Melville, N.Y. - Nikon formally announced Wednesday a pair of d-SLRs at the entry and advanced levels of its line, each offering a range of advanced automatic and features to simplify the process of rapidly capturing the perfect shot for any given scene.
Nikon's D3000 ($600 suggested retail) d-SLR will include the company's new Guide Menu function to step novices through the use of the camera settings.
Added to the "affordable" end of the line, the Nikon D3000 (shipping in late August at a $600 suggested retail with 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 zoom lens) is billed as the easiest to use and smallest camera in Nikon's d-SLR lineup.
The camera introduces Nikon's Guide Menu function (or Guide mode), which goes beyond the built-in help function carried over from the D40 to streamline the process of getting to the pictures that a photographer wants to take.
The D3000 has a 10.2-megapixel DX format CCD image sensor; a wide ISO range from 100 to 1,600, plus one step beyond 1,600 to 3,200.for very low light shooting; and a 3-inch LCD monitor screen.
It also employs Nikon's Expeed image-processing engine, which encompasses multiple systems that play into the final image quality, from signal processing to image processing to color rendition.
A continuous shooting mode captures up to three frames per second, and a "split-second" shutter response significantly reduces shutter lag.
The camera also offers six personal picture control settings and six automatic exposure scene modes for portrait, landscape, child, sports, close-up or night portrait
Continued in the camera is Nikon's picture control design philosophy, which keeps the same picture controls from Nikon's d-SLRs dating back several generations to enable users of new Nikon d-SLR models to have the same consistent control layout to adjust basic settings such as sharpness, color, hue and saturation, without a lot of relearning.
The camera employs an 11-point auto-focus system that is on par with a lot of more advanced models in the Nikon line, and scene-recognition technology that leverages the metering system (that adjusts for size, shape and color of a subject), auto-white balance and auto-focus systems to achieve the ideal settings for the image while tracking subjects as they move across a frame.
The camera's active D-Lighting system is designed to offer greater flexibility when taking the shot, adjusting for such elements as shadow detail, processing first the highlight exposure before processing up the shadowed areas to even out the image to bring up details in the dark areas.
A new face-detection system that supports the Active D-Lighting system recognizes key people, automatically locking on their faces and adjusting the exposure highlights - especially if they are in shadows.
A built-in flash is all i-TTL controlled, using full in-camera metering is also included.
Nikon also has a full in-camera editing menu with enhanced retouching tools for tweaking photos in the field without a PC. Using the tools, photographers can adjust pictures for black-and-white effects, color filtering, special effects filtering and other adjustments. The system makes a JPEG copy of the adjusted photograph, keeping a copy of the original for further processing with PC software if desired.
Steve Heiner, Nikon SLR marketing department senior technical manager, said focus-group studies of target customers for the D3000 found that customers would rather not go through the bother of taking the photos home to make adjustments on a PC, and prefer to do everything in the camera, on the spot.
The camera includes a 3x 18-55mm Zoom-Nikkor VR Image Stabilization Lens, using Nikkor optics and a VR image stabilization system to reduce the blurring from camera motion.
The advanced D300s, meanwhile, will ship in late August at an $1,800 suggested retail (body only), and includes a 12.3-megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor, continuous shooting of up to 7 fps, Nikon Expeed image processing, and D-Movie HD video capture with 720p/24fps resolution. It makes use of the Nikkor interchangeable lens system featuring stereo microphone input and auto focus, and a one-button Live View feature.
The unit's 3-inch LCD monitor includes 920,000-dot VGA resolution.
The low-noise ISO sensitivity range covers 200 to 3,200 speeds with expanded ISO settings of Lo-1 (ISO 100 equivalent) and Hi-1 (ISO 6,400 equivalent).
Other features include a fast 51-point Auto Focus system, 1,005-pixel 3-D color Matrix Metering II system, scene-recognition system, dynamic integrated dust reduction, Nikon's Active D-Lighting and the in-camera image editing tools.
A built-in flash manual pops up with a button release and is controlled with an i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL.
The camera stores images in the NEF (RAW) 12-bit or 14-bit, lossless compressed format; compressed/uncompressed TIFF format; or JPEG format. The camera can also be set to record both NEF (RAW) and JPEG images, simultaneously.
The D300s will accept multimedia card formats including Media Type I CompactFlash (UDMA compliant) and SD memory cards (SDHC compliant) in its dual card slots.
To support the cameras, Nikon also introduced the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 ED VR II and the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II telephoto zoom lenses.
Both lenses feature vibration reduction (VR II) image stabilization, which is optimized to function most effectively for each lens design to reduce the blur resulting from camera shake, allowing handheld shots at as many as four shutter speeds slower normally possible.
Two VR modes are available: "normal" mode, ideal for everyday use and panning a subject; and "active" mode, for use in when more constant vibration is present, such as when shooting from a moving vehicle.
The 18-200mm (shipping in September at $850) is said to add expanded versatility, while the 70-200mm f/2.8 (shipping in November at $2,400), now benefits from Nikon's exclusive Nano Crystal Coat.
The 70-200mm f/2.8 VR (shipping in November at $2,400) adds an enhanced optical formula featuring seven extra low dispersion (ED) glass elements. Image quality is further enhanced by Nikon's Nano Crystal Coat, which reduces lens flare and ghosting, elevating optical performance.
The 70-200mm VR II lens includes a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for fast, quiet auto focusing. This uses 3-D tracking auto-focus systems, such as those found on the FX-format D3X, D3 and D700 D-SLR cameras.
Three focus modes are available - M, A/M and M/A - for automatically focusing, manually focusing or fine tuning AF performance to best suit the photographers' needs.
Nine rounded diaphragm blades contribute to a more attractive bokeh, allowing photographers to create soft and more naturally separated backgrounds that better highlight the subject, the company said.