Nikon D3100: Everything an SLR should be if you’ve never had one.

I used to hold good photographers in the same high esteem as airline pilots. They, like pilots, had a kind of mystique about them, an aura that made them different to most of us. The sheer ability to create a visual masterpiece in a second, capturing a moment in time for ever, seemed to me to be the work of pure genius.

NikonD3100

Don’t get me wrong, I have a creative brain, and there have been many times when I’ve sensed an opportunity to grab the moment and create digital history, it’s just I’ve never had the right type of equipment to do it justice. I’ve gazed enviously at many a photographer, crouching down and aiming the SLR two handed like a pistol at yet another potential masterpiece and wishing it was me. But of course it would never be me; the sheer plethora of dials, buttons and lenses, aperture time, sensor sensitivity, and all round complexity would have me twiddling for hours instead of snapping my money shot.

It seems that those lovely people at Nikon, clearly hearing of my plight, took pity on me and created the perfect solution, the D3100.

Not only does it look the part with a two handed grip body, a choice of high quality lenses and Nikon’s legendary image making prowess, it also has a whole set of options for first time DSLR users who up to now, have just been content using a compact camera. It is in short, the perfect bridge into the SLR world.

There’s a range of automatic settings for example. Live View with Scene Auto Selector selects the mode that matches your shooting situation; Scene Recognition analyzes the scene and optimizing the camera settings immediately before the shutter is released; and the brilliant Guide Mode will take you step-by-step through the process of just how to capture that perfect picture.  Wonderful, but it gets even better.

The D3100 carries a 14.2 megapixel DX format CMOS image sensor, whilst Nikon’s EXPEED 2 processing engine effectively boosts the ISO (100-3200) capability significantly. So there’s a much lower risk of blurred images when you take pictures of your kids running around the room or poor image quality when you’re outside with the family having an evening get together. And talking of family, it’s also got full HD quality video built in too.

You can view your scenes either through Nikon’s viewfinder which now incorporates an 11 point autofocus system, or via the built in 3 inch LCD colour screen.

Now, show me a sunflower and I’ll show you an award winning image. Bring it on.

Nikon 3100  from £430  www.nikon.com

Round Up: Ricoh CX4, Olympus FE 5050 and Nikon D3100

‘Tis the season to be snap happy, according to camera giants Nikon, Ricoh and Olympus. They’ve all prepared new cameras for launch this Autumn, giving us all plenty of time to master the new lens’ before the annual family Christmas photo-a-thon.

Ricoh CX4

Ricoh

The CX4 is a lot more rounded than Ricoh’s previous compacts – in hardware, software and style.

In the physical realm, the new model is sleeker, slimmer and curvier, complete with a high-power 10.7x optical zoom lens which also offers wide-angle 28-300mm photos.

Thankfully, with such a long-zoom, Ricoh have also improved on the image stabilisation sensor too, promising to reduce shutter-speed by 3.7 EV.

The software has also been improved all round. The camera uses subject-tracking auto-focus to keep whoever you’re aiming at in perfect focus, whether they’re running about or waiting for a portrait.

The camera also boasts a “night landscape multi-shot mode” which takes four exposures and combines them into a single photograph to reduce image noise in low-light photos.

To round-off the new software updates, Ricoh have thrown in a bunch of more fun updates. In the “creative shooting mode” budding photographers can add a soft focus, cross process and toy camera effects.

These picture options may be less impressive than those found in an iPhone with a £1.19 app, but “creative shooting” will be sure to keep the family entertained when a chestnut roasting on the open fire sets the Christmas tree alight, melting the presents and scorching the new Puppy (which, by the way, should never have been wrapped and placed under the tree in the first place).

Olympus Gets Funky with Three New FE cameras

Olympus-fe

This September, Olympus is extending its extensive range of point-and-shot cameras. There will be three new Olympus FE cameras with almost identical names: 5050, 5040 and the 4050.

They’re almost identical on features, too. The 5050 (RRP: £129) has 14 megapixels, 5x wide optical zoom, advanced face detection (up to 16 faces).

It also comes in a range of colours, including (and this is where Olympus spent its “naming things” budget): Starry Silver, Classic Black, Champagne Gold and Dusty Pink.

The 5040 (£119) drops down to 12 megapxiels and can only track 12 faces. It does comes in a slightly different range of colours, though: Starry Silver, Classic Black, Raspberry Red and Copper Orange.

The 4050 (£99) also only has 12 megapixels, drops the optical zoom to 4x, but strangely gains advanced face detection for up to 16 faces – something the 5040 lacks.

And the 4050’s colours? Starry Silver, Classic Black, Wine Red and Pure White.

All three cameras have auto-focus tracking to keep moving subjects in focus, as well as i-Auto to automatically detect the type of photo and change the photo settings accordingly.

Nikon D3100 – DSLR Pictures, Compact Usability

Nikon-D3100

While other companies are content with creating compacts, Nikon like to make their DSLR’s so easy to use that they blast their way into the point-and-shoot market. That’s why the D3100‘s older brother, the D3000, is Europe’s best selling DSLR.

With a 14.2 megapixels, Full HD video and Live View, however, the D3100 looks set to become the new king – especially at just £499 (or £579, if you’d like a lens).

Other features include the 11-point autofocus system, which uses Fulltime servo autofocus to keep subjects in focus without the need to press the shutter button. It also recognises and follows 35 faces at a time – which is great if you have a very big family.

The ultimate weapon in Nikon’s war on compacts, however, is the Guide mode. This gives you step-by-step instructions of how to change the camera settings. Not only does it help you take great pictures but also teaches you which settings were used – so you can develop your photography skills as you go.

Other user-friendly settings includes the ability to preview images for each setting before you take the photo, letting you know what you can expect from the exposure or aperture level before you click the button.