Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nikon D700 and beyond

I have recently had discussions with some Nikon engineers and execs visiting Australia. Of course, absolute details don't exist, but I can gauge reactions, and read between the lines.

I expressed surprise about the D700's announcement. I thought surely Nikon would have released it maybe next year. There was of course, great enthusiasm with the Nikon guys when talking about the Nikon cameras, but there were some things I noticed.

It seemed Nikon were very eager to release the D700 now, rather than later. My tea leaf readings on this are; most of the professionals that wanted the D3 , now have it. The long wait for a D2H replacement was grabbed the moment it became available.

The major rush to buy the D3 has slowed so releasing a D700 now will not cannibalise sales of the D3 like some people think might happen. In fact, many D3 owners are talking about picking up a D700 has their second camera.

It would also be fair to say that some D3 owners would never have bought the D3 had the D700 been available at the same time. THAT would be cannibalising sales, though there will always be those that need the requirements of the D3 (extra fps, dual cards, 300,000 shutter life etc).

The words 'only 12MP' came up a few times. I am of the belief that there's a couple of things happening here. Nikon wanted to ensure they could maintain the momentum they have been creating especially with the release in about a month of Canons 5D replacement.

And since the 5D will be at least 16MP (and my guess possibly even 18+), the D700 would have been criticised for not matching it. Releasing it now, means it's not 'behind' Canons latest release when it does appear.

This below is pure speculation rather than anything concrete but speaking with the visiting engineers, it seems Nikon have something left up their sleeves. The D700's release seems to almost be the beginning of something new. It doesn't feel like the usual D3x rumours though, ie a 24MP camera in a D3 body.

I also know it's been discussed (or wished for) in the past but the feeling I'm getting is the new camera is more substantial. Could it be the modular system that has been rumoured? Wouldn't it be great if you could just 'drop in' the sensor you wanted. Be it a native 25,000 ISO black and white sensor for surveillance work or a 26MP 'studio' sensor or a full colour sensor when that becomes available.

Could we even get manufactures like Fujifilm developing a 'drop in' sensor module? It may be closer than we might think.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Canon 5D replacement

Last year, in 2007, Nikon who held their collective breathes when Canon were announcing the 40D and 1D MK III cameras. Canon didn't 'blow Nikon away' was the thought.

Stupid grins and smiles all round was the order of the day when the D3 and D300 were announced. And rightly so, it's what the professionals were hoping for. When the D700 was announced in July, it had the Nikon staff buzzing all over again at head offices around the world.

I must admit, I actually wasn't a fan about the D700 coming out so soon. What a strange strategy since it was only 7 months earlier that D300/D3 were available. Why rush to get something out so quickly, since surely the correct strategy would have been to wait at least 6 more months. That was of course the old Nikon.

It's also assuming you don't know what the opposition is up to. When word and rumour of the imminent D700 had reach Canon, many a rep was thinking 'oh no, not again'. But this time, it's been Canon to breathe a HUGE sigh of relief when the specs of the D700 were released. In fact, the camera is actually seen as 'old hat'.

When you think about it, it does indeed make sense for Nikon to adopt the strategy they did. My reading of what's happening in the market is that if Nikon had announced the D700 after the 5D replacement, the camera would not have had any momentum.

My contacts at Canon have told me that the 5D replacement will not split into two lines, at least in the next release. The current 5D will be discontinued. I would actually have preferred to see the 5D stay around and just bring in the new camera into the line. Keeping the 5D would have kept an 'affordable' 12MP camera in Canon's arsenal.

It appears the 5D replacement camera will not be glossed over upgrade like Canon has been done with the 400/450D and 20D/30D/40D. If true, that will be good news These guys For Canon to almost laugh at the D700 has me asking how revolutionary will it be. Could it just be Canon trying to keep the faith? Talking it up?

Could it have 18+ MP, 16 bit processing with full weather proofing? Could it have other technology not yet implemented in a dSLR off-the-shelve today? I think it will, but again that's my reading of the reactions.

The 5D was released and seen by Canon and it's users as a brand new concept and market; and I think it's replacement will do exactly the same. September can't come around fast enough for Canon.