Is history going to repeat itself with the Nikon D4 (see above mock-ad re: Nikon D3)? But this time on the video side of the DSLR market?
Nikon is really happy with its new D4 flagship. My favorite quote from a Nikon person at CES was “We like to shut people up.”
Boy, did they…
There’s no doubt that the D4 is an amazing camera. It’s amazing how far they’ve one-upped their own D3s. I’m really hoping to get the chance to shoot some college basketball with one before the season is over.
For sports shooters, Canon’s 1D X and Nikon’s D4 should be close again. I think the D3s edged out the 1D Mark IV in AF performance over series of real world tests I conducted in 2010. However, I think the performance is closer than most forum postings would lead you to believe.
I’m curious to see how well these new cameras stack up against each other on the still image capture side; however, I’m even more interested in how Canon will respond to the Nikon D4’s key video capture features.
Yes, the cameras are both shoot HD video. And, based on my initial hands-on look at each one, they both do a better job than the previous generation in terms of overall quality and functionality. However, the Nikon D4 adds a couple of “duh” features (headphone output & clean HDMI-out) that may make it the current king of the HDSLR hill. And since Canon built that hill over the past three years or so, I reckon that it is readying some sort of response, which we’re all expecting to see at or around the NAB Show in April.
The 1D X looks like a great camera and I was impressed with the improvements Canon made to the video capture features. However, I specifically asked Chuck Westfall from Canon about the lack of a headphone port for audio monitoring and the lack of clean HDMI-out when I talked to him at PhotoPlus. As to the headphone port, he cited the need for a LAN port was more pressing and there simply wasn’t room on the 1D X body. And the lack of HDMI-out on the 1D X is due to the lack of processing power. You can see the full context of this discussion in my original recap here.
Nikon just managed to put both of these features in a camera that is lighter and costs $800 less than the 1D X. On the HDSLR side of things, the Nikon D4 makes Canon look like a bit of a chump.
Canon’s $16,000 C300 is all well and good; however, there’s still a huge market in the sub-$5000 HDSLR user base. So, Canon can point to the C300 and say, “Look, we’ve got all those features here.” But when it comes down to a lot of the prosumer or low-budget pro/indie shooters looking for a camera body that’s his best bang for buck, that $10k price gap may as well be a $50k price gap.
And if Nikon launches the D800 with similar “duh” features, Canon might be better off to fall on its sword (and run a real Touché ad) than to bring the 5D Mark III out with the 1D X video tweaks and call it an upgrade.
The thing is, I don’t think that’s what will happen. I think the 5D brand has become so ubiquitous in the HDSLR scene, that Canon will come out of the gate with a 5D Mark III as a true next-gen HDSLR.
And just to be clear, I’m more reading tea leaves here than I am passing along inside info. Based on where we’ve been over the past three years, the partnerships Canon’s formed with Technicolor and Adobe, and its new Cine-brand initiative, Canon’s built up too much steam to lay anything less than a golden egg now.
So, what kind of bells and whistles will make the 5D Mark III as special as the Mark II?
- First of all, I don’t know that Canon’s going to outdo the Mark II in terms of impact on the market. The 5D Mark II was a special camera and freak occurrence that created an entire market without any expectation of this.
- But doing a better job on audio is critical. I want my battery grip with XLR inputs. I may still be dreaming on this, but darned if I don’t want it. Even if Canon doesn’t go that far, someone else will soon (probably Sony if I were putting money on it). Audio monitoring is a must – both headphones and on-screen levels. New mics like the Rode VideoMic HD will make the most out of in-camera audio improvements.
- Clean HDMI-out. I would say that it’s a must, but that may be a bit strong. It’s highly desired by lots, but it won’t kill the camera. Canon would still look like a bit of a chump if the D800 has this feature though. Yeah OK, it’s almost a must.
- Smooth aperture pulls. Canon has a patent on this. It’s time.
- Smooth focus pulls. Several companies already make EF lens controls for focus pulling. How about a first-party solution?
- 1080/60p. Sony FS100, A77, NEX-7, NEX-5N . . . all offer 1080/60p. Just sayin’.
Canon Rumors had yet another interesting tidbit recently from its “sources” that the 5D Mark III would be sticking with a resolution around 21-22MP, instead of the rumored 30+MP sensor we heard a while back. Shouldn’t be a problem with the video side of things. Canon seems to have solved much of the rolling shutter skew and moire problems in the 1D X, which should easily transfer over to the 5D Mark III’s tech.
What’s more interesting on the video side of the rumor mill are those niggling rumors of a 30MP+ camera that’s coming from Canon. Alongside the Canon C300, a 4K concept camera was teased. No specs other than 4K and a DSLR form factor.
In the Canon C300 is a 4K sensor; however, it only delivers a 1080p image. This is due to the fact that it reads a full HD signal for each of the three RGB channels to deliver a single 1920 x 1080 image.
If Canon were to employ the same (apparently very effective) process to its 4K camera, we’d end up with a 33.1MP image sensor at a full 8K (7680 x 4320). That would be sufficient to allow the camera to read a full 4K signal for each RGB channel and deliver a single 4K image in the same manner as the C300.
We’ll keep an eye on this. In the mean time, the comment section below is all yours.