As I mentioned in March, Nikon would eventually have to go full-frame. Well, they finally went there and announced the D3.
At least they went all the way to full frame instead of copping out at 1.1x or trying to make a 1.4x or 1.3x camera for lenses intended for a 1.5x sensor.
The neat part about the new Nikon D3 is that it slots right between the Canon bodies, offering more functionality than the 5D, more pixels than the 1D Mk III but it's less expensive than the 1Ds Mk III. Also, it offers a faster shooting speed than the 1Ds Mk III. And it's slotted in between the two as far as price goes.
It has live view, but Nikon opted to put in contrast-detection autofocus as well as the mirror-drop modes that the 40D and 1Ds Mk III have.
As I figured they'd do, the D3 preserves all of the effort Nikon put into DX lenses by adding a crop mode -- something that Canon can't do with the EF-S mount because of mirror clearance issues.
Nikon is also working on the user-interface aspects in their own way, adding networked wireless functionality so that a photo editor can monitor the output of several photographers. They also added a virtual level, which I would really really love to have. They also gave the camera impressive high-ISO boost capabilities.
The little cousin to the D3 is the D300, which has a 1.5x crop factor DX sensor but many of the same useful features. Either way, they opted to not try to stuff more than 12 megapixels in a crop-factor sensor at the moment, which is probably a smart move on their part
What does this mean for the market? Well, the pressure is on Pentax, Fuji, Sony, and Olympus to think about what their full-frame strategy is, I suspect, if for no other reason than marketing prestige. This also makes the 4/3rds mount look even worse in the marketplace.
I also tend to think that, between Nikon's latest and Canon's latest, live view has become a standard feature for a dSLR. I'm sure that within a few camera generations, we'll know for sure what works and what doesn't, if you want to have two autofocus modes or if you want the camera to stick to only one of the modes.
One should note that the D3 can reach the same speed as the black and white positive film that Kodak was cooking up last year. I am quite curious about how they might have compared.