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Nikon D3000 18-55 review

Nikon D3000 18-55 VR Kit
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £385
inc VAT

Beginner-friendly features, but the D3000 fails to provide efficient controls and competitive image quality


23.6×15.8mm 10.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (27–82.5mm equivalent), 750g

The D3000 is Nikon’s latest entry-level SLR, replacing the D60. A £30 cashback offer (valid until 10 January 2010) makes it one of the cheapest DSLRs currently available. It inherits an 11-point autofocus system from the pricier D90 and D5000 models, which is a marked improvement over the D60’s three-point system. The screen has grown from 2½in to 3in, although its resolution is the same. Little else has changed: it has a 10-megapixel resolution, a 3fps continuous speed and exactly the same layout of controls.

This is a pity, as the D60’s controls were its weakest point. Only exposure compensation, AE/AF lock, flash and self-timer have dedicated buttons, leaving you to access all other controls through the menu. A single-screen quick menu page shows the key settings, which are navigated and adjusted with the five-way pad, but finding a particular setting is harder here than on competing cameras.

ISO speed control is particularly bad, as it’s easy to think you’re adjusting the speed manually when it has been set to Auto elsewhere. The ability to customise the behaviour of the Auto ISO mode is great, but there’s no exposure or white-balance bracketing. What’s more, with no motor built into the body, autofocus won’t work on lots of Nikon lenses. On a more positive note, the body design inherited from the D60 is compact and extremely comfortable to use.

Novices may appreciate the thumbnails that show typical uses for settings, such as a field of flowers for ISO 100 or a piano recital for ISO 1600. Meanwhile, a new Guide option asks questions about the kind of subject you want to shoot in order to choose a suitable scene preset.

Continuous mode lived up to the 3fps quoted speed, although it managed only five shots before slowing to 1fps in RAW mode. The camera felt responsive in normal use, but photos took 1.4 seconds to appear on the screen for review. Flash photography was slower than average, too, at 1.6 seconds between shots.

The D3000 coped well in our outdoor image quality tests. The kit lens captured sharp details into the corners of frames, and colours were smooth and natural. Nikon’s contrast-enhancing technology was more vigorous than most, brightening the darker parts of photos to reveal detail and give subjectively pleasing exposures. High-ISO images were noisier than from Canon’s 1000D, though. Without noise reduction, ISO 1600 shots were grainy. With it, subtle textures were ironed out as well as noise, giving delicate colour variations a cartoon-like appearance up close.

The D3000 is by no means a bad camera, but the benefit of its beginner-friendly features will be short lived. With no live view, cumbersome controls and low-light performance that trails behind that of Canon’s 1000D, there’s little point in choosing it over Canon’s entry-level SLR.

Basic Specifications

CCD effective megapixels10.0 megapixels
CCD size23.6×15.8mm
Viewfinderoptical TTL
LCD screen size3.0in
LCD screen resolution230,000 pixels
Optical zoom3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent27–82.5mm
Image stabilisationoptical, lens based
Maximum image resolution3,872×2,592
Maximum movie resolutionN/A
Movie frame rate at max qualityN/A
File formatsJPEG, RAW


Memory slotSDHC
Mermory suppliednone
Battery type7.2W 1,080mAh Li-ion
Battery Life (tested)550 shots
ConnectivityUSB, composite video
Body materialplastic
AccessoriesUSB and video cables, neck strap

Buying Information


Camera Controls

Exposure modesprogram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed30 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture rangef/3.5-22 (wide), f/5.6-36 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution)100 to 3200
Exposure compensation+/-5 EV
White balanceauto, 12 presets with fine tuning, manual
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness, hue, dynamic range, colour space, noise reduction
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus28cm
Auto-focus modes11-point
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, remote

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Reviews | DSLRs