Camera Review - Nikon D3100

I've never done a camera review on the blog before, but when I got my hands on the Nikon D3100, I felt compelled to give it a shout out.

With the temporary assistant I've got coming to do some of my PR work, one of my prioritiies was to make sure she was getting usable shots when she went on location. Since I've been using my D90 (and my D80 before that) as my work camera for almost three years, I've become pretty spoiled with high resolution shots and great shutter speed as well as the ability to shoot in low light, etc. And while I like the new PR assistant, I'm not handing my camera off to anyone. So I told my boss it was time to pony up and buy an really good agency camera or wrestle with bad shots that other people take. He agreed.

After significant research, I decided the D3100 met my requirements. Being easy enough that someone used to a point and shoot camera wouldn't be intimidated by it, being versatile enough to shoot in a variety of environments when out in the field and being in the range of our non profit budget including camera and lens.

Some things I really like about the D3100...

As opposed to the small setting screen on the D90, it has an easy to read 3" lcd screen to veiw settings when you turn it on. For the lay person, it tells you what you need to know before you shoot, such as "subject is too dark".

It came with a nifty little beginner's lens, an 18-55 VR G lens. Although the D3100 is not motorized the G lens is and it seems to do a good job of auto focusing with a tiny bit of patience.

The shutter selecter is a switch instead of a button and is easy to read. The mode selection wheel is also well marked, and has this cool option called guide!

The guide mode offers basic tutorials for the new user, but in addition, if you select the shooting option...

...and the advanced mode, the camera will actually walk you through scenarios you might be trying to shoot.

The camera goes on to provide you with additional information regarding setting up your shot!

I've been shooting around the office with the D3100 for about 2 days. Today I switched back to the D90 to take these shots. I'm in no danger of trading my camera for the D3100, but I'm really impressed with this little camera and it's capabilities.

My impression is that this would be a great learning camera for any new photographer. It's smaller and lighter than the D90, and while it has fewer lens options if you're looking for auto focus, it has a full range of shooting capabilities that I think would meet a beginner's needs for quite some time.

Lastly, for those accustomed to the point and shoot, looking through a lens finder is a big adjustment. On the D3100, the live view option for the led screen is extremely responsive with no lag and taking and replaying video was seamless and easy. The battery charger is compact and the camera uses your standard SD or SDHC memory card.

I bought the camera online from B&H camera. It was my first purchase with them and with the shipping discount, I was again able to meet my budget. The camera/lens kit arrived in great condition and I couldn't be happier with their customer service and ease of tracking my shipment.

 Overall, I found the D3100 to be a well engineered entry level DSLR camera. I'm looking forward to seeing what it can do in the hands of a new photographer!

Skywatch Friday

A couple weeks ago I was driving home at dusk and I turned the corner and saw all this color...

I pulled over and shot this remarkably unattractive Port of Seattle building! I hated the look of it in the shot, so I decided to drive a few blocks out of my way and get up on a hill above the next town.

Of course, by then I was losing the color.

Which I guess is a lesson to work with what you have in front of you... at least around sunset!

To see other sky shots from around the world, visit Sky Watch headquarters!  


Skywatch Friday

Today's entry is part of a series of photos I took last week...

This one doesn't really qualify as a sky shot because you can barely see the sky. But I'm in love with the perspective... and the contrast of blue balloon and blue sky.... and the reflection of the sky in the central air heater!

This is another shot taken from up in the balloon that shows part of Puget Sound and a hint of the lovely clouds just behind that tree...

Here's a much better view of the clouds after we came down from the balloon. It seemed like the sky would never end!

For more sky shots from around the world, or to add your own, visit skywatch central!  

Skywatch Friday

Our weather lately has been rather changable... from nice mornings to hail storms; from humid misty mornings to half hearted sprinkles...

Yesterday as I driving to work, I noted clearing and as I looked east toward the mountains... interesting clouds. Then I dropped down into the valley and saw Mt. Rainier....

It seemed like every cloud in the sky contributed to the overall beauty...

To see more sky shots from around the world, or to post your own... Visit Skywatch Central!


Skywatch Friday

I know it's summer but I didn't have my camera this week and as I looked through my library of favorite shots, this one called my name!

My husband took this shot during one of our snowy winter days. I've always loved the glimmer of the setting sun behind the trees.  

To see more sky shots from around the world or to post your own, visit Sky Watch Headquarters!

Skywatch Friday

It's been so hot here the last few days, that it's given me the oppotunity to shoot a hazy summer sky early in the year. These were taken down at our pier, a salt water part on Puget Sound which has rocky beaches instead of sandy...

This is the fishing pier by the marina. You can see the silhouette of the Olympic Mountains in the background. Underneath the pier, you can see a wind surfer...

There he is!


The beach, the surfers and the people seeking an escape from the high temperatures....

All under the heated, hazy sky...

For other pictures of skies from around the world, visit Sky Watch Central. Don't forget to post your own shots!  

My World

From my on ramp onto the freeway each day as I go to work...


Well.... the mountain is there each day.... but it requires a reasonably clear day to view Mt. Rainier...

As much as I hope the mountain will be out as I hit my blinker and enter the on ramp, I wonder what face it will wear today... The top hat cloud... the clouds at the base... lenticular clouds.... utterly clear...too hazy to see? It's a mystery that I never grow tire of.

That's my world To see photos from around the world, visit My World Headquarters

Yard update

The first shot is of the back...


But it doesn't do it justice. Look at these close ups...

These blue Lithodoras are huge!

And the rosemary and Helianthimum have totally taken over the corner.


The view of where we planted the trees... (It doesn't look like it, but those Cypress are 6 feet tall. TOG and I worked hard to drag them up the rockery!) After 3 years of fighting blackberries (the builder rototilled them under and every chunk of vine sprouted) the top is finally bare. We're working on leveling it out and deciding between planting drought resistant or trying to route water up there....


The front.... everything grew well and we now have a path leading back to the lair of the Brute Squad!

Sorry... had to sneak in a shot of the columbine!

I'm open to ideas on what to put up top in the back...

AG out! 

Skywatch Friday

This little gem comes from a photo shoot in Victoria, BC two years ago on New Years Eve, when I first got my camera. I didn't realize at the time how lucky I was to capture a shot like this with such a low skill level!


Visit the Sky Watch Headquarters to see amazing skies from around the world!



Lens Play

Before I fell asleep last night, I decided to play with my lenses a little. My victim subject? Some flowers K2 brought home...

Above: The portrait lens... complete with Bokeh. Even in the middle of the lily. Which smells terrific by the way!

Then I popped the telephoto on and zeroed in on this rose. Not the same quality as imom's macro, but I like the detail. And the bokeh!

Have a happy day!