Monday, October 21, 2013

Is Nikon Making a Digital FM style Camera?

Nikon FE Film Camera (made from 1978-1983)
Rumors seem to indicate that Nikon is going to release a digital FM (more likely F2/F3) style DSLR, to counter the retro cameras from Fuji, Olympus and Sony. Here are the rumored specs, from Nikon Rumors.

* Nikon FM2 like design (similar design to pictured camera above)
* 16.2MP 36x23,9 full frame sensor (same as in the D4?)
* SD memory card
* 2016-pixel RGB image sensor
* 9-cell framing grid display
* 3D color matrix metering II
* Native ISO range: 100-12,800 (incl. ISO 50 and ISO 108,200)
* 5.5 fps for up to 100 shots
* 3.2" LCD screen
* Battery:EN-EL14 (from D3xxx/D5xxx line)
* Dimensions: 143.5 x 110 x 66.5mm
* Weight: 765g (this is not a light weight camera!)
* Standard F-mount
* No video recording capabilities
* Pentaprism viewfinder (meaning the camera will not be mirrorless)
* The camera will meter even with non-AI lenses down to full aperture
* The camera will ship with a new special edition Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens to match the look/design of the body
* The camera will have physical controls and excellent build quality
* Expeed 3 processor
* Same sensor as in the Nikon D4
* Nikon calls it a "hybrid" camera - not sure what exactly they mean with that
* The announcement will be in the next few months, maybe even in the next 1-3 weeks:

Initial thoughts:
This camera might not be for everyone, but Fuji (X series) and Olympus(OMD) have shown that there is a demand for retro style cameras. Personally, it sounds like a very interesting camera, but then the first SLR I used was a late 1970's era Nikon FE.

To me the best aspect of this camera is that it will work with just about every Nikon F mount lens ever made, in the last 50+ years. That and that it is going to be using a lower megapixel 16MP sensor. That means it could have D4 like high ISO performance. To me this camera will be a perfect travel camera. Smaller than a standard Nikon DSLR, but still built tough. It also looks like it could be a camera that is more focus on photography than gadgets, a welcome move without a doubt! If this retro Nikon camera comes out, you might see prices of non-AI lenses on eBay go up! Of course that will depend on a lot of things. What kind of auto focusing system will it have? The 51 point system from current high end bodies? The 39 point system from the D610? A totally new system? Will it have an optional, or maybe a digital overlay, split prism focusing screen, to make it easier to focus with non-AI, AI and AI-S lenses?

At this point there are more questions than answers, but one thing is for sure, this camera will at the very least stir up a great deal of nostalgia among long term Nikon users.