Next up on the possible rumors for 2013 is Nikon’s next DSLR. At this point the rumor is not nearly as likely as Canon’s highly probably 14-24 f/2.8 L and 35mm f/1.4 L mk2, however in my opinion it is still “possible”.
Basically, imagine a Nikon D800 (36 megapixels, which equals huge files and slower shooting speeds) …with the 16 megapixel sensor of the D4. This is exactly what Nikon did for the D700; they basically took the D3 sensor and put it in a D300-like full-frame camera body.
Those who are speculating on this rumor fall into two main categories. First, the ones who say “Nikon won’t do this, because it would cannibalize their D4 and other sales” Second, the ones who say “It just makes sense to come out with an affordable version of the D4; the true D700 replacement that fills a gap the D800 cannot.”
Obviously, I fall into the latter group. I think it is only a matter of time until Nikon creates such a camera. Why? Because sales are sales, and volume sales are king. Whatever loss of D4 sales Nikon might suffer by making such a camera will be far outweighed by the sales of another pro-grade camera in the $3,000 range. Of course I don’t personally know Nikon’s profit margins or sales figures, but I think this is a pretty safe assumption.
The real questions are: 1.) What would it cost? 2.) Would people actually buy it, instead of a D800 or D600?
1.) The price of a D800+D4 offspring is difficult to predict, because Nikon already has the D600 at $2100 and the D800 at $2999. And those prices are falling fast. The way I see it, Nikon has a couple options. Either way, they need to push the D600 as far down as they can, and settle around $1800-$1900 as soon as possible. Then, the D800 price either needs to also drop like a rock, towards $2600 or so new, so that the “D800+D4” can cost around $3-3.5K, …or the D800 will stay where it is around $3K, (the $200 rebate expires in a week) …and the “D800+D4” will come in at around $2500-$2600.
Either way, to be honest this whole pricing situation is the biggest argument that an “affordable D4” just isn’t ready for market yet. There isn’t much room for it, price-wise. If it costs more than the D800, people will laugh and say “who on earth is going to pay more for a camera with fewer megapixels?” (Then again, the Canon 5D mk3 initially cost $3,500, and many people still bought it!) On the other hand if it costs less than the D800, well, that’s just in such a pinch between the D600 and D800 that executives might be afraid it wouldn’t sell.
2.) Would people buy an “Affordable D4”, if they can buy a D600 or D800 instead? Possibly. Never underestimate the power of, well, speed and power. Just imagine a 16 megapixel D800, with 6-8 FPS full-frame, and slightly better image quality than the D4. The D800 is currently limited to 4 FPS full-frame, and only 6 FPS using DX crop mode and a vertical grip with certain batteries. Not to mention the enormous files sizes with no “mRAW” option. An “affordable D4” could be much better at competing with the likes of the 5D mk3 in this respect, which has 6 FPS and “mRAW” file options to save space for those who don’t want to always shoot all 22 megapixels.
In short, on the one hand the differences seem to be minimal however so many photographers are holding onto their D700’s for things like event photojournalism and action sports, because the camera has such faster shooting abilities and smaller filesizes. So it may not seem like such a camera has a place in the market, but I predict that if Nikon does decide to combine the D800 body with a D4 sensor, the camera would sell very well.
Here’s to hoping!
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