CliQ 2011, Sept 6th: Nikon D800 Release? Here’s My Wishlist
by Peter Zack
The internet is rife with speculation that the D700 replacement will be released in late August, prior to CliQ 2011 (the new name for the PMA show this year). Or maybe it’s going to be in March or April; I’ve lost track. As amazing as the D3 series cameras are, I’d suggest that the D700 is really the flagship camera (in sales terms) for the Nikon FX line (full frame cameras with a 24x36mm sensor). The D700 far outsells the more expensive big brothers and is Nikon’s answer to competing FF bodies (namely the Canon 5D line). For many shooters looking at a pro specification body, they have no need to look beyond this model. Personally, as a wedding photographer with the D700, I’ve often looked at the D3s as a ’want’ but knowing I don’t really ‘need’ anything better than what the D700 offers. Well, maybe an extra stop or two in ISO… Of course, every camera can be improved, and there are a few things I’d like upgraded on the D700, which is why I’m writing this article.
Before I put out my wish list, I’d also speculate that like the new D7000, the D700 replacement body will be sold out much of the time for the first few months after it hits the shelves. If you really want a D800, preorder it as soon as the stores start taking orders; if not, then you’ll be like me and spend the next year happily shooting with the gear you already own.
The zero item on the wish list is simple: Nikon D700′s are becoming out of stock now at various retailers (still available at B&H for $2,400), so please Nikon, a roadmap for the new bodies. Tell us the release dates and the models—will it be the D4 and D400 this Spring, and the D800 in the Fall? Or maybe the reverse? I think it makes more sense to release the D4 and D400 sooner because a significantly upgraded D800 would kill D3s sales this summer. Of course, that didn’t factor in to the release of the D7000 which has directly impacted the sales of the D300s.
Following is what I think we could see in a new D800 intermingled with a few things I, personally, would like to see. I certainly don’t think we’ll see even 50% of this in the new camera, otherwise there would be little left for the D4, but dreaming is fun…and free!
- Move the ISO button. Please, Nikon, this is a critical part of exposure. We’ll probably see a D800 with D3s low-light abilities and shooters will be changing ISO as much as they change aperture in tough light. The current button placement on the left side is just plain awkward and slow to use. With the current layout, you can’t hold the camera in the proper way for a steady shot and change ISO at the same time. If you add an off camera flash (like a Stroboframe) on the ISO side of the body, forget it—you’re taking the camera from your eye to change ISO. The ISO button needs to be within easy reach of your right hand so you can change settings while looking through the VF and keep the left hand in its correct place for shooting..
- Low ISO. Yeah, you read that right: I want ISO 25. Not everyone enjoys carrying around a handful of ND filters everywhere they go.
- Weather seal on the mount. It would be great to have an “O” ring designed into the camera’s lens mount that would seal any lens to the body.
- Quiet mode and quiet shutter. Since this is often a wedding shooter’s camera, the shutter needs to be quieter.
- Additional shooting mode. If this camera can do very clean higher ISO, I’d like to see a shooting mode that defaults to ISO adjustment when changing either (or both) aperture and shutter. So the user sets an acceptable ISO range that defaults to the lowest ISO and the camera would increase ISO as needed to get the shutter speed required for a blur free shot. Call it SAI (Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and ISO adjust).
- Reset button for optimal exposure. How about a button that allows the camera to reset to the best aperture, shutter speed and ISO for the given exposure. This could be a multi-function button and programmable. It could also be the ISO adjustment button. Just put it near the shutter release. A good spot for this could be on the side under pop-up flash.
- ISO 102,400. You may never use it this high and most shooters will use the lowest ISO they can to get the shot, but high ISO can be critical in lower light and shooting sports, particularly indoors. It’s the new megapixel race and this camera needs it this high, especially when there are APS-C cameras like the Pentax K-5 that can shoot at this ISO.
- Add GPS geotagging to the new grip. Or WiFi to download cards without removing the card or using a connection cable. Maybe make the MB-D10 compatible with the new body and offer a second grip with these additional features as an option for shooters that want it.
- New sensor at around 18-20MP. Let’s not sacrifice good noise handling for resolution, but a high MP sensor would aid greatly with cropping and enlarging. I hope the MP wars are over and some huge sensor isn’t needed, just better than the current 12MP. With a new sensor, increase the CPU speed for even faster response times.
- 100% Viewfinder. Combined with a higher res sensor, less cropping will be required if you get exactly what you framed in the shot when it was taken. You’re going to get all the sensor resolution has to offer if you don’t have to crop out unwanted extras along the edge of the frame.
- Video du jour. It’s all the rage, right? Who doesn’t want a still camera to shoot video [insert sarcastic tone]? Full HD, 1080p video with adjustable frame rates. I don’t care about this but there’s no point in swimming up-stream. Video is here to stay and if so, let’s have it as good as possible. We should also be able to change aperture in video mode.
- Improved AF in Live View. Like the new D7000. For shooting without the VF and for video, this is critical.
- Articulated screen. Not something I want but I think the new camera should have this feature. It’s helpful when shooting video, macros and over your head.
- Improved metering. Use the new metering system from theD7000. Or bring out a new one to further differentiate the 2 models.
- Dual card slots. Keep the CF card slot and possibly offer a second slot as CF or SD to keep the size from increasing. If it’s possible to squeeze a second CF card slot in the same sized body, then great, as I think most shooters would prefer dual CF cards.
- Higher frame rate. I’m sure someone wants more FPS. More is better, right?
- Bracket button. With -/+ 1/3 stop adjustments, please. Put it where the ISO button was (we’re moving the ISO to the other side of the body, remember?), and make it a programmable bracketing button.
Oh, have you heard the rumour that this camera will have a dealer-replaceable sensor carriage? Nikon might have a patent for this but I’d be shocked if this becomes available. Imagine if most of the above were available and you could order a new sensor in 2 years. Would you buy another body before this one died from mechanical failure? I doubt it. As cool as this option could be, it’s a recipe for future sales volumes to drop significantly. But if they do it, I’ll take an 18MP dedicated B&W sensor that hits ISO 25 please.
What improvements or changes do you want to see in the new D700 replacement? Do you agree/disagree with my requests? Leave your comments below and let’s have a discussion about it. Maybe Nikon’s listening, you never know!
Cheers and good shooting
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Tags: Cameras, DSLRs, Nikon, Nikon D700, Nikon D800, Photography