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Debate: what is the shelf life of a DSLR?

shelf life dlsr debate

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Poll: Debate: what is the shelf life of a DSLR? (78 member(s) have cast votes)

What is a reasonable shelf life expectancy for a DSLR?

  1. 1-3 years (7 votes [8.97%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.97%

  2. 3-5 years (11 votes [14.10%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.10%

  3. 5-7 years (32 votes [41.03%])

    Percentage of vote: 41.03%

  4. +7 years (28 votes [35.90%])

    Percentage of vote: 35.90%

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#1 Dallas

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 06:17

Many of you who follow my posts on the forum will already know that I am certainly not enamoured with Nikon's decision to not produce an adequate replacement for the D700 as they did with the D3S to D4. I certainly don't see the D800 or the D600 as feasible replacements at this stage. Firstly, I simply don't need or want 36 million pixels to do the kind of work I do and secondly, the D600 is not a camera that excites me much at all in terms of its build characteristics and overall specification. I'm more inclined to save the money and buy a D5200 or D3200 as a second body and carry on with the D700 as my main camera.

The question I must ask the community this week then is this: what is a reasonable expectancy of the shelf life of a DSLR? Take into consideration that I am not shutter happy - in 4 years of D700 ownership at a professional level I still haven't reached 40k clicks, so I don't fear the shutter packing in on me any time soon (written whilst crossing as many digits as possible), but things like battery life and service do gnaw at my sub-conscience. What will happen when my batteries don't work anymore?

Is it reasonable to expect a camera like the D700 to continue to do professional duty for at least another 3 - 5 years? What is a reasonable life expectancy for a DSLR these days?

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#2 Mexecutioner

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 07:32

They can last a long time, but can we last that long without wanting the improvements of the newer bodies? I look at images I took in 2008 with my D3 and I still like them. I'm sure if I still had that camera I would enjoy the results. I sold it out of NAS, and to get a D3S, since it had better performance in low light. I am sure a D3S can last a decade and produce amazing images for that period of time.
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#3 Elsa Hoffmann

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 08:04

Sexy Mexi has a good point - can we last.
my D3x is probably 4 or 5 years old - I am not even sure - but still not ready to be replaced.
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#4 nfoto

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 08:28

I use my D200 and D40X on a regular daily basis, the D2H is my "just in case anything happens" camera in the car. Plus the D2H is used for product shots in the studio if massive resolution is not required.

The problems we eventually face is a future lack of spare parts for the camera, plus batteries are dying and replacements might not be available. Thus, while the camera should be workable per se for decades, the logistic support might dwindle after 7-8 years. For popular models there probably will exist an aftermarket opportunity for consumables like batteries though.
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#5 Dallas

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 09:02

The other day I saw an ad on a local photo classifieds for a D2X with all the accessories it came with for less than the price of a new D3200. Now, I know that the D2X was a fine camera and I was tempted to consider using it, but then the question of whether a new D3200 would be a better choice (given the age of the D2X) has me considering that option instead. How much longer could a D2X be expected to receive support from Nikon for?

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#6 nfoto

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 09:09

Standard policy for Nikon has been support for 10 years after a product is discontinued. However, that is an estimate since at the end of life for a product, they do a run making spare parts, then stop production entirely. If an item has parts that needs replacement more frequently than Nikon estimated, the repair facilities will run out of spare parts before the 10 years have elapsed.
Bjørn

#7 vivionm

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 09:40

Good question. My D700 will not be replaced until Nikon introduces a logical successor.

#8 Larry

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 12:06

The camera will last much longer than we care to keep these. What has prompted me to replace my cameras is whether the improvement in the new models are substantial enough that I would want to avail of this.

My own experience tells me that DX dSLRs have a shorter shelf life than FX dSLRs. My DX dSLRs typically have a shelf life of 3 years. My D7000 is now 2-years old and absent any significant improvements in Nikon's new DX, it will likely soldier on till next year.

My FX dSLRs on the other hand will likely have a much longer shelf life. The D700 is my first FX dSLR and it is now nearing 4-years. I have no plans to sell it even while I have added a D3s and a D800E. For as long as I can find batteries to power my D700, I will likely keep it. Since I have an MB-D10 which can use AA batteries to power the D700, I will likely keep my D700 for another 3-5 years.



Sexy Mexi has a good point - can we last.
my D3x is probably 4 or 5 years old - I am not even sure - but still not ready to be replaced.


Your D3X is likely near or about 3-years old based on the Nikon's release date. Rodrigo however likely agrees with you on the 'Sexy Mexi" aspect of your comment. :D

Edited by Larry, 27 January 2013 - 12:13 .

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#9 Alan7140

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 12:23

My D3s will be with me into the foreseeable future, because the X-Pro1 has become my weapon of choice for the stuff I like to do. For work the D3s is the better camera, though, even though using it, particularly after using the Fuji, is no longer the joy it once was. Operational deficiencies brought on by the Fuji's small body & 16MP APS-C sensor (one card, small battery, slow write rate, limited burst capacity, 6400 ISO limit) limit its usefulness in events coverage, but the D3s honestly feels like a cumbersome house brick after the Fuji even if it is faster and more durable, which kinda takes the fun out of it. Good as the current Nikon workhorse zooms are (I'm using the 16-35/4 & 24-120/4 in the main), they are equally unexciting, almost boring, in what they produce, which I suppose is really just a reflection of how I feel when using the equipment and not so much the lenses themselves.

My previous Nikon digitals had an average active use life of around 18 months between models, although my old D2x still does service on the copy stand. I also have never carried a designated backup camera (such as two of the same type), although I always have more than one camera with me.

#10 Lars Hansen

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 12:39

Honestly - for my kind of photography most of the new advanced features will not improve my shooting. I'm still shooting with my 6mp D40 (2006 AD). I know it's ridiculously outdated in many aspects but I think it actually performs well in many basic photography aspects. I could gain quite a bit extra IQ from more recent consumer camera models with high pixel counts etc., but a good used D700 (that to me stands as a great camera) would be a considerable and great IQ upgrade. And I would expect it to last for several years. So I hope to see the prices drop on these cameras as people sell these to buy the new hot cameras :wink:

I've tried several recent consumer DX DSLR models but they often have a lot of features I don't need and simple stuff like reliable AF, that I do need, seems to be sacrificed in the pursue of new features, even faster and more complex AF etc. That's part of the reason I've been drawn to look at the Fuji X cameras .. hoping to find a camera system with focus on the basic features that can last for many years.

Edited by Lars Hansen, 27 January 2013 - 12:49 .


#11 stenrasmussen

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 13:12

As long as it works it will be a valid picture making machine.
I got two old D2H's, a D200, a D40, D300, etc and they are all in use.
Batteries are the only thing I fear will be hard to find in the future.
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#12 jramskov

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 13:35

I have no plans of upgrading my D700 either. I think they made a home run with that camera and I'll stick to it for the forseeable future. I don't think upgrading to either a D800 or D600 is worth it for me being an amateur. What is in much more dire need of improving is my skills rather than the camera.

Perhaps NAS will hit me when the next round of Nikon FF cameras arrives.
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#13 Andrea B.

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 14:19

This is an interesting question !

I answered 5-7 years because I'm simply not sure how well electronics hold up over time. My feeling is that finally we have reached a stage where we do not have to upgrade because of improved picture quality. I hit that stage with the D3S after almost yearly upgrades prior to the D3S beginning with the D100.

There may very well be nifty things that come along - improved ergonomics, better menus, even less noise, built-in gps & wireless (soon I hope for Dallas' sake) - which I will want. I for sure would buy again if I could get a very programmable Nikon which permitted me to load and store many presets for saving time in the editor.

The new longer shelf life may not please the manufacturers, so I expect we will see an increasing number of bells & whistles in new models to lure us into buying again.

There is a pretty good market out there for resales of older models if you are patient and don't expect to recover too much of the original price.

I'm happy to be able to put my money now towards travel and interesting lenses.

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#14 Akira

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 14:40

As Sten noted, I think the battery is the weakest link of the chain. If your camra's external battery grip could accept generic AA batteries, the camera's shelf life could be longer.
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#15 Ron Scubadiver

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 16:11

I sold my D700 after about 2 years and switched to a D800. IQ is definitely better and the ability to crop is a joy. I believe the reason there has been no direct D700 successor is Nikon probably saw the D700 cannibalizing D3 sales and found itself under pressure to release the D3s ahead of schedule to obtain product differentiation. There are all sorts of permutations of sensor and body that someone will want. D4 body with D800e sensor, D800 body with D4 sensor, and a pro level 24mp body for the birders, to name a few. Nikon has opened up a new market with the amateur level D600 and low cost, lightweight zooms.

I can see some people running into problems with large files. Lightroom, on a fast machine is annoyingly slow and on my 2010 13" Macbook Pro is hopeless. I now use Bridge/ACR with some images being completed in Photoshop. Anyone who is an unusually prolific shooter could be overwhelmed with the amount of data produced. Many wildlife photographers fall into that category. The other change I had to make was switching from storing on optical media to hard drives. I have a pair of two TB drives and I sync them every few days.
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#16 Dallas

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 16:22

On the subject of D700, what I am finding quite interesting locally is that the resale:new price ratio of this model is substantially higher than any of the other pro Nikon bodies. I have seen D3 models selling for the same money as D700's. I probably shouldn't have sold my back-up D700 for the OM-D, but I do love that OM-D.

My D700 has been a faithful servant and continues to impress me with its IQ. If Nikon put the D3S sensor into that body I think it would arrest sales of any other FX bodies. Home run indeed.

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#17 Ron Scubadiver

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 17:17

Dallas, used D700's bring good money around here too. I don't have a backup body and sometimes wonder if I should have kept mine.
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#18 helioer

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 17:35

Yep. Battery is the weakest link here. I still use my D200 while traveling. The D3 and D3s will serve me for several years ahead. I will upgrade when I see significant update in the new products. I could be in the market for a higher resolution D3 style body (D4x?). A D4 would really not give me the reason for upgrade. A D3x - well, I've been thinking about that as well because of the battery and memory card compatibility as I have a bunch of EN EL-4a's and CF cards.

In regards to the film era: I shot with a Canon F1n for 20 years and liked that. Still have it and still works but motor drive battery is dying out. The digital bodies will not have that sort of shell life.

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#19 schwett

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 18:13

of course, a digital camera makes pictures of the same quality when it's 10 years old as new - but our expectations change based on what we see in the world, what others are producing, and so on.

i bought my first dslr in december of 2003 - coming up on 10 years ago. i don't doubt that it would still be working today if i had kept it and maintained it. as it is, cameras with suffiently higher capabilities came along at somewhat irregular intervals since then (d200, d300, d700, d800e) and the longest i've used a body as my 'main' body was the d700, for just under four years. it never displayed a single problem, damage, or had even the slightest hint that it was going to give up any time soon, so i answered 7 years to the question above. i surely could still be using it now and for many years to come.

december 2003 - d100
january 2006 - d200
november 2007 - d300
august 2008 - d700
may 2012 - d800e

for my purposes each of the cameras in the sequence above has been an entirely rational and progressive increase in capability with essentially the exact same body style/size and comparable build quality. frustrated by the low pixel density of the d700 for wildlife, i experimented a little with a d7000 in there but didn't find it to my liking and actually sold it before i sold the d300. the d800e killed that bird, and many others, with one stone, and is now the only dslr in my cabinet.

incidentally, the photo which has sold the most and generated the most income for me (in fact financing all subsequent body purchases and more) was made with the d200 and an 18-200 lens, the only lens i brought with me for a particular trip.

Edited by schwett, 27 January 2013 - 18:14 .

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#20 retief

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 18:51

My DSLR History:
Past:
Fuji S1
Nikon D1h
Nikon D2h
Nikon D200
Nikon D70
Nikon D300
Current:
Nikon D800
Nikon D600

Each step up was for either resolution or AF. Once I purchased the D300, 2 of them in the very first shipment oh so many years ago to Seattle, the only thing I wanted to be better was something where I could shoot at ISO 3200-6400 without too much concern. I was sure that Nikon would have that in "the next DX camera". That pair of cameras lasted me very well since the fall of 2007. I sold one of them last summer after I purchased a D800, and now have the second up for sale to help offset the D600 I purchased. That puts the "shelf life" of the D300 well into the 5 year range, and I see no reason they won't last even longer.

I resisted, vehemently, the move to FX since I photograph a lot of birds and wildlife, and I did not want to go back to the lower resolution equivalent if I had to do cropping. Then along comes the D800, with 16mp in DX mode, but at a loss of FPS. AF on the other hand is amazing, and the low-light capability far exceeds the D300. Even though the FPS is less, I find that my "keeper rate" is still about the same, maybe even a bit better, which I attribute to better AF. Then the D600 shows up, and at the holiday prices I took a really hard look as I cannot afford to go back a step in AF. And boy have I been surprised at how well this camera works.

So, I am now Full Frame, sold my last DX lens and am amazed at how much I can crop both the D600 and D800 images, how well the AF works and how much better they are with the higher ISO's. Even more amazing, and this illustrates the AF improvements, I have mounted my 200-400 f4 with TC's on the D600, the 1.7 and the 2.0, and the AF just snaps. With the 1.7 really fast, sometimes the 2.0 will hunt a bit, but if I do a general pre-focus first so it doesn't travel the entire range, it then snaps in quickly. On the D300 the 1.7 was slow and spotty at best.

I am curious to see what, if anything, Nikon does with the DX "semi-pro" line, AKA D400, but I am not sure I would move back. If the pricing were right I might supplement as a 3rd body. I expect these 2 bodies to last well over the 5-7 year range. My "upgrades" have been, with the exception of the D2h, at a cost of about $1,000 between the new body and what I could the old one for.

So, while I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the FX world, I am not unhappy to be there now. Would I like a bit more FPS? Sure, but if I need a bit more I can get 6 in DX on the D800 and I have 6 (really 5.5) on the D600 all the time.

I am curious, Dallas, as to what feature on the D700 that you need is not satisfied by either the D800 or D600, other than possibly price point? I have never owned a D700, so I personally have no frame of reference.

Neat thread.

At this time I'm not sure I can see a "feature" that would move me away from these.
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