Today Nikon announced the long-awaited and rumored D600. While I’ll let others discuss technical merits, I’ll focus primarily on how the D600’s pricing affects Nikon’s lineup. As you read my thoughts, keep in mind that I am approaching the Nikon D600 primarily as a wedding photographer who evaluates equipment from the point of view that every piece of gear must buy itself into my kit.
See Nikon D600 on-hands preview at DPReview.com
Many of us had hoped Nikon, in adopting the D7000 body form factor for a full frame camera, was aiming to produce an entry or affordable transition product made for those who have long desired the benefits of full frame without the willingness or ability to afford the fuller full frame price points. A lot of guessing and speculation led folks to – as it turns out, incorrectly – a price point below $2,000 USD, with the folk wisdom landing somewhere along $1,500-1,700 for body only. Today’s announced MSRP for the Nikon D600 dashes those hopes, at least for a little bit with hopes that maybe things will settle downward in a few months.
The announced $2,100 MSRP may also signal first, that Nikon will update the D300s after all, since that price range is still available, and it may indicate that in Nikon’s plan, the D600 is the much awaited D700 successor. Hopes that eventually Nikon would release a D4 sensor body in the D700’s old price range now seem tenuous. Nikon may keep the D4 sensor in the D4 only, or if it does release a D4 sensor in a lesser body, it will likely top the D800’s $3,000 MSRP, with lots of room between that point and the D4’s price.
In short, as we should have gotten used to by now with all things technological, we have a mixed story. A camera that promises to be great, but at a higher price than many of us wanted, and without all the features we had hoped for if we were waiting for that fabled “true” D700 successor featuring a sturdy pro body and the state-of-the-art full frame sensor.
Given this pricing, who will adopt this camera? Since I’m in the wedding industry, I’m wondering and asking whether wedding photographers would pick up this camera given the price vs. feature set. Opinions seem mixed, in particular with regards to the 39 point AF. One wonders also whether the D7000 body form factor will stand up to the rigors of in-the-field shooting, and whether the user interface will be different enough from the primary cameras wedding photographers carry as to make the D600’s use cumbersome.
It comes down to price, and getting a wedding photographer to pay this much for a backup camera that looks more entry-level and “non-professional” than the previous popular backup choice (the D700) may prove a hard sell.
Addendum: based on reaction in various Internet forums, it appears that reactions are mixed. Some experienced wedding photographers whom I respect are in fact planning to grab 1 or 2 D600 bodies. On the other hand, that DX enthusiast group that has been looking up to FX longingly is having reservations, many of them confirming that $2,100 is too much to pay for this type of camera. Nikon seems to have split the baby nearly perfectly, though, because the FX enthusiast crowd seems to be receiving the D600 very well at this price. Perhaps once the FX enthusiasts get their fill, and initial pent-up demand subsides, the D600′s price will dip below $2,000 USD. In my estimation, the DX crowd will start considering it once the price hovers close to $1,800. We’ll see how long it takes to get there.
Eduardo Suastegui is a Los Angeles, CA photographer, serving the cities of Whittier, Downey and surrounding areas with his wedding and fine art photography.