A recent thread on Flickr about the unavailability of the D70s devolved into a question about whether the Nikon D70 is a “professional” camera or not.
It started with an comment by davehodg: “The camera is the hammer, the photographer is the craftsman.”
A point I agree with.
sam_ fired back: “Nikon currently produces five digital SLR models, including two “professional” models and three intended for consumers. The professional models include the D2X and D2Hs. While the consumer models include the D50, D70s and D200. Regardless of your personal opinion davehodg, this is how Nikon markets the mentioned cameras.”
A point I also agree with.
Then a whole slew of posts followed using durability to distinguish professional and non-professional cameras.
The “durability argument”
The problem with the “durability” argument is that along comes the Nikon D200 which weather-sealed but marketed as a consumer/enthusiast digicam. It recently won a TIPA as best “expert” dSLR. The Canon EOS 5D ($3000 street) won a TIPA for the best “professional” dSLR and yet it isn’t weather-sealed.
I think sam_ is closer to the truth. In general, it’s how the camera is marketed, not the “durability” or a similar moving target. Simply put: the D70 is marketed as a consumer camera even though its metering system is better than nearly every Nikon film camera on the market; the D200 is marketed as an “enthusiast” camera even though it is weather-sealed; the D2X and D2H is marketed as a “professional” camera and ex post facto people come up with the “durability” argument to distinguish camera lines.
Before, it was megapixels, sensor size, metering, frame-rate, etc. What’s next? An integrated battery grip suddenly makes it “pro” and other cameras “consumer”?
Price is going to be a stronger correlate between “pro” and “consumer” than any other single feature.
Back on topic: D70s availability
My guess is that the D200 and the 18-200mm DX VR popularity is diverting the Thailand factory’s manufacturing resources away from the D70s and 18-70mm DX kit. For instance, D200 are not always in stock and my 18-200mm DX VR has been on backorder for two months (the camera store is still filling out backorders dating to the middle of January!). Isn’t it reasonable to assume that the D70s is just hard to come by for this reason?
That coupled with recent D70s price drops means that you now have a backorder situation on the D70s and D70s kits.
By the time the D200 and 18-200mm kit lenses catch up with worldwide demand, Nikon will introduce the D90 and throw another monkey wrench into things. But since that won’t happen until this fall, I don’t think you could say Nikon is clearing their channels for such a camera.
So is my camera “professional”?
Do I make money with it?
My camera isn’t professional. The same camera (Nikon D70) in someone else’s hands is. Many pros make money with cameras much worse than mine.