Nikon DSLR Overview
Nikon currently has the most buzzworthy DSLRs in its lineup, the new power duo D700/D90 and the 2007 power-duo of the D3/D300. While its line-up may not have as many Top 20 models as Canon's, the buzz generated by these two is more than enough to overshadow the Canons.
The expansive big-megapixel
The Nikon D3X was a December 2008 surprise as Nikon introduced their 24-megapixel full-framer. The starting price of $8000 put the camera out of reach for many professionals and enthusiasts, and created some frustration and animosity towards the price-deciders. Especially when considering that the Sony Alpha A900 is available for almost 1/3rd of the price using a "similar" sensor.
The New Full-Frame Hope
The Nikon D700 splits the Power Duo of the D3/D300 right in the middle, by offering a camera that borrows from both. To over-simplify and generalize, it's the body of the D300 and the highly-sought after 12-megapixel 35mm full frame FX CMOS sensor of the Nikon D3. The price of $3000 makes it less expensive than the D3, but it is by no means "affordable" in the eyes of the average DSLR user.
The Power Duo
The power duo of D3 and D300 offers advanced and professional users two tempting DSLR choices. The Nikon D3 is a full featured 35mm full frame DSLR that sits on top of the Nikon-mount food chain at the moment. With impressive performance in various aspects of photography and operation it sets the standard higher for future models. While 12 megapixels with a big sensor are quite plenty for a lot of projects, there are projects and applications where more megapixels are needed. The D3 is a great DSLR, but it's not the D-Panacea DSLR. Just take a look at its dpreview review by both Phil Askey and Simon Joinson.
While the D3 gets most of the attention and accolades, it is the Nikon D300 that is the most buzz for the buck DSLR. Despite the fact that there are newer and cheaper models from Canon (40D), Sony (A300, A350), and Pentax (K20D), the D300 has quite surpringly perhaps maintained its buzz and also its price point.
Both of these DSLRs have set the new standard in performance, and upcoming models from the competition and Nikon itself have their work cut out for them.
The Space Between
The Nikon D200 finds itself occupying the space between the D80 and the D300, two cameras that came after its introduction. By no means a slouch, the D200 finds itself ideally suited for people who want more than the D80 and don't want to pay that much for the D300.
Nikon beat Canon by a few weeks in introducing a dSLR with a reasonable video recording feature. The D90 is the new $1000 price-point dSLR in the Nikon world, that sits between the D300 and D60, bracketed by the D200 and D80 and of course the Fuji S5.
The affordable workhorse
It may be getting "old" in terms of "digital age", but the Nikon D80 is quite possible the bang for buck DSLR in the Nikon line-up.
Who ate my focus motor?
Nikon made an unfortunate decision for its entry-level DSLR line-up. It requires focus motors on the lenses if you want fancy features like ... auto focus. While this is not as big of a deal as it may sound from a photography purist stand point, we would prefer that Nikon de-cripples their future entry-level DSLRs!
The Nikon D60 is the latest model in this segment, and coupled with a VR kit lens, it offers the enthusiastic beginner or SLR phtographer on a budget a good alternative, especially if they are fans or users of the Nikon mount.
The D60 was preceded by the Nikon D40 and D40x duo, the unassuming duo that is perhaps credited with the Nikon renaissance and vaulting Nikon ahead of Canon in market share in the all-important Japanese market for 2007. Separated by sensors (6mp vs 10mp) the two are affordable entry-level DSLRs.
Previous and older Nikon DSLRs will be added at a later point, models such as the D2X, D2H, the historic D100, and many more. Stay tuned!