Review and Opinion – Nikon D3100

I’ve been using Nikon’s “pro-sumer” cameras for the last several years (Nikon D700, Nikon D300) so you might be wondering why I’d choose to buy and review a entry level camera like the Nikon D3100.

First, after teaching a half dozen photography classes I came to realize that I needed to know how to use the cameras of my students. The majority of my clients are using Nikon D3000s, Nikon D5000s, and Nikon D40s. Second, I wanted a camera that was lighter and more compact so I’d be more likely to carry it around with me. The Nikon D3100 was announced about the time these two factors became my focus.

After about 45 days of use, I have to say the Nikon D3100 is a great camera.

Handling: I have large hands and was very concerned the Nikon D3100 wouldn’t feel right. I was wrong. Nikon’s ergonomics it seems, regardless of body size, seems to be a strength. When paired with the Nikon 18-105mm VR lens this is a well handling, compact, lightweight and versatile combination.

Image Quality: I’ve put the 18-105mm on the camera and the results are satisfactory. I’ve put the new 24-120mm VR on the camera and the results are better. And with the 70-200mm VR the images produced by this camera (in normal to bright conditions) will match that of much more expensive camera bodies. Even at ISO 3200 I find the images of the Nikon D3100 to be very clean.

Features: When shooting with the Nikon D3100 I really miss the auto-focus of the Nikon D700. It simply doesn’t compare. Bracketing is missing on the Nikon D3100 and for HDR this is a loss that can be overcome. I wish the camera would command a Nikon wireless off-camera flash. And last week I put the old AF 50mm f/1.8 and it took me a minute to figure out why the lens wouldn’t auto-focus (the Nikon D3100 does not have a autofocus motor for older (non-AF-S) lenses.

Bottom Line: This camera is highly recommended. If you have $600 to spend this will get you a great start. If your budget can withstand the $1800 it will take to get a D7000 and a modest lens, I think the D3100 and a great lens (or two) is a much better value and will yield much better results.

Happy Shooting!


Motorola Cliq Review and First Impressions

Update 11/29/2010

While my Cliq has served me for a year, I will resist buying another Motorola device.  Moto has been promising support for new releases of Android and has miserably failed.  I don’t trust Moto to take care of customers.  The Cliq is badly outdated, painfully slow in comparison to the latest devices available, and overall a disappointment.

I am on the hunt for a new device.  My hope is that Samsung will release a beautiful Android 2.2 device to run on the new Verison 4G LTE network…


Okay, not sure who will read this but here goes at a micro review of the Motorola Cliq.  I’ve had the phone for about 90 minutes.

I have been an iPhone user for almost two years.  I am leaving the iPhone because despite promise after promise, AT&T cannot deliver a quality network.  I drop calls on the major highway running through Seattle all the time.  There is no excuse for this.  And I don’t received calls at my home despite their detailed coverage map indicating that my house is in an area with the best possible coverage.  My wife and kids have experienced excellent T-Mobile coverage at our house.  So for the next 14 days I will be putting the Cliq through it’s paces.

I need a reliable phone experience, full Exchange (business email, contacts, calendar) synchronization, a few apps (amazon, flixster, facebook, maps, weather, stocks, alarm clock, ebay, and…), a music player, a way to view pdf and office documents, and maybe a remote control for my computer (keynote presentations).  Over the next two weeks I will try and make this all happen.

So far I am pleased with call quality.  I am making and receiving calls from my home.  The phone synched perfectly with the bluetooth in my 2010 Subaru Outback, and is currently synchronizing all my Exchange information via the corporate sync application.  I am reading emails, seeing my contacts, and looking at my calendar.

Speaking of the Corporate Sync application.  So far so good.  My company uses Sherweb as our Exchange host.  For my domain/username I only entered my email address.  And for the server name I entered our OWA server name.

About the device itself.  It feels GREAT in my hand.  When the keyboard is out the top row of keys is a little too close to the screen portion of the device.  I have recognized that I have become a very sloppy typer on my iPhone since it corrects so well.  The on-screen keyboard on the Cliq appears to correct typos amazing well as well.

By the way, I find the look and feel of the Cliq experience to be superior to the iPhone so far.  The screen is bright and beautiful and the mechanics of the interface have been completely intuitive.

I’ll probably write more later so come back for more.

– Tom

Another New Website Version

I think I spend too much time re-doing my website.  I sure sign of a guy who can create a site using a few tools but has no design experience.

The idea for this revision is the utmost in simplicity.  The site features four of my favorite photographs, just a touch of text and really redirects anyone who wants more comprehensive information to this blog.  I hope you enjoy it.

Life and Lens Home PageClick on the photo to go to the site!

Cheers!  – Tom

Nikon AF-S 70-300mm VR Mini-Review

Check out this photo.  It is but one of many taken on a beautiful fall day in the Pacific Northwest.  The Curtis High School x-country team had a meet this day, the conditions couldn’t have been better for photography.  Check out my smugmug for more photos.

On this day I was using the wonderfully light and versatile Nikon AF-S 70-300mm VR.  So the mini-review is simple.  Get this lens!  It is sharp, features VR that allows you to shoot sharp photos at a shutter speed up to 4 stops slower than without.  Here is a shot that I have “grundgified” in post-processing.

"Grundgified" Athlete

Now, if you need low light capability you will really need to buck up for faster f/2.8 glass.  But for daylight this is a wonderful lens.

Enjoy – Tom

Fall Leaves

I saw this image on the way to church yesterday.  I’ve been by this corner literally hundreds of times.  But never before has that hydrant look so appealing.  I used Lightroom to boost the saturation just a touch, otherwise this is as I saw it.

Natural Color and Unnatural Hydrant