The Nikon D4 Dilemma

Thom Hogan got me thinking about the Nikon D4, what it’ll be, and what type of sensor and features we can expect.

Thom’s got an excellent post over at his website if you want some good reading, but basically Thom outlines what I’m going to call the Nikon D4 Dilemma.

In a nutshell, it boils down to the old axiom… You can’t please everybody all of the time.

Many folks want Nikon to release a high megapixel version of the Nikon D700, and they want it to have HD video too.  Ok, I get that.  I wouldn’t mind one of those myself.

Problem is, as Thom points out, Nikon would be cannibalizing their sales of the D3X and D3s flagships if they did bring out such a version of the Nikon D700.  In doing so, they’d also be hurting their bottom line.

So is that where the D4 should go?

Not if Nikon wants to build on the success of the D3s.  Basically, to maintain the D3s lead position as top high ISO King, Nikon can’t increase megapixels on the sensor past their capacity to also keep the high ISO image quality at the same or better levels as the D3s.  To do so would jeopardize the position of the D4 in the marketplace.

It comes down to this.  High megapixels and amazing high ISO are in direct opposition to each other.  You can build a high megapixel champ like the D3x with very good high ISO ability, or you can build a high ISO champ like the D3s with SUPERB high ISO ability.

You really can’t have both.  Try to do both in the same body, and you will no longer have a champ in either arena.

Now Thom does point out a VERY viable solution… modularity.  If the long-desired modular feature was implemented in the D4, then photographers could choose whichever chip they needed to shoot with for any given situation.

Need a super high megapixel file?  No problem.  Change the sensor to the high megapixel one.

Need to shoot in the dark?  No problem.  Change the sensor to the high ISO champ.

It’ll be interesting to see where Nikon goes with the D4, but I’ll echo Thom and vote for the modular design!