Nikon Shows Off D780, 120-300mm Zoom, Z 70-200mm Zoom, and P950 at CES 2020

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Nikon came to CES with a boatload of new announcements, covering nearly every aspect of imaging. They have a new full-frame DSLR, a super telephoto zoom, a pro mirrorless zoom, and a superzoom point-and-shoot. The exact releases show off an impressive lineup, with the D780 DSLR being a nice upgrade, the AF-S NIKKOR 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR being a beautiful telephoto that will work wonderfully with the upcoming D6, a desired NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S to fill out their full-frame mirrorless line, and the fun COOLPIX P950 with a solid 83x zoom.

D780, A Solid DSLR

After last year, where mirrorless cameras dominated the announcement calendar, it was hard to see DSLRs coming back in any real sense. At CES it seems that we may have been mistaken, as Nikon has taken this moment to release the D780 and Canon officially launched its 1D X Mark III. Obviously here we are focusing on the D780, a new mid-range full-frame option from Nikon aimed at creatives in need of high-quality stills and video.

Nikon D780 DSLR Camera
Nikon D780 DSLR Camera

As a DSLR, the D780 works with Nikon’s entire lineup of F-mount lenses. It also has a 24.5MP full-frame CMOS sensor and the EXPEED 6 image processor. This combination has a wide sensitivity range of ISO 100–51200, extendable to ISO 50–204800. Helping out is a 180k-pixel RGB sensor and Advanced Scene Recognition—the same as in the much-loved D850. This all forms the basis for a highly capable imaging pipeline.

Nikon D780 DSLR Camera

Autofocus has two flavors, one conventional option when using the optical viewfinder and a hybrid system for live view. The primary system is a 51-point phase-detect system sensitive to -3 EV. It has advanced tracking modes and can be quickly switched to different modes. For live view, the D780 uses a 273-point hybrid AF that works down to -4 EV or -6 EV when Low-Lite AF is active for stills shooting. Additionally, Eye AF can be used in this mode. Another speedy aspect is continuous shooting, with 7 fps being standard or 12 fps with the electronic shutter.

Nikon D780 DSLR Camera

The D780 has a solid construction and excellent form factor. It isn’t breaking new ground for DSLRs, but at this point Nikon has long solved many ergonomic questions when it comes to these cameras. The 0.70x optical viewfinder has 100% coverage and the tilting 2.36m-dot LCD touchscreen with touch shutter release and AF control.

Nikon D780 DSLR Camera

Crop-free UHD 4K video at up to 30 fps is another great feature for creators in need of a hybrid system for stills and video. Nikon has added N-Log and HLG HDR to the D780 as well. Other fun features include built-in time-lapse video, the ability to shoot 2MP stills at up to 120 fps, and in-camera digitizing. Additionally, the D780 has built-in wireless connectivity for working with SnapBridge.

A Top-Tier Telephoto Zoom for DSLRs

Originally revealed back when the D6 was first previewed, the AF-S NIKKOR 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens is now a reality. Claiming performance matching that of primes, this lens makes no compromises, delivering a fast f/2.8 aperture throughout the range. Ideal for sports and action photography, this lens has a fast focusing system and electromagnetic diaphragm that will be accurate even at the fastest shooting rates. As for optics, this is top notch, with 25 elements in 19 groups, including ED and the new SR glass to reduce chromatic aberrations in your images. SR glass focuses on correcting for blue light, which has been difficult to control in the past.

Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR Lens
Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR Lens

The lens is solid, with great weather sealing and a sturdy construction. There is also Vibration Reduction good for four stops of movement, and it will work perfectly when using teleconverters. Other nice features are customizable function buttons, a tripod collar that can be rotated for using the lens horizontally or vertically, and strap lugs to properly distribute weight. It will be perfect to pair with the upcoming D6.

Mirrorless Gets a 70-200mm f/2.8 Lens

If anyone had to guess what lenses are coming to the Z Series next, the list had to include the NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S. It is the classic 70-200mm f/2.8 every full-frame system needs, and it looks like Nikon did a great job with this mirrorless offering. It is sharp, has fast autofocus, and uses all of Nikon’s latest tech. This includes ARNEO and Nano Crystal coatings along with ED and SR glass. Nikon also boasts that focus breathing is practically nonexistent, making it a great choice for video shooters.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Lens
Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Lens

A clean aesthetic matching the other Z series lenses makes an appearance here, and the lens has a programmable Fn button and a display for showing all types of lens data. A removable tripod foot completes the package. It’s the lens you need if you have a full-frame Z Series camera.

A More Conservative Big Zoom Camera

One of the most popular point-and-shoots around is the P1000. What’s not to like? It’s a solid camera with a massive zoom range. Not everyone needs all that zoom, however, and so Nikon now has the COOLPIX P950 available. The lens on this camera is an 83x optical zoom with an equivalent focal length of 24–2000mm—more than enough for most people. If you do occasionally need the extra reach, a 166x Dynamic Fine Zoom mode will give you a little boost. There is also a respectable maximum aperture range of f/2.8–6.5.

Nikon COOLPIX P950 Digital Camera
Nikon COOLPIX P950 Digital Camera

Behind that big lens is a 16MP backlit CMOS sensor and EXPEED image processor. The lens also incorporates Dual Detect Optical Vibration Reduction Reduction—a very important function with super telephoto focal lengths. Photographers can record raw images for maximum flexibility when editing, too. And, for the video fans there is UHD 4K at up to 30p or Full HD at 60p with manual control options.

Nikon COOLPIX P950 Digital Camera

As for build, the camera has a large grip for comfort and offers a 0.39” 2.36m-dot OLED EVF and a 3.2″ 921k-dot articulating LCD. There are plenty of physical buttons and dials for quick, intuitive control. Also, there is a hot shoe for attaching accessories, such as a speedlight or the DF-M1 Dot Sight. Another nice set of features is wireless connectivity, as the P950 has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for working with smartphones and the SnapBridge app.

To see what else is going on at CES, check out more coverage here.

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As a Nikon user for more years than I can remember, I’ve used Nikon cameras since my first F model (1972).  Had even a „Nikromat,“ because of the 125 sec., flash sequence and owned several big heavy (1980) F2AS/AB with motor drives.  Now that we all do digital work, I’ve used everything from Sony to Leica, and as a Civilian German „Master Certifications (Meisterbrief)- and as an Army Public Affairs/ Combat Military photographer.  Glamor, Travel, Beauty and any advertising Anything that falls under the so-called “Berufsfotograf!” -  I‘ve covered war events,  from Baghdad and Mosul and gone to Austria and German Alps to shoot ski (downhill and other alpine events) races.  I keep coming back to Nikon. I do love them but when will they start realizing to center on one model.  The 780 is a blast from the past. Expensive and oddly doesn’t offer much in the way of innovation and ideas. Its interesting to see that the new 780 Nikon is proficient enough but on still photography mode delivers only a 24-mega pix.  Yes it offers video.  But why can’t the Nikon jump into real innovation?  They bring a new camera out at CES that only delivers a 24-megapixel image? While their mirrorless cameras produce that of a 48-50 -megapixel image.  I have been toying with the idea of using another camera such as the Hasselblad or The Nikon mirrorless Z7 for $1200 less is the ticket, but what do I do with all my great Nikon lenses?  

Damn, Nikon is just not competing with the other mfgs.  I have been with Nikon since the late 60's.  Including 2 tours in 'Nam.   I do mostly travel photography and wildlife.  I am somewhat elderly so weight of cameras, lenses and a light backpack matters especially in the back country or jungles of Costa Rica, Panama, etc.  I still love Nikon glass, it is the best .  However, recently I went to Panama and used much lighter Sonys.  They performed very well and the EVF is superior to anything Nikon has.  I tried a Nikon Z, when it came out, but with all the hoops I had to jump through to use my Nikon glass it just isn't worth the money.  I have a lens adapter that fits the Nikon lenses to the Sony with the outstanding EVF so that is the way I am going.

I will never get the love for mirrorless except for video.

I don't want to see a relatively low resolution EVF version of what the lens sees, I want to see what the lens sees.

I guess I'll just always be a die hard SLR person, no mater what.

For that reason neither the Sonys nor the Z series have ever appealed to me one bit.

Yes!! What he said.

Disappointing.  I regularly shoot with my D750, D500, and D810.  I'm more of a Nikon fanboy than a hater.  But despite all the crap I learned in high school, I can read the writing on the wall.  What a missed opportunity here.  This basic body/chassis has been in production forever and the development costs were paid off years ago.  So now a D750 is $1500 and this is $2300.  What do you get for the $800?  A few minor upgrades and the sensor from the Z6 (check the specs they are identical) but without IBIS and without an EVF.  And dang, the Z6 with FTZ adapter costs $1843!  Why pay an extra $450 for a cobbled up hybrid SLR/mirrorless?  It can't be for the optical AF/viewfinder, which aren't anything special and lag well behind a good mirrorless implementation.  The 51 point AF is not great and seems lame compared to the full coverage AF you get on everything from a $400 pocket camera to a Z7 with 493 phase detect points.   I know because I use it all the time.  The OVF is inferior to Nikon's own Z series EVF.  I see this D780 as a Z6 that uses F mount lenses, has no EVF, and uses a bunch of obsolete expensive hardware from 20 years ago simply due to a lack of imagination and consumer awareness.  Hey Nikon - photographers must do video as part of the job now and we need to get rid of moving mirrors and ancient OVFs.

Two directions Nikon should have gone:  1 - This camera with the 153 point AF system which is far more functional than the ancient 51 point system.  This would not be competing against the D850 (half the MP) or the D500 (FX instead of DX).  The top line AF module along with the Z6 mirrorless features would have justified this camera at this price.  We already know that the on sensor AF won't be quite as good as the two main competitors, but at least it will be acceptable.

2 - This camera body with the mirror, focus module, and OVF removed.  Delete all the Live View hardware and firmware.  Replace all that stuff with the Z6 EVF, sensor, and firmware.  Wow, a lighter, simpler, more reliable, quieter, more versatile, less expensive F mount full frame mirrorless camera.   What a concept.  Maybe with removing all that old hardware Nikon could add IBIS.  Sounds a lot like a Sony A7III, the top selling Sony full frame camera at B&H.  I bet Nikon could get real close to the price of the Sony.  I would pay $2200 or $2300 for the advantage of keeping all my Nikon F mount lenses.  Anywhere close to $2000 -$2200, Nikon would have a waiting list on this camera for the next two years.  Plenty of profit instead of that ugly operating deficit for 2019.  Plenty long enough to make a nice bridge until the Z system has more lenses and some performance improvements.

Ok, sorry for such a long comment.  I would have sent this to Nikon but they don't seem very interested in customer feedback lately.  I think B&H where customer service is still important is a more effective platform for opinions.  Cheers!

Amen!!

+1 to what Lawrence has mentioned above . . .

Good comments, Lawrence C.  And the primary reason so many Nikon DSLR owners aren't switching to Z is because of our F mount lens inventories.  A missed opportunity by Nikon.

One of the most expert, thoughtful and useful comments I've read in a while. Nikon should pay Lawrence a hefty consulting fee. Well done.

Don't forget to read the fine print. Most of the "new" features can only be utilized in live mode shooting. I've owned many Nikon cameras over the previous 20 years, and still shoot a D4, D750, and a D850. 95% of my work is sports and portraits. I have never once used live view in either. The only time I've ever found it useful is to check framing, and occasionally focus in landscape shots.

I'm also highly disappointed in the price of the 120-300 when Sigma (who I'm not a great fan of) has a great f/2.8 in the same range for a third of the cost. True, performance is a little slow, but the sharpness and image quality is simply amazing. Not to mention Tamron is absolutely kicking Nikon's butt w/ the G2 lenses. I say all of this as a former Nikon snob. I still love them, but the D780 is not helping their cause when trying to lie to their customers, and market this camera as something it clearly is not. Hybrid? Don't think so. Not when the mirror has to be up for it to do 1/2 of what Nikon claims.

I will tell you when Live View is invaluable - when you are in a situation where there is a crowd you can't push to the front of. Tilt the panel down, hold the camera above your head, and you can see and frame the shot.

Granted, those skilled at it can do the same without Live View, but it's nice to be able to compose that way.

Stellar comment/review; everyone considering that camera should be aware of what you've written about. I would suggest re-posting this when the camera is officially released. Hat-tip for working in some "Kodachrome" lyrics along the way, too. 

Nikon is losing space, wake up or......

Seriously, why would you WANT an EVF? I just don't get the desire to shoot everything in the equivalent of Live mode when you have a very high quality optical viewfinder instead.

Hi William.  You clearly stated your strong preference for optical viewfinders in your comments.  I totally respect that after shooting with film and digital SLRs for over 40 years.  Perhaps you will never change your opinion and that's fine too.  Let me just say that, being intimately familiar with OVFs over many years, I have found that a high quality EVF can be a real pleasure to use in many shooting conditions.   I'll just name a few of these:

1.  Shooting rapidly (either single frame or continuous).  There is really no time to scrutinize the fine details in the viewfinder, you go for composition and focus point and shoot.   A good EVF is much faster and easier to use in these conditions due to no blackout and because of the 90% coverage with focus points.

2.  Shooting portraits outside of the studio, in natural light or on location.  I am really relying on the camera's focus system here, especially face recognition and Eye AF.  I'm also shooting in continuous high mode since a fraction of a second makes all the difference between a keeper and a throwaway.  Depth of field, white balance, tonal composition, and dynamic range are critical.  The EVF shows me what the camera is recording in all of these categories,, the OVF shows none of them.  Further, shooting on CH causes the mirror and mechanical shutter to struggle; no mirror and electronic shutter gives you a better shooting experience with no loud thrashing sounds from the camera.   While shooters aren't disconcerted by these sounds, inexperienced models often are, and they freeze or look uncomfortable.

3.  Shooting in poor conditions - near darkness, night, rain, snow, concert venues, all of that.  Again there are problems with the OVF getting dark, blacking out, and being unable to keep up.   EVFs do a better job of lighting a dark field of view and helping me get the shot.

4.  Poor eyesight.  My vision was never good and now that I'm older, it's pretty bad.  I can't see subtle nuances in the viewfinder any longer.  I can't really see the sharpest focus point.  I don't think I'm the only photographer with these issues, especially since the younger folks are using cell phones or mirrorless for their photos and videos.  Again, the EVF works better for me because it delivers a more consistent image that's easier for me to see.

I could go on but I'll leave you with these examples.  I think they illustrate my thinking.  But OVF or EVF, let's all hope that Nikon regains some inspiration and innovation that have been fading in recent years, and gives us some products that are second to none!

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