Nikon rolls out D300, D3 DSLRs

Nikon on Thursday introduced a new digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera aimed at squarely pros, the D3, and a new DSLR model aimed at professionals and prosumers, the D300. Both cameras are coming in November; the D3 will cost $4999.95, the D300 for $1799.95.

The D300 features a 12.3 megapixel sensor, Nikon’s EXPEED image processing system, a 51-point auto focus system with Nikon “3D Focus Tracking” and two “LiveView” shooting modes that let you fram photos using the built-in 3.0-inch LCD display.

The D300 sports a “Scene Recognition System” that enhances auto focus, auto exposure and auto white balance accuracy. It powers up in 0.13 seconds and shoots with a 45 ms shutter release lag time. It can shoot at up to eight frames per second when using an optional battery pack. It can shoot up to 100 continuous shots at 12.3 megapixel resolution.

The D300’s “Active D-Lighting” mode provides realtime highlight and shadow correction with optimized image contrast. It also uses a new self-cleaning sensor unit that vibrates the optical low-pass filter in front of the image sensor to shake particles free.

The camera itself is made of magnesium alloy and the shutter mechanism is rated at up to 150,000 cycles. The 3.0-inch LCD is sealed behind tempered glass, and the camera uses rubber gaskets and seals to protect the insides from dust and moisture.

Both the D300 and the D3 write to CompactFlash cards, and both connect to a host Mac or PC using USB 2.0.

D3

For pro photographers looking for uncompromising image quality, Nikon has introduced the D3. It features a 12.1 megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor that’s nearly identical to the size of 35mm film. When used with AF-Nikkor lenses, the sensor delivers full 12.1 megapixel resolution at up to nine frames per second.

When used with DX Nikkor lenses, the D3 automatically switches to DX-format mode, using a cropped portion of the sensor to generate 5.1 megapixel resolution images, masking the portion of the viewfinder that will not be photographed, and it boosts speed up to 11 frames per second.

It also employs the Expeed Image Processing System used in the D300 and has an ISO range of 100 to 25,600, with a normal ISO range of 200 to 6400. The D3 sports a new 51-point auto focus system using the 3D Focus Tracking feature and LiveView shooting modes, along with the Scene Recognition System.

The camera’s shutter release time lag is measured at 37 ms and its startup time is about 0.12 seconds. It can shoot up to 64 consecutive frames in JPEG, Normal compression, or 20 or 17 frames in NEF (raw) format, depending on whether it’s set to 12-bit or 14-bit images.

The D3 is also made of magnesium alloy and has a shutter release mechanism tested to 300,000 cycle releases. It uses a 3.0-inch LCD.

In related news, Nikon also introduced a slew of new lenses for its DSLR line, including 14-24mm and 24-70mm wide angle lenses and 400mm, 500mm and 600mm super telephoto lenses. More details are available from Nikon’s Web site.

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