NIKON D3000 DIGITAL SLR CAMERA + 18-55MM VR LENS KIT

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To summarise my opinion of the camera: it's the perfect DSLR for a beginner. That's not just because this is priced at 'entry' level, it's because Nikon have developed this camera with the novice in mind. So often people buy SLRs and never move on from the automatic Program mode. This camera teaches you how to take control of the camera.

Switch the camera dial to "Guide" and three options appear on the 3" LCD screen. "Shoot", "View/Delete" and "Set up". The shoot guide includes three options - "Easy Operation", "Advanced Operation" and "Timers and Remote Control". Choosing one of the options then takes you to a further set of options with choices where the camera not only guides you through making the right settings but it also explains why. For example, in advanced operation you can choose to "Soften Backgrounds". The guide tells you about the Aperture-priority mode and then visually demonstrates what happens when you change the F number with a guidance note telling you to "Choose lower f-numbers to blur the background".

Other modes range from the point-and-shoot modes (Auto where the camera controls everything or the no-flash mode where the camera controls everything but the use of flash), Program (you control things like ISO, flash etc., and the camera controls exposure), Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority, Manual and then a range of preset modes (portrait, landscape, child, sports, close-up and night portrait).

The camera also helps when you haven't got things set up correctly. A "?" flashes in the corner of the LCD screen - press the ? button and a message will pop-up telling you what the problem is i.e. "The subject is too dark, cannot adjust exposure. Use the flash." The information available on the LCD while you take a photograph is excellent and very helpful for getting the settings right.

The kit lens is a good compromise lens for an entry level camera set-up like this. It's quite a slow lens (aperture ranges from f/3.5 to f/5.6 depending on the focal length selected) but the VR (vibration reduction) will help with hand-held shots with slow shutter speeds. If you can afford to get another lens for your camera, I'd definitely recommend the 50mm f/1.4 AF-S as a fabulous fast lens that's relatively inexpensive compared to other lenses. Thanks to a comment left below by it's been pointed out to me that the D3000 will only work with Nikon's new AF-S range of lenses. If you already have a collection of Nikon lenses and are thinking of this camera, check compatibility. Older lenses will still work, but you will have manually focus.

If you are a camera expert looking at this as a lower value choice for casual use such as taking on holiday rather than your more expensive kit - I'd probably look elsewhere. Something like the new Olympus PEN cameras are only slightly more pricey than this and are well worth looking at if you already know your A from your S.

However, for novices at SLR photography, this is a great choice and the perfect place to start learning how to take advantage of all the options and settings that an SLR offers you.
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