Nikon D3000 picks up where the D60 left off, but can Nikon repeat its success with the D3000?
Long before compacts could project images and printers could talk to you, Nikon’s D40 stood for something altogether more basic. As the company’s most affordable DSLR, it provided the most tempting reason for people to ditch their compacts and upgrade. Its blend of a small chassis, competent but unintimidating feature set and low price struck a chord with consumers, and as a result it did phenomenally well. After all, two and a half years is quite some time for a DSLR to remain on the market, but Nikon managed to keep both the D40 and its sterling reputation alive for the duration.
It inspired both the D40x and D60 models which followed shortly after, but all three have since been retired. And while Nikon is keen to point out that the model doesn’t technically replace any of these, for all intents and purposes it fills much the same gap.
In keeping with its budget, no-frills credentials, the D3000 doesn’t feature live view or the more recent and more in-vogue facility to record video, but it does at least sweep up other key features that have emerged during the past few years – thus bringing it more in line with other recent DSLRs.
Nikon D3000 review – Features
Nikon D3000 review – sensor
The sensor itself is a 10.2MP CCD chip, as was the case in the previous D40x and D60 models.
APS-C in size it results in a 1.5x focal length magnification factor for mounted lenses, and produces an image in both Raw and JPEG formats.
Sadly, one of the main shortcomings of the D40 has remained, in that the camera doesn’t allow for the simultaneous recording of Raw images and highest-quality JPEGs, only those compressed using the basic option.
Nikon D3000 test – dust reduction
While the D40 had no form of dust reduction, the D3000 takes care of this in two ways; first by a vibrating low-pass filter mechanism to shake off dust particles, and also using Nikon’s Airflow Control system which first appeared on the D60.
This latter technology uses the movement of the mirror to push dust downwards onto an adhesive strip, away from the low-pass filter.
Nikon D3000 review – focusing system
Another improvement comes with the camera’s focusing system. The D60 only featured a trio of focusing points along the horizontal, but Nikon has graced the D3000 with the Multi-CAM 1000 system with 11 AF points – the central of which being cross type for improved accuracy and speed.
The previously seen 3D tracking option has also been included among the AF area modes to keep moving subjects focused, though the camera follows the D60 in having no built-in focusing motor.
Autofocusing is therefore achieved via the lens’s focusing motor, which again means that certain older Nikon optics and those outside of Nikon’s AF-S and AF-I range will be manual-focus only.
Having said this, partly as a result of the success of Nikon’s previous motorless DSLR bodies, the last few years have seen third-party manufacturers develop a wide range of motorised lenses, which offer full compatibility with the camera.
Nikon D3000 test – lens
The camera comes bundled with a Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 G VR lens, which equates to a focal range of 27-82.5mm on the D3000. With Vibration Reduction built in, Nikon claims the lens offers three stops past the slowest shutter speed that could be otherwise be successfully used.
Nikon D3000 review – scene recognition system
Nikon’s Scene Recognition System, seen on a number of other Nikon DSLRs, uses the camera’s 420-pixel RGB sensor to analyse a scene’s composition, before adjusting the exposure, white balance and autofocus prior to the image being captured.
The sensor allows for matrix, centre-weighted and spot metering of scenes, with exposure compensation available over a range of -/+ 5EV. Sensitivity may be set over a range of ISO 100-1600, and extended to the ISO 3200-equivalent Hi-1 setting if needed, while Active D-lighting may be used to preserve details in highlights and shadows, when shooting in tricky lighting.
Nikon D3000 test – picture control system
In addition to the Scene Recognition System, Nikon’s now-standard Picture Control System comprises six individual colour profiles to suit the subject being shot.
These may be adjusted to taste, in terms of contrast, sharpness and so on, though should you wish to post-process your images in-camera there is a raft of options allowing you to do so. These range from cropping and toning options, to colour balance and Raw processing.
It’s even possible to give images the tilt-shift treatment using the Miniature effect option, while you can also compile a sequence of images into a stop-motion movie, which is saved as an AVI file.