Is Nikon failing? (video by Tony Northrup)

Here is what I think a very good video by Tony Northrup summing up Nikon's announcements from yesterday and looking into the future of the company:

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  • I purchased the Key Mission 360 early release. The software was so deplorable that it made the camera virutally useless, especially compared to the Samsung gear 360 which I already owned. I spoke with two different people at Nikon, neither had any idea about how to use the camera (told me they had no advanced training, so were just reading the manual). Asked them about any updates to the software and especially if it would have a live view version as without it the camera was virtually useless. They called back later and said the Software team told there were no and would not be any updates or would even consider offering an update with live view through the software. My first Nikon purchase, was an EPIC FAIL. I was one of the first to review it on Amazon to warn people from purchasing it. I have used Sony for several years now, while they are not perfect, they are constantly on the edge of technology. I hope Nikon figures it out, because I don’t want Sony to raise their prices any further if there is only one real competitor left.

    • This is just horrible! I wonder if the top Nikon executives are even aware of what is going on, or they just get pretty reports and think everything is perfect.

      • MonkeySpanner

        Clearly they know. It seems they have no idea what to do about it.

  • Steve7

    I doubt increasing the spec. of a camera will improve the situation for Nikon, or Canon etc., For too long they have probably relied on their existing client base to renew cameras or lenses regularly – equipment is so good nowadays it doesn’t need this renewal, and few new amateur photographers are seemingly being drawn in. (I see very few in the 20-35 age group with a dslr when I am out and about).
    Smartphones are here to stay, they are progress, we’ll all have them and perhaps the dslr (etc) should be seen as a compliment to the smartphone. Were it my business I would be looking at what I can offer that the competition doesn’t ie., what does a dslr excel at that a smartphone can’t do, this is what you sell, but if you don’t get that list across to the general non photographer public, it is worthless. When i want an increase in business I advertise heavily at key times in the year. I see very little/no advertising telling me why I ‘must buy’ a dslr.
    So, were I a non photographer with a smartphone, why would I want a ‘brick’ hanging around my neck on a narrow strap?
    I’ve seen the fancily lit adverts of the D500 on the tv, but they didn’t tell me what it can do that my smatphone can’t….so I changed channels.
    For most businesses to survive, you must bring in new clients….this they have to do and perhaps tell them why they need a dslr might just help! – because sales will continue on a downward trend as cameras/lenses are so good they do not need replacing as often.

  • 250ninja

    I’ve never seen a camera line cancelled like this before. $650-$1000 point and shoots don’t make much sense, especially with a 1″ sensor. Keymission is a dumb name. Entering 3 action cameras into a crowded market is a dumb idea. They have to be better than the existing competition and they aren’t. Another failure. Sad. I hope they can get their act together. A FF and APS-C mirrorless line would be a good idea. Shut down the Coolpix line. Think up something new. When AF hit in the late 80’s it was huge and spurred sales. HD video in 2010 was another feature that spurred sales. There’s got to be something else on the horizon. Accept that cell phone cameras will only get better and better and most people will use their phone for photos and video.

  • Cleveland advertising

    Nikon has never been good at software so hire someone else to do it.
    I love my D610 but the menus are so confusing I don’t use half the features (where is that battery check?) I develop UX for a living and I can tell you Nikon’s is crap.

    EVF, 4K and the ability to send an image via wifi on my $3000 pro camera without having to buy an adaptor please. I pretty much agree with much of what Tony said here so Nikon please listen!

  • Pawel Magnowski

    22:30 THIS. Bright APS-C lenses. F5.6 on a DSLR is WORSE than F1.8 on a smartphone.

  • MonkeySpanner

    Fuji just released the 23/2 R. Nikon – were you watching? Great mirrorless bodies, great lens selection. Shoulda been Nikon.

  • nukunukoo

    Their old traditionalist “business-as-usual” arrogance of downplaying mirrorless and 4K video three years ago is now taking Karma. Ironically, their sudden popularity back in 2012 was because of the 24MP sensors, Full HD video recording and the fact that the HDMI out was uncompressed. The demand was bigly and they went downhill from there when they just made very incremental changes and raised prices unfairly as the rest of the competition zoomed past. Even then they still didn’t make any major actions… I wish them luck for all our sakes.

  • Gosh1

    Nikon must focus on how to attract the new DSLR user to embrace the Nikon system. This swelling group of consumers are the cell phone dependents i.e children and teenagers. Many have grown up with cellular comms with the integral multimedia capabilities in a cell phone. Many are already budding photographers. They have spending power, and can secure loans etc and desire a “serious” camera. Moreover, Retro is still Cool etc for this generation.

    With the legacy of the F-mount and recent top of the range DSLRs [D500, D810 and Df] and their recent best Nikkors, Nikon are in a unique situation here. Poised to embrace and extend the client base of their SLR system….”growing” the Milenmial Consumer with mentorship and Support

    My summary of the Take-Home suggestions this video discussed in detail:

    1. Innovative Retro style camera body – building on the Df and better. The Cool camera the cell phone-dependent aspires to own

    2. Sensor Stabilization. Will make VR superfluous, simplifying lens design and cost. The lens returns to its singular twinned tasks – Image quality and focusing mechanism

    3. Eye Autofocus on the FOCAL subject will revolutionize portrait & wildlife photography and much of action photography

    4. Image Stacking that works seamlessly with AF

    5. Image Averaging enablng ISO 16, 25 etc

    6. Silent Shutter

    7. Top of the Range Screen quality. You See the Image You Will Get

    8. Snapbridge. Fix it!! Fix it asap! So 1 Click of a button sends jpg to cell phone of one’s choice. Background transfer of raw images to HDD in vicinity or solid-state drive [in one’s near vicinity] receives auto backup as you shoot. And leave it to these 3rd devices to handle the core task of mass transfer to servers etc

    9. Software. Redesign and fix DSLR operating system so it = iPhone quality; searchable menus should be standard feature.

    10. Enable 3rd party Apps to work with Nikon OS. This will embrace and extend adoption of Nikon system

    TOUGH CHALLENGES HERE!! But many are entirely feasible for Nikon…

    In Fact, if they are not already researching these innovations, then Nikon is indeed very backward!

    • mosswings

      These are cool, but point out the limitations of the DSLR design paradigm. Many are features that mirrorless cameras can readily do in mostly software, but that DSLRs cannot do without very complicated hardware. Let’s consider points 3, possibly 4, and 6: Point 3: Eye Autofocus. simply requires fast sensor readout (a la Sony A6500) in a mirrorless camera. It’s constantly acquiring images. Doing something similar in a DSLR requires a high-resolution exposure sensor to track the image features in real-time, and ideally more PDAF points distributed across a greater fraction of the frame. The linear arrays that make up the PDAF sensor module are unable to detect subject details. The D810 and D5/500 are the only cameras in Nikon’s lineup with follow-focus subject feature detection. Not feasible for a camera at a D5K/D7K price point.

      Point 4: Image Stacking: if you let the camera set focus over a given range, this can be done with a single focusing sequence. If you want to follow-focus while stacking, the result will be a mirror-clacking mess. More readily done in DSLRs in liveview mode.

      Point 6: Silent Shutter: Liveview only! Coupling silent shutter to PDAF operation makes no sense because the reflexing mirror makes a racket.

      this points out that mirrorless architecture can deliver these useful features at a price that the midpoint of the market can sustain. DSLRs are very very good at fast follow focus for stills photography. But unless you hybridize your camera like Canon has with its DPAF-enabled 77D and 80D, all of these cool features driven by fast, continuous full resolution main sensor image capture aren’t gonna happen.

      A cow is not a cat. But software…that’s a soluble problem.

  • Gosh1

    A FEW MORE KEY POINTS FOR NIKON HEADQUARTERS TO PRIORITIZE :

    To Reiterate….Nikon must focus on how to attract the new DSLR user to embrace the Nikon system. This swelling group of consumers are the cell phone dependents i.e children and teenagers. Many have grown up with cellular comms with the integral multimedia capabilities in a cell phone. Many are already budding photographers. They have spending power, and can secure loans etc and desire a “serious” camera. Moreover, Retro is still Cool etc for this generation…..

    …..With the legacy of the F-mount and recent top of the range DSLRs [D500, D810 and Df] and their recent best Nikkors, Nikon are in a unique situation here. Poised to embrace and extend the client base of their SLR system….”growing” the Milenmial Consumer with mentorship and Support

    MORE SPECIFICALLY :

    1. First and Foremost, implementing the above suite of features will generate client enthusiasm. Focusing on core corporate strengths while sorting out software / user interfaces that meet the client’s expectations, which are very high. Thus, it is especially the young Nikon client who buys into the system and plans to grow their personal inventory. Speaking for myself, ~3 decades back and earlier… Many of us started exactly in this way with Nikon……

    ….This unique opportunity for Nikon to embrace the millennial consumer, with Buy-In among users of this age group [teens – 20s] demands mechanisms that engage and promote emerging photographers. Discounts for the ‘Under 25’ is one obvious tactic. Above all MENTORSHIP is the obvious way forward. Discover, adopt and facilitate role models, which will need a re-think of who qualifies as a Nikon Ambassador.

    2. In quite a few countries, Notoriously S Africa, what calls itself Nikon “Support” will have to rebuilt and retrained in its entirety. Nikon should empower independent repair shops to become ‘Nikon Certified, and feed these 3rd party independents with the spares and more to support Nikon clients. Nikon should stick to design, manufacturing and distribution….

    3. This Mentorship-With-Support as core saes model is vital for the buyer who selects hers/his 1st SLR BUT don’t remove core innovative features from entry level models. Admittedly, there be tough challenges here to keep the cost of the entry camera down; it is logical to enable full backward compatibility with all lenses since AI, and especially enable AF in entry DSLR for the early AF lenses [excluding F3-AF]. ~10 years ago, I experienced this gap in my D60 and it was more than frustrating. I felt ripped off as a devout Nikon client of 20+ years with an emasculated F-Mount !!!

    …..Yet Nikon have succeeded with affordable lenses. 75-150 AIS E / 28-200 G 70-300 G zooms and 50 f1.8D for full frame cameras and 18-55 & 18-200 for DX ……….

    ….And for F$#ks Sake, it is high time Nikon made available K3 type focusing screens for ALL DSLRs to use with MF lenses! Committed Nikon Clients are sick of being denied standard items in the Nikon system. It is spiteful and stupid not to keep these simple parts / accessories in the system. The same problem applies to the current gap in macro closeup lenses (eg 6T)

    4. Comparability with ~60+ years of Nikkors sets Nikon apart from all its competitors, especially for the emerging photographer…. Bizarre why Nikon has yet to Embrace, Build on, and Market this unique strength as a sine qua none …. inclusive of all the cutting edge innovations 4. Perhaps a viable business model is to lay out the option for affordable upgrades after 1-2 years of ownership of a DSLR. Centred on the attractive trade in…..

    ………Nikon then refurbishes said trade-in body for resale WITH FULL WARRANTY until the model in question has become obsolete. I do just this with the Used market for lenses; camera trade-ins are usually left too long. Providing “Stepping Stone” upgrades is 100% vital….

    ….Thus Nikon can plan ahead an the business model that the more affluent Client buys the D810 / D5 equivalent some years after her first buy into Nikon. It makes sense for the Nikon business model to prioritize recruiting & embracing emerging photographers who will mortgage whatever they can, as ‘Nikonitis’ gains its hold on the client….

    kind regards

    Yours Truly

    Nikon Client, Committed and Devout to Exclusively Nikon for 35+ years

    PS Will not the established Nikon user will be utterly ecstatic to see at least the main advances, summarized below!?

    1. Innovative Retro style camera body – building on the Df and better. The Cool camera the cell phone-dependent aspires to own
    2. Sensor Stabilization. Will make VR superfluous, simplifying lens design and cost. The lens returns to its singular twinned tasks – Image quality and focusing mechanism
    3. Eye Autofocus on the FOCAL subject will revolutionize portrait & wildlife photography and much of action photography
    4. Image Stacking that works seamlessly with AF
    5. Image Averaging enablng ISO 16, 25 etc
    6. Silent Shutter
    7. Top of the Range Screen quality. You See the Image You Will Get 8. Snapbridge. Fix it!! Fix it asap! So 1 Click of a button sends jpg to cell phone of one’s choice. Background transfer of raw images to HDD in vicinity or solid-state drive [in one’s near vicinity] receives auto backup as you shoot. And leave it to these 3rd devices to handle the core task of mass transfer to servers etc
    9. Software. Redesign and fix DSLR operating system so it = iPhone quality; searchable menus should be standard feature.
    10. Enable 3rd party Apps to work with Nikon OS. This will embrace and extend adoption of Nikon system

  • Gosh1

    A FEW MORE KEY POINTS FOR NIKON HEADQUARTERS TO PRIORITIZE :
    1st and Foremost, implementing the above suite of features will generate client enthusiasm. Focusing on core corporate strengths while sorting out software / user interfaces that meet the client’s expectations, which are very high. Thus, it is especially the young Nikon client who buys into the system and plans to grow their personal inventory. Speaking for myself, ~3 decades back and earlier… Many of us started exactly in this way with Nikon.

    This unique opportunity for Nikon to embrace the millennial consumer, with Buy-In among users of this age group [teens – 20s] demands mechanisms that engage and promote emerging photographers.
    Discounts for the ‘Under 25’ is one obvious tactic. Above all MENTORSHIP is the obvious way forward. Discover, adopt and facilitate role models, which will need a re-think of who qualifies as a Nikon Ambassador.

    1. In quite a few countries, Notoriously S Africa, what calls itself Nikon “Support” will have to rebuilt and retrained in its entirety. Nikon should empower independent repair shops to become ‘Nikon Certified, and feed these 3rd party independents with the spares and more to support Nikon clients. Nikon should stick to design, manufacturing and distribution….

    2. This Mentorship-With-Support as core saes model is vital for the buyer who selects hers/his 1st SLR BUT don’t remove core innovative features from entry level models. Admittedly, there be tough challenges here to keep the cost of the entry camera down; it is logical to enable full backward compatibility with all lenses since AI, and especially enable AF in entry DSLR for the early AF lenses [excluding F3-AF]. ~10 years ago, I experienced this gap in my D60 and it was more than frustrating. I felt ripped off as a devout Nikon client of 20+ years with an emasculated F-Mount !!! Yet Nikon have succeeded with affordable lenses. 75-150 AIS E / 28-200 G 70-300 G zooms and 50 f1.8D for full frame cameras and 18-55 & 18-200 for DX ….
    ….And for F$#ks Sake, it is high time Nikon made available K3 type focusing screens for ALL DSLRs to use with MF lenses! Committed Nikon Clients are sick of being denied standard items in the Nikon system. It is spiteful and stupid not to keep these simple parts / accessories in the system. The same problem applies to the current gap in macro closeup lenses (eg 6T)

    3. Comparability with ~60+ years of Nikkors sets Nikon apart from all its competitors, especially for the emerging photographer…. Bizarre why Nikon has yet to Embrace, Build on, and Market this unique strength as a sine qua none …. inclusive of all the cutting edge innovations

    4. Perhaps a viable business model is to lay out the option for affordable upgrades after 1-2 years of ownership of a DSLR. Centred on the attractive trade in….. Nikon then refurbishes said trade-in body for resale WITH FULL WARRANTY until the model in question has become obsolete. I do just this with the Used market for lenses; camera trade-ins are usually left too long. Providing “Stepping Stone” upgrades is 100% vital….

    ….Thus Nikon can plan ahead an the business model that the more affluent Client buys the D810 / D5 equivalent some years after her first buy into Nikon. It makes sense for the Nikon business model to prioritize recruiting & embracing emerging photographers who will mortgage whatever they can, as Nikonitis gains its hold on the client….
    kind regards

    Committed and Devout Nikon User for 35+ years

    PS Will not the established Nikon user will be utterly ecstatic to see at least the main advances summarized highlighted in this video!

  • Tom

    I agree with many of the recommendations — I feel the most important priority is to fix Snapbridge. While I think this is important for enthusiast and pro cameras, I think its critical to get wider appeal in the consumer and entry level camera sector. Also make some good DX lenses for the D500 like the Sigma Art lenses.

  • mosswings

    Well, yes and no. The most interesting comment on this video was that Nikon is emphasizing profits, not revenue, which means that it plans to shrink, in a healthy manner. I would concur that Nikon’s consumer lineup needs limiting.

    Kill 3K series, make D5K series the entry point, kill D7200: hmmm.

    Certainly the 3K series is a very limited and frustrating camera for someone who is rapidly advancing in the art. In this respect, the D5K is a better starting point, BUT it’s also somewhat limiting. There is a problem with killing the D7200: it creates a $1000 jump between the entry level and enthusiast level DX body. That’s a bridge too far for many, as it would be better spent on quality lenses.

    Unless Nikon is intent on serving only the dedicated enthusiast, there needs to be a camera at a sub-$1000 price point, $1000 with a kit lens. The advancing enthusiast doesn’t necessarily need a D500. It’s a fairly big and sophisticated tool. A D7K series probably still needs to exist, making the DX lineup 3 cameras, but with the D500 it no longer needs to be almost everything that the D300 was; it can return to the design ethos of the D80/D90 – 2 control wheels, a goldilocks form smaller than the current D7K, with just enough capability to do most everything outside of action photography. The D5K series should add a control wheel and AFFT but concentrate on smaller physical size; it’s competing with fully controllable mirrorless designs now.
    Thus, a $900/$1300/$2000 price ladder that is more easily mounted and more commonality in UI between offerings. Get rid of the silly crippling.

    Final point: a smartphone interface can’t be the only control mechanism for a camera. Viewfinder equipped cameras are designed to be operated by feel, with the eye at the finder, by potentially gloved hands in inclement conditions. Smartphones are designed to be operated by looking at the screen, ungloved, in favorable weather conditions. Cameras will always be split-personality devices, with buttons and touch-screens optimized for (in the former case) shooting, and (in the latter case) viewing and configuring the camera. Searching the menu system? Great idea. But I suspect the screen would have to be much bigger to implement an easy-to-use screen keyboard. And forget about voice control. Photographers must be discreet. The joydisk navigation paradigm also exists on other weather-hardened tools like backwoods GPS units. We can only go so far towards our ubiquitous smartphones.

    Ultimately, though, these are all hardware laundry lists reflecting the observation that there are too many generations of Nikon DSLRs on the shelves these days, just as there were too many generations of Olympii bodies. The real problem Nikon has to solve is its distance from its customer, whose useage model is quite different than what Nikon is used to design for. And from that will obtain the solution to its hideous gaffs.

  • ZMWT

    “Extraordinary loss” is an accounting term, it concerns Nikon’s lithography business. It doesn’t mean “huge” but it means “out of ordinary”, that is, “Nikon did not tell that it will be reported this time”.
    It has nothing to do with declining sales of cameras, which is happening across the industry. Also, that “declining sales of cameras” and “panicking mode” is also a preposterous lie and manipulation by idle bloggers and reviewers — digital cameras were selling at abnormally high levels for quite some time, something photography industry never experienced, and now sales are normalising. That is, getting down to numbers which are expected under NORMAL circumstances in this industry.
    Shame Mr Northrup used this manipulation of a headline into a totally different direction, to boost views of his video blog.

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