Cameras

Nikon Launches 12.1 MP D3 Flagship with FX-format CMOS, 9fps and LiveView

Among the host of new features, the Nikon D3 includes a 9 frames per second burst rate at full resolution, 51-point AF system, and LiveView. The Nikon D3 will retail for $4,999.95 when it is available in November.

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August 23, 2007 – Nikon today announced its new flagship digital SLR, the 12.1-megapixel D3. The D3 comes eight years after its predecessor, the D1. Equipped with a new nearly full frame FX-format CMOS sensor (23.9 x 36mm), the Nikon SLR promises to be the "world’s fastest digital SLR camera in its class," according to a company press release. Among a host of new features, the Nikon D3 includes a 9 frames per second burst rate at full resolution, 51-point auto focus system, and LiveView LCD. The Nikon D3 will retail for $4,999.95 when it is available in November.

Nikon calls the new D3 its fastest digital SLR, geared for photojournalists and sports photographers.

"Sports, commercial, and press photographers are increasingly demanding higher ISO sensitivity, better resolution, wider dynamic range, and a familiar depth-of-field in relation to picture angles," said Nikon General Manager for Marketing, SLR Systems Products Edward Fasano in a press release. "With the D3, Nikon is excited to deliver a solution that represents an ideal unification of unsurpassed image quality, high-speed operation and professional durability, without compromise. Nikon fully expects the D3 to positively affect the photographic community in a way that hasn’t been seen since the introduction of the Nikon D1."

In response to professional photographers' requests, Nikon unveiled its new FX-format CMOS sensor on the D3. Measuring 23.9 x 36mm, the sensor is about the size of a 35mm film frame, which measures 24 x 36mm. The D3 allows users to switch between DX and FX formats, depending on the lens mounted to the camera. With an AF-Nikkor lens, the camera is capable of shooting up to 9 fps at the full 12.1-megapixel resolution. When paired with DX Nikkor lenses, the D3 automatically switches to DX-format to capture an increased 11 fps at a reduced 5.1-megapixel resolution.

Equipped with Nikon's new EXPEED Image Processing System, the camera has the fastest startup time, least amount of viewfinder blackout time, and shortest shutter lag time in its line. The D3 takes 0.12 seconds to start up and has a shutter lag of only 37 milliseconds, according to the release. In sequential shooting in FX-format, the D3 can capture 64 JPEG frames consecutively, 20 RAW (NEF format) frames in 12-bit, or 17 RAW frames in 14-bit, according to the release.

The Nikon D3 features the new TTL Multi-CAM 3500 FX auto focus module, equipping the camera with a total of 51 auto focus points. In the summer of SLR releases, Nikon’s 51-point auto focus system trumps competitors in terms of the number of auto focus points. The 51 points are a combination of 15 cross-type sensors and 36 horizontal sensors. Users can select to use the points in two ways: individually in Single Area focus or in Dynamic AF mode in groups of nine, 21, or 51 focus point clusters. When users select all 51-points, the new Nikon 3D Focus Tracking can be engaged to utilize light and color information to better track moving subjects, according to the release.

The new Scene Recognition System also uses the 51 auto focus points and 1005-segment sensor to account for moving subjects. Scene Recognition improves focus, exposure, and white balance automatically, according to the release.

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The Nikon D3 borrows the D-Lighting system from earlier SLRs that promises increased highlights and shadow detail for maximum tonal information in an image. The camera also possesses a standard sensitivity range of 200 to 6400 ISO and an extreme expanded range of 100 to 25,600 ISO, according to the release.

Users have the option to customize settings on the camera with the new Picture Control System. There are Standard, Neutral, Vivid, and Monochrome settings. Users can save up to nine personalized setting combinations or up to 99 exported combinations on a Compact Flash card.

Externally, the Nikon D3 promises an improved intuitive body design for prolonged shooting, according to the release. Made of a magnesium alloy body, the SLR features rubber gaskets to seal out dust and moisture. The D3 has a 300,000 shutter cycle for durability.

In addition, the Nikon DSLR now features LiveView, which was not previously offered on Nikon SLR cameras. Nikon users can now view real-time shooting on the 3-inch LCD. The monitor has a high 920,000 pixel resolution and 170 degree wide angle view, enabling users to shoot at high or low angles and accurately check focus and image details on the camera.

The Nikon D3 is compatible with CF media and is equipped with two CF slots for simultaneous RAW and JPEG shooting. Nikon plans to continue incorporating the D3’s FX-format into future SLR cameras and lenses, according to the release.

Key Features: 

3-inch, 920,000 pixel LCD monitor

New 12.1 megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor (23.9 x 36mm)

New EXPEED Image Processing System

9 fps burst at full resolution

New 51-point AF (15 cross-type)

New 3D Focus Tracking

New LiveView

New Scene Recognition System

New Picture Control System

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