August 2012

Camera Review: Nikon D3100

I mentioned in my last post that I had recently bought a Nikon D3100. It’s a very nice camera, with tons of features that point-and-shoot’s and regular camcorders don’t have, but, like all cameras, it’s not perfect, so I figured I’d do a review on it.

First, picture taking ability: I really like to take pictures, and although that’s not the reason that I bought the D3100, I’ve got to say that Nikon really did a very good job of making photography enjoyable. It has an extremely wide range of options for every aspect of shooting: The shutter speed can be adjusted from 1/4000 of a second up to 30 seconds at a time, and the ISO can be adjusted all the way from 100 to 3200. With that being said though, I haven’t really adjusted too many of the features as I take pictures- the automatic settings are that good!

Everything about using the D3100 feels good, from the way it fits in your hand, to the way that the shutter clicks when it goes off (I know that sounds weird, but you have to try it to know what I mean). While my last camera, a Sony Cybershot, had the same resolution (14 megapixels) as my D3100, the D3100 takes much clearer shots, since, with it’s larger image sensor, it filters our much more noise than any other camera I’ve ever had. This means that you can zoom into the shots that you’ve taken almost 1500% before you begin to notice any graininess in the image. Megapixels sound cool, but once you get above 7 or 8 megapixels you’re better off looking for a camera with a large image sensor or nicer lens options.

As far as the cons for the picture-taking mode go, I haven’t found that many yet, my only complaint being that occasionally the camera will freeze up, and it won’t take a picture, but instead will just keep shifting focus back and forth between the background and foreground. That’s not that big of a deal, as it’s only happened to me 3 times so far, and it can be fixed by switching to a different mode on the camera and switching back, but it has been annoying when it has happened, since you either miss your shot or have your subject get restless from standing still so long. It’s not that big of a deal, but, like I said earlier, no camera is perfect.

I’ve been using for about 3 weeks so far, and have been very impressed with it’s video so far. One of the main things that I like about shooting video is that it is basically the same as snapping a picture. Rather than having a dedicated video mode like many cameras, the D3100 just has a red record button on it’s back, which you can push to record video in whatever mode you happen to be in, which means that it’s much quicker and easier to get nice looking shots. The only annoying thing I’ve found with the video mode so far is that it doesn’t shoot clips longer than 10 minutes, but that’s rarely an issue, unless you were to record an event like a church service, concert, or wedding. For most of what I (and, I assume, most other filmmakers) do, I never need a camera to record for more than a few minutes at a time. If you really wanted to film clips longer than 10 minutes, you could install third-party software on your camera to extend recording time, but, that would void your warranty, so I wouldn’t recommend it, especially since Nikon put the 10 minutes limit on the camera so that it’s CCD wouldn’t overheat.

I’m sure that hardcore photographers and videographers would want something nicer than the D3100, but for it’s price (A kit, which includes a 18-55 mm lens, normally runs between $500 to $650, depending on where and when you buy it), it’s an amazingly capable video and still camera,  and once you buy it, you’ve gotten to the point where you would have to spend an extra thousand dollars or more to get any noticeable improvement in video or picture quality. You also have to think that, if today was 2004 or 2005, you probably couldn’t even buy a camera as nice as the D3100! Once you buy a camera of this quality, you’ll be good for quite a while!

Dry Ice

My dad is an electrical engineer, and he has encouraged and/or shown us how to do all sorts of cool science projects. The latest ones have used a lot of dry ice. I’ve videoed all of the experiments that we did with it- but mainly the ones that make a bang- and I hope that you enjoy watching them. This video is our first video ever to be in 1080p HD, since I just recently bought a Nikon D3100. It’s awesome, and you can look forward to more HD videos coming soon!

Pool Opener 3000

Enjoy! Rachel and I filmed this video almost a month ago, and I just forgot to make it public.

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