Since the beginning of time (way before colour images showed up in newspapers) I was a professional photographer shooting for money. Now 40 years later I’m trying very hard to become an amateur photographer! Okay I’ll still cash a cheque that’s offered but my passion is to shoot images for the love of taking pictures.
And in that passion I’m not alone. Several of my friends have just bought Nikon D-3000 cameras. Now I don’t review cameras but I thought it might be helpful for me to share with you the best features of the D-3000 and let you know what’s just hype (and trust me in the photography business – especially at some retail stores – it’s all hype).
First let’s get one thing straight: All camera bodies are simply light-tight boxes. Doesn’t matter if it’s the D-3000 (selling for $579 with an 18-55 lens that has vibration reduction – more about that later- at Vistek, where the pros buy their equipment) or a D3s for $5,499 (and that’s just for the body) they’re main function is to keep extraneous light off the sensor. Okay for an extra $5K you do get a bigger sensor and some additional features but you don’t necessarily get better images!!
Where you invest your money (after taking a few inexpensive classes from Peter West Photo) is in your lenses and more the most part you can use the same lenses on your D-3000 as the pros do on their D3s.
So what do you get for your money?
You get the latest in Nikon technology. This camera comes with a 10.2 megapixel DX (cropped) sensor. Is this a good thing? In fact, for most shooting we do, it’s entirely meaningless. For average snapshot (4″X6″) prints or shots for your website or Facebook page 10 megapixels is a huge amount of over kill. A decent point & shoot with a six megapixel sensor will do. So what’s a 10, 12 or bigger megapixel sensor good for? When you’re shooting with more megapixels it will allow you to print BIG prints or crop an important part of your image and blow it up without any adverse affects.
Funny thing is, if you’re like me, I rare do either. In fact, the biggest my home printer can do is a 16″X20″ print which is enormous on my walls and your 10 megapixel sensor can easily output an image of this size. In fact, too many megapixels on a sensor can end up looking more “noisy” (looks like the old grain in film images) than images from a smaller sensor.
Now your D-3000 comes with a modest 18mm (fairly wide on a DX cropped sensor and is the equivalent of 27mm lens on a full-size sensor) to 55mm (slightly longer lens at 85mm equivalent for full-frame) and slow (a “fast” lens like a 35mm f/1.8 lens lets in lots more light for shooting indoors without a flash) at f/3.5 to 5.6 (the lens changes aperture size as it’s zoomed in and out. For most amateur shots this doesn’t matter. Pros would hate it because as the aperture changes so can the colours in the image.).
So is this lens any good? Yes it’s excellent because it covers the sweet spot for most photography from fairly wide (you can shoot three or four of your friends without having to back halfway down the hall and it can be used as a pretty good portrait lens.What it doesn’t do really well is shoot in low light. For that you need a fast lens like the 35mm (sort of normal perspective on the D-3000) f/1.8 (really fast lens that when shot wide open creates a nicely blurred background with your central objects sharply in focus. Cool pro look.) In fact, when asked I recommend buying a fast lens way before buying a telephoto or super-wide. I would also recommend a macro lens as you can always find things to shoot close up.
One other important feature is vibration reduction. Nikon builds VR into its some of its lenses. VR helps to keep the camera shake that results from shooting with slow lens in too little light down to a minimum. It’s not perfect but VR is worth having and this lens has it.
The D-3000 is a small camera. Because it’s small, it’s also light in weight. You’ll appreciate that if you carry your camera around all day. It’s got a big and bright LCD so you can easily see the images you’ve shot.
There are a ton of other features, but overall, I give the D-3000 two thumbs up. It’s a sweet camera that is capable of taking images every bit as good as the best cameras out there. Congratulations.