Seriously Impressed with NIKON D3100 Low-Light Capabilities



Photo Details:

LOW Light capabilities of the NIKON D3100.
1/15 sec. @ f/2.8 @ ISO3200, and taken inside with shades closed on cloudy day, in a dark room – NO Flash.

I have not written much lately – just haven’t felt like it.

However, I wanted to share this photo with you (whoever is so kind to visit my blog), to show how capable the NIKON D3100 camera is.

I have never been one to buy into the price of a camera equals the “Photography Skill Level” marketing B%&^-Sh%$ that the camera companies have forced down consumers’s throats.

Not very many things irk me too much, but when I hear this such-and-such camera model is ‘entry-level’ and that one is ‘pro-level’, I kind of want to write notes to people at the camera companies and give my 2-cents worth.  WHEN did the price of a camera designate the skill level of a particular photographer?  I must have missed something…somewhere…

In my mind, someone with a Canon 5D Mark II or Nikon D3x can take ‘crap-photos’ just as easily as someone with a lower cost camera.  The photograph quality is based on the skill of the photographer behind the camera, not exclusively the camera.  In fact, a Pro or Pro/Am Photographer should respectively be able to make a really decent photograph with almost any camera that is placed in their hands.

The biggest differences between the various levels of cameras, based on price, are probably better durability, sometimes weight, and a few extra bells-and-whistles.  Of course, if you plan to shoot in really rough terrain or a war-zone, then by all means, go for something with a metal body.

If photographers are labeled based on the type of camera they like, or wish to use, then damn-it-all:  I guess after taking photographs since I was 12 years old (approx), which has been 33 years now, I guess I have demoted myself to an ‘entry-level’ photographer.  That kind of sucks!  Oh Well.  I don’t mind it too much:  I know who I am and what I am capable of (skill-wise) as a photographer.

I like my NIKON D3100 a lot – Most of the time I shoot in the MIGHTY-‘M’ Mode anyway.  I also use a CANON 420EX Speedlite triggered remotely with my NIKON – AND I KNOW THAT HAS GOT TO BE SOME KIND OF MAJOR SIN!

And, I still use my CANON POWERSHOT A620 for candid street photography.  It’s old, 6 or 7 years old, but it still works GREAT!

But, what do I know…

Do I sound a wee tad-bit cranky today?

Well, here is another shot I took with my D3100 – a tricky photograph to say the least.  Sometimes, the shots that seem straightforward are nothing but difficult to make.  To get this shot so that the flames (which are blue) to show up properly, you really need to have a near exact combination of ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed, White Balance, Color Gel and acceptable Background Material.  And, a steady hand to hold the lighter.

HONEST Brand Lighter - Double Flame Still Life

HONEST Brand Lighter - Double Flame Still Life


  1. I’m thinking of purchasing a Nikon D3100. I’ve read some complaints about the lens it comes with not working well in low light, indoor shots. Do you know of a Nikon lens that is good in those conditions? I don’t have the money for trial and error purchases.


    1. Hello Hope: Thanks for your input. So far, personally, I have had no problems with the Nikon D3100, or the ‘kit’ lens. The lens has performed with quite good reliance. Of course, the lens is not the fastest lens on the market. The only times I have had problems focusing in lower light conditions is when using the “Live View” function of the camera. When that happens, I turn OFF Live View and do the traditional focusing through the viewfinder and the lens and camera are quite quick to respond and focus. Of course, one of the main issues that allows a lens to focus quickly is how “fast” the lens is. A Nikkor f/2.8 lens is going to be much better for low-light conditions, (or for that matter, a Tokina f/2.8, or a Sigma f/2.8, etc.). But, if you have a constant f/2.8, or f/2.0, or f/1.8 lens (as examples), you are likely looking at expensive ‘glass’ – and the cost of the lens will be considerably higher. I cannot make any definite considerations of the quality of the Nikkor kit lens, as you have heard other reports. I can only tell you my own experience with the kit lens. I have used the kit lens with considerable success in lower light conditions. AND, REMEMBER, IF THE LENS IS HAVING TROUBLE FOCUSING, then move the camera mode to one that allows the use of the FOCUS ASSIST LAMP. IF, that is not an option, then, POP UP THE FLASH! That is the other solution in low-light. Use flash photography. Gook luck on your choice.


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  3. Hi Nawfal,
    Basically I agree with you. I just bought the bigger sister, the D5100, and I love it. So far i feel the kit lens 18-55 works just fine. Honestly, i also don’t care too much about those technicalities. I remember handling the expensive Nikon 24-70, to me it was a nightmare, the zooming wasn’t going smoothly. No way I want to use this lens. My reference for my camera is my legendary D2x, a U$5,000 body, but now my €600 D5100 is much better than the pro camera. … and you are right, certain conditions in the field might have different requirements, but there are always ways to work around.
    One advantage of the is small camera is also that i look like a tourist, it doesn’t draw too much attention.
    Hopefully, some of my new images will be on my blog soon.



    1. Hi Ingo!
      Yes, these new NIKON’s are awesome, inconspicuous with a small zoom or prime, and so much lighter on the backbone. An Event Photographer whom I know once let me try his D3S, and it was a monster. So cool, but so heavy, and could never take that around easily or comfortably when wanting to tour the city and take street shots, street portraits, etc. PENTAX had a cool idea a few years ago with the ‘pancake’ lenses, which were really interesting: Very nice. Would be interesting if NIKON would design some reasonably priced pancake lenses of their own – I think they made a few older ‘P’ mount manual focus pancake-style lenses; however, not sure if NIKON has, or will make any for the new DSLR cameras – can always hope. Thanks Ingo. Hope to see some of your new shots from Berlin. There must be a lot of things to photograph there.


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