Dear Nikon

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by Karim Ghantous, Feb 3, 2021.

  1. I can tell you where you went wrong, and I’m going to tell you how to fix your problems.

    You’re going through a tough time right now. Most businesses are, but you in particular haven’t been doing well. You can’t move cameras like you used to. Worse, your nearest competitor, Canon, is still out-selling you, despite making inferior DSLRs.

    You aren’t part of the ‘big two’ anymore, and there may not be such a thing in the future. But let’s not worry about that right now.

    Remember Steve Jobs? Remember? Yeah, he only died ten years ago, so you ought to. Actually Apple was founded before you launched the F3. So you know very well who he is. He taught us all, to some degree, about branding and focus.

    You, Nikon, have forgotten what branding is. You think it’s just a label that you stick onto an arbitrary product. You use the Nikon brand as a shield, but it should be the cavalry. A brand has a meaning. Branding is a promise; branding is a story.

    When someone says “Nikon,” you ought to know exactly what they mean. Every product with the Nikon label must have certain characteristics that the customer expects. And there should be no doubt about it. But, you have messed up here, and it doesn’t take an MBA from Wharton to see it.

    Remember the FM10? It wasn’t a bad camera per se. It was a simple, yet reliable, generic design that was used by Ricoh, Cosina and maybe others. You took that generic camera and put an F mount on it. Bad idea. That’s not a Nikon, and you know it.

    (Oh, and I also remember the rebadged Sony Video8 camcorder. Bad idea.)

    Yeah, yeah, you wanted to get a Nikon into the hands of more people. But whoever came up with the FM10 did’t even understand their own company’s branding. You know what GM did so badly after the 1970s? The brand managers lost focus. Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, Pontiac and Oldsmobile have specific meanings. You can’t mix-and-match core features between brands.

    But lots of manufacturers made this mistake. Jaguar did, with the X-Type and the S-Type. Those weren't terrible cars, but they weren't Jaguars.

    You seem to have confused two concepts. You wanted to create an affordable Nikon. But Nikon cameras were always affordable. What you actually made was a cheap Nikon. And there should never, ever be a cheap Nikon, ever.

    Canon makes cheap cameras. They sell crippled DSLRs to soccer moms and minimum wage hipsters. You do not want this market. A Nikon has to be a little bit more special than that. A Nikon is something that has some kind of allure without being out of reach.

    When you started making digital cameras, you only had a couple of models, and they were for professionals only. Fair enough, too. The D1, D1H and D100 were all great cameras for their time. Then you released the D70, which was very well received.

    And then… eventually you started to release a slew of soccer mom cameras. I have used one of those. I think it was a D3200 or something. Honestly, what’s the point? Yes, I’d maybe choose it over any other DSLR in that price range. But there should not be a Nikon in that price range in the first place.

    Let’s go back to the D70. Notice something about it: it wasn’t innovative. Yet it was a great product. And that’s a key point I want to make here. As far as DSLRs go, there is no innovation left to implement. Well, no, that’s a lie - Sony did innovate with SLT, but that does have its issues, too. But that’s not something you need to worry about.

    Really, as far as DSLRs go, innovation isn’t really possible anymore. What is possible is continued improvements in established features. You know how to do this.

    And you must realise that the ‘Made in Japan’ label means something to the customer. Soccer mom cameras can be made in China. But Nikons must be made in Japan, just as Ferraris are made in Italy.

    You could easily add useful and unique features to any of your camera lines that don’t require huge development costs. Just one example: you could have implemented JPEG 2000 many years ago, at least in your high end cameras. Only now are some manufacturers implementing HEIF, which is better again. But even JP2K would have been enough if you had started using it in the early years.

    Some might argue, not without reason, that nobody needs JP2K. That old-fashioned JPEG (and TIFF) is all that anyone needs. Well, nobody needed a Walkman, but everybody wanted one.

    Here's another idea you could have implemented: T stops. With the Z mount system you could have made all the lenses marked with T stops instead of f/ stops. This wouldn't necessarily be better than the way that everyone else does it. But it would be unique. You don't need to be innovative to be unique.

    You tend to think of yourself as a conservative company, and you hide behind this notion while almost every other brand zips right past you: Olympus, Panasonic, Leica, Fujifilm, Sony, and even Pentax. I wonder sometimes if I would choose a Pentax DSLR over a Nikon.

    But you are not conservative. You are anally retentive and timid. Leica is traditional and conservative - and they are also bold. They make both the M and the SL, not one or the other. And with the exception of certain applications, their SL series is superior to any DSLR yet made, Nikon or otherwise.

    Your attitude is, well, if it’s selling, we don’t need to change it or improve it. One of your executives said that the reason why you didn’t create a mirrorless system earlier was because of concerns over the number of exposures per charge: DSLRs can give 1,000 frames per charge, where as DSLMs can give only 500.

    But this attitude is not worthy of anyone who runs a business. Did you have that attitude when you launched the D1? 35mm film was better in every way except convenience, and yet you made the D1 regardless. You didn’t wait until digital sensors could match or beat film.

    Steve Jobs made the point which should be obvious: if you don’t cannibalise yourself, someone else will. Remember the iPod mini? It sold so well that Apple had a supply shortage for months. And yet they killed it and released the nano.

    But there is hope. That Z mount - stupidly named, as there are two ways to pronounce the letter Z in English - looks to have been designed to accomodate a medium format sensor. This is, I think, what you are planning: one mount for DX, FX and MF (MX?) sensors. Leica seems to be planning the same thing for the L mount, but we will see.

    One of the most satisfying cameras I’ve ever owned was the F3. I’d argue that it’s perhaps the best 35mm SLR ever made. It wasn’t innovative, and I’m glad it wasn’t.

    Innovative SLRs were cameras like the Ricoh Mirai - they were forward-looking ideas back then, but they were too limiting for professionals. The Konica AiBorg was also innovative, but that's not really what serious photographers want in a camera. Canon made the unwise choice to eliminate the removable prism and the manual film rewind, from the T90 onwards. If that’s innovation, I don’t want it.

    A few of your DSLRs are still the best in their class. The D500, the D850, and the D4/5/6. Some pros will be using their D4’s until their shutters break. Even the D700 has its adherents. That’s something to be proud of, n’est-ce pas?

    You have two choices. Believe in yourself, or continue to manage your decline. You can choose between being boring or being unique. It’s up to you.
    G&R likes this.
  2. I'm sure that the Nikon "Stiftung" will be keen to hear your suggestions. :)

    I'd personally go for the F1 and the Nikkormat EL. Who could want anything more?

    The Ricoh Mirai was interesting, though
    Ricoh Mirai - an 1988 modern AF film camera
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2021
    James Bryant likes this.
  3. No you can't, and no, you aren't.
    tonybeach_1961 and Nick D. like this.
  4. I would rather have a Toyota Mirai. Why would anyone want one from Ricoh?
  5. G&R


    I have never been tempted by a Nikon, but I agree with the principles in the post.

    You could consider, however, that MBAs from Wharton (or any other leading business school) will join a business with the aim of carving out their own corporate control. This means deploying an army of MBAs will tear any business apart, and this is precisely what happened to Nokia. They know what is good for the business, but they also know what is best for themselves.
  6. Who let Thom Hogan in???
  7. Making the markings useless for people who use f/stops to calculate DOF--which is far more important than the T-stop f/stop distinction, since in-camera meters measure the light actually coming through the lens.

    That certainly weighed heavily in my mind when I thought about buying one. I was right on the edge, but then realized: OMG, many of my friends will pronounce it "zed." Can't have that.

    Right. makes sense to give all those sales to Canon. That will help the bottom line.

    There have been a lot of post-mortems. The most persuasive, IMHO, wasn't that Chevys were too much like Pontiacs; it was that none of them drove well or were reliable, relative to the foreign competition. I personally didn't pay the slightest attention to the similarlity of the brands. I didn't buy them because I wanted reliable and comfortable cars that drove well.
    AJG likes this.
  8. Sorry Karim, but the snob-appeal and overpriced camera market is all tied up by Leitz, who also don't seem to be doing that well financially.

    The days of precision-engineered, prestigious, all-metal cameras are over and done and they're not coming back. Fact. Those days ended with the introduction of digital imaging, or well before, and any company that doesn't tap into a mass market is pretty much doomed. Because it's that mass market that subsidises high-end pro equipment, not the other way round.

    Who do you think has a bigger turnover and makes most profit; Seiko or Rolex? And then there's maveric crap like Swatch. Who'd have predicted their success?

    Nikon, Nippon Kogaku as was, never set out to dominate the camera market. Their core business was precision optics - microscopes, industrial optics for the micro-electronics and reprographics industries, etc. Cameras, initially, were merely a sideline product as a vehicle to sell their lenses.

    As such, advances in technology have taken their toll on Nikon's industrial and precision optics core business, without the mass-market prop of Canon's photocopier, printer and flatbed scanner products.

    So nobody can blame Nikon for diversivifying, going downmarket and attempting to claw back a fraction of their former place in the industry hierarchy.

    Their management can be blamed for a lack of foresight in not seeing the coming collapse of those markets, but not for their strategies in dealing with it.

    Attempting to appeal only to rich or 'professional' buyers would now appear to be doubly foolish with a world-wide recession knocking at the door.

    That would be like saying Rolls-Royce should drop their aerospace division and try to survive by selling hand-built cars, while keeping the same workforce and manufacturing capacity.
  9. Canon makes cheap cameras. They sell crippled DSLRs to soccer moms and minimum wage hipsters. You do not want this market.

    I stopped reading at this nonsense. I have never really understood the particular appeal some have for Nikon, but I think the Nikon Z series are by all accounts pretty good and the lenses are excellent, but there again, most new lenses seem to be surprisingly good whoever makes them.
    PapaTango and ajkocu like this.
  10. Suggest Nikon build a camera that also allows internet access and text messaging. And cell phone calls would be an added plus.
    PapaTango and David_Cavan like this.
  11. Maybe Nikon should run a recall all of their soccer mom level cameras for immediate rebranding as Canons? Would that restore their obviously sullied reputation.
  12. Don't care where its made.
    Why my D750 and D810 don't have joystick for focus point selection? Canon models have it is since 5D2.
    Wanted to do some tethered shooting 2 days ago with D810, guess what, Camera Control "Pro" was really dated, Nikon D3 or D300 are called new cameras on Nikon support website, LOL. Canon also have functional DPP from day one and its free.
    Problem with Nikon, they were late to implement all digital and internet staff.
    Professionals like Joe McNally and Joel Meyerowitz are selling master classes instead of pictures this days.
    Camera market shrinking for all players.
    And your rant against Canon just not wise, Canon and Nikon in camera department just like Pepsi or Coke, very little difference.
    Brand is important for snobs, professionals buying into functionality and they count every dollar they spend.
  13. Cameras are becoming nothing more than cellular apps.

    Nikon can't make cellular devices but does have a brand name that still appeals to an elderly minority. .
  14. Love the F. Over 50 years later, it still has a place in professional photography. Not a fan of the Nikkormats. But you can't please everyone!

    On similar lines, although only vaguely, I'm quite optimistic about the future of Olympus.

    DOF scales will not change if you mark a lens in T stops. Not that zooms have useful DOF scales anyway. And DOF isn't really a concrete metric. But T stops will be slightly better than f/stops if you're using a hand-held meter. It's all up-side.

    There are actually big differences, depending on which models you're comparing. As far as branding goes, it's extremely important, and has nothing to do with snobbery. Everything is branded. Religion, people, businesses, cultures, nations, everything. Sweden is a strong brand; The Salvation Army is a strong brand; the late Princess Diana is a strong brand; Adidas is a strong brand; Japanese culture in general is a strong brand. Even superseded products retain strong branding, like the Walkman or the typewriter. It's impossible to not be branded. You either manage your brand, or the public will do it for you.
  15. dear Nikon it's not your fault, but IPhones are getting really good ...
  16. So far Godox brand, beat everyone in lighting by being cheap. Sony of course beat Nikon in sales only by being better brand, it has absolutely nothing to do with their camera offering:)
    Some people obsessed with brands, but even here on Pnet members dumping their "brands" on regular basis, when better camera came along.
    And when I use my old Polaroid, last thing comes to my mind it's its branding.
  17. G&R


    It is possible to convert a mobile phone into a low-spec DSLR using a SLR jacket, but its cheaper to buy a high-spec DSLR body.

    Mobile accessory review: Turtleback iPhone SLR Jacket
  18. When Matisse was in the elderly minority, he discovered the magic of paper cutouts. When Picasso was in the elderly minority, he rediscovered his inner child. No one much remembers the tools they used, but they do remember what their lives' work led them to.

    Three cheers for the elderly minority here, at least those who are still creating ... by whatever means chosen.
    PapaTango likes this.
  19. My, my!
    The advertising industry, social media influencers, politicos and myriad other clever-but-mindless persuaders certainly have you well trained.

    I prefer to think of them as just another name on a label. All producing disappointing sh*t until proven otherwise.:(
    Nick D. likes this.

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