By Elias Plastiras PC World Australia | on August 19, 2009
Pros: In-built guides, easy to use, useful 3D tracking focus.
Cons: Has minimal buttons and only one control dial, noisy images from ISO 400 and above, can only autofocus with AF-S lenses.
If you’re an enthusiast photographer and want to learn more about how to take photos in different situations, there is probably no better camera to get your hands on than Nikon’s D3000. It’s an inexpensive digital SLR camera with manual features, but it also packs a useful Guide mode that you can use to change the camera’s settings for different scenarios.
Nikon's new D3000 digital SLR targets the current compact camera owner who wants to take their first steps into 'proper' photography better than any other model currently on the market. The D3000 is an inexpensive digital SLR camera with manual features, but it also packs a useful Guide mode that you can use to change the camera’s settings for different scenarios.
The Nikon D3000's body doesn't have as many dedicated dials and buttons as a mid-range digital SLR, but you quickly learn what you need to do in order to change the settings swiftly. The body has a thumb dial for changing the shutter speed and lens aperture, and you can use the LCD’s on-screen menu to manipulate the ISO speed, exposure compensation, white balance, metering and focus mode. It has a relatively small body for a digital SLR (approximately 12.2cm wide, 9.6cm tall and 7.7cm deep), but of course, it will become bloated depending on the lens you choose to attach.
It will accept any Nikon DX-format lens and will autofocus with AF-S type lenses, but not with AF types. It's best to use lenses with built-in vibration reduction, as the Nikon D3000's body does not have optical image stabilisation built in. The sensor of the camera is 10.2 megapixels, which is more than enough pixels for printing large photos.
Photos can be composed through the optical viewfinder and they can be played back on the 3in LCD screen. The screen sits in a fixed position on the back of the body, so it can't be flipped out and rotated like the screen on the Nikon D5000, for example. Furthermore, it does not support LiveView, which means you can't take video nor shoot still images in the same way you would with a compact camera's LCD viewfinder.
The lack of a flip-out screen and video mode might be seen as a drawback by some, but we prefer looking through the viewfinder, especially on sunny days. We don't care much for the video mode on still cameras, either. But if you do want video, then the Nikon D5000 is a better proposition.
The D3000 calculated the exposure automatically for this sunset. Apart from some cropping and resizing to fit this page, it has not been edited. Credit: Imogen Stuart.
We tested the Nikon D3000 with one of its kit lenses — the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G — as well as some non-kit lenses. The overall performance of the camera — taking into consideration its user-friendliness, features and image quality — was good. In no way is its image quality as good as a mid-range digital SLR (such as the Nikon D90), but it's still better than what you can get from an advanced compact.