10 Outstanding Nikon DSLR Cameras For Amateurs and Professionals Serious About Digital Photography

nikon-d3x image 1. The Nikon D3Xis one of only two DSLRs that professional photographers prefer to shoot the best fashion, portraits and/or products in a studio and on-location for spectacular landscapes. The D3X features a full-frame 36 x 23.9mm CMOS sensor, with a resolution of 24.5 megapixels; full 1:1 magnified view in Live View; 51-point AF (auto-focus) with a wide range of selection/grouping options and intelligent tracking; and probably the best metering system (1005 pixel RGB sensor).

For approximately, $8,000, the Nikon D3X is a very serious DSLR camera, but for those that need its high-end features and capabilities, it is the camera to buy.

2. The Nikon D3S isn’t as revolutionary as the legendary D3, but includes many attractive refinements for serious amateurs and pros who are ready to spend $5200 for a DSLR. The 12.1-megapixel, full-frame (36 x 24 mm) sensor produces exceptional image quality from Nikon’s RAW file format, 14-bit uncompressed NEFs (Nikon Electronic Format). Its larger buffer allows for very acceptable images in lower light and more than 30 RAW frames in one burst. This makes the D3S an excellent tool in the hands of sports and action photographers.

3. The Nikon D700 is often considered the company’s first “compact” professional DSLR; and, at approximately $2,700, competes successfully with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Sony DSLR-A900.

The core of the D700 includes the same 12.1-megapixel, full-frame (FX) sensor and processor that so many photographers like about the D3. They are also attracted to the D700’s ISO range of 200–6,400 (with boost to ISO 25,600); Multi-CAM3500FX Auto-Focus sensor (51-point, 15 cross-type, and more vertical coverage); 5 frames per second continuous shooting mode, with auto-focus tracking; and exclusive Scene Recognition System.

4. The Nikon D300s had big shoes to fill since the original D300 was hailed as the “best semi-professional digital SLR.” The newer D300s maintains that reputation with the quality construction of its magnesium-alloy parts; a 13.1-megapixel, DX-format, 3:2-aspect ratio CMOS sensor; and 7 frames per second continuous shooting.

The D300s also features Nikon’s first contrast-detection auto-focus that works in movie mode as well as live view. The advanced auto-focus system includes 3D tracking, which designates the active points and tracks a subject within all three dimensions, delivering a sequence of in-focus images. Add the Nikon D300s’ 720p video and it’s an excellent value at approximately $1,700.

5. The Nikon D7000 is the obvious and best upgrade choice for photographers with older Nikon model, such as the D70 or D90. Virtually everyone in the digital photography world agrees that the Nikon D7000 is the best DSLR that Nikon has ever made.

The Nikon D7000 features a 16.2MP CMOS sensor, which provides the second highest resolution of any Nikon DSLR other than the 24MP sensor in the D3X. With its 1080p full-HD movie mode and more manual control in live view and video modes, the D7000 produces higher quality images than any other Nikon priced less than $7,500. At $1,200, that comparison makes buying the D7000 an easy decision.

6. The Nikon D90 is targeted at all enthusiasts and hobbyists, from “beginner” DSLR users to those with DSLR experience that don’t want to spend the bucks for semi-pro or pro cameras.

At the time of its release, Nikon gave the D90 a better CMOS sensor (12.3 megapixels); the 3.0-inch VGA screen and 3D tracking auto-focus (AF) from the D3/D300; Live View, contrast-detect AF; and the world’s first DSLR movie mode (720p HDTV quality) and HDMI output.

The Nikon D90 still gives DSLR beginners plenty of capacity to take all the digital photos and video they’ll ever want, as they develop their DSLR skills; and, at approximately $900 (body only), it is a value purchase.

7. The Nikon D5100 DSLR camera ($850) is a middle-of-the-road choice between the more expensive D7000 and the basic D3100. If you’re a member of the broad market of non-professional DSLRs buyers, then the D5100 will give you an excellent balance of value and capabilities and picture sharpness that tend toward professional-grade.

What has many digital photography enthusiasts’ attention is the side-hinged LCD screen; a definite step forward from the D5000’s unwieldy bottom-hinged LCD. The D5100 has many of the features found in the D7000, such as a 16.2-MP CMOS sensor, ISO settings to an equivalent of 25,600 and 14-bit RAW shooting function, which, in the past, Nikon reserved for its more expensive cameras.

8. With the D5000, Nikon has created a niche between the D60 and the D90 that designates the D5000, as a high-end, entry-level DSLR. The D5000 has a 12.3MP CMOS sensor compared to the D60’s 10.2 MP CCD sensor. Where the D60 only as a three-point auto-focus (AF) system, the D5000 has graduated to an 11-point AF system.

The video capabilities of the Nikon D5000 are quite impressive. It was one of the first DSLRs, with a sensor of its size, to record video. Again, the D5000’s video specs are the same, or similar, as the D90.

With so many of the features of the D90 packed inside the D5000’s body, its innards have proven their quality and capabilities and that alone makes the Nikon D5000 an excellent choice at approximately $630.

9. The Nikon D3100 DSLR camera signifies a realization on the part of the company that it needed to update its competitive position in the DSLR entry-level market. The D3100’s 14.2 megapixel CMOS sensor makes it the first Nikon entry-level model with live view and full-HD video and capable of recording 1920x1080 movies.

At approximately $650, the Nikon D3100 is in the same price range as the Canon EOS 1100D ($600), the Sony NEX-C3 ($550–$650), the NEX-5 ($650) and Panasonic GF2 (less than $600). When entry-level buyers compare all these cameras’ features, they’ll find the Nikon D3100 a good, if not better, choice than its competitors.

10. The Nikon D3000 is one of a number of cameras on the market for digital photographers who are ready to advance to their first DSLR. It has many powerful features, especially in its set-up and shooting menus, that makes it very comparable to the Nikon D5000 and D90 cameras. Of particularly note is the D3000’s guide mode that explains key shooting criteria, instead of just displaying them, which was first seen in the Nikon D40. The other major improvement is the 11-point AF system compared to the D60’s 3-point system.

Despite some drawbacks, the Nikon D3000 DSLR camera (at approximately $500) is an excellent first choice for digital photographers who want to advance their skills and results beyond what can be done with a compact, or point-and-shoot, camera.

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