With CES in full-swing now, as a pro DSLR user I can’t help but shrug and concede that it seems this will be a slightly under-whelming winter season for me. Then again, CES does stand for “consumer electronics show”. Maybe if this were the “PES” I might have a reason to get my hopes up? But I digress. No sign of a Nikon D400, no sign of a mk2 7D from Canon, and not even the slightest murmur of a new pro full-frame camera. Like I said though, this is almost par for the course at CES. Ten thousand new P&S cameras, (no, seriously!) …and maybe one or two pro items if we’re lucky.
However, Nikon has at least “thrown us a bone”, in the form of the new 35mm f/1.8 G ED. Not to be confused with the 35mm f/1.8 G DX, this lens is for full-frame cameras (FX) and is likely meant to be the replacement for the venerable Nikon 35mm f/2 which is an AF-D lens. A lens which, as seems to be par for the course for Nikon in recent years, hasn’t been updated (optically speaking) since 1989.
Now, here’s the interesting part: This lens is going to be priced at $599. (You can pre-order it from B&H here.)
However, the $599 price puts this lens in an interesting position. Why? Because the Nikon 28mm f/1.8 G N, its nearest neighbor both in release date and in price, sits at $699 and has Nano-coating. A lack of Nano-coating doesn’t always mean that a lens is inferior; in fact the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 G and Nikon 85mm f/1.8 G were not “N” (nor were they even “ED”!!) …and yet they both managed to be ridiculously sharp when they finally hit shelves.
So, I predict that the $100 smaller price tag will cause many “armchair critics” (and no, I don’t mean people who critique armchairs) will jump to the conclusion that this lens is inferior to its 28mm sibling. Personally, I’m ready to believe that it will be incredibly sharp, no, absurdly sharp. Partly because Nikon has been “batting a thousand” with their new f/1.8 G primes thus far, and partly because the original 35mm f/2 D was already very sharp and yet it costs just $330! Nikon isn’t dumb enough to release a lens that costs almost twice as much without delivering the goods.
The only other complication is the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 which costs “only” $899, and is already downright legendary. Can Nikon entice people to spend almost twice as much as their current 35mm f/2 D, without spending $300 more to get the Sigma which may possibly be far superior? We’ll have to wait and see.
The Nikon D3300 and 18-55mm DX Beginner DSLR Kit
Not to be forgotten, Nikon also has a new beginner DSLR for us in the form of the D3300. This camera will of course replace the D3200 / D3100, and be positioned in the market just below the incredible D5300 which we have been testing here at SLR Lounge.[Rewind: Click here to see what Nikon’s latest 24 megapixel DX sensor is capable of!]
I’ll admit, at first glance it looks like a camera identical to the D3200, an incremental update and not a serious nor revolutionary upgrade.
In case you were wondering, the D3300 has none of the hottest, latest features: No GPS, no Wifi, no touchscreen, and no articulated screen. Then again, the similarly priced Canon Rebel SL1 has only one of those features, the touchscreen.
In fact, the control layout and body styling on the D3300 look so similar to the D3100, at first I just assumed that these images were just a Photoshop job when I first saw them before the official release. However the subtle differences are there, if you look for them. (And these are in fact the official press release images)
The only thing that seems of interest is the borderline-gigantic button that sits smack-dab in the middle of the zoom ring on Nikon’s new 18-55mm DX VR2 lens. It appears to be a zoom lock button, given the “L” that sits to the right of the 18mm mark. (Nikon zooms zoom in to the left) Apparently, this button not only locks the zoom ring, but also retracts the focus ring. This makes the lens FAR smaller than any previous kit lens ever made for the seemingly “aging, oversized” DSLR format! (At least, when in the locked position. See the image below.)
D3200 kit on the left, D3300 kit on the right, approximate size comparison
Is this an attempt to fight back against the size and weight advantages of mirrorless systems that seem to be taking over the market? Maybe, however I hope this doesn’t mean Nikon is putting off getting serious about the mirrorless competition such as from Olympus, Sony and Panasonic etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I am excited to see that Nikon is still putting some effort into making their DX DSLR system more competitive and compact, since I personally am still addicted to optical viewfinders and I actually like how big the DSLR format bodies feel compared to the tiny, finger-cramping mirrorless systems. :-) Of course I wish we could see a D400 as well, but we all know where that discussion takes us.
The question is, will the masses call the D3300 a sad attempt at a rehash of the D3200, or will they focus on the considerable size /weight savings? We’ll know soon enough.
Pricing and Pre-Ordering Availability
So, what do you think? Worthwhile upgrade and welcomed new lens? Or are you under-whelmed? Personally, I was really hoping to also see a new Nikon 135mm f/2 VR to replace the old 135mm f/2 which, as usual, hasn’t been updated optically since 1990. I’m still betting that we’ll see this lens in 2014, however. Maybe within the next month or two!