The Nikon Coolpix 3100 we're looking at here is a better specified version of the Coolpix 2100. These type of cameras are aimed at a growing market of people new to digital photography who want an easy to use camera which is reasonably priced and capable of high quality image capture.
Nikon Coolpix 3100 Specifications
* 3x optical Zoom-Nikkor lens
* 256-segment Matrix Metering
* 14 Scene modes
* Compatible with CompactFlash I only
* One touch upload of images
* In-camera cropping
* USB interface
* Takes two AA rechargeable batteries
Handling and Controls
The Coolpix 3100 is one of the more conservative Nikon cameras, in that there is no swiveling LCD or swiveling body. It is however light, very compact and should fit in most jacket pockets. For what is quite a low priced camera, the build quality is good.
Although it is a small digital compact the Coolpix 3100 sits quite comfortably in the hand thanks to an ergonomic design.
The user interface is very simple and well laid out. The main modes the camera offers are selectable through the dial on the top of the body whilst the fourteen scene modes are selectable from an in-camera menu.
Whilst many cheaper digital cameras are slow to operate the Coolpix 3100 flies along. The lens is out in under two seconds and in about four seconds you can take a picture. Switching between images you've taken in the playback mode is fast, as are the in-camera menus.
The LCD is small but it's clear and bright. The viewfinder is basic and doesn't offer any diopter adjustment for spectacle wearers.
Considering the low cost of the Coolpix 3100 the image quality it produces is excellent. In low light when the higher ISOs are automatically selected there is little noise and in better light the lowest ISO provides smooth noise-free images. The 3x optical zoom lens is reasonably versatile and helps the camera to produce sharp images and the macro mode is excellent. There is manual control over the image sharpening performed by the camera, but the automatic setting will be reliable enough for most people's needs.
Colour accuracy is good enough to produce pleasing images and Nikon have been good enough to include a custom white-balance mode, something many manufacturers neglect on their cheaper cameras. Unfortunately there is no manual control over the colour settings in-camera, so if you don't like the default colour levels you'll have to resort to manual editing in a program like Photoshop.