What really replaces the D300s?

If you’re a Nikon guy (or gal – I’m a Nikon guy), you’ve done a lot of wondering lately.  How is Nikon recovering from the disasters in Japan and Thailand? When will the D800 and D4 come out?  What is going to happen with the D700?  When will Nikon meet the demand on these products.

We’ve got some level of answers on several of these questions, but not all of them, and we have others.  For example, what replaces the D300s and when does that happen?  And in some cases the answers we got generated new questions.  Specifically, I’m referring to Nikon declaring that the D800 wasn’t a replacement for the D700, but a “whole new class of product.”  That may just be marketing hyperbole.  It might also you insight to where Nikon is going.

Rumors have been out there about a D400 for a while, and when the D3200 came out, lots of folks declared this 24MP sensor with the pro-build around it was the underpinnings of the replacement for the D300s.  Logical enough.  I posted my D400 wishes here earlier, and it remains one of my most popular posts (at least in terms of hit-count).

But what if Nikon really wants to shake things up?  What if they define a product that replaces both the D300s and the D700?  What if they created an entry full-frame camera at 24MP that had a 12MP DX mode complete with the same viewfinder shroud I understand  is featured in the D700/D3 (that makes what you see in the viewfinder the DX image you’ll get instead of relying on lighted borders or guessing)?  What if they put that product out at $1699 or even as low as $1500 and called it a D600?

Rumors about a Nikon D600 have been popping up on websites that range from lightly trustworthy (Nikonrumors) to very trustworthy (CNET) over the last two weeks, and appear to be gaining momentum.  In general, I like the sound of it.  It means like Nikon is looking forward, not back – Looking to pressure the competition, not protect generations-old product categories.

There is one detail that disturbs me about all this talk: The rumors also say the body wouldn’t have a built-in motor, similar to the entry DX bodies like the D3200/D5100.  That would leave my beloved Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 and Nikon 80-20 f/2.8 out in the cold, and I can’t have that.  My guess is the ability to meter with manual-focus glass and possibly fine-tune lenses would also be left out of this crippled entry offering.  All three of those things make it a non-starter for me.

Part of the bargain of a D700 (or the replacement I described) for me would be that my two best lenses would still work and work well.  These are both terrific lenses that are (relatively) affordable by the Enthusiast Photographer.  If the D600 won’t focus these lenses, it isn’t the camera for me. 😦

It isn’t that I’m against creating limitations to create separation across product lines.  Heck, I’d put the D7000 autofocus system (39 points vs. the 51 of the D300s, D700 and the newer/bigger Pro bodies) and lose a few other features to keep the screw-drive in a D600 along with the other tools that let me use some of the best and most affordable lenses out there.

Ultimately, Nikon is going to do what they think they have to do drive sales and get ahead in the market.  Much like BMW, one of my other favorite brands, it may cost them to future loyalty and sales of the old-school folks who care more about photos and less about video, who want to have strong core features and are less worried about frills.

As right as the D600 probably is for Nikon’s balance sheet, it leaves me out of the equation unless a D400 also appears.  I don’t see how that can happen based on the price point of the D700 and the rumored price point of the D600.  Even if the D7000 drops to $999, I can’t see a D600 at even $1599 with a D400 somewhere in the middle.

So I’m rooting for the D600 rumors to be wrong, or even just nothing more than rumors.  And I’m still wondering when we’ll know…

4 thoughts on “What really replaces the D300s?

  1. I many respects I see the D7000 as something of a replacement to the D300/D300s family of cameras. This makes more sense to me if the rumors of the next body (D400 or D600) being a full frame little brother to the D4.

    My gut tells me that there is no way that they will release a full frame body that does not have an autofocus motor built in, there are simply too many FX lenses out there that do not have their own motors.

    It also firmly believe that the D800 is not a replacement to the D700. Heck, to me the D800 doesn’t even make sense, I thought that the megapixel wars were over a long time ago.

    I any case, I am anxiously waiting. I don’t need a new camera, my D7000 fits my needs nicely, but after 20+ years of shooting 35mm film, I truly do miss the perspective that it offered.

  2. Scott – thank for stopping by Enthusiast Photographer! I hope your guts are right!

    The D7000 is a lot of what a D300s is, but lacks some key things for the D300s audience – deep buffer, 51-point autofocus and handling like the pro bodies, among a few things on a fairly short list. Those things scratch the D7000 off for a lot of D300s owners (especially Bird-in-flight and sports shooters).

    I wonder if Nikon would have a pro-DX and a prosumer FX at similar prices in their line. It will be very interesting to see!

    • I agree, but I truly feel that Nikon is looking at the D7000 family (including those that follow) as being the prosumer DX body and moving those that previously were in the D200 – D300 class into the “entry level” full frame bodies?

      I currently own 2 D200 bodies and there was never enough reason to upgrade to the D300 family for what I shoot. The D7000 does make sense as it has the best low light performance of any DX body currently available. I wanted to go with the D700, which would still be my body of choice today, but it just wasn’t in the budget.

  3. Pingback: Nikon D600: a step closer? | Enthusiast Photographer

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