D3 APS Compact - Bear with me

Started Apr 26, 2008 | Discussions thread
Eamon Hickey
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,161
Like?
first suggested it to Nikon execs in 2000
In reply to Denyerec, Apr 30, 2008

Denyerec wrote:

I'd drop a lot of money on a compact that actually performs reasnobly
well, as I am sure many other keen photographers would too. I just
wish one manufacturer somewhere would grow some balls and make one!

The first time I pleaded for a camera like this to Nikon USA's General Manager of DSLR Development was in a bar in Port Washington, Long Island in 2000. (He's an old friend.) (Obviously, I didn't suggested the D3 sensor part, since it didn't yet exist; just a DSLR-quality APS-C sensor.)

He laughed and agreed it would be cool, but we both knew it wouldn't happen. He was making quarterly design and development consultation visits to Nikon Japan in those days, but I don't know whether he ever made my argument (and scores of others made the same argument) in Tokyo. But in any case, here we are 8 years later and ... well, you know the score.

Nikon (and Canon) don't see the business benefit to building such a camera. They're devoting their serious-camera-engineering resources to mainline DSLRs, a business that has boomed beyond anyone's expectations, and they're making a fantastic (i.e. quite unusually high) return on that investment. Small, niche markets aren't their game right now. (I will say that Nikon occasionally does do quirky cameras, but recently those have all been retro throwbacks -- limited runs of 1950s film-shooting rangefinders and the like. Canon disdains any of that kind of craziness.)

That's why, unfortunately, we'll have to depend on companies that lack a lot of mainline DSLR success for a small-market product like an APS-C compact -- i.e. Sigma. Before they went belly-up my hopes were pinned on Konica or Contax (since both had done similar, quite well-executed ideas in film cameras) and I still hold out a little hope for Cosina. Maybe Ricoh, too.

Chances are pretty small with Pentax, Olympus, Samsung, or Nikon and almost infentesimal with Canon and Sony.

All that said, I would be prepared to argue that a good APS-C compact for a reasonable price could be a good business success. Contax (Kyocera, really) did very well with the Contax T -- so well, in fact, that Nikon decided to belatedly copy it with the 35Ti and 28Ti cameras, which were excellent but didn't sell very well because Contax had already captured all the mindshare in that market segment. Too bad it looks like Nikon isn't interested in getting out in front of the pack this time, but so it seems to be.

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