Is Nikon Next?

Started Oct 9, 2013 | Discussions thread
instamatic Veteran Member • Posts: 3,563
Re: Is Nikon Next?


Dpreview and it's associated forums are probably the most influential factors determining if a newly introduced camera will be a success or not.  I remember the Nikon D200 banding scare, which while real and fixable, it was blown out of proportion on these forums.  Consequently the D200, as great a photographic tool it was, didn't do nearly as good as it could have done.  That's one example.

Next Nikon botches up the Nikon 1 system by making it too automated, ugly looking, and incompatible with standard Nikon flashes. Regardless of how well those cameras really perform in practice, the consumer's sentiment simply isn't with them.

Nikon appears oblivious to the North American customers and their wants (please note I'm deliberately not saying needs, although certain of those wants indeed are needs for some customers - depending on what they primarily do with their cameras).  And my opinion is that those customers actually drive the market sentiment, and sentiment is contagious, and effectively the sentiment really runs the market.

What the North American customers want are:

1. Large Sensors, period.

2. Full manual control and associated body ergonomics that make it happen intuitively.

3. Compatibility with existing lenses and flashes, as well as a universal set of accessories.

4. High quality video performance without jello effect and down-sampling artifacts, at the same time with RAW output via HDMI.

5. Universally implemented WI-FI that's easy to configure and use in a fast paced, stressful photography environment.

6. f/1.2 f-mount lenses (Canon envy).

7. AF-S primes that rapidly snap into focus and produce consistently sharp results - think 70-200mm VRII focusing performance.

8. Customer oriented - and sympathetic customer service.

9. Quality products, first time out the door with a low percentage defect tolerance.

10. A nice compact camera with RAW support, moderately large sensor, flash shoe, and an exceptional zoom lens in the f/1.4-2.8 range or better - that will be true to the Nikon's name in lens manufacturing.  Think of a much improved Coolpix 8400 with up to date guts and a still better lens.

11. And my personal want (and a need) here:  Fast and robust Nikon Capture that allows the reproduction of the signature Nikon color.  Don't get me wrong, Capture came a long way, but it still trails Lightroom and Aperture in speed and ease of use.

So one solution that Nikon may need to come up with, let's call it "Nikon Imaging Core" is a centrally integrated camera computer with pluggable sensors and fully programmable buttons that can be placed in all it's cameras across the entire line.  Naturally it natively incorporates WI-FI, HDMI video, and CLS flash capability without exceptions.  If used in an entry level body, it should be reprogrammed to use only it's limited set of controls, but when placed in a flagship camera - similarly it should be programmed to take full advantage of the body's photographic controls.

A set of no-compromise bodies to put that computer into.  I'm thinking back of the 90's.  Nikon had a very solid lineup: N55, N65 (later N75) entry level bodies, N80 (a well rounded and fully capable enthusiast model), F100, and F5 - professional models.

Does anyone notice the parallel between the pairs of Nikon F100 and F5 AND Nikon D700 and D3 ?  Weren't these the times when Nikon was doing great as a company and the customers were happiest?  I own the F100 and it's my favorite camera to use if I'm content with film.  It just works and nicely gets out of the way of creating pictures.  The D700 is similar, but a little more complicated, but still it gets out of the way pretty nicely.

Wouldn't it be nice if currently Nikon had such product lineup clarity as it had back then?  Wouldn't it be nice if the current mid-range Nikon offerings were clear and simple?  The N80 was an exceptionally well-rounded mid-range camera.  It was all an enthusiast needed.  It even had an X-sync port.  Currently we have the D90-D7000-D7100-D600 multiplicity.  Isn't this confusing to the customers?  Also many are buying cheaper older models because they are good enough - and others have noted this also.  Then there is a confusion at the top in the Nikon lineup too.  The D800 is not a mini D4, this is less of an issue than the mixed mid-range, but still it's polarizing and confusing to some customers because it sends a message that you really need both to achieve both resolution and high speed.

Then lastly there is the missing D400.  Back in the 90's you had the F100 and the F5 at the top.  Today because you have both DX and FX sensor duality, you actually need a D400/D800 pair AND a D4 on the very top.  The D400 or a D800 would be the current photographer's F100 and depending if they do DX or FX they would pick one accordingly.

So the programmable camera core computer could be incrementally modernized adding new features and being placed in newly introduced bodies.

Then how should Nikon proceed?  I think first they need to ramp up their quality assurance processes.  Then they need to release the D400.  Then they need to redo their customer service experience so that customers have something to rave about.  I think they should use modern and proven North American methodology in retraining their staff and updating customer service procedures - not forgetting that it's the customer not the procedure that's in the end most important.  Then they should release the lenses people actually want (Where is a modern 18mm prime?)

So to close my long ramble, I think Nikon should become less camera-body-centric, and more customer-imaging-experience-centric.  This means unencumbered and simple choice of bodies, more focus on customer's creative experience - which may mean comprehensive training materials that are not marketing materials - done like never before, Nikon Video division and full support for professional event videographers.  In the end it's the results that matter, not the cameras, not the gadgetry.

Just look how Mamiya markets their products and compare that with Nikon.  There is a level of seriousness, professionalism, and exceptional one-of-a-kind feel about the products as marketed by Mamiya (and even to an extent Canon), while Nikon tries to appear hip and chic and failing at it in it's marketing materials. I think most photographers strive for excellence, and eventually snapshots, even good ones, become old news.  Why Nikon's marketing materials don't reflect that struggle for excellence in photographic efforts, and the joy when a glimpse of it is achieved?  Why somehow Nikon's marketing materials give me an impression of "good vacation photos" but not "publication and award recognition photos"?

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