Nikon D3100 Guide

The Best Nikon D3100 Guide for a Complete Experience

Although significantly old, the one thing that I can tell you about the Nikon D3100 is that this is one of the best cameras for anyone who is just starting out. You do not have to own something that is expensive or something that only the professionals use, especially if you are just starting your photography journey. The Nikon D3100 is more than enough, you can go ahead and chuck on a good lens and you are all good to go.

However, for people who are just getting the hold of this camera, there might be some confusion, especially if you have never really used a DSLR before and this can lead to some confusion. This is not something that one should worry about but hey, being educated about something cannot really be hurtful, right?

That is why in this Nikon D3100 guide, we are going to cover all the aspects of the camera so you can have a much, much better experience and that too, without any issues.

Nikon D3100 Guide

The Best Nikon D3100 Tips and Tricks

Assuming you have already started using the camera, it is safe to say that there is a lot more than meets the eye and this is the case with most of the cameras out there, too. So, if you have been looking at something that is good and works without any issues, the Nikon D3100 tips and tricks section is just for you.

I am going to keep it simple and only talk about things that are easily understandable by most people. The reason behind this is simple, I want to make things easy and accessible for more and more people and there is no better way than this. Let’s get started.

1- Experiment

Considering how this is your first outing with a proper camera that is able to take good photos, I would always suggest that you are experimenting with the camera and the pictures that you are taking. I know it might sound strange but the more experiments that you are going for, the better it is going to help you in ways of developing a photography style.

Again, this is going to take some time but the only way to deal with this is that you are being patient. If you already have a style and understanding, you can skip this altogether but if this is your first time with a camera, experimenting wouldn’t hurt anyone.

Nikon D3100 Sample

2- Shooting in RAW

I do not really think that I need to tell this to anyone but a lot of the time, people forget that shooting in RAW is perhaps one of the most important aspects of photography. Why is it so? Well, when you are shooting in RAW, the camera stores all the information such as exposure, ISO, aperture, and other important factors such as highlights, colors, shadows, and more into the picture’s EXIF data. You can later use a photo editing software and edit the pictures and truly make them your own.

Editing is a whole different thing altogether and you are going to need some practice and lots of patience but tools like Adobe Lightroom are excellent for almost everyone and the best part is that you can always get started with a free version to get things in order.

3- Investing in a Good Lens

I understand that to most people, the importance of a good lens might be lost because they never really had the experience but if you have been planning on taking your photography to the next level, investing in a good lens is definitely an important thing. Now, the reason why I said “investing” rather than purchasing or buying is because cameras and lenses are a lot like investments than something that you juts spend money on.

You see, with a good lens or a camera, you can actually put your money towards something that will make money for you and it is always a great way of getting things in order. I do understand that for many, it might be a complicated situation but it is not really going to be a problem if you are taking care of it the right way. Rest assured; you will not have any issues when you are about to get things in order.

If you have been looking for some good lenses, you can check out my round up of the best lenses for Nikon D3100 and then choose the one that fits your requirements.

Nikon D3100 Shoot

4- A Faster Shutter Speed is Your Friend

Moving further, I will also suggest that you are keeping the shutter speed on the faster side. Why? Well, the simplest reason here is that when you do use a faster shutter speed, you will have a much better experience taking pictures handheld. Not just that, a faster shutter speed will allow you to capture pictures that are without any blur, and you will also be able to catch fast moving subjects with ease.

5- Low ISO is the Way to Go

I know it might sound like a strange statement to some but a suggestion that I always give whenever someone is talking about photography, in general, is that it is better to keep the ISO as low as possible because a higher ISO introduces noise in pictures and that just ruins the photos to a greater degree. Now, the best way of dealing with this situation is to keep your ISO as low as possible to around 100 to 250. You can go higher, sure, but be sure that you are looking at points where your photo is becoming a noisy mess.

6- Wide-Open Aperture

The last tip that I would leave with you is that you should look into keeping a wide-open aperture on the lens. Something in the range of f/1.8 to f/2.8. The reason here is simple, you need to be sure that the lens you have brings as much light as possible to the camera, so you do not have any issues that might come in the way otherwise.

Now, when you are keeping the aperture wide open, you are allowing a lot more light in your lens, this allows you to use a faster shutter speed and be sure that you are keeping the ISO as low as possible. Additionally, a wide-open aperture also brings you the gift of some smooth bokeh, which is something we always appreciate.

Nikon D3100 image

Nikon D3100 Error Press Shutter Release Button Again

Although Nikon cameras are great for almost every use case that one can imagine, they are, at the end of the day, a blend of mechanical and electrical components, and things tend to go wrong, as well. A very common error with the Nikon D3100 is the error press the shutter release button again. This error happens due to a number of reasons and sometimes, completely at random, making it a bit more elusive.

However, there are a few fixes that are posted on various forums and sections that you can check.

1- Stuck Up Mirror

The first thing that can cause the error to take place is a stuck up mirror and while it might sound like a scary thing, because of course, a mirror getting stuck can sound like bad news. It is not as bad as it might sound. If you want to fix the mirror, you need to turn off the camera, and grab a toothpick. Now, hold the release button on the lens and remove it, you will see the camera being stuck, you just have to wedge a small object between the mirror and the shutter curtains and try to pry it off. This should release the mirror and you will be good to go.

However, if this fails, I would suggest you are taking the camera to a repair store.

2- Locked Gears

The second reason and perhaps the most common happens because of locked gears. If you see that the viewfinder is clear and you are still seeing the error, this might be causing the issue. The simplest way to fix it is by turning off the camera, removing the battery, and unscrewing the bottom part of your camera, once you do that, you will see a hole with some visible gears. I would suggest that you spin the gears a few times using a toothpick and apply some lubricant using a toothpick, and then try turning on the camera. This should fix your camera and the error should go away.

Nikon D3100 Sample Image

Nikon D3100 Autofocus Not Working  

The last issue that I am doing to discuss is that a lot of people face issues with the autofocus not working on the Nikon D3100. Considering how modern cameras rely heavily on autofocus, a feature so important not working can only cause issues rather than any solutions and it is important that we are looking into sorting this out properly and the right way.

Below, I am going to mention some of the general issues that could have resulted in the autofocus system not working. Again, this is not a sure way of fixing it because the issue can be something entirely different and you will have to get in touch with someone professional.

1- Changing the Focus Mode

One of the main reasons why the autofocus stops working is because the focus is changed to manual and that is something that happens very often. The best way out of it? Just change the focus back to auto mode and you are all good to go.

2- Back Dial

On the back of the camera, you have to see that the dial is pointed towards the camera icon rather than L. For those who do not know, L stands for lock, just flick this dial back to the camera icon and you are good to go.

3- Checking the AEL/AFL Buttons

I would also suggest that you are checking the AEL/AFL buttons and make sure that you have not locked the focus. Clicking it once will lock the focus, and clicking it twice will unlock the focus.

4- Inspecting the Lens

More often than not, people end up turning the lens to manual and what that does is that ends up overriding the camera system. The best thing that you would be getting access to is being sure that you are inspecting the lens and making sure that the lens is not set to manual.

These are some of the ways to fix the Nikon 311 autofocus and if these do not work, I would highly suggest that you take the camera to a camera professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, if you are just starting out, then the Nikon D3100 serves as an excellent camera for beginners and will work really well.

Keep your ISO as low as possible, shutter speed in the range of 1/100th to 1/500th, and aperture as wide as you can.

The Nikon D3100 is one of the easiest cameras that you can use. You just have to choose a good lens to go with it and the rest will work just fine.


I understand if you have just bought the Nikon D3100 and you are trying to figure out the settings on the camera. DSLR or any other modern camera like the mirrorless camera can be overwhelming for a lot of people and the best way you can deal with such a situation is by looking at all the options you have and then going ahead.

I do understand that things can be confusing but hey, you are looking at a guide that is only going to help make things easier for you once you want to start learning more about the camera you have.

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