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Nikon's D300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Nikon, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Nikon unveils D300 DSLR (UPDATED)
(Thursday, August 23, 2007 - 00:01 EDT)

Alongside the launch of its D3 digital SLR, Nikon Inc. has today announced the D300 digital SLR, a camera that contains quite a few of the features of its headline-grabbing sibling but with a much lower pricetag.

(As well as this news article, we're currently in the process of preparing a lengthy Nikon D300 preview article to make sure our readers get the full story on this important announcement!) The Nikon D300 digital SLR has a resolution of twelve megapixels - the same as the D3, but achieved courtesy of a smaller and hence more economical "DX Format" image sensor (roughly analogous to an APS-C film frame), which is rather smaller than the D3's "FX Format" type (near-identical to the size of a 35mm film frame). The D300 can shoot full-res photos at six frames per second for as many as 100 JPEG Large/Normal photos, pulling almost neck and neck with the 6.5 fps of Canon's just-announced EOS 40D digital SLR. Add the optional Nikon MB-D10 battery grip though, and that jumps to 8 fps - a significant step up from the Canon. The Nikon D300's combination of modern CMOS sensor technology, and Nikon's a new image processor dubbed "Expeed", come together to yield an impressive ISO sensitivity range of ISO 200 to 3,200 with the ability to extend this to an ISO 100 to 6,400 range.

With the D3 and D300, Nikon becomes the latest manufacturer to support a "live view" function in a digital SLR - letting you preview the frame to be captured in the LCD display rather than having to hold the viewfinder to your eye. The LCD, incidentally, is the same one used in the Nikon D3 and should prove easy on the eye with a diagonal of three inches, 640 x 480 pixel (920,000 dots) of resolution, and 170-degree wide viewing angle. Nikon's live view functionality has two operating modes. In "Handheld" mode, autofocus is allowed by dropping the mirror briefly to allow light to reach the camera's TTL phase detection autofocus module - the downside being an interruption to the live view while focusing is happening.. In "Tripod" mode, the camera uses contrast detection autofocus from the image sensor, allowing for autofocus to occur without interruption to the live view - and usefully, also allowing for the AF point to be set anywhere in the image area.

Which brings us to autofocus, another area of the Nikon D300 that impresses. A new Multi-CAM 3500 DX autofocus system has 15 cross-type sensors and 36 linear sensors, for a total of 51 autofocus points. 3D Focus Tracking is possible across all 51 points, with the camera automatically switching between focus points to follow your subject. A new Scene Recognition System is described as a "world's first" by Nikon and is said to recognize the scene being photographed, then use this information accordingly when calculating exposure, autofocus and white balance. An Active D-Lighting system corrects for shadows and highlights to produce more appealing images. There's also a new Picture Control System with four basic presets - Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome - which the user can then tweak to their taste, adjust imaging parameters such as saturation, brightness, sharpening and tone compensation. Up to nine different customized presets can be stored in each D300 body, and up to 99 can be stored on a CompactFlash card - enabling easy sharing of settings among multiple cameras (or for that matter, easy sharing of cameras between multiple photographers).

As with the Nikon D3 it is announced alongside, there are enough standout features on the Nikon D300 that a full discussion is beyond the scope of this news article. Briefly though, other features of note include a 0.13 second startup time, 45 millisecond shutter release lag, viewfinder with near-100% coverage, UDMA-compatible CompactFlash storage media slot, an HDMI connection (cable not included) that allows for the Nikon D300 to be connected directly to a high definition display, in-camera correction of chromatic abberations based on information on the lens in use, dust and moisture-resistant gaskets, a magnesium alloy body, tempered glass over the LCD display, a self-cleaning sensor, and a shutter mechanism rated to last to 150,000 releases.

The Nikon D300 digital SLR goes on sale from November 2007, priced at just under $1,800. For more information, keep checking our work-in-progress Nikon D300 preview.

Nikon D300
Nikon's D300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Nikon, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Camera TypePro SLR
Model NumberD300
Dimensions5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9"
147.0 x 114.0 x 74.0mm
Weight825.0 g
28.8 oz
Planned Price$1799.95
Planned AvailabilityNov 2007
Image Capture
Sensor TypeNikon DX CCD
13.10 megapixels (total)
12.30 megapixels (effective)
Filter TypeRGBG
Focal Length Multiplier1.50
Aspect Ratio3:2
Image Dimensions4288 x 2848 (12.2 megapixels)3216 x 2136 (6.9 megapixels)2114 x 1424 (3.0 megapixels)
Capture SpeedContinuous: 6.0 frames per second for 100 frames
Image Preview / Review
ViewfinderYes, SLR, eye-level pentaprism
100% field of view
LCD3.0", 920,000 pixels
100% field of view
Lens TypeInterchangeable Lens
Lens MountNikon F mount
Image StabilizationNo
Focusing System51 point TTL phase detection with 3D focus tracking by Nikon Multi-CAM 3500DX with AF assist lamp
Manual Focus possible (0) steps
ISO Sensitivity200-3200, Lo-1=100, Hi-1=6400
Shutter Speed30 - 1/8000 second
Exposure ModesAperture, Shutter, Manual
Metering Modes3D Color Matrix Metering II, Center-weighted, Spot
Exposure Compensation+/- 5.0EV in 1/3EV increments
White BalanceAuto, 6 presets, manual, Manual
Internal FlashGuide Number: 13
Range: Lens dependent
Flash Exposure Compensation+/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
Self TimerYes, 2 to 20 seconds
Recording MediumCompactFlash Type 1, CompactFlash Type 2, Microdrive
File SystemFAT16, FAT32, complies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)
File FormatCCD-RAW, NEF (RAW), 12 or 14-bit, JPEG (EXIF 2.21)
VideoYes, NTSC / PAL switchable
ComputerUSB 2.0 High Speed
OtherHDMI Out, DC In, PC Sync, 10-pin Expansion Terminal
Battery TypeLithium Ion rechargeable
Battery Form FactorProprietary EN-EL3e, optional MB-D10 battery pack
Product Bundle
SoftwarePictureProject CD-ROM
Battery / Charger1 x Proprietary EN-EL3e Lithium Ion rechargeable battery and charger
Flash Memory0.0MB
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliantYes
PictBridge CompliantYes
Internal MicrophoneYes
Tripod MountYes, Metal
Remote ControlYes
More Photos
Nikon's D300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Nikon, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Nikon's D300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Nikon, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

UPDATED 2007-08-23 06:13ET: Further information added to this article.

Original Source Press Release:

Nikon Introduces The New D300 Professional Digital SLR Camera

MELVILLE, N.Y. (AUGUST 23, 2007) – Nikon (www.nikonusa.com) today introduced its most advanced DX-format digital SLR camera, the D300. Engineered with pro-level features and performance, the 12.3 effective megapixel D300 combines brand new technologies with advanced features inherited from Nikon’s newly announced D3 professional digital SLR camera to offer serious photographers remarkable performance, combined with agility.

Similar to the D3, the D300 features Nikon’s exclusive EXPEED Image Processing System that is central to driving the speed and processing power needed for many of the camera’s new features. The D300 features a new 51-point auto focus system with Nikon’s 3D Focus Tracking feature and two new LiveView shooting modes that allow users to frame a photograph using the camera’s high-resolution LCD monitor. The D300 shares a similar Scene Recognition System as found in the D3 that promises to greatly enhance the accuracy of auto focus, auto exposure and auto white balance by recognizing the subject or scene being photographed and applying this information to the calculations for the three functions.

The D300 reacts with lightning speed, powering-up in a mere 0.13 seconds and shooting with an imperceptible 45 millisecond shutter release lag time. The D300 is capable of shooting at a rapid six frames per second and can go as fast as eight frames per second when using the optional MB-D10 Multi-Power Battery Pack. In continuous bursts, the D300 can shoot up to 100 shots* at full 12.3 megapixel resolution.

“ Nikon’s D200 digital SLR camera has been a runaway success for us because it embodies everything that performance-conscious photographers demand. With the D300, we’ve raised the bar with remarkable new features, greater resolution and speed, and even higher image quality,” said Edward Fasano, general manager for Marketing, SLR Systems Products, at Nikon Inc. “The D300 delivers an unmatched combination of quality, performance and value that’s hard for discerning photographers to resist.”

The D300 incorporates a range of innovative technologies and features that will significantly improve the accuracy, control and performance photographers can get from their equipment. Its new Scene Recognition System advances the use of Nikon’s acclaimed 1,005-segment sensor to recognize colors and light patterns that help the camera determine the subject and the type of scene being photographed, before a picture is taken. This information is used to improve the accuracy of auto focus, auto exposure and auto white balance functions in the D300. For example, the camera can track moving subjects better and by identifying them, it can also automatically select focus points faster and with greater accuracy. It can also analyze highlights and more accurately determine exposure, as well as infer light sources to deliver more accurate white balance detection.

The D300 incorporates Nikon’s new Multi-CAM 3500DX auto focus module that features an intelligent array of 15 cross-type sensors and 36 horizontal sensors. These sensors can either be used individually or in groups, with the option for Single area AF mode and Dynamic AF modes using groups of either nine, 21 or all 51 focus points. The system also features 3D tracking with automatic focus point switching that takes advantage of all 51 AF points as it uses color and light information to accurately track the subject. Nikon's new Scene Recognition System and improved focus algorithms also contribute to the impressive performance of the new 51-point AF system.

Nikon's new Picture Control System makes it easy for users of all experience levels to select and apply adjustments to how their pictures are rendered and create optimized settings to suit their individual preferences. The same settings produce consistent picture tone, even when using different camera bodies. The Picture Control System offers four basic setting options – Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome. These can be directly modified for easy adjustment and customization of image parameters, such as sharpening, tone compensation, brightness, and saturation. Photographers can customize and store up to nine customized options in the D300 and export up to 99 to a CF memory card, enabling photographers to share settings among multiple cameras that feature Picture Control System.

Taking a cue from the popularity of Nikon’s D-Lighting technology, the D300 features a new Active D-Lighting mode that, when enabled, provides remarkable real-time highlight and shadow correction with optimized image contrast. Active D-Lighting produces broader tone reproduction in both shadows and highlights by controlling highlights and exposure compensation while applying localized tone control technology to achieve a more pleasing level of contrast across the entire image. And because the advantages of Active D-Lighting are applied as images are captured, image editing time can be shortened.

The D300’s LiveView feature offers two modes for confirming subjects and composition on the new 920,000-dot, high-resolution 3-inch LCD monitor while shooting. The Tripod mode is designed for precise focus and accuracy when the camera is on a stable platform and the subject is not moving. In this mode, the camera focuses on the subject using focal-plane contrast and any point on the LCD screen can be selected as the focus point for the picture. The second mode, called Handheld mode, allows photographers to use the camera’s conventional TTL focusing system, with all 51-points and 15 cross-type points available. When using this mode, the camera activates focusing immediately when the shutter button is pressed, to ensure accurate focus.

The D300 also employs a new self-cleaning sensor unit. Four different resonance frequencies vibrate the optical low pass filter in front of the image sensor to shake particles free and reduce the appearance of dust.

Refined Ergonomics and Usability
The D300 inherits one of Nikon’s most streamlined, functional and aesthetically pleasing layouts in a digital SLR camera, designed to enable photographers to take pictures with less fatigue, greater accuracy and comfort.
The camera’s viewfinder provides virtually 100 percent coverage so pictures can be framed accurately, while an ultra-high definition, 920,000 dot VGA LCD screen on the rear of the camera displays images with vivid color and clarity. Its 170-degree wide viewing angle makes it easy to compose shots using the LCD screen in LiveView mode.

The D300 features rugged magnesium alloy construction and the camera’s shutter mechanism is tested up to 150,000-cycle. The 3.0-inch LCD is strengthened with tempered glass and the D300’s rubber gaskets and seals protect vulnerable entry points from dust and moisture.

Price and Availability
The D300 will be available from Nikon Authorized Dealers beginning in November 2007 for an estimated selling price of $1,799.95**. With the introduction of the D300, Nikon’s current lineup of digital SLR cameras now includes the new D3, D2XS, D300, D200, D80, D40x and D40.

About Nikon
Nikon, At the Heart of the Image™. Nikon Inc. is the world leader in digital imaging, precision optics and photo imaging technology and is globally recognized for setting new standards in product design and performance for its award-winning consumer and professional photographic equipment. Nikon Inc. distributes the Nikon Total Imaging System of consumer and professional digital SLR cameras, Nikkor optics, Speedlights and System Accessories; Nikon COOLPIX® compact digital cameras; COOLSCAN® digital film scanners; 35mm film SLR cameras; Nikon software products and Nikon sports and recreational optics. At the heart of every Nikon camera is Nikon’s Exclusive Feature System, making it easy for anyone to take amazing digital pictures. Through the Nikon Spirit Initiative™, the company, plays an active role in supporting aspiring and advanced photographers through a variety of philanthropic organizations, educational programs, events and workshops. For more information, dial (800) NIKON-US or visit www.nikonusa.com, which links all levels of photographers to the web's most comprehensive photo learning and sharing communities.

*NORMAL – LARGE image setting, using a SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash 1GB card

** Estimated selling prices listed are only an estimate. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change at any time.

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