Nikon executives have been pacing the floor today as they expect a huge drop – perhaps as much as 20-35% – in the company’s share price at the market’s opening bell. Over the weekend, Nikon frantically attempted to reassure some of its largest investors and retail partners there was no reason to panic. What happened? By all respects, Nikon has been on a roll with the D800 and D4 model introductions. Most experts have attributed Nikon with hitting it out of the park. The issue uncovered this weekend, however, is that the D800 is actually much better than originally thought or reported thus far. Surprise, surprise… the D800 is actually capable of an effective resolution of 108MP!
Conveniently left out of the original product marketing material and technical details, was the fact that the D800’s sensor has a substrate capable of capturing additional detail. When combined with sophisticated interpolation software (also not revealed to the public), it is able to triple the camera’s resolution. No doubt this newly discovered feature will lead to increased D800 sales. But the more troubling concern is the potential impact on the sales of Nikon lenses. When a photographer can take pictures with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, and is able to obtain high resolution crops similar to what a 105mm macro, 300mm, or 200-400mm lens can produce, why purchase additional lenses?
This capability, affectionately known within the Nikon Engineering ranks, as “turbo mode”, was apparently going to be introduced in approximately six to nine months. D800 owners would have been able to activate it after paying an additional $750. This would have marked the first time a camera manufacturer charged a fee for activating a feature after the camera had been shipped from the factory. Nikon customers would have been required to purchase a software key unique to their camera to enable this feature, so as to prevent people from sharing the code. But one of the Nikon engineers accidently stumbled upon a menu and button sequence that enabled this capability, thus bypassing the need for an activation code. In the software industry, such capabilities are often purposely inserted into the code. They are known as “Easter eggs”, since they require a bit of hunting to find. Most of the time, they are rather innocuous and simply result in a humorous message flashing onto the user’s screen. In computer games, Easter eggs may reveal some additional options not available in the menu. Nikon’s Easter egg, however, unlocks a significant capability – one that it was counting on for additional revenue. As with most modern day secrets, once the menu and button sequence was discovered, it went viral on the internet. Although we have yet to see the substrate and interpolation software engineering specifications, we can say that the initial test results are nothing short of jaw-dropping!