Despite those natural disasters that seriously affected Nikon Corporation, the year of 2012 has been a very good year for Nikon. With five DSLRs, three on full frame camp (D4, D800 and D600) and two on DX camp (D3200 and D5200) Nikon challenged very seriously his fans and at least the request for D800 was really huge. D4 – Nikon flagship is a great camera as everyone expected it to be but according most experienced users it is an upgrade to D3s and nothing more. The big kick of the year was D800, the megapixel monster offered for a quite affordable price. Another surprise was D600, an entry-level FX body, with a look’n feel similar with D7000 but involving a great 24MP FX sensor and the same Expeed engine like D4 and D800.
In DX realm it seems that Nikon was focused more on the entry-level area. D3200 and D5200 are like true little beasts offering an unprecedented IQ lever we never considered possible a few years ago, especially for this segment in the market.
Having said that at this time there are people who are still unhappy with Nikon DSLR lineup. The most frustrated group is that based on D300(s) users still waiting for a D400. As I already wrote here, I do not think Nikon will ever offer a real DX upgrade to D300(s). It seems that Nikon’s vision has changed from a generation ago and now they are trying to promote a trifold line CX / DX / FX, each one targeting a different group. If two generation in the past Nikon flagship was a DX camera, in the last generation the most evolved DX camera (D300) has been considered a semi-pro level. For this generation Nikon is pushing completely the DX segment toward entry-level and hobbyist group. No more pro or semi-pro grade cameras will feature a crop sensor.
What we do believe that Nikon will produce in 2013? Remember that we do not have a crystal ball, nor any connection in Nikon Corporation. You need to take this info with a grain of salt.
Next Nikon DSLR will probably be D7100. This will upgrade D7000, involving a similar build quality, with some fixes borrowed from D600, like the fix for PSAM wheel. So a sensor with 24MP, Multi-CAM4800, EXPEED 3 image processor and some marginal improvements over D7000 is what we expect in this upgrade. Not a better body, no higher fps, no CF cards, nor a large viewfinder, nor 51 points AF. While D7100 will be a very capable camera it definitely will not have superior features to the entry-level FX camera which is D600. In fact D7100 and D600 will be like sister bodies, one from FX camp and the other from DX camp. Remember the pair D300/D700. The main difference was the sensor and, of course the price tag. So will be with this pair.
Did I said that no D400 will ever be launched?
The second body Nikon will launch in 2013 will be a great surprise and I bet that it will be sold in a very large number, surpassing the success of D800. I’m not sure if this will be called D700s, D800s or D900 (or even D400)… but this new camera will be the real upgrade for most D300 and D700 users. It will be the perfect camera for wedding, sport, wildlife, event and action photographers that can not afford a D4 but need a pro grade body, with speed and great ergonomics. This camera will feature an FX 24MP sensor, with several crop options (like D800), a rugged magnesium alloy body, weather sealing, and great controls. Most probably it will offer 6fps w/o grip and 9-10 fps with the grip. ISO will be in the same league with D600 (probably using the same sensor) in order to not cannibalize D4 sales. The price tag will be in the same area with D800… it will be a quite affordable camera for professional photographers. This camera will help more people from other camps to jump into the dark side. Not bad at all!
Last but not the least, maybe later in the 2013 if not early in 2014 Nikon will provide a D4X. Based on the D4 body but with 36MP or more… this will be a very specialized tool for fashion and some other photographers that need many MP in a real pro grade camera.
Please from now ahead forget about pro and semi-pro in DX land. Everything semi-pro and pro grade will be in FX land. In brief, Nikon offer in FX land will cover everything:
D600 – entry-level FX
D700s (or 800s, 900, 400) – wedding, sport, wildlife
D800 – studio and landscape
D4 – PJ gun
D4X – fashion gun
In DX we will have fewer options, but enough for the market segment it is addressing:
D3200 – entry-level in DSLR
D5200 – a better option with increased functionality for people willing to pay more
D7100 – best DX option, very similar in features with FX entry-level, except the sensor
Let’s cross our finger and wait to see what Nikon will offer to us. In the meanwhile be free to add your comments and input in this regard.