So far this year has been pretty hectic for Nikon. With three excellent DSLR camera bodies (Nikon D4, Nikon D800 and Nikon D3200), two superb lenses (Nikon 85mm f/1.8G and Nikon 28mm f/1.8G) and some accessories announced, it is hard to imagine that Nikon might introduce more DSLR cameras in 2012. While Nikon D5100, D7000 and D300s are all due for an update, our friends at Nikon Rumors are already receiving some early rumors about the possibility of a new budget full-frame (FX) DSLR from Nikon that will be supposedly announced later this year with the new “Nikon D600” name.
The key word here is budget – the Nikon D600 will apparently be marketed as a low-end FX camera at a very low price point. Currently, the cheapest DSLR from Nikon is the Nikon D700, which has a price tag of $2,199 USD (MSRP) and the new D800 sells for $2,999 USD (MSRP). The rumored Nikon D600 will have a very low price point, maybe as low as $1,500. Interestingly, this all goes back to some early rumors about the Nikon D400 (D300s replacement) being a full-frame camera. Could it be that Nikon will discontinue the professional DX line completely and replace it with FX? It is hard to tell at this time, but judging on Nikon’s history of replacing the D90 with a more advanced D7000, I would not exclude that possibility. So far I have been projecting that Nikon would continue the development of its pro DX line with a D400 DX, but if a budget FX camera comes out at the same or lower price point as the D300s, then forget about the D400 DX.
If the rumors are true, then here is how the new product line from Nikon would look like:
- Entry Level (APS-C/DX): Nikon D3200
- Upper Entry Level (APS-C/DX): Nikon D5100 (to be replaced by D5200)
- Mid-range (APS-C/DX): Nikon D7000 (to be replaced by D7100)
- Budget High-End (FX): Nikon D600
- High-end (FX): Nikon D800
- Professional (FX): Nikon D4
To be honest, this kind of roadmap makes sense to me. Manufacturing full-frame sensors is getting cheaper and considering the threats from the mirrorless market, it might very soon get hard for Nikon to compete head to head with mirrorless cameras with large APS-C size sensors. Image quality is already there, so it is just a matter of time until we see a fast and accurate autofocus system on mirrorless cameras. Hence, offering an expensive camera with a small sensor might not be a feasible option going forward. Personally, I would not want to invest much money in a high-end camera with a small sensor. I would rather buy a more compact solution that I can take with me everywhere I go, for the same money. If Fuji significantly improves its AF capabilities and fixes all the bugs on the Fuji X-Pro1, I don’t think you would want to put your $1,699 towards a heavy and bulky D400 DX, for example. Sure, you might have already invested heavily on Nikkor lenses, but at the end of the day (as we know from the smartphone market), smaller size, less weight and convenience win – and that’s exactly what the mirrorless cameras deliver in comparison to DSLRs. But that’s a different topic of discussion, so I will leave it there for now.
Let’s get back to the rumored Nikon D600. Here are the rumored D600 specifications (from this Nikon Rumors article):
- 24.7MP full frame sensor
- Weight: 760g (850g with battery and memory cards), the D800 weights 900g
- 3.2″ LCD with 921K dot with ambient sensor control
- HDMI output
- Video compression: H264/MPEG-4
- Full HD with 30p, 25p, 24p, HD with 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p
- Viewfinder coverage: 100% for FX , 97% for DX
- Built-in AF motor
- Weather sealed body
- ISO range: 100-6400 (with Lo-1 ISO 50 and Hi-2 ISO 25,600)
- 39 AF points (with an option of 11 AF points), 9 cross-type AF points
- AF face detection
- Exposure compensation: ±5 EV (same as the D800)
- EN-EL15 rechargeable Li-ion battery
- 5 fps (same as the D700, the D800 has 4fps)
- 2 SD card slots with Eye-fi support
- Build-in retouching images functionality
- Built-in flash with sync speed of 1/250s
- Two user settings: U1 and U2
- Fn button
- Auto DX crop mode
- In-camera RAW editor
- Built in time-lapse functionality
- Possibly with build-in HDR
- New external battery grip
I personally do not care about most specifications here, except for a few things like sensor resolution and ISO performance. With a 24.7MP sensor and ISO 100-6400 range (same ISO range as on the D800), pixel level performance of the D600 should be cleaner than on the D800, but only if a newly-developed sensor is used. And if that’s really the case, then Nikon would be limiting the camera’s potential capabilities with the max 6400 ISO cap. Extending beyond ISO 6400 could potentially threaten D800 and D4 sales, so in a way it makes sense. There is also a chance that Nikon might reuse the Nikon D3X sensor on the D600 as well, since it has a very similar resolution (24.5 MP).
At this point, it is hard to say whether rumors will turn out to be true, but time will tell. We will keep you posted with any news regarding the D400/D600 cameras.
What do you guys think? Is Nikon really going to release the D600? And would you buy such a camera?