If Nikon naming conventions continue, we may possibly see a Nikon D3xs, an incremental update on the Nikon D3x at some point before the D4x is released. However the closer we get to the expected D4 announcement (late summer 2011), the less likely a D3xs becomes.
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Thom Hogan has published his 2011 predictions (see source link below).
He expects the D4 to be announced by August 2011, which tracks well with prior releases.
He also predicts a new Nikon 18mp sensor with at least D3-like capability, maybe better. We'd be surprised if ISO performance was worse than the D3S, since this isn't an area you want to step backwards with your top of the line pro workhorse.
Thom also predicts a completely new AF system (the CAM 3500 will be 4 years old by then, so we'd be amazed if it didn't have a new AF system), and a better metering system upgraded from D7000.
Other predictions include hard core video features (obvious), Integrated GPS (not so sure), USB 3.0 (would make sense), and updated UDMA specs (again, makes sense).
Thom also poses the question "will Nikon release a D4h and D4x, or D4 only?". Assuming there is no D3Xs (he's not expecting one), the D3X will be coming up for its 3rd birthday by late summer 2011, and will be prime for an update. Putting out a D4X with the new AF system (and presumably new, higher-resolution sensor) around that time does make a lot of sense. But as he also points out, with the D700 replacement expected as well, that's a lot of new FX bodies in a short time to push into the lineup.
Currently on his home page (July 26th archive if viewing at a later date), Thom Hogan claims Sony is considering dropping their FX sensor line for economic reasons. He extrapolates this into meaning there possibly won't be a D3xs sensor, based on the fact the the 24mp sensor is based on the the Sony design.
First of all, while it is true Nikon and Sony work closely on some sensors, including the D3x sensor, the Nikon sensor is a much improved version of the Sony A900 sensor. Presumably this additional work was done by Nikon (and at this point they've already had 18 months to develop it further), so Sony dropping FX at this point should have minimal effect on a camera that should be out being field tested in the very near future, if not already.
Secondly is the broader implication - the future of FX if Sony can't make it profitable. Is there demand for FX? if you read internet forums, then it sounds like everyone wants FX. However if you look at sales numbers, 90%+ of Nikon's DSLR sales are D90 and lower, then a good proportion of the other 10% is the D300/D300s - so FX cameras currently represent around 5% (give or take a few points) of their total sales. It is 3 years since Nikon introduced the D3, their first Full Frame DSLR, so only 5% or so of unit sales isn't that impressive. Looking at Canon, their new pro sports camera, the 1D Mark IV, isn't full frame, having a 1.3x crop sensor. Is demand for an FX offering there? Absolutely from pro's and more wealthy hobbyists. But with the recent trend for smaller and lighter, combined with mirrorless and Canon's recent murmurings about an upcoming smaller DSLR, if anything the current trend appears to be going against FX, not towards it for the mass market.
Just when you thought the Nikon medium format rumors were dead and buried, NR reports that Nikon UK have been surveying UK medium format photographers, asking about gear they use etc.
As NR points out, this is more likely a survey related to the D3x (and possibly plans for a D3xs or D4x), since the marketing of this camera was largely based around its value as an alternative to Medium Format.
NR has posted specs for a Nikon D3xs, which include 24 MP ISO-100 to 3200 with Lo-1, Lo-2, Hi-1, Hi-2, 5 fps. (12-bit), 3 fps. (14-bit), 9 fps (High-speed crop), 1 fps (16-bit), New NEF Metering mode and JPEG Metering mode, Full HD with RAW mode and available in June 2010 after Canon 1Ds Mark IV.
The usually very optimistic NikonRumors rates this at only 1%. Most of the specs sound about right - we are expecting a D3xs to be based on the existing chip, and have video added. The NEF/JPEG metering modes doesn't make sense - NEF and JPEG are methods to store the data (basically file formats, one of which is compressed). This doesn't occur until the data has been captured, so why on earth would they be metered differently? What happens if you shoot NEF+JPEG?