Nikon has announced the D3 digital SLR this morning, eight years after the company launched its D1 model.

The 12.1 effective megapixel D3 features Nikon’s new FX-format CMOS sensor, measuring 23.9 x 36mm, which is nearly identical to the size of 35mm film.

Nikon is also boasting that the camera is has the fastest startup time, shortest viewfinder blackout time, and shortest shutter lag of any digital SLR camera as well as the capability to shoot up to nine frames per second at full FX-format resolution.

In addition to the new FX-format CMOS sensor, the D3 incorporates Nikon’s new EXPEED Image Processing System that is central to the blazing speed and processing power needed for many of the D3’s new features.

Taking things to the extreme for Sports and News journalists, the camera is capable of achieving ISO ranges of 200 to 6400, however Nikon say, by setting the camera to its built-in options of Lo-1 or Hi-2, the ISO range of the camera can be expanded to the equivalent of ISO 100 or ISO 25,600.

The D3 also features an entirely new 51-point auto focus system with Nikon’s 3D Focus Tracking feature and two new LiveView shooting modes that allow photographers to frame a photograph using the camera’s high-resolution LCD monitor.

The D3 also features two CompactFlash card slots that can be used for consecutive recording (overflow), simultaneous recording (backup), separating recording of RAW and JPEG files or even copying pictures between the two cards.

Images can be displayed directly from the camera to a high-definition monitor using the camera’s HDMI port and an optional cable.

The exterior of the D3 is crafted of magnesium alloy will comes with a 3.0-inch LCD and be available in November 2007 for an estimated selling price of £3399.99 in the UK and $4999.95 in the US.