Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nikon D3100 Hands On: Part 3

Read the full review of the Nikon D3100

I'm going to start off today with a video that I shot with the D3100 today. One of the best aspects of shooting video with a DSLR is the ability to narrow the depth of field, not to mention using some stunning lenses. I'm also going to talk about the menu system of the D3100.

During my first video tests on Saturday I noticed that for some subjects, depending on how fast they are moving, 1080p at 24FPS wasn't overly smooth, so today I shot at 720p at 30FPS to see if it made any difference. Honestly I didn't notice a huge difference, although they are slightly smoother. The microphone on the D3100 isn't the greatest and picks up sounds best when they are within a short distance of the front of the camera. Anything more than 10 meters away will be quiet, at least from what I've noticed so far. The tapping noises heard during the video are rain drops hitting the rain cover over the camera and lens.

Menu System:
The menu system of the D3100 is aimed at making the camera easy to use for first time DSLR users, although I think they could have done a slightly better job of that.

The Guide Mode (GUIDE on mode dial) is even easier for a first time user, taking you step by step through what settings you need to capture an image for many different situations. I will not spend a lot of time talking about the guide mode simply because I don't have much use for it myself, but I will give a brief overview of it in my final review.

The  menu is broken down in the usual way that Nikon does so. First a playback menu which gives you access to settings like deleting multiple images, display mode, image review, rotating, slide shows, and printing (if you hook the camera directly to a compatible printer). After the playback mode is the Shooting Menu, which on the D3100 has a lot of different settings. It has everything from picture control settings, auto focus controls, noise reduction, movie settings, image quality (RAW or JPEG settings), white balance, colour space, Active D-Lighting controls, and the controls for the built in flash.

The Setup Menu gives you acess to controls like formatting your memory card, LCD brightness, how the shooting information is displayed on the rear LCD, image sensor cleaning controls, mirror lockup (for physical cleaning of image sensor), video output settings, date and time, image comments, language, self-timer delays (how long the menu stays up, time the meter stays active, etc), Beep (does the camera beep to confirm focus or not), rangefinder (manual focus assist, only works with CPU chipped lenses), file number sequence, Buttons (control what the Fn and AE-L/AF-L buttons do), GPS and Firmware information.

Next up is the Retouch Menu. In this menu you can apply settings to photos that you have taken. This means that if there are no photos on your memory card this menu will not be accessible. You can apply D-lighting settings, Red-eye correction, Crop (Trim), monochrome effects, filters, change colour balance, reduce image size, overlay an image (in effect multiply exposures), in camera RAW processing, quick retouching (remove dust spots), straighten, remove distortion, apply a fisheye effect, colour outline, change perspective (make part of the image look closer or stretched), miniature effect (basically a tilt shift effect), and in camera movie editing.

Last but not least is the Recent Settings menu. The first thing that any user of higher end Nikon DSLRs will notice is the lack of the My Menu option that often appears in this spot. In it's place is the recently selected items menu. This menu functions more like on older cameras like the D40 and D70s, before the implementation of the My Menu option, with the D300 and D3.

Read Part 4 Of the Hands On Preview