August 24, 2007 4:00 AM PDT
Nikon answers Canon with full-frame SLR
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Other full-frame competition is possible, most likely from Sony, which entered the SLR market by acquiring the assets of Konica-Minolta. One Sony enthusiast site, Photoclub Alpha, reported in July that Sony's forthcoming professional SLR will be a full-frame model and will be accompanied by several compatible lenses. Sony announced the model in March but offered no details.
Two other SLR contenders, Olympus and Panasonic, aren't in the running for the foreseeable future. They've both opted to use the Four Thirds system, whose sensor is a notch smaller than that found in the Nikon DX and Canon APS-C.
Through a partnership, Four Thirds lenses from one maker, or from a third-party company such as Sigma, will work any Four Thirds camera body. That lens-camera body compatibility stands in contrast to the incompatible lens mounts used by Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax. Each of those companies' lenses can't be used on other companies' lens bodies.
The D3 and D300 share a range of new features. Among them are live view shooting modes to compose pictures with the LCD rather than just the viewfinder, a newly branded Expeed image processing chip; a 3-inch LCD with a whopping 920,000 pixels; a 51-point autofocus system; D-Lighting to improve tonal details in shadows or highlights; and compatibility with the new WT-4A wireless transmitter to connect to wired or wireless 802.11a, b and g networks and to permit remote control of the camera.
Among the D3-specific features:
It can shoot up to nine frames per second, compared with five for Canon's 1Ds Mark III and 10.5 for Canon's photojournalist-oriented 1D Mark III. With DX lenses and the 5.1-megapixel mode, it can shoot up to 11 frames per second.
Its regular ISO sensitivity ranges from 200 to 3,200, with extended range modes that reach to 100 and 25,600. Its sensor is made using complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) manufacturing--a change from the charge-coupled device (CCD) sensors used in previous Nikon SLRs--and the chip features 14-bit image data compared with earlier 12-bit designs. Greater bit depth permits finer shades between light and dark in images and a better ability to print and edit photos.
Its Scene Recognition System combines Nikon's exposure and autofocus systems for more sophisticated control over both aspects of shooting.
Its shutter is rated for 300,000 cycles.
It accommodates dual CompactFlash cards with high-speed Ultra Direct Memory Access (UDMA) transfer technology.
Its viewfinder covers "virtually" 100 percent of the sensor's view at a magnification of 0.7 in FX mode.
The D300 also has several notable features: image-cleaning technology to shake dust off the sensor; a viewfinder with 100 percent coverage at a magnification of 0.94; an optional battery pack, MB-D10, that can bump up the maximum shooting rate from a regular 6.5 frames per second to eight frames per second; a 14-bit CMOS sensor; a magnesium alloy chassis with many waterproofing seals; and a shutter rated to 150,000 cycles.
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