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

Latest Nikon D400 Rumors and Possible Announcement Date

Nikon D400 Rumors Spy PhotoRumors of the Nikon D400 are heating up. The next wave of Nikon camera announcements should come in late August or early September 2013, and the D400 is a possibility. It is highly likely we will see another refresh of the Nikon 1 and some new Coolpix this fall. The the entry level DX D3200 (announced April 2012) will also be due for a refresh around the end of this year as it continues on roughly 1.5 year cycles.

The D400 will slot above the D7100 and be aimed at professionals and advanced amateurs who crave a high FPS and a full magnesium body for durability, but want the reach benefit of a DX sensor for wildlife and sports photography. The sensor is bound to be 24MP as offered across the current DX-line, and most likely a variant of the Toshiba-build D7100 unit if not something more advanced for better low-light capabilities. Sports and wildlife shooters demand speed, and boosting 7 to 9 frames per second in full-DX mode is a goal, and will require some major upgrades given the amount of data processing necessary. A larger buffer is one thing the D7100 currently lacks, and the D7100 can only do a 1.3X crop at 7fps.

Those who shoot long lenses as a profession demand a strong body for durability in the field as well as a large, comfortable grip to handle hefty professional lenses. The D7100 only offers magnesium on the outside shell, not in the internal frame and lens mount, where it matters. A high-end DX would have the build level of the D800 and D4, internally as well as externally. It may also include a bigger form factor, like a mini-D4 with integrated grip and extended battery capacity.

Built-in WiFi and GPS are becoming standard on many cameras, however Nikon may elect to keep them as optional accessories as they have in recent releases. Since it will be a professional camera we might see built-in network capability for tethered Ethernet control similar to the D4.

DSLR Video capabilities are a given, and the D400 should offer a host of video features. Uncompressed HDMI output, 1080 HD at 60p would be possible with extra processing power. To get a leg on the competition, Nikon could give the D400 4K video capabilities, something Canon only offers in their $12,000 EOS-1D C.

Regarding price, Nikon will have to slot the D400 between the high-end consumer D7100 at $1199 US Dollars and most likely below the full-frame D600 at $2099 US Dollars. Placing the D400 as a professional DX option around $1700 would seem logical. The D300s still sells at $1699 suggested retail in 2013.