Is the Nikon D6 that bad?

Apparently a lot people think so!

Many have in fact expressed a huge disappointment with the new D6. What they are saying is the new camera is in no way an upgrade on the D5 and some have said its far worst than Nikon’s other FX cameras.

Is that true? Well it depends on where one is coming from. For someone, a mere mortal like me, the Nikon D6 is a fantastic beast. Its a lovely new camera. In my world it would be a huge upgrade!

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The D6 as seen in a hands-on review. That review is here with good sample images of the camera. The top bit isn’t a flash but rather the GPS housing.

For others however (who have the latest professional cameras – dslr or mirrorless – and large collections of these too) comparing the new D6’s specs hard against the older and very successful D5, or other recent FX cameras such as the D780, even the older Nikon flagship professional cameras such the D3 etc, what people are saying is the D6 is dire in terms of specs and many have insisted they will not be buying it at all.

They are also doing the inevitable and comparing the D6 with the new Canon 1 DX Mk III (which I have previously said I’ll be able to afford around 2125…!) That’s a super beast of a camera with many huge new innovations that sets it as a professional camera in its own league apart from the previous iterations of the 1DX.

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Good quality image capture and auto focusing. Source: You Tube

I would agree these two cameras (D6 and 1DX Mk III) are a totally different league from each other and can’t really be compared. The Canon is truly a most outstanding camera. However here’s a D6 vs 1 DX Mk III analysis.

So far most vloggers and reviewers are basing their expressed disappointment of the Nikon D6 merely on its specs alone. Let’s wait for some serious real world reviews shall we?

There are problems with the new D6 which irks people. Its not deliberate though. These are technical improvements in fact but what it is doing (on the face of the specs alone) is its making people see the camera as a downgrade.

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The AF areas on the D5 vs the D6. The D6 has a full 105 cross-type points. Source: You Tube

One of these is the new focusing system. It has 105 focusing points, however these are all cross-types. The D5 in comparison had 153 of these points, but only a selection were cross -types/user selectable.

Which is the superior system then? Well it seems many think the D5 was the superior system. The D6 by comparison has a slightly smaller reach across the viewing area, which means it doesn’t actually quite reach so far across as other cameras.

The idea these days is that a camera reaches almost right to the edges of the viewing screen and what this does is it gives almost every point of the scene being composed the ability to be focused automatically by tracking and the rest of it. (The Dual Pixel Auto Focusing in Canons is excellent and ts something Nikon has struggled to match up to.) The new Canon 1DX Mk III has 191 AF points with 155 being cross-type.

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The D6 has far greater focus detection ability than the previous Nikons. Source: You Tube

The D6 has what Nikon calls a ‘triple sensor arrangement’ and a new ‘expanded focus detection range’ and the new improved system is a massive boon over the D5. Its got hugely enhanced face detection capability. According to Nikon its the most advanced AF system yet in one of their cameras.

I would agree the D6 has somewhat compromised itself by not having an even greater number of AF points, and not extending these to the edges of the viewing screen. This is the current trend with cameras and its something many would have no doubt expected.

However if one thinks about it, the number of points and the actual AF actual arrangement is quite similar to the excellent D500 and that (despite being a DX camera) gained a massive following among photographers. It seems no-one complained about the D500’s short comings! Some great photographic capabilities of the D6 can be seen in this official Nikon D6 video.

Some were saying the D6’s sensor was not as substantial as the D5’s however both have 20.8mp. They may be the same but the D6 has the new Expeed 6 processor (used in the D780 too) compared to the older one used in the D5. (I assume this takes on from the example of the new Canon 1DX Mk III which has new DIGIC processors and similarly boosts the capabilities of the 1DX’s camera’s smaller 20.1mp sensor.) The Expeed 6 also gives the D6 better capabilities in low light Thus there isn’t any need really to increase the capabilities of the sensor itself.

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Good quality images and focusing. Source: You Tube

Is the D6 also meant to be competing against mirrorless? No I don’t think so. Its meant to be a whole new ken of professional camera and Nikon claim they have been listening to the experts and heard what they wanted.

Why do we need DSLR’s when mirrorless is the far superior choice? First there’s always something to be said for a digital reflex lens system. Its regularly more accurate in terms of composition. Plus the art of holding a mirrorless in front of oneself for hours can be tiring on both the arms and the eyes.

Mirrorless cameras have a huge problem with buffer. A sequence of images shot in burst mode renders most mirrorless cameras useless while they write to the memory cards and clear their buffer. Its why they are not that good for sports photography for example and this is why the DSLR still reigns for many professionals.

There’s also still a greater choose of lens for the DSLR too. Mirrorless has a long way to go in terms of offering the kind of range found in DSLR lenses.

Other considerations of the new D6

Twin Cfast Express card with enhanced capabilities. The CFasts are very expensive but much applauded in terms of write speed and they’re great if someone needs to have a huge turn over in their work and not expect the camera to suffer any delays in shooting. A sensible move seeing the 1DX Mk III uses these too and gains a huge buffer capability.

What of the buffer itself? I cant seem to find any specs on this, however I’d think it has at least the same as a D5, enhanced by the new Expeed 6 and the use of the new CFast Express cards, which should give the camera an almost limitless buffer. Real world testing will show us what the capabilities are.

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Kensington lock. This was a requirement from professionals according to Nikon. These cameras are expensive and a lock was seen as an essential add-on. With the D6 professionals can lock their cameras and prevent opportunist thieves swiping it in those rare moments like when the owner is looking away for a few seconds or has to go and talk to someone nearby etc.

HEIF images. Yes I would agree this is an oversight, especially that Canon has innovated the use of the new image file in its 1DX Mk III and we need to have a better alternative to both JPEG and RAW in terms of both quality and image file size when it comes to burst shooting.

Enhanced battery. Same type as the D5 but newer and more shots per charge. The D6 can also charge via USB.

Bluetooth, Wi Fi, built in GPS, LAN etc. NIkon says its the most connected camera they have produced. It can also be used with Snapbridge. Yes I’m aware some don’t like Snapbridge, but the capability is there anyhow.

Touch screen with enhanced flick capability. This means by flicking the image one way or another (for example flicking it upwards will immediately send it via GPS or wi fi to the news editor – it means one can select and send images faster than previously.)

There are many other new workflow enhancements. Nikon says the D6 has the best ever in camera work flow capability.

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As is normal with semi pro and pro cameras, the D6 has weather sealing and ruggedness. Source: You Tube

The D6 also has enhanced video capabilities, however I’m leaving that out because its a subject in its own right when one compares Nikons, Canons and other cameras (eg Fuji, Panasonic etc.) I’m sure someone will come up with a video detailing the D6’s video capabilities. Time alone will show whether Nikon has improved in this area because their video system hasn’t been what should be expected of it, especially the auto focusing. Its something I have found a little of a disappointment.

The camera comes out in Spring 2020. Yikes its expensive (just as the Canon 1DX Mk III is!) The price is something people will need to consider when thinking about buying the new camera – if they are thinking about it by all means they can likely afford it too! If its an upgrade and the D6 does what one needs of it (and one has plenty of Nikon lenses too) then it could be worth it.

Most vloggers seem to think the new Nikon is a huge disappointment. For example Jared Polin. Angry Photographer. Matt Granger.

There are some positive reviews. Grays of Westminster has one. This Nikon Canada video too does the new product justice.

For someone like me, the Nikon D6 is mouthwatering (as is the Canon 1DX MkIII) because either of these would be massive upgrades to the cameras I presently own!

I think personally there is some selfishness in terms of those who can afford these super mega cameras and then complain when these are not exactly up to the job! Anyone able to have any professional camera is in my view a very lucky person!

I regularly find those You Tube experts saying the hands on, real world reviews, are the most important. Indeed! Let’s see what these have to show because I do not think Nikon would have even produced a D6 had they not thought it would not be up to expectations.

It seems perhaps everyone’s been too fast off the mark in condemning the D6!

Nikon D6 Product Video

Good video with professionals using the new D6

Nikon UK D6 product page

Readers may think this is the first time I have written anything about cameras. Its not! This blog actually started out in 2012 as a photography blog for my diploma course! Many of its early posts are about photography (and these can still be seen.) Indeed I have continued to produce photography posts on the odd occasion. I also have a Twitter timeline which covers loads of photography topics, news and reviews, and I am always watching the latest videos and updates on photography from various vloggers.

I’m not a professional in any way however whilst my cameras are ancient products. The most professional cameras I have are a D300s and a Canon 7D! Yes I am a fan of both systems! Fairly recently – and with a lot of belt tightening – I got a D3300 rather cheaply and this is used for most of my low light photography.

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