Progress at Nikon Thailand; No D800 Announcement

Two weeks have elapsed since Nikon reported extensive flooding at their factory in Ayutthaya, Thailand. The building is still under 2 meters of water and flood waters have not begun to recede yet. Thom Hogan reported today that Nikon has rented a facility just outside of Bangkok, Thailand. They have asked some of their workers to report to the new location starting next week. While there are still numerous obstacles to overcome, any word of progress is a blessing after weeks of seemingly endless bad news.

Nikon reported that they suspended work at their factory in Rojana Industrial Park on October 6, well ahead of the worst of the flooding. We assume they were able to move whatever inventory and some work in progress to higher ground in advance of the impending disaster. The Thailand facility handles manufacturing and assembly of their consumer DSLR cameras, including the D3100, D5100, D7000 and D300s, as well as numerous DX and even some of the low end FX lenses.

Sony Thailand Facility Under Water

Sony Thailand Facility Under Water - PATTARACHAI PREECHAPANICH, Bangkok Post.

The rumors of the rumored D800 announcement being delayed seem to be true. A rumor negating a rumor does not bring validity to either rumor, but Nikon is obviously focused on more critical issues, including how to produce their current lineup of DSLR cameras and lenses with their factory under water and no prospect of resuming production for months. Even though Nikon’s Thailand facility was not likely to be responsible for manufacturing the D800, there may have been components made at that facility for the new camera. Furthermore, their suppliers and partners are undoubtedly also being affected by the flooding, not the least of which is Sony, likely manufacturer of the D800’s rumored 36MP sensor, who also has a facility under water in Thailand. According to Bangkok Post, the Sony facility has been seriously damaged. The facility produces electrical components, including CMOS image sensors used in digital cameras. Sony sensors are used in several Nikon DSLR cameras, including the D5100 and D7000.

Update from Nikon on Thailand Flood Damage

Nikon has released an update regarding the damage due to the flooding in Thailand. This is the second official release about the flooding. The factory in Rojana Industrial Park in Ayutthaya, Thailand is currently under water at a depth of about 6 feet. The water level has not changed since flooding began on October 12. Nikon shut the plant down on October 6 and reports no one was injured at the facility due to flooding.

Flooding in Rojana Industrial Park in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Photo: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

Because Nikon has no access to the facility, they are unable to determine the full extent of the damage. They are currently attempting to estimate the full impact of the damage to their business and will release a report when information is available.

At this time there is no timetable for return to normal operation at the plant. The entire industrial park will need to be drained by pumping before any work toward recovery can begin. Nikon is preparing to purchase new equipment and considering moving production to other Nikon facilities.

According to Thom Hogan, a Nikon expert, cameras produced at the Thailand facility include the D3100, D5100, D7000 and D300s. In addition to these cameras, lenses are also made at the facility include DX lenses: 18-55mm, 18-105mm VR and 18-200mm VR II, well as full-frame lenses 70-300mm VR, 24-120mm f/4 VR G and 28-300mm VR.

Nikon to Hold Presentation in Marrakech, Morocco October 24-26, 2011

According to a post on Nikon Rumors, Nikon will be holding a product presentation in Marrakech, Morocco on October 24-26, 2011. Marrakech is an important historical center, with both a mixture of old and new world, as well as boasting one of the largest public markets in the world, Jamaa el Fna. Such a destination would provide a colorful, vibrant place to introduce a new camera such as the D800.

The D800 is rumored to be introduced on October 26, 2011. Its high resolution and low-light capabilities could easily be demonstrated in Marrakech where exotic costumes, snake charmers, magicians, gardens, cafes, and nightlife are nearly endless.

Sony to produce 36MP full-frame sensor for Nikon D800

Sony makes the sensors in several of Nikon’s DSLR cameras, including the Nikon D7000, D5100, D300 and D90. We speculate that Sony may also be involved in the D800’s 36MP sensor.

The next Sony full-frame camera, the Alpha (A99 possibly) should be announced by early 2012. We expect it to also use the same 36 megapixel sensor developed for Nikon for use in the D800. The main difference will be that Sony will use SLT with an electronic viewfinder, while Nikon will keep the traditional SLR design and an optical viewfinder.

Updated D800 Specifications

We expect the Nikon D800 to be announced in just a few weeks. The Nikon D800 Specifications continue to trickle in the form of rumors that paint the picture of a very desirable camera. Many of the previous gripes with the D700 are being addressed, including a new 100% viewfinder (the D700 only had 95% coverage).

The auto focus system will also be improved. Hopefully it will have a wider spread of points, and not just an increased number. The previous points were clustered in the center, creating frustration when trying to compose with the subject off center. One novel feature that is rumored to be added is face recognition.

Nikon Rumors mentions that Nikon has been acquiring USB 3.0 chips. These could allow fast in-camera transfers for those with the latest hardware.