I was off to a wedding last week and I made sure I took my Nikon D3100 with me. I was determined to capture as many charming moments as possible. Weddings, after all, are joyous and life-affirming occasions and not just for the involved parties. In my experience the spectator can get a great deal out of the spectacle and I don’t just mean a sit-down dinner and a free bar, though they are definitely among the attractions. Last week’s splicing promised to be a luxurious affair with a reception in a sort of country house-cum-castle. It had clearly been planned with the sort of attention to detail that suggested that the bride to be had been trained at the army’s Staff College and would have been able, at a pinch, to plan a repeat of the Normandy landings in 1944. My invitation came with a sheaf of documents and I have read less thorough company prospectuses in advance of a new share issue.
I have by no means always been a keen shutter-bug. In fact for many years I was cynical about the whole affair. All those posed groups, all those jolly instructions to say cheese, or to smile and look natural, and all those disappointing end results. If I was lucky then I emerged on the photograph looking just plain surly. If I was unlucky then – well, there is a photograph of me at a wedding reception that looks uncannily like a police wanted poster. In another I resemble Count Dracula looking for a quick snack. My own attempts to immortalise the moment with a variety of old fashioned cameras were similarly disastrous and a whole legion of decapitated mothers of the bride, out-of-focus maids of honour, blurred grooms, over-exposed dancing uncles and strange shots of people’s feet or the tops of their hats had convinced me that I was not cut out to wield a camera at a wedding, or indeed at any other occasion.
All of that changed when I discovered the Nikon D3100. This has been described often as the best entry level SLR digital camera on the market and I am sure that’s true. I think entry-level is a nice way of saying that it’s idiot-proof, which makes it just right for me. It certainly does take fine pictures, what with its CMOS sensor and its 14.2 effective megapixels and its EXPEED 2 image processing. It also takes a nifty movie, with the auto-focus keeping the subject clear and you can do a spot of editing in the camera. But what I really like about the Nikon D3100 is its good manners. It shows me how to take the picture I want and does not blind me with science or deafen me with jargon in the process.
As I am sure you have guessed, I am talking about the Guide Mode of the Nikon D3100. It has been a blessing to me. Do I want to snap bride and groom outside the church with the background artfully blurred? The camera tells me how to do it, explains how the aperture comes in that this point and suggests that I use a focal lens of less than 80mm. I follow its advice and hey presto – I have actually taken a proper photograph.
The wedding went off a treat, by the way. The bride was beautiful, the groom handsome, the mothers wept and fathers looked proud (and slightly relieved.) I captured it all and the reception and even with a free bar as temptation, my Nikon helped me take some pretty good pictures.
You can rely on a Nikon D3100. It is the best mannered camera I know.
David writes about the changing world of how classic brands continue to offer the same range of successful products decade after decade and survive the ever changing storm in one of the world’s most competitive and fad-focussed consumer markets.