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Monday, October 8, 2007

The Best D-SLRs Get Better

In this year's most significant camera announcements for professional photographers, Canon and Nikon both have announced a pair of new D-SLRs


Nikon's first full-frame D-SLR image sensor is a Nikon-developed 36x23.9mm, 12.1-megapixel CMOS unit with large 8.45-micron pixels that provide a high S/N ratio and wide dynamic range. Nikon calls its full-frame format FX to differentiate it from the DX (APS-C) format of its previous D-SLRs.

• When you mount a DX Nikkor lens, the camera automatically switches to DX format, masking all but the active area in the viewfinder. DX-format images are 5.1 megapixels. You also can select 5:4 format, utilizing a 30x24mm portion of the sensor, which matches the aspect ratio of conventional 8x10 and 16x20 photographs (5:4 format images are 10 megapixels).

• Advanced Noise Reduction helps make possible a normal ISO range of 200-6400, with up to ISO 25,600 possible via expansion.

• The D3 can shoot 12.1-megapixel images at 9 fps, thanks to high-speed, 12-channel readout. In DX format, it can shoot 5.1-megapixel images at 11 per second.

• Two Live-View modes let you use the camera's new high-resolution, 920,000-dot, 3.0-inch LCD monitor to compose images. Handheld mode utilizes standard 51-point phase-difference AF. Tripod mode uses focal-plane contrast AF for maximum accuracy with still subjects. Remote Live-View focusing and shooting via PC are possible via wired or wireless connection with optional Nikon Camera Control II software (and wireless file transmitter WT-4 for wireless operation).

• Nikon's new EXPEED image-processing concept is a systematic approach to image processing that optimizes image processing for camera model, user characteristics and applications. 14-bit A/D conversion and 16-bit image processing combine with the wide dynamic range of the image sensor to produce excellent image quality even at very high ISO settings, quick performance and features.

• A new Scene Recognition System uses information from the D3's 1005-pixel RGB sensor to recognize a subject or scene, and applies this to exposure, white balance and autofocusing for optimum accuracy.

• A magnesium-alloy chassis, mirror box and exterior covers provide rigidity and light weight. O-ring sealing resists dust and moisture. The shutter, with blades of carbon fiber and Kevlar, has been tested to 300,000 cycles.

• Two CF card slots permit consecutive recording, simultaneous recording, separate recording and copying of data between cards. The D3 can use the new high-speed UDMA CF cards.

• A new Picture Control System provides four fundamental settings—Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome—and allows the user to adjust sharpening, tone compensation, brightness, tone and saturation as desired. You can store your own customized Picture Control settings, transfer them to other PCS cameras via CF card, and transfer them to PCs for use with Nikon original software. The same settings will result in the same picture tone with different cameras.

• This camera is superquick. Besides the 9/11 fps shooting rate, it starts up in a mere 0.12 seconds (0.08 quicker than the D2XS), has a shutter-release lag of just 0.37 ms (same as the D2XS) and a viewfinder blackout of 74 ms.

• A new Multi-CAM 3500FX AF system includes 51 AF points, with 15 central cross-type sensors that function with lenses as slow as ƒ/5.6.

• Active D-Lighting mode provides real-time highlight and shadow correction for better detail throughout the image.

Sensor: Full-frame, 12.1-megapixel Nikon CMOS
Format: FX (36x23.9mm), 5:4 (30x24mm), DX (24x16mm, 1.5x focal-length factor)
ISO Range:200-6400 normal, 100-25,600 expanded
Storage Media:CompactFlash, two slots (UDMA-compliant)
LCD Monitor:3.0 inches, 920,000 pixels, 170-degree viewing angle
Viewfinder:Eye-level pentaprism, 100% coverage, 0.7x magnification, 18mm eye-relief
Maximum Drive Speed:9 fps (12.1 MP), 11 fps (5.1 MP), up to 64 JPEG or 20 NEF (RAW)
Autofocus:51-point Multi-CAM 3500 FX, EV -1 to EV 19, focal-plane contrast AF (Tripod Live-View mode)
Metering:1005-pixel RGB sensor, 3D Color Matrix Metering II, center-weighted, 1.5% spot
Shooting Modes:Shiftable program AE, shutter- and aperture-priority AE, metered manual
Exposure Compensation:+/- 5 stops
Shutter:Electronically controlled vertical-travel focal-plane type, 30 to 1⁄8000 sec., flash sync to 1⁄250 sec.
Flash:i-TTL balanced fill-flash with compatible Nikon Speedlights
Power Source:One rechargeable EN-EL4a lithium-ion battery, optional AC adapter
6.3x6.2x3.4 inches
Weight:43.7 ounces
Estimated Street Price:$4,999
Availability:November 2007
Contact:Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com



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