Why Would You Buy the Nikon D780 Instead of the Z 6?

While some would have you believe that we’re currently experiencing the death rattle of the DSLR camera, Nikon has recently released the D780. Given that mirrorless is the future, why would you buy this new DSLR instead of switching over to the Z 6?

In this short video, Kai Wong ponders this question and comes up with a few excellent points. Factors such as the viewfinder, the autofocus system and lens choice are certainly worth considering, and as long as people keep buying DSLRs, it seems that manufacturers will keep making them.

Kai focuses mostly on stills but for video shooters, the D780 is a significant upgrade, as outlined in this excellent video from Evan Ranft. Nikon made some impressive improvements in terms of video performance when it released the Z 6 and Z 7 and Nikon since decided to port many of those upgrades to the brand new D780. Raw video might be missing (perhaps pending a possible firmware update?) but there’s solid 4K with N-Log and minimal crop, all with excellent colors. Autofocus has also seen a massive upgrade, making the D780 a much better option over its predecessors.

Are DSLRs dead? Leave your thoughts below. (I’m kidding. Leave comments, but let's not flog that horse again!)

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30 Comments

David Pavlich's picture

One reason: Dual card slots in the 780. It's a 'got to have' for me. YMMV.

Daniel Medley's picture

"One reason: Dual card slots in the 780. It's a 'got to have' for me. YMMV."

^^^ This.

Alex Yakimov's picture

Dslr are not going away anytime soon due to innate advantages of long battery span, lagless operation and ease of OVF on the eyes.

They are probably going to go away because it's likely too small a percentage of photographer that care enough about those things to keep that segment of the market alive.

Alex Yakimov's picture

time will tell, mate

Yes it will. Mind you, I hope they don't go away since I think that they have their place. With the market shrinking as it is and mirrorless cameras continuing to capture a greater share of it, however, it's not looking like a bright future for DSLR's.

Jozef Povazan's picture

I would not :)

Yet every single market report seems to suggest that mirrorless cameras are the future of this industry. Funny, that.

Matt Williams's picture

Hate to break it to you but, no, eventually DSLRs will die. Sigma just said they are focusing on mirrorless lenses from hereon forward. Canon is not going to release any new EF lenses. Nikon will probably follow suit. Once the manufacturers themselves stop developing lenses, that's the end of it. It's highly likely the 1DX Mark III and D6 are the last of the flagship cameras from the two big DSLR companies.

Matt Williams's picture

I mean, I just pointed to the blatant evidence. Do you really think that manufacturers will continue releasing new models for mounts which they no longer develop lenses?

Matt Williams's picture

Never said they weren't developing lenses anymore. They haven't said they are, but they could be. I said Canon - the only other DSLR company that matters in terms of what we're talking about - is not developing them anymore.

Canon has said they're focusing on mirrorless now. If Canon ditches DSLRs, so does Nikon.

Do you think that with the given rate of market contraction, it will be able to sustain both mirrorless cameras and DSLR's? Are manufacturers going to want to continue to put resources into supporting that kind of redundancy in their product line? What possible motive would they have for keeping DSLR's alive? I'm not talking about user preferences. I'm asking about the specific business interest for a manufacturer to continue to develop DSLR bodies and lenses for those bodies.

A couple of diehard OVF users aren't enough to create a viable market segment or drive development. Most current DSLR users probably don't care all that much one way or the other so they'll naturally gravitate toward what is available on the market. If manufacturers cut off DSLR production, they'll just go buy mirrorless cameras. It's not like people are going to quite photography over it. From a business standpoint, I can't see a reason for Canon and Nikon to continue producing DSLR's for much longer.

Matt Williams's picture

I think you are VASTLY overestimating the number of people who will just quit or refuse to use mirrorless cameras. Just because you are one doesn't mean there are enough out there to sway a market.

Given that you consider yourself a "real photographer" because you shoot with a DSLR says all that needs to be said about your ability to read the writing on the wall.

Batterylife!

chris bryant's picture

I bought the Z6. Totally delighted with it. Amazing sensor. Pretty small and light for an all day hike. The companion 24-70 f/4 lens is flaming sharp across the frame wide open. Totally delighted.

Matt Williams's picture

I have never liked 24-70 lenses - they always felt like not enough at one end or another (usually the tele end)... I loved the Nikon 24-120 because of its significantly greater reach.

But when I got the Z6 with 24-70/4 that all changed. Yes, I'd prefer if it was 24-120 or even 24-105, but the image quality and especially the compactness are just amazing.

zeissiez lee's picture

D780 pros:
1. Much loooonger battery life. Much much longer.
2. Always ready, no need to wake the camera up.
3. F-mount F1.8 prime lenses are small. The Z-mount counterparts are like having a permanent adapter welded to them.
4. AF tracking
5. Better balance for F2.8 trilogy and bigger lenses.

Z6 pros:
1. IBIS
2. EVF allows playback. Good for old folks with poor eyesight. It also allows focus peaking in viewfinder.
3. Accepts F and Z mount lenses.
4. Accurate focusing right out of the box with F1.4 lenses especially.
5. Quiet.
6. With the right lens, can be compact and lightweight.
7. Like it or not, the future is mirrorless.

Rob Davis's picture

I could use both for different things.

Eventually economics will doom the DSLR. I remember reading shortly after the Z6/7 were introduced that Nikon's assembly process was able to build nearly 75% of the camera by robotics vs. less than 50% for DSLRs. The main reason being the mirror box and shutter assembly.
Maybe Nikon has managed to improve the DSLRs assembly process since late 2018 with the new D780. I would suspect the Z50 and as yet announced mirrorless variants will see their robotic assembly also improve.
Bottom line is that if building a mirrorless camera is significantly less costly than a DSLR, then regardless of user preference, the DSLR will fade away.
And film cameras… they must be substantially less costly to build than any digital camera. With about 5% of all camera sales being film cameras and those buyers seemingly immune to price, building a film camera has to be a very profitable niche.

Timothy Gasper's picture

I just love reading the argumenting comments here. Don't you? Oh God...you're killin' me here. Hey, I just had an apostraphe...just shoot with whatever you like? Whatever will happen in the future will just happen. Hell...I'm still shooting film (medium format mostly.) Does my using film hurt or offend anyone? If so....LOL...and get a life.

Having a few thousand dollars in f-mount lenses (and no desire to use adapters) is my reason. Also, aside from travel I really don’t prefer the small form factor and balance of mirrorless cameras. I prefer the ergonomics and well placed physical control layout Nikons DSLRs. Will DSLRs go away eventually? Perhaps gradually and if so then so be it. In the meantime I personally have no compelling reason to switch and it’s not like image quality if affected either way. I still use a D300 on a regular basis so I’m sure the used market will be a boon to DSLR aficianados for quite some time. Just like cell phones, the need to upgrade every couple of years is long over for all but the most gear obsessed.

Right now this camera only makes sense for people with a big Nikkor lens collection who don't want to use an adapter or need some of the missing features from the Z series (like the double card), for everyone else it doesn't make sense.

John Ellingson's picture

I've tried real hard to find a reason to get a mirrorless body. I have one D850 and two D500s. I'm a member of NPS. We all get the "I wants" every time a new piece of gear comes out. I did handle both Z bodies in the store and they felt OK, but I like the heft of a DSLR with a battery grip. I shoot a lot of long lens shots at sporting events. The lighter body will not be a great advantage and having the heavy body puts the pivot point on a gimbal head in about the middle making it easier to swing and use on a monopod or tripod.

I still can't find any reason to make the switch. I user my gear hard and when I'm on assignment my total kit weighs in at about 70 lbs, so saving a couple of ounces isn't going to do much. If I carried one body and a small prime lens I can see where it might be an advantage, but that is not me.

For someone that just bought a D780 over a Z6....

Dual card slots - Shoot weddings and for me this is a must

Supports Screw drive lenses - I use a lot of older Nikon class 200-400 5.6, 80-200 2.8, 85 1.8 D, 50 1.8d... I would have to throw out all of this perfectly usable glass to go Z mount. The cost to do this is much higher than I would spend with going with the D780 that uses them all.

John Ellingson's picture

You make a great point. All of our gear together is one photo system that we function with. Incompatible components do not add capabilities.

Most of my lenses (af-d) are not supported by the z6 adapter.

You can still buy a film camera and film to shoot in it, even today. B&H still carries darkroom chemicals. You can still buy a Polaroid, for goodness' sake. Etc. Like those technologies, DSLRs won't "die" -- their status will evolve.

If the advantages of mirrorless platforms make them a necessary go-to for pros who need to keep up with the best technology, DSLRs will live on for the prosumers and hobbyists like me for whom they work just fine, and who don't need to invest in upgrades.

So it all depends on your definition of "die." Even if manufacturers stopped making the old products, they'd persist in use for years. If I decided today to pull my Minolta X-700 out of the garage and run some Tri-X through it, all I'd need is a new battery.

On second thought... yes. Yes! DSLRs are dying! Dead, even! Mirrorless or nothing! Everyone go buy all that new stuff! (And I'll be over at KEH watching the prices drop on my DSLR lens wishlist.)

jim hughes's picture

I wouldn't buy another DSLR or hybrid; there are some things about mirrorless I just couldn't do without anymore. I wrote a blog post about this:

https://jimhphoto.com/index.php/2019/12/10/mirrorless-its-the-little-thi...

Voted with my money. Twin cards and exisiting lens compatibility, and battery life + most of the Z6 movie goodies in live view. I wish it was about 25% cheaper, but it wasn't and I still bought it.

Peter Jones's picture

Whilst I own a couple of DSLRs I doubt that I will ever buy another as undoubtedly the bulk of R&D will be in mirrorless systems and their progress will be much more rapid than the DSLR market, currently though I can take just as good an image with my DSLR as I can with my mirrorless outfit and in some cases such as nature better with the DSLR but with so called "street" I much prefer my mirrorless camera, horses for courses and personal preference will always out.