Ken Rockwell on “Nikon’s Big Deception” with the D600, D800 and D4

Proto-photo-blogger Ken Rockwell has interesting things to say about what he calls “Nikon’s big deception.” If you’re currently considering the new D600, his “What’s New in September 2012″ words will be music to your ears:

Holy cow, I just realized Nikon’s big deception: the D600, D800, D800E and D4 are all the same cameras designed and produced in parallel at the same time and all have the same insides, producing the same images with the same processing power, same LCDs, same green-shift problems and identical AF controls. They differ only in exterior packaging and when Nikon chose to announce them to make them appear different. It’s just like 1980 again!

Back when Nikon ruled the pro 35mm world, all their 35mm cameras took the same pictures. The only differences were how tough and how fast they were. Consumer cameras like the EM were plasticy and worked OK, while the F3 was tough and fast, with the FE in the middle. All took the same film and same lenses, had the same meters, the same automatic modes, all focused the same, and all took exactly the same pictures.

[…] Today, Nikon’s 2012 FX trio of D600, D800 and D4 obviously were all designed and manufactured at the same time with the same innards, and merely announced in descending cost order at different times to try to hide the simple fact that they’re the same camera inside.

So Rockwell’s claim is that Nikon is taking the same powerful guts of the D4 and hamstringing it in various ways (e.g. firmware, build, features) in order to target different segments of the camera market — the same thing Canon is doing with the 1D X and 1D C.

  • bob cooley

    Analogies are note automatically fallacies – but non-sequiturs are. And you aren’t discussing the topic, you make no actual valid argument. You simply use the current discussion to inject a political opinion. It’s either trolling, hubris, or just ignorance.

    In looking at your history of posts on this and other forums, every post you make is in furtherance of your political views. Its not appropriate here. Please take it elsewhere.

  • RCB

    The political opinion is illustrating my opinion. I see Mr. Obama in the same light as Mr. Rockwell. Obviously you do not share that opinion, so please dispense with your commentary and I will take my elsewhere. RCB

  • RCB

    Get a Pentax K-5, problem solved

  • Manuel Smirnoff

    I never thought of that, no. But I do notice what a nasty bunch of folks there are here. I guess that’s the distance of the internet–the ability to be a jerk without having to do it to someone’s face, right?

  • kyoshinikon

    Both Ken and kai have in recent times gone anti nikon… The bias is obvious. Nikon and Canon are very similar. If an innovator was in the picture sony would win the prize…

  • Wattsimages

    Ken, is just hoping to get what is happening now. All of us talking about how dumb his article is. It’s unfortunate thet Petapixel gave him the visibility.

  • sayithere

    I’m not a fan of Ken Rockwell, but I’m not against his thought here. Every camera model has the same basic principle of technology. Even some manufacturers use the same Sony sensors in their cameras.

  • NDT

    I hardly think anyone has been abusive here. Giving an opinion about a public writing is nothing new. The same can be said for Rockwell. If he wishes to make accusations of deceit by a company, he better have a strong argument. What he has done instead, is write an attention grabbing headline very loosely based on fact.

  • Sasebastian01

    Rockwell says the same thing about every new nikon camera when it is released. He did the same thing with the d7000. ” this is the best camera nikon has ever produced” he says it about every one of the. Read his d800 page. Is first post after receiving one is that it is nikons best camera and image quality is “unmatched”. Same on d4. Now it’s the d600’s turn and when a d400 or d800S comes out it will be that one that is the best ever . The d600 may have similar image quality but functionality is what gets you the shot. I was looking between a d800 and 600 3 days ago and when I held the d600 it was almost as plasticky as my d7000. Being an HDR photographer 3 bracketed shots is unacceptable and 1/4000 shutter is no go for me either. It doesn’t have the popular 1.2x or 5:4 crop modes of pro bodies and there are many other features that the d600 lacks. I went $900 more and bought a d800 and now I know why there is a price difference. Because it is built like a tank and functions like a professional tool should. The only thing in these cameras that is the same is the expeed 3 chip. Different meter, AF module, build quality, and sensor. Sony makes the d600 and d800 sensor but they are different technology. Nikon claim to have made the d4 sensor. So they are in no way the same. His article is just a rant that makes no sense. Wait till next spring or summer when the d8000 comes out and he will singing its praises just like the d600, crop sensor or not.

  • Jared Monkman

    What petapixel is doing is just quoting a major player in the photography blog scene, to get a conversation going. No matter what you think of Ken Rockwell, he has a huge following, and people either seem to love him or hate him, so his opinions have weight. Instead of bemoaning petapixel, you should consider Ken Rockwells take, and decide for yourself whether there’s any truth to it.

  • joushikijin

    I dont care about the whole “Pros shoot RAW” debate. The rationale and logical thing to do is to shoot RAW because you have all the information. Saying you don’t have the time to edit the RAW is a lame excuse since you weren’t be able to come up with this argument during the times when film was used (Lets shoot Polaroid to save time) and you are clearly willing to deliver sub-par quality of what could have been otherwise a better photo. Photography does not end with pressing the trigger!

  • Jjmac

      Ken Rockwell may turn out to be a less well implemented version of Rob Galbraith with many functions hobbled

  • Skybase

    So do most other tech companies.

  • Anon

    I think Ken is right on the money. Look at these gems from the subject post:

    “Simple technology tells us that with the D4’s big battery that Nikon would put more computing power in it”

    or this

    “10 MP is more than enough for anything. …Honestly, 24 MP is ideal”

  • DE

    The argument still stands though. Shooting jpeg means the processing is
    done in camera (with the settings you chose), much like sending off your
    film (the film you chose for the occasion) to your favourite lab.
    Strapped for time you wont mess around with adjustments for each shot in
    raw, or darkroom work for each picture. That doesn’t make you any less
    the photographer though. It just means you get to deliver on

  • German

    Umm. So what?

  • Raymond Larose

    Can someone please give that assclown a sandwich so he stops begging for money and luring people to his site with his ridiculous claims? Soon as I see his name in an article, my eyes glaze over and my BS metter goes into overdrive.

  • stanimir stoyanov

    Could be a software limitation, no?

  • Amir Asyraf

    ‘Everyone’ knows Ken Rockwell, he’s the last person you should expect to even have a thought of when it comes to photography, even a grandma gives better advice.

    A lot of people hate him, that’s for a good reason.

  • Zhemin

    Thats just dumb, because every film camera had the same sensor, and did that make them the same. No!
    With digital there is more difference between each tier of cameras.

  • Kamissa

    Wow! Why are you so angry? Why attack the person more so than his ideas? None of us were brought to Ken’s site on handcuffs! So, either we find the site resourceful or we don’t, but there should be no room for insolence or such deep-rooted acrimony. Let’s move on! While I do not always agree with Ken’s assessment, I concur with him this time. The timing of the release of all 3 cameras, their specs are too revealing of Nikon’s strategy. Still Nikon is a company like any other that is vying for a big share of the photography market, where the consumer seems eager for “innovation” and larger-than-life megapixels! Shoot with love and don’t blame others for your decisions or position.

  • Kamissa

    Why are you still here? Check out, my friend!

  • DafOwen

    Agreed – producing just the top level item and limiting it can be cheaper than putting 2,3+ different level items into production.

    Don’t think it’s totally the case here but it’s nothing new.

  • JaiGuru

    Speed and quietness are not passing factors for photographers. Claiming these are the same displays a sophomoric understanding of the craft.

  • whoopn

    Wait a sec…the D4 has a 16MP sensor, the D800 a 36MP, and the D600 a 24MP. They don’t have the same insides…

    Sure they use the same image processors, Nikon typically only makes one high end processor at a time. These cameras have vastly different use cases (take the D800E for example, not really your outdoorsy type of camera. Where as the D4 can see in the dark (read pitch black)). The D600 is a cheaper general purpose camera slapped in a D7000 body, with a slower shutter (again not the same as the D800 or D4).

    If Ken is going to make such wild accusations he should at least have a prettier website, I’ve seen prettier Geocities websites…

  • Jake

    Thank you for addressing the content of the article and not the author. I love how so many people have Rockwell Filters attached to their lenses, where they automatically hate anything with his name on it, before even reading or thinking about his point.

  • aes53

    Like this is some sort of revelation? All one has to do is read Ken Rockwell’s idiotic “review” of the Zeiss line of lenses for Nikon to realize he’s hardly credible.

  • `/1nc3nt

    Reading Ken’s site is amusing because it like reading a science fiction, many judgements based on writer’s limited knowledge and most of the time influenced by like and dislikes against any camera, technology or whatsoever.

    Component reuse is common in engineering to reduce mistakes and also cost. Toyota build various models on one single platform. I think this is what he thinks, Nikon use the same production tricks for D4, D600 and D800.

    He forgot that fundamentally the sensor which is the heart of the camera has different pixels and supposedly made by different companies (Nikon, Aptina, Sony). The tag “Expeed3 inside” doesn’t mean that all have same processors yet (compare: Intel inside tag). The observation list doesn’t end here, we can create a long list on each component to prove him wrong.

    While functionally he might be right that all the cameras share similarities in functions, they are still different cameras by design. Making a conclusion from what we see and not from what we measure seems not scientifical enough for me.

    My God, “he” did it again!

  • justanamericanguy

    Lets see if I get this right. We have three different models with different bodies, different frame rates, different resolutions, different controls, ect. and yet they are all the same camera. There are a lot of camera models that share common parts. That does not make them equal. It is the differences between them that matter more to most people.

  • Renato Valenzuela

    that’s just dumb, because there’s more than one kind of film!

  • rafavarium

    My oh my…I didnt know some people were so passionate about liking or not liking the guy. Maybe his views are out of whack sometimes but he does have a right to write ANYTHING HE WANTS on his website. Dont like it? Dont read it! His website actually helped me while I was a noob, once I learned more obviously I read less and less and I could see that most of his ramblings were purely his opinion…something that he states in every single corner of his site if you actually read it.

    Back to the topic at hand…yes, I agree with him this time. Canon is doing the same thing with the 1D’s too, its normal, its called product development. Lets add all the features to one single body and you will see people complaining about the price and stuff.

  • simonhowes

    If he is anti-Nikon and this is his reason I don’t get what he getting at. The Canon 550D, 600D, 650D, 60D and 7D all use the same sensor and processor. There’s very little different between them all in IQ. Half of the internal parts are the same also.

  • Cristian N. MORMOLOC

    Hey guys,

    Just my two pennies on this topic. I follow KR’s blog from time to time and on this occasion I do agree
    with him. He’s got a good point in his article… just from the technical point
    of view however, and he’s absolutely right. The hardware specs are indeed way
    too similar.

    I think what he does not seem to realize is just a basic marketing concept: segmentation
    / targeting. Of course Nikon came up with great breakthroughs in photo technology,
    like this awesome sensor they’ve put on the D800 which (still) ranks the best
    in the world, or the amazing Expeed processor which is present in all of their latest
    dSLR bodies. Even my old D700 works on an Expeed processor.

    Given that they own this technology, and being aware that the market for
    their cameras is OBVIOUSLY segmented, what they did was to simply take this
    technology and tailor it to match certain needs in the market. That’s just some
    simple marketing put in practice. Nothing more.

    Not to discredit KR or anything, but he’s an engineer. That’s why I
    assume he saw nothing of this. And I am still going to get a D800, and I’d
    still get the D800 instead of the D4, simply because it is built in a way that suits
    my needs better. Even though they have the same technology inside.

  • M4sman

    Why does Rockwell call it “Nikon’s big deception” — how is Nikon deceiving us?

    Also — do the two “same cameras” have the same magnesium body? same integral battery/vertical grip? same sensor? same shutter/mirror mechanism? same external controls? C’mon Ken, even you can do better than this nonsense!

  • Give me a Break

    Canon must be paying Ken something to shill this cr@p and really, who gives a sh*t what he has to say anyway, he is a douche. This article is drivel.

  • Michael Peter Ammel

    he is simply down to earth. NIKON and others have created modular platforms, not just to increase the economy of scale, but also to get market share faster, which is smart, when product cycles are shrinking fast. normal business

  • Daniel Austin Hoherd

    It’s funny that you said “putting aside what we think of Ken Rockwell” and then immediately followed that up with what you think of Ken Rockwell.

    Good points though :)

  • Daniel Austin Hoherd

    Yes, but you can put those different kinds of film into any same-class camera. IE: any 35mm camera can shoot any 35mm film.

  • SLK Hammer

    Not really supply and demand, but rather perceived value. You can charge what people are willing to pay. As long as what you are selling has no cheaper equivalent. In cameras people think a more rugged body with a faster frame rate is worth more than a lesser version so they pay more. In cars, a similar thing, that’s how Ferrari and Lamborghini stay in business. Doesn’t matter that the extra specs aren’t useable in actual driving (eg. top speeds in excess of 200mph), some people (people with lots of money) still buy them.

  • kyoshinikon

    But his article excludes Canon or Pentax or Leica as if he is intentionally putting nikon down for canon just because he is an avid 5Dmk3 fan

  • kyoshinikon

    But Ken is just about equating this to that…

  • David Lee Tong

    Finally, a logical mind and a sensible comment.

    Rockwell runs a blog… HIS blog, he’s entitled to HIS opinion… Amusing how people easily forgets that.

  • Feroz Khan

    Each of his new reviews contradicts what he says in previous reviews (which aren’t written much earlier)
    Yes he was alright before, but lately he’s just a Nikon basher and it’s almost as if he says that any other camera made / bought apart from the 5Dm3 is a waste of time / money

  • dale charles +1

    The newest Nikons / Canon’s “are” the best one’s ever. New technology and quality usurps the last model, which is usually several years old, doesn’t it? How is 1/4000 not fast enough? Bracket manually.. we’ve been doing that for decades ;-)

  • Dan the Man

    I remember a while ago, he was putting off Canon in favour of Nikon. Maybe you’re not following him long enough… The tide changes with every new generation camera. Today Nikon, tomorrow Canon. Day after, maybe even Sony. which is all great for us, the end-users, because competition means competitive pricing…

  • Wing

    That’s true, the cost of IC (CMOS Sensor) depends on area, all 3 models use full frame FX format, same graphic processor-Digi5. May be they are using the sensor also.

  • the truh

    There are very many differences and he is simply wrong. No idea where he’s getting his facts from……sounds like he’s. Currently paid by Canon

  • steven kay

    A lot of words about a guy who is proclaiming “the best…” constantly for new products he can get his hands on – just to get attention.
    His later argumentation on Nikon’s “failure” sound somehow childish – just like
    a “buaaah …. noone at nikon is listening to me !”. One thing is evident to me:
    Blogging can turn to a meaningless stammering once you prefer to argue on
    personal views rather than on revisable facts. He’s on his way to vacuity to me.

  • Nikon>Canon

    That’s because only stupid people use or talk about Canon’s

  • John Lloyd

    another guy who hides his lack of talent with the brand he’s using