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Will Dr. EVIL knock on Nikon’s door? (Nikon EVIL camera recap)

dr-evil

Dr. Evil

No, no that Dr. Evil. I am talking about EVIL camera (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens). There has been a lot of talk lately on that topic. Other companies are not shy of releasing EVIL products left and right, the latest one being the Ricoh GXR, which has a cartridge system that packs the lens and the sensor into one interchangeable piece. After RED, this is as close as you can get to a modular camera (btw few months ago there were rumors about a Nikon modular camera). Olympus E-P2, Panasonic GF-1 and Samsung NX-10 (not yet released) seem to be the most popular EVIL models at that time. The latest rumors are that Sony and Fuji are expected to be next to release EVIL cameras. Canon is quiet. Some rumors pointed to a Canon micro format camera, but nothing substantial so far. And the we have Nikon...

nikon-MX

Artist's view of Nikon EVIL (unknown source)

All of the Nikon EVIL camera information so far has been based on patents filed by Nikon Corporation. Filed patents don't mean much - they may or may not materialize and a patent may not even be granted for a some applications. Many companies file patents just to protect something they may use years from now or not use at all. It is important to note that all of the EVIL related patents has been filed by Nikon in the past few months.

The first interesting thought is that the long rumored MX product line could actually mean MicroX, even though some of the previously rumored MX resolutions are too big for an EVIL camera.

I will try to recap all the information we have so far on the rumored Nikon EVIL camera:

Lenses (to convert to full frame equivalent, multiple the focal length by x2.5):

All of the above lenses have an image diameter of 17 mm. Currently Nikon doesn’t have a camera with 17mm sensor (diagonal) which is smaller than 4/3rd format (21.6 mm). In some of the patents the lenses are described as “employable as an interchangeable lens system”. If Sony comes with an EVIL system next week, it will be interesting to see the sensor size. If the diagonal is 17mm, we will have a BINGO since this is where Nikon will get their sensor from (speculation).

Body:

  • Lens mount cover while the lens is removed (patent #20090154915) - the camera on the drawing is clearly mirrorless:

nikon-patent

  • Several different patents applications refer to this drawing, which has been described as (patent #20090256952):

nikon-EVIL-camera

[0077]The liquid crystal display element 216 functions as an electronic viewfinder (EVF). A live image (through image) provided by the image sensor 212, brought up on display at the liquid crystal display element 216 by the liquid crystal display element drive circuit 215, can be observed by the photographer via the eyepiece lens 217. The memory card 219 is an image storage medium in which an image captured by the image sensor 212 is stored.

[0078]A subject image is formed on the light receiving surface of the image sensor 212 with a light flux having passed through the exchangeable lens 202. The subject image undergoes photoelectric conversion at the image sensor 212 and subsequently, image signals and focus detection signals are transmitted to the body drive control device 214.

The unanswered question (for now): is Nikon filing all those patents to make sure that if needed they can jump in the EVIL world in the future or they have solid plans to release an EVIL camera in the next few months?

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  • Steve P.

    Wow, this is some serious research!

  • http://www.peterlombardi.com Peter Lombardi

    Lets cross our fingers and hope so! :D
    -peter

  • iamnomad

    As long as these new EVIL products have friggin’ laser beams and don’t cost one hundred, billion dollars, then I’m alright with the plan.

  • http://niagarashooter.blogspot.com/ Libby

    I would love a simple mirrorless APS C from Nikon. M4/3 – I’m still not entirely sold for some reason. On EVIL – hell I’ll take a tunnel view, as long as there is an option other than the LCD.

    As far as modular, I just don’t know about that Ricoh system. I have a feeling it will be the Edsel of the camera world. To me, a modular sys for pocket, or nearly pocket APS C makes no sense. And to make one of the modules a tiny point & shoot sensor is just a waste.

    • Tabitha Green

      At a 2.5x crop factor, it seems Nikon isn’t going for an APS-C mirrorless. :/

      • PHB

        How about this for an alternative theory, Nikon and Sony launch a common lens mount to compete against M3/4.

        Sony’s main interest is selling sensors, Nikons main interest is selling lenses and optical systems. Developing a new camera format is expensive, there will be few lens choices available at the start.

        Sony is never going to become top banana in the DSLR market no matter how good their product. But they do have an extensive range of pro camcorder systems that could do with some nice optics but lack the volume to make competition with the DSLRs possible.

        I still think that the best choice for Nikon would be a DX format. So why do something different? Well if you look at the video world, then it makes sense. DX format lenses are too big to be competitive with the camcorder systems. Put a DX lens on a D5000 and you still have a honking great big camera to lug about.

        17mm is about the right size for a camcorder system. 2/3rds of an inch is twice what the compact camcorders use. No system with interchangeable lenses is going to be ‘compact’.

        Sony will probably do their usual braindamage and stick their proprietary memory stick on their version. Nikon will have a clue and use SD cards like everyone else. I really don’t know why Sony do that with their camcorders, I was willing to consider the sony but the assinine memory card is an absolute deal breaker. SD is going to be the only format that you can expect support for on a laptop.

        Or maybe the Sony engineers use the excuse of a Nikon alliance to require SD support, I have done similar myself.

        I think that the idea of a Sony hookup might well be on target. It is certainly logical. It would also explain the demise of Otoji. Nikon was serious enough about the big format to produce the lens designs. I don’t think there is any reason Nikon would have produced three different PC lenses in such a short time if they didn’t have other ideas as well.

        I can think of plenty of reasons to kill Otoji, not least the fact that the D3x is already within sight of the Hasselblads and ahead of the second tier medium format digitals. But clearly launching two different new formats at the same time would be a really bad idea.

  • Anonymous

    This is the same photoshopped E-P1 from your July 19th post. I thought that fake “MX” was attributed to a Chinese web site…

  • NikoDoby

    I want a Nikon Mini-me !
    Tough, old-school good looks with an enormous…
    number of compatible lenses :)

  • http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/mx.htm Just a Thought

    Some details about Nikon M1 and MX system.
    No clue about accuracy of the site:
    http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/mx.htm

    HIs claim “Leica named its upcoming S2 medium format camera after Nikon’s S2 rangefinder camera of 1954″ fails to ackowldge the existance of a Leica S1 digital camera. Since Leica built and sold an S1 prior to the S2, it would seem natural for Leica, to call the next camera in that line the S2. I fail to see any connection between the Leica S2 and the Nikon S2, but then I don’t run a website, so who knows?

    • Darryl

      Ken Rockwell will just tell you that his Nikon D40 rules over any camera today. He’ll go one about it being small, light and serves the purpose and alot of his ideas that the other Nikons aren’t to his liking.

      • PHB

        Actually, KR is currently trolling folk by waxing lyrical over the performance of his Leica. I don’t quite see how he can say $8K is too much for a D3x and then move to Leica.

        One piece of the puzzle I am surprised the admin has not picked up on is that video headset prototype. That is obviously the key accessory for EVIL as far as I am concerned. I am not willing to ditch my mirror viewfinder for a back panel display, but I certainly would swap it for a head mounted display. The resolution is somewhat low, I think they need to hit 1080p resolution to be credible. But I think they know that.

        As a matter of physics there is absolutely no reason that a 40MP DX format sensor is not feasible. The physics work right up to 160MP. If you look at low end cameras you will see much finer sensor pitches. From a production standpoint it is entirely possible to manufacture such a sensor at the moment for prototype use, yield would be low, but for a quarter million bucks you could make a set of masks and maybe get one working sensor per wafer.

        I have no idea whether EVIL and Otoji are the same thing. From a design point of view there is really no difference in making a big camera or a little one. Quantum mechanics do not come into play until much finer scales. And please don’t try to ‘correct’ me on this, as some have, unless you also have a degree in Nuclear Physics.

        From a lens designer’s point of view the only difference in EVIL is that the F-mount constraint of having to avoid the mirror sweep is gone. The whole FX format is really about just one lens, the 14-28 f/2.8. That is the only lens where the FX sensor makes the lens designer’s task a lot easier than the DX format.

        Looking at the F-mount lens lineup, it looks to me as if Nikon is really approaching completion for a while. There are lenses that everyone wants, but that is really a matter of about five lenses max. With the launch of the s-series refresh, the D3 generation cameras are pretty much set for 12 months – if Nikon wants to leave it there.

        This would be a really good time to launch an EVIL camera. From an engineering perspective, I think it makes far more sense for Nikon to choose the DX format than go to M3/4. While there is not a lot of difference in sensor size, there is a huge difference in production costs. Nikon would have to make up a new set of masks for the MX line sensors if they went for anything other than DX or FX.

        The DX sensor format was introduced as a pro format, it was the standard for the pro format before the D3. for the first few years at least, MX format will be about persuading the point and shoot crowd to dare to go up range, not about persuading pro and serious amateur shooters to switch.

        Another reason to go DX is that some form of F-mount adapter is inevitable. Moving to M3/4 would mean everyone having to remember a new crop ratio after adapting to DX.

        This is only going to be good stuff when it comes. The FX purists may sulk because the only advantage they have left is a 24 month advantage in ISO performance, which seems rather little given that my DX rig costs about $4K and stacks up really well against an FX rig which would cost a minimum of $10K and weigh three times as much.

        If real, the MX format would create a real need for the lighter-weight super teles folk have lusted for.

        One final point. If I was Nikon and I happened to have a 24MP DX sensor nearly ready, I would offer a 12MP and 24MP version at launch. That way the camera would be established as a pro grade format right from the start. They can always make the plastic version later.

  • blah

    That Ricoh is a fascinating concept: 2 cameras for the price of 3.

    • Canon Fangirly

      Interchangeable sensors are coming!

    • Lorenzo

      Now, this is a great definition of the Ricoh project: 2 cameras for the price of 3 :D
      very well said! The interchangeable sensors will be better available asap, because othewise the system is doomed…

  • nimda

    The days of posting to maintain ad revenue have begun.

  • nickphoto123

    Does the recently announced EVF going into full production ( by Espon?), make these cameras actally useable ( viewfinder wise)?

  • Anony-mou

    Still waiting a non-interchangeable large sensor camera which I can put in my pocket for travelling. I guess this is never going to happen (apart from Sigma but well.)

    • PDF Ninja

      I agree with you on that. If it’s not easily pockatable, I don’t care how small and light it is. I’m not going to give up my DSLR for planned shooting anytime soon. And normally my hand is not going to break for carrying a bit of gear all day.

      However, there are situations when it’s very awkward to carry any interchangeable lens set — a dinner date, a business trip, or just going for a run, yet I want something better than an iPhone kind of thing. Most serious photographers have a need for a truly pocketable large-sensor solution (u3/4 would be acceptable). Currently we have the LX-3 and the S60, although I can’t really call those truly large sensor systems.

  • http://www.cesarkoot.nl Cesar

    EVIL? What kind of a fucked up name is that?

    • WoutK89

      Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens (system), says enough, dont it? :-)

  • HoHum

    I for one would love it if this camera were 6mp with a scaling of the d3s sensor… or would that make it 4mp? Either way I would be fine with that for a small camera…
    My main concern is the price… a lot of these compacts seem extraordinarily expensive (ricoh, leica, etc…) That said, I’m waiting to see what Nikon has to offer–I’d like to keep the UI and color consistent across my cameras. Furthermore, if it had built in i-TTL control that would be AMAZING!

    Lastly, you want a head mounted display? Kinda defeats the portability, and while I’m not the trendiest person around, I’m not about to start walking around looking like this guy http://www.ubergizmo.com/photos/2009/6/headmounted.jpg

    • PHB

      I want the option of a head mounted display. That way I can use the camera at waist level for shooting children, or I can stick it on a monopod and hoist it above the crowd.

  • Anonymous

    It’s back to the future, folks !! Didn’t cameras come with small lenses at one time ?

    • WoutK89

      They came with no lenses at all at the very beginning

  • Christina

    Notice that the lens says ‘ophthalmic’. This isn’t an artist’s rendition for something coming down the pipeline for photographer’s use. It’s another photoshop job as another commenter said.
    pu-leeze…

    • WoutK89

      Huh, so we are not really gonna see the micro-X logo and 10-70/1.2 lens with it? :-(

  • SimonC

    “You’re not quite EVIL enough. You’re semi-EVIL. You’re quasi-EVIL. You’re the margarine of EVIL. You’re the Diet Coke of EVIL, just one calorie, not EVIL enough.”

    :)

  • WalterF

    Actually the MX idea was pure speculation on dpreview:
    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1030&message=33386651

    If I were Nikon I’d call the rumored system “SX” for “small” and alluding to the historic Nikon S rangefinders:
    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1030&message=33682065

    Good journalistic research you’re doing here, by the way…

    Walter

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