D400 Technical Details and Features Wish List

d400 Preview Strip Photo

We are in the midst of Summer 2013 and still waiting for details about the new Nikon D400. The camera is expected to be announced Fall 2013 with availability in late 2013. At this point, D400 rumors are scarce and some still doubt that Nikon will release another DX camera above the D7100. In use, the consumer-grade D7100 falls short of real professional duty, with a limited buffer which restricts continuous shooting bursts necessary for wildlife and sports photography. For many enthusiasts, the D7100 will be the top-of-the-line choice. But for professionals only a D400 would satisfy with a rugged body able to withstand the rigors of daily use and the weight of long telephoto lenses.

On July 30, it will be 4 years to the day the previous DX flagship D300s was announced. Today the Nikon D300s is still listed as the top DX camera on Nikon USA, and sells at $1,699 suggested retail. From a price-perspective, the space between the $2,099 D600 and $1,199 D7100 all but guarantees there will be D400.

Historically and culturally, Nikon has been a conservative company. Since 2012, the company has been more aggressive by releasing three full-frame cameras and three DX cameras, as well as several iterations of the Nikon 1 (initially released in late 2011). They have taken a no holds barred approach to outsell rival, Canon. It is difficult to compare the two companies by financial data alone because Canon lumps in camcorders, printers and broadcast equipment with their digital cameras. What is more obvious is that Nikon and Canon are quick to release cameras aimed at the same market as closely as possible. Canon is expected to release a 7D replacement toward the end of 2013 at the soonest, but not release it until 2014.

As a professional DX camera, the Nikon D400 would share several attributes with the D4 and D800. A few notable technical details that would describe the D400:

  • Full mangesium body and internal frame
  • Rugged and weatherproof body
  • CompactFlash (CF) card with UDMA compatibility
  • 1/8000 maximum shutter speed
  • 1/250 flash sync
  • 8-9 fps continuous shooting
  • 2-9 frames bracketing 1/3, 1/2 and 1 EV
  • mirror lock up mode
  • ISO 100 native
  • Nikon CLS support
  • Flash sync terminal
  • Face-detect autofocus
  • 3.2-inch diagonal LCD
  • HDMI output with uncompressed video
  • USB 3.0
  • Stereo mic input
  • Wireless and GPS support via optional accessories
  • 10-pin connector
  • AF-ON button

Some wish list items that would make the D400 camera outshine the competition:

  • Integrated vertical (portrait orientation) grip
  • EN-EL18 battery (2,600 shots per charge)
  • Weight under 1000g
  • Ethernet port for tethered control
  • Integrated WiFi
  • Integrated GPS
  • 60p video at 1080×1920 resolution
  • 4K Ultra HD at 30 frames per second

Nikon D7100 Announcement: Is This the D400?

Nikon D7100February 21, 2013: Nikon announces the D7100, its new flagship DX camera. The Nikon D7100 is almost everything that the D400 would have been. It pushes the D7000 envelope further, updating the sensor to 24MP, improving its autofocus to Multi-CAM 3500DX with 51 AF points with the center point functional at f/8, upgrading to the EXPEED 3 processing engine and adding new wireless connectivity options.

The D7100 brings many firsts for Nikon. Its 100% viewfinder display is augmented with an Organic LED display rather than the standard monochrome LCD of previous Nikon cameras. The OLED improves visibility of shooting information when looking through the viewfinder. Nikon also adds a 1.3X crop mode, which increases continuous shooting to 7fps from 6fps. This effectively makes the overall crop factor 2X compared with the full frame 35mm FX format. The D7100 also introduces an i-button to quickly access the most frequently used features.

Nikon D7100 Camera Back

The D7100 offers the same dust and moisture resistance as the D300s. The top and back of the camera are made of magnesium alloy, while the front is poly-carbonate. Its shutter is designed to last for at least 150,000 shutter actuations. Like the D800E, Nikon has removed the anti-alising filter to improved sharpness. The LCD size has increased to 3.2 inches and 1,229K dots. Nikon has also done away with the built-in plastic screen protector.

The D7100 is packed with video features. Offering 1080/30p H.264/MPEG-4 video, which can be boosted to 50i/60i in 1.3X crop mode, as well as HD at 720/60p. There is now a built-in stereo microphone, as well as external microphone input. Dual SD card slots offer many storage options.

Nikon uses the word “enthusiast” to describe the D7100. Indeed, the word appears four times in the Nikon USA press release. The camera is aimed at the high-level enthusiast, similar to the FX F600. But the D7100 falls short of the pro-level build of the D800 and D4. Whether a D400 pro-level DX camera will come is a question that will be debated for some time. For now, the D7100 offers the most features Nikon offers in a DX format camera.

The D7100 packs a lot into a small package. The overall size is just a few mm larger than the D7000, while shaving 15 grams off the overall weight. Its price is also kept trim; $1195 at introduction for the body only and $1595 when paired with a 18-105mm VR lens. The D7100 will be shipping in March, 2013.

Pre-Order the Nikon D7100 today!

Nikon D7100 (body only) at Amazon $1196.95
Nikon D7100 with 18-105mm VR Lens at Amazon $1596.95

B&H Photo
Nikon D7100 (body only) at B&H Photo $1196.95
Nikon D7100 with 18-105mm VR Lens at B&H Photo $1596.95

Nikon D7100 (body only) at Adorama $1196.95
Nikon D7100 with 18-105mm VR Lens at Adorama $1596.95

After Nikon D600, Will There Be a D400?

Nikon D600 Front-SideAfter Nikon released the D600 on September 13, many waiting for the D300/D300s replacement were left wondering if there would still be a D400. What is clear is that Nikon made the D600 for the consumer market, and even use the term “enthusiast” to describe its target customer. While the D600 incorporates many high-features, it also lacks some elements that separate it from Nikon’s professional ranks.

The D600 has a body with top and back made from magnesium alloy, but the front of the camera and its internal frame is polycarbonate like the rest of the consumer line. For this reason it is not suitable for rigorous use with a long telephoto lens. Professional cameras have a full magnesium frame and body and can withstand more abuse. The D600 Multi-Cam 4800FX auto focus system was adapted from the D7000. While it offers increased sensitivity down to f/8, it is not the more advanced AF offered in the D800 and D4. The D600 will not provide the advanced tracking expected by wildlife photographers. The D600 maximum shutter speed is only 1/4,000 second. Professional D4, D800 and even the D7000 offer 1/8,000 second shutter. The D600 lacks the standard PC sync port and has a slow  flash sync speed of 1/200. It has a maximum continuous shooting frame rate of only 5.5fps which can not be increased with a battery grip. Perhaps the most important fact is that it only offers 10.5 MP images in DX mode. This is lower than even the 5-year old 12.3MP D300.

Dirk Jasper, Product Manager at Nikon Europe, was asked by dpreview at Photokina how the D600 compares with the D300s. Jasper explains, “The D300S is a different concept. It’s a semi-pro DX system camera and [D600] is an enthusiast camera.” Although Nikon expects some to upgrade from the D300/D300s to the D600, the customer is different. The D600 is a consumer-oriented version of the D700.

In recent history, Nikon has not always maintained existing camera lines. Just because there was a D200 and D300 may not necessarily mean there will be a D400. The D800 was not a follow-up to any camera, but rather a new concept. Nikon essentially phased out the D3X and D700 by bringing out the D800 and D600.

The Nikon D7000 is about due for an update, while the D300s is overdue. What will Nikon do with high-end DX? If we look to Nikon’s rival, Canon, we see that a 7D Mark II is in the works for early 2013. The D400 would be its direct competitor, and we know from history that Nikon and Canon are in lock-step when introducing products.

Nikon has plenty of room in its product line between the D7000 currently at $999 and the D600 at $2099. There is a possibility that Nikon could combine the D5100 and D7000 into one line, an enthusiast DX aimed at both photography and video, and then make the D400 a professional or semi-pro DX around $1799. The D400 seems more of a certainty at this point than a D7100.

Nikon DX 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Official Announcement

Nikon 18-300mm VR

Today Nikon officially announced the 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR Nikkor lens. The ultra-wide range 16.7x zoom provides a one-lens solution for Nikon DX-format DSLR cameras. Vibration Reduction (VR II) provides stabilization for both sharp still photos as well as HD video recording.

The 18-300mm VR features a total of 19 lens elements in 14 groups, with 3 ED glass elements to increase contrast and reduce flare and 3 aspherical elements. The 9-bladed aperture diaphragm stops down to f/22-32 throughout the zoom range. The lens can focus down to 1.48 feet (0.45m) and uses a 77mm filter size. Total lens weight is a reasonable 29.3 oz (830g). The Nikon 18-300mm VR has a retail price of $999.95 and will be available in late June 2012.

Nikon D400: Missing Link, or Just Missing?

Nikon D400As the months pass and hardly a trace of a D400, it seems Nikon is overlooking the high-end DX segment. Rumors of an upcoming D600 entry-level FX camera have many wondering if Nikon is abandoning DX and leaving it to amateurs. The recent announcement of the D3200 unveiled a new 24MP sensor in their entry level DSLR. While it is possible this new sensor could trickle-up into the higher end DX line, whether it will make it all the way up into a D400 is yet to be determined.

Nikon was quick to bring the D3200 to market. Their entry-level line is always updated at faster intervals than their professional cameras. The resolution outperforms the rest of their DX line (D5100, D7000, D300s) and this should be rectified in the future. What does the D3200 hint at for the future of DX? We see the introduction of the WU-1a WiFi adapter. It offers wireless connectivity and the ability to share pictures directly from the camera to the Internet via an Android app (and soon iOS). They also produce the D3200 in Thailand, a great sign showing that their badly damaged factory is getting back up to speed. Their Thailand factory produces all their DX DSLR camera bodies and several lenses. The camera has already hit store shelves, unlike the month or longer previous products have taken. These are positive signs for Nikon’s production capabilities. Will a D400 be coming down the pipe soon?

The D7000 and D5100 are still due for an update soon, and it is hard to believe there is going to be much room between the D7000 update and a possible entry-level FX D600. The D400 could offer a build quality and pro-features above the level of the D600 and justify a similar or even higher price, although it would seem out of place to have a DX camera priced above an FX. The converging pricing of different formats would not be new for Nikon. With the CX format Nikon 1, the V1 was introduced at a higher price than the entry level DX D3100. But how many DX DSLR will Nikon want to have in their lineup? In the near future the choices may be DX: D3200, D5100, D7000 and FX: D600(?), D800, D4. With the new FX models D4, D800/D800E and possibly D600, Nikon is luring DX users up to FX format.