Nikon’s new entry-level DSLR camera doesn’t try too hard to impress. With a bunch of fairly modest specs – 10.2MP sensor, a maximum of 3fps continuous shooting – and no headline-grabbing features like HD video capture or even live view, it’s fair to say that the D3000 hasn’t had us popping champagne corks with excitement.
One for newbies
But Nikon isn’t pitching the D3000 at feature-mad early adopters. This camera is instead aimed at DSLR newbies who want to get into advanced photography but feel intimidated by the sheer wealth of controls and settings.
Of course, some will just twist the mode dial to Auto and leave it there, but those who actually want to quickly master the basics of DSLRs can instead flip it to the new “Guide” setting.
This serves up a supply of in-camera assistance, telling you what effect altering certain settings will have and automatically optimising them to deliver the type of results you’re looking for. You’ll feel like Ansel Adams, Rankin and Henri Cartier-Bresson rolled into one in no time.
Good low-light shooting
As well as being unusually user-chummy, the Nikon D3000 is a solid performer. Its 10.2MP sensor has an ISO range of 100-1600, and delivers high-quality results even at its higher reaches: you’ll have to push it to 1600 for noise to become truly ugly.
You can shoot at up to 3fps in continuous mode, which isn’t particularly speedy, but about par for the course for an entry-level camera.
Using the 18-55mm kit lens it’s easy to achieve sharp, colour-rich images. The lens comes with its own near-silent autofocus motor and VR anti-shake tech, and locks onto a subject speedily on the D3000 (even in low light, thanks to the camera’s AF assist lamp).
It’s worth noting, though, that the D3000 itself doesn’t have an autofocus motor – that means any additional lenses you buy will have to have their own, unless you’re happy with focusing manually. Nikkor AF-S and AF-I lenses all have built-in AF motors.
No live view
With no live view via the crisp 3in screen, you have to frame shots using the optical viewfinder. Luckily it’s a good ‘un: clear, reasonably large and sporting 11 autofocus points, any of which you can swiftly select with the cursor controller.
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Design-wise the D3000 is reminiscent of the D5000, albeit a smidge smaller and lighter, and with a fixed 3in screen instead of a 2.7in tilt-and-swivel display. It’s sturdy and comfy in the hand, and most of the controls are located within easy reach (the lack of a dedicated ISO button is the only glaring omission).
Aside from its Guide mode, the Nikon D3000 doesn’t really offer much in the way of innovation. But it’s a solid workhorse of a DSLR at a decent price – and that makes it one of the better entry-level models around.