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D3000 Review - 10.2 MP DX


I was destined to get a better camera as far as megapixels than my friend's D40 DSLR. I also wanted something that had at least double the megapixels than my old Kodak Z650 point and shoot. But being a tight wad that I am, I only wanted to spend as little as I could to get a great camera. The D3000 is Nikon's newest DSLR (at least in July of 2009). So I figured jump on the bandwagon and get it.

Some say that the camera is the best thing since sliced bread and some say the image quality is horrible and Nikon should be roasted on an open fire with the camera. I say contrary from using it. You just need to be "smart" when using it. One of the things that it does lack is the high ISO 1600 and 3200 (cryptic at HI-1) image quality. There is a lot of noise in the image. This can be lessened by simply setting the image size to 5.6 MP, or in the image size as "Medium". This will fix the so called noise issue and give great results. I think of it as when doing high ISOs set it like you would a D40 at full resolution.

Nikon built this camera with a decent user interface that most can operate. The menu architecture is sometimes clumsy, but after using it a lot, you will be a whiz at it. Trust me. When I first got the camera, it seemed rather disorganized, but after really doing some long-hard thinking, the menu architecture kind of makes sense. The one thing I do not like is the fact that you can't make a "My Menu" custom menu like in Nikon's more expensive DSLRs. But that is neither here no there. I don't think there are quite enough menu options to really have a need for that, but I might think it would help.

The one thing that really lacks in the D3000 is the aperture dial on the front grip. I'm so used to that with the more professional cameras. Instead you need to hit the aperture button on the camera and use the rear (usually used for the shutter speeds) to select the suitable aperture. Stupid design, but they figure most will use it in Auto. Not for me.

Speaking of Auto. How does it fair? Auto on the D3000 does a pretty decent job. However, I find that using Aperture Priority and letting the camera decide on just the shutter speed is more than enough. Auto is for people that just want to simply point and shoot with no fuss. I notice with some lenses the D3000 has trouble figuring out which aperture would yield the best results. However, with this aside, why the heck would you buy a DSLR if you didn't want to use it to control your photos?! Isn't that the whole point? Of course it is.

Since we are talking auto modes on the D3000, might as well talk a little bit about the White Balance on the camera. The D3000's Auto White Balance feature hasn't failed me yet. I've shot many things keeping it on the Auto, and I've yet to say the camera hasn't gotten stumped on what kind of lighting is in my composition. If you take into account, this camera has seen incandescent, fluorescent, mercury vapor, sodium halide, etc. Nothing has been able to stump it. I just keep it in auto and forget about it as it does what it should. Now unless I am playing with my photos and want to do a freeze blue on something, then I will play with the WB settings to get my composition just right. But like I said, when I'm taking serious photos, the WB stays on auto.

The D3000 also has ADR, which the D40 lacks. However it is a joke to use. Forget about taking bursts of pictures. It takes the D3000's processor 1 1/2 seconds per picture to process it with ADR on. Does the ADR do it's job when turned on? Yes, the pictures look a little better. But is it worth the wait? No. You can fix them afterwards on the computer. The camera is not the place to be editing your photos -- it's for taking pictures!

The 11 point focusing system works decently well. Sometimes it gets hung up, sometimes it is blazing fast. The 3D tracking is the best from what I've used. It is the fastest, plus it keeps everything in focus especially with moving objects. I've used center weighted and the other focus settings, and for the most part they work as they should.

When speaking of the D3000's capability of auto-focusing, I need to point out that it utilizes the lens to do the metering for it. So the D3000 does not have a built in metering system. It merely uses what the lens has built into it. The more expensive D90, D200, and D300(s), and up, have a built in metering system into the camera itself. Which does better? The one built into the camera, because the metering system views what the imager sees. The metering systems that are built into the lenses read way before the image sensor and can give false readings, especially in dark environments. Hence this is another reason why it does not have a screwdriver motor in it for traditional lenses and why you need an AF-S lens. Which prohibits photographers from using lenses from their old 35mm SLR, which has a built in matrix metering system in it like the expensive digital SLRs.

Does this change the way I like the D3000? Yes. In fact, the more I use it, the more I wish it had built in metering. By now that should come standard in any mid-priced DSLR.

The camera itself is well built, and has a robust feeling to it. When using the D40, I thought it was more comfortable that the D3000. But that could just be me. It is a little bit lighter than the D40, but it doesn't matter when you could make it heavy by putting a monster lens on it. It does have a large LCD on the rear, which makes reading the display very good, but the only knock I have against it is the fact that it doesn't have a screen protector. I figure they don't expect amateurs to be using this camera for extended purposes or something. I put a screen protector on mine, which can cause a problem if it isn't done correctly, as it might come off when carrying the camera. I recommend using the ones for PDAs, like the Palm ones. They work the best. All you need to do is get a good, sharp scissor and cut them down to size. Or you can use an X-Acto knife to cut them as well.

Could it use a dedicated information LCD panel? For the beginner, I'd say no. But if you are in a pinch, and want to see what the camera is doing before taking that crucial shot, it would be nice, as they downgraded it from the D70.

Movies? Some people have asked me if the D3000 can shoot movies. In short no! The D5000 does.

Battery life is around ~600 shots using the Nikon EN-EL9a battery. The funny thing is, I bought a second battery, not a Nikon, from Best Buy, and I got a whopping ~800 shots out of it. It's made by Digi-Power.

The flash sync speed is a normal 1/250s. This got downgraded from the d40's 1/500s flash sync speed. Is this good or bad? Depends, what the camera is utilized for. If it's used in indoor situations, then the downgrade will be bad. But some don't even pay much attention to it.

My Conclusion:

It's a decent camera if all you want to do is play around or you want a cheap DSLR to take with you on family outings. If you want some serious photos, consider getting the D90. Like with the D40, it is a great beginners camera and is meant for occasional use, or if you want a banger camera instead of taking your D3 out everywhere you go. The menus also offer informative help and information on what to do with each setting, which helps.

I rate it 3.5 out of 5.0. Why?

1. Too much work to get to the settings.

2. Slow ADR. Very disappointing.

3. No internal matrix metering.

Pictures coming soon...


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Copyright �1999 - 2012 Chuck Hendricks