The D400 in 2011

(commentary)

Every now and then I do a full browse through all my files and notes and decide which to archive, which to update, and which to throw away. In my latest round, I discovered my notes from discussions in 2010 and 2011 with various Nikon folk about what the D300s replacement was likely to look like.

The list of these changes I eventually grouped into several categories, which went like this:

  • Possible and Likely Changes
    • 16mp+ sensor (rumored at between 16 and 20mp at the time)*
    • 1080P/30 video with true video codec*
    • 6+ fps frame rate, higher with crop
    • Swivel rear LCD
    • DNR and SN improvements*
    • Improved focus with 51-sensor part*
    • More flexible MUP*
    • Better Live View implementation*
    • Center button full functionality ala other pro cameras
    • Weaker AA filter (or none)*
    • More accurate Auto WB*
  • Possible but Less Likely Changes
    • In-camera HDR*
    • Auto-bracketing at 2EV*
    • Bounce-able internal flash
    • Weather/waterproof sealed body
    • Capture included free*
    • RAW histograms
    • Smaller body than before*
    • Live View exposure simulation
    • Face detection in Live View*
    • Virtual horizon in viewfinder*
  • Possible but Improbable Changes
    • Built-in GPS*
    • Built-in WiFi
    • Built-in wireless remote (radio, not IR)
    • Radio control of flash
    • Small RAW option
    • 8 fps JPEG shooting
    • In body VR
    • Less noisy shutter
    • Viewfinder shutter ala pro bodies
  • Nearly Impossible Changes
    • 1/500 second flash sync


Because this list was derived from conversations with some in and closely aligned with Nikon, many of these things went on to appear in various products. I’ve indicated things that came to pass in subsequent DX cameras with a * (some things, like a swivel rear LCD were already on a DX camera at the time). A few of the things I had noted did occur with FX bodies (e.g. Small RAW).

I did have a couple of clunkers on my original list: faster fps with 14-bit raw files was in the nearly impossible category, for instance. 

As I’ve noted before, I believe a D400 candidate (mule prototype) was actually circulating in 2011. For some reason it never released to production. Many of the things in the above list were almost certainly in that prototype.

I’m hearing the D400 prototype rumors again with the goal of a fall launch, yet the list of features hasn’t seemed to change a lot. Sure, 24mp, 8-10 fps, and higher video specifications. But despite another whole generation of cameras passing by between the prototypes, the end point didn’t seem to change much, as many of the same features are being mentioned again.

Thing is, if the last prototype didn’t make it to production, considering the modest updates to the likely feature set why would the new one make it out? Oh, right. The Canon 7DMarkII. That plus Nikon needing a constant stream of new things that aren’t exactly minor iterations to something currently in the lineup (e.g. Df, D750) to keep sales up almost guarantees a D300s replacement. 



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