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Monday, 17 February 2020


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Me too on the Z6 Mike. Actually I'm "agonizing" between that and the Sony A7III.

The F3 was a lovely camera and the last of the Pro level F series with manual focus. I had a friend who was a stock photographer who owned two of them. The F4 was a thoroughly unlovable brick who's main claim to fame was it had AF. I was selling cameras at the time and I can't think of a single pro I knew who liked the F4. It was a case of "stuck with it" because they already had all those Nikon lenses. It got even worse when the Canon EOS1 arrived the following year and set about systematically eating Nikon's lunch. The next 20 years was not a good time for Nikon as Canon systematically wiped the floor with them in the AF arena and then early digital. It wasn't until the arrival of the D2 series that Nikon began to reclaim some of their market position ... after that stupid mis-step with the initial pricing.

You caught the D6 with the phrase "imaging computer." I suspect it will be a long time before we see a D7 because honestly, I can't think of what else I'd want in a breaking-news (sports) camera. With a D5, you could yank the card in five seconds and replace it with another, in case you needed the camera quickly. Then you push the card in a reader, download to your laptop in a couple of minutes, bring the photos up on Lightroom, pick the best, do some adjustments, and have them to your news outlet or website in what, five minutes? So this camera cuts it to one minute. Does the world really need that four minute advantage? I can't really think why, but engineers do what they can do. In any case, this may be close to the end of the line for this kind of camera, IMHO.

...the F6 began shipping in 2004 and can still be purchased new (or rather, out of what's called "new old stock," NOS, with outflow regulated to a trickle by a high price)...

What's the source for that claim? According to Henning Serger, an industry consultant who's provided correct answers to many other photographic production questions, Nikon's Sendai "line" still turns out F6 cameras on a special order basis. B&H apparently moves enough of them to justify placing speculative orders directly with Nikon twice each year. I've observed that B&H receives four units each time and those sell out within a couple of days. Individuals can place F6 orders through authorized Nikon dealers anywhere in the world and then wait until the next batch of cameras is made to receive theirs.

See one of Henning's relevant posts here:


a propos the Nikon F4s -- The photographer with whom I shared studio space walked in one morning with his brand new Nikon F4s, one of the first in our town. I hefted it, said "Hmmmm," and put it on the UPS scales on my desk. Then I picked up my Pentax 6x7, also with a normal (105mm) lens and put it on the scales. They weighed exactly the same. I thought, "It will be a very cold day in a very hot place before I carry that kind of weight to make a photograph on a piece of 35mm film."

It would have been a triumphant melding of retrofuturism & black-blob polycarbonate lumpism if only it had several exposed Fleming valves. Shame.

Mike, obviously you have not read the headlines and viewed the You Tube videos by those whose opinions they believe we should heed unquestionably, speak for all photographers of all disciplines, have never had the camera in their hands nor would never have use nor buy such a camera. They say the D6 is a big fail! Nikon screwed up. This will mark the downfall of the company. Evidently, the D6 is not worth the metal out of which it’s made. Just when I was ready to dig deep into my wallet and buy one. Thank goodness they saved me.

I'm more interested in how you like the RX II. Also, what are your favorite Contax SLR lenses?

[It's an RTS II; there was an RX, which I also owned at one time, but never an RX II. --Mike]

I carried 3 F3s with MD4s and an FM2 with MD12(?), shot sports, primarily motorsports. It was easy to ding equipment, so I duplicated.

The F3 was good, but the best thing about it was that it sat atop a big system of lenses and accessories, and a widely distributed network of repair, parts, and advanced support.

So you could solve a range of photo challenges and have Nikon at your back pretty much everywhere. That advanced support part declined a lot thru the 80s though.

But again, it was the Nikon system that counted, and essentially the F3 was that system fused into one piece you could hold in your hand.

As I mentioned my own Nikon nostalgia the other day, I want a F4 eventually. It handles the older manual focus lenses better than the F5 or, even, F6 do. So, despite it's appetites, it remains at the top of my wish list.

In the meantime, I await the postman bringing me a Nikon N90s and it's companion MB-10 grip. It and my manual focus 50/1.8 series E can keep my D3200 and it's 35/1.8 DX lens company in my bag.

Of course, I'll need to find room for all those AA batteries!

My most "pro-ee like" Nikon, a few years back, was a D2x. After that I lusted after the "smaller is better" Fuji X series. The images it took were really superb though, particularly with a 17-55 F/2.8 lens I had briefly. Do I recall you liking that lens too?

To add some counterpoint here, the new D6 is presently being castigated (i.e., "ripped a new one") by all the leading YT review sites. Now, normally I don't put a lot of stock into YT reviews, but in this specific case the reviewers provide appropriate context because....they are all working pros that have shot with professionally with Nikon for many years.

Just a few: Matt Granger: "Flagship Fail" and, "Hey Nikon, 2014 is calling and they want their flagship camera back"; Jared Polin: "Highly Disappointing", Ken Wheler, "There is nothing there...", Tony Northrup: "this camera reflects "captive customers, a dead product line and minimal R&D."

The gist is the D6 appears to a ho-hum effort by Nikon, resulting in a slightly warmed over D5, maybe its a D5S, but at the new pro body price of $6500.

By contrast, the new Canon 1Dx MkIII debuted recently to rave reviews by the exact same reviewers, all of whom have traditionally shot, as mentioned above...with Nikon.

Canon: "Swing and a grand slam home run!"

Nikon: "Swing and a miss...."

Its a tough world out there in Camera-land these days, and Nikon continues to appear clueless with respect to innovative product development and effective marketing.

Looks like Canon, with the 1Dx MkIII and the very highly anticipated new mirrorless R5 (which is everyone is absolutely besides themselves about and *does* look to have a pretty darned amazing performance & feature set), will continue to crush all competitors, just as they have done for the last...40 years.

As Specialized Bicycles used to say, "Innovate or Die".

Yep, no coveting here. Interesting point about the market for this camera. I doubt we’ll see NOS of the D6 hang around like an F6 while Nikon moves to the Z line. I’m guessing too many electrical components that Nikon just won’t want to maintain supplies of, and the Q about how quickly the sensor will become outdated.
I'll also guess that the flagship Z model will more likely move closer to SLR-like cycles, given we’re over the blip in sales with the introduction of digital, smartphone takeover, and Canon already saying as much.

Actually, I always thought that the Canon T90 was the real "Darth Vader" of cameras! LOL!


I used F3's when I was shooting tournament golf quite a bit. Because I wear glasses I loved the F3HP. It was such a pleasure to use a camera and be able to see the entire viewfinder. You did have to use the Nikon ni-cad battery in the F4 motor drive in order to get the full 5 frames a second that was advertised, but the extra cost was worth it. The camera seemed to be just more responsive in general with the ni-cad.

When the F4 came out I upgraded, or so I thought. Your thoughts on the F4 are much the same as mine, a very unlikeable camera even with the auto focus capability, it truly was not all that capable. I have always thought that the F4 led a lots of pros to switch to Canon, at least that's what I did. The EOS cameras were quieter and the auto focus was at least useable for the most part.

If I was shooting tournament golf today, I would shoot MFT cameras for sure. Hauling that heavy SLR gear around a golf course all day was a real workout. I am sure that Nikon's and Canon's Pro model DSLR cameras are really great for sports and action but the cameras and lenses are really heavy. Being agile and light on your feet is a great advantage for a photographer trying to capture action at any sporting event, even golf.

Too bad you did not live close enough to where I worked. We had a "official" three day turnaround on film but 90% of the time it was 24 hours if:
1. The film was sent/received to/from the lab around 5:00 PM each weekday.
2. The lab developed E-6 and Kodachrome films at the same rate.
3. Color prints had the same time.
4. Black and White film/prints took 48 hours on average, go figure.

The store where I worked was in Laramie, WY and the lab was in Denver, CO. The lab had deals with stores in seveal cities in WY and CO. Ahhh - the good old days.

Mike, i have a few quibbles with your D6 comments, although i have been in agreement for years with your high end Nikon assessments in general.

Firstly -- and a minor nit -- but the D6's fps capability of interest to its target audience is 14fps through the viewfinder with full AF and exposure. It ain't my cuppa tea but this is an achievement for the target audience.

Who is that target audience? Ah "no" not the artsy set at all: this body (and Canon's competitor, 1DX mkIII) are Tokyo Olympics-focused action bodies. Will they sell you quite right ask? i agree that the publications do not fund their photog armies as they used to but free-lancers have taken their place. i note that these people do not particularly make rational economic decisions; it is partly a hobby with them like, say, Civil War re-enactors.

Like you i always wanted an F3HP back in the day -- be still my heart for the titanium model -- but got a tactical FM instead. Twenty years later i was in the market for a new body, having finally worn out the FM. A clean, lightly used, F3 was the same price as an FM3a; i took the FM3a instead and was supremely happy with it for my last two years of film shooting . . .

In the Nikon line get a D850 if you want the artsy body or, better yet, get a D810 as i have but much cheaper. For 24mp "yes" either the Z6 or D780 but the problem with the Z6 just now is the restricted set of glass options.

-- gary

So I guess the D6 is Emperor Palpatine?

In 2005 or 2006 (I no longer remember which) I became the insanely proud owner of a Canon 1Ds Mark II — with a then amazing 16 MP sensor and an equally amazing price tag, which really broke ye olde piggy bank into more pieces than I've ever quite been able to put back together again, at least not for camera gear.

Still, it was a great camera, I loved it, and muchly missed it after financial reality set in a couple of years later and I found myself selling it for perhaps half what I'd paid for it.

In the meantime: last summer I celebrated 10 years of owning a Canon 5D Mark II and hope to be able to continue using it — well, maybe not for as long as I live (hope springs eternal in that dimension) — but for many years yet to come.

Somehow, when Canon arrived at the 5D Mark II — 21 MP? I don't even remember that any more, nor do I much care — it simply turned out to be as much as I've ever needed since then (though of course not as much as I've sometimes wanted).

But, still, to your point, Mike, the "marginal utiity" of wish/ego gratification has now long since become way too marginal to be worth indulging in.

Your post reminded me that in this, as in so many other things, I'm not alone, and as the years pass, I find myself even less alone in some other respects as well.

I do wish the manufacturers well: I may be in the market for a new camera in another five or ten years, and hope they're still around to supply me with one …

Richard Howe

I cannot think of a single compelling reason to own the Nikon D6. Except I would just like to have one.

When I stopped shooting sports, handed over my D4 to my son. Replaced it with a Z6 and never looked back. Lot smaller and "pixel peeking" (though I actually did it infrequently) now a thing of the past. If I were still shooting sports, yes I would have probably acquired a D6 since I probably could have justified it for various reasons... always wanted to have and use the best tools for the job.

For birdie not just sporty I supposed.

Yippee, I was just gifted a Kodak #3 box Brownie
This particular version was made sometime before 1911 and the shutter, with just a bit of cleaning WORKS!
I’ll block the ruby window, load a cut sheet of Ilford MG4, and give it a whirl at f45 tomorrow.
Your post about this new ultimate Nikon has me thinking of the vast gulf of photographic technology wrought in just a century or so.
But, after all, it was less than 66 years between Kitty Hawk and “Tranquillity base, the Eagle has landed.”

Things I remember about the F3:

The smoothest, butteriest, most effortless shutter release and thumb film advance of any camera ever.

Forebears of today's anti-Nikon fanbois predicted new technology LCDs would probably fail in 2-3 years.

Then there was the F4e. Here’s a pic of my F4e sitting next to the F4s. https://flic.kr/p/5NgXVG

The F4 is a silly beast and I love it - it's too heavy, the AF is..not great, but the metering is brilliant. It really was a magnificent camera, and I still love having a manual film rewind knob.

The D6 is a great camera, but nothing dramatic - but it's likely the last of it's line, so radical departure would have been a mistake. We've hit a plateau with sensors, it seems - which is kinda nice, as it makes the fear of missing out a lot better, but a tad boring for the commenters.

why did they bother? zzzzzz

Re: Flagship

I (and Nikon) certainly hope that the D6 doesn't become the kind of flagship which is used as a metaphor / cautionary tale!

Consider the Swedish "Vasa":

I first heard about this in a project management presentation a number of years back. It is a classic case of poor stakeholder management and allowing a particular specification (in the case, guns) to overwhelm all other specifications and project requirements. To be fair, a king is a difficult stakeholder to manage!

Also testing was inadequate - having crew run from port to starboard- back and forth (comic example: Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End - the 'up is down' scene) is not a sufficient test of sailing vessel stability!

All this talk of the wonders of the Z6. I have used one (among other things, such as an M6 and a P6) for years. Not made by Nikon though, it's a Zorki . . .

"there was an RX, which I also owned at one time, but never an RX II. --Mike"

There was actually an RX II, same as RX but without the DFI, came out in 2002 to limited markets only. Not really an upgrade compared to F5 to F6 or D5 to D6.

In addition to the N Digital, Contax appeared to have had quite a few Vasa flagships: RTS III, AX and N1.

Comment to John Camp’s comment: I fully agree, the world doesn’t need the extra 3-4mins of news image transfer speed. But the guy sending the images out needs it desperately. It is a competition. In the Olympics only the first place really matters and only the top three gets medals. The first few images that get sent out get the most exposure. After that it is old news and the editors are looking at the next sport or next goal. Everybody wants to be first. (At least that is my opinion having worked for a major newspaper, though very long ago).

In a dpr interview (12th Feb) a Nikon Executive confirms Nikon responded to feedback from D5 shooters, and it appears they ranked their top needs as: Better AF, Seamless Wireless, improved options to Customize Menus. Video, Lv etc didn't feature much, if at all, nor a higher resolution sensor. With the very best AFC, the key features that matter for shooting sports are better performance in low light with fastest shutter speeds etc.

Conversely, too many let themselves get bamboozled by internet hyperbole, and outright rubbish. This malaise afflicts some pros (including those with little if any need of a D6). For example, this interesting essay about working in Nikon UK (1995-1999) unravels in ranting against Nikon because the D6 specs trashed too many rumours swallowed (of IBIS etc). All this impulsiveness lies in an impatience to wait for field data
Swarmed troll armies trash the D6: typing away past their bedtimes, but they dwell in cellphone orbit. The clickbaiters cited as eggspurts (ie notorious youtubers) – each the very antithesis of a reviewer – yell. Compare this babble to what pros say who do spare time for feedback. Brad Hill and Thom Hogan published some measured pre-use comments on the D6. Otherwise, we wait weeks into April - and longer - for reliable reviews of the D6. http://www.naturalart.ca/voice/blog.html#D6PrelimThoughts
Many enthusiasts and also Pros do not need a D6, but we all be using the D6 AFC engine if we upgrade to future cameras. Comparing the history of new features vs tweaks of D3 through to D5, and now to the D6 tells us more about how the D*’s have evolved since the D2. Tweaks to video etc are merely minor, nice but no Mega-Tick. (It seems Nikon works on the maxim of ‘if it ain't broke, don't fix it’). In any case, pros shooting sports do the stills with top tier DSLRs. The TV guys do the video and the latter is tightly controlled wrt revenues. (Use a D850 or Z6 for video in any case!)
The updates to these D*’s underscore why some pros switched to Nikon for the D3 and also D5 (better AFC and low-light shooting). Looking back at the flagship D* DSLRs, the improvements have largely been incremental eg fps, although one might quibble 9fps > 11 fps is significant to capture the right gestures at a critical moment (e.g. golf swing, bird landing).... the faster fps the better to grad the "WHEN" can be vital. A New AFC engine is the Mega-Tick of the great leap forward: thus D3 and D5 versus D3 and D4 upgrades. Now the D6 in 2020 = Megatick. If the AF engine gets redesigned / upgraded then it's a new flagship. This makes sense given the primary users of these cameras. The D3 AF sensor had its limitations, and so it could be argued the D4 did not justify its moniker after the three D3 versions, but conversely Nikon improved the D4 sensor.

Improved networking of the D6 is the other Mega-Tick why it's no D5s and much, much more than a D5. Again this camera is for real Pros in stadiums chasing after split second submission deadlines (does any of these top Pro sports photographers do clickbaiting youtube? Let’s get real.)
With the D3 > D4 > D5, Nikon updated the sensor. But the horror - going from D5 to D6 is still 20mp! But we do not YET know if these sensors are the same. If Nikon has improved D6 IQ at the tips of the ISO range then another Mega-Tick. Especially if ISO100 gets better DR out of the D6 and/or the low-light ceiling has "darkened" (ie works better in Lowlight). Hint Nikon specs in the D6 Brochure says the AF is better in lowlight - Ahhhh! But we have to wait for not only DXO but the real images out of the camera. If it turns out IQ is better at either ends of the ISO (better both ends) then Wow, and Wow! Far beyond keyboard pixel peepers, this is very significant for actual photographers of sports and wildlife, who push beyond extremes in ambient light.

However with the flagship FX DSLRs aimed primarily at Pros shooting top level action events, Nikon R&D has consistently delivered a rugged tank of a camera that delivers on Earth, and out in Space, and above all a camera "that leaves nothing to chance" at capturing subjects in action scenes. The AFC is the crux. So we read the D6 AF sensor is now Multi-CAM 37K (D5 is Multi-CAM 20K). Layout of the cross-type sensors and software are major upgrades. If tough testing might in fact turn out to obviate the official claims, then there ARE problems.
If the AFC in the D6 is indeed a significant improvement, then the D6 is NOT a D5s contra Mr Hogan in his latest essay insinuating Nikon is too proud to call the D6 a D5s.... He should know better.
In summary, most enthusiasts and Pros do not need a D6 unless you do high end wildlife and/or sport. But all of us Nikonians will be using the D6 AFC engine if we upgrade to future cameras. The latest firmware updates for the Z6/Z7 (ie the AF) might even be the first crumbs from the D6 stable.
D6 Brochure fyi - official details including information about the new AF system


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