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Nikon D3000 User's Guide:

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Nikon D3000

Top, Nikon D3000. enlarge. I'd get it at Adorama Ritz, Amazon or Calumet. Using these links to get yours is what helps me keep working on this site for free. Thanks! Ken.


September 2009     Top of D3000 User's Guide     Nikon D3000 Review

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Top Controls        top of page

Controls:    Top     Rear       Side

Ritz Camera


I personally buy from Ritz, Adorama and Amazon. I can't vouch for any other ads.


Want free live phone support? In the USA, call (800) NIKON-UX, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


Exposure Mode Selector KnobNikon D3000

Top, Nikon D3000. enlarge.

Spin it to select among P, S, A and M exposure modes. I ignore the green AUTO and all the other modes.

Many of the menu options are shown only in the P, S, A and M exposure modes.


P: Program Automatic Exposure Mode

I use "P" for program auto exposure. In this mode the camera chooses the f/stop and shutter speed for you.

It's easy to get to any aperture or shutter speed you prefer in this mode: simply move the rear dial to shift them. This selects alternate combinations of f/stops and shutter speeds which give the same exposure. Nikon calls this "Program Shift." A *P symbol appears on the bottom left of the viewfinder, to the left of the shutter speed.

Three easy ways to return to the standard program combination are to:

1.) flip to a different mode and back to P, or

2.) turn the D3000 off and back on, or

The viewfinder's P* symbol goes away when you've returned to the standard combinations.

The standard combinations are f/4 at 1/60, f/5.6 @ 1/125, f/8 @ 1/250, f/11 @ 1/500, etc.

A shifted set might use f/4 @ 1/1,000, f/8 @ 1/500 or might use f/4 @ 1/2, f/5.6 @ 1 sec, etc. Don't worry, just flick the rear dial until you get the combination you prefer.


A, S and M Modes

If you want to use only one aperture or only one shutter speed, then use S or A mode.

The camera will automatically pick the other value. I never use these; I shift the program instead.

If you want to set both the hard way, use M, manual, mode.

In A or S mode you can only set one of the two values because the camera is setting the other one for you.


A Mode: Aperture Priority

In A mode you choose the Aperture and the D3000 chooses the shutter speed.


S Mode: Shutter Priority

In S mode you set the Shutter and the D3000 sets the aperture.

If the D3000 runs out of available apertures you easily can get under or over exposure in S mode: watch that the D3000 can select a correct aperture for your lighting.


M Mode: Manual Exposure

You have to set everything the hard way.

No one uses this mode except in complex conditions. Ignore old-timers who tell you you need Manual mode; they say that because that's the only mode cameras had back in the 1950s.

I look at the LCD to check exposure after I shoot a picture. You can use the bar graph in the finder - but why? If you wanted to do that, use another mode and let the D3000 do the setting for you.

The rear dial sets the shutter speed in manual exposure. To set the aperture, hold the +/- (*) (diaphragm) button near the shutter and turn the dial.

Firmware Defect: When turned ON, Auto ISO remains active in Manual mode. I always turn off AUTO ISO when I enter Manual Mode, otherwise Auto ISO changes the ISO and ruins whatever you were hoping to accomplish with manual exposure mode.


OFF, ON and Shutter Release Button

Leave it ON unless you're putting it away. It draws no more power in ON than OFF. OFF is a lock to prevent accidental operation.


+/- and Diaphragm (*) Button

Nikon D3000

Top, Nikon D3000. enlarge.

This button is on the lower right of the shutter button.

In manual exposure mode, hold this and turn the rear dial to change the aperture.

In every other mode, hold it and turn the rear dial to change the exposure compensation (brightness).

This exposure compensation button is very important. This button makes the photos lighter or darker. + is lighter, and - is darker.

This only affects photos as you take them. Use whatever setting looks best to you; there is no correct setting.

Flash exposure is Nikon's usual perfection. You can change it's brightness along with the flash button.

HINT: You can see the + or minus value displayed in the finder as well as the rear LCD, so you can adjust this without taking your eye from the finder. The finder display only reads the value when the button is pressed, otherwise those digits read exposures remaining.


INFO button

Tap this to wake up the D3000 and show you what's going on with your settings on the LCD. Tap it again to turn off the LCD.

To change the settings, you also may tap the rear < i > and Green Dot button.


Rear Controls   top of page

Controls:    Top     Rear       Side

Nikon D3000 Rear Panel

Nikon D3000 Rear. enlarge.

From top left to bottom right:


[>] (Play) Button

This plays an image, or stops playing an image.

You don't need this often, since the LCD turns off the instant you tap the shutter button, and if you set Image Review ON (MENU > PLAY > Image review > ON > OK) it plays automatically after each shot.

With Image Review ON, you can do anything and everything to the image immediately after shooting without having to press Play. Want to zoom, scroll, or see other images? Just move the appropriate controls.

The D3000 has a defect where the dial is ignored during review. If you want to change t other images right after taking one, first tap the left or right button, then the dial works to let you move to other images.


MENU Button

This gets you into the menus, as explained at the many menu pages below.

You set almost everything about the D3000 here.

You also can set many shooting parameters with the < i > Button and Fn Button. They are different ways of setting the same things.


Minifying Glass / ? / Checkerboard Button

If playing, it reduces the images to fit 2 x 2, 3 x 3, or a bunchload of images on the screen. If the image was zoomed, it zooms out.

If working in the menus, often this button will give more information about the setting at hand.

If the "?" is flashing in the bottom right of the viewfinder, that means you have a message waiting from your D3000. Press the "?" button and your D3000 will tell you what's on its mind! It's usually telling you to turn on the flash.


< i > / Magnifying Glass Button

If the D3000 is resting (LCD off), the < i > button wakes up the LCD and shows you the shooting info.

If the LCD is in the Info (showing shutter speeds, etc.) mode, press the < i > button to change these settings. Use the Up/Down/Left/Right/OK buttons.

If playing, this button zooms in. Use the up/down/left/right button to scroll around.

TRICK: When zoomed in, flicking the rear dial will go forward/back among other images, all at the same zoom and location. (The Left/Right/Up/Down key still moves around inside the zoomed images.) This makes it easy to see which shots in a sequence are sharp or not. The bad news is that when you delete one that the monitor returns to the default full-image view, and worse, you can't use the dial when the image first pops up after taking a shot.

If you want to select between images as they are zoomed-in right after taking a picture, first press the left or right button to get the D3000 in the mood.

Nikon D3000 Rear Panel

Nikon D3000 Rear. enlarge.

AE-L AF-L / Key Button (Top Right Center)

This can lock the focus and/or exposure or turn on the autofocus.

Press it in playback to lock an image to protect it from deletion. I don't do this: formatting still erases everything, and once these images make it to your computer, you'll have a bear of a time ever deleting them, or emptying them from your trash.

You set what it locks while shooting by:

MENU > WRENCH > Buttons > AE-L/AF-L.

I set mine to AE lock only.


Rear Dial (top right)

Spin this left or right to control most of the D3000's functions.

While shooting, it usually shifts the program.

If you've hit the PLAY button, it steps forward ort back through the images.

If an image pops on the screen right after shooting, a firmware defect prevents this dial from changing to different images until after you're pressed either the left or right button.

This dial does nothing while in the menus.


Up-Down-Left-Right-OK Control

Nikon D3000 Rear Panel

Nikon D3000 Rear. enlarge.

This is the big round five-way thumb switch with OK in the middle.

While playing, this moves among your images (left/right) and the data for them (up/down). I find it more convenient to spin the rear dial to go forward and back; try it.

When playing a zoomed image, it scrolls around the image.

While shooting, it selects among the AF areas if you're in a mode which allows you to select an AF area.

In the menus, it moves around your selections.


Trash Can Button

This is the D3000's flush lever.

Press it while a photo is displayed to erase that photo. You'll get an "are you sure?" screen, and press it again to dump that shot.

Meatheads like me get used to double pressing it every time out of habit, which means I accidentally erase some shots. Serves me right.

It doesn't do anything else. It ignores you if pressed without an image displayed.


Almost Invisible (when off) Green Light

This light should be red, because it means the D3000 is talking to the SD memory card and you must not remove it. If you're dumb enough to yank out the card with the light on, you not only will lose some photos, you may destroy your SD card.

If you have ADR set to ON, this light stays lit for three seconds after every photo!

This normally blinks when the D3000 is turned on or off or wakes up to shoot. It blinks for a moment after each shot to record it to the card. it blinks as you select different playback images as it reads them from the card.

It can stay lit for a minute or more while data gets written, if you insist on shooting a lot of fast sequences in raw.

You may ignore it while shooting. You don't have to wait for it, except to pull out your SD card. The D3000 has a fat buffer to let you shot as fast as you want without having to wait for this light.


Side Controls   top of page

Controls:    Top     Rear       Side

Nikon D3000 Lens Controls

Nikon D3000. Note Focus Mode Switch on 18-55mm VR lens.

+/- Lighting Bolt (Flash) Button

1.) Press once to pop up the built-in flash.

2.) Hold it and the +/- (*) diaphragm button at the same time and spin the rear dial to alter the brightness of the flash for the next shot.

0.0 is normal; I leave it there almost all the time. Only in rare instances do I ever need to adjust it towards the minus side to make the flash darker, or the plus side to make the flash lighter.

This is much easier to do than it sounds; it's quite natural.

3.) Hold it and spin the rear dial to select the flash sync mode. The sync mode is displayed on the lower left of the LCD.

Here are the modes and what they do:


Normal (a lightning bolt, which is the default):

In Program and A exposure modes, the shutter won't stay open longer than 1/60 second.

I always use Normal mode and it looks great.

In this mode you won't get blur indoors, but you may get black backgrounds. The best way to avoid dark backgrounds with the D3000 is to use an external flash like the SB-400 and bounce it off the ceiling (flip it up). I love the look of the bounced SB-400 external flash; you can see a zillion examples at my baby Ryan Rockwell's website.

Unlike other Nikons, the D3000 doesn't have a custom function to choose a longer speed, like 1/8, in P and A exposure modes to lighten backgrounds indoors. You'll have to use S or M mode which takes more work to setup. You can use the Slow Sync mode below, but indoors or at night it often results in foolishly long speeds of up to 30 seconds, which lead to blur.


Red-Eye (bolt and eyeball icon)

I never use this.

It shines an obnoxious light in your subject's eyes for a couple of seconds and then releases the shutter.

If I set this mode by accident it bugs the heck out of me, because the camera doesn't go off until several seconds after I've pressed the shutter, but I have no idea why because I've set no self timer!

It doesn't do much to reduce redeye anyway. Skip this mode.


Red-Eye SLOW (bolt, eye and SLOW icon)

This is the SLOW mode and redeye. I don't use it for the same reason I don't use Redeye.

SLOW (bolt and SLOW icon)

SLOW unlocks the camera in P and A exposure modes to make exposures as long as it wants to in dim light. This way the backgrounds look natural instead of all black.

This mode can be very useful. It lets the shutter stay open as long as it needs to so dim ambient light can expose properly with flash. Of course if it's dark these exposure times can get long. You can get blur from subject motion and camera shake.

In daylight, exposure times are less than 1/60 of a second anyway, so SLOW does the same thing as NORMAL.

Have a look at most issues of National Geographic and you'll see many indoor shots made in this mode. The background exposes correctly, people may be blurred, and a burst of flash freezes them along with the blurry ghost images.

Normal and SLOW do the same thing in S and M exposure modes, since you or the camera may select any shutter speed in these modes regardless of flash sync.

I usually prefer to choose an exact slowest shutter speed in the M or S exposure modes. In SLOW mode and dark conditions the shutter speeds can become too long for comfort.


REAR (bolt and REAR icon)

Normally the flash goes off the instant the shutter opens. With long exposures and blurred ghost images you ordinarily get the ghost streaming out in front of the subject. Think about it: if a car is driving, the flash goers off and freezes it, then the car moves forward. You'll have a ghost image ahead of the car, which usually looks stupid.

Select REAR mode to have the flash go off instead when the shutter closes. Now you'll have motion blurring behind the frozen flash image.

REAR doesn't do anything noticeably different with short exposures.


Fn - Backwards Clock Button

Nikon D3000 Lens Controls

Nikon D3000 with 18-55mm VR lens.

By default, press this to set the self timer.

You can set this to do other things instead.

I prefer to have it give me direct access to White Balance.

To change what it does, press:

MENU > WRENCH > Buttons > ( \' ) / Fn button > select your choice > OK.


Big Button Below "D3000"

This unlocks the lens. Push this straight in and rotate the lens to remove it. It's a bayonet mount.


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