I bought this DSLR sometime last year, and back then, I was used to using small, compact cameras. But buying Nikon D3100 changed my life, and how I viewed photography.
Recommend this product?
I still use the Nikon D3100 for my family trips and vacations, but I also use it for artistic use. The 14.2 MP is great, as I can print out large photos without worrying about compromising photo quality. But if you want to print huge pictures, I would recommend a higher MP count.
For those who are new to DSLR market: The reason DSLRs take much better pictures than compact cameras, even if the compacts have a higher MP count, is because DSLRs have a much larger sensor. A larger sensor means, more light absorbed,which makes the photo less grainy.
The Nikon D3100 kit I bought included the kit lense 18-55mm, and I'll say it is a very nice lens. It's sturdy, and it gets the job done. Don't expect huge magnifications, however. But I'm not saying it can only zoom in a little; it zooms in enough for everyday purposes.
Bringing up lenses, let's talk about lens investment. If you are going to invest in a higher quality, higher magnification, higher priced lens, I would first think about a better camera. While the Nikon D3100 is a wonderful DSLR, it is still an entry camera to the huge DLSR market. But this is my opnion, of course, and if you have some Nikon D3100 lenses laying around, try them out. Make sure they are compatible, as many pro lenses in Nikon will not work with the Nikon D3100 due to the automatic focus mechanism difference.
The camera itself is sturdy, maybe a little plasticky then other pro cameras, but it has a durable feel and a hefty weight.
Display: I was a little disappointed with the display, mainly because it has a lower resolution display than other similar DSLRS, like the Canon T3i. While it may not be a big deal, when you look at photos, I'm surprised by the blur present when I view them on the computer. This is because the low resolution display isn't sharp enough to show the blur.
Movie mode: The D3100 has a clever live view switch mechanism, and the movie mode is a nice addition. It records high quality, beautiful videos. But the full-time auto focus feature makes squeaking noises when it tries to focus. And something very important to me, it doesn't have a microphone input jack, unlike its competitor, the Canon T2i. But for some, the movie mode won't matter.
Overall, the Nikon D3100 is a beautiful camera that takes crisp, wonderful photos. I would highly recommend this to my friends and family members, and although it does have some drawbacks, they are still minor. I would like to remind you though, all DSLRs will have two main drawbacks vs. compact point-and-shoots: Size and weight. These two really became noticeable for me, but it was not affecting me that much. The more I used it, the more I got used to it. As long as you have a small camera bag to carry it, you are good to go.