use of a tripod.

I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels. For those who have their monitor resolution set to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit and you should not have to scroll to see the whole image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels resolution, start the slide show and then scroll to the right to position the image within your screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode, and the image should fill your screen nicely. Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor display back to normal mode.

To return to this page from the Photo Gallery, click on the animated graphics of the camera.

Please open and download the original size version only if you need to and only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks!


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