Happy Birthday

Nikon is 90 today. Happy birthday Nikon.

Dave recently asked me if I’d heard any credible rumors on 2007 Nikon releases. Unfortunately the mill has been particularly poor lately, with an unusually high mix of fantasizing, attention-seeking and kvetching; it’s been challenging to separate potential ‘truths’ from the sheer volume of noise out there.

There are credible indications of two camera announcements in August – a D200 facelift and and sportshooter-focused pro model. Specs have not been released, but I’ll list those I think are plausible.

D200 Facelift

  • Probably an (x) model along the lines of the D40x
  • Approximately 12MP; unknown as to CMOS or CCD
  • Upgraded image processor with integrated D-Lighting
  • Improved AF – possibly a de-featured D2X unit
  • Improved high ISO performance

I wouldn’t be surprised by a D200x – its market segment is highly visible, extremely competitive and probably the sweet spot in income. With rumored fall releases by Canon, Sony and Olympus, the D200 would look exceptionally long-in-the-tooth in comparison. A refresh would keep the model competitive for a while longer.

I wonder about the ‘improved high ISO performance’. Will it be a characteristic of the sensor or, more likely, an application of the image processing improvements seen in subsequent models? I suspect the latter, and expect better out-of-camera JPEGs, but similar NEF noise characteristics.

Sportshooter Model

  • Approximately 18MP; unknown as to CMOS or CCD (I’m betting CMOS for various reasons)
  • Not 35mm sensor-size – probably 1.1 crop
  • DX-compatible, with crop for the central portion of the sensor
  • 10 fps for the central crop

This is undoubtedly the replacement for the D2H(s), which has to be Nikon’s biggest miscalculation among its pro digital releases. I’m unsurprised by mentions of the 1.1 crop, which could improve noise over Canon’s Mark 1D III, leave some headroom for future resolution increase and is cheaper to manufacture that a 35mm-sized sensor. I suspect that sportshooters won’t see 1.1 as a major turn-off; 10% makes a major difference in FOV at wide angles, but with the long lenses they favor, it wouldn’t be as noticeable. Another interesting advantage is that it sidesteps direct competition with Canon – both in price and specifications.

I’d say watch IAAF 2007 in August. Nikon’s the major sponsor.

D2X Replacement

This one’s probably the biggest question mark out there, and unfortunately the crystal ball’s all murky ;) I’m going to throw some wild-eyed speculation out there, with no confirmation or hard evidence to back this up.

To start, I suspect it’ll use a 35mm-sized CMOS sensor. I wouldn’t be surprised if this unit were capable of high-speed capture – around 60 fps – for use in multiple applications. Imagine a camera that’s able to take stills or video with DSLR-quality frames. Or multiple images being used for noise-reduction and shake removal. Or even live-view beyond the implementations pioneered by Olympus and Fuji. The possibilities are intriguing…

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