How are Nikon model numbers classified?
How does Nikon series numbers work? For example for Canon is pretty simple:
- 1000 series is "cheap"
- 100 series (600D, 650D) is "enthusiast"
- 10 (50D, 60D) series is semi-pro
- 5 and 1 series are pro DSLRs
How can Nikon models can be classified?
It's worth pointing out that the example for Canon model numbers are for DSLRs. Canon's film cameras (EOS and FD mount) used unique naming/numbering, too.
It's actually pretty similar except that they changed numbering when they run out of digits in some series.
For the current lineup:
- One-digit DSLRs are top-of-the-line full-frame cameras. The higher the number the newer. So D4 is newer than D3. There are sometimes variants such as D3S which is specialized for low-light and D3X which is specialized for high-resolution.
- Three-digit DSLRs are semi-professional cameras, both APS-C crop and Full frame. These include the D800 which also has a D800E variant which lacks an anti-alias filter but is otherwise identical, and the older D700. There is one current APS-C model in this series, the D500. Again here, higher numbers are newer.
- Four-digit models have cropped sensors (APS-C). There are three sub-series here. The semi-professional D7xxx, the basic D5xxx series and the entry-level D3xxx series.
For the older lineup:
- 2-digit models where lower meant more basic and higher numbers were better. So a D40 to D60 was entry level and a D70 to D90 was mid-range. These were the last models of their series as the numbers had no where to go from there.
- Before the D3, all Nikon DSLRs with APS-C. This included large professional models like the D2S and D2H.
One-digit models are the top-of-the-line, but are not necessarily full frame. The D1 series were crop, D2 series were crop, and D3 is when full frame was introduced. With three-digit models, I'm going to argue that higher numbers are not newer. The D100-300 series are crop while the D700-800 are full frame. If there's a D400, then that theory is out the window.
In the current lineup, 1-digit are full-frame and I think it is extremely probably we will never see a 3-digit crop-sensor model again once the D300S is discontinued. The tendency is to move more users to full-frame as the market for cropped-sensor cameras is being eaten by more and more mirrorless offerings.