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Nikon has announced its new D3100 entry-level SLR camera. While I’m sure there are many small improvements, the obvious and most touted improvement within the release is, of course, a much more robust video support than what we have seen in previous Nikon models. Since we are talking about video, here are my observations…

First, Nikon is supporting both 24 and 30 frames per second at both 720p and 1080p. Bravo Nikon!

Second, length of video file is limited to 10 minutes. I don’t really understand why these camera companies are limiting the record time so drastically. My two working theories are that they’re either trying to protect the sensor from overheating or trying to avoid high tariffs in the European Union related to video cameras. In the end, the record length should be a function of the memory card, not the camera.

Third, one thing I want to test, if I get my hands on one of these cameras, is the quality of the video that is coming out of the HDMI connection. Is it compressed? Will it output the video without any of the interface overlaid? And will it output a legal 1080p or 720p signal?

Obviously, an uncompressed signal that is truly 1080p or 720p (showing the entire image) would be exciting and would probably persuade me, even as a Canon user, to consider buying one of these cameras just for those capabilities. Without that, this camera should make Nikon users happy, create more of a competition for Canon’s entry-level SLRs, but it doesn’t really break any new ground except to show the trajectory of all cameras, at every level, enjoying HD video capabilities. Of course, I’ve come to believe that’s exactly what these camera companies are committed to… giving us just enough to buy but not enough to really be excited about.

So? What do you think? Are you thinking about getting this camera? Are you shooting video on your SLR now? Let us know in the forums!

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