Hear me out on this. Maybe you’ve happened upon the news that Nikon is working on a new camera – and it seems like a pretty big deal. After all, it’s been almost five years since Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras were announced, and we all suspected Nikon would hit back eventually. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. Instead, I’d like to draw your attention to the glowing lens mount shown in one of Nikon’s teaser videos.
Before anything else, here’s the video, the first of Nikon’s two trailers released so far. If you haven’t seen it already, the glowing lens mount makes a dramatic, Interstellar-style entrance right around the 15 second mark, and then again at 1:14:
Perhaps it’s silly of me to get hung up on one of the minor details in a pre-release video that almost certainly won’t appear on the actual camera. The second teaser from Nikon, released just today, makes that pretty clear:
This image from the end of the trailer is probably the nail in the coffin, seeming to show that there is no room for any lights here:
Still, you’ve got to admit that a glowing lens mount isn’t too crazy. Right now, writing this article off the top of my head, I can think of at least a few reasons why Nikon should create a camera with a glowing lens mount and why such a thing would make the world amazing.
- It would be easier to change lenses in dark environments
- It could keep glowing if the lens isn’t properly attached as a warning
- As a flashlight, it would shine from the perfect angle to show you dust particles at night (including the direction they’re flying) to help you change lenses more cleanly
- There’s an immediate advertising benefit for Nikon – “Look at that person with a glowing camera, how fancy!”
I can only think of a couple downsides:
- It would attract bugs
- It would add to the design complexity
The first issue hardly matters, since – assuming Nikon implements it properly – you would be able to turn off the light whenever you needed, or permanently disable it. The second issue is a bigger deal, but you can already find plenty of low-power LEDs that are only a few millimeters across attached to copper wire, so I assume camera companies would be fully capable of doing something like this if they had the desire.
Unfortunately, with each new day of teasers, it seems less and less likely that we’ll get the glowing lens mount we all deserve. I’m going to keep watching Nikon Rumors (we all do it, right?) and who knows – maybe Nikon will surprise us.
Yes, given the number of people who have seen the trailers and lightheartedly thought I wonder, this article is somewhat satirical – but I’m also being serious here. I do think it would be nice to see something like this in a camera, perhaps not as a full glowing lens mount, but at least as an LED to light up the attachment point. As someone who likes night sky and Milky Way photography, exactly the genre Nikon hinted at in its first trailer, a glowing lens mount could indeed be very useful for changing lenses in the dark.
Granted, I know that it’s unlikely, and I also know that a headlamp can do something similar (or just ambient light in most cases). That’s what I’ve been using for years. But sometimes the little details of a camera can make it more intuitive and easy to use, even if those details are far from being strictly necessary. It’s like the magnetic charging cable on my older MacBook Pro – not an essential feature, but something useful and cool that rounds out the laptop’s design in a positive way.
So, if you’ll bear with me a bit longer, here’s what a glowing lens mount would need to do in order to be helpful and avoid being annoying:
- There would need to be a way to turn off the lens mount light entirely, since it’s not a feature that all photographers would want.
- It’s not enough to have a uniform glow around the entire lens mount. Instead, if Nikon were to have a slightly different color or brightness right at the point where the lens is attached, it would make the entire system easier to use. Or, as mentioned above, just a single LED at the attachment point would be good as well.
- Lenses should have an ultra-reflective dot in addition to the white dot they currently have, so the light from the mount can tell you where to attach the lens. This would make the process of changing lenses in the dark almost as easy as during the day.
- When the lens is fully attached, the glow of the mount should turn off completely. This would make it obvious when a lens isn’t properly attached.
- For Milky Way photography, it matters that your eyes can adjust smoothly to the dark. There should be an option to make the mount glow red instead of blue (as shown in the first teaser), since red light doesn’t harm night vision as much. Or, at a minimum, the dimmest setting on the lens mount should be dark enough that it hardly affects your eyes at all at night.
- Similarly, the brightness would need to be adjustable in a menu on the camera, and the LEDs would need to be placed so that none of their light actually enters the path of the photo.
We will probably never see anything like this come to pass, and that’s okay. We’ve gotten by as photographers for decades without glowing lens mounts, and I suspect that will continue to be true for many years in the future. I’m still excited about this mirrorless camera, even though many of the important details are yet to arrive. (Maybe I’ve fallen into the camera hype…)
Then again, perhaps it really is time for Nikon to add some sleek features like a glowing lens mount, especially when such a thing does have practical benefits for photography. Sure, it’s a minor detail, but it is hard to deny that a glowing lens mount would make for cool advertisements (as we’ve already seen) and genuinely help out in certain photographic situations. Done right, there are few drawbacks, since you could always disable the option completely.
That’s my strange opinion, and I’m sticking to it. Who’s with me?