Monday, September 17, 2012

Photokina 2012 Personal Ruminations

Nikon D600
I was at the end of the second week of my road trip when the Photokina 2012 official release floodgates really opened up. In particular came the formal announcement of the Nikon D600.

I've written twice already about the D600, going so far as to speak of it along with another rumored Nikon camera, the D400 (the followup to the Nikon D300s). One of the key rumors was the D600's price of around $1,500, body only. I was somewhat annoyed when Nikon announced the official price of $2,100, body only.

I'm not going to go through all the D600 features, as that's already been done to death all over the net. The only feature that matters to me at the moment is the price. If a $2,100 camera is considered an "entry level" camera, then I'm in the wrong dimension, probably in the wrong time. How I miss the days when 35mm reigned supreme and bodies from all manufacturers were considerably less expensive...

Yes, I know that the D700, the camera it allegedly replaces, had a suggested MSRP at the time of its release of $3,000. That's what the Nikon D800 currently costs. The problem is the cost. If it had been released at the rumored $1,500, or even $1,800 (the price of the D300s) it would have been an instant no-brainer. It would have become everyone's nightmare in the camera marketplace (Canon and Sony in particular) and put incredible pressure on µ4/3rds. It would have made the lackluster Canon 6D look even more lackluster...

I'm still wading through all the announcements, adding up equipment prices to come up with ballpark system cost estimates. For example:
  • The Nikon D600 + new 24-85 'kit' zoom is $2,700.
  • An Olympus E-M5 + grips + Panasonic 12-35mm constant f/2.8 zoom is $2,500.
  • The just-announced Panasonic GH3 + Panasonic 12-35mm constant f/2.8 zoom is $2,500.
  • The Sony α77 + 12-50mm constant f/2.8 'kit' zoom + grip is $2,200.
  • The Olympus E-5 + grip + 12-60mm zoom is $2,650 (I had this before it was stolen)
  • The Sony α99, body only, is $2,800.
These are basic cost estimates covering cameras that have currently caught my fancy for one or more reasons. The Olympus, Panasonic, and Sony (α77) kits are reasonably dust and moisture sealed. The α99 body is fully sealed, while the Nikon D600 is "partially" sealed, whatever that means. Considering the superb sensor performance from µ4/3rds sensors to APS-C to the so-called "full-frame" (135 sized) sensor, I have no bias towards any particular sensor. They're all now demonstrably excellent. So that leaves key features, ergonomics, and system lens and accessory support to mull over. Plus what kind of financing deal I can get for my equipment. Sony, for example, has 18 months interest free for equipment costing $1,000 or more. This would come in handy, especially if I go the α99 route with a pair of bodies and two Sony/Carl Zeiss zooms I've suddenly found a fondness for.

You may ask "how can you complain about the perceived high cost of the D600, yet talk about purchasing the α99?" If I'm considering spending two grand and up on any camera equipment then I might as well consider all my options.

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