The Nikon APS-C DSLR I'd really like to see ...

Discussion in 'Nikon DSLR Forum' started by MoonMind, Aug 9, 2016.

  1. MoonMind

    MoonMind SC Top Veteran

    578
    Dec 29, 2013
    Switzerland
    Matt
    Some background: When photography went digital, I had trouble adjusting; I tried some of the earlier cameras, but neither results nor handling were convincing. I had been a Nikon shooter for most of my film days, and the likes of the F-801s (N8008s in the US, if I recall right) and later the FM3a (what a camera!) had left me with a clear picture what good photographic tools should work and feel like. When Nikon began producing DSLRs, however, they were far out of reach for me at first, and I also found the APS-C sized sensors a problem because they would render some of my preferred lenses and focal lengths practically useless, but I finally succumbed and went with a D90 (including the 16-85mm zoom at first, I later added the 35mm DX). It turned out to be a very, very good camera for my needs, if a bit chunky (but still smaller than the F-801s!) - so even if I still didn't click with digital in the way I had done with film, it worked, and very convincingly, at that.

    So well, in fact, that I really saw no reason to upgrade to the more sophisticated, but also bigger and somewhat clumsier D7*** series. Don't get me wrong, they're fantastic cameras, but they're also huge beasts considering the fact that they're still APS-C cameras, as Nikon themselves showed with their "lesser" series, the D3*** and D5***.

    Anyhow, the D3*** are so far dumped down that I never considered them - they were good cameras of the D40* variety, but no functional match for the D90. So even if they were smaller, they weren't worth considering (and for really small, I had discovered :mu43: in the meantime).

    For a long time, I had thought of the D5*** in much the same way - but then along came the D5500. It's the smallest of the D5*** series to date, but it handles extremely well due to a nice combination of sufficiently accessible classical controls and a very snappy touchscreen interface (way better than what I'm used to from my :mu43: cameras, actually - though the one of the Panasonic GX80 comes close) - it felt so convincing that I added it to my kit in spite of the fact that it competes with the E-M10, then my small sophisticated camera of choice (in fact, paired with the 12-40mm zoom, it still is - in spite of everything the D5500 and the GX80 offer).

    The D5500, for me, does so many things right that it rekindled my interest in APS-C type cameras even though I still find :mu43: very competent and useful (especially when it comes to its performance/weight ratio) and also acquired a D750 in the meantime as a do-it-all DSLR, so have plenty of other options available.

    But here's the thing: The D5500 still doesn't replace the D90 for me! What I'd like is a camera that builds on the strengths of the D5500, but adds that things that still make the D90 a very enjoyable - and sometimes even superior - camera in use.

    Here's what I'd like to see in a D6000 (that'll never be, of course):
    • Keep as close as possible to the basic body design of the D5500, but ...
    • Add the pentaprism viewfinder of the D90 - it's more than adequate and clearly better than the pentamirror on the D5500, even if it's no match to the D7200's one.
    • Add dual control wheels like on the D90 - the D5500 offers good single wheel control, but it's still slower and more awkward than on the D90.
    • Add a function button that can be pressed with your right middle finger - that's a real boon and wouldn't need a lot of space.
    • Add a small top display (look at the D750 for clues); since the mode dial most probably can't be moved to a different spot, dump it - the touchscreen can take care of its functionality, and boy, would it make the camera look sleek :)
    • Add another function button so that there are three of them - or even better, make the drive button customisable and add its functionality to the touchscreen if need be.
    • Make more functionality available to customise the Fn button(s), like one-step spot metering (I still can't believe it's not assignable to the Fn button on the D5500!).
    • A bit over the top, but very nice to have: Add the D7200's AF module - or don't, if that's your actual point of differentiation ...
    • Now for some minor stuff in my book: Add in-camera charging via USB (I don't prefer this method, but it's nice to have it available).
    • Add a headphone jack - the D5500 is actually good enough at video to deserve that.
    • Add better video controls - see above.
    • Add a bit more buffer depth.
    • Add weather sealing (unrealistic to the extreme, I know).
    What you'd end up is a sort of hybrid and a new direction: A real enthusiast's camera in an amateur's guise, hardly bigger and heavier than the D5500, but with even quicker and more precise handling. I think it's more or less the last APS-C body I'd ever buy, and it would replace the D90 and the D5500 for me.

    M.
     
  2. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    I've never really looked into DSLR's, but aren't pentax models known for several of the items you're describing (handling, viewfinder, weather sealing, maybe some others too)?
     
  3. MoonMind

    MoonMind SC Top Veteran

    578
    Dec 29, 2013
    Switzerland
    Matt
    Yes, they are, but I'm deeply immerged into the Nikon system and, more importantly, have been for ages, so most of my gear's compatible (the rest is :mu43:). Furthermore, APS-C will never again be my primary system (I only own a couple of dedicated lenses), but I've really come to appreciate how well the diminuitive (for a DSLR) D5500 performs; there's also a reason why Nikon kept the D90 alive as long as they did - it was a well rounded product even years after its appearance. What I'd like to see is a merger of two successful and very well received models in order to get the best of both in one package. But I know it won't happen ...

    M.
     
  4. rayvonn

    rayvonn SC Veteran

    309
    Jan 19, 2015
    An updated D750, maybe with no AA filter and I'd be in like a rocket.
     
  5. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    I'd considered a switch to Nikon, myself, until I looked at the sheer weight of most of the models I was interested in (never mind the price). Top LCD and weather sealing puts most out of my price range.
     
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  6. MoonMind

    MoonMind SC Top Veteran

    578
    Dec 29, 2013
    Switzerland
    Matt
    @kyteflyer@kyteflyer That's more or less what I'm talking about. But I think they'll reserve weather sealing for their enthusiast's and pro tier, so probably no luck with that on small bodies. For that, you really have to look at Pentax - and if you're not attached to any (DSLR) system yet, there's no reason why you shouldn't. I researched the most current models again yesterday and was quite impressed; specifically, I think the K-S2 is tempting because it's small, weather sealed and feature rich and should come done in price quite a bit soon. But frankly, all of their APS-C models are competitive; the new K-70 is just around the corner.

    @rayvonn@rayvonn IQ from the D750 is so good that I don't worry about the AA filter at all. Its removal made a real difference on :mu43:, I admit - the E-M10 delivers amazing pixel-level quality for such a small sensor, and now the GX80 does the same. And the D5500 is even better on all counts - amazing acuity. But the D750 beats them all in terms of results, and then some (though the D5500 comes remarkably close). I guess the AA filter on the D750 is pretty weak, I can't find a lot of transitional softening at all. File quality is amazing - great DR, little noise, wonderful contrast, colour and sharpness with suitable glass (and that doesn't have to be the latest and greatest - the measly 50mm f/1.8G delivers very nice images stopped down a bit). Get your hands on one of those cameras and try it - it's a wonderful picture taking machine. Yes, it's on the big and heavy side, but only by comparison. For a FF DSLR, it's very comfortable and positively handy. I liked its handling over that of the Sony A7 II by some margin (I was comparing the two for my FF adventure). The D750 is my workhorse - when I need quality, reliability and fluid operation, it's the camera I grab.

    M.
     
  7. rayvonn

    rayvonn SC Veteran

    309
    Jan 19, 2015
    Thanks Matt, I'm just doing the right thing first, ie building up the lenses bit by bit, so far the Nikkor 20mm f1.8 G and the Nokton 58mm f1.4 are in the bag, with the Zeiss Distagon 35mm F2 to come next week. I realise that cheap quality glass is going to be unacceptable. Just need to turn my attention to the 85mm and maybe longer zoom options after that although I'm not sure I need those last two with my current m43 setup. Only after the lens arsenal is built up properly will I dive in and buy a body, by which time there may be some new Nikon cameras announced or the D750 will drop in price (it's a bit overpriced here in Australia imo). But yes, as of now the D750 seems to be the one, certainly better for me than the Sonys, having access to all that other cheap legacy *native* glass dating back over 40 years is for me very exciting and the camera doesn't feel like a tank in the hand like say the D610 or D800/810.
     
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  8. MoonMind

    MoonMind SC Top Veteran

    578
    Dec 29, 2013
    Switzerland
    Matt
    @rayvonn@rayvonn Since you mention glass (interesting collection you're building there): The Nikon 85mm f/1.8G is a fabulous little lens - and it's comparatively cheap. I own three Sigma Art primes - the 24mm, 35mm and 50mm lenses (all of them spectacular, but also big and heavy), but see no reason to even consider the upcoming 85mm f/1.4. As far as reach goes, I don't know how much reach you're considering, but the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 is another fantastic lens, much lighter than any of the f/2.8 options, yet optically no worse; I love using that lens on the D750, and due to its moderate size and weight, it works very well on the D5500 as well. If you need more reach, there's the extremely versatile Nikon 80-400mm G and the new Nikon 200-500mm E - both lenses well worth their price and optically convincing, though I consider the 200-500mm too big for my liking. The 80-400mm is on my extended wishlist, though. But the Tamron and Sigma 150-600mm lenses are very interesting too - with (for me) the Tamron being the best value. But (and that's a big "but" if you own :mu43:) the Panasonic 100-400mm is one hell of a competition in this case ... I consider :mu43: my small system and won't add a lens that big (even the Olympus 75-300mm is too bulky), but if you don't limit yourself the way I do, it might well be all long tele you'll ever need.

    M.
     
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  9. davidzvi

    davidzvi SC Regular

    180
    Apr 18, 2014
    David
    I've gone from D300's to D700's and now to a D800 + D750. Recently I picked up a D5300 for one of my kids (college photo class). I have to admit, it's been fun to play with a smaller DSLR again. The feature set of the D5500 looks very good. From your list I think the one single biggest improvement would be removing the mode dial and adding a small LCD. You could easily add a mode dial type control to the main LCD display and I might also add a function button to change modes like the pro bodies have. I think that single change would move the camera up in class from both usability and perception stand point.
     
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  10. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    I already did that :). I own a K5 and K200D, both of which are weather resistant and top LCD'd. I havent been using them in recent months (or is that years) and was considering selling all my Pentax gear and making the switch, but finding something with the features I want, in another brand like Nikon... Cost and weight prohibitive. My Pentaxes work. I need to stop buying more cameras.
     
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  11. Tord S Eriksson

    Tord S Eriksson SC Regular

    59
    Aug 16, 2010
    Gothenburg. Sweden
    I got the D3300, which I am impressed by (did not like the D3200, though), and the new version out seems even better. Same size as the D5500, but far cheaper. Very reliable AF, even with very long lenses. But for the rest i use the FX camera, of course, or if it is macro I'm into, the J5 + extension tubes and the 70-300CX, or the J5 + FT1 adapter and the 40/2.8 macro (a DX lens), or the 85/3.5 macro (also DX), which has VR, something I like a lot.
     
  12. MoonMind

    MoonMind SC Top Veteran

    578
    Dec 29, 2013
    Switzerland
    Matt
    The D3300 or D3400 would be a step in the wrong direction for me personally - since I own and like the D5500, but sometimes long for the more refined layout of the D90. But I'm absolutely ready to believe that the D3300 takes very nice images, and since it uses the AF module from the D90 (yes, still the same!), I know it's reliable in that respect. As for the usefulness of the 1 system: I see it can be thoughtfully deployed, and you sure get a lot of additional benefits (mostly reach and/or magnification) out of it this way - solid choices there, and lots of versatility, impressive. I use my V1 with the 18.5mm as a sort of "digital Leica" (my CL is almost the same size), and with that lens and the still fantastic AF capabilities, I still find it a very convincing camera. Nikon's only real blunder was the pricing ...

    M.
     
  13. Tord S Eriksson

    Tord S Eriksson SC Regular

    59
    Aug 16, 2010
    Gothenburg. Sweden
    The V1 has a special place in my heart, but the J5 is so much better, in almost every way, but sadly the latter even lacks the means to attach an EVF (a non-functional flash shoe would be a starting point). Both feel very well constructed, and works very well (at least those I have have never had any issues of any kind; the J5 is pretty new so has not amassed as many clicks as the V1, but in total they are somewhere over 20,000).
     
  14. MoonMind

    MoonMind SC Top Veteran

    578
    Dec 29, 2013
    Switzerland
    Matt
    I can believe that the J5 beats the V1 in terms of IQ and even speed, but I find it extremely irritating that the nice control dial around the shutter button can't be used for aperture control in A mode - it's completely counter-intuitive; the V1's switch isn't exactly what I'd call comfortable to use, but it's there, and it works. Anyhow, I mainly use :mu43: for small and light, and I'm not (yet) into huge telephoto stuff, so the V1 is more or less a "fixed lens" 50mm-e for me, and as such, does exactly what I need - mostly because it has a good EVF to boot, and fantastic AF; for EDC, in spite of everything else I own, it's still one of my preferred cameras.

    I'd love to see a V4 with the J5's sensor and a built-in EVF, but that probably won't happen. As it is, as good as the J5 may be in absolute terms, it's not a camera I would enjoy - I use my GR or Olympus E-PL7 for this low-profile carry-along stuff when shooting from the hip is going to be frequent (street, mostly), and for everything else, I want a viewfinder of some sort.

    M.
     
  15. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    541
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I know it is a whole different beast, but have you considered looking at the Nikon Df? Yes, it is 135 sensor size, but it is the smallest 135 sensor size Nikon makes and I find the control scheme just works really well for me. On top of that you have a tweaked Nikon D4 sensor in it with, a still to this day, competitive low light IQ beast.

    I've always said that if I had to sell all my camera gear and keep one, it would be the Nikon Df. Now that I've had a taste for the PEN-F...I'd keep 2 cameras. :D
     
  16. Covey22

    Covey22 SC Top Veteran

    660
    Feb 3, 2012
    Interestingly, I'm going the other way. If I can keep a hand in Nikon, I would love that they finally move over all their good features/Lessons Learned from the Nikon 1/CX family into a DX Mirrorless. The biggest issue for me over the years, especially once I broke 24MP with the D5200, is the focus tuning and the complexity that the mirror brings - especially at wide-open, which is where I am often for my applications. Getting the 85/1.8 AFS aligned was already a reading of War and Peace for me - then I had to confront my f2.8 zooms. Ugh.

    Getting rid of that mirror will solve so many focus concerns.
     
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