Someone might want to lean over in Nikon’s office and remind them it’s 2020. The Nikon D6 has launched after a rather sedate development announcement and teaser campaign. And against the Sony a9 II and Canon 1DX III, one has to wonder who is steering the ship at Nikon HQ.
Hey, better WiFi and connectivity is cool and all, but if that’s your big marketing strategy, you’ve done more than gone off the road. No, you decided to launch it into a ditch and torch the car. Seriously, better workflow connectivity should be an ‘oh yeah, we got this’ marketing spec. Not hot damn, we have 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz WiFi. Ok, so the $500 adapter professionals bought for the D5 is now a paperweight?
Yep. We all understand why this press release dropped at midnight.
I forgot about the supposedly revolutionary autofocus system. Those 105 focus points are less than the D5’s 153-point AF system. But Nikon promises it’s “the most powerful AF system in Nikon’s history.” We shall see. Then there’s the same 20.8-megapixel sensor from the D5. Not saying it needs a massive megapixel leap, but a change would be welcome and differentiate the camera from the crowd.
Other specs saw a marginal boost with fps hitting 14, up from 12 using the mechanical shutter. Nikon’s ‘silent mode’ can achieve 10.5fps with the electronic shutter. That’s solid until you see the specs of the Sony a9 II and Canon 1DX III. Also known as the competition. It’s here the specs fall flat with both hitting 20fps.
If Nikon priced the D6 lower than the 1DX III, we could argue about video features. Do professional photographers need 5.5K RAW? No. However, the cameras sharing the same price you enter the territory of ‘why not?’ Canon has it.
Nikon? 4K at 30fps. Yeah, that’s not a good look. Though the press release was sure to tout the ability 2MP and 8MP stills when recording in 1080p and 4K, respectively. If we can all agree professional photographers don’t need 5.5K RAW video, we can damn sure agree they won’t be pulling 2MP stills and sending them to the various wire services.
It’s not that the D6 is a bad camera. On the contrary, it’s definitely a flagship. The issue is when compared to competitors, it comes off as Nikon being about 2-3 years behind the times. In a market facing severe headwinds, that’s not what you want to present to your legion of fans and professional users. Yeah, having USB-C is cool, but that’s not going to push me over the edge to buy the Nikon D6.
It should have competed with the 1DX III in terms of video, even if the video functions are way overdone for a sports camera. Without some excitement, Nikon is quickly running the risk of being an also-ran over a market leader.