I completely missed this yesterday but Nikon announced two new camera bodies and enhancements for two of their most popular lenses.
Let’s start with the new camera bodies, which were already being hyped on all of the rumor sites in the past few weeks. The first camera is the D3000, which will herald the end of the beloved D40/D40x camera line. The D3000 is a mix of the D60 and D5000 camera technologies and will be the flagship for the entry-level DSLR cameras for Nikon. The D3000 has the same sensor resolution as the D60 at 10.1MP but incorporates the 11 focus-point AF system found in the D5000. It has a large 3″ rear LCD but at 230,000 pixels, it doesn’t have near the definition found on the higher level cameras like the D90 and D300. Also, it does not have any movie mode or LiveView function just like the D60 but it does have the improved 3-D Tracking Auto-Focus feature. It also has a unique mode called Guide, which is made to help the first-time DSLR owner with simplified camera settings.
The estimated street price for the D3000 is set to around $600 US. You can read more about it in the Nikon Press Release.
The other camera introduced yesterday was the D300s. There was much speculation about where Nikon would go with this next prosumer DSLR and instead of getting rid of a very successful camera line, they chose to improve upon its already proven features.
The big news for the D300s is the introduction of 720P HD video recording. Everyone knew this was coming and some folks were disappointed that Nikon chose to use the D300 instead of the D700 as a competitor to the 5D Mark II. I would assume that the FX sensor will be the next in the line of DSLR/HD Video cameras to come. As for the D300s, Nikon did add some features to the video that make it much better than the D5000 and the D90. For one thing, the audio is now capable of recording in full stereo and you can now add external stereo mics for much improved sound. Nikon has also added auto-focus to the video recording using contrast detecting AF (while using the tripod focus mode). Having used two different cameras that record video, I will be very curious to see just how good this focus system is. I know that the Canon T1i will auto-focus while recording but the noise from the focus motor is picked up by the internal microphone.
Another added feature of the D300s is the incorporation of a second memory card slot. The D300 used a single CF card slot but the D300s has added an SD slot for extended capacity or back-up. While I like having two memory card slots, I have to say that I would rather have seen a second CF rather than an SD. It’s not that I don’t like the SD card in general, I just have a habit of losing those really small cards.
Nikon’s estimated selling price for the D300s is about $1800. You can read more about the new camera features in the official Nikon Press Release.
The other two products that were introduced yesterday were the improved 70-200 F/2.8 with the new VRII system, which Nikon says will add up to 4 stops of stability along with a new crystal lens coating for even sharper images.
The second lens to get some refinement is the 18-200 DX lens. This already great lens gets a much needed zoom lock switch to keep the lens from sliding down while the barrel is hanging in the down position. If you own one of these lenses you know just what a big deal this simple little feature is. The 18-200 also benefits from the VRII stabilizing system.
You can read more about the other refinements on these two great lenses in the Nikon Press Release.