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Gadget Lab

Nikon D3100 with 1080p Video

Nikon’s new SLR, the D3100, is an odd mongrel of a camera. On one side, it is the first Nikon SLR to shoot proper video, dropping the large file sizes and compromised quality of motion JPEG for full 1080p H.264 video in a tasty AVCHD wrapper. It is Nikon’s first SLR with 1080p, putting it ahead of even its high-end models.

But the other half of this update to the D3000 is aimed at the photography doofus. It has auto modes that take care of everything, including a “Guide Mode” which now, according to Nikon’s PR, “shows you sample images of what you can achieve with certain settings, for example if you change the shutter speed or aperture.”

Not to knock a camera that helps you take better pictures, but if you want “perfect quality, without worrying about settings,” then why buy a bulky SLR? Surely a compact camera would be better, especially as most of these cameras will never have the kit lens swapped out anyway.

Still, ditch the auto mode and you have a great camera, with 14.2 megapixels shooting at up to ISO 3200, 11-point autofocus, and that great video again. The camera captures the MOV files at 24 frames-per-second (just like the movies) and has a new auto-focus mode which will track subjects while you shoot.

The D3100 looks like a good improvement on the D3000, and it’s good to see Nikon finally taking video seriously.The camera will be $700 in September.

D3100 [Nikon]