Friday, August 20, 2010

New Nikon D3100


Nikon has finally graduated from 720P video and has brought forth a new camera today that will record in 1080P. What’s really interesting is that they did it in the new D3100. I’m not sure if this is going to be replacing the D3000, which is their lowest cost consumer DSLR, but the price-point says no. Some other notable upgrades to the camera are the sensor size, ISO range, and wireless flash control. So here’s the in-depth scoop.

The video resolution has finally been upped to 1920×1080 with a frame rate of 24 fps (23.976 fps). This is the only frame rate for this resolution but you can get 30 and 25 fps as well if you move down to the 720 setting. Nikon has also upped their record times to 10 minutes from 5. This will certainly make a lot of people happy since they can now record longer clips (although personally I thought 5 minutes really worked well).
The D3100 is still using the same DX sensor size but they have upped the pixel count from 10.2 million in the D3000 to 14.2 million. That’s even more pixels than the D300s although the D300s sensor is .4mm larger in length and width. I know, .4mm doesn’t sound like much but it does make a difference when you are talking about the physical size of the pixels and how well they gather light. I’ll be interested to see just how the noise is for the D3100 at higher ISO levels, which brings me too…
Nikon really upped the ante on this one by raising the max ISO found in the D3000 from 3200 (using the HI-1 ISO expansion setting) to a nightstalker-like ISO 12,800. The actual ISO settings on the camera run from 100 to 3200 but can be increased to 6400 and 12800 using the ISO expansion setting. As I said before, I am really interested to see just how well Nikon was able to control noise at these high setting, especially since they are using a lot more pixels. More usually means smaller and when it comes to gathering light, smaller also means more noise.
Unlike its predecessor, the D3100 has the ability to control off-camera flash units using its pop-up flash. This will work with SB-900, SB-800 (discontinued), and SB-600 flash unit. This feature has been around in the mid-level Nikon DSLRs and it is fantastic. Unlike a D3s or D3x, you don’t need to have a controller flash unit mounted to your hotshoe. Simply pop up your flash and you can control not just one, but a series of flash units. I’m really glad to see Nikon bring this feature to the entry-level cameras because it really allows photographers to explore more options in creative lighting.
That’s a highlight of some of the new features in the D3100. The MSRP for the camera is actually set $50 higher than the D5000, at $699.95. No word yet on when it will be in stores but I would look to some time in September. If you want to read more about the camera and its feature you can check out Nikon’s D3100 web page.