With the launch of Nikon's new flagship D4 and the rumored specs of the upcoming D800 – supposedly to be launched on February 7 – it seems like a good time to try and take a look at what may be on their (marketing) mind, especially because everybody has already extensively reviewed the D4's specs, while no hands-on tests are yet to be found.
During the last decade or so, Nikon have had more than their fair share of “game-changers”, like the D1 (first professional digital camera for under 10K), the D700 and D3S (still DxOMark top 1 and 2 in high ISO), the D3X, third in DxOMark's overall score, only behind two Phase One digital backs, and the D90 (first DSLR with video), amongst others.
Still, they have also been late in many other ways.
This has definitely not been a good year for Nikon, nor for most other Japanese companies or the Japanese as a people, for that matter. The devastating March 11 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami followed by severe flooding in Thailand in November 2011 must – even if Nikon has been extremely careful in its damage assessments – have servery affected normal operations.
Our hearts go out to all the Japanese and Thai families who have lost their homes, properties, livelihood and dear ones in these natural disasters, and our hopes are for the proverbially resilience of the Japanese and their neighbors to recover from what – to other nations – could well be the definite blow.
The essence of a creative person: think, reflect, act. The XXth Century Leonardo da Vinci, Tomas Alva Edison. A man who, in spite of his affliction, managed to change our outlook on the world within less than a decade. A Captain who stayed at the wheel, even though his health was sinking. He silently left a ship which is very much afloat. What is most illustrative about his premature death, however, is that he resigned as a CEO only six weeks ago. Resilient to the very end.
Let's take heart and inspiration from his 2005 Stanford Commencement address: <<Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary>>.
On September 21, 2011, Nikon launched the Nikon One mirror-less camera system, consisting of two cameras - named J1 and V1 - plus four lenses: 10 mm (27) mm, 10-30 (27-81) mm, 10-100 (27-270) mm and 30-110 (81-297) mm. The main difference between the J1 - with its built-in flash - and the V1, is that the latter has a built-in accessory shoe, which turns it into an interesting system camera. The V1 is compatible with the ML-L3 IR wireless remote control, already known from Nikon's entry- and mid-level DSLR line, while the accessory shoe accommodates and powers either the SB-N5 dedicated flash, the ME-1 stereo microphone - launched in April of 2011 - or its very own external GPS device, the GPN-100.
Something like this, maybe? Credit: Denisa Mrackova
UPDATES: (24-08-11) DISAPPOINTED!. Heck, even the mirror-less fell through; we just got a bunch of Coolpix, which - as we all know - are not particularly noticeable in comparison with the rest of the P&S crowd, never have been. (18-08-11) Seems like we're getting a mirror-less and a bunch of Coolpix. Who cares? (02-08-2011): Nikon Rumors now says we will probably get a new version of the D3S (D4) plus the nextgen D700 (D800?). Still no rumors on specs, though, which makes me think that this might all be just hype...
According to Nikon Rumors - generally well informed - Nikon has set a date for mayor press events in various countries: August 24, 2011. This may very well be Nikon's most anticipated launch date in years, because we might finally get the nextgen Professional and Prosumer cameras many people feel they have been waiting for too long.
Two years have passed since the last update of the Nikon flagship line, which is normal given most manufacturer's historical upgrade cycles. That is, if you count the D3S as an upgrade, which some of us apparently don't. To these people the last “serious” update was the 24 Mp. D3X in December 2008. Moreover, Nikon's Prosumer segment is not only behind on its own “habitual” release schedules, but also way behind on those of the competition.
In spite of the widespread clamor among Nikon wildlife photographers for semi professional long lenses in the USD 1.000-2.000 price bracket, the mayor manufacturers are still unwilling to listen. A sad example is the recent discontinuation of the excellent APO HSM 100-300mm f/4D EX Sigma which, at the time of writing, continues to sell for about USD 1.200 on Amazon. For current pricing, click here, for my review here.
In combination with the APO 1.4x EX Sigma tele-converter (± USD 235) it turns into a 420 mm lens on FX, with a 630 mm equivalent FoV on APS-C (DX) cameras, maintaining full AF capability at the loss of only one stop (f/4 becomes f/5.6). The new Nikon D7100 extends this reach even farther when set to the so-called 1,3 crop-mode (12,9 Mp.), which turns the lens – on the fly – into 200-600 mm equivalent (without losing nothing), while with the additional TC into a whopping 840 mm f/5.6.
In line with the general trend to introduce ever faster long lenses combined with VR/OS, which also adds considerably to price, Sigma’s official recommendation for replacement is the APO HSM 120-300 mm f/2.8 EX OS. However, given this lens’ MSRP of USD 4.700, this so-called “recommendation” is outright preposterous. That said – unlike most other Sigmas – this lens does not only autofocus with the 1.4x EX teleconverter, but also with the 2x EX TC at the loss of two stops (f/2.8 becomes f/5.6), which would make it an interesting option, if it were not for its elevated price.
It is extremely unfortunate that the big manufacturers keep churning out very expensive f/2.8 to f/4 long zooms and primes, instead of offering Nikon wildlife lovers quality 400 and 500 mm f/5.6 lenses that are more or less affordable. Canon, at least, gives its users two lenses in this focal- and price range, the EF 400mm f/5.6 L USM and the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM. The first streets for ± USD 1.350, the second for ± USD 1.700 and both get high notes at photozone.de, especially the fixed focal.