Is Professional Nikon DX dead?

I’m not sure I agree with Nikon’s understanding of the pro DSLR market by only having FX cameras in its current range and feel that it is irritating a lot of people by dumbing down its DX range. I also wonder why it only has 2 current pro bodies, the D800 and D4. If you doubt that there remains strong demand for a pro DX body check out the price graph for the D300s over the past 2 years, since Jan 2011 here. In the UK this has remained at around £1000 until the time of writing (April 2013).  I bought mine in Jan 2011 second hand for £800 in mint condition with just 2000 actuations and the current second hand value for one in a similar condition remains at least £700.  ALL other Nikon bodies, both pro and consumer have seen substantial price falls over the same period and most other available Nikon bodies now are much newer than the D300s which should be heading towards obsolescence if one considers the average lifespan of a DSLR – the D300 arrived in 2007 and the D300s in 2009!

Pine Grosbeak, Collafirth, 7 Feb 2013The D7100 isn’t the answer for me, key aspects are size and weight (for balance with pro lenses), CF card compatibility (they’re faster and easier to work with, both in the field with gloves and more reliable in card readers), incomplete weather sealing in a less robust body, smaller buffer, fundamentally different menu system and control layout based on the needs of a different type of user (e.g. one who doesn’t need to do everything instinctively in the dark or whilst not taking your eye off your subject).  The D4 is not cost effective and far too big for me.  The D800 has now become my default camera – but 36MP is far too much for most of the photography that I do (though it’s incredibly useful in some specific cases) and I use the DX mode a lot.  The D800 overall gives me great flexibility but it’s simply not as good for action and wildlife as the D300s, mostly due to the much slower frame rate and relatively slow buffer clearing, even in DX mode.  I’ve missed fleeting moments waiting for the buffer to clear even though I use a Lexar 800x CF card, as opposed to a 400x card in the D300s.  And don’t even think about chimping if you’ve just filled the buffer, you could wait for what seems like a minute or more for the green light to go out and while it’s on, reviewing is a painful experience.

It’s not even that I have many DX lenses – I have a total of 2 – and most of the lenses I use on the D300s are FX because they meet my needs better.  But the D300s doesn’t measure up to modern Nikon DSLR standards in terms of noise, movie quality and would benefit from onboard GPS and WiFi.  It also would benefit from better (faster, more responsive and more accurate) follow focus ability, a modern sensor with more MP and wider sensitivity range and a much better live-view mode – the facility on the D300s is very clunky.  Oh, and a faster image processor and/ or bigger buffer would be nice.

Finally, the competition from Canon – the 7D is newer than the D300s but it still hasn’t been replaced, despite the rumours of a MkII.  Perhaps neither of them will be and the lines will be dead?  For me I don’t see either the D7100 or D600 as a viable replacement for the D300s and will continue using it as long as I can.  The discussion on whether a pro-build DX DSLR is viable or will ever come will go on for another year or two at least – one reason to remain hopeful is to consider that 4 years elapsed between the launch of the D100 and the D200!

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