Nikon D3100 as a lightweight backup camera?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by laurie_knowlton|3, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. I am a professional fine art photographer, and due to increased physical limitations, i can no longer carry my D700 or even my d90 comfortably on my daily walks. I tried a Canon G12, but the quality of pictures were not close to what I need to sleep at night.
    So i need a lightweight all purpose backup camera to use daily or on longer hikes when physically i get tired easily
    . I am considering the D3100 with a Tamron 28-300 on it (i have used this lens in the past, and while it is nowhere near my Nikon 28-300 on my D700, it is a good, lightweight lens.
    I would love to hear from people that have the D3100 and their experiences before I make my decision. And if anyone has other great suggestions, I'd love to hear them!
  2. If you want small and light in weight without compromise in IQ, you might want to consider a micro 4/3s camera. The Olympus E-PL1 is only a bit bigger than the G12 yet its image quality is comparable to DSLRs.
  3. thanks -- i debated that (i looked at the Panasonic), but that is more money with new lenses needed. Since i have all Nikon mount lenses, i hope to stay in the Nikon line.
  4. Well, with the recent m4/3rds discounts, you could get the camera and a lens for about the same price as a d3100 if you like. For instance, the GF1 were selling for $299 a few days ago. The E-PL1 or Pen 1 with lens is ~500...They would not do your nikon lenses, of course, but they are smaller and lighter than any nikon dslr...
  5. Basically D3100 is better technology than D90, only the ergonomics is suffering and the lack of the motor focus could be a problem for non AF-S lenses. But it should deliver great images in proper hands.
    The only concern I have is with the lens you suppose to use it... First because 28mm is not enough wide on a DX camera... second I doubt that it has a proper resolving power for the modern sensor of D3100. Also if is the old version I think it does not have focus motor so you don't have AF with D3100.
    IMHO you should rather look for a Nikon 16-85 or if the range is too restrictive for you can pick a newer Tamron 18-270 VC eventually the PZD version... This lens is sharp up to 200mm and OK to the end of the range. Only wide open is soft in corners but stopped down is very good. Also the VC from Tamron is at least as good than VR from Nikon and according some reports the new PZD (Piezo Drive focus system) seems to be very good - I have the lens without PZD.
  6. I went through the same process looking for something lighter than my D700 for hiking. I purchase a Sigma DS-1s and did not like using it and sold it. I looked at the Fuji X100 but decided on a D5000 since I can use my Nikkors with it. I don't like the viewfinder but it works as a light weight setup. I wish the D700 was lighter.
  7. By the way, you can use Nikon lenses on the E-PL1 with an inexpensive adapter (manual focus of course).. The results are excellent. Even ISO performance up to 1600 is pretty much equal to the 3100. I use my E-PL1 primary with the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 pancake lens. The results are outstanding (mainly because of the lens). I have 2 other Olympus lenses and they are both very good (one being the kit lens). Since you are not looking for a replacement for your current body, just a lightweight alternative for specific occasions, you may want to reconsider this option.
  8. It is true that the D3100 is about half a pound lighter than the D90 and one and a quarter pounds lighter than the D700.
    But note that the D3100 with a Nikon 28-300mm VR lens is almost 2.9 lbs while a Nikon D700 with a 50mm f/1.8 lens is barely 2.7 lbs. Your Tamron lens is indeed lighter, although you might not like 28mm being your widest angle on a DX sensor. The D3100 with the Tamron lens would be almost exactly 2 lbs. A Nikon D90 with the 35mmf f/1.8 lens is just barely under 2 lbs.
    All told, I'm not sure you loose that much weight from the D90 to the D3100. You could shed a lot more weight by using a small, lightweight prime lens instead. If it's your hand that gets fatigued a short lens will make even more difference than the weight along would indicate as it shortened the lever arm considerably.
    Maybe though changing how you carry the camera would make all the difference? I carry my Nikon D700, 28mm f/1.4 lens, and L-bracket (almost 4 lbs) all the time with a BlackRapid R-Strap. With the load slung across my body, instead of around my neck, in my hand, or hanging off my shoulder, I barely feel the weight.
  9. I have both a D90 and a D3100. I prefer the D3100 because its IQ is as good or better than the D90 and it's smaller and lighter which is important to me. Like you I considered a micro 4/3 system, but wanted to stay with Nikon because of my lenses and flashes. I find the D3100 to be so small and light that I didn't need the micro 4/3.
    I also don't like the 28-300 on an APS-C body because 28mm is not wide enough on it. The new Tamron 18-270 VC PZD is smaller and lighter than the older 18-270 VC which I use and like. I'll consider one when I can get my hands on one. The Sigma 18-250 OS is also worth considering as is the Nikon 16-85 VR and 18-105 VR which I believe is a little lighter.
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    By the way, you can use Nikon lenses on the E-PL1 with an inexpensive adapter (manual focus of course).. The results are excellent.​
    The hitch is that if you mount any Nikon F-mount lens intended for FX onto a 4/3 body, there is a 2x so called "crop factor" such that any Nikon lens will work very differently from its original purpose since the angle of view becomes a lot narrower. And of course there is no auto focus any more and also no convenient metering.
    If one wants a light-weight Nikon DSLR, the D3100 should be a good choice now. However, it is always sold with a 18-55 DX zoom as a kit. For a "walk around" lens, something like a 18-105 or 18-200 should be better.
  11. "However, it is always sold with a 18-55 DX zoom as a kit." If you look at a few web-sites, you should be able to find a D3100 body only for sale. I bought one that way as I did not need the VR18-55mm lens.
    The light(er) VR 18-105mm Nikkor lens works well -- making a lighter pair to carry, over the VR 18-200mm Nikkor lens.
  12. I sold the 18-55 VR that came with my D3100 to keh for $79 (if I remember correctly). You could get more selling it on Craig's List.
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Jerry, as far as I know, at least in the US, Nikon USA only provides the D3100 as a kit with the 18-55mm VR DX lens, similar to what they used to do with the D3000. If you check B&H and Adorama, it is clear that you cannot buy the D3100 body only.
    In other words, if you go through the official way, there should be no way that you can buy a new D3100 body only in the US. Perhaps some camera stores are willing to break up the kit and sell the lens to someone else, but I would watch out for gray-market unofficial imports and/or inflated prices. I.e. the dealer only gives you a slight discount from the kit minus the lens and then they sell the lens to someone else at regular prices to make a higher overall profit.
  14. I mostly use a Nikon D60 with the 18-55, 55-200 and the 35/1.8. It is basically the same size & weight as the D3100. It is indeed very light and portable. That's why I use it as I am mainly a travel photographer.
    However, I've just received the Panasonic GH2 with the 14-140 lens. After shooting with that set up for a few days I'm pretty much sold on that. Image IQ under 1000 is pretty amazing and totally usable for your purposes. The 14-140 lens equals a 28-280 in full-frame 35mm terms. I also have the Panasonic 20/1.7 which really makes a nice kit.
    While the Nikon 3100 probably has better IQ at higher ISOs, the fantastic viewfinder in the Panasonic is enough for me to choose it over the Nikon. I rarely shoot at 800 let alone 1600 and up. Plus, the Panny has all the main controls at your fingertips with dedicated buttons instead of having to go into the menus.
    I know you want to stay with Nikon but do pick up and handle the Panasonic if you can. The entire form factor is much smaller than even the small 3100.
  15. Unlike the D60, which I also have, you don't need to go into the menus to change most settings with the D3100. The D3100 has an i button that allows you to change most settings quickly and easily without going into the menus. I actually like it better than the dedicated buttons on my D90 because even after using the D90 for a year, I still forget which button is which. With the D3100 I have the Fn button set for the ISO and the i button handles everything else.
  16. One image = 1,000 words.
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Jerry, you are actually demonstrating my point. The box clearly shows that it is the kit with the 18-55. Some dealers may decide to break up the kit and sell the body and lens separately. Therefore, the question becomes how much you are paying for the body only. Or perhaps some people are better off buying the kit and then sell the lens privately, but that involves some more work.
  18. Mark, the D60 has that feature as well, although they call it something other than i button. It does make it easy, but not as fast as a dedicated button or switch.
  19. Jim, I've had my D60 a couple of years and I didn't know that. Thank you. I took out my D60 and sure enough the button on the bottom in the back of the camera has a little i under it. I tried it and it works just like the D3100. I thought that button just displayed the settings on the LCD screen. I didn't know that it could be used to change the settings. I still use the D60 in situations where a camera could get damaged. Thanks to you I'll be using that little button a lot.
  20. I appreciate what you say Laurie about carrying a heavy camera when on a long walk - an extra 200gms can make all the difference between comfort and agony! I have a D40x which is fine weight wise but lacks a number of features that I would like (sensor cleaning and the ability to take raw and large fine JPEGs at the same time and, of course the high ISO performance is not as good as either the D90 or D3100). The weights (without battery) of the D3100, D40x, D90 and D7000 are, respectively 455g, 495g, 620g and 690g.
    I have been debating whether to get a D7000 or a D3100 and, much as I would like a 100% viewfinder and the ability to meter with my old manual lenses, I have decided that because of the 245g weight difference it has to be the D3100. From what I have read the image quality is as good as the D7000 up to ISO1600 so I doubt if I will regret my decision. My favourite camera shop has just emailed to say that the D3100 is back in stock so I am going to buy mine this afternoon. BTW here in the UK you can buy a D3100 body on its own - and I don't mean as a kit with the lens removed by the store.
    If anyone in the UK who reads this is planning to buy a D3100 my advice is to do so before the end of January because Nikon has a £40 cash back offer which expires on the 31st.

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