Nikon has just announced two more dSLRs to add to their range of DX cropped sensor cameras, and essentially they have just the features we have become accustomed to Nikon producing – a great action/sports dSLR, the D300, made even better but with added HD video although very slow AF and given the existing noisy lenses, the external mic would be a must, and another entry-level dSLR.
The Nikon D300S:
- 12.3 mpixels DX sensor with 51 AF points (incl. 15 cross-point and with 3D tracking and priority to skin tones)
- 7fps burst mode (8fps with optional MB-D10 pack) which brings it closer to the Canon 1DMIII’s 10fps burst mode
- HD video with ext. mic and what appears to be live HDMI output for monitoring which would be very nice, but the contrast detect AF is likely to be VERY slow – Nikon states for tripod use only – so MUCH slower AF than the Panasonic GH-1’s HD video AF capabilities – but some HD video capability is better than no HD video capability in this era, and if you manage its limitations, you can create awesome videos such as here
- thus it is likely to be one of the best sports cameras but otherwise there is little in the way of exciting innovative features. Its lens mount architecture is unlikely to allow fast AF in HD video unless Nikon decide to change their architecture. And disappointingly, there is still no in-built image stabiliser – but then, as you can only use Nikon F mount lenses anyway, most will buy the VR lenses for this capability – it’s a pity though that prime lenses tend not to have VR.
- it will be interesting to see if Nikon has improved upon the rather poor video image quality that their D90 and D5000 have when compared to Canon, Panasonic and Olympus
- at this stage, If I was after a sports camera, this would be high on my list, perhaps no.1 (although I do own a Canon 1DMIII) – it will be interesting to see what Olympus announces in September (as rumours have it), for their E-3 replacement which will be a direct competitor with the D300S. Canon, I am sure will also be thinking its time for a minor upgrade to their 1DMIII – hopefully one which will focus more reliably this time, and presumably with a non-AF HD video mode with HDMI live video out as with the Canon 5DMII
- see dpreview.com for more details
The Nikon D3000:
- an entry level 10mp DX sensor, ISO 100-3200, 11 pt AF with 3D tracking, 3fps
- again, no built-in image stabiliser, no flip out LCD – personally I would go with the Olympus E-620 instead as I value these features
- no video – but then, if the video capability is going to be sub-optimal why pay for it?
- no where near the fun factor or exciting innovation like one gets with the Micro Four Thirds system where you can fit almost ANY lens ever made onto them and get HD video
- but, at the end of the day, many people just think they need to buy Nikon and this cheap camera will help them get their foot in the door
- see dpreview.com for more info
Autofocus during HD video recording:
- it appears clear that to achieve the ability to continuously AF during video as video camcorders do, the lens mount requires extra coupling pins to provide additional data coupling AND the lens needs to be specially designed to AF fast with contrast detect AF mechanism, and, preferably should do so silently so the camera mic does not pic up the noise
- currently there is only one camera system that has these extra lens mount couplings – the Micro Four Thirds system, but unless you use the Panasonic GH-1 combined with the ONLY lens currently designed for HD video, its 14-140mm HD IS kit lens, you won’t get a usable AF during recording. Even lenses designed for contrast detect AF when used on the GH-1 will not give continuous AF but you must press the AF trigger and then you will SEE and HEAR the lens laboriously trying to achieve focus – it will work but is not conducive to nice video. unfortunately, unless Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, and Olympus Four Thirds change the design of their lens mount and introduced new expensive HD lenses, don’t expect to be able to use these cameras like you do a camcorder when it comes to AF.
- don’t be mislead by marketing hype!