To Upgrade or Not?

This past week marked a critical milestone for Nikon lovers everywhere. As Roger pointed out, the long awaited, much anticipated, Nikon D4 has finally been announced.  He has already pre-ordered his.  As their press release says, The D4 is equipped with a new Nikon FX-format CMOS image sensor (imaging size of 36.0 x 23.9 mm) and EXPEED 3, the latest image-processing engine specifically optimized for digital-SLR cameras, making it the next-generation flagship Nikon digital-SLR camera with the ultimate in versatility and functionality that offers superior image quality rich in detail along with excellent high-speed performance. It has an effective pixel count of 16.2-million pixels, and offers superior image quality under a broad range of lighting conditions with its image sensor supporting an incredible range of sensitivities from ISO 50 to ISO 204800. Yes, you read that right, up to ISO 204800—that is practically shooting in the dark.

Now my current camera is definitely out of date. I shoot with a D300, which was outstanding 5 years ago, but when the ISO goes above 800 gets really, really grainy.  It is also only a ¾ frame, which means I don’t get the full advantage from the lenses I like to shoot best.  All this leads you to believe that I am ready to sign up for the D4 as well.  Well, not so fast—I actually am not planning on buying it because I don’t believe my photography skills will make use of it.  I never have been one to go out and purchase the latest technology just because it is the latest, and that is especially true with camera equipment. When I get to the point where the equipment gets in the way of what I want to do, it is time to get new equipment.  I have reached that point with my current camera body so, don’t get me wrong, I am going to get a new camera, and soon, but am waiting for the D800.

The D800 shares a lot of the technology found in the D4, but things like a solid, nearly watertight magnesium frame are not that big a deal for me.  I don’t shoot a lot of pro sports events so the ability to shoot a sustained 11 frames per second is interesting, but not what I need.  The low light capability is something I want, and guess what?  The D800 will have close to that. Besides with the money I save, I can also buy that 14-24 lens I still want for shooting more landscapes.

Cameras are an extremely personal choice, and there is no right answer.  It is a tool, albeit a powerful one, which helps you hopefully capture the vision you have in your head. Don’t be swayed by hype, but match your needs versus the range of capabilities the manufacturers are building.