#639. Monday Post (4 September 2017): Nikon’s mirrorless plan and (OT) a significant loss

By Paul Perton | Monday Post

Sep 04


OK, so I haven’t ordered a D850, although for a few minutes, the pull was quite strong.


It seems as though the first batch of 850s hasn’t even been despatched yet and Nikon Rumors is already speculating on what Nikon’s mirrorless camera will bring. The mock ups are interesting…


The speculation is not such a big step though; I think we all feel that if big N doesn’t move towards mirrorless, they won’t be around much longer. Trouble is, mirrorless isn’t the universal panacea. It could mean a new lens mount, which will at best require some kind of adaptor for those million-odd lenses we are all so clearly committed to.


And, if the adaptor only offers support for manual focussing and/or aperture control, then what will we do with our all-auto lenses? What about those Nikon 1 lenses?


How will we feel if Nikon decides to move away from the 1” sensor, but opt for APS-C? Will you move from the high megapixel monster D800, D810 or eventually, the D850 to the admittedly sweet spot of 24?


Or can Nikon deliver full frame, 36 or more megapixels, lens compatibility, acceptable battery performance and most of the features we regard as essential in a mirrorless body? What about weatherproofing, weight, ease of use and reliability?


I don’t know and seemingly, in the cold light of day, nor does Nikon Rumors.






“We all wonder what Nikon or Canon’s next camera is going to be like or how will social media channels that affect our business evolve in the near future. But what about the distant future of photography? Let’s see some predictions about the photography, gear and business”.

“Some of these may sound like utopian predictions, but considering the rapid evolvement in technology, it is quite likely that some might come true sooner than anticipated”.


So, thanks to Pascal for spotting this little nugget






Off topic (OT)


It was summer 1972 when my buddy Kim Murrell played me an LP by the previously unheard-of Steely Dan. Can’t Buy A Thrill didn’t capture my immediate attention, but in the weeks that followed, it’s insidious percussion-led Do It Again and driving Reellin’ In The Years slowly did the job and encouraged me to listen to the rest of the album, delivering me as a lifelong fan.


Fifty percent of the Dan left us yesterday and no doubt in concert with millions of other fans, I feel that a small piece of my own personal history has been snatched away.


Together with Don Fagen, Walter Becker pushed back the boundaries of music, writing, producing and performing a catalogue of music we should all be familiar with.


Most of the clever words have been written about Becker and the Dan and aside from re-stating my years of pleasure at their virtuosity, I’ll leave it at that.




Staying with the Dan a moment longer and on the subject of losing life’s luminaries, Hunter S Thompson left an extraordinary body of work, much of which sets the events of the time in stark contrast to the homely and comfortable environment we’ve been fed for decades. Few authors have equalled Thompson’s bile, P J O’Rourke occasionally approaching his zenith, but never reaching similar heights.


And so, reading the Dan’s Wikipedia entry, I spotted this link which was probably penned by both Dans, following the seeming hijacking of the band’s Cousin Dupree. A great read.


This week’s photographs come from yesterday’s early morning photowalk in Cape Town – a great city, especially when there’s not too many people around.


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  • Marleen La Grange says:

    Most enjoyable reading.

  • So that is the question: How will Nikon and Canon enter FF mirrorless? They already have very strong product lines and customer base. A new mount would set them back to zero, as we see it with Canon’s M line or Nikon’s 1, or Sony E, Olympus, Fuji, … . The best is to start with small experiments somewhere off the radar of their existing product lines – like they did with 1 and M, and Sony – and then start iterating from there. See how their R&D scales up, production, market return, perception … .

    But the longer they wait, the more people expect. A couple of years ago, it would be perfectly fine to just place a mirrorless sensor inside a existing body with an traditional mount and call it a day. And everybody would be happy. But today?

    And what is the benefit of mirrorless? If you ask the CaNikon switchers, it’s size, weight, EVF, and the ability to mount any lens with an simple adapter in front of it. But if you ask the CaNikon users why they use still their old, bulky camera – or ask Sony users what they want – it’s bigger bodies to balance their big lenses with their big hands in rough environment, it’s their OVF, and the lens and accessory selection, and because they already have a lot of CaNikon stuff bought. So with that insights, they really should go for a DSLR body, with their standard mount, and that’s it.

    But then, what’s the difference to their DSLR line-up? Nothing. And that’s the point. If you want bigger, rugged bodies with native support for existing lenses, you want DSLR. And even when you want to give your customers some choice from the MILC world, like size, EVF, AF, DR … you could do this with a mirror-design. Fuji and Olympus mimic old film SLR bodies. And they were FF and used a mirror. MILC struggles on AF and is just slowly catches up. DR is a feature of Sony’s sensors. If Canon decides to go mirrorless, they won’t catch-up with DR because mirrorless. Nikon already uses Sony’s sensor and are good at DR, and even before Nikon had the best DR. CoNikon uses sensor live-feed for their back-LCD. It shouldn’t be a problem to route that to a small screen in the viewfinder … And that line could co-exist next to their beefy body line-up.

    There’s one thing for MILC: saving costs and maintenance with fewer movable parts. But I’m not sure Sony’s cameras are less often in repair or their products are cheaper. I think the opposite is more likely.

    What is missing are: even smaller bodies due even smaller flange distance, no new adapters, fully electronic shutters, start from scratch without any limitations, and generate new income from new completely product lines. If you don’t need this, you could just stay on the DSLR train for as long as you like.

  • Adrian says:

    Firstly a few “facts”. The Nikon 1 system was claimed to have the most powerful processor that Nikon had ever fitted into a camera, even one of their high-end SLRs. The V1 camera could shoot at 10fps with full AF, or at up to 60fps with focus locked, and could shoot bursts of 30 raw files. It also metered extremely well, and was a fast responsive camera. It took Sony several product cycles to achieve similar AF performance and frame rates with their NEX / E-mount cameras. The problems of the 1 series were not engineering or ability.

    Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to who to sell it to or how to market it. For general consumers who wanted a small camera to photograph their children running around and take good quality holiday photos, there was little else that could do as much. Unfortunately, the reviewers and internet commentators didn’t understand it, couldn’t see it’s strengths, and tarnished it with constant criticism – the sensor was too small, it didn’t have enough controls etc – although Nikon were partly responsible by making the V1 look like it should be an enthusiasts camera, but then not having some of the controls and handling that such users might want.

    (Another failing of Nikon was not seeing the potential of 1″ sensor enthusiast compact cameras, letting Sony, Panasonic, Canon et al develop several generations of products, and then claim that to make such a camera that retails for more than twice the price of an entry level SLR was “not profitable”).

    Now the rumour. It is widely reported that Nikon have quietly dropped the 1 series and it is no more.

    And finally the speculation. I agree with much of what Steffen says. The design for mirrorless cameras is to an extent a “fashion”, although they do offer some functional benefits over their SLR ancestors that Steffen mentions. Nikon need to make a statement that they “understand”, with something that will appeal to “serious” photographers, by which I really mean all the people who write and chatter on the internet, who will make everyone else feel ok about it. Probably it needs to be full frame, although as Sony show us in successive generations of camera, APS-C can be a good development test bed for new features that can then migrate to full frame. It also needs to be backwards compatible with all those SLR lenses. If that must be true, then what you end up with is effectively an SLR without the mirror, unless an adapter is used – and some of the Canon EF to Sony FE mount adaptors show that focus performance can be quite good.

    I don’t think the problem with achieving any of this is Nikon’s engineering ability; the issue is whether they “have it in them”. They need a camera that shows they that “understand”, that is modern, has good focusing and good video, and works within their existing system. Cameras like the D850, in spite of Nikon’s claim to revolution, are nothing of the sort and represent another cycle of evolution to a camera style that has struggled to adapt to market changes and some of the expectations of consumers.

  • usonien says:

    If you like the mock-up from Nikon Rumors, well you can actually buy it because the one with the hump is an Olympus OM-D E-M10 mkIII rebadged with the Nikon logo.

  • Cliff Whittaker says:

    The only benefit I can see for mirrorless cameras is in bird photography. The loud slap-blap of a DSLR mirror creates an anxiety situation with birds. Some will fly away, some will flinch and most will be on guard.
    However, the drawbacks of mirrorless technology greatly outweigh the advantages. I would rather than Nikon concentrate on a system of silencing or greatly reducing the noise from their DSLR models.
    It would not be too late to make this an upgrade on the D850 which I plan to own. My philosophy about making prints is, “If it is worth printing, it is worth making it BIG”. And for this you need pixels and DR. Both of which are reasons I plan to own the “new” Nikon D850.

    • Adrian says:

      Birding isn’t the only photographic task where silence is preferable. I know of people who use mirrorless cameras to photograph theatre shows, for example – and a few slightly creepy people who think it’s a good approach to street photography!

      Mirrorless does have other advantages. An EVF offers a fairly accurate preview of the exposed image. It also allows things like focus peaking and zebra stripes (highlight clipping warning) pre-exposure. Most importantly for me, since focusing is taken off the main sensor, rather than a separate AF array in an SLRs prism, it removes all the inaccuracies caused by manufacturing tolerances, and mostly gives pin-point accurate focus without the need to micro focus adjustments and the like. Having spent several years struggling with fast aperture lenses and focus accuracy, it’s something I value greatly.

      If it is of interest to you, mirrrorless cameras are also generally much better at AF during video, and can AF at full speed when using the live view on the rear screen – things that SLRs often struggle with.

      I am sure the new (sony sourced?) sensor in the D850 will be very good, and if it does come from Sony (rather than a custom fabrication for Nikon from someone else), I am also sure that it will appear in other cameras some time soon!

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