Nikon has developed a habit of making very attractive entry-level DSLRs, which are rarely the best specified but cleverly designed so that they're easy and enjoyable to shoot with. The D3000 fitted this pattern perfectly, a gentle refresh of the D60 (which was itself a slightly updated D40X), it added ease-of-use features to make it a pleasant little camera to use, despite a specification that was beginning to look rather out-of-step with the rest of the market.
The D3100’s 1080/24p video mode presented sharp images that rendered motion well with good smoothness and little in the way of trailing. The main issue is the use of a more “filmic” 24p frame rate, that renders motion in blurs during playback. When pausing, this ghosting and trailing is practically nonexistent, but anytime two objects of contrasting brightness move near each other (such as our motion test’s monochrome pinwheel), the result is a blurred mess. Overall, the video quality is comparable to other DSLRs, though not as good as we’ve seen from Canon and the Nikon D5100. See our full motion performance review, including video clips.
The Nikon D3100’s sharpness results were dragged down by some significant aliasing issues that specifically stuck between 600 and 800 lw/ph patterns. This resulted in some purple and green blobs showing up on the video, with image detail beyond that somewhat sharp (straight lines became angled slightly, but lines didn’t bleed into one another much), though we could not give the camera credit for this because of the aliasing issues. Read our full sharpness performance review.
The D3100’s colors looked good when recording video, although the camera had some trouble reproducing greens and certain reds faithfully. The overall color error came to 3.44 in bright light, with a saturation level of 90.6% Many DSLRs struggle to replicate their excellent still color accuracy in video, but the D3100 put forth a valiant effort. Its colors in its video recordings weren’t quite as accurate as its still image colors, but they were close. See our full color performance review, including color swatches and crops.
Color Accuracy Performance
The Nikon D3100 produced a color error of 3.44 and a saturation level of 90.6% in our bright light color testing.
Noise was kept to a minimum on the Nikon D3100, though ISO is controlled entirely automatically (as is shutter speed). Noise was kept at under 0.71% in our test videos shot under bright light conditions. In low light conditions, this number jumped to , but this is to be expected given the camera’s lack of manual ISO control. See our full noise performance review, including crops and comparative analysis.
The Nikon D3100 wasn’t the most sensitive camera in low light that we’ve ever seen, but it posted a respectable result. The camera needed just 16 lux of light to hit 50 IRE on a waveform monitor, a standard measurement that we use to determine a reasonably visible image recorded by the camera. Read our full low light sensitivity performance review.
The D3100 produced a color error of just 3.82 in our low light testing at the camera’s 1080/24p frame rate. This puts the camera’s low light color score in the same ballpark as the camera’s score in our bright light color test. The saturation level in low light was higher, however, with the D3100 managing a 101.3% saturation level in this test. See our full low light color performance review, including comparative images and analysis.
Video: Low Light Color Performance
The Nikon D3100 produced a color error of and a saturation level of in our bright light color testing.
The Nikon D3100’s noise in low light spiked to just under 1%, which is still quite good. It became noticeable compared to the bright light testing, but most DSLRs do well in this category and the Nikon D3100 was no exception. This is impressive given that Nikon does not have much of a video pedigree and the D3000 the previous year did not feature video capture at all. See our full low light noise performance review, including crops and comparative images.
To read full conclusions for the Nikon D3100 including analysis of the camera’s video handling and audio options, plus see sample videos and photos, visit the full review at DigitalCameraInfo.com