questionsdslr noob emergency! how significant is a built…


I should add quickly - I realize I don't need to buy the motorized lenses for for the D3100, but being a noob I'd rather at least my lenses have the option to use auto focus so I don't miss the shot fumbling around trying to focus.

Also, the reason I'm calling it "emergency" is because I probably only have a little while longer to cancel my original order for the D3100 and switch to the T3i (which would be about $200 more expensive)


Sounds a little strange to me. I have a much older Canon Digital Rebel XT. My lenses just have metal contacts on them, and they do auto-focus. There's no gears or anything. I'm not familiar with Nikon at all. Lenses are expensive regardless so I have no idea what's in them.


Basically, (in noob terms, from what I understand) more expensive/sometimes higher end lenses contain motors to make auto focus faster/more accurate.

Lower end cameras don't have a built in motor to move lenses at all, so they need these more expensive lenses to use auto focus at all. In higher end cameras, they have the built in motor so it isn't essential to have a motorized lens, but it is nicer.

Your camera may have this built in motor already, so therefore you don't need the motorized lenses. So really for me it is a question of pay less up front and pay more for lenses or pay more up front to pay less for lenses. But paying less for lenses might just mean I'm getting lesser quality lenses, so maybe its moot to buy a nice camera w/ cheap lenses. See my quandary?


From my understanding of past comparisons back when I too was looking for cameras, it's not a problem wether or not there is a built in focus motor.

The built-in focus motors on the Nikon body itself are made for the older lenses introduced in the past ( I guess like around 10+ years ago) which lacks the automatic motor functions, but all of todays Nikon lenses comes with motors built into the lenses. So unless you're planning to buy old lenses then this is a must have, if not though at least you're compatible with all Nikon lenses if you happen to change your mind.

I think that Nikon is the only one that does this because all Canon lenses that I know of either has motors built it or none completely (probably found in very vintage lenses, but all Canon lenses should have built in motors).


Good luck with your future photography! I hope this helps!

I'd also check out and for basic how-tos.


The difference between AF lenses and AF body (i.e., Nikon versus Canon) is really fundamental to entry-level DSRs and I'm kinda surprised that you didn't run across it while doing research. I faced the same concern when deciding on an entry-level DSR four years ago and chose the Nikon (D60) after doing about a year of research. There are actually significant advantages to having the motor in the lens; I can't recall the details anymore, but they were fairly compelling. While the auto-focus lenses are more expensive than the ones without, be careful when quickly comparing prices on amazon when you aren't sure what you're looking at. Among other details, Nikon-brand lenses are absurdly expensive, but Nikon-compatible lenses of equal quality are 50% of the price. (cont)


(cont) I only have one lens besides the one that came with the kit, and it's a Nikon-compatible that is absolutely fabulous, so don't be afraid of them. The price difference between AF lenses and non-AF lenses is less than you're thinking that it is, and most people with an entry-level DSR use 1-2 lenses; if you're truly using more than that, you need a better body. The other consideration would be if you already own lenses for a SR that you'd like to use with your DSR, in which case you'll want to buy a body compatible with those lenses. The Nikon 3100 is a fabulous entry-level DSR that has received fantastic reviews, especially for people who have never used a SR camera before. I love my D60, but I kinda wish I'd waited a year so I could have purchased the 3100.


Reading a little more to the thread (which I probably should have done)...

I'd check this comparison out

Lenses, in my opinion doesn't matter. Any lenses/bodies combinations could take really, really good pictures. It's really up to the hands of the photographer to make that "appealing" shots.

My current and only camera line up is a Canon XTi and 18-55mm f/3.5-5 kit lens and it still makes very impressionable photos. So it's not really necessary to "upgrade" lenses unless your budget allows it and you also want to "extended" the limits of what your camera is capable of. Which I once was, they call that "pixel peepers" and I strive on having "ultra sharp" photos. I never realized that any camera is capable of this, and not with those who have only high-end gear. It actually depends on how much your "post process" your photos which greatly enhances your shots.

I hope my points are clear and my bad for all the "quotes".


I don't like auto-focus lenses. I don't use them on my DSLR. I like having control of the shot every way possible.


@xarous: You can turn the auto focus off and go full manual whenever you want. If you don't have tons of time to compose a shot the auto can really be a life or photo saver.

@meh3884: You'll be quite happy with the 3100. It's a fantastic camera and once you start experimenting with all the different things it can do you'll be stoked that you paid what is essentially a bargain for a top shelf camera.


@zuiquan: @neuropsychosocial:

Thanks! I did decide to stick with the 3100 and went with a well reviewed Sigma motorized lens as my second lens (so I have the kit 18-55 and a 55-200). I had heard "ok" things about Sigma and Tamron lenses but found it really really depends on which ones you buy. I think this will be a good choice. I just would like to buy lenses decent enough that if and when I do upgrade the body, they will still be nice enough to use.

@xarous: I'm sure as I get better I will like to use manual focus a lot of the time, but while I'm learning and fumbling around I'd like to have the option. Like zuiquan said, it can be turned off and on.


So far only thing i feel lacking is a built in ir sensor for remote shutter, but it was solved with a pretty cheap remote set from amazon.

What you save in size you lose in af motor, the 3100 is a small body dslr.

Its a wonderful starting camera, is has a guide mode that tells you what to do (and does it for you) to get certain results.

Love my d3100!