The Nikon D3000 is the entry level Nikon Digital SLR. It is aimed at anyone who is looking for a step up from a compact digital camera or anyone who is looking to transfer to a Digital SLR from a 35mm camera. Entry level gives the impression of a basic camera. This is not really true. Although there are one or two features I would like to have seen included with the D3000 it has the majority of features needed to keep its intended users more than happy.
Key features include a 10 megapixel sensor and a 3 inch LCD screen. Image sensor cleaning is built into the D3000 to help reduce any problems caused by dust. In continuous shooting mode you can capture shots at a rate of 3 frames per second. There is an 11 point focusing system. This is a clear step up on the previous entry level model.
The most obvious feature that is missing is a Live View mode. This is the ability to compose your photos using the LCD screen in the way you can with a typical compact digital camera. This restricts you to using the viewfinder for composing shots. There is no movie mode included either.
One feature I would like to have seen included was a bracketing option. I find this can be a big help to anyone who is just starting out when lighting is tricky and you are looking to capture the correct exposure.
Nikon favours a system where image stabilisation or vibration reduction is built into each lens, so this has not been built into the D3000.
There is also no auto focus motor. This helps to keep the size and weight of the camera down. The downside of this is that if you have a stack of older lenses that do not have a motor built into them you will only be able to focus them manually. This is not an issue if you own or plan to use recent Nikon or third party lenses.
I really like the layout of the menu system Nikon uses. It is easy to read and everything seems to be in the right place. There is a Guide Mode available too. This is accessed via the control dial that sits on top of the D3000.
Comparing this Digital SLR to the Canon models I am more used to using I felt this camera was a real star when you first come to use it. For example it offers clear indications on the LCD screen if your subject is too dark. On top of this the way the screens are presented I found it very easy to check the current settings.
The next step up in the Nikon range is the D5000. The biggest difference between these two cameras is the fact that the D5000 offers live view, plus the ability to shoot video. Another attractive feature with the D5000 is a tilt and swivel LCD screen.
Direct competitors from other lading brands include the Canon EOS 1000D and the Sony A230. The EOS 1000D may prove attractive as it offers a Live View mode.
As I am more used to handling Canon Digital SLRs I wondered just what I would make of the Nikon D3000. I must admit to being very impressed by this camera. If someone asked me to name a Digital SLR at the lower end of the market in terms of price that they could use for learning the basics of photography then I think the D3000 would be an excellent starting point.
From a technical viewpoint I thought the photos I took with the D3000 where very impressive. If you are stepping up from a compact digital camera you should notice extra depth to colours and much greater definition in your photos. Noise levels seemed to be controlled very well in areas of lighter shade and there is plenty of detail showing in these areas. I thought the camera coped well with the glare from the sun too.
Just how sharp your photos are will depend to a large degree on the quality of the lenses you use, but I thought the quality of the supplied kit lenses produced shots that were plenty sharp enough to keep most first time Digital SLR owners happy.
The most common way to buy the Nikon D3000 is in kit form. In other words it tends to come with one or two lenses to get you started. In fact it is harder to get hold of just the camera body. The standard lens offered in a kit is an 18 - 55mm lens. This is ideal for wide shots. To add flexibility it is also worth considering a package including a zoom lens with a focal length of 55 - 200mm, although this can be a lot harder to track down.
As you would expect at this price point the lenses on offer in the kit are not top quality, but in my opinion are certainly good enough to get the serious amateur photographer up and running. There is plenty of time later on to purchase more expensive lenses.