Thoughts on Thom's recent writings

Started Oct 19, 2012 | Discussions thread
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moving_comfort
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Thoughts on Thom's recent writings
Oct 19, 2012

I haven't been over to bythom.com in a couple weeks - looks like I've been missing some good stuff.  It's 'DX month', and he's getting to some interesting DX-related reviews and musings that he's been storing up.   Give it a read if you haven't

Below are my thoughts on a few things he's written.   I'd like input from the forum collective on my take...  We have some good thinkers here.

(Thom's words in italics)

"...As I've pointed out, we've already got significant leaks of customers happening. FX is not necessarily the answer. Nikon 1 isn't the answer. Nikon doesn't have an answer for some users, basically. So while people don't want to leave the Nikon camp, they are. A few are just succumbing to FX, but dare I say that a lot of FX lenses are missing, too? ;~) Especially ones that the DX-to-FX upgrader would probably want. The old f/2.8 primes are no match for the current FX DSLRs, the 80-400mm update is still missing in action, and more."

Here I think he may be sidestepping the timing issue - I suspect Nikon's strategy is to try to sell as many premium 24 and 35mm f/1.4 lenses as possible before coming out with an affordable, updated 35 f2 and 24 f/2.8, for example.  But it would be nice to see a new 20mm f/2.8.

"It's as if Nikon found a straightaway and pushed the accelerator to the floor but is ignoring the fact that there's a hard turn at the far end. Brute force doesn't win finesse races."

This might be my biggest complaint; throughout this series Thom seems fixated on Nikon's strategy toward it's existing customers, in particular it's lack of focus on high-end aps-c - and discounting something that's even more pressing than that - Nikon's strategy toward Canon.

Nikon does sometimes need to put the pedal to the metal, introduce brute force first and worry about the finesse later.  If the D800 was 3/4 the camera it was, Nikon could have had their lunch eaten by Canon with the 5DIII in this tier.  There was no way to finesse that move - the D800 appeared when it needed to, with the specs that were required to answer what they knew was coming from Canon.  The D600 fits with that strategy as well - it's only partially a 'D7000 upgrade', and partially a 'Canon detente.'

D800 + D600 is Nikon seizing the field, or trying to.  D300 replacement (if it appears) is a shore-up of an existing position in a tier that may be squeezed on the top-end by lower-priced FX ad on the low end by high-performance mirrorless.  Nikon prioritized smartly.  Doesn't mean they should necessarily ignore this shore-up step now, though.

"I've now had basically the same conversation with four different Nikon product managers and engineers. It starts with my asking "who do you think will buy the D600?" At some point in the response, you'll hear the Nikon employee say "...and we think that the D600 is a natural step up for D7000 users."

This, of course, is the DX-users-eventually-step-up-to-FX strategy that a lot of you think is Nikon's current plan. My response is usually to then ask "what about the wildlife shooter who's picked DX for the balance of cost and reach?"

My guess:  Nikon knows that a large portion of those D300 wildlife shooters who can afford a 500mm f/4 lens for example can and will want to upgrade to a D800, where they will get even better pixel density in crop mode than their D300 gives them natively.  And it's the timing issue, again - come out with the D400 before the D800, and you lose a percentage of those D300 --> D800 upgraders.

Also, is the incentive to upgrade from a 12MP aps-c DSLR to, say, a 24MP aps-c DSLR as great as Thom thinks?  The primary gain there is pixel density, as the ISO performance even with a newer DX sensor isn't going to match the D600.  I feel that he may be overestimating the number of folks who, like him, value that pixel density above all else in their aps-c needs.   Nikon may be estimating that market size better, which is why they prioritized the way they did.

"Based upon my surveys and sales data, I'd have to conclude that Nikon is not making lenses DX users would desire and purchase, but is instead making FX lenses that the lens designers get ego satisfaction from."

This, on the face of it, sounds silly to me.  Nikon is going to make the lenses that, in both volume and margin, bring them the highest profit and establish their presence in those respective tiers.  There's very little chance that lens designer's egos are steering the ship, there.

.

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