Conclusion - Pros

  • Small well designed body with ergonomic control layout
  • Very easy to use, simple menus and straightforward features
  • Large number of zoom steps allows very fine adjustment
  • Unique Framing Assist live view overlays
  • Good build quality, solid feel
  • Very good close macro focus (although with softness)
  • Bright LCD monitor with anti-reflective coating
  • No 'clipping of highlights' problem of previous Nikon's
  • Supplied NiMH batteries and charger (European Kit)
  • Hardly any chromatic aberrations or lens shading

Conclusion - Cons

  • Lens soft near corners / edges at maximum aperture
  • No AF Assist lamp (although still a good performance without it)
  • Sometimes slow AF in low light
  • Over saturation of magenta
  • Halo sharpening artifacts visible around black detail
  • Poor night exposure capability
  • Auto white balance should be better
  • Camera buffer too small (only two/three shots)
  • Underexposed flash shots
  • JPEG artifacts visible on smaller size images
  • No manual focus

Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Nikon Coolpix 3100: (3 megapixel compact)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8
Features 7
Image quality 8
Lens / CCD combination 8
Ease of use 8
Value for money 8

The Coolpix 3100 is clearly aimed at the first time buyer who wants a carry everywhere camera but is on a limited budget. And for that the Coolpix 3100 certainly fits, its small compact design is both easy to carry and comfortable (something not easy to pull off). Control layout, menus and usage are very straightforward, the scene modes make it easy to ensure the camera is setup for particular situations and the framing assist feature is an interesting and unique addition.

Image quality is on the whole very good, although there were one or two small issues with lens softness, JPEG artifacts and color saturation. I was also disappointed that Nikon didn't include an AF assist lamp, that the camera had a limited buffer and that it had no creative room to experiment. The 3100 is certainly a capable point-and-shoot digital camera, its major problem at the moment must be the strong Canon PowerShot A70 which at the same price offers more features and slightly better image quality (although is bigger and heavier).


So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, the answer is that everyone has different requirements. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask other questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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