NikonRumors is abuzz with rumors about the D4 and if their intel is accurate, Nikon could finally be ready to challenge Canon in the video market.
The problem with speculating about a camera that probably won’t hit the market until August of next year is that the specs are a moving target in this phase of production. Still, a few general conclusions are starting to emerge.
The D4 will sit atop the Nikon line with a full frame sensor right now estimated at 16.2-megapixels but at least one source thinks that could go as high as 24 or even 36-megapixels if Nikon opts to tweak the Sony sensor.
From the specs it appears as if Nikon is finally taking DSLR video seriously. Originally Nikon included video capability as a favor to those using their cameras for news gathering, but they never really embraced it and Canon has managed to own that space until recently. That could change with the D4.
The D4 will offer 1080 video at 30/25/24 fps but the real winner will be serving up uncompressed video out through the HDMI port, a feature also rumored to included in the D800. RAW video out is a feature Canon DSLR video shooters have been clamoring for since the 5D MK II hit the market and a feature the folks at Magic Lantern have been working toward for months. If Nikon gets uncompressed video output working before Canon, that could make a dent in Canon’s filmmaking market.
Another nod to filmmakers is the ability to assign the two buttons in front for smooth aperture control during video shooting. Competition is a wonderful thing.
Other rumored changes in the D4 will be XQD memory card slots along side the CF card slots, integrated ethernet, face detection, and an auto-focus system that uses 9 cross-type sensors operational up to f/8.
The price tag? While not known at this time, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. With the Nikon D3 priced at almost $7,000, you can expect the D4 to be…more.
But then when has photography ever been an inexpensive hobby? And, for video shooters, $8,000 for RAW video out would be a bargain.
For Canon a big X marks the spot for the new king of the EOS line, the Canon EOS 1D X, which merges the 1D and 1Ds lines into one model. Offering a new combination of speed, resolution and image quality, Canon claims the 1D X is the most advanced EOS model it has ever produced and, from the specs, it’s hard to argue with that assessment.
The 1D X features a newly-developed 18.1-megapixel full frame sensor with 16-channel read-out and a sensitivity rating of ISO 100-51200, expandable to an eye-popping ISO 204,800. With ISO numbers like that you have to be approaching the ability to take pictures in the dark.
Backing up new sensor will be not one, but two Digic 5+ image processors. Canon claims speeds up to three times faster than the standard Digic 5 processor. The dual processors allow for full-resolution continuous shooting at up to 12 fps with 14-bit A/D conversion, which can be pushed to 14 fps in JPEG only mode.
It’s clear that Canon is aiming the 1D X at filmmakers, who have been generally opting for the Canon 5D MKII instead of the 1D or 1Ds. Canon claims the new Digic 5+ will reduce artifacts from moire and provide longer continuous shooting times by automatically creating a new file once it reaches the 4 GB file limit. Canon claims the continuous shooting time can be extended to nearly 30 minutes, up from 12 minutes in the 5D and 7D.
The 1D X also features twin CF cards which can be set to either write from one card to the next or duplicate photos on both cards.
In another nod to professionals using their Canon cameras primarily for video, the 1D X includes the ability to manually adjust the sound levels which are displayed on the LCD screen. You can almost hear millions of video shooters saying, “Finally!” at the same time.
Integrated into the camera is a gigabit ethernet port, but no word yet on whether video shooters will be able to get a raw data feed out of the data port. Right now that seems unlikely, but stay tuned.
The 1D X has added a second joystick on the back for controlling camera functions along with a 3.2 inch Clear View II LCD screen with 1040k dot resolution and anti-reflective coating. If you’ve ever noticed your pictures seem to look better in the LCD screen than on your computer, expect that to be even more noticeable with the 1D X.
As you would expect from any top of the line camera, the 1D X sports a high-grade magnesium alloy, advanced weather seals, and a new sensor cleaning system that uses wave-based vibrations to shake dust and dirt from the sensor.
Canon has some add-on features available that include the GP-E1 GPS receiver and the new WFT-E6 wifi transmitter.
In an unusual move Canon has announced the availability of the 1D X in March 2012, apparently trying to get some of their customers to postpone holiday purchases. U.S. pricing is expected to be in the range of $6,800 for the body only.
The Canon SX40 HS is an interesting blend of features that could be compelling for both the consumer and video professionals looking for a fixed position camera to set up for wide shots.
The showcase feature is a 35x super-zoom with a range that starts at 24mm on the wide end of the scale and runs out to an amazing 840mm on the zoom, all riding on a combination of Ultrasonic and Voice Coil Motors for fast, silent zooming.
Behind the amazing zoom technology is a 12.1 megapixel 1/2.3 BSI-CMOS sensor with a stated ISO range of 100 to 3,200. Backing that up is Canon’s new Digic 5 image processor which promises more advanced noise reduction.
The only minor niggle is the burst mode is limited to 8 full-resolution shots which it clicks off at a respectable 10.3 shots per second.
Canon bumped the video features to support full 1080p HD at 24 fps (see this story for a discussion on video frame rates). For those using their Canon DSLRs primarily for video, this is an interesting feature. It would allow them to consider putting an SX40 on a high boom or jib and using it for covering wide angle shots. Video shooters will also appreciate the fully articulated 2.7 inch LCD on the back and full manual controls.
The only concern for video shooters will be the chip size, which may look a little soft next to footage from a Canon 5D or Canon 7D. But if the video sample below is any indication, that won’t be a problem. I could use that footage for a cut-away without any serious issues.
Overall, at a sub-$450 price point, Canon should have a winner in the SX40.
According to what’s out there now the D800 will pack 36-megapixels on a full frame FX sensor. Nikon has apparently aimed this camera at studio work, sacrificing a little low light performance, which would be a no-go for location assignments.
The rumored price tag of $4,000 is definitely going to raise some eyebrows. I don’t think many Canon shooters are going to be tempted to part with their 5Ds for almost twice the money, even considering the added resolution. Though it’s too early to know what the actual final price tag is going to be this far from production.
The D800 will allegedly shoot full 1080 HD video at 30p, though other frame rates are expected to be added. I can’t imagine Nikon would not add support for 24p.
Other rumored components include 2 CF slots plus and SD slot, so you’ll be able to shoot a long time on this bad boy.
My initial impression is this doesn’t seem as much like an upgrade to the D700 as another variation on the D3 line.
If that’s the case, then it begs the question of what will happen to the D700? Maybe a D700s upgrade?
The official announcement is expected by the end of the month, until then you Nikon gear junkies will just have to hold on.