When I started this blog, over seven years ago, the camera industry was in the middle of an authentical revolution, that started with the launch of the 2,7 Mp. Nikon D1, almost ten years earlier.
I bought a digital compact in 1999 and a Nikon D1X in 2003, and soon became part of a small, but quickly growing learning community of digital camera users.
With falling prices and the rise of the entry level DSLR, some three years later, came the opportunity to help out others, a cause that I embraced with much enthusiasm and frought virtual friendships that last until this very day.
Those were exciting times. With every – rumor laden, feverously awaited – camera launch, something new happened.
Vastly improved low-light performance, radically improved AF, full frame, dramatically improved resolution, life view, incorporated video, far better battery life and, last but not least, a rapidly expanding assortment of very necessary, crop-sensor UWA and motorized (AF-S) lenses, among others.
Not any more.
Cameras like the D1, the D3s, the D700, the D800 and the D90, all milestones in camera history, are exactly that: milestones of history past.
The revolutionary tech trickled down to – marketing defined – enthusiast and entry-level camera segments and produced the likes of the handicapped “Baby-FX” full-frame models D610 and D750, the quality control crippled D600 and the Nikon unworthy D3K and D5K series.
To be fair, Nikon also produced the offspring of its best-selling ever D90, in the shape of the very capable and complete D7K series, which, in my mind, is the very best bang for the buck you can get from the line-up, right now.
It is no wonder that Nikon took well over 8 years to replace the venerable D300 (launched on August 23, 2007) by the D500 (released April 2016), because the D7000, D7100 and now D7200 are, technically, pretty much as good as or better than the equivalent D-hundred series models, especially when you take their price-tag into consideration.
Although the D500 is definitely a worthy enthusiast camera that incorporates a very sophisticated AF system and the Expeed V processing engine – both inherited from the, also new, D5 – it yet remains to be seen if it is really worth the $ 900 premium over the D7200.
Take into consideration, for example, that the camera has less resolution (20 vs. 24 Mp.) and that, for the first time in the long history of the D-hundred series, Nikon did away with the built-in flash.
I think that’s a blunder, and a big one, at that.
You might argue that someone who shells out $ 2.000 for a semi-pro camera will likely already own an optional flash but, for me, the big issue is not being able to remotely control external flashes with the built-in in iTTL commander mode (like on the D300 and D7K series), and the principal reason to shy away from this, otherwise desirable, camera.
For some strange reason, Nikon has been launching a lot of crippled cameras, lately, even in its full-frame series.
Built-in Wifi or GPS is, in a sorta useless way, cool.
But commander mode, FP high-speed sync and the ability to meter with manual focus lenses is way, way more important, especially for those of us who need an economical back-up camera.
It may be understandable that the D3300 still does not include these features, but their absence in the $ 800 D5500 is, by now, frankly absurd.
It is also ridiculous that the D610 and even the D750 ($ 1.500 and $ 2.000, respectively) are entry level in every way.
They have a maximum shutter speed of 1/4.000 s. and X-sync at only 1/200 s., while the D610 exposure brackets only up to 3 frames.
Meanwhile, the far cheaper D7200 features 1/8.000 s., syncs at 1/250-1/320 s. and exposure brackets at up to 9 frames, among other advantages.
Moreover, both the D610 and D750 even lack the eternal 10-pin connector to connect stuff like a GPS, remote timers and other useful optionals and are, in terms of build quality, much more similar to the lower- than to high end.
While the D500 is still mainly (although not entirely) built out of magnesium alloy, on these two cameras the lens-mount is screwed onto plastic. Very resistent plastic, but plastic anyway.
One would expect a tad more from a $ 2.000 camera.
Likewise, it is incomprehensible that, at a time that the 36,4 Mp. Nikon D810 is considered by many pros as a serious replacement for their expensive mid-format cameras, Nikon launches a flagship like the $ 6.500 D5, featuring a tad over half the resolution (20,4 Mp.), which is even inferior to an entry-level like the 24,2 Mp. D3300 which costs $ 560, including a 18-55mm lens.
What are they thinking?
Even though the D800 received considerable flak for it’s “outrageous” megapixel count at launch time (2012), today there is’t a soul who does not appreciate its fantastic resolution.
In restrospect, Nikon introduced their not very desirable version of a mirror-less camera way behind the competition, keep at it with their – essentially flawed – Coolpix P&S series, were late with full-frame and, for almost a decade, played catch-up in the low-light race with Canon, until they finally won that particular battle with the D700.
But that was 2008, and this is now.
As said: the D500 is interesting but handicapped and not in the least way exciting, at least not to me (XQD slot, anyone?).
Quite a few experts consider that the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art outperforms its G-Nikkor homonym, something unthinkable only half a decade ago, while Nikon have definitely lost the race in UHD video, for example, where even GoPro, and established brands like Panasonic, Olympus and Sony, in particular, have set the pro standard with their mirror-less models.
Today, the market is mature, boring and clearly split.
If you want 4K video you go with a Sony mirror-less (A7s, A7r), Panasonic GH4 or GoPro and if you want uncompromising still photography you go with the Nikon D810.
So much so, that I’m now seeing even medium-format pro-shooters swapping their $ 50K Phase One systems for the speed, precision and convenience of the D810.
That said, Nikon has not done or launched anything that really called my attention ever since the D800, meaning: exciting enough to stay up to write an article about at 04:00 AM.
Sure, I might write about the D5, the D750, the D810, or the D7200.
I could write about the surprising Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sport, a focal range for which I have been clamoring for years and for which Nikon still only offers a measly 200-500mm f/5.6, a focal range its competitors, first Tokina then Sigma, moved well beyond two years ago, considering their most recent offerings.
Given Nikon’s relatively poor track record in the medium-low end, I’m afraid they are not competitive here, either.
So, why bother?
Today, I am not eagerly awaiting a new Nikon launch anymore, I am not particularly excited about their new products or features and would most definitely not swap my D7100 for a D500.
Moreover, the experts have taken their claim, I mostly agree, wish I had the cash, but – most of all – wonder what the heck else I can contribute.
When Nikon Reviews started out, photo sites and Flickr were still alive, new cameras were still exciting, DX lenses were pretty rare, and we were all still learning.
Today, none of that is true.
At the same time, you, the visitor, always simply wanted your particular questions answered, and I can – hopefully – still make a contribution with some of the older stuff that about 3.000 people keep visiting every month.
Even though I still may be writing something every once and a while – on astrophotography, for example –, as far as Nikon Reviews is concerned, it’s time to say goodbye.
I’d like to thank all of you who have been visiting and contributing here over the past seven and a half years, and hope you’ll come back every once in a while to refresh your memory or to check out some of the new, not Nikon, stuff.
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