updated 01:05 am EDT, Thu August 23, 2007
Nikon's pro-level D3 dSLR
Nikon on Thursday morning introduced the D3, a new digital SLR camera that features 12.1 effective megapixel resolution and Nikon's new FX-format CMOS sensor, measuring 23.9 x 36mm -- nearly identical to the size of 35mm film. Nikon claims that the new camera is "the fastest startup time, shortest viewfinder blackout time, and shortest shutter lag of any digital SLR camera" and also features the ability to shoot up to nine frames per second at full FX-format resolution. In addition, the D3 incorporates Nikon's new EXPEED Image Processing System, a normal ISO range of 200 to 6400 as well as an expanded equivalent ISO range of the camera of ISO 100 or ISO 25,600 using special modes. The D3 will be available in November 2007 for $5,000.
The camera also features virtually 100 percent coverage for accurate framing, a 920,000-dot VGA LCD screen (with 170-degree wide viewing angle), and a unique Virtual Horizon digital level sensor that indicates the camera's alignment relative to the true horizon on the rear LCD screen or in the viewfinder. The D3 also features two CompactFlash card slots that can be used for consecutive recording (overflow), simultaneous recording (backup), separating recording of RAW and JPEG files or copying pictures between the two cards.
The D3 features an entirely new 51-point auto focus system with Nikon's 3D Focus Tracking feature and two new LiveView shooting modes that allow photographers to frame a photograph using the camera's high-resolution LCD monitor. The D3 uses "the world's first" Scene Recognition System to enhance the accuracy of auto focus, auto exposure and auto white balance detection in the camera by recognizing the subject or scene being photographed and applying this information to the calculations for the three functions, according to Nikon.
The D3 delivers full resolution 12.1 megapixel images at up to nine frames per second when used with conventional AF-Nikkor lenses. When used with DX Nikkor lenses, the D3 automatically switches to the DX-format mode that uses a cropped portion of the sensor to generate 5.1 megapixel resolution images. While in this mode, the D3 automatically masks the portion of the viewfinder that will not be photographed and enables the capability to shoot up to 11 frames per second.
Nikon said will expand its D-SLR lineup with the addition of the D3 FX-format SLR camera and a broadened assortment of Nikkor interchangeable lenses, while continuing to develop and market high-performance DX-format cameras and lenses.
The new exclusive Scene Recognition System leverages its 1,005-segment sensor to recognize colors and light patterns to improve the accuracy of auto focus, auto exposure and auto white balance detection functions. The camera also incorporates Nikon's new Multi-CAM 3500FX auto focus module that features an intelligent array of 15 cross-type sensors and 36 horizontal sensors--all of which can be used individually or in groups. It offers the option for Single Area AF mode and Dynamic AF modes using groups of either 9, 21 or all 51 focus points. The system also features 3D Focus Tracking with automatic focus point switching that takes advantage of all 51 AF points.
Nikon's new Picture Control System can easily select and apply adjustments to to photos: the same settings produce consistent picture tone -- even when using different camera bodies -- with four basic setting options: Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome. The options can be directly modified for easy adjustment and customization of image parameters, such as sharpening, tone compensation, brightness and saturation. Photographers can customize and store up to nine customized options in the D3 and export up to 99 to a CF memory card, enabling photographers to share settings among multiple D3 cameras.
The D3 also features a new Active D-Lighting mode that, when enabled, provides real-time highlight and shadow correction with optimized image contrast. According to the company, Active D-Lighting produces broader tone reproduction in both shadows and highlights by controlling highlights and exposure compensation while applying localized tone control technology.
LiveView with two modes; fast shutter, start-up
A new LiveView feature offers two modes for confirming subjects and composition on the new 920,000-dot, high-resolution 3-inch LCD monitor while shooting. The Tripod mode is designed for precise focus and accuracy when the camera is on a stable platform and the subject is not moving. In this mode, the camera focuses on the subject using focal-plane contrast and any point on the LCD screen can be selected as the focus point for the picture. The second mode, called Handheld mode, allows photographers to use the camera's conventional TTL focusing system, with all 51-points and 15 cross-type points available. When using this mode, the camera activates focusing immediately when the shutter button is pressed, to ensure accurate focus.
Nikon claims a shutter release time lag of only 37 milliseconds and a start-up time of approximately 0.12 seconds. It is capable of continuously shooting approximately nine frames per second in full resolution with FX-format and up to 64 consecutive frames in JPEG, Normal compression. For NEF (RAW) files, the D3 can shoot up to 20 or up to 17 consecutive frames depending on whether it is set to 12-bit or 14-bit images. When using a DX-format lens, the camera automatically switches to DX-format mode, adjusting the resolution of the camera to 5.1 megapixels. In the DX-format mode, photographers also have the opportunity to increase the speed at which the camera can take pictures by limiting the auto exposure and going up to 10 frames per second or limiting both auto exposure and auto focus and going up to 11 frames per second.
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