updated 12:10 am EDT, Thu August 19, 2010
Nikon D3100 launches with new sensor
Nikon tonight confirmed the existence of the D3100, a major revamp of its entry-level DSLR. The camera in some ways is Nikon's best as it's the first mainstream model to shoot above 12 megapixels, at 14, and its first to shoot 1080p video. A new EXPEED 2 processor both improves image quality and switches on long requested video features, such as continuous autofocus and native recording in a more efficient H.264 instead of Motion JPEG.
The sensor itself has much improved quality and flips from the D3000's CCD to a more advanced CMOS example. It now captures much more light with an ISO range from 100 to 12,800 and has an improved 11-point autofocusing system that covers noticeably more of the viewfinder area. It and the new processor have better object recognition and now support in-camera video editing.
As a model targeted at beginners, the D3100 still keeps features modest with a fixed three-inch LCD and a 3FPS continuous shooting mode. The guide mode remains intact, but photographers can now save photography profiles to shoot with familiar settings later.
The camera ships with Nikon's familiar 18-55mm kit lens and will be available in mid-September for $700.
Along with the camera, Nikon is releasing four mostly high-end lenses. The low-cost entry will be a 55-300mm, f4.5-5.6G ED VR telephoto lens for $400. Two multi- role lenses are due in the form of a 24-120mm f4G ED VR and a 28-300mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR for $1,050 and $1,300, while a lone prime lens, the 85mm f1.4G, will handle medium distance shots for $1,700. These ship in September.