Low light and the D3100
If you are in the market for a new ‘best’ camera then the Nikon D3100 is hard to beat. I purchased mine to replace my Nikon D40x as my main camera. The D40X was a superb camera which never let me down but technology had moved on.
Being of a minimalist mindset I was seriously looking at micro four third cameras but wanting the best performance led me towards full sensor DSLRs as potential replacements. It took me about a week to realize that this approach was silly and the that logical compromise was the crop sensor – as in the D40X that I was already using.
If you are currently using one of the Nikon 10 megapixel crop sensors I cannot emphasize just how much the technology has moved on with the new 14 megapixel ones. The biggest difference is the low light sensitivity – ISO 3200 is perfectly usable and is actually better than ISO 800 on the D40X.
When paired with Lightroom 4, which now has an excellent noise reduction tool, the Nikon D3100 is an incredible creative tool. I think it is still retailing at around the $500 mark with a vastly improved 18-55 mm VR (Vibration Reduced) kit lens. The kit lens is excellent and the VR combined with the D3100′s high ISO performance make this an excellent camera for low light work.
The image at the top of this post was shot with the D3100 and 18mm-55mm kit lens. It was edited in Lightroom 4.3. Click on it to see a larger version.
A couple of quick notes:
I am familiar with Nikon DSLRs but I am fairly sure that an equivalent piece could have been written about Canon or other makes. For what it is worth I think that Canon point and shoots are much superior to Nikon ones.
The D3100 has been superseded by the D3200. I have not used the D3200 but from what I can gather the former represents a big leap while the D3100 to D3200 is much more of an incremental one.
All of these cameras are marketed as entry level – it is important to remember that this is marketing and nothing more. Nikon’s ideal scenario is that you spend a few hundred dollars on a so called entry level DSLR then start to feel inadequate and so spend many more hundreds on a so called pro camera and then several thousand on lenses.