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Nikon announces D100 digital SLR  
Thursday, February 21, 2002 | by
Nikon today has announced the D100, a 6.02 million image pixel digital SLR that borrows liberally from the company's digital D1X and film N80/F80 models to create a new camera aimed squarely at a class of photographer whose budget put the D1X beyond their reach. The exact price of the D100 has not yet been announced, but is expected to retail for about half the cost of the company's flagship D1X model when it ships in the second quarter of 2002.

Nikon D100

Nikon D100 Major Features

The biggest news of course is the pixel count of the CCD, which is the first Nikon camera to cross the 6 million pixel barrier at 6.1 million effective pixels, which, when processed, produces an image of 6.02 million pixels. The CCD is from the same Interline Transfer family as the D1-series models, and is the identical physical size as well. This means that the focal length cropping factor is the same also, at about 1.5x, relative to a 35mm film camera. The D100 eschews the rectangular-pixel approach of the D1X, however, adopting a more-traditional square pixel layout on the CCD sensor. The camera features three resolution settings; the highest resolution setting produces a 3008 x 2000 pixel image that opens into an image editing application like Photoshop as a 17.6MB 8-bits per colour, or 35.2MB 16-bits per colour, image. Resting over the D100's CCD is an optical low-pass filter, similar in artifact-reducing strength to the D1X, but tuned specifically for the D100's CCD.

Three colour modes, up from the D1X and D1H's two. The modes will each offer a different colour appearance, as per the D1X and D1H, and there will be the same choice between sRGB and AdobeRGB colour spaces for at least two of the modes. The colour space and colour look for the third mode has not yet been finalized. Nikon's goal for the D100, at least in the two colour modes that are already set, is to offer a look and feel to the colour that closely mirrors that of the D1X and D1H. Same goes for the White Balance options, which include Preset, 6 Manual settings with +/-3 override and Auto WB. Auto WB is determined from the image sensor data directly. This is a departure from the D1-series cameras, which derive their automatic white balance from the 1005 pixel exposure metering sensor. Since the D100 uses a different metering component, a new auto white balance approach was obviously necessary.

An ISO range of 200-1600. The D100 includes an "ISO Automatic Control Mode" custom setting that works in all exposure modes. So-configured, the camera will adjust the ISO dynamically, from ISO 200-800, based on the exposure settings and shooting conditions.

The frame rate specification has not been announced, but is anticipated to be in the range of the N80/F80's 2.5 fps. The number of continuous frames the camera can record in a burst has also not been announced.

File format options are similar to, if not exactly the same as, the D1X and D1H: three JPEG settings, each providing a different amount of compression, plus TIFF and compressed/uncompressed raw NEF. The compression of compressed NEF files is handled by the D100's main microprocessor and not in hardware, as per the D1X and D1H. Also as per the D1X and D1H, then, this will likely translate into long file saving times for the compressed NEF format, since the microprocessor isn't as efficient at image processing as, for example, the dedicated hardware circuit that performs the compression to JPEG. Images are stored on CompactFlash cards, both the thinner Type I and thicker Type II. Nikon's specs note that the 512MB and 1GB Microdrive are supported, in addition to flash memory CompactFlash cards. The D100 has a single card slot.

The D100 is expected to offer in-camera contrast and sharpening options that are similar to that of the D1X and D1H.

The autofocus system is the same Multi-CAM900 module, with the same contrast sensitivity specifications and five focus areas, as the N80/F80. The 10-segment 3D Matrix Metering SPD (silicon photo diode) exposure system carries over from the N80/F80 and the F100.

A top shutter speed of 1/4000 sec. and a top flash sync speed of 1/180 sec. Flash system specifications for the D100 are similar to the D1X and D1H, including 5 segment Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill Flash control with the SB-28DX, SB-50DX and a new Nikon Speedlight model aimed at pros called the SB-80DX. A popup flash is built into the prism of the D100. The D100 lacks a PC socket for triggering external flash, though it does accept the AS-15, an adapter that slides into the hot shoe and includes a PC socket on its front.

Nikon opted for a slower USB 1.1 computer interface over the faster FireWire interface found in its D1-series cameras. Remote control of the camera is to be possible using Nikon Capture 3.

The D100 is the first digital SLR from Nikon that's powered by a Lithium Ion battery pack, the 7.2v EN-EL3. The flat, rectangular battery, which is considerably smaller than the EN-4 pack used by the D1-series cameras, slides into a chamber on the bottom of the D100. An optional, extra-cost accessory, the Multi Function Battery Pack MB-D100, will hold two EN-EL3's for extended shooting. It will also accept 6 1.5v AA batteries; a Nikon spec sheet indicates that, like the N80/F80, only alkalines are to be used, probably with a low number of frames per set of AA's, relative to the EN-EL3. Nikon has not announced a frames per charge specification for the D100 and EN-EL3.

Nikon D100 with Multi Function Battery Pack MB-D100

As its name implies, the Multi Function Battery Pack MB-D100 does more than power the camera. It also includes vertical release and AF start buttons, a 10-pin remote terminal (which the D100's body otherwise lacks), Command and Sub Command dials. In a first for a Nikon digital SLR, the MB-D100 also includes a built-in microphone that enables the recording of .AVI-format sound annotations to the CompactFlash card. And in a first for any digital SLR I'm familiar with, the MB-D100 also includes a speaker for playing back sound files stored on the card. I've long used the sound annotation feature of Kodak DCS cameras, and of late the Canon EOS-1D, so it's great to see Nikon making a move to incorporate a similar feature in the D100.

The rear LCD monitor, at 1.8 inches, is slightly smaller than its 2-inch counterpart in the D1 series. The menu design is similar to that of the D1X and D1H, as are standard on-screen features, including histogram and blown highlights indications, zoomed playback, 1, 4 and 9-at-a-time image viewing and more. New in the D100 is an on-screen interface that enables the inputting of up to a 36-character line of text using the camera's rear multiselector control. This chunk of text is then entered into an internal field in each photo automatically, and can be displayed by Nikon View 5.

As already noted, Nikon is prepping new versions of Nikon View and Nikon Capture, both of which will support the D100's full range of file formats, in addition to supporting the full range of formats from the D1, D1X and D1H (and other Nikon digital models too). In a welcome departure from its predecessor, Nikon View 5 will be able to browse photos before they're transferred from the camera and once they've been moved to a location on the computer's hard drive. It will also support previewing of files, including NEF format files, as well as printing, uploading to Nikon.Net and opening photos into an external image editor such as Nikon Capture or Photoshop. While Nikon View 4 could add keywords to photos as they were being transferred from card to computer, Nikon View 5 will support more than 20 IPTC text fields. And it will also be able to call on Nikon Capture 3 to batch convert selected NEF files, with some or all of the batch processing options of Nikon Capture available when a batch process is commenced from Nikon View. Nikon View 5 for Mac OS 9, Mac OS X and Windows is expected to ship with the D100; a release date for the extra-cost Nikon Capture 3 has not been set.

The first opportunity to see the Nikon D100 will be at the PMA trade show in Orlando, Florida starting this weekend. Nikon has also announced:

  • Speedlight SB-80DX - a new Speedlight that features digital SLR compatibility, wireless slave flash, a modeling flash function and coverage from 14mm to 105mm.

  • AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED - A a new 70-200mm f2.8 that will include Vibration Reduction. The wording of the announcement suggests that its release is not imminent.

  • Coolpix 2500 - A new addition to the Coolpix line that features a 2MP sensor and a 3x zoom lens in a small, colourful package.

Nikon D100 specifications

Feature Description
Type of camera Lens-interchangeable digital SLR camera
CCD •23.7 x 15.6mm RGB Interline Transfer CCD
•6.31 million total pixels
•6.1 million effective pixels
•6.02 million image pixels
•Captures 12-bits per colour image
Recording Pixels •L: 3008 x 2000
•M: 2240 x 1488
•S: 1504 x 1000
Sensitivity ISO equivalency 200-1600
Storage •System: EXIF file; JPEG, uncompressed TIFF and 12-bit compressed/uncompressed raw NEF
•Media: CompactFlash™ (CF) Card (Type I/II) and 512MB/1GB Microdrive™
Shooting Modes •Single frame shooting (S) mode: advances one frame for each shutter release
•Continuous Shooting (C) mode: approx. 2.5 fps (final spec not yet announced)
•Self-timer mode: time duration can be set
White Balance •Auto (TTL Control using image sensor)
•Manual (6 settings with fine tuning)
LCD Monitor 1.8-inch, 118,000-dot, low temp. polysilicon TFT LCD with LED backlighting
Playback Function •1 frame
•Thumbnail (4/9 segments)
•Slide show
•Zoomed playback
•Histogram, highlight point display
Delete function •Card format
•All frames delete
•Selected frames delete
Video output Yes; NTSC or PAL (switchable)
Interface •USB 1.1
Usable lenses •D-type/G-type AF Nikkor: All functions possible
•D-type Manual-Focus Nikkor: All functions except autofocus possible,
•AF Nikkor other than D-type/G-type: All functions possible except 3D Matrix Metering
•AI-P Nikkor: All functions except 3D Matrix Metering and autofocus possible
•Non-CPU: Usable in [M] mode (camera’s built-in exposure meter does not work)
•Electronic Rangefinder usable with lens with maximum aperture of f/5.6 or faster; IX-Nikkors cannot be used.
Picture angle Approx. 1.5x focal length in 35mm [135] format equivalent
Viewfinder Optical-type fixed-eye level pentaprism; built-in diopter adjustment (-2 to +1 m-1); eyepiece shutter provided
Eyepoint 20mm (at -1.0 m-1)
Focusing screen B-type BriteView Clear Matte screen II
Viewfinder frame coverage Approx. 95%
Viewfinder magnification Approx. 0.8x with 50mm lens set to infinity and -1.0m-1
Viewfinder information Beneath viewfinder area (partial list):

•Focus indications
•Shutter speed
•Exposure indicator
•Exposure compensation
•Flash output level compensation
•Frame count

In viewfinder area:

•Focus frame
•Grid lines
•Centre-weighted metering area

Autofocus TTL phase detection, Nikon Multi-CAM900 autofocus module; Detection range: EV -1 to EV 19 (ISO 100 equivalent, at normal temperature: 20°C/68°F)
Lens servo •Single Servo AF (S)
•Continuous Servo AF (C)
•Manual focus (M)
Focus area One of five focus areas can be selected
AF area mode 1) Single Area AF, 2) Dynamic AF (Dynamic AF Mode with Closest Subject Priority is available)
Focus lock Focus is locked by pressing AE-L/AF-L button or lightly pressing shutter release button in (S) AF
Exposure metering system TTL full-aperture exposure metering system:

•3D Matrix Metering with 10-segment SPD
•Spot Metering

Exposure metering range At normal temperature, ISO 100 equivalent, f/1.4 lens

•Matrix Metering: EV 0-21
•Centre-Weighted Metering: EV 0-21
•Spot Metering: EV 3-21

Exposure mode •[P] Auto-Multi Program (Flexible Program possible)
•[S] Shutter-Priority Auto
•[A] Aperture-Priority Auto
•[M] Manual; shutter speed/aperture adjustable in 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps
•ISO Automatic Control Mode (Custom setting) is available in any exposure mode (P, S, A, M)
Exposure compensation Exposure compensated in ±5 EV range in 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps
Auto exposure lock Detected exposure value locked by pressing AE-L/AF-L button
Auto exposure bracketing •Number of shots: two or three
•Compensation steps: 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 step
Shutter 30 to 1/4000 sec. and Bulb
Sync contact X-contact only; flash synchronization up to 1/180 sec.
Flash control •D-TTL (Automatic Balanced Fill-Flash controlled by five-segment TTL Multi Sensor ) with built-in Speedlight and external Speedlight such as SB-80DX/28DX/50DX: three modes available
•Non-TTL Auto Flash with an external Speedlight
Flash sync mode •Front-Curtain Sync (normal sync)
•Red-Eye Reduction
•Red-Eye Reduction with Slow Sync
•Slow Sync
•Rear-Curtain Sync
Built-In Speedlight •Manual pop-up type, GN: 11/36 (ISO 100, m/ft.)
•Sensitivity range: ISO 200 - 800 equivalent
•Sync flash system with external Speedlight: Not available
Ready-light Red LED indicator inside the viewfinder
Accessory shoe Standard ISO-type hot-shoe contact; safety lock provided
Sync terminal None; optional AS-15 accessory required for PC socket connection to external flash
Self-timer Electronically controlled; timer duration: 2, 5, 10 (default), 20 sec.
Depth-of-field preview button Stop-down lens aperture by pressing depth-of-field preview button (Electronically controlled type)
Voice Memo Available in optional Multi Function Battery Pack
Letter Input Multiselector enables inputting of alphanumeric characters (max. 36)
Remote control Via 10-pin remote terminal in Multi Function Battery Pack only
Power requirements •Li-Ion Battery Pack EN-EL3 (7.2V DC)
•AC Adapter EH-5 (100-240V AC)
Tripod socket 1/4 in. (ISO 1222)
Requirements Customs Settings, other options selectable on rear LCD monitor
(W x H x D)
Approx. 144 x 116 x 80.5mm (5.7 x 4.6 x 3.2 in.)
Weight (without batteries) Approx. 700g (24.7oz.)
Optional Accessories •Multi Function Battery Pack MB-D100
•Li-ion Battery Pack EN-EL3
•Chargers MH-18/19
•AC Adapter EH-5
•CompactFlash™ Cards
•Speedlight SB-80DX/SB-28DX/SB-50DX
•Nikon Capture 3
•Semi-Soft Case CF-D100

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