It's time to toss your compact and get serious with a feature-rich,
Imaging: 6.1MP (effective) CCD sensor captures 6MP images (3008x2000 pixels) with 12 bits/color in NEF RAW mode.
Storage: SD cards. Stores JPEG, RAW, or RAW + Basic JPEG.
Burst Rate: Up to 100 highest quality JPEGs at 2.5 fps.
AF System: TTL phase detection system with 3 selectable AF zones and red activation lights. Single-shot, continuous, and AF autoselect, predictive focus tracking. Sensitive down to EV -1 (at ISO 100, f/1.4).
Shutter speeds: 1/4000 to 30 sec plus B (1/3-EV increments).
Metering: TTL metering with 420-segment RGB sensor. 3D Color Matrix II evaluative metering, centerweighted (8mm circle), and spotmetering (approx. 2.5 percent of viewfinder). EV 0-20 (at ISO 100).
ISO range: 200-1600 (in 1-EV increments, plus HI 1 boost).
Flash: Built-in pop-up with i-TTL autoflash and 420-segment RGB sensor, GN 55 (ISO 200, feet). Flash sync at 1/500 sec. Dedicated hot-shoe.
Viewfinder: Fixed eye-level, pentamirror. LCD: 2.5-in. TFT with approx. 230,000-pixel resolution. Output: Hi-Speed USB 2.0 and video. PictBridge compatible.
Batteries: EN-EL9 Li-ion rechargeable; 470 shots per charge (CIPA rating).
Size/weight: 5x2.5x3.7 in., 1.22 lb with card and batteries (body only).
Street price: $560 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 GII AF-S DX Nikkor lens.
For info: www.nikonusa.com.
Accuracy: 97% (Excellent)
Magnification: 0.81X (Very Good)
The Competitive Set
Olympus Evolt E-500
with Olympus 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko EZ Zoom lens ($580, street): Sporting an 8MP CCD sensor and slightly higher resolution, the Evolt E-500 (see "Hotshot Shootout," March 2006) has a viewfinder with excellent magnification (0.98X) and an ultrasonic dust removal system that keeps the CCD clean. Plus it has two memory card slots for CF and xD-Picture cards. However, the E-500's AF system is slower at all light levels and can't focus below EV 1 -- so it doesn't hold a candela to the Nikon's AF.
As part of the Four Thirds System, the E-500 also has fewer lenses to choose from, all of which have a 2X 35mm lens factor due to the size and shape of the sensor.
With SMCP-DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL lens ($590, street): In image quality, the K100D and Nikon D40 are very similar. While the D40 includes D-Lighting and in-camera editing features that may give it the advantage in bright light, the K100D's sensor-based Shake Reduction system gives it the edge when shooting with slow shutter speeds. Its fast 11-zone AF system is also better for tracking a moving subject, and the camera features an autopicture mode that automatically chooses the program mode based on scene content. The K100D ships with AA alkaline batteries, so you'll have to spend more up front for rechargeables.