Is Nikon preparing a 24-megapixel D3 replacement?

Does Nikon have a 24-megapixel D3 replacement in the works?That's what eagle-eyed viewers in the DP Review forums are thinking after one user found references to a 24-megapixel camera in the company's latest firmware update.

Nikon D3Does Nikon have a 24-megapixel D3 replacement in the works?

That's what eagle-eyed viewers in the DP Review forums are thinking after one user found references to a 24-megapixel camera in the company's latest firmware update. How? By simply searching for the string "D3X" and finding the following:

6048x4032 24.4 M

4544x3024 13.7 M

3024x2016 6.1 M

5056x4032 20.4 M

3792x3024 11.5 M

2528x2016 5.1 M

3968x2640 10.5 M

2976x1976 5.9 M

1984x1320 2.6 M

Hmm. Yet one post by Thom Hogan, author of several books on Nikon dSLRs, stirs the excitement by suggesting that while a common code base for firmware is the likely reason that snippets for future models are showing up in the update, in practice there could already be D3 cameras in the wild sporting the bigger sensors. A snippet of his post:

Sure. But the real reason is almost certainly that there are some D3 bodies out there with the new sensor being tested.

If this is true, then the boys over at Wired are in a tizzy. Since manufacturers generally cripple their cameras in software to differentiate the product line, that means that gaining access to those extra pixels just requires a hack. It's only a matter of time...

(If you're not familiar with the D3, here's a nice rundown at CNET's Crave blog.)