Nikon Coolpix 3100 Review
Date: Oct 1, 2003
Sep 18, 2003 - Here's what I receive in the box:
CompactFlash (CF) Memory Card
Rechargeable AA NiMH Batteries
Charger with Power Cable
Cables: A/V; USB
and French Instruction Manuals: Quick Start
Guide; Nikon Guide to Digital Photography
Software CDs: Nikon View 6.0 (includes PanoramaMaker3
from ArcSoft); Reference Manual; Adobe Photoshop
Nikon Coolpix 3100 is a very attractive point-and-shoot
digital camera that is pocketable and extremely
light. Because it is so light, the handgrip is
perfect to stabilize the camera. Ergonomics-wise,
your index finger falls naturally on the shutter
release button and the thumb falls on the zoom
toggle lever. Extend your thumb a bit and you
can easily change the settings on the Mode Dial.
One hand operation is thus possible.
of the reasons why the Coolpix 3100 is so light
is that it takes only two (2) AA batteries. It
takes about 2 1/2 hrs to recharge a pair of NiMH
batteries once they are fully depleted. If you
turn on the camera and the batteries are getting
low, an icon displays on the LCD to warn you.
When the batteries are very low, the camera reacts
a bit erratically, extending the lens elements
out and then retracting them in almost immediately.
The LCD also turns on and then immediately goes
off. So, if this happens to you (as it did to
me), then it is your signal that the batteries
need to be changed. If your lens elements extends
out and the batteries die, the lens elements may
remain extended. Do not panic and do not
force them in. Simply replace with fresh batteries
and everything goes back to normal.
of batteries, many will love the use of AA Alkaline
batteries that can be purchased anywhere, anytime.
We recommend a CRV3 Lithium battery or 2 Alkaline
batteries as spare batteries. You could use another
set of 2 AA rechargeable NiMH batteries as spare,
but remember that new NiMH batteries may discharge
quickly immediately after purchase or after they
have been left unused for an extended period.
So don't panic if your new NiMH batteries seem
to last only a short time as you try out the features
of your new camera. This is normal, and the batteries
will retain a charge for longer periods after
being used and recharged several times.
transferring pictures from the camera to your
computer, Nikon recommends fresh batteries, fully
recharged batteries, or the use of the optional
AC adapter. Using depleted batteries, there is
the danger that you suddenly run out of power
in the middle of the transfer. Don't risk losing
precious images or damaging the camera. Either
use fully charged batteries or, better, get the
adapter. I would recommend the AC adapter (EH-61)
if, like me, you transfer images every chance
you get. Using the AC adapter also means you don't
use up precious battery power to transfer your
images from the camera to your computer.
transfer images from the camera to my PC running
Windows XP, all I have to do is simply connect
the USB cable from the camera (turned off) to
the PC. I then turn on the camera and select the
NikonView software. I select the directory where
I want the images to go and click the Transfer
icon. To erase all pictures from the memory card,
I put the camera in Playback Mode, then press
MENU - PLAYBACK MENU - Delete - Erase all images
- Yes. Or, you may simply reformat everytime.
install the Nikon View 6.0 software and Panorama
Maker 3.0 from ArcSoft. Since my computer already
came preloaded with Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0,
I don't have to install it. Adobe Photoshop Elements
2.0 is easily the best affordable and easy-to-use
picture editing software you can get. I also use
it for all the graphics you see on this site.
here in Canada, all documentation comes in both
English and French versions:
Nikon Guide to Digital Photography (with
the Coolpix 3100) is not, as its name may imply,
a guide about how to take better pictures using
the Coolpix 3100 digital camera. It is the User
Guide, which is well illustrated, though a little
on the "busy" side. Though I was able
to find all the information I needed to operate
the camera, I found the font type a bit on the
light side and would have personally preferred
an easier to read heavier font type.
handy Quick Start Guide, on the other hand,
is all I need to get the Coolpix 3100 up and ready
for picture taking. It's illustrations and text
are extremely easy to follow and read (the User
Guide should follow that same format). Read this
leaflet first before you even put in the battery
and memory card.
take the time to set the Coolpix 3100 to the way
I would like to use it (only the settings I set
are listed below):
Screen: disable welcome
set to today's date
select the one most comfortable for my eyes
off: 30 min. (so the camera does not turn off
on me at the wrong moment)
Mass Storage (Windows XP will recognize the
camera as another drive)
MENU (Auto on Mode Dial; press the MENU button):
Quality/Size: 3M* High (Fine/2048x1536 pixels)
MENU (Manual on Mode Dial; press the MENU button):
Quality/Size: 3M* High (Fine/2048x1536 pixels)
(Best Shot Selector): OFF
Shot Selector: Off
indicated above, the Manual mode is limited to
changing the WB and Exposure Compensation. You
can, however, indirectly influence the shutter
speed/aperture by selecting one of the scene modes.
Note that in Macro mode (in Auto mode, pressing
the Cursor Down arrow on the Multi Selector allows
setting Macro ON) and in Manual mode, the camera
is in continuous focus and a continuous whirring
noise is heard. This is normal.
3M* High 2048x1536 size, a 16MB CompactFlash memory
card will allow you to record around 10 pictures.
I recommend that you purchase either a 128MB or
256MB CF card which will store around 80 or 160
pictures, respectively. Note that Nikon only guarantees
that the following brands of memory cards have
been tested and approved for use with Nikon digital
cameras: Nikon, SanDisk, Lexar, and Renesas.
17.4 mm, 1/141.8 sec., F4.9, +2EV and ISO Auto,
with Fill-in flash
quality construction -- just what you would expect
from a Nikon camera. No loose parts, and every
control feels just right. It feels very
comfortable in the hand.
1.5 in. LCD is pretty good, with enough resolution
(110,000 pixels) to help me determine whether
I have a good shot or whether to reshoot. You
can adjust the brightness via the menu.
times on the Coolpix 3100 has a definite noticeable
lag. Whether it is taking a picture, saving to
the memory card, deleting from the card, or waiting
for the flash to recharge, you will have to wait
(about 1 - 2 sec.) before doing the next operation
or taking the next shot.
Trying to catch some fish swimming in a restaurant
pool, I consistently miss the shot because the
fish swims away from the moment I press the shutter
release button and the camera focuses and takes
the picture. Eventually, I smarten up and anticipate
the correct moment, pressing the shutter release
button about 1/2 - 1 sec. before the fish gets
into the desired position. However, the Coolpix
3100's shutter lag means that candid action shots
(including trying to catch your energetic 3-year
old doing cute stuff) are difficult. For older
children, it is not that much of a problem since
they can hold a pose for 1-2 seconds.
power on/off button is on the collar around the
shutter release button. The zoom lever is at the
back of the camera and actuated by the right thumb.
This is really how it has been for a long time
for cameras until some manufacturers moved the
zoom lever around the shutter release button.
The last camera I reviewed had the zoom around
the shutter release button... so I ended up turning
the Coolpix 3100 off a couple of times when I
meant to zoom. I personally feel the power on/off
button has been extremely well implemented on
the Coolpix 3100 and is much better than the press-and-hold-for-a-second
tiny button. But I am also getting used to the
zoom around the shutter release button because
you can control the zoom with only one fluid motion
of your index finger; with a zoom toggle lever
actuated by the thumb, you have to lift and move
the thumb right and left. Up to you which ones
you prefer, and it's just a matter of remembering
and getting used to it.
Mode Dial is effortless to turn with your thumb,
snapping satisfyingly into the mode you select.
Just a note of caution if, like me, you like to
keep your digital camera in your pants pocket:
I find I have unintentionally switched to another
mode a couple of times -- perhaps as I put it
in and take it out of my pants pocket.
images from the Coolpix 3100 to my PC is just
a matter of connecting the USB cable into the
appropriate slots. Then simply turn on the camera.
At the computer screen prompt, I select NikonView
6 and the images are automatically transferred
to the directory I select. It takes about 1.5
sec. to transfer one image on my PC. Once done,
I click the drive icon on my task bar and wait
for the signal it is now OK to unplug the cable
at both end. Then I erase all pictures from the
memory card, or simply reformat the card.
eye can be a problem with flash photography and
Nikon View 6 provids a handy function to fix this.
Nikon Coolpix 3100 is a very good point-and-shoot
digital camera that meets all requirements except
for action shots due to its shutter lag. Its 3
megapixels resolution allows 8x10 in. prints and
it has the image quality Nikon is known for. If
you are into macro photography, the Coolpix 3100
provides an affordable and excellent way to get
into it without costly lens attachments.