Nikon Announces Development of the D850

Today marks the 100th Anniversary of Nikon, and they have announced the development of the highly-anticipated D850 high-resolution, full-frame DSLR. Nothing much has been revealed apart from a teaser video, but Nikon says it’ll “exceed expectations” and be a “formidable tool for creators who will not compromise on exceptional image quality and versatility.” The teaser suggests that there’ll be an 8K time-lapse, but nothing else.

The D850 will replace the D810 in their high-resolution, full-frame (FX) line-up, incorporating “a range of new technologies, features and performance enhancements that are a direct result of feedback from users.”

More information will be released at a later date on the D850 microsite. Meanwhile, here’s the teaser video of the D850 which Nikon has released.

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Nikon Announces the D5, the New Flagship DSLR With ISO Up to 3,280,000

Nikon D5 (front)
Nikon D5 (front)

Nikon announced the D5, a new flagship DSLR today, featuring a new AF system, 4K video recording, and an expanded ISO range of up to 3,280,000. Yes, you read that right. You can shoot at an ISO of 3.28 million. Though that’s an expanded ISO rating, the native ISO is still an impressive 102,400. In comparison, the previous flagship, the D4S, only had a native ISO of just 409,600.

Nikon D5 (Back)
Nikon D5 (Back)

The D5 features a 20MP full-frame CMOS sensor which can shoot stills at up to 12fps (14 with the mirror locked up) and video at 4K 30fps. The image processor is a new Expeed 5. The new AF system makes use of 153 AF points, of which 99 are the cross-type.

A 3.2″ LCD with 2.36 million dots serves as the display, while the viewfinder covers 100% with a magnification of 0.72x. Connectivity-wise, the camera has a 1000 Base-T 400Mbps Ethernet connection for fast image transfers. Nikon said this is up to 1.5x faster than the D4S.

The D5 will be available with two storage options—a dual CF model as well as a dual XQD one. The latter gives the photographer read/write speeds of up to 35% faster than CF cards.

The D5 will be available from March at a SRP of US$6,500.

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“I AM Full Freedom” – The Nikon FX Experience

The stage setup for the Nikon FX Experience
The stage setup for the Nikon FX Experience

We were invited by Nikon Singapore to a media event for the I AM Full Freedom – The Nikon FX Experience held as part of the D750 launch. The hero product of the event is of course, the newly-launched Nikon D750. To let photographers test drive the new camera, Nikon has setup a platform with five of them, fitted with various lenses.

YS: Another chance to muck around with the D750, so why not?

Continue reading “I AM Full Freedom” – The Nikon FX Experience

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Nikon Launches the D750 Digital SLR

Nikon D750
Nikon D750

Nikon invited us and a few others into a small lunch event where they have also launched the Nikon D750 Full-frame Digital SLR. Along with it, Nikon has also announced the new AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED, the Speedlight SB500 and the Coolpix S6900 targeted at selfie-lovers.

The Nikon D750 features a 24-megapixel CMOS FX sensor, EXPEED 4 processor, 51-point AF system from the Nikon D810. And FINALLY, it has built-in WiFi and a tilting LCD found on many mirrorless cameras. The continuous shooting mode lets you shoot up to 6.5fps.

YS: Also, the Raw buffer is at 12, which is pretty decent, and also a big improvement over the D7100, which is what this camera reminds me of, but with that very nice 24 megapixel FX sensor.

CK: For film makers, the D750 has the same video features as the recently- announced D810, with 1080/60p and full manual exposure control with power aperture controls while recording.

The D750 body is also designed to be a bit smaller than the D810 without compromising the solid feel. Made with a “monocoque” structural technique, the body is made with a combination of carbon fibre and magnesium alloy, giving a good balance of weight and comfort in using.

YS: While I mentioned that this is like a D7100, that mainly refers to its specifications. The body itself, while sharing common a UI language, is clearly a new design. It has a slimmer profile and is actually very light. The carbon fibre mix that Nikon is now using is making for some very lightweight but rigid bodies.

Nikon D750 with AF-S 50mm f/1.4G (Left) and Nikon D750 with AF-S 16-35mm f/4 (Right)
Nikon D750 with AF-S 50mm f/1.4G (Left) and Nikon D810 with AF-S 16-35mm f/4 (Right)
Nikon D750 with AF-S 50mm f/1.8D (Left) and Nikon D750 with AF-S 50mm f/1.4G (Right)
Nikon D810 with AF-S 50mm f/1.8D (Left) and Nikon D750 with AF-S 50mm f/1.4G (Right)

CK: First thoughts on the camera: Despite being smaller and lighter than a “pro-level” DSLR like the D810, the D750 feels solid in the hands. The grip is nice and deep, which makes it easier to hold.

As mentioned earlier, I am glad to see a tilting LCD finally appearing on semi-pro bodies like this. Prior to the D750, this can only be found in entry-level DSLRs like the Nikon D5200. This 3.2″ Vari-angle LCD features 1,229k-dots and can tilt up and down by 90º.

Another nice addition is built-in Wifi. For the longest time, users of semi-professional and professional Nikon bodies have to rely on optional add-ons such as the Nikon WT-1 or Wifi-enabled cards like Eye-Fi/FlashAir to get Wifi capabilities. Again, this is commonly found in mirrorless cameras and I am glad Nikon has finally added it to the D750.

The nice and bright viewfinder has a 100% coverage, supplemented by an organic EL information display. This gives a nice, clear information display compared to the older LCD-style ones. The top LCD is now smaller than the other Nikon DSLRs like the D610, so some of the information now needs to be displayed onto the main LCD instead.

AF performance with the AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G and AF-S 16-35mm f/4G is excellent. Live View AF however, is still a little slow, probably similar to that of the D600/610.

For timelapse lovers, the D750 has a timelapse mode which will stitch together multiple shots taken at set intervals into a timelapse movie. The timelapse mode features “exposure smoothing” which should produce smoother-looking timelapse movies, but I have not managed to test that out properly.

YS: In my opinion, this is a camera that can actually go toe-to-toe with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III in most areas. Better sensor? Yes. Similar autofocus systems? Yes. Continuous shooting speed? Yes. Feature-for-feature the D750 ticks most of the boxes. Where it might fall behind a little is in the UI, with a few less buttons and a more mid-range feel to it. However the difference is not that big, as the 5DIII has less in common with the 1DX than the D810 has with the D4S. One major difference has to be the lack of a dedicated AF-On button, for you back-button AF users.

The camera will arrive later this month, with a US MSRP of US$2,300, which is a pretty reasonable price. What is not reasonable is the price for the battery grip, MB-D16, at US$485. 485?! This is even more expensive than the D800’s MB-D10, which I thought was plenty crazy. Why Nikon? Is that how you plan to increase profits? Because I have a hunch this is what pushes people to buy 3rd party battery grips. I know I would if I bought the D750, and this is someone who has used nothing but original battery grips all this while, from the F100 to my current GH3.

As for the 20mm f/1.8, which looks to be another good lens in Nikon’s growing range of f/1.8 primes, it will arrive later this month as well, for US$800. Ditto for the SB-500, which is a small flash with a LED video light, which will cost US$250. I already like it better than the SB-400 at the first glance, despite the higher price!

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PMA@CES 2014: Nikon Announces D3300, 18-55mm VR II, 35mm f/1.8 FX, and D4S Development

D3300_BK_18_55_VR2_frt34l

 

Nikon have unveiled their PMA@CES lineup, and it is not the most exciting one. The first is the Nikon D3300, which replaces the D3300 by removing the AA filter from the 24 megapixel sensor, increasing the frame rate to 5 FPS from 4 (which is pretty amazing considering my F100 from over a decade back did just that). The fixed LCD remains a 3″ VGA affair, and the autofocus module is still the same 11 point system from the D3200. Oh, and there is that new 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II lens that can collapse into a smaller form factor, which hopefully can properly bring out the better side on that 24 megapixel sensor. I wonder if this is Nikon’s strategy of dealing with APS-sized sensor mirrorless cameras. The entire combination is not terribly big, is on par in weight with many mirrorless kits, features the snappy autofocus that DSLRs have, and in markets like the USA have the Nikon brand name to carry them over. Camera with lens kit and lens itself will be available in February for US$650 and US$250 respectively.

Next up is the FX AF-S 35mm f/1.8G. Continue reading PMA@CES 2014: Nikon Announces D3300, 18-55mm VR II, 35mm f/1.8 FX, and D4S Development

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Nikon Announces D610, Hopefully Fixes Oil and Dust Issues

Nikon D610 with AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR

Nikon has announced the D610, about a year after the D600’s own launch. Those who know Nikon will know that they rarely launch successors so quickly, and given the few changes touted, it looks like it is likely to resolve the oil and dust issues resulting from the shutter mechanism on the first camera. Indeed, the new camera’s two features are related to the shutter assembly: The camera now does 6 FPS instead of 5.5 FPS in continuous shooting mode, and has a quiet(er) continuous shooting mode at 3 FPS. The third new addition is improved auto white balance, which really is just a software tweak.

It is a little disappointing that Nikon have chosen not to publish the cause of the issues with the D600 and instead “solve” the issue with a new camera instead.

The D610 will be available later this month, in October, at US$2000 for the camera only. Hey, it’s the same price the D600 is at even.

CK: Think it’s going to cost Nikon a lot more money to acknowledge and fix shutters in affected D600s, so they came up with this game plan. Not much of an upgrade IMO, but if you are planning on getting a D600, then it obviously makes sense to wait for the D610 to be available. A more useful “fix” would be to allow aperture control in Live View and Movie modes though, this is something lacking in all the non-pro Nikon DSLRs like the D600/610/7000/7100 and below, and is something even the most basic of Canon DSLRs provide.

David: No doubt this is similar to the case of the SB900 flash overheating problems, which was “resolved” by the release of the almost similar SB910 flash with barely a change except to solve the issue of the flash shutting down too fast due to overheating.

This is a cop-out on a bigger scale no doubt – instead of acknowledging the problem and doing a recall of affected cameras, Nikon seemed to have chosen to betray the trust of its customers with the release of a new model with a fixe shutter assembly – indeed many people who had dust issues and oil spill problems on their sensor had their D600’s entire shutter assembly swapped out for new ones. Somewhere along the line in the factories in Thailand, someone messed up causing new D600 to have dust and oil spill problems on their sensors. Indeed I’ve read snide remarks today to the effect of “can Nikon change my D600 nameplate to D610 if I send in my D600 in” and more amusingly “I will wait 6 months to see if there are dust and oil problems with the D610 before I buy” – trust has been breached and there are people who have swapped systems entirely based on their D600 experience – not quite the intended effect Nikon wanted. Coming on the heels of the well known AF problems with the D800 (read: left side focus point issue), this ensures a sour taste on the lips of Nikon users.

Lastly, this release will surely cause D600 used prices to tank big time, since buyers will be wary if the second hand units they are buying have had the shutter assembly replaced. Then again, this just might be a good time to pick up a used D600 on the cheap! Having said all that however, I’ve used rented D600s regularly and never encountered an issue – probably because I’ve always used them with fast lenses in low light….

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