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Nikon MX Forecast
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February 2009     More Nikon Reviews


Nikon may announce the MX medium-format system any time between now and 03 March 2009.

If it hits a major program snag, as it did before the planned announcement at WPPI's BIG night at 8:30PM on 16 February 2009, which Nikon had been trumpeting for 5 months before, the announcement could get pushed out, and ultimately, the project can always get canned.

This could trump last-year's announcement by Leica of a proposed S2 system. If Nikon makes this, we can all forget about whatever Leica was working on, although seeing Nikon's joke introductory pricing for the D3X, the Leica S2 system will probably cost less than the Nikon MX system.


Nikon M1 Body

Nikon may have done what we all want, which is use a real 54 x54mm square sensor with a resolution of 6,380 x 6,380 pixels.

This is fantastic; it's the same size as a mounted 2-1/4" transparency.

It may have the very slick ability to select horizontal or vertical crops as you shoot, much as I select 4:5 crops in my D3 using my Function button.

You'll never have to rotate the camera again; just like a Hasselblad, crop later, or use the Function button to select horizontal or vertical as you hold the camera in the same comfortable position. This is why Ansel Adams so loved the square format: he never had to move the camera to go from one to the other.

This means you can shoot 6,380 x 6,380 square, or a vertical or horizontal with a 6,380 pixel long dimension and a 4,256 short dimension.

In these cases, the active sensor size is x 36 x 54mm, or the old, bogus 3:2 aspect ratio of 35mm film. It would have been far better to crop to 43 x 54mm, the professional 4:5 ratio. Nikon might get booed off stage at WPPI if people are math hacks like me and realize that Nikon chose the wrong crop.

You'll also have the ability to crop into the smaller 4,256 inner square, much as we can crop our FX cameras to DX.

This camera also can crop to FX (24 x 36), at 2,832 x 4,256 resolution, as well as a foolish 24 x 24mm square (2,832 x 2,832) pixels, and 27 x 27mm "Super Slide" 3,184 x 3,184 pixels.

The crop factor at full aperture is 0.57, or the diagonal of the full 54x54mm sensor is 1.75x the diagonal of 24 x 36mm.

Photography short-timers (people with only 30 or 40 years experience or less) will miss the humor in the model names between Leica and Nikon, each of which have roots competing against each other in microscopes and binoculars, as well as cameras, running back to the 1800s.

Leica named its upcoming S2 medium format camera after Nikon's S2 rangefinder camera of 1954. The S2 was Nikon's last amateur camera made before Nikon's first professional camera, the SP rangefinder of 1956. This was Leica's way of saying "We've always owned the pro market; you people at Nikon are a bunch of amateurs; we will most assuredly defeat you this time" and "You think the S2 is cool? Just wait for us to show you what's next!"

Returning Leica's volley, Nikon named its first medium-format camera after Leica's M1 of 1959. (OK, Nikon's first medium format camera was Nikon's Fisheye Camera of 1960.)

The Leica M1 was Leica's second modern amateur camera, introduced in 1959. Leica's M1 was a terd: it lacked a viewfinder or rangefinder, and only worked if you used it with a corny Rube-Goldberg-Style reflex gizmo. This reflex gizmo was called a Visoflex, and was bigger than the camera itself.

Leica's failure to develop practical SLR cameras back in the 1950s is why Leica has been going out of business ever since. The M1 and Visoflex is still an embarassement, since it's the camera that lost Leica today's market.

Nikon chose "M1" because M1 sounds cool and can mean "Medium-Format #1," and also because Nikon is responding to Leica's S2 taunt by naming its camera after the sorry Leica M1 camera that tried to be an SLR. Leica's M1 failed so miserably that it's was part of the downfall of rangefinders to the SLR. As we all know, it was Nikon's F that made SLRs the most common camera used by all of us for the past 50 years, both in film and digital.

(Leica called its first modern camera the M3 in 1954 as the follow-on from the Leica III screw-mount, thus the next models from leica were the M2 of 1957 and the M1 of 1959. It made sense back then if you recall that from 1918 Leica added a Roman numeral to newer models of screw-mount cameras: the Leica I, Leica II and then Leica III.)

Anyway, sorry to bore you with the insider scoop on the model names, but it fills space until we have a public announcement about which we can talk in more depth.



Rumor has it that these are the lenses:

AF-S MX Nikkor 24 f/4.0G

AF-S MX Nikkor 45 f/2.8G

AF-S MX Nikkor 85 f/2.8G

AF-S MX Nikkor 135 f/2.0G ED

AF-S MX Nikkor 200 f/2.8G ED

AF-S MX Nikkor 65-180 f/2.8G ED IF


And here are the 35mm film (FX) equivalents, rated for the same diagonal felid-of-view:


Format Diagonal


Crop Factor




This is a summary forecast.

We'll see what arrives as it happens.



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