Nikon just made the cheap DSLR market interesting again: Their first DSLR with 1080p video, the D3100, is the first DSLR with real, constant autofocus powers during video recording. And it's only 700 US bucks.
Even though Nikon was first to the party with the D90, Canon has effectively staked out DSLR video as its private fiefdom, delivering camera after camera with superior video prowess, carving out a new market - not unexpected, since Canon makes video cameras, and Nikon, well, hasn't. The D3100 catches up on what's merely expected video-wise, with 1080p recording at 24fps in h.264. (Previously, Nikon DSLRs shot video at a max resolution of 720p, and it was using Motion JPEG.) It's still slightly less flexible than most of Canon's video DSLRs, since you have to drop down to 720p for selectable framerates - 24fps or 30fps.
The true shimmy forward made by the D3100 is true, full-time autofocus using Live View or while shooting video. In other words, it can constantly autofocus, tracking faces - up to 35 of them - subjects or points, like regular ol' camcorders. (Before with DSLRs, you had to just lock and shoot, and relock all over again if you wanted to adjust focus using AF.) The secret sauce isn't a second sensor, but simply "very fast" contrast-based AF, made possible by Nikon's new Expeed2 image processor. I'm pretty really curious to see how well it works in practice - how smooth is it? - especially across a wide variety of lenses. But it's probably what people jumping into their first DSLR would hope for in terms of video - easy peasy.
Oh yes, I forgot, you might want to use it to take, um, photos. The D3100's using a new 14.2MP CMOS sensor - the first entry-level Nikon to ditch CCD sensors in some time. ISO ranges from 100 to 3200, expandable to ISO 12,800. It's got an 11-point autofocus system, and metering's powered by a 420-pixel RGB colour 3D matrix meter. Since we're talking entry-level, it only shoots at 3fps. But it does carry over the handy shooting tutorials from the original D3000, which explain to new DSLR owners what things like aperture are in plain-folk talk.
It'll be $US700 with an 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens, when it comes out middle of next month - $US200 less than the MSRP on Canon's T2i. Nikon's going to have a hard time reclaiming the hardcore hybrid market as a whole, given how aggressively Canon's attacked it, but starting from the bottom might not be a bad way to go about it.
THE NEW NIKON D3100 D-SLR EMPOWERS AND INSPIRES USERS AS THE SIMPLE SOLUTION TO STUNNING PICTURES AND AMAZING HD VIDEO
Enhanced Guide Mode and the Ability to Shoot 1080p High Definition (HD) Video with Full Time Auto Focus Allow Users to Capture with Confidence
MELVILLE, N.Y. (AUGUST 19, 2010) – The new Nikon D3100 digital SLR camera speaks to the growing ranks of enthusiastic D-SLR users and aspiring photographers by providing an easy-to-use and affordable entrance to the world of Nikon D-SLR's. The 14.2-megapixel D3100 has powerful features, such as the enhanced Guide Mode that makes it easy to unleash creative potential and capture memories with still images and full HD video. Like having a personal photo tutor at your fingertips, this unique feature provides a simple graphical interface on the camera's LCD that guides users by suggesting and/or adjusting camera settings to achieve the desired end result images. The D3100 is also the world's first D-SLR to introduce full time auto focus (AF) in Live View and D-Movie mode to effortlessly achieve the critical focus needed when shooting Full HD 1080p video.
Packed into the compact and lightweight body of the D3100 camera is a host of advanced Nikon technologies, such as the new EXPEED 2TM image processing engine. EXPEED 2TM in conjunction with Nikon's new 14.2-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor is the driving force behind the enhanced performance and rich image quality. Ready to go wherever life leads, the D3100 features split-second shutter response and a blazing fast 11-point AF system to help ensure tack-sharp images. For shooting in challenging lighting conditions, ISO 3200 (expandable to 12,800) enables versatility in environments such as indoors or in the evening hours.
"People are stepping up to digital SLR cameras – consumers are embracing the enhanced performance, amazing image quality and options for lenses and accessories that only a D-SLR can provide," said Lisa Osorio, general manager of marketing at Nikon Inc. "The D3100 is a camera that makes it easy to take beautiful pictures and will grow with the user, unlocking their potential and assisting in creating lasting memories or amazing art."
Get Inspired With The Guide Mode Whether new to D-SLR photography or exploring new shooting techniques, the D3100 features an enhanced Guide Mode with an easy-to-use interface to help customers build confidence in using their D-SLR through on-demand, step-by-step assistance. A stand out feature in the D3100's predecessor, the D3000, the Guide Mode is easily accessed through the Mode Dial on the top of the camera. This enhanced help function now features sample assist images that change with camera settings to inspire consumers to achieve a desired look and feel to their images, while guiding through easy to understand photographic techniques. For example, to instill the majestic appearance of moving water, users can select "show water flowing" from the Guide Mode, and simply follow the prompts to create the ideal camera settings to capture an amazing image.
By following the guidance on the bright 3-inch LCD screen, users can achieve professional looking photographs to be proud of. Whether looking to soften backgrounds, freeze a moment in time or convey motion, the Guide Mode assists users in exploring effective picture taking solutions at their own pace to make capturing great pictures even easier and enjoyable.
Full HD Video Made Easy with D-Movie The Nikon D3100 D-SLR allows users to capture stunning Full HD, 1080p resolution (1920x1080) movies. Users can record cinematic quality 24p video clips, or shoot at 24 or 30 frames-per-second at 720p, ideal for sharing online. By incorporating versatile NIKKOR lenses to the equation, users can now create a variety of photography effects to video such as isolating subjects with a shallow depth of field, and recording in low light conditions. NIKKOR lenses also deliver the sharpness needed for HD video, and Nikon's Vibration Reduction (VR) II technology helps to eliminate camera shake.
While Nikon pioneered HD video in a D-SLR, Nikon is now introducing another industry first to enrich the user experience: The D3100 is the first D-SLR to implement full time AF for D-Movie video shooting and while in Live View mode. Using contrast based AF, the D3100 automatically focuses on subjects when Live View is activated to aid shooting when using the LCD. The D3100 camera also uses Face Detection technology to lock focus on up to 35 human faces, a feat not even accomplished with consumer camcorders. To further simplify movie shooting, Live View is activated at a single flick of a dedicated switch, and HD video recording is achieved by a simple press of a button.
Sharing and editing video clips is also easier than ever, as the D3100 records movies in the versatile H.264 AVCHD codec (.mov file). While playing movies back in the camera, users are able to edit recorded videos by clipping footage from the beginning or end of a movie. High Definition movies and stills can be shared with family and friends on an HD television via HDMI output, and control slideshows and video using the HDMI Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) interface that is a part of most modern remote controls from HDTV manufacturers. Additionally, the D3100 is compatible with the new SDXC memory card format to store large amounts of photo and video data so users can shoot multiple scenes without interruption.
Renowned Nikon Technology The D3100 leverages proven Nikon technologies to create the most positive picture taking experience for consumers of any skill level. With its new 14.2-megapixel CMOS image sensor and Nikon's new EXPEED 2TM image processing system, the D3100 delivers exceptional image quality with low noise. The new EXPEED 2TM image-processing engine enhances camera performance and helps to ensure brilliant image quality while managing colour, contrast, exposure, noise and speed for optimal results. The D3100's normal ISO range extends from ISO 100 to 3200, allowing users to capture stunning images, even in low light environments. Additionally, the D3100's ISO range can expand to a Hi-2 setting of ISO 12,800, furthering the opportunities for low-light shots that other cameras miss.
Other exclusive Nikon technologies include the Active D-Lighting system, which automatically rescues dark or backlit images to help create flattering images with even tones. This is especially useful when photographing subjects that are backlit by the sun or lights to provide an even exposure.
What's more, Nikon's Scene Recognition system draws upon the 420-pixel RGB colour 3D Matrix Meter for outstanding exposures under a variety of lighting conditions by integrating a database of tens of thousands of sample images. The result is a camera intelligent enough to recognise when photographing a specific scene such as a portrait or landscape and automatically choose the proper camera settings.
To make taking great pictures even easier, the D3100 elevates Nikon COOLPIX technology and incorporates an Auto Scene Selector feature in Live View. This innovative function automatically selects the best scene mode to match shooting conditions. When engaged, the camera will automatically recognise when shooting a lush landscape or fast action sports and adjust the camera settings to create an astounding image. Six preset scene modes can also be accessed with the Mode Dial on top of the camera to overcome many common shooting challenges.
Compact Design. Huge Performance. With comfortable yet intelligent ergonomics, the D3100 packs powerful technology that's easy to use into a compact form factor. The advanced 11-point autofocus system of the D3100 makes it easy to find and focus on a subject through an enhanced viewfinder design with new "hollow" focus points to give a clear view of the subject.
In the playing field or the backyard, the benefits of Nikon's advanced 3D Subject Tracking become clear, as the camera continuously focuses on fast moving subjects throughout the frame, resulting in crisp, clear action shots. Additionally, the D3100 offers split-second shutter response, eliminating the frustration of shutter lag-the annoying delay that ruins so many pictures. With the ability to capture images at up to three fps, users never miss a moment.
Also added to the D3100 is a Quiet Shutter Release mode, which substantially reduces the sound of the mirror while shooting. Quickly accessed by selecting "Q" on the release mode dial, this feature is ideal for the photographer who wishes to remain unobtrusive, for example during quiet ceremonies or photographing a sleeping baby.
Nikon also empowers users to prepare their photos for sharing quickly and easily using Nikon's extensive in-camera Retouch Menu, which easily applies a variety of fun and dramatic effects to images without a computer. Fun and easy-to-use adjustments include a miniature effect to photos, image overlay, colour outline and softening filters for flattering portraits and realistic skin tones.
The D3100 also incorporates Nikon's Integrated Dust Reduction System, which offers a comprehensive solution that combats the accumulation of image-degrading dust from the camera's image sensor. The shutter is tested to 100,000 cycles for maximum durability, ensuring years of captured memories.
Gateway to Legendary NIKKOR Optics and Accessories Nikon has also introduced the ideal companion to the D3100, the brand new AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm VR lens, which gives users super-telephoto zoom capability for an affordable price. This is a perfect complementary lens when combined with the AF-S 18-55mm VR kit lens, and is great for capturing images of sports and wildlife around town or on vacation.
Photographers can also appreciate the D3100's system expandability, as it is compatible with more than 40 legendary NIKKOR AF-S interchangeable lenses. While the D3100 offers a versatile built-in flash, the camera also operates with Nikon's Creative Lighting System and is capable of Advanced Wireless Lighting when using the SB-900 Speedlight or the SU-800 Wireless Commander. The D3100 D-SLR's design also supports Eye-Fi memory card functionality, enabling the convenient wireless transfer of images from the camera to a computer when using Eye-Fi memory cards. Also included is a new version of Nikon's powerful image editing application, View NX2. The latest edition of this software allows users to organize and edit both photos and video files easily.
Price and Availability The D3100 D-SLR camera outfit, including the versatile AF-S NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR image stabilisation lens, is scheduled to be available at Nikon authorised dealers beginning in mid September 2010, at an estimated selling price of $US699.95.* The AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens will be available starting in September for $US399.95*. For more information, please visit www.nikonusa.com.