Will Nikon enter the video camera business?

Nikon S100

In an interview with TechRadar a Nikon UK spokesperson said that they are not a broadcast company yet, but they are exploring video options for the future:

"We're not a broadcast company - yet. We're still listening and as our relationship between third parties grows, hopefully more features will be incorporated in the future."

In the past few months I have received some tips that Nikon indeed is considering to enter the pro video camera market. There were even rumors that Nikon was working very closely with RED. Another rumor indicated that Nikon showed a few top cinematographers a new full frame camera concept, specially designed for video.

At that point I would rate those rumors at 30% probability.

Image credit: NikonWeb

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  • Richard

    nice, someday if I ever get a pro video camera then I can stick my nikkor on it.

    • hq

      I’m sure they’ll make sure you buy all new lenses.

      • Mr. Meowmers

        I think you got it mixed up with canon 🙂

        • Canon FD user


  • Nikon AND RED? Now this has me excited.

    • what that means is that it will be expensive and out of stock but really good.

      • Nau

        good one Elmo

      • Jack

        Just like the D800 and the D4…typical Nikon

    • You can already put your Nikkors on a Red…

  • LP

    I don’t see a “minus” here, I personally don’t care ’bout video but there’s a big market, Nikon has a name and the know how. Just please Nikon, don’t be all Sony about it…

  • Jöhan

    This is the happy news.

    I’m so happy my cow grew the penis and the supermarket of my heart ran out of the ky.

    Sorry for my bad English.

    • elph

      Dude, I think you’re reeeally off-base with your english there…
      Pretty funny though.

      • OMGWTFBBQ? That’s something you don’t see every day…

        • you obviously was never in contact with chinese developers and japanese women.

        • derWalter

          natural selection geek detected!

      • Jöhan

        Yes! I am mean to say: When the cow has the penis that is out, you are know it is not cow and is happy time. Not cow = more expensive can make more cow.

        Supermarket is out of the ky is the slime. Slime is make easy put hand in cow.

    • John


      Jöhan, you are the man!!!

      • Jöhan

        Yes I am man.

    • Best posting all week!

      • Jöhan

        Thanks to you.

    • BartyL

      That right there, that’s really funny!

  • BillG

    RED released an electronic Canon mount about six months ago and they’re still working on the electronic Nikon mount. It has apparently proven to be a considerably more challenging process than for the Canon mount because of the mechanical difficulties of integrating a motor into the mount and a considerably longer F mount history of electronic protocols to untangle through reverse engineering.

    It might be in Nikon’s best interest to help RED achieve electronic functionality with RED’s mount, as electronic functionality would certainly boost sales of their lenses to Epic and Scarlet shooters, unless Nikon truly is ready to dip their toe into pro video market.

    RED also long ago announced their intention to come out with a line of their own electronic lenses, bridging modern stills designs with more traditional cine designs, so maybe there is a possibility for co-branding or OEM manufacturing. Either way, as a RED Epic owner and lifelong Nikon shooter who has invested in all Nikon glass, I like to hear that they are making nice with each other.

    • Well, here’s the thing. It was ALWAYS in Nikon’s interest to help RED (and others). If you look carefully at the soul of the company, it is lenses. Everything they have done revolves around optics: steppers, cameras, lenses, microscopes, binoculars, eyeglasses, you name it. Everything. Most of their patents, most of their core expertise, most of their future studies, all revolve around optics.

      Somewhere along the line, cameras got control of the optics (similar thing happened in the precision division) and they slowly built proprietary products. Now the optics are slaved to the cameras. Back in the time I was studying filmmaking, Nikon had a huge presence in Hollywood: because of the lenses. Over time this has faded, mostly because Nikon hasn’t actually built lenses that are geared (pardon the pun) for Hollywood’s needs. There are still a lot of Nikkors in La-La Land, but they’re mostly legacy lenses (AI, t-stop calibrated, geared out). The film industry camera makers have moved on. The PL mount is now the ubiquitous mount. Canon’s involvement in video has made the Canon mount rise, too. Meanwhile, few are buying Nikon glass to put on whatever they’re shooting film/video with these days.

      So Nikon is at that decision point (and has been for perhaps as much as a decade, IMHO): become a video provider with a proprietary solution (ala what Canon is doing), or feed competitors like RED with lenses (which requires openness about the mount)? The delay tells me that they chose proprietary.

      But the soul of the company is optics. Frankly, an area they haven’t exactly been great at lately. Missing DX lenses. Lack of supply of many lenses. Missing Nikon 1 lenses now. Missing replacements for key lenses (can anyone say 80-400mm?). The new soul seems to be proprietary products that USE optics.

      So, short of Nikon buying RED, which I don’t think is possible, I can’t see them making nice with RED to help them get the Nikon version of their mount right.

      • BillG

        Thanks for the response and insight, Thom.

        Well, Nikon better make its move soon, because they’re losing more and more older pho-/cinema-tographers each year, who, like me, cut their teeth on Nikon film cameras and lenses in the 70s and are inclined to stay that way. As the generation that came of age on Canon digital stills offerings hits critical mass in the industry, it will become more and more difficult for Nikon to overcome Canon’s momentum in motion media, at least among loyalists who always considered Canon the industry leader.

        It seems pretty clear at this point that Jannard has no intention of selling RED out or going public (maybe the same thing to him?). I’m disappointed to hear your view that Nikon won’t likely be of any help to RED, as I’m really looking forward to seeing the RED electronic Nikon mount up and running this summer, as currently scheduled by RED. Hopefully, they can get the protocols sorted successfully and soon.

        Any ideaa of how long it might take Nikon to come to market with a first video/digital cinema effort, as rumored above? Any rumblings?…Come on, Thom, break the news here at Nikon Rumors! 😉

      • Worminator

        Nikon has all the core technology to make a video/cinema camera, be it F-mount or something else. It’s mostly a matter of finessing the details to make it competitive in what is already a well-developed market.

        It’s such an obvious and logical next step, what with shrinking/maturing markets in other categories, that I can’t imagine them not doing it.

        Unless, I suppose, they take a long hard look at the development costs vs. the profits projected, and don’t see enough black ink.

      • PhilK

        Actually I think what is holding Nikon back these days is their limited microelectronics resources. In the old days it was just a matter of optics and mechanics, basically.

        But that’s not enough these days. Companies like Canon and Panasonic are much larger companies with far greater electronics background and resources, and that is a real challenge to Nikon because they do not have full control over key components like image sensors which impacts their strategic planning among other things.

        And as much as many of us have appreciated the unprecedented long-term compatibility of the F-Mount, that is holding them back today as well. (Too narrow, too mechanical, and that latter part probably means it forces a price premium over ie Canon due to the extra mechanics that have to be built into cameras and lenses for the diaphragm mechanism, and prevents them from being competitive at top framerates.)

        The Nikon 1 system may be a sign of what they can do when not saddled with legacy lens mount issues. But then again they are handicapped there by trying to protect a DSLR business, whereas competitors like Panasonic don’t have that problem to constrain their mirrorless camera ambitions.

      • PHB

        One reason that Nikon has been ignoring the cinema business is that it is a really low volume business and has very specific design requirements. Like zero focus breathing, motorized zoom.

        Even though cinema lenses cost a lot, they tend to be in service for decades. And they tend to be on rental so one lens can be used on a half dozen films in a year.

        Its like the auto industry. GM does not make supercars like Ferraris or Aston Martins. When Ford owned Aston, they ran it as a separate division because a bespoke business does not fit in well with volume manufacturing.

        The introduction of digital is going to change the film lens business though. Instead of difficult and complex mechanical correction factors, it is now going to be possible to correct a lens for breathing digitally. So adjusting the zoom to keep the field of view constant while focusing.

        Another area where I can see a possibility for collaboration would be on focus systems. Pulling focus is a tricky and expensive business. It is not just the cost of a person, it is the risk of a lost shot if they don’t quite get it right which means more rehearsal time and more setup time. At some point it will be possible to deploy a set of cameras that detect the positions of the actors and direct the focus on the capture cameras accordingly.

        I would also suggest that with 3D now being the big thing, that the CX format is already very well suited to cinema. It needs a higher spec sensor, certainly. But think of the distance between your eyes. That is the maximum aperture you can get for a lens on a 3D camera unless you are planning to do something complicated (for which read expensive and impacting quality).

    • Carlo Silvio

      this is exactly why i don’t have a Scarlet, yet, and it’s killing me.

  • Mark

    Before jumping into the world of motion how about fixing the video in the D4. Way too soft to consider using seriously. Fingers Croat firmware will do the job.

    • hq

      Here’s an idea, use the 1:1 crop mode!

      • Mark

        Yep, 1:1 is sharp.

        A few issues with it though –

        1) If I wanted a smaller sensor capture I would look at dedicated cameras such as af100 (which I own), fs100 or even c300.
        2) wide angle – only option is a tokina 11-16. Fantastic lens without doubt however I went the d4 route to use my zf’s and fx Nikon glass.
        3) they can get fx sharp on a d800 however failed miserably on the D4.

  • It’s probably on the way.

  • Sumple

    Nikon knows it’s now or never………already they are 2 steps behind Canon on video……definitely good for us.

    • “already they are 2 steps behind Canon on video”

      Sumple, apparently you’ve been under a rock, so we’ll go easy on you.

      • ericnl

        I’ve been looking into the Nikon video capabilities for a friend of mine who shoots documentaries, and although I love Nikon and the dynamic range and overall video quality blows Canon away in a perfect lighting condition, for documentaries you can not always choose your lighting, and when this is the case Nikon is just drowning while Canon is at least still afloat.
        also when it comes to moiré.
        just look at these two videos:


        (moiré @ 09:13)

    • Dave

      That comment is so 2010

      • Senghong


  • vFunct

    Definitely do it Nikon, but do it right, with a full system that supports video.

    The lenses need to be designed around Video. VR needs to be smooth instead of jerky. Focusing needs to be quieter. Zoom needs to be powered.

    • GrumpyDiver

      VR? You must be joking. No serious video shooter uses image stabilization unless there is no other alternative. Autofocus , same thing. Video shooters use a tripod or steadicam, manually pull focus, etc.

      Power zoom? There is limited use of zoom in modern video work. For quality reasons, high end video (HD) is mostly shot with Prime lenses.

      • Spy Black

        >>No serious video shooter uses image stabilization unless there is no other alternative. Autofocus , same thing.<<

        This isn't 1968. Times change, and production techniques evolve. Pros used to call shakycam amateurish, right? Whatever work for a given scene. Incidentally, the new Olympus OM-D does all those things with video, and rather well. I wish Nikon made a body with a floating sensor, that would be so awesome.

        • GrumpyDiver

          In addition to shoting stills, I’m a member of a large video co-op, so what I know what I say is true for most serious video work. Yes, there have been some videos shot where shake is part of the product; Blair Witch Project comes to mind.

          Floating sensor and floating lens element are both different techniques to eliminate sensor shake. Nikon, Canon and Panasonic have gone with in-lens vibration reduction, while Sony and Olympus have a moving sensor. The consensus is that the in-lens technology works slightly better.

      • vFunct

        VR? You must be joking. No serious video shooter uses image stabilization unless there is no other alternative.
        OK genius, explain why you think Nikon shouldn’t fix their so that’s it’s applicable for video.

        Are you a lens designer?

        Like I said, Nikon needs to fix their VR for video. Right now it’s useless for video. You seem to think they shouldn’t. You must be a Nikon lens designer, because you think image stabilization for video is not possible on the lens?

        Autofocus , same thing. Video shooters use a tripod or steadicam, manually pull focus, etc.

        All professional video camera’s have power zoom. No television producer will send a cameraman without autofocus on their camera, because anyone that’s ever shot with dSLR and focus pull knows that most shots are largely useless because everything is always out of focus. (there was a panel discussion among professional editors at NAB recently stating how useless dSLR video is, because everything is always out of focus, even with focus pullers.)

        The only idiots that pull focus are people that don’t have power zoom – basically low end dSLR shooters. Or at the very high end in cinema, where they can afford a million takes in controlled environments, something news video shooters don’t have the luxury.

        dSLR video is still amateur garbage compared to actual professional video.

        LOL @ your comment about fixed focus lenses… NO ONE uses fixed focus lenses in the professional video world.

        • Tom

          Are you saying they shooting news with a shallow DOF??
          I don’t have much problems focussing at all, about 1-2% of my footage is out of focus, but if they have trouble focusing why not stop it down….

        • fifi

          Which broadcast camera has autufocus? I don’t want one, period! About fixed focus lenses: you’re wrong again! They aren’t suitable for ENG, but broadcast video production isn’t just ENG, there is also EFP. Why does Zeiss produce DigiPrimes, for instance? For broadcast video cameras, of course! And you’re mixing autofocus with ‘power zoom’ (it’s actually called servo zoom), these are two very different things.

      • Mark

        VR? I had no reason to want this till I shot a job on a c300 using IS lenses. It works surprisingly well.

        As for high end using mainly primes that is quickly changing. Just look at the number of PL and EF mount cinema zooms coming out from Canon, Zeiss, anguineux etc.

        With fast cameras comes the opportunity to use lower yet more versatile lenses.

  • HotDuckZ

    Why? But I don’t care if it can use as marketing.

  • GrumpyDiver

    It’s always good to see new entrants into the marketplace, and Nikon has a lot of the technology to make some fine video gear and they do have experience in servicing the demanding pro market for still cameras, so this is certainly a natural progression, at least on the surface.

    On the other hand, the pro video business is completely different than the pro camera business. The top end already has three excellent players, with Red, Panavision and Arri. The middle ground is covered by Sony and Panasonic with some representation from Canon , JVC, Ikegami and others. They could certainly just do just video lenses like Fuji, Cooke, Zeiss and Leica do.

    An interesting thought, but the technology is one side, the sales, marketing and support organizations are quite another. This marketplace is quite conservative, and Nikon had better have something really compelling for the users to buy in.

    I personally can’t see it happening; there are just too many hurdles to overcome.

    • Jabs

      Nikon used to make some Pro Video lenses a few years back and converting Nikon long glass for Cinema use has been a Hollywood tradition.

      300mm F2.0 ED-IF was one of the favorites and a rare lens too!

  • Foolishcfo

    You have to wonder about Nikon’s management. They can’t deliver pro camera bodies from Japan and they can’t deliver lenses from Thailand. Now they are looking at pharmaceutical products and stand-alone video products. It used to be that you focused of a few products and did everything top-notch. Now it looks like they want to do a little of everything and do it half-assed. Depressing.

    • Andrew

      You don’t get it. Nikon is delivering, but the demand for their product has increased. They can’t just build more factories to meet that demand, companies need to be conservative when ramping up production.

      • Foolishcfo

        So they can’t expand their factories in Sendai to make more pro-level bodies but can build new plants in Thailand to make pharmaceutical products? Of course they can expand in Japan. Sure the demand for D4 and D800 bodies will level off and at some time decline but they can assemble other bodies there. The fact that they released the D4 and D800 so close to together (yes, I know the earthquake and tsunami delayed the D800 release – still even if it could have been released last October it would have been close to the D4 in January) has hampered the problem. If you don’t build flexibility into your plants to assemble multiple products as demand dictates for each product then you handcuff yourself to vary production based on demand. That is what Nikon has done. Now with that said, by the time they expand their plants demand for current product will have subsided (but demand for the d899 will soar!).

      • ZoetMB

        I have to differ with you on that one. Nikon has been terrible and keeping products in stock and it’s not just the tragedies in Japan and Malaysia of last year that are the problem — Nikon has had this problem since they got into digital photography.

        Back at the end of March, 31% of all lenses and 26% of lenses with selling prices over $1000 (the pro lenses) were out of stock at B&H. Checking today, the only Nikon DSLR bodies you can buy are the D5100, D7000, D3100 and the D3x. I don’t count “preorders” as being able to buy.

        Those rates of lenses being out of stock are typical over the last five years or so. I love Nikon, but they leave an incredible amount of money on the table by not being able to fulfill customer’s needs. This is not just about high initial demand for new models. My bet is that Nikon could gain 5 share points or more if they had better inventory management.

  • Spy Black

    I’m rather curious about that Nikon S100 pictured. I assume it was their original video prototype, the precursor to digital cameras. A search on the web brings nothing but Coolpix and Canon S100s, however.

    • wublili
    • bdnd

      Don’t assume

      Admin should give credit to photo source


      • Didn’t you see the credit at the bottom of the post?

        • Spy Black

          Well, that was interesting. I thought that thing was kinda 80s looking, old-school Nikon indestructible-looking. I wonder if they used a proprietary tape format.

  • Eric Calabros

    give us 4k under 5k .. and we will talk about it

    • Eric Calabros

      4k at 30 fps, 2k at 120 fps .. for $4999
      just dreaming

  • Peter

    Admin, you say “I would rate those rumors at 30% probability.”

    Do you mean:

    – The rumors have a probability of 30 % to be true at all or
    – there’s a 30 % chance of Nikon to enter the pro video market?


    • Aren’t those two the same thing?

    • T.I.M

      @ Peter & Peter
      That’s mean 70% chance it will never hapen.

  • LeGO

    We are likely seeing one of the last few ntry-level and mid-end dSLRs from Nikon and I suspect that the next generation of APS-C will utilize the technology pioneered and now in use in the Nikon 1 series (J1/V1) – mirrorless, EVF with very fast PDAF that has excellent continuous tracking AF. These bodies will still use the same F-mount lenses used in the current dSLR and thus will not become as small as the m4/3.

    When this happens, it is inevitable that Nikon will get into the video business as the 1 series and the mirrorless/EVF dSLR-sized bodies will essentially be video cameras optimized for stills. The same components with perhaps a lower-resolution sensor (8mp) would make excellent video cameras that would not only be excellent and competitively priced but also help Nikon to sell more F-mount lenses.

    Another reason why it is inevitable that Nikon would leverage its camera platform for video is that Nikon has no high-end video market to protect unlike Canon, Sony and Panasonic. So Nikon has no self-created limitations on what it can do in the video market and can set its own price-value equation that will wreak havoc on its competitors.

  • Smudger

    I AM Neglecting my core business.

    • Andrew

      Nikon’s core business is to push the limits.

      I AM Everything!

  • This is excellent news! I’ll be happy if Nikon video camera will!

  • arturo sanchez

    Nikon listen that please!:

    -Nikon D800 body style and D4 photographic capabilities.Please dont charge as much as Red on media storage and devices.
    -Optional battery grip with Juiced Link XLR preamp style.
    -F and PL mount
    -CF and XQD recording
    -Video formats: 16 bit Raw video,ProRes on the fly(recorden on card),HDMI 4:2:2 8-10 bit out,H264 ALL-I 4:2:0 on card.
    -Use a Lut curve with the non-Raw formats
    -Resolutions: 4K full frame, 2K cropped and 1080p cropped
    -Frame rates: 1-60 fps at all resolutions.Important to be 60 fps at 4k for stills and motion workflow to grab a frame from motion.(shooting at 60 fps we would be able to shoot at 120 as shutter speed and have stills without motion blur from the footage)
    -HDR video at all resolutions.Changing the shutter speed like Red.
    -Nikon Capture NX adapted to video RAW format
    -15000 price point.

    Nikon with this camera you will win the battle to Canon with the Canon 1DC and the pricey C500.
    And you will make such a true polivalent stills&motion camera.Better than Red that lacks of professional photographic capabilities.

    • Mark

      This wish list is nice however I’d lose the slr body for something you dont need a box full of random bits to make it work.
      PL mount no go on full frame stills as image circle is too smaller. PL on a DX sensor would be nice. No go on f and pl on the same body. Incompatible flange distances.
      Please no HDMI!! Worst possible connector. SDI, there is a reason it’s the industry standard.
      LUT curve? How about a LOG curve and optional LUT (look up table) for viewing.
      No HDR video, it doesn’t work…just look at an Epic…all good unless you’ve got something moving in frame.

      • Arturo Sanchez

        Would be lovely to have the option of buying different lens mounts as Red.The PL one would be ussed with sensor crop only.

        +1 for the focus assist

    • GrumpyDiver

      Arturo I like the specs you suggest.

      Now lose the still camera body shape, slap in a slot where I can mount a SSD in the camera rather than outboard and shoot 4:2:2 ProRes. Give me some improved focus assist through the viewfinder while you are at it. I don’t want to have to slap a Zacuto on the body to bettert see what I am doing.

  • Booyah

    Nikon, please continue with video, first by taking it out of the SLR bodies and return photography to its rightful place.

  • Rob

    Start developing your raw video format!!! Then release it for your current lineup if you want to get serious unlike canon who release their raw on a 30k + camera. Red must have laughed at that one. 10fps full raw photos shows that there must be enough throuput for 1080p raw. Also stop down sampling too much and scaling like you did on the d4 please.

  • Rob

    Oh and 10bit out of the hdmi please. 8bit suucks

  • Gregory

    Are people willing to wait 6 months on a pre-order for a video camera from Nikon?

  • PhilK

    Based on what I hear about NPS these days and the stupid repair parts policy they put in place recently, I think Nikon better up their professional support mentality before they start getting into a market that will eat them alive if they don’t properly support professional users.

  • KitH

    OK, who’s with who in all this… ?

    Canon, now making Cine zoom lenses that don’t breathe (pull zoom on focusing) and now launching their own cine cameras.

    Panasonic. Big pals with Leica, who are re-mounting their 35mm lenses into PL mounts as we speak – They say they’re starting with the M lenses, but is this really where the R-series lens designs return to the light of day?

    Sony. Big pals with Zeiss, who are already leaders in cine lenses and have their 35mm lenses remounted as Compact Primes, plus their esoteric Master Primes (who naturally align with Arri). Otherwise Sony can raid the Minolta Rokkor cupboard.
    RED, with Fujinon for their limited range of current RED labelled lenses (I think?) and a variety of lens mount adaptors.

    For lenses, that leaves Angenieux (exotic zooms), Cooke Optics (very exotic primes) and Nikkor as the agnostic third parties.

    I think Nikon needs to tie up with RED to increase the range of electronically controlled lenses in front of Epic and Scarlet. There’s only so far you can go with the bolt-on focusing cranks and plastic gizmos around the outside of a lens, when what you really want is a big touch screen monitor and to be able to say… start here… focus to …. here… and do it smoothly over this many frames (and then remember you’ve done it because we’re going to pull back again in a few moments).

    I’d listen out for Zuiko (Olympus) too. The OM system optics do make decent cine lenses and by now they might just have noticed potential for their Four Thirds lenses to be reincarnated as cine lenses, while their stills move onto M43 ..

  • bigeater

    I know that photographers are just like other artists–moody and self-absorbed. But why does every Nikon owner with mild to moderate depression and an internet connection have to come to this site and dump their load of sadness and regret?
    It’s as if Nikon was your mother and now you’re resentful because she didn’t hug you enough when you were a baby.
    I’m glad that you all feel comfortable enough here to express emotions you can’t share with your friends and loved ones, but could we cut it back to just one day a week? How about Tuesday?

  • 1992 Nikon manufactured and sold NIKON VIDEO CAMERA, ACTION 8, Model VN-750, Hi-Fi Sterio, 10x zoom. It was comfortable and light weight. Had automatic mode or manual controls, settings, focus, etc. Mine still works 20 years.

  • ithurtswhenipee

    Dear Nikon, Please don’t try to directly compete with the likes of RED. And don’t pull a Canon move and make a camera that is slightly less expensive than RED, but deal breakingly less capable than RED. Somewhere between the Canon 5D mII and the Canon C300 in terms of capability and price. Maybe even innovate with a few tricks that neither of these systems can offer. Okay? Go.

    • But First

      But before you do anything else – supply what you have already announced.

  • Bill

    I hope they do something like the C300.

    A body with:
    built XLR jacks
    in-body monitor
    low noise in high ISO
    2.5 or 4K

    That’s all I want. The C300 looks great but is missing those functions. Otherwise I’d get it. For now, I’ll take a Frankencamera D800.

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