Nikon Serves Two Markets With D300s And D3000 DSLRs

Confirming rumors that we'd heard over the past few weeks, Nikon has today introduced two new Digital SLR cameras in its expanding Dxxx lineup. The two cameras couldn't possibly be more different, with one of these aimed at amateur/professionals and the other aimed at those looking to finally make the leap to the DSLR world.

Starting with the former (the D300s), we've got a new higher-end model that seems like a souped-up D90 in most respects. Basic specs include a 12.3MP CMOS sensor, a 51-point autofocus system, SD and CompactFlash memory card slots, one-button LiveView, a new Quiet Shutter Release mode,  Active D-Lighting bracketing, faster 7 frame-per-second (fps) continuous shooting and a new HD movie mode that provides what everyone has been asking for: autofocus. Yep, the HD video capture mode on the D300s logs material in 720p and can actually keep the image in focus, something that the D90 cannot do.

The video mode records 720p clips with a 24fps rate, and it can also record hi-fi audio via the built-in microphone or by using the external stereo microphone input. Photographers can trim video length on the fly and apply Picture Controls to video, modifying the tone and color. Additionally, users can autofocus while recording video, using contrast detect AF, and do so while composing on the D300s’ bright three-inch 920,000-dot LCD screen. The Nikon D300s camera body will be available at Nikon dealers beginning in late August 2009 at an estimated selling price of $1799.95 (for the body alone; no lenses).

The lower-end device (D3000) comes just months after Nikon's D5000 made a splash with its articulating display. Nikon calls this camera an "easy path to fantastic photos," positioning it as a DSLR that won't overwhelm those used to point-and-shoot models. Of course, the specs are actually pretty respectable for a so-called "entry-level" model. It boasts a 10.2MP sensor, a new 'Guide Mode', an extensive Retouch Menu, an 11-point autofocus system and the company's EXPEED image processing system. There's also an Active D-Lighting system and 3D Color Matrix Metering II, not to mention 3D Subject Tracking and support for RAW images.  The D3000 outfit, including the AF-S NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR image stabilization lens, is scheduled to be available at Nikon dealers beginning in late August 2009 for $599.95.