Sunday, February 13, 2011

Digital DNA

Unless you’re already committed to a specific brand through years of lens and accessory purchases, buying a new DSLR today may mean comparing a dozen models.
By Mike Stensvold Published in SLRs
Digital DNA

Nikon D300S

The D300S improved on the excellent original D300 in a number of ways. It features the same pixel count (12.3 MP), but adds HD video capability, an SD card slot to accompany the D300's CompactFlash card slot and one-button live-view to simplify operation.

Rugged magnesium-alloy construction is complemented by advanced dust and moisture countermeasures, and a shutter tested to 150,000 cycles. The eye-level pentaprism viewfinder shows 100% of the actual image area. Nikon's proven 51-point AF and 1005-pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering provide pro performance, while EXPEED processing increases image quality and shooting speed (7 fps, up from 6 fps in the D300).

Nikon D7000

Not to be confused with the full-frame D700, Nikon's newest DSLR has another "0" in the name and features a 16.2-megapixel APS-C sensor. It can shoot those images at 6 fps.

The D7000 introduces a new 2016-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Metering system and a new 39-point AF system, both of which worked very well on our D7000 test camera. While not as rugged as the pro Nikons, the D7000 nevertheless features magnesium-alloy top and rear covers, good dust and weather sealing, and a shutter tested to 150,000 cycles. Nikon's EXPEED 2 image processing and 14-bit A/D conversion enhance image quality and camera performance. Normal ISO range is 100-6400, expandable to 25,600.

Nikon D3100

This excellent entry-level model features a 14.2-megapixel CMOS sensor and EXPEED 2 processing for remarkably good still image quality and HD video with full-time autofocusing. Normal ISO range is 100-3200, expandable to 12,800. Images are saved on SD cards, including the new SDXC cards. Fast 11-point autofocusing and 3 fps shooting provide some action capability, although not what you get with higher-end Nikon DSLRs. Like other entry-level Nikon models, the D3100 autofocuses only with lenses that contain focusing motors, the AF-S and AF-I Nikkors.


Accessories for Nikon DSLRs include flash units (pro through economy-level, plus macro flash systems), battery grips, remote controls, angle finders and wireless file transmitters. The GPS-1 GPS unit slips into the camera's hot-shoe and can geotag each image with the latitude, longitude and altitude at which it was taken.

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