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Nikon F dSLR system


  • Nikon needs little introduction being one of the most famous names in 35mm photography since they took over the pro market with the introduction of their Nikon F system in 1959.
  • Nikon gave up it's dominance to Canon in the 1990's when they failed to match Canon's USM auto-focus technology and didn't come up with a comparable AF technology until 1996.
  • Nikon is now pushing Canon strongly to reclaim dominance and this is largely due to a few factors:
    • their iTTL flash system which they introduced in 2003 has become recognised as perhaps the best available, and finally Pocket Wizard's Flex TT5 radio TTL supports it, not just Canon's equivalent.
    • they recognised earlier than Canon, that their lenses are no match in resolution and CA for the new high resolution sensors and embarked upon a review of their lens line up to address this starting with revamped tilt-shift lenses in 2008 and then revamping important telephoto and ultra-wide zoom lenses in 2009 onwards.
      • in particular, Canon had no match for their new 14-24mm f/2.8G lens while their new 85mm f/1.4 was probably more usable than the legendary Canon 85mm f/1.2 which had slower AF.
      • they were first to increase the lens VR technology to 4 stops although Canon soon matched this.
    • they finally have an affordable 20+ megapixel full frame to match the Canon 5D Mark III - the 36mp D800
  • now Nikon is faced with the growing threat of mirrorless camera systems cannibalising their lucrative entry-level dSLR market and introduced a 2.7x crop version of these in 2011 - the Nikon 1 mirrorless camera system.
  • Nikon not only faces competition from Canon and increasingly Sony in the pro sector, but also by the medium format dSLR market.

compatibility issues

AF motor

  • some Nikkor lenses (eg. AF 50mm f/1.8D) require the camera to have an AF motor and thus auto-focus will NOT work on the following Nikon dSLRs:
    • D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D5000, D3100, D5100
  • this is very unfortunate as the financially challenged who are likely to buy the above models, are the ones who would dearly love to have an inexpensive portrait lens like the 50mm f/1.8D at well under $200, instead they have to resort to the new $200+ AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens or a $400-750 50mm f/1.4 lens if they want auto-focus capability.

i-TTL flash

  • i-TTL flash was introduced in 2003 by Nikon and all cameras produced since then will work with i-TTL flash units (the SB series) but not with older d-TTL flashes (those with DX in the model names)
  • the only film SLR compatible with i-TTL flash is the last pro model - the Nikon F6

lens mount issues

  • most Nikon SLRs and dSLRs are not able to use pre-AI lenses (those produced before 1977) unless the lens has been modified by Nikon.
  • see Nikon F camera system lenses for more details on types on lens mounts
  • as Nikon has a long lens flange mount distance, unlike other cameras, you CANNOT adapt lenses from other mounts to use on Nikon SLRs unless the mount is a medium format film lens such as Hasselblad.
  • a Nikon F mount lens though can be used on most other cameras in manual focus mode using adapters

current dSLRs

full frame

    • coming early 2020
  • Nikon D780
    • announced Jan 2020;
    • 24.5mp BSI sensor with dual gain ISO (presumably same as in the Nikon Z6);
    • shutter now 1/8000th sec to 900secs; x-sync 1/200th sec; 2.4mdot tilting touch screen; dual UHS II SD card slots; no flash; USB-C charging; same EN-EL15b battery as the full-frame Z models; 840g;
    • In Live View: 273-point hybrid AF which automatically switches between focal-plane PDAF or CDAF that covers 90% of the image area, down to -4EV or –6EV in the slower 'low light AF' mode
    • In Optical view: 51-point AF with 15 cross-points using the D5 AF algorithm, down to -7EV
    • EXPEED 6; 7fps mechanical shutter (but only 3fps in Live View); 14bit 8fps or 12bit 12fps electronic shutter modes; focus bracketing; electronic vibration reduction;
    • 4K UHD with full pixel readout; 1080HD to 120p; focus tracking; 10-bit HDMI output; N-Log or HDR (HLG) picture profiles; auto time-lapse movie production function in-camera;
    • $US2299
    • announced Aug 2017; 47mp 7-9fps full frame dSLR with similar AF system to the D5. Tilting touchscreen;
    • announced Jan 2016 aimed at low light, action photojournalists as major upgrade from their 4Ds
    • 12fps 20.8mp with native ISO range, from 100 to 102,400
    • EXPEED 5 processor
    • all-new autofocus module with 153 points, 99 of which are cross-type
    • 4K video but only in cropped mode and up to 3min duration
    • touchscreen LCD
    • support for radio TTL flash
    • $US6500
    • announced June 2014
    • minor improvements over the Nikon D800 dSLR, but as with the D800E, it doesn't have an anti-alias filter
    • announced Feb 2014
    • improvements over the Nikon D4 sports dSLR:
      • new 16mp sensor, expanded ISO to 409,600
      • ability to group AF areas
      • burst rate 11fps instead of 10fps with decreased viewfinder blackout and better C-AF
      • next gen image processor (Expeed 4) and D-lighting 2
      • 1080 60p video instead of only 30p and 24 or 42Mbps but still limited to 20 minutes
      • interval shooting frame max. increased from 999 to 9999
      • ethernet speed 1000Mbps instead of 100Mbps
      • optional new battery EN-EL18a giving longer battery life (3020 shots instead of 2600)
    • $US6499
    • retrostyled 16mp dSLR announced Nov 2013
    • 36mp, 91,000-pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering III System, Advanced Scene Recognition System, improved 51-point AF system (15 cross-type AF sensors, 9 of which are active with lenses up to f/8) with face detection in OVF mode, EXPEED 3™ image processing engine, native ISO range of 100-6400, expandable to 50-25,600, 1.2x crop mode, 15.4mp DX mode when using DX lenses, in-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) image capture, access to Picture Control presets via a dedicated button on the back of the body, weathersealed, USB 3.0, CF and SD card slots, intervalometer, optional GPS, 900g
    • 921,000-dot, 3.2-inch LCD monitor
    • 4 frames per second (fps) in FX mode at full resolution; 6 fps in DX mode using the optional MB-D12 Battery Pack;
    • 1080 30/24p and 720 60/30p HD video with full manual control, uncompressed HDMI output (8 bit, 4:2:2), B-frame compression H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, mono mic, dedicated headphone jack for accurate monitoring of audio levels while recording. Audio output levels can be adjusted with 30 steps for precise audio adjustment and monitoring. Stereo mic jack can also be adjusted with up to 20 steps of sensitivity. Video recording can be set to be activated through the shutter button, opening a world of remote applications through the 10-pin accessory terminal.
    • RRP $2995
  • D800E - as for D800 but no anti-alias filter; RRP $3295;
    • announced Oct 2013 at $1999 body only
    • essentially a replacement of the D600 with 4 new features:
      • new shutter mechanism presumably to correct the oil on sensor issue of the D600
      • slightly faster burst rate at 6fps
      • new quiet continuous mode shoots at 3 fps
      • refined auto white balance system
    • announced Sept 2012;
    • similar to D800 but:
      • 24mp sensor with 10.5mp DX mode
      • 39-point AF system with 9 cross-type AF points (same AF system as the D7000)
      • AF sensitivity down to -1EV instead of -2EV
      • 5.5fps burst mode in FX
      • 2,016-pixel RGB TTL exposure metering sensor
      • cannot change aperture during movie mode
      • 2x SD slots (no CF slot)
      • polycarbonate front place
      • USB 2.0 not 3.0
      • 1/4000th sec shutter, x-sync 1/200th sec
      • 141mm x 113mm x 82mm (5.5 × 4.4 × 3.2 in)
      • 760 g (1.6 lbs) w/o battery
      • $2099 list price plus optional battery grip MB-D14 ($329) which also allows running with 8xAA batteries - now that is handy!
      • problems with oil splashing onto the sensor
  • D4 - 16mp, 9-11fps, 1080p video, 2012 sports model
  • D3x - 24.5mp, 5fps, no popup flash, no video, very expensive 2009 model
  • D3s - 12mp, 9-11fps, no popup flash, 720p video, 2009 sports model
  • D700 - entry level 12mp 5fps, popup flash, no video, 2008 model

DX sensor

  • D300s - 51 AF pts, 12mp, 7fps, fixed 920K LCD, 1/8000th sec, 0.95x pentaprism viewfinder, 720p video - 2009 model
  • D7000 - 39 AF pts with 9 cross-type; 16mp, 6fps, 1/8000th sec, 0.95x pentaprism viewfinder, 1080i HD video but only mono sound - 2010 model
  • D5100 - 11 AF pts with 1 cross-type, 16mp, 14bit, 4fps, 1/4000th sec, 0.78x pentamirror viewfinder, sync 1/200th sec, swivel 920K LCD, 1080 24p HD video stereo mic option - 2011 model
  • D3100 - 11 AF pts, 14mp, 12bit, low res 230K fixed LCD, 0.8x pentamirror viewfinder, with 1080i HD video but only mono sound - 2010 model
  • D3200 - 11 AF pts, 24mp - 2012 model
  • D7100 - 24mp, 51pt AF with 15 cross points, 1080 60i; 6fps; - 2013 model
  • D7200 - as for D7100 but buffer higher, AF to -3EV, no AA filter, EXPEED 4, WiFi, NFC, improved video, wireless mic - 2015 model
  • D500 - 2016 model, same 153-point AF system and EXPEED 5 processor as the D5, 10fps, 4K/UHD video, bluetooth smartphone connectivity, flip up/down 3.2“ touchscreen LCD, 100% coverage viewfinder offering 1.0x magnification, illuminated buttons, cross-type AF sensors available out to the edges of the frame; $US2000
  • D7500 - 2017 model, cut down version of D500; 20.9mp; 8fps; weathersealed; 51pt AF; tilting touchscreen; 4K video from 1.5x crop of sensor;
photo/nikonf.txt · Last modified: 2020/01/07 20:30 by gary1

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