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September 8, 2007

Bo and jrp chat- we get to listen in

Nikonians co-founders Bo Stahlbrandt (bgs) and J. Ramon Palacios (jrp) recently discussed the impact of Nikon's announcements of the new Nikon D3, Nikon D300 (and new ultra-wide-angle, standard zoom NIKKOR and VR lenses). The chat was brief, focusing primarily on the D3 and thoughts on future developments.

The pair had very little time to discuss the new announcements while making last minute arrangements for the sold-out 7th Annual Photo Adventure Trip (ANPAT) beginning later this month. For Nikonians who could not attend the ANPAT -- this Internet conversation between them gives you an idea of their current views.

Bo (at right) begins the chat (in blue text) followed by jrp (at left in the Nikonians hat):

bgs: Partner ---Thanks for taking the time to discuss the new Nikon D3 DSLR and what the near future probably brings for us Nikonians in terms of DSLR cameras. Please have a virtual seat. :)  




jrp: Thanks ;)




bgs: I bet that everything in the pro segment will be FX from now on (D3, D3X, D4...), since it is easier to pump up the resolution that way and is probably the best tactic against Canon's marketing to the same segment. It is natural to see the prosumer bodies being DX for now and since the DX lenses are still usable on the FX bodies not much is lost. The "sexiness" of DX lenses will drop fast though.  

jrp: Not sure that everything in the pro segment will be FX only. If that were the case the D3 would have been named D3H, then for sure the incoming D3X would also be FX--a bit slower frames per second but with more megapixels -- Like it was the case with the D1H and D1X, then D2H/D2Hs and D2X/D2Xs -- But who knows.  

bgs: If I recall right, "H" = highspeed. For sure the D3 is high speed, but probably the former "H's" where dubbed "high speed", since that was about the most important, marketable additional feature that would sell... With the new D3 we have a new generation of cameras, not the case with the D1H and D2H which were nothing IMHO but cosmetics.  


Let us take a look at the new lenses that are coming out. The two new zoom FX lenses look most attractive, even to me with my D2X. The optical performance is simply incredible - if one is to judge by the published MTF tables. So yes, for the pro and deadly serious amateur segments, the DX lenses "sexiness" is gone.---- But the cost and weight will cause many to still largely favor the DX lenses. They are here to stay and its customer loyalty tradition and margins will make Nikon continue to offer DX lenses and DX DSLR bodies, now that they have broken the initial resistance. There are now 2 FX lenses and 26 DX lenses in production.  

bgs: Yes, good hint on the weight. So that can be another reason for the "heavy pro's/prosumers" to go with FX and the larger "average" crowds to use DX.. 26 DX lenses currently in production is a majestic number. As we can (usefully) connect a large number of non-DX lenses to the FX based Nikon D3, I bet we'll see many interesting lens-D3 combinations in the forums.

jrp: This move makes the three market segments "consumers", "prosumers" and "pros" more complete, covering the entire price/features range and yet with more clearly separated subsegments:

Consumers: D40x - entry level (possibly a D30/D30x coming soon)

Prosumers: D300 (and the alleged D3X that should be coming soon)

PJ Pros: D3 -- which is the main market for the D3

All other Pros: Future D3X and D4

And in this DSLR progression-- we at Nikonians won't forget our loyal Nikon Autofocus Film Bodies, F4/F5/F6 owners , F100 , F80/N80 , D1/D2/ , D100/D200 , D80 and D70/D70s users. 

With less spilling over from one segment to the next, both under and above, via price, there will be fewer models with more efficient manufacturing, the old tooling lines for 35mm lenses is being revamped with new optical formulas and coatings, etc. It is a great move and shows that the new Nikon management is really performing. 

bgs: I am with you on that segmentation except that even if the D3 is targeting PJ's, the D2X is less versatile than the D3 and we are using the D2X's "for everything", so we can expect to see D3's being used "for everything" while that is the most high performance body Nikon has. What do you personally think is the most exciting with the D3?  

jrp: Well, the most exciting to me about the Nikon D3 is not that is a full frame sensor camera, although it is undeniably a source of brand pride and an opportunity to "recover" the wide angle and shift lenses we used on 35mm film bodies; but the main feature for me is the much extended ISO range, from Lo-1 (ISO 100) all the way up to Hi-2 (ISO 25,600!). Adding to that the several other extraordinary improvements, makes the D3 a photojournalist, sports specialist and paparazzi dream camera.  

bgs: What do those very high ISO numbers mean for nature photographers? How do you expect that they will change your own photography?  

jrp: For nature photographers it could mean a lot. For example those into landscape photography can use smaller apertures for sunrises and sunsets with faster shutter speeds, particularly important when there is wind and you demand high sharpness. For wildlife photographers, to be able to freeze a bird in flight and forget about noise and motion blur is surely a big thing. 

bgs: Are you going to move to the D3 now or stick with your D2X and wait for a future D3X?  

jrp: I am going to keep my D2X, as I kept all cameras I ever owned, and continue to use it, but as responsible for the forums at Nikonians, I feel I must know this camera first hand, so will have to own one and know it well. Also, as head of the publishing team I need to be able to edit our content before it is published at the Resources and the Nikonians Press.

The D2X' DX APS-C sensor is an advantage in telephoto usage given the 1.5 crop factor. To do the same on the D3 one needs to invest on the really big guns, not alwasy easy for those of us who don't make money from our photographs to pay for gear.

Of course the D3X carries great expectations, even when the prospective of having to switch to terabyte hard disks for image storage is not exactly compelling for amateurs; but -after all- we moved out of floppy disks and diskettes, didn't we?  

bgs: Yes, the larger image files produced by the alleged D3X will lead to higher storage capacities required. As you said, storage is getting cheaper and prices are really dropping fast. Many of us have now terabyte hard disks connected to our computers. Even if this is a very speculative question, I have to ask it: What kind of resolution do you think we can expect from an allegged D3X?  

jrp: 28-30 Mpix would not be impossible, unless I am missing something crucial in sensor density projections. 

bgs: Of your arsenal of lenses, which lenses would you like to use on the D3 -- which combination would be thrilling to test? On what subjects?  

jrp: Apart from the constant f/2.8 AF-S magic trio (17-35mm, 28-70mm and 70-200mm), I am intrigued by how the legendary Nikkors will perform in that D3 FX sensor, like the 105mm f/2.5 AI-S and the 85mm f/1.4D AF, the 180mm f/2.8 AI-S for portraits, as well as the superwides for landscapes, like the 14mm f/2.8 AF.  

bgs: Btw, you are mentioning the D3X as if this is a fact. Will there be one and if so, what could be the release time period?  

jrp: Yes, I find it a logical upcoming event. Most likely next year we'll see a succesor of the D2Xs in APS-C format DX sensor. 

bgs: The D3 delivers 9 frames per second at max speed. Why would someone need that and can this be of any interest to Nikonians in general?  

jrp: Sports and Wildlife photographers may need this frame rates, like when shooting a footbal sequence or a cheetah running for a kill, not to mention if running straight at you in the jungle. This is likely an important appeal to our professional members. Even more so as files get larger. Memory card manufacturers work closely with camera makers and we are already seeing new speeds in reading and writing such as the Professional UDMA 300X by Lexar with 45MB/sec USB transmission to computers, and up to 40MB/sec sequential read and write by Sandisk Extreme IV CF cards. I don't think this is just for the sake of being faster, but direct response to a real upcoming industry need.  

bgs: Thank you very much for your time partner. Always good to chat with you about something _else_ than the most pressing daily issues :)

Posted by flashdeadline at September 8, 2007 10:00 PM