Nikon Strikes Back With Two New Digital SLRs

D3 and D300 announced, plus a range of new lenses

This has been a busy week at the top end of the digital SLR market. On Monday market leader Canon announced the EOS 40D and the EOS-1Ds Mk III, which are a high-spec semi-pro camera and a top professional DSLR respectively, as well as a range of new lenses. Then just three days later 2nd-placed Nikon has responded with two new digital SLRs of its own. The D300 and the D3 are, co-incidentally, a high-spec semi-pro camera and a top professional DSLR respectively. Nikon has also launched a series of new lenses. Now what are the odds of that happening?

If the D300 is a response to Canon EOS 40D then it’s a good one, because it trumps that camera’s 10MP CMOS sensor with a Sony-developed 12.3 megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor. The list of features makes it plain that Nikon has loaded this camera up with everything, possibly even including the kitchen sink. It has a 3-in LCD monitor with VGA resolution (that’s about 300k pixels) plus live view, and apparently autofocus is available in live view mode, which is not the case with the Canon or Olympus systems. It has a 6fps shooting speed, which can be increased to 8fps with the optional Multi Power Battery Pack. The camera body is magnesium alloy, and is designed for a high level of dust and water resistance. It measures 147.2 (W) ×112.8 (H) × 74(D) mm and weighs 825g.

Other features include the new Nikon Scene Recognition System, which uses a 1005-pixel RGB colour sensor modified to recognise subjects’ shape and position before the image is captured. This also aids the new 51-Point Autofocus system in tracking subjects by their colour, while enhancing the accuracy of exposure and white balance metering. Nikon’s answer to Canon’s DIGIC III is the EXPEED image processor, which also features 14-bit analogue-to-digital (A/D) conversion with 16-bit image processing, for increased colour depth and smoothness. The camera also has a self-cleaning sensor and an ISO range of 100-6400.

One area where the D300 isn’t competing with the EOS 40D is on price. The Nikon has an RRP of £1299.99 body only, which is £400 more than the Canon.


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