Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nikons New D3, D300 and Nikkors

Nikon Today announced a slew of new products. The largest product release I have ever witnessed from this company. In a lot of ways it was a revolutionary release, not just for Nikon, but for the photography community as a whole. Personally I didn't like everything I saw, but that's a personal bias.

Nikon D3

First and foremost, Nikons new Flagship D3 (to Nikon Imaging for specs). This camera is more than I could hope for from Nikon. While Canon has their brand new 1Ds Mk.III and 1D Mk.III, this Nikon is somewhere in between. Instead of trying to compete with either of these cameras, Nikon has created something sort of in between, but different and at a very competitive price.

Nikons apparent strategy for this camera was not quantity but quality. I'm talking about the resolution of the camera. Now this is yet to be seen, but I gather pixel for pixel, this 12MP sensor will produce stunning images. Not only that, but with a base ISO of 200 and selectable ISO to 6400 with boost to 25600 (crazy), it will be incredibly light sensitive.

Some Highlights:
- 3" VGA Resolution Screen: wow
- 51 Point AF with 15 Cross Type: I'd use them in grouped mode anyways
- HDMI Output: neat, now all I need is a High def TV
- Live View with Contrast Based AF: good for macro and over the wall shots
- Plenty of UI enhancements
- The full 35mm frame "FX" format Sensor: Yay wide angle and low noise.
- ISO 25600!!!: If that means usable ISO 6400 I will be super happy
- Auto Adjust to DX Crop
- Custom focusing calibration with 20 lens specific calibration memory: Double Wow.
- 14 bit A/D

Unlike Nikons previous offerings, this one does not have specific variants for sports and "other" like the D2h and D2x did. This camera is both 12MP and capable of 11FPS. Sports shooter may lament the full frame sensor for their applications, with the D3 only having 5MP in DX Cropped mode, but for them, Nikon released the D300.

Nikon D300

Now, I was totally not expecting this, I predicted a revision, not a new camera. Though the D300 looks a lot like the D200, on paper, it outspecs the D2xs and the D2hs in a lot, if not all ways. The D300 shares a lot of the same specs as the D3 above except for it's DX Size sensor and lower FPS. This has just become the best camera (again, on paper) in the mid level market. A camera at this price, with these features is simply amazing. It really is the D2xs in a smaller body. Even the 100% frame coverage is there.

Nikon took every aspect of the D200 and made it better. It doesn't look like they left a feature untouched. Hell, they even fixed the stupid terminal caps! Now, would I go out and replace my D200 with this? No. I'm not getting a new DSLR for myself unless it's full frame. But anyone looking in the market now, Nikon has really differentiated themselves. Lets just hope that at hte DX sensor size at the same resolution as the D3, the camera can maintain the low noise needed to produce good images in it's ISO range.

Now whats a couple of new pro bodies without a wack of new lenses?

AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G

This lens is both just what I wanted, and not a lens I will ever get all at the same time. Nikon is continuing it's trend of breaking backwards compatibility. There is no reason to make this lens a G type lens with no aperture ring other than to break backwards compatibility and lower price. The latter of which is of course a serious consideration in todays marketplace. I understand that not everyone is as crazy as me and still shoots with a fully mechanical film camera. When I first heard about this lens I didn't beleive it. A lens like this would have to be huge. And well, it is. Or more specifically, damn heavy at 1kg. The 14mm f/2.8D which it effectively replaces was already 670g. I own the excellent 17-35mm f/2.8D. This lens, on a FF sensor seems to be much better suited for general photography. That and I can use it on my FM3a :) The only thing is, that the 17-35mm is not the sharpest lens wide open. If they have fixed this in this new lens, which I doubt, then it will be worth it.

AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G

This lens would make a lot more sense if it had VR. Otherwise, other than 4mm at the wide end and about 30g of weight savings, it offers no advantage over the 28-70mm f/2.8D it replaces. Again, on paper. The new N type coating and it's performance wide open may prove me wrong. We'll have to wait and see.

Nikkor 400mm, 500mm and 600mm Super Tele Lenses finally get VR

These lenses were long overdue for a VR Update, and they got it. Not for me, or my style of shooting, but I'm sure they'll make many people very happy.

Well folks, there you have it. A very big day. 2 new amazing bodies, and 5 new pro lenses. Now if only Nikon would realize that there are still people on this world who like general purpose prime lenses. (hey, gotta find something to complain about :)


Steve said...

Maybe Pentax will announce a bunch of kickass new cameras now. Then I'll really be in trouble. :-)

You mentioned how ISO 6400 isn't usable for you now? I'm guessing that's from noise, not some other total brokenness of it?

If so, you might want to try Noise Ninja (if you haven't already). I had some really good results when I tried it out.

(I found out about it at the About page of

Steve said...

Wow, it killed the links in my comment even though they previewed correctly.

Okay, I'll go simpler:

Noise Ninja --

[daily dose of imagery] photoblog that I found it at -- , in the About page

Anonymous said...

@Steve: No Nikon since the D100 offers ISO 6400. That will change when the D3/D300 ship.

@Tracer: I'd have to disagree with you about the 24-70. Those 4mm are a very big deal. 28mm is just barely wide, I know I regularly hit my head against the 28mm isn't wide enough issue on a regular basis with my 28-70 Tokina on the F100. A 24-70 would be in my bag if anyone other than Sigma had offered one in F mount previously. 24mm is wide enough for most every situation.

As to the G thing, we're going to have to live with it. I don't really mind it so much with zooms, as I'd never want to put a f2.8 zoom on my F2A (Handles very poorly), but the next set of prime updates is gonna suck. As to the 14-24, to me it looks more interesting on DX (21-36mm-e) than on FF, although it really could be fun on the F100.

Paul T. said...

Steve: Noise Ninja is awesome, but even it can't fix the noise of ISO 3200 on the D200 (that's the max right there).

Re-reading my post I didn't get my point across in the way I had intended. 4mm at the wide end is a lot. And I would rather have a 24-70 than a 28-70. My point being, developing and making a lens of this level is a big undertaking. I'm just surprised they went through all that trouble to only give us 4 more mm and a new coating. They should have gone all out and included VR.

And yah, I'm worried about the next set of primes :(

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