A few years back, Nikon introduced the D40—its first compact DSLR. It was received with critical acclaim as an excellent entry-level camera for consumers seeking a trauma-free transition from the limitations of point-and-shoot digital cameras. Over time, the D40 was supplanted by the D40x, which was followed by the D60. Each of these cameras was an improvement over its respective predecessor in terms of pixel count, performance and imaging features.
The D3000 is Nikon's entry-level DSLR, and like its forbears, it delivers a lot of bang for the buck and makes for an easy transition vehicle for point-and-shooters looking to step up to a full-size camera, interchangeable lenses, advanced pro-like features and all.
The D3000 is designed to be an easy-to-use transitional camera that can be operated in a variety of modes from downright simple to fully manual. The menus incorporate large icons and easy-to-decipher symbols and numbers. A new Guide mode all but holds your hand as you take pictures. By setting the top command dial to Guide mode, the camera's 3-inch (230,000-dot) LCD brings up Shooting, Viewing & Deleting, and Set-up menus that offer you choices of basic or advanced options for a variety of modes, along with clear explanations of each function.
At any point you can activate the Help button located on the rear lower-left corner of the camera body, which offers a simple but detailed explanation of whatever mode in which the camera is currently set.
This doesn't mean the D3000 isn't a serious shooting machine—it also features many of the same shooting modes found on Nikon's pro DSLRs. The difference is that the D3000 offers you (and anybody else using your camera) the choice to shoot in whatever mode is most comfortable or understandable.
The D3000 is wrapped around a 10.2 DX (APS-C) format CCD imaging sensor, which captures images in the form of three levels of JPEG compression, NEF (RAW), or a combination of the two. A Nikon EXPEED image processor digests captured data and quickly turns it into sharp image files containing faithful color and smooth tonal transitions.
An 11-point autofocus system works in conjunction with a 420-pixel RGB Scene Recognition System to ensure sharp imagery, while Nikon's D-Lighting feature ensures detail in shadows, highlights and mid-tones alike. To help keep post-capture retouching to a minimum, the D3000 also contains an Integrated Dust Reduction System that uses sonic vibrations that shake loose dust particles each time you power up and down, along with a special Airflow Control System that redirects dust away from the sensor's low-pass filter.
For opening up the shadows on faces in bright overhead lighting conditions or darker environments, the D3000 features a handy i-TTL pop-up flash, and there's also a hot shoe for times you want to use any of Nikon's more powerful (and versatile) SB-series Speedlights.
The Nikon D3000 comes bundled with an image-stabilized AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens (27–82.5mm equivalent) as well as a 2-lens kit containing the 18–55mm along with a longer 55–200mm f/4-5.6 ED AF-S DX Nikkor zoom lens (82.5–300mm equivalent).
The Nikon D3000 can also be used with Nikon AF-S as well as AF-I optics, and with limited use (not all auto functions will be possible), earlier Nikkor optics (check the manual or Nikon's website for further details).