Nikon D3100 Review: Is this Entry-Level Camera Worth the Investment?

Learn everything you need to know about the Nikon D3100, including its features, performance, and price point. Discover if this beginner-friendly DSLR camera is the right fit for your photography aspirations.

Written by Victor Chan | Updated: Mon May 01 2023

Nikon D3100 article cover photo

Key Features

Dec 21 2010


14 megapixels


Sensor TypeAPS-C

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Overview of the D3100

Are you in search of a high-quality camera that won't break the bank? Look no further than the Nikon D3100. This entry-level DSLR camera is a favorite among beginners and amateur photographers alike, thanks to its impressive image quality and user-friendly features. In this review, we'll take an in-depth look at everything the Nikon D3100 has to offer, from its intuitive controls to its versatile lens options. Whether you're capturing stunning landscapes or candid portraits, the Nikon D3100 may be the perfect tool to unlock your creative potential.

Nikon D3100 Pros and Cons

Now, we will look more closely at our review of the Nikon D3100 camera. We will see what it can do and compare it to other cameras like it. We will tell you what's good about it and what's not so good. This way, you'll know if it's the camera for you!


High-resolution image sensor (14.2 MP)
HD video capability (1080p)
Fast autofocus system
Large LCD screen (3 inches)
Wide ISO range (100-3200)
Lightweight and compact body
Affordable price point
Compatible with a wide range of lenses


Limited external controls
No built-in autofocus motor
No autofocus during video recording
Limited continuous shooting speed (3fps)
Limited dynamic range
No in-body image stabilization
No microphone input for video recording
Limited battery life

Build and Construction

Body and dimensions

Nikon D3100

Weather sealed
Dimensions124 x 96 x 75mm

Weather Sealing

The Nikon D3100 is not sealed against water and dust, so it's important to be careful when using it in such conditions. If you often shoot in environments with water or dust, it's recommended to check out another camera with weather sealing.

Design and Handling

Main design features

View FinderOptical (pentamirror)
Screen TypeFixed Type
Screen Resolution230k dots
Body typeCompact SLR

Suitable for:

PhotographyAbove Avg.
VideographyAbove Avg.
TravelAbove Avg.

LCD Screen

This camera has a fixed type 3.00" screen, with a display resolution of 230k dots. This makes the Nikon D3100 not as suitable for those looking for a vlogging camera as you cannot view yourself while shooting selfies easily. Unfortunately, the camera does not have a touch screen, which may make it less user-friendly.


D3100 includes a optical (pentamirror) viewfinder with no electronic viewfinder of resolution with a coverage of 95% and a magnification of 0.53x. This feature enhances the camera's suitability for outdoor photography in bright conditions.

Image Quality

Nikon D3100 has a 14MP sized CMOS sensor. You can shoot at maximum resolution of 14 pixels. Nikon D3100 has a native ISO range of 100 - 3200 which can be boosted to null - 12800. It can also save files in RAW format which gives you a wider room for post processing.

Key Features

Dec 21 2010


100 - 3200

ISO Range

Extended ISOnull - 12800
Max resolution4608 x 3072 pixels

DXO Sensor Scores


67 / 102

Color Depth

22.5 / 26.5

Dynamic Range

11.3 / 14.8

Low Light ISO

919 / 4505

DXO mark sensor scores

The DXOmark rankings indicate that the Nikon D3100 camera has above average color depth performance, which refers to the number of colors the sensor can distinguish. Additionally, its dynamic range is also average, allowing it to retain low amounts of details in both bright and dark areas of a scene. The camera's low light ISO performance is poor, which is an important factor to consider if you plan to use it in dimly lit indoor environments or at night. Overall the image quality of the D3100 is average

Crop Factor

Camera crop factor (or focal length multiplier) refers to how a camera's sensor size affects the apparent field of view of a lens. Crop factor is determined by comparing the size of a camera's sensor to that of a full-frame sensor, which is a standard reference size for camera sensors.

Size comparison

Medium FormatFull FrameAPS-C (Sony, Nikon)

Crop factor calculator

Crop factor


Full frame equivalent


This camera: APS-C



Connectivity, storage, battery

Battery Life550 shots
Battery ModelEN-EL14
Wireless Connectivity


The Nikon D3100 supports SD/SDHC/SDXC with 1 slots for storage. This may suffice for everyday use. However, for professional applications such as wedding photography, it is not recommended as a memory card malfunction could lead to the loss of all footage.


The Nikon D3100 uses the EN-EL14 model of battery pack. This is rated for 550 shots shots which is high. If you intend to take photos or record videos for an extended period, it might be a good idea to bring along additional batteries.

Photography Features


The Nikon D3100 has built in flash which is great for event photography and in low light situations. It also offers a flash shoe that allows you to attach external flashes. This provides more versatility in your lighting choices.


The Nikon D3100 boasts a maximum mechanical shutter speed of 1/4000s, which is ideal for shooting fast-moving subjects in bright environments, such as in sports photography. Faster shutter speeds enable you to freeze the action and capture every detail, making it easier to get the perfect shot.

With a continuous mechanical shutter speed of n/a or an electronic shutter speed of n/a, this camera is not capable of capturing the perfect moment more easily, making it not as suited for wedding, sports, and wildlife photography. Higher shutter speeds make it easier to capture fast-paced action, ensuring that you never miss the perfect shot.


The Nikon D3100 includes two autofocus (AF) systems: contrast detection and phase detection, with 11 number of focus points.

While contrast detection is generally more accurate and precise, phase detection autofocus is faster and more effective in most situations, particularly when photographing moving subjects.

Phase detection autofocus works by dividing the incoming light into pairs and then analyzing how they intersect on the camera's sensor. This method allows the camera to determine not only if a subject is in focus but also the direction and distance needed to adjust the focus to achieve perfect sharpness.

On the other hand, contrast detection autofocus works by analyzing the contrast of an image and adjusting the focus until the highest contrast is detected. While this method is very accurate, it can be slow, especially in low light conditions or when photographing moving subjects.

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What is the sensor size of the Nikon D3100?

The Nikon D3100 features a CMOS sensor

Is the Nikon D3100 weather sealed?

No the D3100 does not have weather sealing.

When was the Nikon D3100 announced?

The Nikon D3100 was announced on Dec 21 2010

Does the Nikon D3100 have in-body image stabilization?

No the D3100 does not have in-body image stabilization that can compensate for camera shake, making it easier to shoot handheld in low light conditions.

What is the ISO range of the Nikon D3100?

The D3100 has a native ISO range of 100-3200, which can be expanded to ISO null-12800 for even greater sensitivity in low light conditions.

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