Nikon sees future in 4K video and advanced compact cameras

In a recent interview with TrustedReviews, Zurab Kiknadaze (Nikon EU product manager) talked about 4k video being "a bit tricky"and that Nikon is "looking into it for the future":

“We are aware of the need for, and request for, 4K video recording. It is a bit tricky, it’s not something that we are purposefully excluding from our cameras; however we need to approach it carefully. There are high-end cameras that produce this but it just puts such a load on the equipment. For us, because consumers are demanding it we are aware of this and will be looking into it for the future."

There is already proof (see last video) that the 1" sensor in the Nikon 1 mirrorless camera is capable of 4k video recording and probably this feature will be enabled in the next V3 model. Last year Aptina announced a new 1" 14MP sensor that is capable of shooting 4k video at 60 fps.

In the past few months Panasonic has been actively talking about MFT cameras with 4k video capabilities and even displayed a prototype at CES.

Similar to another recent interview, Zurab Kiknadaze said again that Nikon is seeing future growth in more advanced compact cameras:

“We are not going to lie and say smartphones are not affecting us, it does. However, from a top line when people say smartphones are killing cameras, it’s not true. It’s only affecting certain cameras. Even with compact cameras, smartphones are still only affecting a group of these, and that’s the really cheap, most affordable compacts. If you look at the total picture, there is growth in more advanced cameras. We haven’t seen any effect yet on DSLRs and I think it will be a long time and some miracles for smartphones to start troubling DSLRs.”

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  • ShaoLynx

    That’s a bit of a daring proposition there, Peter.
    Nikon being a rather conservative company, and all…
    But we’ll see if the d4s has 4K or not when the specs come out…
    You’ll be the first to know…
    Wait a minute, are you actually telling us that… You got hints in that direction?

    • Global

      Nikon pioneered Video in DSLRs. Other than the odd abortion in the crippled Df, it would actually be rather fitting if Nikon included 4K in its cameras.

      • El Aura

        By a handful of days, for all that matters Nikon and Canon introduced video to DSLRs at the same time. Nikon did it on a DX camera, Canon on a FX camera (Nikon’s priorities for their first FX sensor probably weren’t geared towards video, getting the sensor out rather sooner than later and making it a good low light sensor presumably would have been the higher priorities).

      • “it would actually be rather fitting if Nikon included 4K in its cameras.”

        It would be even more fitting if Nikon put 3.5K into a camera with a clumsy, inefficient codec, then Canon makes the jump to 4K, and steals all the credit for being first to market with ultra high definition video in a DSLR.

        DxO will report Nikon has 4 more stops of dynamic range and vastly superior low light performance, while Canon’s marketing department continues to harp on about how its sensors, bodies, and lenses are “made to be together”.

        • mkabi

          Are you sleeping? Canon already has a 4K DSLR. Its called the Canon 1D-C. Only problem is that its just uber expensive sitting @ $11999.99

          • mkabi

            Also, it looks like Nikon is going to be the last person to jump on the 4K bandwagon, given that Panasonic is releasing a 4K DSLR for $1299.99. Only problem there is that its M43, and crappy compression.

    • no hints at all, just speculation (I know, I have to stop giving my opinion on the blog)

      • NIkonuser

        To me (also speculation) the statement sounds more like an excuse for the D4s not having 4K. But you never know.

        • Guest

          Yes. My take was this is all but confirmation there will be no 4k in the D4s.

      • n11

        Hard to say, but I’d personally wager on 4K in the D4S :/
        Seems too unlikely. In the D5 definitely, but the guy talking here didn’t sound like he was hinting it was going to be in the D4s. Its too big of a jump. I think they’d rather keep focus on making sure the flagship camera is a photographer camera first, including 4K would take too much of the spotlight away.
        Just my opinion. If anything, D800 should be 8K.

      • ShaoLynx

        No you don’t. You’re entitled to your own oppinion/speculation like everybody else here on the blog.

      • Theodoros Fotometria

        It makes sense if the processor is advanced… I don’t see much of a point to improve high Iso further, IMO, they’ll try to differentiate D4 as much as possible to avoid cannibalisation of it and “create space” to expand the use of their 16mp sensor… 4K video, is certainly a right move towards that direction.

  • istreetshooter

    I have to laugh. The link to the video includes a still of concept gear that includes video items. Nikon has since listed the video light, which my local camera store has been trying to get for months. It is along road from conception, to promotion to actually getting it in the hands of customers.

  • saying

    They demand 4K video, and then whine about memory issues. The old whine for D800 36mp…

    • Global

      Actually, you have this completely backwards — its really 1% of customer demand + 99% manufacturer demand.

      Almost nobody is demanding 4K Video in DSLRs (in fact, most people don’t even realize they aren’t even getting HD 1080p yet, despite owning capable televisions and monitors). There is this swirl of competition between the Cinema & TV industries right now, putting extreme pressure on the system as TV sizes (rapidly going from 20″-> 36″+ -> 55″+ -> and now 90″~), rapidly negating many reasons to go to theaters (depending how close you sit to your tv and how far in back you sit at a theater). TV manufacturers love this… they already have a taste for theaters blood…

      I don’t think most people want to be able to see that far into their friends pores. But since SOME people will use the video for cinematic and TV purposes, camera manufacturers are forced to keep standards in line with manufacturers like Sony (TVs) and Samsung. So 1% customer demand, 99% manufacturer marketing driven.

      • I’m actually really hopeful for 4K to become a thing; I want one of those nice 2560 X 1440 monitors, and when 4K hits, they are going to get cheap!

        I don’t care about full HD content. After 720p, you enter the land of diminishing returns.

      • MyrddinWilt

        I find it highly amusing when people prattle on about what absolutely nobody wants as if they have a clue.

        There is a huge demand for 4K video among people who pay $6000 for a camera body and the same for lenses. The pro video market has pretty much stalled for five years because everyone knows that 4K is coming and nobody has wanted to lash out $20K on a completely new rig that would be obsolete very quickly. So most pro video shooters are still using tape.

        The attraction of DSLRs was that you could get a camera that didn’t have the bulk and general crappiness of tapes that would hold its value pretty well. The DX/FX sensor issue some folk are blathering on about is irrelevant since there isn’t a single FX sized sensor dedicate video camera on the market. Most pro video has a sensor that is CX sized or smaller. Size and weight matter a lot more for video than pixel peeping at low ISO.

        The issue going to 4K isn’t the sensor, its the cpu power to crunch the data. So adding 4K capability to the D4s is probably not an issue since it likely has the CPU power anyway. Adding 4K to the V3 would also make sense if the camera was positioned as a dedicated video body with a chunky CPU and CFast card.

  • nwcs

    Growth in advanced cameras and DSLRs? Either that’s gamesmanship or ostrich syndrome. DSLR sales clearly are affected and growth in advanced compacts is very unlikely.

    • patto01

      He was saying that DSLR sales aren’t being affected by smartphones. A drop in sales from projections could be from anything and is more than likely a result of the global economy. I can’t imagine anyone is thinking, ‘should I get a dSLR or a new smartphone with better photo capabilities.’

      • mike brunette

        I am, have been, the DSLR is only needed in a few niche areas these days. Sony is ready to eat everybody’s lunch, as is Blackmagic. The camera is, was, and always be an interface box for the sensor & processing package (used to be film), and the lens, nothing more. Specs don’t mean much, pictures do. Give me a sharp, wide aperture lens, and a clean high iso 8megapixel sensor with a great viewfinder and as shutter lag free shooting as possible, now make it waterproof, Nikon 1 small or smaller, and I will blow away your high dynamic range monster pixel big box every day of the week for 90% of all photo needs. The key is knowing where to be and getting there, even high end magazine work doesn’t need what you are asking for. Oh, yeah, I want, and will get 4k on my next phone, and all the other stuff, look at what Sony is doing.

        • patto01

          I guess my imagination is too limited.

      • zoetmb

        On the high end, no, but on the lowest end of DSLRs – I’m not so sure. The results from the best of the smartphones are pretty good, certainly not as good as a DSLR, but the convenience (immediate emailing or posting to Facebook, etc.) completely outweighs the quality difference. That’s not to say that the economy as well as a saturated DSLR market are not also factors, but I think one of the reasons Nikon has so many 3100s and 3200s still in inventory is because people are using their smartphone cameras instead and they’re not buying these low-end models.

        If you look at the CIPA numbers through November, DSLR shipments are down year over year by 15%, Mirrorless by 18%, compacts by 42% and lenses by 12%, but if there’s a lot sitting in inventory, actual sales will have been worse that that.

        Nikon just released 5 new compacts in the U.S. (+ four additional for the international markets) with another five expected soon. 10 new compacts this year? They’re nuts. The U.S. site currently lists 25 compacts (although 3 aren’t really available anymore), the international site lists 33 (with 1 probably not available), but the Japanese site lists only 11, with only 3 of them being new models. Only in their home market is Nikon seeming to recognize the market realities. I’m not proposing that Nikon abandon the compact market, but 5-7 models, each priced about $30 apart, is probably more than enough and a clarification of the product line might even improve sales.

        • patto01

          Again, there’s nothing to say these slipping dSLR sales are due, directly, to people buying smartphones instead.
          The entry level dSLRs are an interesting thing, though. How many of these are being bought by moms wanting to magically get better pictures of their kids or look better, taking them, than their neighbors? I don’t know. For someone who’s literate in photography, I can’t imagine it’s an either/or proposition. Again (see above), perhaps my imagination is limited.

  • Don Hogfan

    4K is great, but more limiting in NIKON’s cameras are:

    1. Line skipping instead of downsampling

    2. Codec and the 4:2:0 8bit

    3. No video friendly features like focus peaking.

    See what 5D III with ML or the Blackmagic Cameras can do with 1080p.

    The push for 4K comes from tech companies that want to sell new 4k capable hardware.

    • vFunct

      video cameras are so much better at video than dSLRs.

  • Mansgame

    That’s good, but Nikon still hasn’t figured out HD video.

  • KT

    Well, the Canon EOS 1C has it so why not the D4S, I doubt high-ISO low-noise improvement will be that great to justify a new model so they might as well add a 4K video function.

  • vFunct

    I think this is more of a consumer focused statement, so, that means no 4k for the D4s, and a long-term goal of 4k for consumers.

    Video cameras are so different from still cameras that you really need a different body. Video cameras need stabilization, and dSLRs are specifically designed to not be stable. A dSLR’s grips close to the center of gravity means you can flick them side to side real quick.. meanwhile, this is the worst thing you can do for video, as it makes every shot completely shaky and unstable. Editors complain about the shaky shots from dSLRs over video cameras all the time.

    They really need a well designed body for video, with shoulder or 3-point mount, otherwise you’re spending thousands on stabilization systems. And, if you’re using a dSLR for video, you’re doing it for costs savings compared to a $5k video camera, so adding stabilizers is a no-go because of that… you might as well buy a video camera then.

    • Truth

      Try this ghetto DSLR method.

      1. Use a lens with stabilization.
      2. Wear a neck strap and put down force on the camera so there’s no slack on the strap.
      3. Use your lower back to move camera up/down/etc. (Imagine a robot with stiff linear movement)

      • groucher

        Or put the camera on a tripod (which is also needed when using a video camera) but *do not* use a lens with stabilisation which will give jerky results if you pan/zoom.

      • KnightPhoto

        I tried your lower back move, great tip – thanks!

      • zoetmb

        I do the “no slack in the strap” trick, but I can only do that for so long, especially when shooting with a heavy lens. What Nikon also needs are zoom lenses that keep their focus at all lengths. If you’re shooting a narrative film, it doesn’t matter as you’ll focus each shot separately. But if you’re shooting an event, like a live concert where you can’t cut away since you’re only shooting with one camera, maintaining focus in very difficult on my D800.

  • Duncan Dimanche

    gopro did it…. i don’t see why it’s such a big deal…. but really who shoots 4K? who has a 4K tv ? or even a computer that can handle 4K?

    🙂 but go Nikon for RAW video first !!!

    • Alex

      Gopro did it at 15fps, which is quite useless really. The points about nobody having 4K equipment is irrelevant, 10-15 years ago people said that about HD, 4K TVs are now hitting the $1000 mark, 4K Blu-ray is coming at the end of the year. The more available the technology is in everything, the more people will want to change over. Netflix, YouTube, and DirecTV are showing support for it. Raw video doesn’t make any sense for the prosumer market, when H.265/HEVC promises amazing quality with an efficient compression. That includes support for 12 Bit 4:4:4 chroma sampling.

      • zoetmb

        4K Blu-ray is not coming anytime soon and certainly not at the end of the year. There is no agreed-upon format yet by anybody. If it was coming in 2014, it would have been previewed at the CES a few weeks ago. It may not come ever. 4K may not be a physical media format – it might wind up being only a streaming/downloading format.

  • Jonathan

    I said it before, I’ll say it again. Why even bother with 4K? Just go straight to 8K.

    • Steven Solidarios

      Because memory cards are not equipped to handle the data transfer. 8k cameras use SSD hard drives in RAID. You think a compact flash or a SD card will keep up?

      • I think a DSLR with 3 slots for SSDs would be pretty cool. And huge.

        • Steven Solidarios

          It would be. Especially with the 10 pound battery required to run it for 30 minutes.

          • Cecil B.

            Macbook Air have SSDs and I don’t recall them using a battery anywhere near 10 pounds. I’m sure I’m missing something, but your remark can’t possibly be serious, can it?

    • said it

      yes, 8K at $800

    • MyrddinWilt

      At the moment there are precisely zero production monitors capable of displaying 8K and there are precisely zero production cameras capable of shooting it. The D800 is the only DSLR that has enough pixels and even that does not have the right format (not 8K wide). Yes there are announcements, but try to buy the product and its a different story.

      When the plasma TVs first appeared they cost $6000 for a 42″. Today you can buy a dozen that size for the same price. It is almost the same with 4K right now, the prices are obviously set to drop as the factories stop making HD panels for 4K panels instead.

      Hopping a technology generation might look smart but it would mean being very late to the 4K party and probably losing out completely.

  • phil

    that “proof” of 4k is just as much of a proof, as a time lapse video proves a camera can record 24k video.. sheesh

    30 frames do not qualify as video. 30.000 frames at 30fps do.

  • Steven Solidarios

    Video is a nice thing to have in DSLR’s, but first and foremost they should be great still cameras. The most important feature to me is focussing accuracy and speed. 4k? Maybe in 4 years when the majority of people actually have 4k screens to watch their content.

  • Bruce

    I got the opposite impression, that 4K would not be in the D4s, but maybe some future version, like the D4x or D5. It also sounds like they’ll put it out first in the compact cameras before including it in the high-end professional models. It’s nice they are talking about it, but they are behind the curve and late to the game.

  • Paul whitehead

    Actually the article does not really say anything. 4k is a given because that will be the new benchmark in video AND marketing. All of the major producers HAVE to work on 4K and have to work on video because the competition is working on it, including a lot of new smaller companies. Affordable 4K is the key and Sony, BMC, Panasonic are looking to be the ones driving an affordable option. Nikon have to follow or get left behind. Nikon cannot survive on income from “purists”, it need the mass market.

    • Andrew

      When you talk about survival, you are missing it by even suggesting Nikon being left behind. Nikon is at the forefront and still the #1 brand in photography. Nikon has been very aggressive in releasing products that captures the latest in photographic technology. Nikon has invested heavily in mirrorless cameras. Nikon came out with the D800 giving us a 36 Megapixel sensor with stunning video and low light performance and exceptional image quality.

      To also suggest that the article is not saying anything is to gloss over the article without paying attention to detail. The statement that smartphones are not having the detrimental impact that many are suggesting is quite profound. It reminds me of the many pundits who stated how gaming on smartphones, tablet PCs, and online will destroy the console gaming market. Then Sony and Microsoft came out with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox ONE consoles and they both sold 7 million consoles combined in 6 weeks. To put this in perspective, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 typically sell a combined 15 million consoles per year.

      So it seems to me that you had your conclusions framed before reading the article and just used the opportunity to say it anyway.

      • Paul whitehead

        I standby every sentence I wrote.

        a) everyone is working on 4K, they have to. Everyone. So whats he saying?
        b) marketing drives the engineering dept as its tells management what consumers want and will want
        c) D800 video is 1080/30 max, codec is poor. It is not “stunning” – 4K is stunning, GH3 is very good. Do I have a duff d800?
        d) we will see further convergence of video and stills technologies. The question is will we be taking stills with a video camera or video with a stills camera OR will they be one.
        e) smartphones – you have me there I never bothered with that part of the article. Still have not.
        f) I had no conclusions framed, I have my opinion – I stand by it and time will see who is right.

  • Alex

    I hope it’s true 4K (4096 x 2160) with 24, 48, and 60 fps. 12 Bit 4:4:4, H.265 compression, and an XLR adaptor (full balanced audio with 24/192 PCM). I know not everyone here is into video/movies (and some even despise it), and I am more into still photography myself these days, but it would be awesome to have that capability added on to a camera that I was going to buy anyway. Even if I had to pay a little more for it. I could easily make that money back with a few jobs on the side. So bring it on Nikon!

    • Canon has a high-end video division to protect, Nikon does not.

      It would be amazing if Nikon started putting some truly high end features into certain DSLRs to really blow away the competition. A single XLR-in with 24 bit 192 and a decent amp would be amazing. 12 bit 4:4:4? oh yeah! I’d rather have those features instead of 4K than have 4K video without those features.

  • Davidvictormeldrew Idontbeliev

    As Nikon s tend to be a minor upgrade we probably only see a slight improvement in video say Full HD 1080p at 60 fps, expect the 4K to appear in a D5, D900 body first.

  • Guest

    “We haven’t seen any effect yet on DSLRs and I think it will be a long time and some miracles for smartphones to start troubling DSLRs.”

    Geez, myopic much Nikon? Smartphones are absolutely trouble DSLR’s, past tense. I think this just highlights Nikon’s ethos as a camera company really, and confirms to me even more that they are not even close to getting their act together and making innovative products.
    Yes, a DSLR takes a better photo than a smartphone. That does not mean in any way shape of form that the smartphone is not gaining ground against DSLR’s every day as the camera of choice for a huge number of people. Good enough is a thing. Convenience is a thing. Connectivity is a thing. Consumer trends is a thing. Nikon doing their best impression of an ostrich sticking its head in the sand is most definitely a thing.

  • n11

    Sounds like Nikon is starting to figure things out, kudos to them. I agree that concentrating on improving things on compact cameras that phone cameras can’t do will probably be key, like zooming, quality and stabilization. Compactibility and holding-comfort will also rank nicely on consumer’s wants.

  • Tony the TIger

    4k will now only be a feature, and not a needed function. Squeezing a 4k footage into a 1080 screen means more clarity, sharpness, and possibly better dynamic range, with less noise.

    I would still prefer 120fps at 1080p 🙂

    • adi

      Yes me too ! and don’t forget that without good image processing and codec, 4K is nothing.

  • Arthur Tazo

    Nikon should see a future in a D400.

  • Dover

    How many of us can actually take advantage of 4K footage? Who has a 4K monitor? I am all for the trend toward 4K and do realize that archiving 4K footage now will be advantageous when 4K is actually practical (years). But I would be curious as to how many people can actually take advantage of this format.

    • Paul whitehead

      Hi, actually you do not need a 4K monitor to see the difference, only the whole difference. Just go to youtube, they are now showing 4K footage with google’s “4K viewer for the rest of us” technology. There’s quite a bit of footage from the new Sony handicam. Stunning.

      • Dover

        I will. Thanks. Then I will need someone to explain it to me: how can my 1080p monitor show 4K.

  • Ennan

    I’d love to see the V3 with 4K – more so because it would likely also feature 1080p at 120fps which would be great.

  • Rizzle

    I will take 1080 RAW before anything else please… Color correcting and compositing h.264 and even 8-bit uncompressed is so 5 years ago.

  • stormwatch

    This explains why there is no Video on Df….since Nikon is shifting towards 4K and Df is the old machine in much more older package it would only go up to 576i.

  • Grant Russell

    I would love it if the next V3 camera would go back to the slimmer profile of the V1. The V2 was a bit bulky for my taste. I would like a nice companion camera to compliment my DSLR, and also serve as a nice super-zoom telephoto setup, with the FT1 adapter.

  • John

    Who cares! I’m a photographer not a videographer! If you want video, go get a video camera. They should be investing more money in other things rather than a stupid video function.

  • Zippy

    Old Post, but most relevant to comment. I’m principally a pro videographer, but have been shooting stills with SLRs for over 40 years – with Nikon for 30. I started doing time lapses with my D70, some lens centric live video with D90, and have more call with my D7000 for situations it is a better fit than my dedicated HD pro video camera.
    There are compromises with doing both, and I concur with many, that these shouldn’t limit the still capabilities or significantly increase the price for those markets. However, having models optimized for it would be very welcomed by many, and could rock the market given some of the advantages Nikon has. No pro line to cannibalize, and capacity to integrate existing technology and lenses in an optimum way.

    One thing many don’t think about here is that 4k video only is just over 8mp for a 1:1 sensor. It’s 16×9, but truth is a 12mp sensor is ideal. Largest pixels for resulting image – no gain from more resolution to offset the low light and dynamic range advantages. It’s the processor that has to be high powered. However, the lower mp sensor is a great advantage here too. Crunching large raw data down in size is processor intensive – especially at the desired high frame rates. A lower rez sensor makes this MUCH easier. Then, this processor should be programmed to exploit it’s power at different settings. Say (max) 4k @24fps, 2k 30fps, 1080p 60fps, 720p 120fps 480p 240fps – of course, the math might work out different, but you should get the picture. GoPro uses this approach to max frame rate at different resolutions, and it’s much appreciated.
    The codec has to be robust, and this can be a limit in terms of cards speed as well to factor in. But, practically, I can tell you that higher compression is more acceptable at higher frame rates AND in higher resolutions. Especially with a smart codec that only deteriorates with a rapidly changing images. Landscapes and talking heads can be compressed more and still look great.
    So 12mp, but FX or DX size? DX. The limited DOF of full frame is just too much for most video applications. DX is approx the sensor size of super 35mm cinematography (horizontal frames on strip for those not familiar). This is like RED, Canon’s C500, sony’s cine alta cams etc.
    Older manual focus Nikon lenses with an aperture ring can be used on many of these. Canon’s is of course leveraging their lenses.
    But if Nikon builds a cine camera that talks to it’s new generation lenses, we have something special. We need live step-less manual control of aperture, push button snap autofocus to manual hold at least – and follow focus as smart as they can manage it. (e.g. like canon 70D). XLR inputs, or at least a dedicated modular optional interface. A large hi-resolution screen with peaking focus assist, highlight zebras, audio meters, live information. Keep it around $5000 and the market will be rocked. Assuming it’s also got mojo…

    • drich

      i am nikon nikon nikon user. . . is the best with built in time-lapse compare to canon only 7d mark II has a built in time lapse sad to say.

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