Nikon F6 - 2004 Predictions by Thom Hogan

The third new Nikon DSLR will shake up the industry. Last year I predicted the appearance of parts of the F6 (the autofocus system ended up in the D2h). Well, this year I'm going further, saying it will appear fully. Essentially, the F6 will be like a medium format camera in 35mm size. The main component will simply be a light-proof box with lens mount, shutter, and mirror mechanism. Perhaps that part will also have a power supply in it. But everything else (and perhaps the power supply) will be modular. You'll have your choice of bolt-on film or digital backs and your choice of viewfinders. Backs and viewfinders can be interchanged mid-roll/mid-card. I'll go further and point out that Nikon will use the Olympics in Greece to launch this hybrid. If I had to guess at price, I'd guess US$2000 for the base, US$1000 for the viewfinder/metering; US$500 for a film back, and US$2500 for a digital back. The interesting thing will be whether Fujifilm also provides a digital back for this camera, as they have a full-frame 11mp sensor that would be perfect for it (and, of course, interpolated up to 22mp in finished images). Even more interesting will be that at least one digital back choice down the road (probably not 2004, though) will be a dedicated high ISO back. And, the whole thing will do 8 fps on film and whatever the digital sensor can handle (up to 8 fps). Medium format camera makers, such as Mamiya, will be cringing when they see this product. Kodak will, too, as it means that they'll have to consider making a back for it, but with a much lower price point than their current MF backs to stay competitive. (Curiously, Kodak has stopped making backs. They announced this decision in January 2004, not long after I wrote this last bit. So perhaps I should have written "Kodak will have to consider encouraging one of the back makers who use the Kodak sensors to make a back for it.")

 Thom Hogan

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7 May 2004

Pierre J.