Nikon D4, Canon EOS-1D X: Is $6,000 too much for a camera?

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Nikon and Canon recently introduced two new state-of-the-art, high-priced DSLR (digital-single-len-reflex) professional cameras. To be exact, the manufacturers of the Nikon D4 list the suggested retail price as $5999.95, and Canon doesn't list the price of the EOS-1D X on its site, but chatter on the Web puts it somewhere around $6,800.

Throw in a few lenses and you're at the price of a modest new car. Usually the cost of technology goes down with improvements and time, but that doesn't seem to be happening here.

Who needs a camera this good and this expensive? Certainly the No. 1 user would be the photographer who shoots sports for a living, where there's a need for speed in low light conditions, like dimly lighted outdoor football fields or dingy indoor arenas. Over the years, this has probably been the best advancement in the digital technology I have seen. These cameras have brought available-light photo journalism to a new level, so far past the days of film or the infancy of digital technology.

We used to try all sorts of techniques, from push-processing the film to the IS0 (film speed) limit, but it's nothing compared to these super-sensitive, high-quality chips inside the Nikon D4 (with ISO sensitivity up to 204, 800 and 51-point auto-focus system) or Canon EOS-1D X.

Canon doesn't hold back on its new entry into the super-expensive line of cameras, calling it the “phenomenal model: the new flagship of the EOS line." Nikon isn't shy, either, with its praise of the D4, spouting words on its website such as exquisite, remarkable, stunning, and cutting-edge.

Photographers have been able to move away from setting up strobes in the rafters of arenas because of the difference. Eliminating the electronic flash allows photographers to shoot faster because they don't need to wait for the lights to recycle.

Nikon also introduced the WT-5A Wireless Transmitter, which works with the Nikon D4 DSLR camera. This is great for transmitting your photographs to a computer or FTP site if you have a Wi-Fi connection. Also, it gives you control of the camera with an iPhone or iPad. I wish this nifty piece of gear were included. Be prepared to reach into your wallet for $877 (list price). I never said photography was a cheap hobby. Remember, you're saving money on film and processing.

These premium model cameras set the new standard for the industry. Well, at least for another year. It all seems like a broken record.

Most likely, the noticeable difference between the previous Nikon D3 and the new D4 is its upgraded movie-making capabilities, which feature full 1920 x 1080 HD video along its uncompressed video output. This should compete well with the high-end movie-capable Canon EOS 5D and 1D X.

A look at who should buy this camera:
1. Professional newspaper or magazine photographers who shoot sports
2. Staff photographers at a National Geographic-type publication
3. Lotto winners

Let's take a look at a few cheaper alternatives that might fill your needs.

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