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April 7th, 2003
Review by Mike Collins

Nikon Coolpix 3100
3x optical Zoom-Nikkor lens and
3.2 effective megapixels with great portability

Introduction, Controls and Scene Modes, Capture and Playback Modes,
Accessories and Specifications, Conclusion and Sample Images

The Nikon Coolpix 3100, is a compact, lightweight digital still camera offering 3.2 effective megapixel resolution. (Ideal for up to 8" x 10" prints). The camera incorporates an ergonomic, easy-grip design providing for comfortable operation. The compact body style fits easily in a pocket for carry-anywhere portability.

The Coolpix 3100 features a 3x optical Zoom-Nikkor lens, offering a focal range equivalent to 38-115mm in the 35mm format. The camera also provides the option of using up to 4x digital zoom (total 12x magnification when combined with 3x optical). The aperture range of the lens is F2.8 - F4.9.

The Coolpix 3100 has an optical viewfinder and a 1.5-in., 110,000-dot, low-temp. polysilicon TFT LCD screen on the back of the camera. The LCD screen offers a live preview in capture mode, and displays recorded images in playback. The LCD screen brightness level can be adjusted depending on viewing conditions. (5 steps)

The Coolpix 3100 incorporates an automatic built-in flash. There are four flash modes available: Auto, Flash On, Flash Off, Red-Eye Reduction. The flash shooting distance range is approximately 0.4 - 3.0m at the wideangle setting and approximately 0.4 - 1.7m at the telephoto setting.

If you need extra flash coverage, the optional Nikon SB-30 Speedlight can be used as a stand alone external flash in wireless mode. The SB-30 Speedlight can also be attached to the Coolpix 3100 with the the optional Nikon SK-9 flash bracket. (The SB-30 flash should be set to Wireless Slave A).

Auto Focus
The Coolpix 3100 employs a TTL auto 5-area autofocus system. In terms of close focusing capability, the Coolpix 3100 offers an exceptional macro close-up mode down to a mere 4cm from your subject.

Additionally, the Coolpix 3100 incorporates a handy "Best Shot Selector" (BSS) mode, which lets you capture sharp handheld exposures at shutter times as long as 1/2 second. Ideal for typical close-up situations where light can be a limiting factor.

Even though the camera does not feature an autofocus (AF) assist light, in our tests the Nikon Coolpix 3100 focused well under a variety of low lighting conditions.

256-segment Matrix Metering and Multi Auto White Balance
The Coolpix 3100 incorporates Nikon's exclusive 256-Segment Matrix metering system (linked to the active AF area), which does a very good job at handling exposure under a variety of different lighting conditions.

When using one of the camera's Scene modes, the camera will automatically employ either center-weighted, spot or spot AF area metering. If desired, exposure compensation can be selected in auto and manual mode (+/- 2 EV in 1/3 step increments).

The camera's adjustable White Balance settings include: Auto, Fine (daylight), Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Speedlight, or Preset (which allows you to manually adjust the white balance).

The ISO sensitivity of the Coolpix 3100 is by default set to approximately 50 ISO (with an Auto gain equal to 100-200 ISO under lower light conditions).

Image Quality/Size
The Coolpix 3100 features new names for setting the desired resolution capture size; High, Normal, PC screen, TV screen. A feature which allows even first-time digital users to envision how they'll use image quality/size.

  • 2048 x 1536 High
  • 2048 x 1536 Normal
  • 1,600 x 1,200 Normal
  • 1024 x 768 PC screen
  • 640 x 480 TV screen
  • The camera stores images to a CompactFlash card (Type I), and a 16MB starter card is packaged with the camera.

    One-touch playback function
    A simple press of the play button activates playback mode, in which the LCD monitor shows the last image captured by the camera -- It's that simple. Another press of the play button returns the camera to shooting mode. In addition, pressing and holding down the play button when the power is off will start the camera in play mode.

    Play Button located on
    the back of the camera

    Transfer Button
    When the camera is connected to a computer via a USB cable, the play button acts as the 'transfer' button enabling automatic transfer of images stored in the camera. Nikon View software must be installed in the computer. Transfer can be set to "on" or "off" in the menu. With the transfer marking function, specific images can be selected independently in the camera and then transferred easily to a computer.

     

    Nikon Coolpix 3100 Major Features

    • 3.2 effective megapixels for 2,048 x 1,536-pixel images

    • 3x optical Zoom-Nikkor lens (equivalent to 38-115mm in 35mm camera format); digital zoom up to 4x magnification (12x when combined with optical zoom)

    • Macro shooting capability as close as 4cm (1.6 in.)

    • AUTO Mode for point-and-shoot operation

    • 14 Scene Modes, including four with Scene Assistance function

    • Four Movie Modes, including movie clips as large as 640 x 480 pixels, or smaller clips in color, B/W or sepia up to 40 seconds long

    • Quick Review allows users to view captured images at the press of a button, even while the camera is in shooting mode

    • Transfer function enables fast upload of selected Coolpix 3100 image data to a computer via a USB connection

    • Small Picture function creates smaller-size image data for e-mail attachments and web applications

    • Date Imprint function adds the date to a picture at the time of shooting

    • Image filters, including B/W, sepia and halo
    • Automatic Noise Reduction function at slow shutter speeds


    • Bright, clear 1.5-in., 110,000-dot, low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD monitor
    • Long battery life of approx. 80 min. with two Rechargeable Ni-MH Batteries EN-MH1
    • (AA size)


    Continuous Shooting

    Continuous shooting is possible at approximately 1.5 frames per second (fps). Multi-shot 16 is a feature where the camera takes 16 consecutive shots and combines them in a single frame. Convenient for analyzing motion, such as a golf swing.

    The Coolpix 3100 features four Movie Modes, (without audio), including one that can record clips as large as 640 x 480 pixels and one that makes 320 x 240-pixel movie clips.

    Movies can be recorded in color, B/W or Sepia mode, and can be as long as 40 seconds. There is also a movie edit feature that allows you to trim the movie clips in the camera.




    Short Courses in Digital Photography

     

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    jonas@digitalreview.ca