Entry level D-SLRs are responsible for conferring market leadership to brands. For years, Canon had wrapped up this end of the market very securely and in the process safeguarded its Number One position. A resurgent Nikon has, however, struck back and is now only a few percentage points short of Canon in world D-SLR market share.
Nikon’s D60 was getting a bit jaded and a replacement was overdue. Nikon has now announced the D3000, which will be Nikon’s cheapest D-SLR and sits below the recently announced D5000. A new Guide mode, Nikon’s Picture Controls, and a Retouch function are some of the new features that the D3000 promises.
DESIGN & BUILD QUALITY
The D3000 is a typical Nikon in design although smaller in size. It features a plastic body that is nicely wrapped in a textured ﬁ nish. The quality of ﬁ nish is basic, but not shoddy. Dimensions are (at 126x97x64mm) slightly larger than the Panasonic Lumix G1, which sets the benchmark in this area. The D3000 body weighs 485g without battery, memory card or body cap.
The D3000 surprisingly, sticks to the 10.3 MP DX format APS-C size CCD of its predecessor but upgrades the LCD to 3-inches with 230,000 dots resolution. The LCD monitor, however, is ﬁ xed. Particularly impressive is the fact that Nikon has provided 11 AF points (with one cross type sensor) in an entry level SLR. (The D60 had three points). Nikon has used the Multi-CAM 1000 AF module of the D5000 and the D90 in the D3000. A maximum continuous shooting speed of three frames per second is also impressive. Since the camera is aimed at the beginner, Nikon has introduced a new intelligent ‘Guide’ mode on the mode dial. This mode works like an on board tutor and via text on the LCD, navigates a beginner through various settings needed to achieve speciﬁ c results. Since quite a few novices rarely read instruction manuals, the Guide mode can indeed prove handy.
Other features include dust reduction system, diopter correction, a choice of 3D Matrix Color Metering, self timer, all the standard exposure modes plus six scene modes, ± 5 EV exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity up to ISO 1600 or one stop above (i.e. ISO 3200).
Nikon’s Active D-Lighting feature available on other more expensive models is also included. The built in ﬂ ash can be switched off, if necessary. Flash compensation (-3 to + 3EV) is also available and the ﬂ ash has a Guide Number of 12m at ISO 100. All the usual White Balance settings are provided including ﬁ ne tuning of White Balance as well as manual setting. The D3000 accepts SD/SDHC cards.
There is no Live View nor is there a Video mode. Considering that the camera is aimed at a beginner, this is perhaps not a surprise.
Nikon has tried to make the D3000 as simple as possible. The 3-inch LCD monitor and the large type used do aid this process. The Guide mode, which is selectable from the Mode Dial has three selections viz. shoot, view/delete and set up. It certainly helps the newcomer to learn the main settings like aperture, shutter speed, ISO, White Balance etc. Because of the Guide mode, functions like ISO and WB selections are accessible only through the menu. However, direct access can be set through the customizable function button.
Given its light weight and compact size, the camera poses no problem on the handling front.