Thursday, November 5, 2015

Speculative: Nikon D2300 - World's Smallest DSLR Camera?

November 2015 Update:
I'm bumping this article up, due to some important developments. Nikon has filed a patent for an 18-55 kit lens designed for mirrorless APS-C cameras! (If you read Japanese, read here). This is major news, as you might realize. Of course a patent doesn't mean anything yet (companies file patents for all kinds of projects that never materialize), but if we try to read into this, it signifies that Nikon is at the very least considering an APS-C mirrorless. Read the following article again, and try to speculate what it might mean for the Nikon mount (I offer my own input at the end of this article)

(Note: Bold font in this text means it's text added in the November 2015 update)

Yep, you read that right. Nikon D2300 - it's not a typo, I didn't mean to write D3200 (which is already a small, fine, in-production camera). But if size does matter, and you are one of those people who want your cameras as small as possible (while still being a DSLR), then the Nikon D2300 might be just for you.

But let's take a breath here, shall we?

You see, the Nikon D2300 doesn't exist (at the time this article is written - April 2014). It doesn't exist yet. It is no more than a rumor that has been circulating the net for a few months. According to the - always rumored - specs, it would be a merely 290g camera, smaller even than the Canon Rebel SL1. It is also very probable that it will not have an optical viewfinder. In some ways, you could consider it a bit bulky mirrorless. Certainly bigger than the J/V Nikon mirrorless cameras. But - and this is the reason I'm talking about a non-existent (yet) camera - it will still probably have a DX sensor and mount.

Optical viewfinders offer you unmatched connection to the moment. 

All this is mere speculation, but do you happen to remember what I was saying about mirrorless some time ago?

Nikon will eventually want to have only two formats, DX and FX, with DX sensors found only in small mirrorless bodies, and FX sensors for its higher end models. In my opinion, this isn't anything in the near future, but clearly, it will not be difficult to imagine. Simply stop producing DX SLR cameras, start producing DX mirrorless compacts, and then voila! You have a series of mirrorless compacts that can take DX lenses. 
A Nikon D2300 camera would be a serious step in that direction. Let me emphasize: I do not know what Nikon plans to do in the future (heck, probably they don't know either!) and anything is possible. In sense-making terms, the fewer mounts the better. And an FX line for advanced amateurs and pros, together with a DX line for consumers, is very sense-making indeed.

But maybe Nikon plans to create more market segments. Picture this:
- FX pro (D4, D800)
- FX advanced amateur (D610)
- DX advanced amateur (D7100)
- DX consumer (D3300, D5300)
- DX consumer mirrorless (D2300)
- CX consumer mirrorless (J/V series)*

* Due to the high crop factor, I can imagine some advanced users liking the CX mount for e.g. landscape or safari trips.

Feeling confused? You should. Like I said, this doesn't make much sense to me. If we take a look at lenses produced for DX, the situation gets even weirder. Nikon hasn't been producing any "serious" DX lenses for quite some time. A lot of consumer 18-xx zooms (including 2 versions of a super-mega-duper 18-300 zoom) and that's about it.

So, what should you do, prospective buyer? It's easy.

- Consider your budget
- What kind of camera do you need? Does size matter? Do you already own some lenses?
- Read couple of reviews. Limit your options down to 2 or 3
- Visit a store (or order online from a place with 100% money back return policy), try them in your hands, and pick the one you feel most comfortable with.

It's not rocket science!

So, in November 2015, what does all that mean? Well, the way I see it we have two options here (IF Nikon does offer a mirrorless APS-C). A coexistance/overlap with either the Nikon 1 or the Nikon DX system. And either of these directions will have serious repercussions for the system in question, although I think Nikon 1 will suffer the most. Frankly, it seems that Nikon has invested so much in the Nikon 1 system that I doubt they'd do anything to undermine it (sadly, if you ask me). So, the most probable scenario is to have the entry-level DX cameras of the future (Nikon D3300- or even Nikon D5500-type bodies) losing the mirror. Does it make sense? To an extent, yeah. You'd have an even smaller camera with almost all the functionality of the mirrored versions - we'll have to see how autofocus responds.

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