Which Nikon am I interested in right now? Here's a clue, I'm not putting in any pre-orders....

The Nikon which has my complete attention right now is the D7200. Let's get this out of the way up front: There is nothing exceptional about this camera. It's not full frame. It's not mirrorless. There's no 4K video. The buffer isn't as nearly-infinite as the newly announced D500 and D5. It's not particularly sexy. So why would I want to waste my time considering it?

Because it represents really great value for the price and it would come in very handy when photographing shows on the very deep stage at Zach Theatre, and the extra reach of the cropped sensor would also be great for tight swimmer shots. This camera represents the third generation of this particular body style, the second generation (improved) with the 24 megapixel chip and for about $1,000 it could be the perfect all around shooting camera for someone heavily invested in Nikon lenses. 

Recently, DXO declared that the sensor in this camera was the highest quality imager in all of the DX kingdom. That means if you don't need to put backgrounds completely and relentlessly out of focus you can do just about anything you could do with more expensive Nikon cameras with this one. If you don't need full frame you could buy this camera instead of the D750 and use the difference in pricing to buy a really nice lens. The camera is also something I like on an emotional basis: It's a mature product. All the bugs appear to have been worked out in the previous evolutions.

It has most of the cool stuff that I want. It's got two SD card slots. It works in automatic modes with older, manual focus (but auto indexing) lenses. It has AF micro adjust (but not the new, automatic version). It has a pretty healthy raw buffer for someone who likes to shoot portraits. I owned and used the D7000 and the D7100 cameras and loved the form factor, weight, etc. The cameras all felt rugged to me and, if you treat them with care, should last right up until you crest the 150,000 shutter actuations. And maybe beyond. 

I mention it because I am actually considering buying one as a back up for the D750; mostly for those times when I want to leave the memory hog/D810 at home. One camera for the wide to moderate focal lengths and the D7200 for medium focal lengths to more extreme telephoto. I considered a second D750 but I just didn't see what having a second D750 added to the mix. The D7200 gives me 50% more reach and puts as many pixels in play in that zone as the D750 does on wider (uncropped) shots. When used as a "B" camera for video I get the same "flat" profile that seems to work well for me, under some circumstances, and I pick up more depth of field --- which is great for a camera that might be run autonomously.

While everyone seems to be in a race to acquire full frame cameras there is a simplicity to the DX format that appeals. I shot with one the other day and it reminded me that a shutter and mirror that only have to cover one half the sensor size of full frame can also have less vibration (less mass to stop and start) and lower audible noise. 

I may get one. I may not. But there is a strong argument for a well made camera with these specifications and performance parameters nestled in at that price range. 

Finally, comparing specs with the newly announced D500 I'm kind of at a loss to see what I lose by choosing the cheaper option. I'll presume the quality of the sensors is close and the handling is pretty equal. If I shot sports I'd want the buffer, but that's about it. The promise of 4K is a little dubious. Here we are in 2016 and the camera's 4K is really UHD. The top fps at UHD is 30 fps and the output via HDMI on the  D500 is a meager 8 bits at 4:2:0, so even if you do spool out the content to a digital audio recorder it ends up wrapping a thin codec in an upscale wrapper. 

In the end, I feel like the D7200 is really a statement. It says, "Are you sure it's the camera that needs improving? Really, are you sure?"


Wally said...

I have one and agree with your sentiments. No AA filter adds to the game mage quality. Plus for video it has mic and headphone jacks. I cant see a reason to update and can spend money on good glass.

ChazL said...

"I may get one. I may not."

Kirk, if history teaches us anything. . . you'll get one. (Or maybe two). ;-)

Dave V. said...

You love vintage lenses. Maybe you should get one of the entry level Nikons (3300/5300) without a built in AF motor? That way you can use some classic pre-AI lenses without spending $40 bucks each to having them converted.

Rufus said...

I think it comes down to subject matter. The D500 seems to have AF of the kind the world has never seen - perfect to capturing fast moving things. If that is your thing, the D500 is your alpha and omega. All those AF points filling the frame are unprecedented.

Otherwise, D7200 is fine.

I suspect that the D500 sensor may be even nicer then the D7200 however.

Jean Marc Schwartz said...

if it's just to have a backup, why not considered the D5500 ? It would result more money for a very good lens. Cheers.

Kirk Tuck said...

Hi Jean Marc, The 5500 is a great camera except for one omission; it lacks the AF micro adjust. That's a deal killer. One of those "once you've had it you'll never go back" features...

Hi Dave, The cameras that work with the older lenses (ai, ais, etc.) allow one to enter the max aperture, get meter readings in the camera and also get focus confirmation. All worth the difference in price.

Cliff R. said...

I just upgraded from a pair of D7000s to a D7200 (with another D7200 to follow when I can afford it) and the biggest surprise to me has been that my 85 1.8G and Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 so far seem to not require any autofocus finetuning. Both lenses needed different corrections with each D7000 body. I don't know if it's the better autofocus or what but both lenses are noticeably sharper on the new body and any focus misses are obvious if they happen.

John Camp said...

When I worked for a newspaper back in the late 80s, the paper supplied the cameras for the photographers -- Nikon F4s or F5s, and each photographer carried two or three of them, in case something went badly wrong. But some of the photographers began quietly carrying N90s (I believe they were called) that they bought on their own, which provided all of the functionality of an F5 at a fraction of the weight. Of course, you couldn't drive nails with them, but for almost everything else, they worked fine. It's never a bad idea to look down-market on Nikon cameras.

JaN Broekema said...

Some info


mosswings said...

There are 2 reasons why you would want a D500:
1. 180K exposure sensor for better subject-detection feature following (focus-and-recompose, and eye/face tracking) will work better with the D500 than the D750 because of this

2. Automatic AF-FT, to remove the tedium of testing for PDAF fine-tuning, and making it easier to optimize for conditions in the field.

What I'd be looking at is a D7300...yeah, the next D7K series offering. Because there's a good likelihood that it will have the same 91K exposure sensor AF system as the D750, and just maybe AF-FT. Better connectivity will be there, too, but that's secondary.

Of course, you know how to use a camera, Kirk, so all of this gosh-whizzy stuff is just that - stuff to sell cameras. The D7200 has NO apologies to make.

Rev. Heng Sure said...

Just for reference sake, Japanese cameras are substantially cheaper in Australia than in the US. Current new camera price in Australia at the local Queensland chain store (Teds Camera in Southport is my local shop - - nice folks, for what it's worth) for a D7200 is head-scratching, let-me-check-that-conversion-rate-again low, especially when you figure in their promotion ($100 Aussie dollars off) and then subtract the 10% GST tax (duty-free) if you leave the country within 60 days of purchase.
By my count yesterday, a new D7200 body at TedsCamera.com.au (https://www.teds.com.au) "after cash-back" runs $1,049.95 AUD which comes to $737.00 USD. After GST you have paid roughly US $660.00, with a two-year Australian warranty. Panasonic and Olympus cameras get an equally steep discount. Leicas, not much different from B&H.
Here's the currency converter site: http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/. Has it always been this way or is this huge price difference a feature of the current evaluation of the dollar? For the D7200, nearly $300 less than B&H? $400 if you use the duty-free tourist option?