Nikon has also been kind enough to let us play with its latest entry-level DSLR so we've prepared a brief hands-on, to get you up-to-speed with the new model. So, beyond the headline specifications, what does the D3000 offer and how does it fit into the model line-up?

Nikon D3000 Brief hands-on
by Richard Butler, July 2009


based on a pre-production Nikon D3000

Rumors of a D3000 have been circulating for some time now and you don't have to be clairvoyant to foresee that the Nikon's least expensive DSLR needed an update. The D40, which held this position for over two and a half years (an impressive feat in such a fast-moving market segment) is finally disappearing from the shelves to begin building up 'classic' status among the million-plus users for whom it represented their first DSLR experience. Even the more recent the D60 has been on the market for more than 18 months (having itself been little more than a position-clarifying rebadging of the D40X introduced in March 2007) and has only just been jostled out of its position by the D5000. Despite this combined age and what now look like fairly modest feature sets, their combination of small size, big name, low prices and top-notch usability have seen both products become a huge hit for Nikon (D60 remains one of the top selling DSLRs in most markets).

This success has clearly left Nikon with two choices - match the best specified cameras in the sector and face reduced profit margins and risk undermining D5000 sales, or refresh the existing models enough to ensure that your least expensive DSLR can be sold at a competitive price without cutting too deeply into margins.

You can divine Nikon's chosen path from the specifications that appear to show D3000 has more in common with the D60 than the D5000. With the discontinuation of the D40, the D3000 will sit as the company's least expensive DSLR.

Nikon D3000 Key Features

  • 10.2 effective megapixel DX-format CCD sensor (total pixels: 10.7 million)
  • 3.0" LCD monitor (230,000 dots)
  • Image sensor cleaning (sensor shake)
  • 11 AF points (with 3D tracking)
  • IS0 100-1600 range (3200 expanded)
  • 3 frames per second continuous shooting (buffer: 7 RAW, 25 JPEG fine, 100 JPEG Normal)
  • Expeed image processing
  • Picture Styles - image parameters consistent with all current Nikon DSLRs
  • 'Miniature effect' mock-tilt/shift effect as retouch option
  • Higher capacity battery from D5000
  • 72 thumbnail and calendar view in playback

Nikon D3000 vs D60: Key Differences

The D3000 marks a fairly subtle upgrade to the aging but successful D60. Here are the stand-out specification differences:

  • Guide mode
  • 11 AF points (MultiCAM 1000 autofocus system)
  • 3D AF tracking
  • 3.0 inch LCD (vs 2.7inch LCD in D60 - both 230,000 dots)

Compared to the Nikon D5000 and D60: major feature and specification differences

As you can see from the table below the D3000 has much more in common with the D60 than the D5000.

 

Nikon D3000

Nikon D5000

Nikon D60
Sensor • 10.2 million effective pixels
• 23.6 x 15.8 mm CCD (DX format)
• 12.3 million effective pixels
• 23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS (DX format)
• 10.2 million effective pixels
• 23.6 x 15.8 mm CCD (DX format)
Image sizes • 3872 x 2592 (10.0 MP)
• 2896 x 1944
• 1936 x 1296
• 4,288 x 2,848 (12 MP)
• 3,216 x 2,136
• 2,144 x 1,424
• 3872 x 2592 (10.0 MP)
• 2896 x 1944
• 1936 x 1296
Sensor cleaning • Image Sensor Cleaning
• Airflow control system
• Image Dust Off reference data (optional Capture NX 2 software required)
• Image Sensor Cleaning
• Airflow control system
• Image Dust Off reference data (optional Capture NX 2 software required)

• Image Sensor Cleaning
• Airflow control system
• Image Dust Off reference data (optional Capture NX 2 software required)

Autofocus • 11 area TTL
• Nikon Multi-CAM1000
• 11 area TTL
• Nikon Multi-CAM1000
• 3 area TTL
• Nikon Multi-CAM530
In-body focus motor • No • No • No
AF area modes • Single point
• Dynamic area
• Auto area
• 3D Tracking (11-points)
• Single point
• Dynamic area
• Auto area
• 3D Tracking (11-points)
• Single point
• Dynamic area
• Auto area (closest subject priority)
Live view AF modes N/A • Face priority
• Wide area
• Normal area
• Subject tracking
N/A
Sensitivity

• ISO 100 - 1600
• Up to ISO 3200 with boost

• ISO 200 - 3200
• ISO 100-6400 with boost

• ISO 100 - 1600
• Up to ISO 3200 with boost

Continuous • 3 fps
• 4 fps
• 63 / 11 frames (Fine JPEG / RAW)
• 3 fps
• 100 / 9 frames (Fine JPEG / RAW)
Viewfinder type • Pentamirror • Pentamirror • Pentamirror
Viewfinder magnification • 0.8x • 0.78x • 0.8x
Viewfinder Frame coverage • Approx. 95% • Approx. 95% • Approx. 95%
LCD monitor

• 3.0" TFT LCD
• 230,000 pixel TFT

• 2.7" TFT LCD
• 230,000 pixel TFT
• Articulated
• 2.5" TFT LCD
• 230,000 pixel TFT
Dimensions 126 x 97 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 in) 127 x 104 x 80 mm (5.0 x 4.1 x 3.1 in) 126 x 94 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
Weight • No battery: 485g (1.1 lb)
• With battery: 536 g (1.2 lb)
• No battery: 560 g (1.2 lb)
• With battery: 611 g (1.3 lb)
• No battery: 471 g (1.0 lb)
• With battery: 522 g (1.2 lb)
Image processing engine • Expeed
• 12 bit
• Expeed
• 12 bit
• Expeed
• 12 bit
Active D-lighting On/Off Can be selected from Auto, Extra high, High, Normal, Low, or Off On/Off
Automatic chromatic aberration correction No Yes No
In-camera retouching

• D-Lighting
• Red-eye reduction
• Trimming
Monochrome & filter effects
• Color balance
• Small picture
• Image overlay
• NEF (RAW) processing
• Quick retouch
• Color outline
• Miniature effect
• Stop-motion movie

• D-Lighting
• Red-eye reduction
• Trimming
Monochrome & filter effects
• Color balance
• Small picture
• Image overlay
• NEF (RAW) processing
• Quick retouch
• Straighten
• Distortion control
• Fisheye
• Color outline
• Perspective control

• D-Lighting
• Red-eye reduction
• Trimming
Monochrome & filter effects
• Color balance
• Small picture
• Image overlay
• NEF (RAW) processing
• Quick retouch
• Straighten
• Distortion control
• Fisheye

Movie mode No Yes No
Live View No Yes No
Bracketing No Yes No

In the hand

The D3000 make look slightly more like the D5000 but its handling is very D60. In common with every Nikon DSLR we can think of, it falls well into your hand and immediately puts the key controls (shutter button, exposure compensation and control dial), directly under your fingers and thumb for quick, comfortable operation.

Guide mode

The most notable addition to the D3000 is the Guide position on the mode dial. This gives access to a simplified shooting system designed specifically with the first-time DSLR user in mind.

When you switch to Guide mode or subsequently press 'menu' you have the choice of shooting, viewing images or changing the setup of the camera. To enter shooting mode you can choose between 'Easy operation' that effectively helps you choose a scene mode or 'Advanced operation' that gives access to shutter or aperture priority modes

The 'Easy operation' mode gives access to the difference scene modes, described by subject matter. Selecting any of these options brings up a screen offering further advice. The 'Advanced' option is used to select either aperture or shutter priority modes with some advice about the necessary settings to achieve your desired results.