While we've seen some exciting announcements from Canon and Pentax in the last week, and from Sony at CES, Nikon's PMA SLR announcement amounts to an incremental upgrade from its entry-level D40 SLR. The new D60 includes a 10.2-megapixel CCD sensor, the company's new Expeed processor, sensitivity up to ISO 3,200 (Nikon calls it Hi), and a 2.5-inch LCD. Compared to Canon's Rebel XSi, this new Nikon comes in with fewer pixels (though still more than enough for most entry-level SLR users) and a smaller LCD. With its 3-frame-per-second burst mode, the D60 is also slightly slower in continuous shooting. However, the D60 is essentially on par with Sony's DSLR-A200, though the Sony includes sensor-shift image stabilization that works with any lens, while Nikon relies on lens-based optical image stabilization. To Nikon's credit, they have upgraded the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens to include their Vibration Reduction optical image stabilization.
Like the D40, the D60 includes 3-area autofocus, 3-D Color Matrix Metering II, and a host of in-camera editing features, including Nikon's D-Lighting, red-eye reduction, and filter effects, such as the cross-screen (aka cross star) effect. Another nifty feature, also found in some of Nikon's point-and-shoots, is the Stop-Motion Movie mode, which lets you create a stop-motion movie clip from a series of up to 100 consecutive JPG images, and even lets you pluck individual images out after the fact if the clip doesn't live up to your expectations. As with all of Nikon's SLRs, the D60 can capture images as RAW (aka NEF in Nikon-land) files. However, Nikon has also included a NEF-to-JPG conversion tool in the camera itself. It won't offer all the functionality of the software included with the camera, or Nikon's optional Capture NX software, but it's a nice option to have if you don't want to shoot RAW+JPG, which can eat up a lot of memory on your SD card.
As has become the trend in SLRs, the D60 includes a dust reduction system that shakes the sensor to make any loose dust fall off of the sensor. Nikon has taken this system a step further than some by placing anti-static coatings on all parts in the mirror box (most manufacturers include an anti-static coating on the UV filter in front of the sensor), and has a new Air Flow Control system. Since the air inside the SLR is disturbed every time the mirror flips up to take a picture, this new system uses air vents in the bottom of the mirror box so that air naturally flows downward, bringing any loose dust with it, instead of bouncing around the inside of the mirror box.
According to Nikon, they have also improved the camera's help function, compared to the D40, while also offering different options for the status screen. Since, like too many entry-level SLRs, the D60 doesn't include a dedicated status display, the LCD shows you the state of your camera's settings. A sensor below the optical viewfinder turns the display off when you raise the camera to your eye. I prefer a dedicated status display, though the omission of one is usually an attempt to keep prices down, which is always a nice thing.
It's not easy to say how much of a price advantage that amounts to in the D60, since Nikon says that pricing will not be available until 30 days prior to sales availability. Strangely, they also say that the D60 will be available in February 2008. That means that unless Nikon starts selling this camera on February 29th, in celebration of leap year, we should know the pricing by now. Rest assured, once we find out the pricing we'll let you know. We do know that the D60 will be offered as a kit, with the aforementioned AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens. It is unclear right now if Nikon will offer a body-only option, though they never did for the D40, so I wouldn't expect it.