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Nikon Previews Lower-Cost Digital SLR, As Part Of Trend

Nikon became the second major camera manufacturer to announce a sub-$1,000 digital SLR with the preliminary announcement of the D70, a product targeted at the rapidly growing market for advanced, interchangeable-lens digital cameras at consumer-friendly price points.

While details were sparse, Nikon said it will ship the D70 in the spring of 2004 and the camera body would have an estimated suggested retail price of $999. Lenses would be sold separately. The body would be compatible with Nikon’s AF-Nikkor lenses, including the DX Nikkor line, which were designed specifically for Nikon’s advanced digital SLRs.

The company also indicated that a new DX Zoom-Nikkor lens is being developed concurrently for the D70 and will also ship in the spring.

“With the development of the D70, Nikon is responding to a growing interest among a broad range of photo enthusiasts who are looking for a full featured digital SLR camera that fits within their personal budgets,” said Richard LoPinto, VP, SLR camera systems, Nikon.

Canon was the first vendor to break the $1,000 price barrier with its Digital Rebel, a move that IDC senior analyst Chris Chute said has initiated a new era in high-end digital cameras.

“It has blurred the distinction between consumer and professional digital cameras,” Chute said.

With prices falling rapidly in the digital SLR segment, consumers shopping for higher-end digital cameras in the $799-$999 price band now have the option of purchasing a fixed-lens model or a multiple-lens SLR, a choice they haven’t had before in the digital market, Chute said.