Well, well. We now have the new Nikon mirrorless cameras. And don’t these specs sounds very familiar. It’s also caused a lot of controversy on the internet forums, but that’s to be expected. Generally, a lot of people don’t understand the market, or they want far more features than they are actually willing to pay for. When it comes down to it, the users typically get a lot more than they think they are getting.
Firstly though, contrary to some small pockets of belief, I don’t work for Nikon. It would be nice though I’m sure.
I little while ago, a bit over 4 years, I posted on here and other photographic forums, what I thought the direction Nikon should go in regards to their little compact cameras. You can read that post here and continue to the Nikon 2010 Predictions to read a bit more on the matter. We didn’t quite get the timing right on everything, but the foundations are there.
The interesting thing about that blog post 4 years ago, is that Nikon actually developed it. To summarise, I thought Nikon should invent a new sensor size and a new mount to go with it, call it CX for good measure. The sensor should be around the 13x10mm size and probably contain auto focus pixels on the sensor.
Well, bugger me. You can’t get much closer to that. Interestingly, in a recent interview with Masahiro Suzuki, General Manager R&D, Nikon Imaging said they have been working on the new system for ‘nearly’ four years… sooo… just after I made the blog posts. Ok, so I’m gloating, you can’t blame me, can you. On the surface of it, looks like someone took my blog post to a Nikon R&D meeting.
From the initial photos from the camera, this is exactly what I was expecting. A nice little compact camera with a large sensor. If you just looked at the press release, you might be thinking it’s just a CMOS sensor with a larger surface area. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Technologically, this is a massive leap forward in sensor design and innovation. So let’s explore it a little deeper.
The new super high-speed AF CMOS sensor is a Nikon CX-format CMOS image sensor. With the new CX format, Nikon has added a new imaging format to its existing Nikon FX and DX formats for digital-SLR cameras.
The new cameras are the first ever cameras to be equipped with a new super high-speed AF CMOS image sensor that also offer focal plane phase detection autofocus as well as contrast detection. What is focal plane phase detection?
Let’s just keep it simple. Focal plane phase detection has pixels on the sensor that are dedicated to focusing. It’s very difficult to implement but it is much faster than the traditional contrast detection used in most point-and-shoot cameras or other mirrorless cameras. The new Nikon’s have both types and call it a hybrid AF.
The advanced hybrid autofocus system combines phase detection AF, which enables faster focusing and superior subject tracking performance with moving subjects, with contrast-detect AF, which performs well in low-light conditions.
This hybrid system ensures optimal focusing under a variety of shooting conditions. As the world’s first interchangeable lens cameras to implement focal plane phase detection AF, the J1 and V1 have achieved the high-speed autofocusing needed for certain capture of even the most unexpected photo opportunities.
What’s more, at 10 fps, the cameras also offer the world’s fastest continuous shooting rate with AF tracking, and the world’s fastest high-speed continuous shooting rate of 60 fps; and that’s at full resolution.
The J1 and V1 also boast the most focus points — 73 with phase detection AF — available with any interchangeable lens digital camera currently available.
The autofocus on the sensor is only a small part to its story. There is also a newly developed EXPEED 3 image processor to go along with it. The processor has that has two processing pipelines, and that is five-times faster than the current DSLR, than the D3s. The EXPEED 3 processor can move 600 Mpb/s. That is an enormous amount of data.
The sensor itself has 24 channels for readout information and then two completely separate image processing pipelines. And these are digital channels.
To put some perspective on this very important development, the D3s has 12 channels of output and they are analogue. that means is the image is processed from analogue to digital on the sensor before it’s moved to the processor. This will allow less noise in the image, a higher quality image and more data to be moved per second. This is not done by any other sensor on the market today.
The Nikon CX cameras will have an assortment of accessories and lenses too. There are four lenses being released in the first release, this being the 10-30mm (equiv. 27-80mm), 30-110mm (equiv. 80-300), 10-100 (equiv. 27-270). These 3 lenses are standard zooms, ie around the f3.5-5.6 range.
There is also a neat little 10mm f2.8 pancake lens. This should be a decent seller amongst those who want a neat little walk around package. I have an Olympus Pen with the 17mm f2.8 pancake, and it’s very nice.
Other accessories that will be available will include the GPS unit and the external flash system for the
These will be accompanied by some further lenses in the near future. Nikon has stated that they have developed a 3 year roadmap. If I had to guess what’s in the roadmap, I’d say an ultrawide lens (probably something in the 5-10mm range, an 8mm f2 pancake, an 18mm f2.8, and a macro lens.
And if Nikon really wanted to move away from the rest of the pack, a 100-220mm (equiv. 270-600mm) lens.
If this camera really is aimed at the family, then a sports lens will be an absolutely perfect complement to the super fast focusing, 10 frames per second, CX cameras.
Hopefully though, we don’t have to wait the whole 3 years to see my 8mm pancake coming.
The V1 is the camera I’d be interested in. There are just too many features that I like in this camera over the more basic J1. However, I don’t believe this is the end of this line.
I think we’ll see another CX bodied camera in the next 6 months. A professional body, P7100 style. This is the camera that will create the hype and get the enthusiasts on board. I hope I’m right.
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