Nikon announces two new cameras, lenses

By Jason Odell | July 30, 2009 6:12 AM | Permalink | Comments ( 0) | TrackBacks ( 0)

Nikon has officially announced two new cameras and lenses available later this summer and fall.  The following products were announced last night:

Nikon D3000 entry-level DSLR
Nikon D300s advanced DX format DSLR
18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 AFS  DX VR II lens (update to the current model)
70-200mm f/2.8G AFS VR II lens (update to the current model)

Read my thoughts after the jump.

So what do I think about these products?
First of all, I'm not surprised that there is a new entry-level DSLR.  Despite quality products in this area, the low-end market is where consumer competition is toughest.  Consumers want to feel like they are getting something new; these cameras will compete with others side by-side on the shelf at the big box stores.  

Camera Bodies
In a nutshell, the D3000 offers a 10 MP sensor with EXPEED processing, a 3" LCD display, 11-point AF, and Picture Controls.  The D3000 includes the 18-55 VR kit lens in the price of $599 USD.  Not bad!

The D300s, is a "tweak" to the venerable D300, hence the "s" designation.  This does not surprise me, either-- the D300 is a fantastic camera, and this says a lot about that model's dominance.  The sensor is still the 12MP DX one found in the D300 (although I wouldn't be surprised if it gets new tweaks inside to improve performance), you get dual CF/SD card slots, and the ability to shoot video (720p).  I really like the fact that the D-pad on the back now gets the proper center button.  The Live View button is now on the back of the camera and not on the shutter mode dial; again, an improvement in design. While most D300 owners won't need to upgrade, this is a necessary product refresh, IMO. A great camera got better.
List price: $1799.99 USD

Nikon has make updates to two of their existing lenses, by adding improved coatings and the new VR II system, which is supposedly good for 4-stops of improved stabilization power.

18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 AFS DX VR II
This is a tweak to the incredibly popular original.  The new lens gets improved coatings, and a zoom lock switch to prevent the lens from extending while you are carrying it around your neck on a camera.  I really like my current 18-200 VR, so I'm not sure I'm going to spend the $849 USD to upgrade, but for those looking to get this lens, it just got improved.  The used market for the older version should heat up, too-- so there will be values out there to be had.

70-200mm f/2.8G AFS VR II
This is the one pro lens I own that I felt needed an upgrade over its current design.  The previous 70-200mm just gets mushy in the corners on FX bodies, and has strong light fall-off characteristics.  I can fix vignetting in post, but mushy corners at f/11 are a different story.  So I'm happy to see this one announced.  The new lens is shorter than its predecessor (good), but slightly heavier (oh, well).  There is a new optical formula, Nano Crystal Coat, and of course, VR II.  I expect this lens to have better performance on FX bodies and I'll probably end up upgrading!  The downside: list price is $2399.95 USD. Ouch!


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