The Nikon DSLR Sweepstakes Game, early 2016

Here's the thing. You've entered a sweepstakes and the prize is "any current Nikon DSLR." Which one do you take? 

We have a couple of variations on how to play the game.

First up, DX only. 

At the start of 2016 your choices were D3300, D5500, D7200, and D500. The D5500 has the swivel LCD, the D7200 has more features, and the D500 is a mini-D5 in a DX package, but that also means that it lost the built-in flash. 

The choice for me is easy: most of you should take the D7200, a few of you that have very high speed requirements should take the D500.  

Will the answer change in 2017? Probably not.  

Next, let's try FX.

At the start of 2016 your choices were D3x, D5, Df, D610, D750, and D810. That's a much tougher choice, because those cameras are all over the place. There's also the clear option of taking the most expensive camera, selling it, and buying a less expensive one ;~). But I'm going to assume that you're stuck with the one you choose. 

You can't pick the D3x because the D810 is better in image quality, and the build quality difference just doesn't justify picking the D3x, even if you love vertical grips (you can always add one to the D810). 

You can't pick the D610 because the D810 is better in image quality, features, and to a small degree, build. Likewise, the D810 really only suffers to the D750 in terms of tilt screen.

If you're always shooting at ISO 3200 and above and/or you need very high frame rates for what you shoot (e.g. sports), then you clearly pick the D5. 

The only reason you pick the Df is probably because you like dials. (It's not better in image quality than the D810; it's not better in frame rate, features and build of the D4s.) I write that a bit sarcastically, but the only other thing I could come up with is that it's a bit smaller and lighter than most of the others, or you are shooting above ISO 3200 an awful lot and don't care about frame rate or focus system. Most people aren't going to pick that way, I think. 

Many people should pick the D750. It’s a very well balanced camera that’s got Nikon’s latest technology and image quality tweaking (JPEG). The small size and light weight coupled with the swivel LCD were a nice surprise. But technically, the answer is D810 if the D5 wasn’t the right choice. The D810 is still just the best all-around DSLR Nikon makes.

Will the answer change in 2017? Yes, almost certainly. We’ve got two or three cameras that will entering the FX update cycle in the next 12-18 months.

Now it might seem silly to play this game, but it does have a function. One of the questions I get asked every day is "should I buy an X or wait?" Okay, play the game. What's your answer for early 2016? Now how likely is it that 2017 will change your answer? Right now it's only the D7200, D610, D750, D810, and Df users that have a high probability to have their answer change in the coming year, I think. If you picked something else, then the answer is most likely "don't wait."   

So how long should you wait? New DSLRs tend to come in January, February, and August, with the much slimmer possibility of spring or late year.

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