Nikon is a leading Japanese brand name in the world of photography gear. Along with Canon, they dominate the industry in Point & Shoot and DSLR segments. While Point & Shoots are certainly very convenient to shoot with, they are light, minimalist and uncomplicated, your photography is seriously affected by the lack of advanced options and the small size of the sensor. This is where DSLR cameras come into the picture. This article looks into the famed Nikon DSLR line-up and glances at some of the best features that these cameras have. But before we begin, you may want to take a look at some of the basic DSLR settings.
Nikon’s DSLR lineup can be divided into four distinct categories, entry-level, enthusiastic, semi-professional and professional. The entry-level DSLR category would encompass such models as the D3100, the D5100, the D5200 and the D3300. The enthusiastic category has such cameras like the D7000, the D7100 and the D300S. The semi-professional models would include the D610 and the D800/800E while the professional models are the D4S and the D3X.
Cameras in the entry-level and the enthusiastic categories have APS-C sensors powering them. An APS-C sensor is a cropped sensor (meaning it is smaller than a full-frame 35mm equivalent sensor) and thus only utilizes the center part of the image coming through the lens. In reality what happens is that a lens designed for the image circle of a 35mm format camera let’s say a 50mm prime becomes a 75mm prime when attached to a crop-sensor body. The focal length does not change, but what changes is that camera uses the center part of the image and discards the rest.
Entry Level DSLRs
The D3300 replaced the D3200 as the newest entry-level DSLR from Nikon. It has a 24 megapixel sensor and is powered by the latest EXPEED 4 image processing engine. Resultantly the camera can shoot stills at 5 fps and videos at a maximum of 60 fps. It is also Wi-Fi compatible, but you will need to attach a wireless adapter for it to function.
Another entry level offering from Nikon, the D5300 also has a 24 megapixel sensor, 5 fps still shooting speed and 60 fps videos shooting. But what sets it apart from the rest of the clutter is that it has built-in Wi-Fi and GPS. Both the above DSLRs are DX format DSLRs meaning there is a 1.5x crop factor.
Both the above models don’t have a built-in autofocus motor. This means Nikon’s AF lenses (which don’t have a built-in autofocus motor) will not autofocus on these. Having said that, they will, however, focus manually. The only lenses that will autofocus on these two cameras are the AF-S lenses (which have built-in autofocus motor). So, if you plan to buy these two cameras you will need AF-S lenses. Otherwise you will not be able to use the autofocus feature. Check this online resource if you want to know more about the various Nikkor lens acronyms.
Enthusiastic Range of Nikon DSLRs
Moving towards the enthusiastic models let’s take a look at the D7000. The D7000 is a very popular mid-range DX format DSLR from Nikon. It was launched back in 2010 and even after 4 years of operation and a replacement launched recently, the camera is still going strong. The D7000 was actually launched as a replacement for the D90, which has been reduced to somewhat of a grandfather status in the Nikon lineup. For some amazing reason the outdated camera is still being sold by Nikon, even after six years of its launch. The D7000 is in fact one of the best sub-1000 DSLRs currently sold in the market.
The D7000 boasts a 16 megapixels APS-C sensor, 6 fps continuous still shooting speed and full-HD movie recording in 24/30 fps. Most sub-1000 DSLRs don’t offer a 100% frame coverage via the viewfinder and this is one of the USPs of this camera. If you are serious about your compositions, a 100% viewfinder will ensure that you can precisely frame and compose your shots before pressing the shutter release button. It saves you from potential surprises later on.
Some of the other distinguishing features include a Pentaprism viewfinder. If you are wondering what it is then in simple words the images coming out of a Pentaprism viewfinder are much brighter compared to that of a pentamirror based viewfinder. The lower end D5300 and the D3300 both have pentamirror based viewfinders.
This camera also has a twin memory card slot. Both of them supporting SD cards and capable of being programmed to work as either a buffer overrun, or for simultaneous recording RAW in one and JPEG on the other or in backup mode.
Semi-Professional DSLR Line up From Nikon
The D610 is Nikon’s cheapest full-frame offering. At less than 1800 dollars (body only) it offers 6 fps continuous shooting speed, has a 39-point AF system with 9 cross-type AF points and a 2016 pixel RGB metering system. To top it off an amazing 24 megapixel sensor beats at the heart of this DSLR. The D610 replaced the D600 which was launched as a budget full-frame option from Nikon. Some of the other features include Wi-Fi compatibility (requires wireless adapter), full-time AF and manual focusing in live view shooting, a 3.2” LCD monitor and twin SD card slots. The Pentaprism powered optical viewfinder has a 100% frame coverage.
The D800 and the D800E (without the Optical Low-Pass Filter) are two top of the line FX format offerings from Nikon which boasts excellent picture quality at an affordable price. The highlight of the camera is its 36 megapixels CMOS sensor. On would stop short of referring this as a professional camera as it’s incapable of being used for sports or fast action photography. At only 4 fps continuous shooting speed the camera is woefully short of the performance standards achieved by the D4S.
The 36 megapixels coupled with the large sensor enables the D800 to capture a stunning amount of detail. In fact it is also a great camera for shooting videos. It is capable of shooting in 25, 30 and the preferred by cinematographers 24 fps. Stereo quality sound can be recorded via an external mic. Not only that, it also offers the rare convenience of being able to manually adjust the volume level while shooting videos. This is something that cinematographers love. Additionally, one could record the video being shot on an external drive via the built-in HDMI port. Get more information on how to shoot videos using a DSLR. Check this great online course.
The D4S was launched as an upgrade for the highly popular Nikon flagship DSLR the D4. The D4S thus assumes the position as the new flagship for the Nikon DSLR lineup. To start off, the D4S has a 16.2 megapixels sensor powered by Nikon’s latest EXPEED 4 image processing engine. It has a fantastic 11 fps continuous shooting speed, making it ideally suitable for sports and action photography. The D4S has a 51-point AF system with a 91,000 pixel RGB sensor metering each scene. Although the ISO range goes all the way up to 409,600 best results are obtained up to ISO 25,600 or thereabouts, depending on the quality of the ambient light. Learn more about photographing at nighttime and take the D4S out for a spin. The build quality is more than satisfactory. Think of the D4S as a D7000 on steroids. It has an all magnesium alloy chassis and comes with weather sealing. Take the next step and zero in one your dream DSLR.