Medium Format in Nikon's Future

WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
edited October 2013 in Nikon DSLR cameras
I believe that in less than 10 years, Nikon will have a full-frame camera (DSLR, Mirrorless, doesn't matter) for around $500. Moore's law still applies for the time being with computer hardware, unlike the other mechanical parts of the camera.

That means that the industry will be back to the 90's in one important respect. Arguably, the best professional SLR every made was the F5 and it sold for slightly more than $3,000 when first introduced and dropped to around $2,000 just before the F6 came out. The only really important difference today I think, besides all the incremental mechanical improvements, is the digital part and that price is coming down fast. I predict that when the D5 comes out, Nikon will be hard pressed to argue that it is worth more than $4,000.

So if Nikon wants to expand its market and charge a premium price, medium format is an option. We have already been sensitized to paying $6,000 plus for Nikon, Phase One, Hasselbad etc. It would require a new lens lineup with a new format, with 20-30 lenses. However, if the sensor was big enough to offer an obvious and compelling improvement without being too big to fit in a D4 body (60 by 40 or even 60 by 60 perhaps), perhaps there is a market that would be focused on studio photographers (FX is good enough for sports action and news photographers) with a strong prosumer secondary market.

I heard about a Nikon patent for a medium format lens, so I am sure that Nikon has thought about it.

What do you guys think?
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Comments

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    Cheapest Hasselblad with one lens...over $20,000. Doubt Nikon will go that way. They have been there at least once with the Zenza Bronica in the 1960's..."had one with Nikkor optics
    Msmoto, mod
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,005Member
    edited October 2013
    If Nikon went medium format I think you'd see something more like the Pentax 645D ($6,999 body), rather than Hasselbald.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    The Pentax 645D is on the small side for medium format. I think that they would need something a little bigger to get people to bite. I read once about a rule of thumb that there should be a 10x improvement before users will abandon a format. So it better at least be double (DX to FX is double the area).

    $20,000 now for the cheapest Hasselblad, but I am thinking in the 5-10 year timeframe when the prices come down.

    Interesting about the Zenza Bronica, I recall reading about that somewhere. You have given me something to google.
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited October 2013
    jshickele: Your hypothesis on the future projection of a new Nikon FX price point of $500 is wishful thinking. To forecast such a price point require lots of analytical data in order to build a model...i.e interest rates, inflation rates, currency valuation, labor and production costs etc..etc.

    We have found it challenging enough to forecast the price point of currently Nikon gear, much less what it will be 5-10 years. More over, have you seen what a used Nikon F5 50th Anniversary sells for? It is far from your targeted price point on a new body 10 years from now.
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    I forecast $500 for an FX, not a MF. However, let's assume that you made a typo and meant FX:

    Didn't they only make two or three thousand of those Nikon F5 50th anniversary editions? It seems to me that is like forecasting the price of a new 13mm ultra wide based on the collectors edition from a couple of decades ago that now sells for more than $10,000. I just found a regular F5 is $325 used at B&H with "Shows moderate wear or finish marks" - I am tempted. It would look great in my bookcase.

    I spend about a quarter of my time leading a team of 18 in the real estate business on the types of models you describe and have equivalent experience in other industries, so I know enough about them to know that it is irrelevant in this case. Please read on.

    My forecast is based on 2013 dollars, so inflation is not a factor. It is based on Moore's law (think what a D1 cost, mostly because of the digital guts, when it came out and compare the price to an equivalent sensor today) which applies to computer chips (so the sensor, but not the mechanical components) and cramming the result into a cheap plastic D3100 or something the size of the new Sony (but made of the cheapest plastic), stretching it barely enough to make room for the FX sensor in place of the DX. Maybe Nikon won't do it and that would be a marketing decision, but somebody will. So my point is "in less than 10 years anybody with $500 will be able to afford full frame (body only) just like anybody with $500 in 2000 could afford 35mm (an EM with kit lens was $231 when introduced, then adjust for inflation and subtract the lens)". We are back to the 90s.

    I think my big stretch regarding medium format is as follows - back in the 90s , as always, Nikon differentiated themselves with quality in all their products. I assume that they may continue to do that. I am speculating that they may take it one step further and branch out into medium format. That is a marketing decision and forecasting what goes on in a marketer's head is like gazing into a crystal ball. And then I am speculating on what that might look like. If Nikon could produce a MF DSLR for under $10,000 that weighed about what a D4 does, I would be very interested. Give it 10 years.......
  • tmantman Posts: 27Member
    10 years is forever-- i'd expect much sooner.

    If they want to bring FX to the masses they must be thinking of MF for the anointed few.
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    tman said:

    10 years is forever-- i'd expect much sooner.If they want to bring FX to the masses they must be thinking of MF for the anointed few.

    My point exactly regarding forever, I am just being conservative. And I want to be one of the anointed ones.
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    @jshickele: Sorry for the type I did mean FX.

    Now with respect to your usage of Moore's law, as it realties to your forecasted price point, consider this question: Do you find this law to be true, given the duration of time that has passed within Nikon's own pricing structure of FX bodies over the years?

    For those that seek to get into a FX world, in the $500 or less, I believe the used market will provide them the best option vs. a new market.
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    I believe that in less than 10 years, Nikon will have a full-frame camera (DSLR, Mirrorless, doesn't matter) for around $500. Moore's law still applies for the time being with computer hardware, unlike the other mechanical parts of the camera.
    Moore's Law really just states that number of transistors on a chip will "double" every two years. It was never intended to be applied to "all" of technology and certainly not to price. Those correlations do not apply to finished goods as it does not take into account inflation, labor cost, energy cost, etc.

    A ran across my first "big" computer's packing list while cleaning some boxes out (Dec 1994 - top of the line, Gateway Pentium P54 100hz) and that was $5,500. My iPhone 5s has 30x more memory and edits photos faster than that ever did. But, the new computer I got last year, was about $3,000 and was by no means the "top" of the line but down a couple of notches. A top of the line PC is still $5,000+. I'm with Golf007sd, probably wishful thinking - but not a bad wish though ;)

    Unfortunately the if anything the last few Dx pro bodies have increased in price. As time has shown, all prices eventually rise. That is just normal inflation and basic economics. My grandfather still loves to tell me he could get a gallon of gas for $0.05.

    I'm not sure if you are aware, but a Hasselblad H5D-200MS 50mp body is over $42,000! The cheapest Hassy is $15-20k for the body only. I have seen Mamiya's body only (no digital back) is around $5k and I have seen some bodies with digital backs for around $10 or $12k. That is a far cry from $6,000 and MedFmt cameras have done nothing but go up higher in price.

    There is one main difference between the F5 & F6 and digital that you are comparing and that is that 35mm film is basically moved from a daily user tool, to an art tool. By the time the F6 came out, film was on it's way out and the good ol' supply and demand took over. Not much demand existed any more for film cameras. Using the cost for camera's for then and now, you have left out CPI (Consumer Price Index) to tell you what something would cost. I couldn't find the EM numbers but did find that last published price for a FM2n new was $750. Using the gov't CPI calculator that price today would be $1,143. That is also a much simpler camera, and it doesn't include a lifetime of film with it. ;)

    Nikon moving into the MF realm is an interesting idea. I could see where they actually buy out a MedFmt company rather than start from scratch. Not to say they may try a MedFmt system first to test the waters. Most MedFmt systems really only have 10-12 lenses but they are also $2,000-$10,000+ a pop.

    Not meaning to burst your bubble on your idea, but just to add reality to it. If your statement is just the output quality and not the physical sensors, I would agree, the quality of a D4 image output, could probably be produced out of a compact camera in 10 years.

    Personally I think in 10 years we could see image quality become so good, consumers will migrate back to smaller sensors than want larger. Think of film - You could put the best film in any 35mm camera - large or small. What made the difference was the lens optics. I don't think it is outside of a fairly rational thought that in 10 years a DX sensor could capture an image at ISO 6400 with a full 13 stops of dynamic range and with little or no resolution loss. At that point all that the format really does is give you depth of field and quality of the optics. Not much unlike the cameras from the glory film days.



    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • adamzadamz Posts: 842Moderator
    IMHO, in the next 10 years the IQ (image quality) will be on top for most of the cameras. as it's today with notebooks. for basic office task you can buy a $1000 gear and don't see too much real life difference than if you spent $3000. it's gonna be the same with cameras. iPhone 10 with 24mpx camera and IQ of d4. The thing that will distinguish the cameras will be all the accessories you can use and all other "technical" specs, like: fps, remote control, durability.

    as for Nikon going MF... I doubt. is there really need for that... or should I rather say, is there a market for that. some ppl may disagree, but d800e coupled with primes gives you pretty much the same IQ what some MF cameras deliver for a fraction of money.
  • paulrpaulr Posts: 1,176Member
    edited October 2013
    Nikon need to be in the mass market, The cost of setup and development to sell a medium format cameras would not justify the demand. When you look at the medium format market, all the well know manufactures are eager to do deals. Professional photographer can no longer justify spending huge amounts of hard earned money on equipment when their profit margins are constantly been cut.
    Manufactures of 35mm camera/lens are getting so good that in time I believe the medium format will follow the large format route sadly. For a multi-million pound company Nikon would not want to test that water.
    Post edited by paulr on
    Camera, Lens and Tripod and a few other Bits
  • moreorlessmoreorless Posts: 120Member
    IMHO, in the next 10 years the IQ (image quality) will be on top for most of the cameras. as it's today with notebooks. for basic office task you can buy a $1000 gear and don't see too much real life difference than if you spent $3000. it's gonna be the same with cameras. iPhone 10 with 24mpx camera and IQ of d4. The thing that will distinguish the cameras will be all the accessories you can use and all other "technical" specs, like: fps, remote control, durability. - See more at: http://forum.nikonrumors.com/discussion/1770/medium-format-in-nikons-future#Item_8
    I see a difference between photography and computers/phones though, the element that gives you performance in both of those areas(CPU's, memory, HD space etc) is wholey electronic and so subject to constant improvements in performance and decreases in size. With a camera system though your depending on optics for your performance which are not generally going to advance nearly as quickly and are subject to more obvious physical size limates.
  • adamzadamz Posts: 842Moderator
    @moreorless - yes and no. check pictures taken 10 years with d70 (9 years to be specific) and with iPhone. take into consideration only the common factors: same focal length, same aperture, same iso and you will see that on low iso the difference is not that big and on high iso the difference is huge... and the winner here is iPhone. sure you can put a long tele on d70, or a super wide lens but that's not how majority of ppl will use it.
  • moreorlessmoreorless Posts: 120Member
    I'v not used any larger sensors from that era so I'll have to take your word for it but remember in photography your depending not just on sensor tech but optics(and to take it further printer tech) when it comes to the quality of your output. The performance of the overall system will be influenced most by the weakest link in it, I'd argue that 10 years ago that was clearly sensor tech meaning that a much smaller sensor with a much smaller lens can today deliver similar performance. Today though I'd argue that sensor tech has not only caught up but surpassed film in terms of resolution meaning that optics are increasingly becoming the limating factor.

    Smaller sensors not only push lenses harder showing up aberartions more they also become impacted by difftraction earlier if resolution is the same. We know for example that the D800's resolution is already being hampered above F/5.6, you try and get the same resolution off of a 1 2/3 inch compact sensor and your talking an F/ 1.1 lens.
  • adamzadamz Posts: 842Moderator
    @moreorless - I totally agree with you about the optics part, but as I wrote before. it's not an issue for casual users. you don't need 36Mpx to post picture on Facebook or instagram, and for 4x5" prints it doesn't matter.
  • moreorlessmoreorless Posts: 120Member
    edited October 2013
    That's rather different from the situation you mentioned with computers though, in those markets systems with top of the line performance but lesser interface have appeared, with photography the larger systems have both superior performance and superior interface.

    I do think theres a case though that the limates of lens performance on a 35mm sized digital system are high enough that anything above will be a very small market potentially not worth chasing except as a boost to the brand's prestige.
    Post edited by moreorless on
  • paulrpaulr Posts: 1,176Member
    TaoTeJared Stated, I'm not sure if you are aware, but a Hasselblad H5D-200MS 50mp body is over $42,000! The cheapest Hassy is $15-20k for the body only. I have seen Mamiya's body only (no digital back) is around $5k and I have seen some bodies with digital backs for around $10 or $12k. That is a far cry from $6,000 and MedFmt cameras have done nothing but go up higher in price.

    I recently went to a Uk Hassleblad Open Day and the reps were saying that Hasselblads market was going more for the Hi-End Amateur, with large pockets, rather than the Professional Photographer, clearly a limited market.
    Camera, Lens and Tripod and a few other Bits
  • shawninoshawnino Posts: 453Member
    @paulr: was that Hassy rep commentary in relation to MF, or in relation to the rebadged Sony stuff, or both?

    I get it in re: the craptastic wood they're strapping on the RX 100, but I can't see the Large Pocket Amateur buying a MF Hassy when Leica comes in at less weight and is, you know, "Leica".

    (Before anybody starts, I'm not bagging on the IQ of either Hasselblad or Leica.)
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited October 2013
    shawnino .... but I can't see the Large Pocket Amateur buying a MF Hassy


    They don't; they are bought buy WAGS (wives and girlfriends)

    You know the old problem "what do get a man who has everything"

    well the odds are, he wont have a Hasselblad H5D-200MS

    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    I recently went to a Uk Hassleblad Open Day and the reps were saying that Hasselblads market was going more for the Hi-End Amateur, with large pockets, rather than the Professional Photographer, clearly a limited market.
    I have also seen that Hassy has released many statements about going after the "Hi-End Amateur" and I can't but think it is chasing the Leica market, seeing how that company has all of a sudden turned profitable again. I just don't get Hassy with their Sony rebranded cameras with the idea that somehow there is a "High End" market like Leica users to be had. Leica's market has 60 years of nostalgia, desire, and perfection that I don't think is transferable to other brands.

    Although I am more in agreeance with Adamz's thoughts on a MedFmt Nikon, the two things that MedFmt has over DSLRs is the DOF "look" that can not be replicated and the 16bit color (vs 14bit of all DSLRs) that can. Pentax's MedFmt is only 14bit as well and I think some of Mammy's systems are too (or were if new versions have it.) That added color range is a big deal and can really add to the image, editing, graduations, etc. There are some videos of Steve McCurry (Afghan girl, shot with a Nikon and 105 f2.5 btw) walking around Africa with a Hassy. If you have never held one, that will give you an idea just how large they are. I like heaft, but that is just a bit larger than I want to carry.

    Camera's have always had the "push-pull" of whether the market wants "High discerning images" or cheaper and "good enough." There is always a place for the best image quality, but "good enough" always wins out. Case in point - cell phone pics and disposable cameras from film days.

    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • adamzadamz Posts: 842Moderator
    @TTJ - there's always a solution for a great MF camera that is portable - Leica S2, almost the same size as D3s/D4.
  • paulrpaulr Posts: 1,176Member
    Shawnino They were talking about HD4/5
    . When I mentioned 35mm Hasselblad they went very quite and changed the subject.

    The weight of the HD4 with a standard 80mmm lens is virtually the same as a D3X with a 24-70 lens
    PS I am still waiting for the D4X or whatever name it will be , No problem I am a patient Guy.
    Camera, Lens and Tripod and a few other Bits
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,084Member
    edited October 2013
    @TTJ - there's always a solution for a great MF camera that is portable - Leica S2, almost the same size as D3s/D4.
    Yeah, but good luck with that when it costs the price of a very nice car to get into the Leica S2 system.
    Shawnino They were talking about HD4/5
    . When I mentioned 35mm Hasselblad they went very quite and changed the subject.

    The weight of the HD4 with a standard 80mmm lens is virtually the same as a D3X with a 24-70 lens
    PS I am still waiting for the D4X or whatever name it will be , No problem I am a patient Guy.
    They're probably just going to release a rebadged A7 and A7r for Hasselblad and call it a day.
    Post edited by NSXTypeR on
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    @TTJ - there's always a solution for a great MF camera that is portable - Leica S2, almost the same size as D3s/D4.
    Lol - yeah that will be right after I pick up a Hasselblad Lunar!
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    The medium format digital world is, with a few exceptions, for those who are shooting professionally for the very highest level of client. I cannot see Nikon entering this market, when they are going to have to pull off a miracle just to stay afloat in the rapidly changing consumer market.

    And, when I win the Lotto, I am getting a Phase One or Hassy with a complete set of Schneider optics. :))
    Msmoto, mod
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