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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?

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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. –  Dan Wolfgang Aug 19 '12 at 20:58
And what about the 7D? :) –  Mike Aug 21 '12 at 11:07
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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

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 only remains one APS-C model in this series, the D300S, which may be the last I suspect. Again here, higher numbers are newer.
  • Four-digit models have cropped sensors (APS-C). There are three sub-series here. The semi-professional D7000 (only one model so far), 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.
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plenty of incorrect-ness there. three digit are enthusiast / semi pro models and are NOT all full frame (the D300/300s is DX crop), edited for you. –  Darkcat Studios Aug 19 '12 at 13:45
Sorry, indeed Nikon still lists the D300S. Since it's so old, I thought it was no longer current which only left full-frame 3-digit models. –  Itai Aug 19 '12 at 17:30
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. –  Dan Wolfgang Aug 19 '12 at 20:57
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. –  Itai Aug 19 '12 at 21:04
@Itai as people regularly trade in used cameras the answer shouldn't just be restricted to current models only. –  Matt Grum Aug 19 '12 at 21:09
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Nikon its difficult(but possible) to classify the series like in Canon.
But its pretty much similar to Canon's by the fact that "pro'ness increases with decrease in the number of digits in name".

Nikon As how you classified Canon:

D3###  series               = "cheap"
D5###, D3## series          = "Enthusiast"
D7###, D8##, D7##  series   = "Semi-Pro"  //Except that 7### is crop sensored
D4 ,D3X series              = "Pro"

This list is how I infer the categories.

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This is wrong. No one would but the D7000 and D5xxx in the same class. D7000 is weather-sealed with dual control-dials and 100% coverage viewfinder. The D5xxx have none of that and are extremely close to the D3xxx models. –  Itai Aug 19 '12 at 12:56
@Itai Thank you. for making me aware of it. –  vivek_jonam Aug 19 '12 at 12:58
D3## definitely falls into the semi-pro category, with some features better than the D7###. You could also say that the D# are pro, including the D1 and D2 series. –  Dan Wolfgang Aug 19 '12 at 21:00
That's not quite right yet, either: the D800 is very much a professional camera (it is the replacement for the D3X as much as it is for the D700), it's just aimed at a different sort of professional than the D4 (which replaces the D3/D3S), one who can shoot under more controlled conditions, whose income depends on the big print, and because most of the segment is independent, who might find it a little difficult to replace $14,000 worth of bodies (the probable price of a pair of fictitious D4Xs) every three years or so. –  user2719 Aug 19 '12 at 21:17
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Don't forget that Nikon used to number their film cameras in a similar manner: Fx, Fxx

The model numbers used to make more sense when a new camera would be brought out only once every couple of years. Since new digital cameras seem to be produced every couple of months the 'old school' numbering system doesn't stand up to the number of cameras available.

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There is little, if any, point in trying to coax some arbitrary level of "pro-ness" out of Nikon's model numbering scheme. The last time you could do that was at the end of 2003, when Nikon's DSLR lineup consisted of the D1X, D2H and D100, and fewer digits meant better bodies. The D70 broke that model shortly afterward in 2004.

About the only thing you can say at this instant and be right about it is that the Dx family are full-sized pro models, the Dxxx family are compact pro models, and everything else is consumer.

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