Don’t look now, but photos of the Nikon D60 are starting to appear throughout the web. Why should A-Mount shooters care about Nikon’s latest offering? Aside from the fact that the D60 probably will use a Sony built sensor, rumors suggest that the D60 may replace the D40, which has been Nikon’s low end dSLR up until now. Before the introduction of the D40, Nikon lagged behind Canon in sales. Although I haven’t seen total world wide sales figures for dSLRs, shortly after the D40s introduction, Nikon began outselling Canon – at least in the Japanese market. There might have been other factors, but the D40 was a landmark camera for Nikon and undoubtedly helped Nikon regain its strength.
Of course the biggest reason the D40 has sold so well is price. The 6MP D40 carried a list price of $599. This was far less than most dSLRs and gave Nikon a real advantage in the dSLR marketplace,
A worthy competitor to the Sony A200?
If the rumors are accurate, the new Nikon will carry a 10.2mp sensor, making it a true competitor to the brand new Alpha A200. Here is where things get interesting. As I said, many rumor sites are indicating that the D60 will replace the D40. Which begs the question, if the D60 will replace the D40, will Nikon retain the $599 price for their introductory model?
If so, this is significant, because it will mean that the brand new Sony A200 will soon have to face a 10.2MP Nikon that will be priced about $100 less.
Of course the details of Nikon D60 are still cloudy, but it is believed that it will be a 10.2MP dSLR with an anti-dust system and similar internal processing as the upper level Nikons.
Nikon hasn’t acknowledged the price of the D60, but it is awfully hard to raise prices in the world of digital cameras. If the D40 is actually going away, I think both consumers and resellers would start howling if Nikon suddenly raised the list price of their introductory model above the D40’s $599 kit price.
If the D40 remains in the catalog, then Nikon is free to price the D60 however they wish. If the D40 has reached the end of the line, however, the D60 almost has to sell for a similar $599 price.
What does the D60 mean to Sony Alpha Users?
So where does that leave Sony and the Alpha lineup? The A200 has at price of $699. That wasn’t a big problem when facing the D40, which could only muster 6MP. Against a similar 10.2MP model, however, the A200 starts looking overpriced.
Alpha A200’s great advantage: Super Steady Shot
The one great advantage the A200 will continue to enjoy is in-body image stabilization. The D60 can’t match that, so the A200 can be considered a superior camera. In fact, unless Nikon were to offer an image stabilization lens as the kit lens (highly unlikely at $599), D60 users will have buy an expensive IS lens to enjoy the image stabilization Sony users get with all lenses. I’m not an expert on Nikon lenses, but most IS lenses I have seen would cost more than the D60 body.
So Sony probably could justify the higher price tag of the A200 on this single feature alone. Those who realize the value of in-body IS would probably feel it was worth it.
But many of the people moving from basic digital cameras don’t necessarily understand the value of Sony’s Super Steady Shot. (Great system, really dumb name.) For the bulk of first time dSLR users, the pixel count is still the determining factor. While some of the better camera shops may take the time to explain Anti-Shake to prospective users, Sony can’t expect the sales people at the big box stores to steer people into the A200.
So that $100 could be a real liability, unless Sony either drops the price of the A200 or introduces a lesser priced dSLR. If the D60 does list for less than $600, I expect Sony to react quickly.
What is your take?