Nikon D3100 at a glance:

  • 14.2 million effective pixels
  • 3in, 230,000-dot LCD screen
  • 1080p HD video
  • Live View
  • Street price £499 with 18-55mm kit lens

With sales of micro-system cameras (MSCs) increasing, the position of the MSC’s direct competitor, the entry-level DSLR, comes under the spotlight. While Nikon has hinted that it is looking into launching an MSC model, nothing has been announced yet. Instead, the company is continuing with the development of its entry-level DSLRs, with the Nikon D3100 being its latest model. Nikon is hoping to build on the success of its popular predecessor, the D3000, which was released in July 2009. For Nikon, this entry-level DSLR represents the biggest hope in sales, acting as a gateway for the consumer into a more expensive world of DSLR camera bodies and accessories such as lenses and flashguns.

Without becoming embroiled in an argument over MSC versus entry-level DSLRs, it is safe to say that each system has its own benefits. Until now, micro-system cameras tended to have a broader range of features, a more compact body and a slightly higher asking price. While the Nikon D3100 sits below the bigger D5000 as an entry-level camera, its initial RRP of £579 with kit lens is higher than that of the D3000 when it was first released. In fact, it is on a par with the price of many MSCs. This suggests that Nikon is broadening the specification of its entry-level DSLRs to compete with MSCs and lead the way in the DSLR market. These key changes to the specification have probably increased the production costs, and therefore the asking price.

It will be interesting to see whether the performance and new features of the Nikon D3100 will be enough to maintain Nikon’s success in the entry-level DSLR market. We will also see if the company is able to persuade the first-time buyer to part with a few extra pounds and choose to enter the world of the more highly specified DSLR rather than the micro-system camera.

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