Here are the things that I found are important when considering makes and models...
- SLR (Single Lens Reflex) - Basically, it uses a semi-automatic moving mirror system to allow the viewer to see exactly what will be captured in the photo.
- 14.2 mega-pixel CMOS sensor (to capture images)
- It can record full 1080p HD videos
- It has a wide ISO range (100 - 3200), AKA film speed
- Lower numbers = slower films = need more light = longer exposures
- Higher numbers = faster films = need less light = shorter exposures
- Lithium-ion battery means longer life!
- A friend of mine told me that Nikon is a good company to go with because any lens that works for one camera, will work for a future upgrade. He is using a lens that he originally bought 15 years ago for a film camera, with his new digital.
- Everything I came across said that the D3100 is a perfect camera for young families who want to take beautiful images but don't want to worry about complicated functionality
One negative - I wish you could zoom in on an image using the LCD screen and edit images on the camera (like on most compact digital cameras). To edit images, I have to use software such as Picaso, Picnik, or the Nikon software that came with it...but it is a small price to pay for such great images, plus I can add text, effects and borders this way.
A second negative - It's a nice camera, so I'm nervous to take it hiking, or near water. ...but we'll will take it...I can't wait to in fact. Maybe to Ringing Rocks this weekend?