Sony rumored to announce 24MP APS-C sensor, what would Nikon do? (Nikon D400)

The current Sony a700 12.24MP Exmor APS-C CMOS sensor

The current Sony a700 12.24MP Exmor APS-C CMOS sensor

Amateur Photographer is not big on reporting rumors, but today they did just that: the Sony α700 replacement is rumored to have a new APS-C sensor with high ISO "up into the hundreds of thousands" and resolution of 25MP. The potential release is expected to be around September at PMA 2011 (now called CliQ 2011).

This upcoming sensor from Sony could be the base for the D300s replacement (D400?), unless Nikon really is designing and producing their own sensors now. Since the replacement of the α700 will be a direct competitor of the D300s successor, it will be interesting to see who will make the announcement first (my guess is Sony).

There are even some early rumors floating around that the D400 could go back to the PRO body design of the Nikon D2xs (pictured below) - that would be a way of "upping" the D7000 which currently has better specs than the PRO D300s model.

Nikon D2xs body

Nikon D2xs body

If Nikon really goes with a new full-body style for the D400, this will also ensure Sony that they will not have a direct competitor for their α700 replacement.


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  • camaman

    I see 24MP happening to Nikon in APS-C this year… Bad thing IMO.
    IMO they will build it not to surpass the D300S in quality, but so they they can ride the flagship card and bank on it with fanbois on this round, helping Sony with production costs on new sensor in the process.
    I also see a 24MP FX happening to them with the introduction of D800(?) this year. And that is gonna be great!

    But we better watch out for any Sony rumors, they are the key in the whole story… 😛

  • Sahaja

    I Sony, and say Pentax, release cameras with such a sensor, could Nikon afford not to? And what if Canon comes up with something similar?

    But where are the lenses for something like this?

    • Roger

      Lenses for this are already available.

  • FrancoDMD

    Call me ignorant… how can you say that there are no lenses for this amout of MP when Canon has used cameras in the 18> MP range and we all know that Nikon lenses are far superior. How will this affect IQ?

    • Andrei

      “we all know that Nikon lenses are far superior”

      Why are you people are so subjective?
      Here are a few Canon lenses – compare them with similar Nikon lenses or just check the reviews of these lenses:

      70-200 2.8L IS II ,
      70-200 F4L IS,
      17-55 2.8 IS (better than Nikon’s 17-55, except the build),
      24-105 F4L,
      135mm F2L,
      85mm 1.2,
      100mm 2.8L macro,
      60mm 2.8 macro,
      35mm F1.4L,
      300mm 2.8L,
      400mm 2.8,

      still Nikon lenses are FAR better?

      Nikon also have some of the very best lenses, like the 14-24, 200-400 and their 24-70 is better than Canon’s 24-70.

      Why you cannot compare product X from Nikon with product Y from Canon or other company?

      • Discontinued

        “Why you cannot compare product X from Nikon with product Y from Canon or other company?”

        Because it does not fit the pattern of a fanboy’s wishful thinking.

        BTW you forgot the TS-lenses (and others). The 24mm Canon beats the crap out of the PC-E Nikkor.

        • Andrei

          True. I usually don’t reply to comments like “Nikon have better lenses” or “Nikon’s AF is much better” but i could not resist this time.

          I especially liked when the 7D was announced with the completely new AF system and the fanboys already declared “The D300 have much better AF than 7D” without waiting for a single review.

    • Roger

      How will affect IQ? It’ll make it better. Dont believe the myth that more megapixels mean more noise and less dynamic range, that is absolutely not true.

      24mp DX camera will possibly be the DX camera with the highest IQ ever.

      P.S. Having used both Nikon and Canon gear, the quality of the lenses is similar. You’ll have a slightly better Canon lens here, and a slightly better Nikon lens there. You can not make a broad statement like that, you need to compare individual lenses.

      There are no secrets in lens designing, designing lenses is not something new, and both Nikon and Canon know how to make excellent lenses.

  • The only thing I can say is: yeah right. High ISO into the hundreds of thousands on a 25MP APS-C sensor.

    I don’t know if anyone has seen ISO 100.000 on a D3s? That’s rubbish, but might be usable in black/white if you are careful. Now take half of that sensor format, double the amount of pixels and possibly double the max ISO value as well (remember: hundredS of thousands!)…

    Even if they manage to pull something extraordinary out of their sensor, that’s complete nonsense!

    • Roger

      Seen it, used it, and it can be useful on occasion.

      “Double the amount of pixels” will not have a negative effect on image quality, on the contrary, it will have a positive effect. Sony can come up with the best DX sensor ever made here, even if ISO 100,000 will not be good, this camera should be better than the D7k, Pentax K5 and the 60D – which are the currently best crop cameras. And that’s what we all want, right?

  • Matsu

    This is a welcome advance.

    It may just be that full frame will not come down in price much more, if at all. There are really only three sensors in use in full frame DSLRs: Sony’s 24MP, Canon’s 21, and Nikon’s 12 (wherever that is sourced) and all have been in use for some time now.

    In contrast, over the same time frame we have seen 10-12-14-15-16-18MP sensors across a variety “crop” cameras from 2x, 1.6x, 1.5x, 1.3x. At least ten different sensors/variations when you look at main stream cameras from Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus, and Panasonic.

    Of the three affordable full frame cameras, each has some compromises. Canon gives us a professional level sensor on a semi-pro body, Nikon inverts that equation, and Sony doesn’t quite combine all the traditional ingredients. Each has unique strengths and is appropriate for those who need them. They’re all likely to be replaced as well, but it’s obvious that the duty cycle for a full frame sensor is a lot longer, and that a camera of full pro specification (that combines both a top line body/operation and sensor) starts at the $5000 range.

    Diffraction starts to limit resolution increases, but it’s not a hard line, a higher megapixel sensor will still pull more detail under the right conditions. Furthermore, if lenses are designed specifically for the task, overall detail can be competitive with full frame. These lenses wouldn’t be smaller or cheaper than equivalent speed and field of view lenses for full frame, but it might make sense anyway to have expensive APSC lenses and recycle your 1500 camera body every 2 years instead of recycling a $5000 full frame one.

    There’s lots of room in the market for both solutions. There’s even room in the same camera bag for both!

    • FrancoDMD

      you completely missed my point… I am not comparing lenses here, I meant that if Canon can shoot with such good results at such high MP, I don’t see why Nikon with lenses of better quality, cannot do the same.

      • Andrei

        I see your point, you are missing mine. Your statement “Nikon with lenses of better quality” is simply not true.

  • Rosco

    Since the uptake of DSLRs is meant to be slowing, there may be more of a need for niche marketing. So why not a D400 in a typical D300-type body for those who don’t want the extra weight of a pro-body; and a pro-body (D3-like) with the D400 sensor too?

    I’m sure (says me who knows nothing about camera marketing!) there would be a market for both? Whp knows? 🙂

  • zeissgit

    i’ve never read so much tosh on NR than on this thread. 25mp outresolve lenses ?? what about the current 21-25 mp lineups not to mention medium format digital. Anyway, go zeiss!!

    • DSLRMania

      They are talking about the DX lenses not FF or MF.

  • Why are you all so consumed with Nikon using this in a F mount DSLR? They have an obviously redesigned mount with the new mirrorless, perhaps a suite of APS-C lenses will follow that can resolve this just fine……

  • RUH

    I told U BOYZ Nikon is moving to the Foveon sensor.

    • Roger

      Foveon? Oh you mean those Sigma cameras with unusable ISO1600?

  • Kingyo

    Wow! It’s amazing how so many people here have given up on the advancement of photo technology and become complacent with Nikon’s current offerings. I’ve been with Nikon for well over a decade..which may not be much, and I have no intention of favoring other brands..however..
    This attitude of saying “well, I’m happy with 10-12mp forever” is getting VERY old. I looked over some photography forum posts from 2003-2006.. people saying “8mp?! why would you ever need THAT much resolution? I can make perfectly fine prints up to..bla bla bla with my 5mp camera!” or “4gb memory cards?! why would you risk putting all your images in one large card??” etc.
    Well it’s 2011. We have the 32gb cards, the 24mp sensors (or 80mp for MF), and awesome low-light & fps performance.. I would love to see you turn down a new, reasonably-priced 24mp Nikon body, in favor of your outdated 12mp body and get furious over the ‘megapixel war’.
    People want to stay ahead of technology, there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t see anyone complaining about the ‘CPU war’ when looking to buy a new Mac or PC.
    Nikon should have realized by now that the competition against Sony & Canon is real. A new Sony 24mp sensor should cause Nikon to either drop the price of the D3x, introduce the D4, or put out a similar-priced 20+mp camera.
    At the very least.. robust d300s & d700 upgrades.

    • It’s not that we don’t welcome or see the benefit of more pixels. It’s that the majority of us don’t need them or they actual would become a disadvantage.

      Most full-time wedding photographers would be overwhelmed by shooting entirely 24 megapixels… for both storage and pure batch workflow. The quality of the pixels is more important than anything.

      Now, to take your side… I wouldn’t mind having a 24megapixel D700 and then I could adjust quality settings just shoot weddings at 12 or 16.

    • Roger

      Bravo, Kingyo, one of the more sensible posts here!

      • deecee

        Kingyo must never have heard of the diffraction limit, physics does matter and having your pictures go soft because you select an F number beyond 8 is not going to make landscape photographers happy. whatever depth of field is recovered gets quickly lost to washed out sharpness due to diffraction. Now none of that would matter if you only shot perfect lenses up to f5.6 or f8, but they need to be pretty good. A once sharp lens on my old Fuji S1 pro with 3.4 mpix became a dud on the D1X at 5 mpix. Simmilar experience with a 300 F4 AF-D lens when going to a D300, blur circle not small enough for the tiny cells of the 12mpix D300. Fixed that with a 300 2.8 AF-I but you don’t want to lug that around all day. Unless you earn good money with that lens.

  • Jay

    I am the happy owner of D300 which is widely enough for me for the moment with its 12MPX but I have to recognize that I understand your approach (sorry for my poor english … i’m french … that explains a lot).
    But t be totally franc I don’t personally prefer to fall in the war to the MPX by preferring another approach with the work of the ISO and the dynamic range.
    It is evident that the technology evolves ceaselessly and that Nikon needs to follow the pace of its competitors but I think that it can be more interesting not to fall in a crusade in search of the ultimate DSLR maker.
    We should’nt forget that the equipement of the photographer doesn’t make everything.
    Certainly the good equipment at the right time will allow incredible things but let us not forget that it is at first the eye of the photographer that captures the image and not the camera.

  • Chuck

    Speaking of the D2 body, what is that white dot on top of the pentaprism housing? Several pages of google have failed to answer me.

    • deecee

      The white dot hides a white balance sensor… was supposed to make white balance better on the d2x. Went from D1X to D300 and D700 so never got to play with it.

  • iamnomad

    Full Frame Or Nothing.

    • Victor Hassleblood

      Death or glory!

  • Jake

    I guess nikon will never please some of us with with something like this:
    d3s technollogy in a DX sensor into a D7000 kind of body, I don’t care having only 8Mp, and i dont wan’t more than 12Mp.

    I’d love to have th possibility of shooting a macro without flash, candids with moonlight, and freezing distant objects with dim light; all that having a decent enough dynamic range in a small affordable package.

    Perhaps the general market would not wellcome as much as nikon would like for it to be profitable enough.

    • Roger

      Give this a chance, this DX sensor might even prove better than D3s technology. Sony sensors are improving all the time, and it’s just a matter of time now before they hit that QE that D3s has, D7k sensor is already one of the best ones. And the new ones will only get better ….

  • Ruh

    I hate Sony so bad, they are part of Ericsson so they suck.

    • Some_Dude

      WTF u talk about?
      Sony is a own huge company.
      Way bigger than Nikon.

      They have a join venture with Ericsson in the mobile Phone segment.
      That’s it for your wrong believe.

      Part of Sony is also the Sony Semiconductors.
      Who make almost all Sensors for compact cameras from Sony, Canon or Nikon.
      And they make the Sensor of many Nikon DSLRs just like the ones for Sony Alpha.

  • Just A Thought

    Low end consumer models with 16mp DX and smaller 12mp CX (110mm)
    Mid level and up with 24mp – FX + DX
    High End with 36mp – FX
    Super high end with 48mp – MX

    Canon should start the ball rolling in the 1st quarter. Sony during Summer and Nikon in Fall with a sprinkling from Pentax at any time.

  • Hendrik

    My wish forNikon is to update thheir pro DX lenses. Such as 17-55 and 12-24 (wider aperture/sharper lens). Or maybe extend the range to 50-150 f/2.8 (or larger apertures if possible)

  • Dan

    The next DX camera is the D5100, not a D300s successor as DX is aimed for enthusiasts keeping 3 camera lines for DX and 3 camera lines for FX
    D3xxx series as entry level DX(spiritual successor to D50/40/60; always 2mp lower than other bodies)
    D5xxx series as mid-range DX (spiritual successor to D70/80/90)
    D7xxx series as advanced level DX (spiritual successor to D100/200/300/s; always gets to “debut” newest sensor)
    Small body FX line – currently D700 (will get successor soon, name may get confusing like K7 to K5, 51 pt but spread more across frame)
    Speed oriented FX body – currently D3s
    MP oriented FX body – currently D3x

    • Only problem with that is there would be too much of a price difference between the D7k and the D700 replacement you describe.FX sensors are still very expensive to make.

      Also , the D5k bodies don’t have inbuilt screwdrive motors unlike the D70/D80/D90 bodies it supposedly supplants. I’d probably say it goes D50 -> D60 -> D5k -> D5100 if anything.

      The D400 is probably going to be a mindblowing camera but it’s not obvious how that will be so , I reckon Nikon will have a few tweaks of the sensor/microlens amongst lots of small changes from the D300s.(compare D200 to D300).

  • If you look at how to create Nikon, I do not think the D400 will next race against Canon pixels. The reality will more resemble a D7000 tropicalized can go to … 7 frames / second. I hope. I would not want to end up with a semi-pro camera that would almost photosites as small as a compact!
    Better ergonomics than the D7000, closer to what may await a pro, combined with capacity of D7000 and tropicalization the D300, it would be almost perfect!

  • haha

    come on NIKON!!
    just give us 14-16 mp with D3s performance..
    same price as the D300s..

  • Bart

    Why do they keep increasing the ISO when pictures at ISO 3200 are on most camera’s un-useable?

  • DSLRMania

    Resistance is futile! You will be assimilated!
    Why bother with the possibilities of Nikon’s response to this? You cannot stop the development and innovation. It might have been impossible to make a camera with DX size sensor in 16MP and 6400 native ISO 5 years ago. But you have salivated for it and you got it. 24MP may or may not out resolve a DX lens but lenses will continue to get better. We used to think that Snell’s law is good all the time until they come up with metamaterials. There used to be rumors that you cannot make a, what, 100MB (yeah with capital M) or 300MB hard drive for PCs. Or a CPUs that cannot run faster than a certain magical MHz clock rate. It used to be 120nm technology, then 90, 60, 45, 30nm. It will be femto than atto meter tech. Now they make 4 core or 6 core CPUs, and virtually doubling it with hypertrading. Also they make it much cheaper than the craps they sold 10 years ago. The software side might be slow in utilizing all this development though (which is another story).
    If you do not like the outcome you don’t buy it. Don’t think the companies will go after something that will destroy them. The modern economy requires you to demand everything with zero cost, while it requires them to give you nothing for a high cost. So you will meet somewhere in the middle, or close to the demands of the ones who can keep their poker faces longer. If you don’t buy it they will change the course to something you will. There will be people buying it paying for the R&D for your camera. You will get the D7K cheaper. If they can make 24Mb sensor without compromising a lot, it only means they can make 16Mb easier and cheaper. I do not think Nikon would make something that there is no market for it. Sony is a diversified company. The total income from SLRs may be next to nothing compared to its total income. It has the luxury of making stupid moves. It may even go out of SLR market without hurting. It is not the same for Nikon. That’s why it is innovative but slower in putting the product on the market. They have to measure every move. Still, they introduce new things faster than the others can. Hence, you will be assimilated, you will be a part of the collective mind and post your opinions here on NR. 🙂

  • carlgo

    I always thought there was no upper limit to MPs. What will be available in 10 years, zillion mp sensors that have very, very high ISOs?

    We think of lenses having limitations or resolving all this, but we are also referencing this to traditional glass designs that are 100s of years old, simply perfected a bit every decade or so. There must be designs for adaptive lenses that in ways far above my knowledge level remove the present limits of pieces of glass.

    Then there is the idea of selectable MPs. You could flip a switch and get, say, 40, 20 or 10 mps depending on what you want to do.

    There clearly is no end to this. And there will be ways to take advantage of any technology that comes along. It might even get cheaper….(humor).

    • PHB

      Visible light has a certain wavelength and that ultimately determines the maximum resolution of the sensor.

      Some of the 14MP point and shoots are already at the theoretical limit. Some phone cameras are actually past it. But the limits for DSLRs are comfortably above 150MP for DX and around 300MP for FX.

  • Some_Dude

    “This upcoming sensor from Sony could be the base for the D300s replacement (D400?), unless Nikon really is designing and producing their own sensors now. Since the replacement of the α700 will be a direct competitor of the D300s successor, it will be interesting to see who will make the announcement first (my guess is Sony).

    A700 wont be a direct competitor.
    It will be translucent style camera.
    So people that dislike the electronic viewfinder wont look at it.
    Also the recent Sony AF module is still way behind the D300’s in terms of AF-tracking.
    I don’t expect a huge leap in the A700 follow-up.
    (it will get a centre >f/2.8 but the outer points likely stay line and be fewer than D300/7D)
    On the other hand the translucent cameras can reach huge fps rates, fast video AF and Sony just begone exploring the possibilities of the viewfinder (displaying or overlaying what you want).

    So different people will be attracted.
    It’s also been mentioned that the camera will be priced against 60D.

    I think the announcement comes first from the company that has his model done first.
    Sony’s Alpha division is not big enough to risk sales in the Semiconductor segment.
    IF Nikon wants to start producing models with the sensor, they will get them ;o)

    I don’t believe Nikon is strong enough to design competitive high pixel APS-C sensors.
    Also it would make more sense to invest into the rising mirror-less market instead a risky sensor development.

  • FM-2 fan

    Just wait for a few weeks to allow Sony confirming their sensor roadmap. Then you see, what’s possible NOW. If it becomes available in a Sony cam or also Nikon is a different matter. As pointed out in an earlier comment here: software is the key to enable using these components. We should better be patient to get quality and usability rather than the best speced components in a compromised overall camera. If anyone wants more pixels – there are alternatives. If you want them from Nikon, then tell Nikon about it, they will listen …

  • Cash

    Forget it !! it is not happening.

    it is like a dreaming, and reading this site again, again, again.

    Sony can announce, but they will not implement this year. there will be new coolpixes, and if lucky new FX 16MP.

    There should be innovations: but SLR is just a big heavy gadget, people start to go smaller, and that will happen with Nikon SLR.

  • Ali

    I also do not see NIkon pricing the D300s replacement at the same price of what the D2xs was at, D300s replacement would be under $2000, to compete with the 7D. But what I doubt but would love to have would be that body from the D2xs, I absolutely love that body. I am not to sure about the 24mp sensor, all I really want is 12mp or more but DR and noise better that the D7000, as a matter of fact if it has hi iso capabilities as good as the full frame Sony’s it would be very nice (DXO mark says A850 1300ISO, D7000 at 1100 not that far off).

  • spinthma

    Not sure what they the will bring on DX;
    the new Leica M9 has a Full frame 18MP sensor;

    Leica M8 had the sensor of the D90 built in
    guess what the new Nikon FX-Bodies will be : 18MP


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