A small, light and good-value digital SLR camera
When we reviewed Nikon's previous entry-level digital SLR (DSLR) camera, the D3000, we noted that it was the last model in the range to shoot only stills, not video.
With the release of the D3100 every non-professional Nikon DSLR now shoots high-definition video as well as photos.
The other big differences include a higher 14-megapixel resolution and a live-view option for composing photos or video on the 3in rear screen. This worked well for videos, although for photos you are almost always better off using the optical viewfinder.
The small, light body is almost identical to its predecessor, with one control dial for changing the shutter or other settings and another chunky dial on the top to choose from the various scene modes. This includes a special Guide mode, also found on the D3000, which helps beginners get more from the camera's controls.
A new, very handy switch allows the user to choose easily between single shot, continuous, self-timer and quiet-shooting modes. The quiet mode doesn't make much difference as the D3100 is hardly noisy to begin with.
As usual for an entry-level camera, Nikon is selling the D3100 with an 18-55mm zoom lens. The autofocus system worked well, but this kit lens was notably slower to focus than some other Nikon AF-S lenses. Nonetheless it includes optical image stabilisation, which helped in low light, and gives a wide range of zoom options that will suit for everyday or travel photography.
We were pleased with photos and video from the D3100, which performed surprisingly well even in tricky conditions such as extremely low light with the flash disabled, and with huge 14-megapixel stills and 1080p video it's possible to crop in on both without losing quality.
The big, bright menus and Guide mode make the D3100 great for first-time DSLR users, but there are also plenty of manual controls and options available for those who want to experiment.
All in all it's a great small DSLR, but at around £450 in most shops it seems the addition of video has bumped the price up slightly – you could be forgiven for wishing that the cheaper D3000 was still available.
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A small, smart DSLR that's great for beginners, but video capability pushes the price up
Small, light; Guide mode and helpful options for new DSLR users
Hard to find below £450
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