Top of camera controls

The mode dial overhangs the rear of the camera slightly making it relatively easy to change mode, the action of the dial is just stiff enough so as not to suffer accidental change. At the front you can see the power lever and shutter release button. One thing I did keep doing with the Coolpix 3100 was powering it off trying to zoom, the design of the on/off lever is very much like a zoom lever and until you train your mind to use the rear zoom rocker it's easy to keep flicking the power off.

Exposure Modes

Auto mode

Full automatic exposure, you can still control image size & quality, flash mode, macro focus and exposure compensation. This is the camera's point-and-shoot mode.
Manual mode

Essentially identical in operation to Auto mode except that in addition to the settings available in Auto mode you have access to settings such as white balance and sharpening.
Movie Clip

Allows you to record a movie clip (without audio). The 3100 has four different movie clip modes:

 • Small movie (320 x 240, 15 fps, max 40 sec)
 • TV movie (640 x 480, 15 fps, max 20 sec, interlaced*)
 • B/W movie (320 x 240, 15 fps)
 • Sepia movie (320 x 240, 5 fps)

* Although the Coolpix 3100 manual states that this mode is interlaced and thus designed for TV playback we didn't note significant 'tearing' from the interlacing when played back on a computer screen.
SET UP Setup menu

Enters the camera's dedicated setup menu, here you can change settings such as the welcome screen, menu language, date & time, LCD brightness etc. (detailed later in this review)
Scene Exposure

Shoot using one of the Coolpix 3100's pre-programmed Scene Exposure modes, each mode optimizes the camera settings for a particular type of photograph. This includes aperture, flash, white balance, color and exposure. Available scene modes:

 • Party / Indoor
 • Beach / Snow
 • Sunset
 • Dusk / Dawn
 • Night Landscape
 • Close Up
 • Museum
 • Fireworks show
 • Copy
 • Back light

Framing Assist modes

The Coolpix 3100 has a new and unique feature, on the exposure mode dial are four 'Assist' modes. Each of these operates similarly to a scene mode in that they configure the camera with optimum settings for a particular type of shot. However what makes them unique is the ability to select a 'sub-mode' which produces guideline overlays on the live view designed to assist you in framing the subject. Note that each 'sub mode' doesn't just apply the overlay it can also reconfigure the scene exposure settings and focus area.

Portrait Assist

Portrait Assist modes:

 • Portrait (no overlay)
 • Portrait left
 • Portrait right
 • Portrait close-up
 • Portrait couple
 • Portrait figure
Landscape Assist

Landscape Assist modes:

 • Landscape (no overlay, infinity focus)
 • Scenic view (infinity focus)
 • Architecture
 • Group right (large DOF)
 • Group left (large DOF)
Sports Assist

Sports Assist modes:

 • Sports (no overlay, continuous drive)
 • Sport spectator (focus from 3 m cont.)
 • Sport composite (one shot per shutter release, up to 16 small frames on a single image)
Night Portrait Assist

Night Assist modes:

 • Night portrait (no overlay)
 • Portrait left
 • Portrait right
 • Portrait close-up
 • Portrait couple
 • Portrait figure