Nikon Announces New D3100 Consumer Digital SLR and Four New Pro-Worthy Lenses

Aug 19, 2010
By Dan Havlik, PDN's Technology Specialist

Nikon D3100

With the big international imaging trade show, Germany's photokina, just over a month away, Nikon made some of the first big announcements of the summer season, unveiling a new entry level digital SLR and four new pro-worthy lenses this morning.

The digital SLR is the 14.2-megapixel Nikon D3100, a budget oriented model that offers full 1080p HD shooting and a host of other features for only $699. It goes on sale in September.

Also announced this morning was a new portrait lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G ($1,699), and a new super zoom, the AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VRII ($1,049). Nikon also took the wraps off a 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR II ($399), and the AF-S NIKKOR 24-120 f/4 G ED VRII with Nano Crystal Coating ($1,299).

Here's a breakdown of the products.

Nikon D3100
Budget-minded photographers looking for a solid digital SLR that won't break the bank may be interested in the 14.2-megapixel Nikon D3100. A follow-up to the popular D3000, the D3100 adds several key features including the ability to shoot full 1080p HD video clips at 24 frames per second. The camera records video in the AVCHD format which takes up less space on your SD memory card. Along with full HD, the D3100 can shoot 720 HD video at 30p or 24p. In-camera editing tools allow you to tweak your clips without having to transfer them to a computer first; while a built-in HDMI port lets you connect the camera directly to an HDTV for immediate playback.

The D3100 is powered by Nikon's new EXPEED 2 processor which is designed to cut down on image noise and produce better color. EXPEED 2 also helps process still images and movie clips faster along with speeding up playback.

The D3100 is the first DSLR to offer continuous autofocus in both the video and one-touch Live View modes. As a still camera, the D3100 uses an 11-point autofocus system and can shoot at 3 fps. New photographers will like the improved Guide Mode which displays a sample photo to demonstrate an effect, such as softening the background in a portrait. The D3100 is sold body only or as a kit with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens.

AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G N
Nikon's ultimate portrait lens gets better with the AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G N. The last version of this lens was released over 20 years ago and while the changes on the new 85mm f/1.4G N may be subtle, they're significant. For one, the new 85mm f/1.4G uses Nikon's Nano Crystal Coating which cuts down on ghosting and flare, allowing for better back-lit images.

The lens uses Nikon's SWM (Silent Wave Motor) which keeps autofocusing whisper-quiet.

Also helpful is the lens' Internal Focusing (IF) system which doesn't change the lens barrel when you lock in on your subject. M/A (manual-priority autofocus) lets you quickly switch from AF to manual focus for precise adjustments.

The real reason you're interested in this lens though is that extremely fast f/1.4 aperture which will blow out the background in your images to draw attention to your laser-sharp subject. And thanks to the 85mm f/1.4's nine-blade lens diaphragm, the background "bokeh" will have more natural-looking blur.

AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VRII
A versatile zoom lens, Nikon's AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VRII offers 10.7x zooming capability with a host of other features that makes it ideal for travel photography, landscapes, portraits and photos of distant subjects.

For starters, the lens uses Nikon's VR (Vibration Reduction) II image stabilization system that lets you shoot handheld at approximately four shutter speeds slower than normal while maintaining sharpness. The lens is optimized for both FX (full-frame) and DX-format DSLRs where it's magnified to 42-450mm (in 35mm format) for extra-long focal reach.

Two Extra-low Dispersion (ED) lens elements minimize chromatic aberrations even at the widest apertures; while three aspherical elements are designed to eliminate coma and other aberrations.

Other tried-and-true Nikon technologies on this lens include a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for fast, accurate, and quiet autofocus; a M/A Focus Mode Switch to enable quick changes between manual and autofocus; and a rounded nine-blade diaphragm for more natural, out-of-focus backgrounds. Internal Focus (IF) lets you lock in on a subject without changing the length of the lens, while a Zoom Lock Switch secures the lens barrel at its minimum length for either transport when you travel. Nikon's Super Integrated Coating (SIC) improves color and reduces flare for better image quality.

AF-S NIKKOR 24-120 f/4 G ED VRII
This professional workhorse of a lens offers a useful focal range of 24-120mm, a solid constant aperture of f/4, and VRII for stabilizing your shots. The lens also features Nano Crystal Coating to cut down on ghosting and flare. Designed for studio, portrait, and wedding photographers, the NIKKOR 24-120 f/4 G ED VRII will likely find a place in the bags of many users thanks to its broadly appealing feature set.

AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VRII
And last but not least is another big zoomer, the AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VRII, which completes a very busy night for Nikon optics.

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