Nikon D90 vs Nikon D3100
Yesterday I received another email from a reader wanting my advice on whether he should buy the Nikon D90 or the Nikon D3100. I've had a few such emails now, including the one I posted last week... What to Buy... Nikon D90, Canon T2i, or Nikon D3100???
The Nikon D90 is STILL a great DSLR. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it, especially with the low pricing available these days. Despite the Nikon D3100 being two years newer, there are three reasons to buy the Nikon D90 over the D3100.
1) Lenses... the Nikon D90 can shoot with pretty much ALL of the Nikon lenses. Want to use that stellar Nikon 50mm f1.8 AF-D? No problem. Want to use the portrait favourite Nikon 85mm f1.8 AF-D? No problem. Want to go really wide and light? Put the Nikon 20mm f2.8 AF-D on the D90.
You can't use any of the above lens on the Nikon D3100 and get auto focus. It only takes the newer AF-S lenses because it doesn't have an AF motor in the body. This is BIG for me and a lot of people. While I'll be picking up a D3100, it's primarily to use as a prime camera... specifically with my Nikon 50mm f1.4G AF-S. If you want to use non AF-S lenses and don't have another Nikon DSLR like the D90 that will take them, the Nikon D3100 probably isn't for you. Go for the Nikon D90.
2) Monitor... it may not seem like much, but the Nikon D90 has a MUCH better monitor than the Nikon D3100. The D3100 has a 3" monitor with 230,000 dots vs the D90 monitor at 3" and 921,000 dots.
This is HUGE when it comes to viewing your photos and judging sharpness and contrast. I had the Nikon D5000 for a couple months, and it was one of my biggest pet peeves with it. It was no fun to go from the D90's beautiful high resolution to the D5000's low resolution monitor.
The Nikon D90 has the same high resolution monitor found on the Nikon flagships. The Nikon D700, D3s, and D3x all have the same monitor. It's just better, period.
3) Size, weight, and feel... again, this may not seem like much, but the Nikon D90 just feels more professional, more solid, and better in the hands. Of course, it's a personal preference, but it's also one that MANY photographers will agree with.
The D3100 is 4.9"wx3.8"hx2.9"d vs the D90 at 5.2"wx4.1"hx3.0"d. The D3100 weights 16oz (455g) vs the D90 at 22oz (620g). Before you disregard the size, weight, and feel as a minor issue, go to your local camera store and hold both of them (if the D3100 isn't in yet, which it won't be at the time of this post, then compare the D3000 to the D90). See what works for you. A lot of people prefer the size, weight, and feel of the D90.
Of course, there are a few good reasons to buy the Nikon D3100 over the Nikon D90 too! :-)