More Nikon Rebates

NikonUSA has a new set of lens-only rebates, plus is now offering rebates on the D7500 body. As usual, here are my thoughts:

  • 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G DX — US$10 off (US$300 final price). You know what? I’m liking this lens. Sure, US$10 isn’t much, but the lens performs above it’s regular price expectancy to start with. It’s a nice light, reasonable optical quality option for the DX crowd that needs a wide angle zoom.
  • 10.5mm f/2.8G DX — US$175 off (US$600 final price). This is a fun lens in the DX lineup, and covers 180° across the diagonal. I suspect one reason why this lens is on sale is that the 8-15mm, which is a multipurpose 180° lens that works with both FX and DX. The 8-15mm is clearly better at the edges than the 10.5mm when used the same, but the 10.5mm is a small, light lens that’s easy to add to any bag. Every now and again I’m really happy that I have it in the bag. This is a good price for a good lens.
  • 12-24mm f/4G DX — US$200 off (US$950 final price). This is a lens that’s well past its expiration date. In the D3/D300 era, it was a fine choice. You could use it as 12-24mm in DX at 12mp and be happy with the results, you could use it at 18-24mm in FX at 12mp and be happy with the results. Today, not so much. The lens clearly shows its acuity and resolution limits at 24mp DX and just isn’t a useful option at 45mp FX. This is a lens that needed revamp back when Nikon hit 16mp DX. It didn’t get it. You’d think a company whose products all derive from optics would have a clue about things like that, but this is Nikon we’re talking about. They make some great stuff, and they make some stuff that makes us all scratch our heads.
  • 17-55mm f/2.8G DX — US$300 off (US$1200). Now here’s the opposite of what I just wrote. This lens still seems to do just fine with the 20/24mp DX sensors. Optically, it’s still in the game. The problems with it are that it doesn’t incorporate VR, it really is a 26-85mm equivalent (and thus not wide enough at the wide end), and it’s pretty big and heavy. I personally like the 16-80mm f/2.8-4 better. 
  • 24mm f/1.8G — US$50 off (US$700 final price). Not a big discount, but I like this lens, indeed I like it enough that I don’t own the f/1.4 version any more. Not a particularly special deal, but deals on the recent fast primes tend to be few and far between, so grab it while you can.
  • 24-70mm f/2.8G — US$100 off (US$1700 final price). This isn’t enough of a discount to motivate me, and it shouldn’t motivate you, either. The new Nikkor E VR version is much better, the Tamron G2 version is a better deal. I just don’t see this as a lens you’d tend to opt for today.
  • 35mm f/1.4G — US$200 off (US$1500 final price). I like the lens just fine, but I’m not a big fan of the focal length. If you are, this is a good price on a very good lens.
  • 35mm f/1.8G DX — US$30 off (US$170 final price). This lens belongs in every DX kit. Every DX kit. It also gets discounted between US$20 and US$40 fairly regularly, so there’s no urgency in picking it up, it’s likely to see future discounts, too.
  • 40mm f/2.8G Micro DX — US$30 off (US$300 final price). I really don’t get it. Nikon seems to be stuck in the world of copy stand macro lenses. In practical use in the field, the working distance (subject to front element) is just too small to be useful. These lenses (40mm DX, 55 or 60mm FX) were designed to copy books on a copy stand (e.g. large static object with controlled lighting. How many of you still do that? For shooting flowers at 1:1 you can’t get light into the subject, and 1:1 for insects you’ll chase them away. Not a useful lens, IMHO, and a waste of Nikon’s time and energy.
  • 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G — US$200 off (US$2100 final price). I’m perplexed by this lens. I’ve seen a large number of copies that can’t focus reliably with live view, other copies with soft 400mm, and still other copies that look really good and focus with live view. Indeed, I just got off a trip where four students were using 80-400mm lenses, and one was terrible, one had live view focus issues, and the other two were okay. This is a lens that, should you buy one, be sure to test it thoroughly while your return capability is still valid. More so than any other lens in Nikon’s current lineup, the 80-400mm is a lens with variable quality issues. 

Meanwhile, the D7500 has joined the Instant Savings game with a US$100 discount on the body only, and a US$300 discount with the 18-140mm lens. I’ve been shooting with the D7500 for the past couple of weeks in the Galapagos, and with the right lenses, it's a great camera. However, the real question is still the same one as before: is there enough new and interesting in the D7500 at the high price (now US$1150 with the discount) to warrant picking it up over a new D7200 at US$800? My current answer is no. Why?

Nikon is extremely frustrating as of late. The D7500 was cost-cut at manufacturing, so it’s missing a bunch of things the D7200 has (e.g. dual card slots, optional grip, etc.). But the D7200 firmware hasn’t been updated for the AF-P lenses, and you’d really like to pick one or two of those up to keep your DX kit small and light. So there’s no perfect choice between the D7200 and D7500. 

Frankly, whoever green-lighted the D7500 specs should be given an office with a window (not a good thing in Japan). This camera sits right at the key point for Nikon. The D70, D80, D90, D7000, D7100, D7200 have been the workhorse DX body for the serious shooting enthusiast, and it’s been critical that Nikon get the updates right. Problem is, they haven’t. The D80 had big sensor issues. The D7000 had focus issues. And now the D7500 has content issues. 

My choice would be to keep shooting with the D7200 if I had to choose. Sure, I’d miss a few small things that are nice on the D7500, but I’d also gain a number of small things that were nice on the D7200. Indeed, here’s how you prove that whoever came up with SnapBridge should also get an office with a view: try moving images from the D7200 to your smartphone and then try the same thing with the D7500. Oops. We went backwards. 

This is a long-winded way of saying I expect bigger discounts on the D7500 in the not too distant future. Ironically, Nikon won’t be able to do the body+grip discount thing that proved so popular with the D500, D750, and D810. Enjoy the view out your window, Nikon management.

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