D3100_18_55_front-224x168It seems Nikon has finally caught up to Canon. They might even surpass their rival in the entry-level market when their just-announced D3100 debuts in September -- that is, if the camera delivers on its specs, which are the most filmmaker-friendly of any Nikon DSLR to date. The $700 prosumer model adds all of the most-requested features missing from Nikon's previous offerings. The D3100 ups the video resolution from 720p to 1080p, switches from a low-quality MJPEG codec to better h.264-based encoding (no word on bitrate yet), and tosses in a new feature Nikon claims is a "world's first."

Nikon claims the D3100 is "the world’s first D-SLR to introduce full time auto focus (AF) in Live View and D-Movie mode to effortlessly achieve the critical focus needed when shooting Full HD 1080p video." Like previous DSLRs that offered autofocus, the D3100 will use a contrast-detection method, which to date has been too slow to offer shooters (typically of nonfiction material) viable autofocus. Like the datarate of the video itself, the verdict on the autofocus feature will have to wait until we have more information, but the D3100 -- which has a APS-C sensor, plenty large for shallow depth-of-field shooting -- certainly looks great on paper. For Nikon shooters on a budget, this is the camera you've been waiting for. Here's the official word on price and availability:

The D3100 D-SLR camera outfit, including the versatile AF-S NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR image stabilization lens, is scheduled to be available at Nikon Authorized dealers beginning in mid September 2010, at an estimated selling price of $699.95.

D3100_g_info_e_8-224x168Of course, that $700 price point is $200 less than the MSRP of the Canon T2i, which also has an APS-C sensor. Nikon's also trying to bring in a lot of first-time DSLR owners with a simplistic (but optional) guide-based menu system (seen at left). Welcome to the HDSLR game, Nikon! Given how competition tends to push featuresets forward and drive prices down, this is good for all DSLR shooters.

What do you think about the D3100? If you were thinking of getting a Canon DSLR, might the D3100 change your mind?

Link: Nikon Press Release

[via Gizmodo]