Nikon D3000 Review
Performance - How well does it take pictures?
Ultimately, it is the image quality that makes a camera worth buying. For an SLR, image quality greatly depends on the lens used. While color, noise, exposure and contrast are properties of the camera, distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberrations are properties of the lens. Sharpness depends on the weakest link. That is, the camera cannot capture more details than the lens lets through. Conversely, it is possible for a lens to transmit more details than the sensor can capture.
Note that the Nikon D3000 is only sold with a kit-lens in some markets. This specific lens is the 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 VR. As this lens is of rather poor quality, better get a higher-quality lens to avoid disappointments.
The D3000 has a reliable and generally quite accurate exposure system, which is a huge improvement over the D60. On most scenes, exposure compensation is not required and burnt highlights are kept relatively low.
The Nikon D3000 shows excellent color accuracy. The Standard setting provides the most realistic rendition of colors. There are 6 Picture Control styles, each can be modified in terms of sharpness, contrast, saturation and hue. The Neutral mode provides slightly a softer and less contrasty look, while both Landscape and Vivid modes show over-the-top-colors not suitable to represent reality.
The white-balance system performs better than most DSLR cameras. Preset and custom white-balance are very accurate. Automatic white-balance is spot-on most times. Even artificial light is handled quite well, with a noticeably warm but gentle color-cast.
Noise levels are very low until ISO 400 and moderately low but noticeable at ISO 800. At ISO 1600, noise is evident but has a fine grain which means that even medium-sized prints are possible. ISO 3200 is still usable for small prints as it is noisier without being too destructive on details. All in all, the D3000's handling of image noise is great, balancing increased noise and loss of details progressively as ISO increases.
Image sharpness is controllable in 10 steps. Images appear slightly soft be default, but this is corrected by increasing sharpness in-camera. It is quite common for high-end DSLR to produce slightly soft images by default since those images fare better during post-processing. Boosting sharpening to +2 provides much more pleasing results without surrounding details with halos commonly seen in over-sharpened images.
In operation, the Nikon D3000 is extremely responsive. Most operations are nearly instant, including the critical shutter-lag. Power on is fast and the camera is ready to shoot in an instant, although the animation showing sensor-cleaning makes it look like it takes longer. The important thing to note here is that sensor-cleaning is interruptible by a slight-press of the shutter-release.
Focusing speed depends on the lens used. With the kit lens, it is reasonable under bright conditions but a little slow, for a DSLR, in low-light. One thing that the kit-lens did well is focusing at close distances, giving it a magnification ratio of 1:3.2.
The continuous drive is also very good and the buffer never seems to fill up. This means you can shoot at 3 FPS until the memory card is full. Battery-life seems improved over the D60, as the D3000 is now on par with entry-level models using lithium-ion batteries.
The Nikon D3000 is an excellent option for new DSLR owners. It is a well-built camera with very good image quality and excellent speed of operation. Most people upgrading from a fixed-lens camera are looking for speed and image quality. At the same time, the D3000 gives users access to the second largest lens lineup of the industry.
Images from the D3000 are characterized by low image noise, plenty of details and accurate colors. Exposure is also very good, something that lets the D3000 get reach an Excellent rating compared to its predecessor.
The feature set and ergonomics of the Nikon D3000 are very reasonable for an entry-level DSLR. Pros will feel very limited but novices will not find this camera daunting. Its numerous features like spot-metering and white-balance fine-tuning make nearly any desired result achievable.
In the end, the D3000 is great because it delivers what novice DSLR users expect from a DSLR: image quality and speed above all. A simple and durable body round off its place as an excellent choice among entry-level DSLR cameras.
Nikon D3000 Highlights
Sensor-Size: 24 x 16mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|10 Megapixels DSLR||ISO 100-3200|
|Nikon F Mount|
|Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|Built-in Dust Reduction||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|3 FPS Drive, Unlimited Images||Spot-Metering|
|3" LCD 230K Pixels||Hot-Shoe|
|Secure Digital High Capacity|
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