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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Nikon to go Full Frame ?...The rumour mill is that their FF dSLR will be announced at the tail end of this year, with street ...
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Old 29-01-2007, 22:55   #1 (permalink)
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Nikon to go Full Frame ?

The rumour mill is that their FF dSLR will be announced at the tail end of this year, with street availability either very late (December) or Q1 2008. There have been at least five FF dSLR prototypes doing the rounds at Nikon Japan's R&D sections over the last few years so we do know it's something they've been working on

The current best guesses point towards a 24MP count, which would be the same pixel density as the D200 - therefore it stands to reason that IQ and ISO noise characteristics would be the same, if not better, than the D200.

Ergonomics would be similar to the D2X/s and frame rate would be ~ 4fps in full res. The educated guess is that it would still sport a High Speed Crop mode that would also be fully compatible with DX lenses, giving you 10.2MP at ~ 8fps. There's speculation that the camera will automatically enter HSC mode if you mount a DX lens on it - something that would be a very common sense solution

Unconfirmed - but very likely - would be dual media slots, accomodating CF and SDHC media in the same body. This would be a boon to many professional photographers whom shoot RAW + JPG, allowing the CF card to handle the RAW whilst the JPG goes straight to the SDHC card.

The only thing that no-one is sure of is the price tag for such a body; I personally am expecting it to retail around the 5K mark. Canon's 1Ds Mk II body can't be had for much less than 4.5K today despite the fact that it's over four years old now, so it stands to reason that a similar high end offering from Nikon would be in the same ballpark.

Guess it's time to start saving the pennies now
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Old 30-01-2007, 00:07   #2 (permalink)
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Re: OT: speculation on Nikon's FF dSLR

yeah, I think a ff is on the cards at some point seems likely to be this year,. whether there's a d3h 8-10mp on the 1.5 crop we shall see,. that might be more my thing as I can't see a need for a massive amount of pixels (for what I want)

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Old 30-01-2007, 07:47   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Budget prime vs Premium Zoom vs Pro Zoom lens

Didin't Nikon state that they had no intentions of entering the FF market?
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Old 30-01-2007, 16:21   #4 (permalink)
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Nikon and FF dSLR's

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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Didin't Nikon state that they had no intentions of entering the FF market?
Well, the answer to that is "Yes... and no."

The first time I heard this question put to David Robbins (Nikon UK's head trainer - he's the guy that deals with their MoD and Police Authority contracts) was just after I bought my first D2X body around 18 months ago.

Back then Dave said that there were issues with getting a good quality image from a full frame sensor - particularly corner softness, vignetting and edge-to-edge sharpness.

He cited that Nikon had looked at several solutions to this but each of them were quite costly and would not be viable for the current market. Things like off-axis microlenses and so on were being investigated, as was changing making the lens mount larger... a suggestion that didn't impress the audience considering that the F-mount has been in place for nearly 50 years!

This, Dave claimed, was why Nikon had pursued the DX format and was committed to developing lenses optimised for DX - and he assured us that Nikon would continue to do so.

Fast forward to 25th January 2007 and I'm at yet another Nikon roadshow in Glasgow where a member of the audience asks the same question, with the particular slant being on the number of professional photographers who either have or are seriously considering decamping to Canon's full frame products.

Without going into detail, Dave said that Nikon was acutely aware of this issue and has a keen eye on the numbers. He did cite that the Marketing & R&D sections of Nikon Japan are looking at the issue and said that a FF dSLR would "probably appear soon" - though beyond that he wouldn't commit to anything since, as a trainer, he's largely out of the loop on product development and only really knows about new kit when it's in the pre-release phase.

At the end of the day, Nikon are committed to the DX format as far as consumer cameras go... the D40 and D80 are cash cows for Nikon and they'd be foolish not to address this market. Their most popular lens offering to date is the 18-200mm DX zoom, which surely tells you about the wants and needs of this sector.

Where they need to turn their attention to now are the professional users that feel they need or want a 135 format dSLR - with all the perceived benefits that will bring. Such photographers have a heavy investment in lenses (multiple thousands of pounds) and have probably been shooting with Nikon kit for many years - so have grown used to the look and feel of 35mm film shooting.

If Nikon had produced high-quality DX equivalent lenses to satisfy the needs of these shooters - particularly in respect to the more exotic lenses that many pros use
(perspective correction lenses, ultra wide rectilinear primes etc.) then the lack of a body with a 36x24mm sensor wouldn't have been much of an issue to them... although there's still the issues of depth-of-field and perceptual ISO noise with a cropped sensor.

So - now that Nikon has squarely and and successfully addressed the consumer market, they absolutely need to turn their attention to the professional shooters. I'm certain that Canon are just about to announce a successor to the 1Ds Mk II... if Nikon don't meet this head on with a FF dSLR of their own, then many more pro shooters are going to up and switch to Canon.

Still; I'm currently quite happy with the DX format and am only looking at more exotic lens solutions for architectural and product photography as means of expanding my business services, so it's not critical to me. Besides - I'd probably look at a medium format system if I were going down that road
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Old 30-01-2007, 21:58   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Budget prime vs Premium Zoom vs Pro Zoom lens

Thanks for the detailed reply. The information is informative and helpful. Please excuse my limited Nikon knowledge and possible errors in what follows.

My current understanding is that Nikon do not manufacture their own sensors and source the majority of them from Sony. If that understanding is still correct, are we to believe that Sony are now in a position to make FF sensors and supply them to Nikon or that Nikon are looking to source them elsewhere (possibly Kodak) ?

If they change sensor manufacturer, does that also increase the issues (read possible degrading of quality) involved with integrating that new technology into their own camera bodies and getting them to use their electronics? This would certainly seem like a radical change in direction, although I fully agree that by not offering FF in the pro market they are certainly risking losing loyal customers.
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Old 30-01-2007, 22:41   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Budget prime vs Premium Zoom vs Pro Zoom lens

the d2h/hs use a nikon sensor,. many of the cameras use sony sensors,. it's possible a new camera could use a kodak sensor, the leica m8 does and there was the kodak ff with a nikon body / mount so who knows

I don't see how using a sensor made by ano manufacturer makes much difference,. for instance the d200 sensor is a sony part but with nikon specific tweaks

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Old 30-01-2007, 23:46   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Budget prime vs Premium Zoom vs Pro Zoom lens

The way that sensors are designed is fairly straightforwards:

Nikon will spec out a sensor to Sony, whom manufacture it for them - Sony in of themselves only design sensors for their own cameras, but will produce sensors for other camera manufacturers based on designs supplied by them.

The fact that the D200 and Sony Alpha 100 share similar sensor technology is probably owing to a licensing agreement between the two companies - possibly something along the line of "you produce this sensor for price X and we'll allow you to use a version of it in your own camera"

Sony and Nikon have a long established history of working together on sensor design and manufacturing and this is unlikely to change, even though Sony are now direct competitors to Nikon in the dSLR arena.

You must understand that the sensor is only one half of the package when it comes to a camera - the other critical key component is the image processing ASIC... something with both companies design and produce themselves. If you shoot JPG or TIFF, all images are processed by the camera's ASIC before being written to your card. The ASIC handles demosaicing, noise reduction, sharpening, contrast, brightness etc.

If you shoot RAW, the data is still processed by the ASIC which creates an embedded preview image, but all the actual processing of the file (and therfore quality of result) is done by your RAW converter of choice - which is why so many people have differing opinions on RAW conversion engines.

On the issue of FF sensors: Sony - and any other sensor manufacturer, for that matter - have always had the ability to produce 36 x 24mm sensors for dSLR's... it's simply a matter of how many sensors you want to get onto a given die size.

Also it's no secret that Sony's Alpha series lenses have rear elements that project a large enough image circle that would allow them to be used on a dSLR with a full frame sensor. Some might say that this is simply a legacy matter from utilising Minolta's old A-mount, but other pundits reckon it means that Sony have designed their Alpha lenses from the start to work with a possible FF dSLR model down the road

Oh, and did you know that the equipment Sony uses to fabricate all the sensors they produce is made by Nikon?
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Old 01-02-2007, 13:18   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Nikon to go Full Frame ?

Nikon steppers are used by lots of people in their chip fabrication systems, but thats only a part of the equipment needed to make chips, and Nikon don't make the rest.

Nikon may not feel they have any choice but to put out a FF camera. They don't seem to want to on their own, but the rumours from Canon-land are of the 5D being replaced with 2 FF cameras, one positioned above the 5D, and one below it, and thats D200 territory. If Canon does that, Nikon probably has no choice but to go FF themselves. If Canon doesn't do that, and the 5D is replaced by a new 5D, then I don't see why Nikon would release their own FF camera, at least not in that makrket-space. (multi-thousand serious pro D2x type stuff is different)

That assumes they can find someone to sell them the sensors. They don't make their own, they are hard to make, and it's a pretty niche market. If Nikon was to get someone else to make them, they are going to need guarantees which could be risky for Nikon. Far more likely that they would buy or share in Sony's production. Rumours of FF Sony chips have been around for ages. If Canon "creates" a serious prosumer market with a mini-5D, then Sony, pushed by Nikon, may well want to jump in. If Canon don't create that market, I'm not sure Sony (or Nikon) will want to risk it either.

It comes down to what each thinks the other is going to do, and when.
Personally, I have mixed feelings. I don't photograph birds, I would love a FF camera, but I spent too much on my current camera only last year. I can't justify getting a new one at the end of the year.....but if there are 3 of them out, and everyone is buying them, ohhh I can feel the torture of it even now.
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