A couple of days ago, Nikon made major waves in the photographic world by announcing its 36Mp D800 and D800 E dSLRs, priced at $2999 and $3299, respectively. Unfortunately, the move seemed kind of stupid in that Nikon was abandoning its affordable, good at high ISO camera, the D700, by instead trying to horn into medium format territory.
That is, unless Nikon has a trick up its sleeve.
With the D800, Nikon has essentially replaced its entire dSLR lineup in the last year and a half, except for the D3x (too expensive for almost anyone, so who cares?) and the D300/D300s, the top-tier, sub-frame model priced at around $1,800 at introduction.
So, could the D400 be FF with a D4 sensor? Quite possibly, as two trends have proven true in the past.
First of all, Nikon has been very generous in letting features trickle down from its top-tier cameras into lower-priced models, albeit after the new kings of the hill have been out awhile. Example: the D700 was 95% of the D3 but at half the cost. This, combined with the market void of not having an affordable, high ISO camera in its current lineup, bodes well for people hoping for a FF D400.
Another reason for hope: pricing. Ever since Nikon split its pro D# camera lineup into low and high resolution models, the high-res camera always cost about 35% more than the low-res one. Example: Nikon's D3 sold for just under $5,000 at release. Upon announcement, the D3x (identical to the D3 except for its double resolution sensor) was priced at $8,000. Now, looking at the high-res D800 that sits at the $3,000 mark, it would make perfect sense for Nikon to cram the 16Mp, FF sensor of the D4 into a D300 body, call it the D400, and sell it for $2,000. In doing this, Nikon would be both filling the market gap it created and, at the same time, making its customers happy, a win-win for everyone involved. Oh, yes, past pricing trends make this a very real possibility, too.
In the end, though, only time will tell if the the D400 will be a FF camera using the D4's sensor. In the meantime, if you want a D800, pre-order yours now as the waiting lists are sure to soon stretch half way to the Moon and as no one knows exactly what the D400 will bring, that is, if Nikon even bothers to make one.
Still, I think that a 16Mp, FF D400 could be just over the horizon.
For more analysis:D800 vs. D4
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