Which is the first Nikon DX DSLR that has small mirror

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by bebu_lamar, May 16, 2015.

  1. If I remember correctly the early Nikon DSLR's use full frame mirror (full frame shutter too?) so which is the first one that has the smaller mirror?
  2. There were some early cameras that used the N90S body and a Kodak digital unit that attached to to it after you removed the camera back. Great big heavy thing. A lot of that size and weight was batteries but they did a credible job with the limitations of the time. This was in the mid/late 90's and they were pricey. There was a version that used a Canon body as well. To my knowledge, and I may be missing something, the first DX Nikon was the D1. I've used that one too and can say if it had been my introduction to digital I would still be shooting all film. I thought it was awful, slow and clumsy. But it was digital!! The D1-X, which I still have and use once in a while, was much much better, the D1-H was too. Both used the smaller mirror/viewfinder. There may well have been something else in between but I've not seen it.
    Rick H.
  3. There are two cameras that Kodak built on the basis of the Nikon Pronea 6i (which was an APS film camera) - the DCS 315 and the DCS 330 - so those would not have a full frame shutter and mirror. They did not have DX-sized sensors though: The 315's had a crop factor of 2.6 relative to 135 film, while the 330's was larger with a factor of 1.9; they were launched in 1998 and 1999, respectively.

    So, like Rick, I think the first Nikon DX DSLR was the D1.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The first Nikon DSLR designed from the beginning for DX was the D70. Prior to that, the D100 was converted from the
    N80/F80 so that the D100 has a mirror for 35mm film.
  5. Thanks Shun, I think the D1, D100 and D50 had large full frame mirrors. The D70 certainly has the DX size mirror but I don't know about the D2.
  6. D50 had large full frame mirror​
    The D50 was introduced later than the D70 and certainly did not have a full-frame mirror.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    For a brief moment, I thought I give the wrong answer earlier.

    In 1999, Nikon introduced the D1, which was based on the F5 and F100 designs. E.g. the AF module is the same on all three cameras but the D1 has no interchangeable viewfinder, unlike the F5. The subsequent D1H and D1X introduced in 2001 are variations from the original D1.
    In 2002, Nikon announced the D100 in February but started shipping around July, August. That is based on the F80/N80. Earlier I forgot that Nikon introduced the D2H in July 2003 before the D70 in early 2004. However, even though the D2H was completely designed for digital, not a modification from a film SLR design, it continued to have a film-size mirror. Therefore, the D70 has to be the first with a small mirror for DX. The D70 was the first sub-$1000 Nikon DSLR; it was mass produced and could justify its own design. That was the beginning of the massive migration from film SLRs to digital.
    In early 2005, Nikon introduced the D50 and D70S together, replacing the D70 that had BGLOD issues, and they added the D200 at the end of 2005. The D50 was the first Nikon DSLR that uses SD cards.

    See how much smaller the D200's (2005, top) mirror is compared to that on the D100 (2002)
  8. The D50 was introduced later than the D70 and certainly did not have a full-frame mirror.​
    Although the D50 was introduced after the D70 but this picture from dpreview it does look like it has a full size mirror to me.
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I am afraid that it is difficult to judge mirror size from images. On some images the D70's mirror doesn't look small either.
    But since I have the D200, I can confirm that it has a small mirror. Therefore, the transition was in 2004 to 2005.
  10. The D70 was the first iTTL DX Nikon camera.
    The D1 and the D100 were both DX cameras (sensors 23.7 x 15.6 mm)

    The D800 was the first Nikon Full frame camera, 2012.
  11. Thanks Wayne! As Shun has answered my question the D70 was the first to use small mirror.
    Also first Nikon Full Frame DSLR was the D3.
  12. That's not correct, BeBu. The D70 does not (!) have a small mirror.<br>According to my Vernier calipers, it has the full 35 mm format dimensions.
  13. Well thanks QG. So then which is the first to use the small mirror. I am sure the D200 has a small mirror but don't think it's the first.
  14. The D800 was the first Nikon Full frame camera, 2012.​
    It actually the fifth - Nikon's first FX camera was the D3 (August 2007), followed by the D700 in July 2008, D3X in December 2008, D3S in October 2009 and D4 in January 2012. The D800 was announced simultaneously with the D800E in February 2012.
    I am sure the D200 has a small mirror but don't think it's the first.​
    Only the D1, D1H/D1X, D100, D2H, D70, D2X, D70S/D50 came before the D200. So what's the size of the mirror in the D2X/D2H?
  15. So what's the size of the mirror in the D2X/D2H?​
    Shun already answered that. Here's a reference that seems to confirm that the D200 was indeed the first - even though the links in that post no longer work: http://www.planetnikon.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=1682
  16. Yeah all the top line cameras have full size mirror regardless of sensor size. So all D1 and D2 have full size mirror. Shun seemed to think it's the D70 and Dieter thought it's the D200. I think it's the D70 too but Q.G. said it has full size mirror. I thought I remembered going to store and saw the camera with small mirror for the first time and it was one of the low end camera.
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    This is the type of threads that unless you have the camera in question, it is very easy to give inaccurate answers, as I have done to some degree.
    While the D300 (and D300S) is not in the same class as the D1, D2, D3, and D4, it was certainly the top-of-the-line DX from late 2007 to 2011 or so when it was formally discontinued. However, the D300 has a small mirror for DX.
    Essentially the implementation that DX DSLRs only need a smaller mirror and smaller viewfinder started around 2004, 2005. The D2H, introduced in July 2003, was the first Nikon DSLR designed from scratch, without a base from film SLRs. The D2H uses a then brand new AF module, the Multi-CAM 2000. Eventually only one film SLR, namely the F6 introduced a year later, would use that same AF module. All four Nikon DSLRs prior to the D2H, namely the three in the D1 family plus D100, are modified from film SLR designs and they use D-TTL.
    I still own a D2X. As far as I can tell, its mirror could be a bit smaller than those on FX DSLRs, but it is essentially a full-35mm-frame mirror. I never own any one of those two-digit bodies from D40 to D90, and it is hard to tell definitively from web images whether the D50 and D70 have small mirrors or not. Maybe people who actually own them can comment.
    However, there is no doubt that the D200 and D300 have small mirrors.
    BTW, iTTL was introduced in July 2003 as Nikon introduced the D2H and SB-800 simultaneously. Those were the first iTTL body and first iTTL flash. However, being the first, the entire D2 family are dual D-TTL and iTTL compatible, so is the SB-800. The D70, introduced a few month later in early 2004, is iTTL only (no more D-TTL). The four DSLRs in the D2 family are the only ones that are both D-TTL and i-TTL compatible. Among flashes, only the SB-800 and the later SB-600 fall in that category.
  18. Now to think of it Shun although the D2 series was designed from the ground up it may share some of the design with the F6 and thus it may use the same mirror and the same AF module .
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    BeBu, the rapid transition from 35mm film to digital started around 2004. Along with the Canon's first Digital Rebel a few months ahead of it, the $1000 D70 was the first affordable Nikon DSLR with 6MP that is beginning to be capable for some serious photography. Of course, now 11 years later, looking back the D70 appears to be very poor in 2015 standards.
    If you need to pin down exactly which Nikon DX DSLR was the first to have a small mirror, you need to verify the D70 and D50. The D70 and D70S are essentially the same camera, except that the D70S has a slightly larger LCD on the back plus a couple of trivial differences. Given that the D70 was introduced over a year before the D50, if you think the D50 has a full size mirror, most likely the D200 is the first with a small mirror designed for DX.
  20. O ye of little faith, Shun. ;-)<br>No need to check the D70 and D70s again. As measured and mentioned, they have a full size mirror. Definitely.<br><br>I don't have a D50, so i wouldn't dare to say anything about its mirror.
  21. I just checked my wife's D50: it has a full size FX mirror, and a DX size shutter.
  22. Now that the D50 question has been answered, it appears that the first camera with a smaller mirror was indeed the D200.
    Aside from providing the answer to a bit of historic trivia - is there actually any technical benefit and/or drawback from having a full-size mirror in a DX camera? Was shrinking the mirror in DX bodies from the D200 onward accompanied by shrinking the mirror box too? The flange-to-sensor distance has to be the same for DX and FX - so the mirror-box can only shrink in width and height but not in depth. Any merit in that except that it might allow for a smaller camera body?
    I owned the D70 - never took notice of the size of the mirror and remember that the viewfinder experience of that camera wasn't exactly satisfactory; and no comparison to, for example, the D200.
  23. Was shrinking the mirror in DX bodies from the D200 onward accompanied by shrinking the mirror box too?​

    In a word, yes.
    While the mirror in the D300 is considerably smaller, the mirror box is only marginally so. There is a bit more plastic on either side of the mirror on the D300, and the focusing screen is larger on the D300, keeping them from shrinking the mirror box further.
    There's quite a bit of unused space both in the mirror box and in the viewfinder of the D50, so Nikon could have used a larger focusing screen for a better viewfinder experience, had they chosen to do so. I guess it was a cost saving move, since it was a consumer grade camera.
  24. If they use the full frame focusing screen and when using full frame lenses we can see the entire full frame FOV but the sensor only capture a portion of it.
  25. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If they use the full frame focusing screen​
    No, Nikon doesn't use full-frame focusing screen on any DX body, starting from the D1.
    Part of the problem on this thread is that people assume that there are only two mirror sizes, FX or DX. However, I think Nikon's transition to using a small mirror was more gradual. See the image of a D800 below. On a full-frame mirror box, the "wall" area on both sides of the mirror is very narrow, as pointed out by the yellow arrow below. The "wall" on the D50 is clearly wider and the mirror on the D50, while larger than the mirror on the D200, is smaller than the mirror for the D800.
    To me, it looks more like there are at least three different mirror sizes.
  26. If they use the full frame focusing screen and when using full frame lenses we can see the entire full frame FOV but the sensor only capture a portion of it.​
    I wasn't suggestion they use a FX focusing screen in a DX body, but they could have used one larger than they did in the D50. The focusing screen in the D300 is larger than the one in the D50, despite the smaller mirror box. When you look into the viewfinder of the D50 there is a lot of room on the top and sides of the viewfinder image whereas the image in the D300 extends further out to the edge of the viewfinder.

    I also compared the D50 and D300 to my D600. The mirror box on the D50, with it's "FX" sized mirror extends, in the corners, to roughly about even with the lens mount. On the D600, similar to what Shun shows above on the D800, the mirror box corners extend slightly past the edges of the lens mount. Leading me to think the mirror on FX DSLR's may be slightly larger as well.

    I'm sure when the D50 was made, Nikon was probably taking advantage of using parts they already had on hand, or had the dies and tooling for anyway. The mirror in my D50 appears to be the exact same size and shape of the one in my F75, even down to the tabs projecting from both sides close to the front edge.
  27. Out of interest, doesn't whether the viewfinder has "100% coverage" influence the details of mirror size? The D800 is "100%", the D700 is "95%", for example. I no longer have both to compare, but I imagine that there may be subtle variations on mirror size within a category. Otherwise, interesting historical thread. I've always vaguely assumed that a smaller mirror should make it easier to hit a higher frame rate (less weight to flap around, slightly less far to move), although obviously the D3 and D4 show that heavy engineering trumps lightweight design...

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