Wild Rumors Fly Of Nikon Entry Into Medium Format Market

Gear & App Rumors July 30th 2014 8:13 AM 27 Comments

There are rumors, and then there are wild rumors. The following falls into the latter category, and as such, needs hefty amounts of saltiness. That said, it’s so wild, it may just be true…

nikon-mf-rumor

You may have heard that Nikon was possibly be looking to enter the Medium Format market with an offering of their own based on Sony’s new 50mp CMOS MF sensor. The rumor comes from Mirrorless Rumors, via a source that he says is trusted – meaning has delivered true info in the past – that said he heard of a Nikon MF camera in the works with a potential announcement at Photokina THIS YEAR.

I am not sure about you, but this seems like one of those rumors that is so crazy, it just might be true. I mean Nikon has sort of lost their minds lately, so maybe they really went nuts and think that Medium Format is how they are going to start making some money again…

[REWIND: Next Sigma DSLR To Feature 'Quattro' Foveon Tech]

That said, it would be interesting to see what Nikon could do in the Medium Format space. It’s an interesting market right now because everyone is literally using the same exact Sony sensor, meaning the only differences are in the features, design, and how the company processes the images from that sensor. Nikon already as a ton of experience drawing the most out of Sony sensors. I am curious to see if they could get that “Nikon Look” out of the Medium Format sensor.

Regardless, Photokina is already shaping up to be a doozy this year, this would only add to the pandemonium. September can’t get here soon enough!

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So what do you think about this MF Nikon business? A MF camera would mean MF lenses – does Nikon have the chops to pull that off? Leave a comment below!

via Mirrorless Rumors

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Anthony Thurston

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Anthony Thurston is a portrait and sports photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area as well as a senior writer here at SLR Lounge. You can check out some of his work on his Website. You may also connect with him via Email, Google Plus, or Facebook.

27 Comments

  1. adam sanford

    Not buying it.

    It’s not the sensor, it’s the *lenses*. The big 2 of Canon and Nikon would need an entirely new lineup of lenses to support a new sensor format. They already have their lens development pipelines fully supporting FF SLR mounts (EF/FX) and APS-C SLR mounts (EF-S/DX), and they are choking to barely support their mirrorless mounts (EF-M/CX).

    I just don’t see them taking on yet another line of lenses. Don’t forget: the token ‘here are a few lenses to get you started’ approach from Mirrorless will not work with MF shooters, who are (presumably) serious photogs with deeper wallets and higher expectations.

    Now, I *could* see Canon or Nikon buying a commercially failing MF company and rebranding it someday.

    13
    • Matthew Saville

      While I agree that there is absolutely no chance that Nikon will be entering the MF market, I believe it is for a slightly different reason. Indeed, Nikon can barely keep up with their FX / DX lens needs, however a MF shooter will often only ever buy one or two lenses for their entire usage needs. Nikon really only needs to offer three lenses at first, a 24 / 28 equivalent, a 50 equivalent, and an 85 / 105 equivalent. That’s it. I bet you that 90% of what is currently being done on medium format digital falls into these three prime lens categories.

      =Matt=

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    • Dave Lyons

      Nikon could pull this off… the sensor issue im sure would be viable… Like Matt said there’s not many lens that would be needed and i’m sure they could handle that with their d8*0 experience or they could cleverly have an adaptor for the current MF standard lenses… yes it sounds kinda dumb but remember how recently canon released a new industrial camera but it only took Nikon lenses.

      3
    • Stan Rogers

      Three lenses might do it, but they’d all need to be tilt/shift (or T/S adaptable, as with the ‘Blad system) macro lenses with leaf shutters. And some kind of autofocus linkage that goes around corners. (Unless, of course, it has a removable back that can be mounted on a monorail. Product types need T/S and close focus, but they’d be satisfied with manual. People shooters need AF when the resolution gets silly, and leaf shutters get around that whole ND filter thing for location work with flash. Somehow, I don’t think the idea of using eleventy-seven SB910s to get high speed sync is going to fly when the equivalent Broncolor Scoro/Pulso setup works out cheaper.) So, more realistically, five or six to eight or nine-ish lenses for a fixed-sensor camera body. That assumes that the LS lenses (if any) will be at a price premium over the straight-through focal plane lenses (as on both the PhaseOne/Mamiya and Leica systems), and that they’d care about the product space (where Mr. Scheimpflug is your new best friend, and the best way to keep your camera out of the picture is often a shift/rise). Everyone else in the game has lenses that will work (for some value of “work”) going back to the late Paleolithic; for a new system it would mean a Commitment. Mind you, if they threw in an adapter for something like the Bronica SQ or ETR series, they could hold of the grumbling while they released new lenses. (The Bronica lenses weren’t half bad for the most part, and the used market is lousy with ‘em. It’s Tamron’s property, and there has been less enmity between Nikon and Tamron than some other third parties I can think of.) Sheer speculation and WAGs all around, though..

      3
    • Stephen Hunt

      The way they are bringing out lenses for their FF, APS-C and mirrorless bodies at the moment, it’d be a massive inroad to bring out a bunch of MF lenses. I agree with you entirely.

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  2. Rafael Steffen

    This is a wild rumor since Canon was also on a race to relase a Medium Format Camera. Since Nikon did not release de D4X, this could be a new answer to a superior image quality need.

    2
    • Dave Lyons

      I dont see how canon can even be considered to be releasing a mf camera when they can’t even make a current, competitive sensor now lol

      2
    • Dave Lyons

      also… “a superior quality need”???
      The D8*0 is pretty much already there and has “superior image quality” already

      5
    • Matthew Saville

      I also believe that, given Nikon’s historic propensity to the DX DSLR format and their pride in the decades-long 35mm lineup, …Nikon is going to indeed use the D810 and whatever sensor comes after it to “kill” medium format. The DR and high ISO performance is already leaving MF in the dust, by a LONG shot. And now that they’ve spent the last year or two perfecting their “no AA filter” lineup, …I just don’t see how MF IQ can be that much more of a lure to a D810 shooter.

      (For the record the Nikon D3300, D5300, D7100, D810 now all have no AA filter, clearly Nikon is onto something here while Canon, well, who knows what they’re thinking…)

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  3. Nick Viton

    “…Nikon has sort of lost their minds lately”
    hahahahahahhahaahahaha yes!

    3
    • Dave Lyons

      It’s funny watching all these Nikon users bitching about everything and then watching the canon users and seeing them bitch…

      Least y’all forget at least Nikon is at least releasing new tech and moving forward… my fav “bitch” was a guy crying over Nikon releasing the d810 so soon lmfao!! (I guess he wouldnt have bitched if they waited 3 more years and released the same camera…)

      If people think Nikon is so bad go to Canon and hopelessly wait for new releases while making excuses for their next to nonexistent DR & IQ. I looked back to my first dslr a canon 30D and compared IQ and DR to the current version the 70d and after 7 years the only thing really different in terms of IQ is more mega pixels nad IQ score was still about the same… that’s just sad

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  4. Connor Katz

    I’m interested to see who finally makes a mirror-less MF camera, its going to happen at some point. Autofocus speed was never a MF strong suit anyway. Nikon seems an unlikely candidate in that they haven’t shown much interest in this area, but who knows. I’m not sure how small they could make it, but it doesn’t seem totally unreasonable to get it down to a d610 size.

    If nothing else its good to see more competition in the MF area, it will drive prices of of the whole sector down.

    2
    • Stan Rogers

      Alpa (among others) has been making one for years, and with the PhaseOne or Hasselblad CMOS backs you can also use an EVF rather than relying entirely on laser rangefinding (or a tape measure). If you’re looking for lightweight, compact and nimble, look elsewhere — the image circle required means that the lenses can only ever be so small, and wide-angles either need to be significantly into retrofocus territory or will require colour gradient correction. (The Alpa takes either large-format or Mamiya/PhaseOne lenses in a custom focusing mount.) Even in a mirrorless design, don’t expect to see a system that’s significantly smaller or lighter than the Lieca S.

      2
  5. Sean John Zanderecza

    interesting.. this might be a ground breaking market for them if:
    1. the rumours turns out to be true & will be executed asap
    2. like what Adam said, they have a set of, at least, decent performance lenses for this.

    3
  6. Scottie Nguyen

    Why would this be out of the question and crazy ? Nikon is a formidable photographic company with a long history of success. They have already implemented Sony sensors in full frames. What would be different implementing an MF sensor for Nikon? They have the knowledge and the expertise. It’s not like a new company out of no where jumping into the industry. Whether it’s true or not, if anyone has the expertise to do what they want it would be Nikon and Canon. Canon just has too much pride using someone else’s sensor. Nikon has already given up using their own sensors and started using Sony sensors already. In this respect, they are ahead of the game compare to Canon at using Sony sensors. This lets them save time on developing a sensor and just work on processing the image coming from the sensor. They have all the technical abilities to do it. Nothing crazy. Just a matter of Nikon wanting to do it or not and if there is a market for MF. That is the real question. Does the market demand more MF cameras for Nikon to invest their time and efforts. The photography market is like any other market, simple supply and demand.

    2
    • adam sanford

      No one is doubting Nikon’s ability to do this, I am doubting the profitability of doing it knowing that this is not a camera, but a *system* we’re talking about. MF seems to be a market you either (a) currently are in today (and have been in forever) and have a stable of lenses, or (b) you are not in it today and need a mountain of money and time to have enough of an offering to attract well-funded professionals with demanding needs.

      Or Nikon/Canon could just buy a current player or possibly just license the rights to an existing MF mount a la m43 and allow lens sharing — heck, they are all using that same 50 MP sensor now, aren’t they?

      I see something like this (an outright acquisition or licensing scenario) as a means for Canon/Nikon to shortcut the ‘reality of new lenses’, and THEN they could bring all their FF SLR know-how / ergonomics / fanboys to the party with *their* flavor of a camera body. Pullthrough of insane enthusiasts and some pros who love Canon/Nikon ergonomics, controls, etc. would occur, I think.

      1
  7. Phil Bautista

    Doesn’t really matter much to me since I’m a Canon user who will never be in the market for a Medium Format camera. MF is a niche sector that offers very little room for growth. What I would like to see is Canon and Nikon step up their games in the mirrorless sector if they don’t want to end up as the next Kodak or Polaroid. I currently own a Nikon 1 AW1 and while I love the speed of AF, it needs better glass and a deeper depth rating in order for it to dominate the under water department like it did back in the days of Nikonos. And if anyone thinks that this is a niche segment, may I remind them that GoPro is currently the leading camera seller. while that may be for a various number of reasons, the ability to take it diving seems to be a popular one based on youtube vids. Mirrorless is the battleground and underwater is a sector with more growth potential than Medium Format.

    1
    • Dave Lyons

      id be happy to see canon step up their game in dslr’s before worrying about mirrorless. Y’all are so stuck on mirrorless but the majority don’t care about it. Y’all complain about dslr’s being too heavy.. today in my photo class one of my students who doesnt have a dslr couldn’t get her camera to work right so i gave her my d7000 with battery pack and a fairly heavy 70-300mm lens and no strap and she shot it for 4 hours in the afternoon sun and heat and the only time she mentioned the size or weight was when she gave it back and picked up hers and said “gimme that heavy camera back! mine feels like a cheap toy now”… and she 5′ and maybe 95 pounds and here are all these “men” complaining about them being too heavy lmfao

      2
    • Matthew Saville

      Dave, a gripped D7000 and 70-300 is one thing, but a D800+ 70-200 2.8 in hand, plus a 24-70 2.8 and 14-24 2.8 and 50 and 85 on your shoulders, for 10-14 hours, is an entirely different matter. ;-)

      =Matt=

      1
    • Dave Lyons

      matthew… trust me i get it ;) I was just saying this lil lady handled it fine and to her i’m sure that was more weight (not to mention big for her hands especially since i have mine set to back button focus) for her than what a reg sized man can handle. With all this “they’re too heavy talk” I have yet to see a woman say it… hummmm

      If i had to shoot a wedding with a mirrorless i’d probably keep dropping the dinky lil thing, i won’t even get into trying to hold it steady.

      Now if I had a couple of d800/d810′s a 70-200 2.8, a 24-70 2.8 & the 14-24, you can bet your sweet ass that I wouldn’t be bitching about ANYTHING!! lol my only issue would be the rise in my levis from having all that amazing gear lol

      1
    • Matthew Saville

      I’ve shot a couple events with the TINY little (1.5x crop) Sony a6000, and it is a delight to use. Highly un-obtrusive, which in it’s own right is a beautiful thing compared to the mentality of “big equals prestigious” that many pros like to project in front of clients. I could definitely see myself shooting a wedding with an A6000, or at least an A7, within a generation or so.

      =Matt=

      1
    • Dave Lyons

      matthew… when all my gear went into tampa bay I bought by buddies backup sony a550… flippy screen and crap… hated shooting with it but at least it had good dynamic range and IQ ;)~ it was tiny and my hands are just too big for them.

      I am interested in the new nikon one tho just to have those 60 frames a second for hummingbirds since I’ve got some here that will land and/or eat from/off my hand and they don’t mind my iphone (took lots of video when nikon was in shop) but the bigger camera kinda scares them

      1
  8. David Shepherd

    This is 50/50 in my opinion. Nikon can very well enter the MF market and if it fails, it is easier to step away than their core market. That being said, their core is FF. The camera would have to be a revolution in the Nikon family of cameras to really find a market that is really over crowded with whats available now. Ricoh Pentax 645z has proven that there is a market at the lower end of MF and a battle can be had there. With Hasselblah is in some financial trouble and Pentax strong showing with their 2nd Gen MF, Nikon does have potential in the MF market. They also have the lenses to back it up.

    If this is true, it is interesting because Canon invested their future in their Cine Line. I think this is where Nikon wants to carve out a niche for themselves. This has much better long term value over MF. It has also been stated on NR that Sony regularly leak false information to gauge reaction to ideas and to expose leaks. I would not be surprise if any other manufacturer employ the same tactics.

    1
  9. Chris Nachtwey

    Shut up and take my money now! Honestly I would love to see Nikon come into the MF market. I honestly think MF is coming to the front of the class in the next five years. Back in the the film days, it was what all pro’s used and if it becomes affordable in the digital world I think you would see a lot of pro’s go back to it. I know I would jump all over an affordable MF digital system.

    1
    • Phil Bautista

      I never thought of Nikn’s top-of-the-line stuff as affordable. Pentax has an affordable system out right now. If DSLR prices are any indication, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a more affordable offering than that from Nikon.

      2
    • Dave Lyons

      phil… nikons top of the line stuff is cheaper than canons… just sayin

      1
    • Matthew Saville

      What “all the pros” used? Tell that to Galen Rowell and James Nachtwey. Just sayin’…

      1

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