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|The Nikon D3100 (£580 with 18-55mm kit lens) is designed to build on the success of their D3000, and Will Cheung gets his hands on one.|
Nikon’s public relations department timed it perfectly. The London-bound train’s doors had closed behind me and I just had just taken my seat when a handful of Nikon press releases dropped into the iPad’s in-tray. A few minutes earlier and I might have been tempted to spend the day at home. After all, I had all the information I needed and the lawn needed cutting!
It is strange but it happens more and more that product announcements are made before the actual press event. At least the train journey gave me time to digest the information on the latest products before getting hands-on. A new DSLR is always exciting news and here there were four new Nikkors too, including an updated 85mm f/1.4.
|Jeremy Gilbert, group marketing manager of Nikon UK, proudly shows off the company's latest DSLR launch.|
Click on the links below to read the relevant press releases.
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G
Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
The headline story was the addition to the company's DSLR range of the D3100, a camera designed to build on the massive success story that has been the D3000. The D3000 has been one of the UK's best-selling DSLR cameras since its launch, which is no surprise given its long list of features and competitive pricing. Moreover, the D3000 has also helped Nikon to keep its position as number two in the DSLR market; indeed, it has helped to close the gap with the market leaders, Canon.
The D3100 is the result of Nikon's research among D3000 owners. Among the many 'wants' included higher resolution, Live View, movie function, higher ISO and a more compact body. These features and more have been incorporated into the D3100.
Image resolution is up to 14.2-megapixels (from the D3000’s 10.2Mp) provided by a new CMOS sensor and the ISO range is 100 to 3200 with the option of using Hi2 to give the equivalent of 12,800.
In Live View new autofocusing modes have been provided to enhance usability. There is full-time servo autofocusing, face priority AF to cope with up to 35 faces and subject tracking AF.
Like them or not, movie modes are expected now on cameras and the D3100 offers HD movie with a resolution of 1920x1080 at 24fps or 1280x720 at 30fps. The example movie shown at the press event, shot in Covent Garden the day before, was certainly impressive and showed what can achieved with not too much effort and some imagination. The D3100 does offer some in-camera editing features so you do not even need a computer to experiment with and enjoy the movie function.
In terms of feel, the D3100 certainly handles well – although it is impossible to tell whether it is lighter and smaller without doing a direct side-by-side comparison. At the launch it was partnered by the 18-55m kit zoom and the new 55-300mm was available to try too. That telezoom is equivalent to a 82-450mm in the 35mm format, so perfect for wildlife and action pictures and the combination handled well.
With the family photographer an important target for the D3100, the camera’s enhanced Guide function will come in very useful for helping inexperienced users realise their vision as well as teaching them a little about photography at the same time.
The D3100 will be available towards the end of September.
The D3100 was the headline news, but the four lenses are also significant. It was a pity that the samples on hand for us to handle were not final production samples.
I did take a few shots with the 85mm f/1.4, 24-120mm f/4 and the 28-300mm on the proviso that they were not to be published, hence we have nothing to show here. Never the less, I was impressed by all three of them. The 85mm’s fast aperture gives a brilliantly bright image and is perfect for portrait work if you want to shoot selective focus effects. It could be an awesome lens if it is anything like Nikon’s other nano-coated optics.
The previous 24-120mm has never been highly rated by many experts so Nikon had to address that situation and this lens does appear to be an improvement in optical terms. While the 28-300mm is ideal for travelling light superzooms are rarely respected, especially at the longer focal lengths. My images shot on the prep-roduction lens at the 300mm setting seemed very crisp so the signs are promising.
ePHOTOzine will be testing the D3100 and the new lenses as soon as production samples are available, but so far so good.