Nikon D3100 Specifications and Key Features with Overview

A summary, as well as a brief explanation of the Nikon D3100 specifications and key features with details, are listed in this article. If you read this article till last, you’ll have a total overview of the Nikon D3100 despite not having the camera in your hands.

Key Features

  •  DX-format
  • 14.2 MP CMOS sensor( 23.1 x 15.4 mm )
  • EXPEED 2 Processor
  • ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 3200. (expandable to ISO 12800)
  • 3-inch LCD screen
  • 230k screen dots
  • 1080p full HD video recording
  • 11 Point focus system
  • Nikon F lens mount
  • Continuous filming at 3 frames per second
  • Beautiful, smooth gradations and accurate color reproduction
  • Excellent performance and reduced blur in low light environments
  • Active D-Lighting – Beautiful light and shade balance
  • Customizing photographs prior to the shooting is referred to as “picture control.”
  • Guide Mode 
  • Scene Modes 
  • Scene Auto Selector
  • Live View and Movie Shooting AF Options
  • For live views and movies, there are AF-area modes.
  • More natural whites with advanced white balance control
  • Built-in pop-up flash 
  • SB-400 is a compact and powerful Speedlight (sold separately)
  • Intelligent operation in any context with the Scene Recognition System
  • Image and video editing features abound 
  • Nikon’s first VR technology
  • Compact and lightweight 
  • Eye-Fi Support
  • New overlay indications for a better view
  • Nikon’s Integrated Dust Reduction System (IDRS)
  • ViewNX 2 software (bundled) – Your imaging toolkit – Smart picture management with a PC [NEW]
  • Expanded creative control with Capture NX 2 software (sold separately)
  • Finishing touch with an intuitive operation.

Replaced: Nikon D3000

Now we’ll discuss the specifications of the Nikon D3100.


TypeSingle-lens reflex digital camera
Release Date2010-12-21
Body TypeCompact DSLR
ProcessorExpeed 2

The D3100 is based on a 14.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, which allows Nikon’s entry-level model to capture not only live view but also Full HD video for the first time. In reality, it was the first Nikon DSLR to capture movies in 1920×1080 resolution. Although it can only record clips up to ten minutes long (owing to a 4GB maximum file size constraint shared by all DSLRs), this is still a significant feature addition at this price point.

Dimensions and Weight

(W x H x D)
Approx. 124 x 96 x 74.5 mm (4.88 x 3.78 x 2.95 in.)
WeightApprox. 505 g/1.11lb./17.81 oz. with battery and memory card
Without a body cap;
Approx. 455 g / 16.04lb. (camera body only)

Nikon D3100 measures 124 x 96 x 74.5 mm (4.88 x 3.78 x 2.95′′) and weighs 505 g (1.11 lb / 17.81 oz). The Nikon D3100 is a relatively light camera for its class, considering the average weight of DSLR-type cameras is 773g. It has a thickness of 75mm, which is average for its class.

The Nikon D3100, as an entry-level DSLR, is designed to be a compact and ultra-lightweight camera, measuring 124x97x74mm and being the smallest DSLR in Nikon’s current line of cameras. If you’ve ever held a large pro-level DSLR like the Nikon D3s, you’ll instantly notice how small this camera is.

Nikon D3100 best features and specifications

The Nikon D3100 is 30 grams lighter than its predecessor, the Nikon D3000, with a weight of only 455 grams without the lens, making it the lightest Nikon DSLR camera. The Nikon D3100 is largely made of plastic, with the exception of the metal lens mount.

Photography Features

Min Shutter Speed30s
Max Mechanical Shutter Speed1/4000s
Continuous Shooting3.0 fps
Shutter PriorityYES
Aperture PriorityYES
Manual Exposure ModeYES
Exposure CompensationYES
Custom White BalanceYES
Image StabilizationNO
Built-in FlashYES
Flash Range12.00 m (at ISO 100)
Max Flash Sync1/200s
Flash ModesAuto, Red-Eye, Slow, Red-Eye Slow, Rear-curtain
External FlashYES
AE BracketingNO
WB BracketingYES

Video Features

Video Resolutions1920 x 1080 (24 fps)
1280 x 720 (30, 25, 24 fps)
640 x 424 (24 fps)
Max Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Video FormatsMPEG-4
Microphone PortNO
Headphone PortNO

Image Sensor

Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Dimension23.1 x 15.4 mm
Sensor Area355.74mm2
Sensor Resolution14MP
Total Pixels14.8 Million
Effective Pixels14.2MP
Dust reduction systemImage sensor cleaning, Airflow Control System, Image Dust Off reference data (optional Capture NX 2 software required)

The more powerful Expeed 2 camera processor, as well as the new 14.2 MP (megapixel) high-resolution camera sensor, are the most interesting new changes for a gearhead like me. By the way, the Nikon D3100 was the first DSLR to include the Expeed 2 processor. 

Although I prefer superior image quality over a bigger pixel count, the rise from 10.2 MP to 14.2 MP is obviously beneficial for landscape and animal photographers like me. Larger prints and additional cropping options are possible with a higher resolution sensor.

In their newer generation DSLRs with higher megapixels, Nikon has been quite effective in keeping high ISO noise levels low while maintaining high image quality standards.

Nikon D3100 DxOMark Sensor Scores

DxOMark is a benchmark that evaluates the image quality of camera sensors scientifically. The picture quality of the Nikon D3100 sensor was assessed by DxO Mark and received a score of 67. The details of their Nikon D3100 analysis may be found here.


ViewfinderEye-level optical pentamirror single-lens reflex viewfinder
Viewfinder frame coverageApprox. 95% horizontal and 95% vertical
MagnificationApprox. 0.8 x (50 mm f/1.4 )
Diopter Adjustment-1.7 to + 0.5
Focusing ScreenType B BriteView Clear Matte Mark VII screen
Reflex MirrorQuick return
Lens ApertureInstant return, electronically controlled

The D3100 includes a built-in Optical (pentamirror) viewfinder, which makes it easier to shoot in bright sunlight and other conditions where using the LCD panel is difficult. The viewfinder has a magnification ratio of 0.53x and a coverage of 95%. Because of the 95 percent coverage, what you see in your viewfinder while shooting may differ somewhat from the final image.

Monitor Screen

Screen TypeFixed
ScreenTechnologyTFT LCD
Screen size3.0 inch ( 7.5 cm)
Screen resolution230k dots
Live viewYES
Touch screenNO

The Nikon D3100 features a Fixed Type 3.00-inch LCD screen with 230k dots of resolution. Both the screen size and resolution meet the requirements for this class.

Unfortunately, the Nikon D3100 lacks a selfie-friendly display.


AutofocusNikon Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection, 11 focus points (including one cross-type sensor)

AF-assist illuminator (range approx. 0.5 to 3m/1 ft. 8 in. to 9 ft. 10 in.)
Detection range-1 to +19 EV (ISO 100, 20°C/68°F)
Lens servoAutofocus (AF): Single-servo AF (AF-S); continuous-servo AF (AF-C); auto AF-S/AF-C selection (AF-A); predictive focus tracking activated automatically according to subject status

Manual focus (MF): Electronic rangefinder can be used
Focus pointCan be selected from 11 focus points
AF-area modeSingle-point AF, dynamic-area AF, auto-area AF, 3D-tracking (11 points)
Focus lockFocus can be locked easily by pressing the shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF) or by pressing the AE-L/AF-L button

A minor drawback is that the Nikon D3100 has an internal focus motor, therefore it will not autofocus with older screw-drive autofocus (AF) lenses. Modern Nikon AF-S, AF-I, and G lenses operate fine, while lenses from the 1980s may not autofocus on the Nikon D3100.

Although the Nikon D3100 lacks a sensor-based image stabilization system, 107 of these lenses include Optical Image Stabilization. Nikon D3100 specifications and key features with details are incomplete without this segment.


AF TouchNO
AF ContinuousYES
AF TrackingYES
AF SelectiveYES
AF CentreNO
AF Multi-viewYES
AF Live viewYES
AF Face DetectionYES
AF Contrast detectionYES
AF Phase-detectionYES
Number of focus points11
Number of cross-focus points 1

The Nikon D3100 has the same 11-point AF system as the Nikon D3000 and Nikon D5000 cameras, with one cross-type sensor in the center, hence AF performance is unchanged.

In summary, the Nikon D3100 works admirably in the daytime, but its autofocus ability may be compromised in low-light situations. If you’re having autofocus issues indoors or in low light, it’s a good idea to focus on the central (cross-type) AF point rather than the 10 surrounding AF points for improved accuracy. Switch the AE-L/AF-L button’s function to “AF-On” and utilize that button to focus and recompose instead if framing and composition become problematic.

However, beware of focusing with a center AF point and then recomposing, as this can cause AF shifts, especially when focusing on surrounding subjects. In terms of metering, the Nikon D3100, like its predecessor, performs an excellent job in most situations, producing rather accurate results.

Video Recording

You may capture films at a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 at 24 frames per second with the Nikon D3100 and save them in MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 codecs. In most instances, the Nikon D3100’s full HD resolution will be enough. However, if you’re looking for the highest-resolution films possible, check out our selection of the Best 4K (Ultra-HD) Cameras.

A Mono microphone and a None speaker are included within the D3100. The Nikon D3100, on the other hand, lacks an external microphone and headphone hookups. Consider or be in a comparable price range if you need a DSLR camera with an external microphone hookup.

MeteringTTL exposure metering using the main image sensor
Metering methodMatrix
Frame size (pixels)and frame rate1,920 x 1,080 (24p): 24 fps (23.976 fps)
1,280 x 720 (30p): 30 fps (29.97 fps)
1,280 x 720 (25p): 25 fps
1,280 x 720 (24p): 24 fps (23.976 fps)
640 x 424 (24p): 24 fps (23.976 fps)
Maximum recording time10 min.
File formatMOV
Video compressionH.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding
Audio recording formatLinear PCM
Audio recording deviceBuilt-in monaural microphone

Although I rarely take video (save for family recordings), the Nikon D3100’s high-definition 1080p video option enticed me to give it a try. Indoors, I took a series of movies of a Taekwondo competition, and the video quality was quite good (see below). Thanks to the new lever on the back of the camera, switching to Live View/Video mode is a breeze, and I much prefer it to the “Lv” button on other Nikon DSLRs.

The disadvantage of shooting video with the D3100 is that it lacks appropriate exposure control while recording video, which means you can’t properly manage your aperture, shutter speed, or ISO while recording a movie. You can adjust the lens aperture before recording the video and lock the exposure by pressing and holding the “AE-L/AF-L” button while recording, but that’s about it.

The frame rate of 1080p is limited to 24fps, whereas 720p is limited to 30fps. When shooting video, the Canon 550D features complete exposure control and can shoot 1080p at 30fps and 720p at 60fps. So, if you’re searching for a DSLR with good video capabilities at a 

similar price point, the Canon 550D is a better option.

Compatible Lenses

Compatible lenses” AF-S and AF-I: All functions supported.
” Type G or D AF NIKKOR without built-in autofocus motor: All functions except autofocus supported. IX NIKKOR lenses not supported.
” Other AF NIKKOR: All functions supported except autofocus and 3D color matrix metering II. Lenses for F3AF are not supported.
” Type D PC NIKKOR: All functions supported except autofocus and some shooting modes.
” AI-P NIKKOR: All functions supported except autofocus and 3D color matrix metering II.
” Non-CPU: Autofocus not supported. Can be used in exposure mode M, but the exposure meter does not function.

The Nikon D3100 uses a Nikon F lens mount, which presently has 316 native lenses available. Nikon F mount not only boasts one of the largest lens selections, but it also has backward compatibility, which means you can use F mount lenses from the 1960s. It is also widely supported by third-party manufacturer lenses.


Image size (pixels)4,608 x 3,072 [L]
3,456 x 2,304 [M]
2,304 x 1,536 [S]
File formatNEF (RAW)

JPEG: JPEG-Baseline compliant with fine (approx. 1:4), normal (approx. 1:8), or basic (approx. 1:16) compression
NEF (RAW) + JPEG: Single photograph recorded in both NEF (RAW) and JPEG formats
Picture Control SystemStandard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape; selected Picture Control can be modified
MediaSD (Secure Digital), SDHC, and SDXC memory cards
File systemDCF (Design Rule for Camera File System) 2.0, DPOF (Digital Print Order Format), Exif 2.21 (Exchangeable Image File Format for Digital Still Cameras), PictBridge

In addition to Secure Digital and SDHC cards, the Nikon D3100 can also record photographs on the most recent SDXC cards. Currently, available 64GB SDXC cards may give twice the storage of 32GB SDHC cards, which can only hold 32GB, and the more recent format will ultimately provide much larger capacities. Although physical limitations will keep actual SDXC capacities much below this level for the foreseeable future, the theoretical limit is two terabytes.


TypeElectronically controlled vertical-travel focal-plane Shutter
Speed1/4000 to 30 s in steps of 1/3 EV, Bulb
Flash sync speedX=1/200 s; synchronizes with shutter at 1/200 s or slower

The Nikon D3100 has a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 second and can shoot continuously at a maximum rate of 3 fps.


Release mode(single frame),(continuous),(self-timer),(quiet shutter release)
Frame advance rateUp to 3 fps (manual focus, mode M or S, shutter speed 1/250 s or faster, and also other settings at default values)
Self-timer2 s, 5s, 10 s


MeteringTTL exposure metering using 420-pixel RGB sensor
Metering method” Matrix: 3D color matrix metering II (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other CPU lenses)

Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 8-mm circle in the center of frame

Spot: Meters 3.5-mm circle (about 2.5% of frame) centered on the selected focus point
Range(ISO 100, f/1.4 lens, 20°C/68°F)Matrix or center-weighted metering: 0 to 20 EV

Spot metering: 2 to 20 EV
Exposure meter couplingCPU
Exposure modesAuto modes (auto, auto [flash off]); scene modes (portrait; landscape; child; sports; close up; night portrait);programmed auto with flexible program (P); shutter-priority auto (S); aperture-priority auto (A); manual (M)
Exposure lockLuminosity locked at detected value with AE-L/AF-L button
Exposure compensation-5 to +5 EV in increments of 1/3 EV
ISO sensitivity(Recommended Exposure Index)ISO 100 to 3200 in steps of 1 EV; can also be set to approx. 1 EV above ISO 3200 (ISO 6400 equivalent) or approx. 2 EV above ISO 3200 (ISO 12800 equivalent);
Auto ISO sensitivity control is available
Active D-LightingOn, Off

Flash(Built-in and External)

Built-in flashAuto, Portrait, Child, Close up, Night portrait: Auto flash with auto pop-up, S, A, M: Manual pop-up with button release
Guide numberApprox. 12/39, 13/43 with manual flash (m/ft, ISO 100, 20°C/68°F)
Flash controlTTL: i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL flash for digital SLR using 420-pixel RGB sensor are available with built-in flash and SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, or SB-400 (i-TTL balanced fill-flash is available when matrix or center-weighted metering is selected)

Auto aperture: Available with SB-900/SB-800 and CPU lens

Non-TTL auto: Supported flash units include SB-900, SB-800, SB-80DX, SB-28DX, SB-28, SB-27, and SB-22S

Distance-priority manual: Available with SB-900 and SB-800
Flash modeAuto, auto with red-eye reduction, fill-flash, auto slow sync, auto slow sync with red-eye correction, and rear-curtain with slow sync
Flash compensation-3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3 EV
Flash-ready indicatorLights when built-in flash or optional flash units such as SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, or SB-400 is fully charged; blinks for 3 s after flash is fired at full output
Accessory shoeISO 518 hot-shoe with sync and data contacts and safety lock
Nikon Creative LightingSystem (CLS)Advanced Wireless Lighting supported with SB-900, SB-800, or SU-800 as commander; Flash Color Information Communication supported with built-in flash and all CLS-compatible flash units
Sync terminalSync Terminal Adapter AS-15 (available separately)

The D3100 contains a built-in flash as well as a flash shoe for attaching external flashes.

White Balance

White balanceAuto, incandescent, fluorescent (7 types), direct sunlight, flash, cloudy, shade, preset manual, all except preset manual with fine-tuning.

Live View

Lens servo” Autofocus (AF): Single-servo AF (AF-S); full-time-servo AF (AF-F)
” Manual focus (MF)
AF-area modeFace-priority AF, wide-area AF, normal-area AF, subject-tracking AF
AutofocusContrast-detect AF anywhere in frame (camera selects focus point automatically when face-priority AF or subject-tracking AF is selected)
Scene Auto SelectorAvailable in auto and auto (flash off) modes


Playback functionFull-frame and thumbnail (4, 9, or 72 images or calendar) playback with playback zoom, movie playback, slide show, histogram display, highlights, auto image rotation, and image comment (up to 36 characters)


Video outputNTSC, PAL
HDMI outputType C mini-pin HDMI connector
Accessory terminal” Remote cord: MC-DC2 (available separately)” GPS unit: GP-1 (available separately)

Power Source

BatteryOne Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL14
AC adapterAC adapter EH-5a; requires power connector EP-5A (available separately)

Tripod Socket

Tripod socket1/4 in. (ISO 1222)

Operating Environment

Temperature0 to 40°C (32 to 104°F)
HumidityLess than 85% (no condensation)


Supplied accessories(may differ by country or area)Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL14, Battery Charger MH-24, Eyepiece Cap DK-5, Rubber Eyecap DK-20, Camera Strap AN-DC3, Accessory Shoe Cover BS-1, Body Cap BF-1B, ViewNX 2 CD-ROM, Ferrite Core (2 types)

Supported Languages

Supported languagesChinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish

Memory card capacity

The following table shows the approximate number of pictures that can be stored on a 4 GB SanDisk Extreme SDHC card at different image quality and size settings.

Image qualityImage sizeFile size*1No. of images*1Buffer capacity*2
NEF (RAW) +JPEG fine*3L19.8 MB1519
NEF (RAW)12.9 MB22613
JPEG fineLMS6.8 MB3.9 MB1.8 MB4608151700100100100
JPEG normalLMS3.4 MB2.0 MB0.9 MB91415003300100100100
JPEG basicLMS1.7 MB1.0 MB0.5 MB170030006000100100100

1: All figures are rounded to the nearest tenth of a decimal place. The file size varies depending on the situation recorded.

2: At ISO 100, the maximum number of exposures can be saved in the memory buffer.

When noise reduction is turned on, the value drops.

3: Image size is only applicable to JPEG images. It is not possible to adjust the size of NEF (RAW) photographs. The overall file size includes both NEF (RAW) and JPEG photos.

Approved Memory Cards

The D3100 has been tested and approved for use with the following SD memory cards. For movie recording, cards having a write speed of class 6 are recommended. When using cards with slower write rates, recording may come to an abrupt halt.

SD memory cardsSDHC memory cards*2SDXC memory cards*3
SanDisk512 MB、1GB、2GB*14GB、8G, 16GB64GB
Toshiba512 MB、1GB、2GB*14GB、8GB、16GB、32GB64GB
Panasonic512 MB、1GB、2GB*14GB、6GB、8GB、12GB、16GB、32GB48GB、64GB
Platinum II512 MB、1GB、2GB*14GB、8GB
Professional512 MB、1GB、2GB*14GB、8GB、16GB、32GB

*1: Make sure that any card readers or other devices that will be used with the card can handle 2 GB of cards. 

*2: Make sure that any card readers or other devices that will be used with the card can handle 2 GB of cards. 

*3: Verify that any card readers or other devices that will be used with the card are SDXC compatible.


* For information on features, specifications, warranty, and other items, contact the SD card manufacturer.

Nikon cannot guarantee that SD cards not listed above will work. Only cards tested as of July 2010 are eligible. It’s possible that further cards will be totally compatible.


Nikon D3100 specifications and key features with details show that this camera meets the requirements and needs of a beginner photographer. The photo and video quality of the Nikon D3100 bring satisfactory results for new photographers. The price tag of this camera suffices for the features.


Is Nikon D3100 worth buying?

YES. A must-have for every novice or intermediate photographer. The image quality is excellent for the budget, however, it may be much better with higher Nikon models. This camera is insufficiently strong to take clear photographs of stars or the moon.

Does Nikon D3100 have flash?

YES. Although the built-in flash on the D3100 is the most convenient option, you may also use an external flash head. You may configure it to switch off automatically or manually, whether you utilize the built-in flash or an external one.

How long does Nikon D3100 battery last?

CIPA battery life for the Nikon D3100 is about 550 shots with one EN-EL14 battery (in the camera).

Can I connect external mic to Nikon D3100?

No, and the internal one, especially with loud music, is probably fairly nasty. The audio recording quality of the Nikon D3100 isn’t much good.