Nikon Rumored to be Looking into Carbon Fiber DSLR Bodies

Nikon Rumors received an interesting anonymous tip a few days ago from someone claiming to be working in the aerospace materials industry.

The tipster claimed that his company is currently working with Nikon towards developing a carbon fiber body for their top-of-the-line full-sized DSLR cameras. Specifically, the body would be made of “resin-infused 3D woven CFRP”. CFRP stands for carbon-fiber reinforced polymer.

Benefits over existing magnesium-alloy bodies would be increased stiffness and reduced weight. No word on how much of the body the carbon-fiber would constitute (it could possibly be used as an outer shell), or how its introduction might affect the price of camera bodies.

What are your thoughts? Is this rumor believable?

  • Josh Mishell

    Can you make lenses out of it to make them a lot lighter?

  • Chung Dha Lam

    Going to be super light and even more expensive!!! But yeah its the future for more rigid strong camera’s. But yeah lenses would be great too.

  • Guesty

    the glasses in the lens what makes it heavy not its body.

  • Laura Shanae

    Why not? My #1 concern with going into photojournalism is that my camera setup is too heavy to carry for hours at a time. After a wedding, my wrists ache.

    But it needs to be durable. I want to be able to check my camera equipment as luggage on a plane without having to worry that the monkeys will crack the camera case.

  • Cornell

    If the cost differential between regular DSLR bodies and carbon-fiber DSLR bodies is commensurate with the difference between regular tripods and carbon-fiber tripods, then a sizeable number of photographers woud find carbon-fiber DSLR body to be too high, potentially making a carbon-fiber body not commercially viable. Nikon will need to bring down carbon fiber’s cost.

  • Anonymous

    Properly engineered CF will be far stiffer and lighter than magnesium, which is ancient technology. The increase in cost will be minimal because of the small amount of carbon fiber involved. Fabrication might even be cheaper, because of automated autoclaving.

  • tsy87

    my guess is Nikon will apply the CF in different parts of the body while leaving some parts magnesium alloy… I would imagine the main shutter housing will be a magnesium alloy structure nestled into a cf outer structure.

    either way im excited to see what they do with it… I’m glad Nikon is still trying to think about more then just pushing out higher megapixel sensors… *cough*

  • Joakim Fjeldli

    Stiff carbon fiber will break if impacted forcefully. Just look at carbon fiber F1 race car bodies. When their hit, the chassis disintegrates due to it absorbing the shock, thus potentially saving the drivers life. Lose your carbon fiber dslr body on the ground from a meter or so up, it might shatter…

  • Thomas Schmidt

    Not as if you should drop your camera anyway. But I imagine that a carbon reinforced polymer will behave differently than a normal carbon fiber laminate. This is most likely going to be a process where the liquid polymer is infused with short strand carbon fiber and injected into a mould.

  • Thomas Schmidt

    Though the same process could be used to build lens housings and make them stiffer/lighter, for the stiffness of metal at the weight of a plastic housing. Point is that lenses if dropped likely take more damage than a rubberized housing. When you dang a metal lens, you’ll possibly crack a CFRP lens…

  • QuBe

    Short strand impregnated resin would work. But then you’ve only got a marginally stronger / more durable product than what is possible with current high strength plastics.
    Woven laminates are unfeasible, if not from a cost perspective with the almost entirely manual production required, then from the incredible difficulty of fabricating the intricate framework of a camera body. Carbon fiber laminate is a challenge to to work with, to say the least.
    As I see it, the gains of carbon fiber in a camera body can’t offset the highly elevated cost in materials and production.
    For lens barrels, it would be more viable since the parts are structurally simple and the improved strength and lower mass would be a boon. The additional cost could also be more easily justified since lenses are far less prone to obsolescence than camera bodies.
    I could see a D4 body in carbon fiber being ~ $16K…a lot of cash to be spending on a body that will be superseded in 2-3 years…

  • Thomas Schmidt

    Sounds about right to me, your calculations as well as the resistance perspective. I’m not quite sure just how strong a well done short strand product would be, but keeping in mind that short strand glass fiber products are rather applicable in areas where you look to improve chafing resistance rather than actual strength improvement, that would make sense.
    Obviously woven products are totally out of shot, I agree with you there, unless they invent a small strand spinning machine that would “spin” the body cast and then impregnate it with resin, but that seems to be a very high cost investment, if it is feasible at all.

  • QuBe

    Maybe they’re coming up with a new CF injection molding method, because it would be one beast of a task to lay this up in any kind of laminate: :D

    Personally, I don’t mind if a camera body has some mass like a magnesium casting.
    But for lenses, I’m all on board for light housings that retain the same precision and strength as metal ones.
    I used to have a Sigma 18-50 2.8…while it was tight and built like a tank, it weighed nearly as much. (And this was just a little zoom!) It was one of the reasons I sold it on Craig’s.