Thom Hogan: Impact of mFT on Nikon DX line

Started Sep 20, 2013 | Discussions thread
Leandros S
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Recession explains nearly all of it, actually
In reply to TrapperJohn, Sep 21, 2013

TrapperJohn wrote:

Nikon hasn't made any big leaps and bounds since the D3... unless you count the D90's video (a first, building on Oly's live view in the 330)... but that's also true of the dslr in general. It isn't seeing the big leaps and bounds of functionality that were evident in the mid 2000's.

The D7100's greatest competition isn't the EM1. It's the D7000. The D7100 didn't improve on it all that much, so Nikon lost much of their largest potential customer base: D7000 owners. Not so much a Nikon problem as an industry problem. Canon's sales of 5DIII were lower than expected for the same reason - many 5DII owners decided that the improvements didn't justify the expense. In both cases, the global recession didn't help matters any.

Sony... until Sony learns how and especially why to build good lenses, and lots of them, they'll remain a perennial also-ran. It's the most common reason people choose µ43 over NEX: not much glass, and what little they have is quite large.

What Nikon faces is what any camera company heavily vested in the dslr design faces: stagnation. The design has been pushed about as far as it can go. Sensor tech is at the point where further improvement does not yield much in the way of tangible results under typical photo circumstances, so the large sensor advantage isn't nearly what it once was. The optical viewfinder might get better with digital overlays, but it's expensive to do that, and still doesn't deliver the preview and review modes of the EVF. The only real improvement that can be made is - size. And the dslr's VF, legacy film lens mount and registration distance limit how much it can be improved there.

The dslr has also lost the enthusiasm and excitement that drove much of it's booming sales in the 2000's. Where are those great leaps and bounds happening today? Right here. Look at the dpr top ten clicked list today: two high end compacts, three dslr's, and five mirrorless. Including one, the EM5, that's been on that list since January, 2012.

That enthusiasm may not be reflected directly in current sales, but it's pretty unambiguous handwriting on the wall. That's where things are headed.

You mention the recession and stagnation in technological development. You could have really stopped there. The rule for any company affected by the recession is to cut back expenses and try to survive, with usually no clear prediction of how long the recession will go on for.

So it's not surprising that the technological leaps and bounds haven't been coming quite the same. Nokia Lumia 1020's counter-example notwithstanding. The desktop/laptop/server CPU industry, by contrast, started hitting the wall technologically well before the recession. The flip-side is that innovation doesn't always drive in one direction only - if you measure the world by whether it still adheres to Moore's Law or not, you might be missing the subtler progress happening elsewhere.

The next priority for camera makers is to have attractive products coming out of the recession, and to be the brand that people flock to once they've had three to six months of solid pay-cheques again. Not an easy juggling act, but it favours the companies that were going strong going into the recession, i.e. Nikon and Canon.

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