New Nikons: another rumour

Started Sep 15, 2007 | Discussions thread
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bobn2
bobn2 Forum Pro • Posts: 63,554
New Nikons: another rumour

I have a friend who works for Renesas Corporation, and he was talking to me about the development work they do with Nikon. He returned from a trip to Japan recently, and let me know some of the things going on. I'm not sure how much credibility to put on what he said - he doesn't follow photography, but since two of the four camaras ohe described were clearly the D3 and D300 he's got something right., The other two cameras are very interesting.

They seem to be the top end FX and low cost enthusiasts' FX which everyone has been asking for, but they seem to be coming out in a form completely different from what anyone expected. Both seem to be rooted in a homage to Nikon's past.

The high end camera is designed as a prestige camera to outdo anything Canon have. Target price will be $10000 at least for the lowest spec model, and it's aimed at studio and scientific work, as well as those who just must have the best. It is the modular camera that people were speculating on - Nikon couldn't make the cost equations work for the D3 which had to compete with the 1DIII, but with the price ceiling removed everything's up for grabs. The body shares the D3 AF and shutter, but almost evrything else is new. Several sensor modules will be available, including one with the D3 sensor, another 'well above 20MPix' and both will be available in monochrome. Another interesting option is a 6 MPix FX sensor which will allow ISO 51200 native (don't know whether monochrome or Bayer). Nikon's new non Bayer sensor will also debut on this camera. The viewfinder system is interchangeable, with both electronic and optical options, at least one with a style that harks back to the Photomic head. The base camera body is apparently quite small, but gets bigger when all the options are added. FPS depends on pixels, it will run at 9FPS with a 12MPix sensor, or 5-ish with a 24MPix, but there is a grip with an extra EXPEED processor, which doubles the frame rate (mirror up only above 12FPS). In camera processing is, apparently almost completely user configurable (it was the details of this that my friend was involved in). The modular construction precludes proper sealing, so this isn't a PJ camera. Expect it to be released with an 'F' number rather than a 'D', either F7 or F7D.

The low end FX camera is supposed to come in at around $3000, using the present D3 sensor. Its cost means the cost of the body has had to be severely restricted - but Nikon has taken a radical solution to this to meet the price restraints without compromising quality - the camera is not an SLR, it's a 'digital rangefinder'. AF uses contrast detection off the sensor, so there's no mirror or AF assembly. Metering is also off the sensor. The direct view finder has an overlaid internal QXGA LCD which displays variable frame lines (thus allowing zoom lenses) and, if MF is selected, a 'digital rangefinder spot' in which the rangefinder image is taken off the image sensor, and thus operates with a diagonal split. It shares the XGA rear LCD of the D3/300, which is the preferred mode of operation for macro work and non AF lenses. This is not an F-mount camera. Originally it was to use an updated Nikon S-mount, but will actually use an electronic M-mount. This has no mechanical couplings, so although standard M-mount lenses will operate, focus and diaphragm are uncoupled. It will be released with a remounted version of the 45/2.8 pancake, and other 'NM' mount lenses will become available, perhaps modernised version of classic S-mount lenses. An adapter allows mounting of F-mount lenses, with full function only for AF-S lenses. The lens mount decision has been made to allow the camera to be very slim, and it is somewhat smaller in size than a Leica M8, but styled after an SP. The whole thing has been contracted out, probably to Cosina. It has an 'S' series name, maybe SD or SP-D. There's also a rumour that the same camera will be released by Sony/Zeiss, badged as a Contax (having sorted out the wrangle with Kyocera).

As I said, my pal is not a camera nut, so didn't think to ask about detailed feature set, but if they're OK, for me the SD sounds like a brilliant camera, even if the F7 is way out of my reach, or needs. Would anyone else consider a camera this radical?
--
Bob

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