Nikon announces two new cameras, lenses

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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