> a 100% view in the finder is pretty significant.
This is, in my opinion, considerably overblown in importance. Granted, I use two cameras with 100% coverage, but I do use another one with only 95% - they are functionally identical.
I wrote this in another thread recently but I can't remember where, so I'll just write it again:
- The 96% viewfinder only is missing 2% on each side. This is really pretty irrelevant, because it's not that often that one can frame a scene with perfect accuracy. Sometimes that's due to the fact that the subject itself is not exactly a 3:2 aspect ratio. A few are, but most are not. They're whatever they are, not 3:2. So for many subjects, even with PERFECT framing, need cropping anyway.
- really a continuation of the above, but if you print on standard sizes or with standard mattes (8x10, 16x20, etc) you will be cropping anyway: again, because their aspect ratio is not the same as that of the sensor.
- If you're shooting macro on a big tripod, or in a museum, or many landscapes, perhaps you can in fact frame 100% accurately. But if you're shooting sports, wildlife, the street, most travel, most photojournalist subjects, etc, you aren't going to be anywhere close to 2% accurate on framing. In many of these disciplines, you'll be lucky to get framing just 90% accurate, because the subjects move unpredictably, or you can't get to precisely the right camera position, the shot is a grab shot, or the wildlife isn't cooperating. In those cases, a 2% error is completely irrelevant.
- Even if you can frame accurately, it's rare that having too much in the frame by 2% is an issue. Ordinarily that will be anonymous, but in the event that it's not, it's easy to crop it out later. Yes, it reduces the resolution of the file - but the difference between 12mp and 16mp is barely detectable in less than enormous prints, and certainly the difference between 12mp and 11.7mp is functionally invisible all the time. I definitely get the notion of "get it right in the camera" but is this really what that's about? I don't think so.
Bottom line: unless you can reasonably say that you're working primarily in one of the disciplines that has little movement and few if any impromptu shots, the viewfinder coverage is really irrelevant and should not be used as a buying criteria except perhaps as a final tiebreaker. It's definitely NOT a differentiator in actual photographic practice.
> 17,000 ... 4 months
Wow, that's piling it up. I'm not an infrequent user (in fact I've frequently been accused of "spray and pray" due to my unusually high frame counts - about 25k per year). Yet you're running at an annual pace that's double mine and in line with working sports pros.
Adding all these things together, I'm going to suggest that your wife is profiling as the sort who probably should be avoiding intermediate steps and stretching to "go first class." Although it's expensive, everything you write describes a trajectory that's consistent with ending up as a working pro, whether or not there's that much revenue coming in. Surprisingly for those who have read me for years, (and contradicting the advice I normally give to non-pros, including to your original post) here's a circumstance where FX may in fact be the right move. Nikon has pretty clearly signaled that its short- to mid-term future for professional cameras is primarily in FX. That's due to both the bodies and the lens offerings. So if you're headed rapidly in that direction, it may well be best to short-circuit the intermediate steps.
Of course, given that you're not fully requiring the upgrade yet, combined with the fact that the FX family is late in its product cycle, I think that it is prudent to wait until the D4 family comes out next year. In the meantime, lenses (and, believe it or not, quite possibly a tripod upgrade) are good investments and can be preserved over an FX transition.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!