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All Your Bases Are Belong to Nikon

Devon Seated

Possibly one of the worst-kept secrets ever in recent photography history, the Nikon D700 was announced a few days ago for release amazingly, at the end of July. Now this particular camera was expected as everyone figured Nikon would have to answer Canon's 5D eventually. I think most people however, were surprised at the speed that this camera actually came into being considering the D3 was just released late last year. On paper, its specs are pretty darn enticing. With the D3's sensor and AF crammed into a D300-like body, a few extras thrown in like sensor dust cleaning, and a price tag that's $2k less than the D3 (but ~$1.3k more than the D300), it's a pretty compelling product for those who desire a full-frame sensor and superb AF on a smaller, lighter body. Myself included.

A few issues prevent me from switching tracks at the end of this month however. One, chances are high that Canon's 5D upgrade (aka 5D Mark II) will be announced/released later this year. While there are doubts that this new iteration can compete with the features on the D700 (if Canon's recent history with their 20-40D line is to be any clue), I don't think it really has to. My biggest complaint with the current 5D is the relatively ancient and occasionally anemic AF system. If they can improve this one feature alone I'll be happy. Worst case scenario they shoehorn the 40D's 9-point all cross-type system in. That's fine, I can live with that. I've used the 40D for awhile and it's AF is sufficiently better although it won't make me jumping for joy happy. Sure the D700 has 51 points but what's the point when they're all clustered right next to each other in the middle of the frame? Especially now that there's more frame to cover and the points haven't moved. But if Canon's gonna laze out on the features, the new 5D better not be priced the same as the D700 or else it's gonna be crushed.

Second, Nikon would have to re-dedicate themselves to fast primes again. For the past few years when they were in their "Pshaw, who needs FX? DX is the wave of the future!" phase, they also completely neglected primes in favor of zooms. And they made some pretty great zooms. Word on the street is that with these two new FX bodies, they'll also be releasing some new primes to match. I hope so. Although it puzzles me why their latest prime lens releases have been tilt-shifts. I would think there would be a bigger market out there for regular fast primes than there would be for tilt-shifts. But whatever, if they can intro a 35, 50 or 85mm prime, I'll be happy. And yes I know they already have a 35, 50, and 85 but they're rather old and the 85 is the only one that I've read about on a regular basis that can compare to their Canon counterparts. Oh, and while I'm on the topic of lenses, Nikon would also have to come out with a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR that works well on FX sensors.

Third, and possibly the most important issue that'll prevent me from switching: the green stuff. This Nikon stuff's freakin' expensive! No Scott Bourne am I. Plus Nikon products aren't as easily available on the used market (or retail market for that matter) as Canon. And Nikon seems to be more of a stickler on non-transferring their warranties. Since my lens collection is pretty much complete at this point, moving to Nikon would be a monstrous deal financially for me. I don't think I can take that kind of a hit. Unless Nikon does come out with a revamped 70-200 and a sweet 50mm fast prime so that I can finally switch down to a 3 lens lineup. Then we'd be talking. =)

But honestly though, if it wasn't for the AF on the 5D, I wouldn't care much about the next 5D or the D700. The photo quality that the 5D puts out is pretty phenomenal for my non-professional self (see photo at the top for proof). ISO 12800 and 25600? I suppose it sounds impressive but really, when the hell am I going to need that? Even in the darkest places I go now, ISO 3200 works out fine for me. Unless I'm going to be breaking the law and taking photos of my neighbors doing the nasty by moonlight, I don't really need ISO that high. I'm sure there are a few people who do, but for most it's simply bragging rights. Every single current DSLR model out there will give you pretty darn good image quality from ISO 100-1600, especially if exposed correctly. Very few people will need an ISO setting higher than that on a regular basis.

Reading the photo forums online about these Nikon and Canon developments within the last year is also starting to irritate me however as the Canon doom and gloom crew seems to be out in full force. There's a lot of "well if Canon doesn't do (or doesn't come out with) blah blah blah by the end of this year, they'll be screwed beyond salvation." Give me a f*ckin' break people. If Nikon managed to survive the last half decade or so as second fiddle, I seriously doubt Canon won't. But what the hell do I know, maybe Sony will come out with a 24MP full-frame, fully weather-proof, mid-sized body with 100% viewfinder containing 102 cross-type AF points that actually cover the entire frame and are controlled by your eye movements, Live View on an articulating 4" LCD screen, dust sensor cleaning, in body IS/VR good for 6 stops, usable ISO 50-51200, HD video recording, wireless and GPS built-in, direct connectivity to their PSP and PS3 gaming systems, and a complimentary espresso machine, all for $1200 that'll leave everybody dripping bitter tears of inadequacy into their spilt milk, jump-start a new golden age in photography and drive every other camera brand out of existence. Except for Leica. Cause you know, it's Leica.

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» One-upmanship from Absurd Singularity
Since last year, Nikon has been doing a pretty good job of smackin' Canon around during DSLR product announcements. Last year Canon announced the 40D, Nikon counters pretty much immediately with the D300. Canon announces the 1DsIII, Nikon brings forth... [Read More]

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 6, 2008 12:59 AM.

The previous post in this blog was The Fabled Canon 135.

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