Nikon DL, KeyMission 360, Coolpix cameras delayed

Nikon Corporation announced today delays in the release of the latest digital cameras and the effects of the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes:

Official press text:

Delays in the release of new digital cameras

The new Nikon compact digital cameras, COOLPIX A300 and B500 will be available in May 2016, the COOLPIX A900 and B700 will arrive in July 2016 and the Nikon KeyMission 360 action camera will be available in October 2016 as more time is required for software adjustment.
The new COOLPIX products were originally scheduled for release in April and the KeyMission 360 action camera was announced for a spring 2016 release.

In addition, the premium compact cameras, Nikon DL18-50 f/1.8-2.8, DL24-85 f/1.8-2.8, and DL24-500 f/2.8-5.6, will be delayed due to the serious issues with the integrated circuit for image processing built into the three new premium compact cameras, originally scheduled for a June 2016 release.

The new release date has yet to be determined and we will announce the information as soon as it is decided.

The effects of the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes

The suppliers of parts for Nikon products such as digital cameras with interchangeable lenses, interchangeable lenses, and compact digital cameras, which include those mentioned above, were affected by the series of earthquakes that started on April 14 in Kumamoto Prefecture in Japan, and this will inevitably impact our production and sales.

We are currently investigating the situation, and we will announce the details as soon as they are confirmed.

We sincerely apologize to our customers, business partners and all those who have expressed interest in these models for the delays. We are making every effort to bring these models to market at the earliest possible date without compromising on our standards and the total Nikon product experience.

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  • Eric Calabros

    October? Seriously? Russia makes a Soyuz rocket in that timeframe 😉

    • Mike

      Maybe President Trump will ban trade with Asian countries because he invented Asia and they aren’t making ‘Murica great anymore.

      • nwcs

        Or Prez Hillary can make deals from prison 🙂

      • Ivan

        Trump will not be a president.

        • Mike

          I was being facetious. American politics are currently better than any reality TV show.

          • Ivan

            To be honest, it looks really sad, immature and incompetent, and I personally don’t find anything interesting nor exciting in this charade.

  • nwcs

    Nikon has been hit hard by earthquake results over the last few years. I hope they’re able to get back on their feet. It isn’t easy to overcome disasters.

    • Thom Hogan

      Uh, you miss the nuance. Nikon used the earthquake as a cloak to the real problem: they botched the EXPEED6A chip and they haven’t finished software for key products. The delays have nothing to do with the quakes, but the earthquakes may end up adding to the delay eventually, but that’s unknown at the moment.

      • nwcs

        In this case I can see that but I’m thinking more in general. They’ve had some bad luck from natural disasters. It doesn’t take away from other incompetence but it seems that they keep having “perfect storms” of unplanned issues.

        • Andrew

          I would not say “incompetence” unless you have a real insight into the complexities involved in designing, testing, and manufacturing new high technology products; not withstanding human errors. Do you know how complex the EXPEED 6A image processor is to design and manufacture? But I guess it is easier to quarterback a game from the sidelines – even I on occasion (to put it lightly) have done that 😉

          • nwcs

            I do have some insight into those areas. 🙂 I have been working with high-tech stuff for over 20 years in several industries including those that produced high end devices that required high end firmware.

            Regardless, all that is irrelevant. I do no need credentials to call it like I see it. I have sympathy for Nikon’s natural disaster woes but their strategy and execution speak for themselves on the balance sheet.

            • PhilK

              I agree that these announcements and then pullbacks on delivery look very amateurish.

              That’s putting a nice spin on it. Otherwise one might wonder if they are just cynically making product delivery announcements they know they cannot meet, getting some buzz over it and delaying people from switching to the competition, then backing off their initial delivery promises later.

      • Captain Megaton

        “they botched the EXPEED6A chip and they haven’t finished software for key products.”

        but how could they possibly …

        Snapbridge I can imagine being a bitch to code and debug.

        But Expeed6A? WTF Nikon?

        • Thom Hogan

          Actually I’m surprised they haven’t had more issues surrounding EXPEED. It’s a constantly moving target, with each iteration requiring a very full set of retesting. Essentially, EXPEED is a SoC (system on chip). It’s designed to work like a black box. The camera calls routines in the chip to do something, and expects certain results back, and given the high frame rate of the DLs, probably in a very tight time period, too. One hiccup in any of the core functions and you have to re-engineer the chip.

          But this just brings me back to my point before: why was Nikon announcing something so early to expected delivery?

          • PhilK

            See my reply to nwcs above.

            Neither of the scenarios that make sense are very flattering to the company.

            Along with the various cost-cutting measures they’ve been doing the last few years, Nikon is starting to look like a struggling, under-capitalized company with serious resource constraint problems that are now impacting their product development. (And too stubborn to scale back those aspirations to better match their current capabilities)

            • Thom Hogan

              Been my point for some time. Having some contact with Tokyo and Nikon upper management, I’ve been seeing this coming for some time. They manage to numbers in Tokyo, and in particular now that peak cameras has been reached, earnings.

              This invokes the usual “cost cutting” approach as pressure is put on “making the number.” I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that we’ve got accounting statement voodoo going on, too.

              Cost cutting alone typically doesn’t solve the fundamental issues a company faces. Instead, it tends to exacerbate them, and everything goes into a long spiral downhill as cost cuts invoke new problems which invoke new cost cuts, ad infinitum.

              What we haven’t seen from Nikon is any acknowledgement that they have an internal problem as well as an external one (the external one is collapse of the camera market). Nikon is over-weighted in top management, slow to make adjustments, and focused on the wrong problem short and long term.

              Moreover, they’re now trying to rush product to market that isn’t ready, and probably wouldn’t pass previous QC/QA/development requirements. So they build in even more problems.

              The good news is that they delayed product instead of putting it on the market unfinished or with problems. The bad news is that they are so disconnected from customers that they aren’t seeing what’s going to happen next.

            • PhilK

              Their corporate communications suggest that their next big push is into the medical field, which is probably a good idea, but it may stretch them thin for a while as they ramp up in that area.

              On the up side, the D500 reviews are looking good. I hope they sell boatloads of ’em. 😉

            • Thom Hogan

              They’re late to that game. Pretty much every other Japanese CES company got there before them, bought up all the good bits available in medical. Now Nikon doesn’t have enough money to really play. Canon bought Toshiba’s medical group, which would have been the perfect fit for Nikon, but Nikon is just too small to manage a transaction that size.

              So unless they stumble upon something no one else sees and makes a more VC type investment that pays off quickly, I don’t see how they manage to build a viable medical group that would help them survive the existential crisis they’re in with cameras. Simply put, the minute Nikon posts a loss in cameras, all hell is going to break out in Tokyo. That’s why they’ve been cutting costs everywhere they can, even pennies.

              Personally, I believe that’s the wrong approach and will hurt them in the long run more than it helps them in the short run.

    • FountainHead

      Don’t forget the A-bomb is delaying this stuff too…

      –Nikon Marketing

  • Sergey Rozhdestvenskiy

    October? Maybe they feel demand is low for their “360” camera. I think they better offer regular action camera like GoPro does. Though even GoPro probably doesn’t feel well since there are tons of cheap Chinese action cams below or around $70-100.

    • Eric Calabros

      Its not because of Chineses, its because action camera is not for everyone. because its overhyped market.

      • When people realize that action cams are for more than mountain biking and extreme skiing, and that they are great for capturing your next visit to the toilet or an evening of Netflix and chill, the market will catch up and grow like mad.

        • silmasan

          Also “digital witness” device for many purposes: from car insurance to legal defense–constant alibi-generator (esp. if you’re a “clean”, vocal person of integrity/agent of change and you’re a potential target of defamation/slander by corrupt people). Unfortunately, this isn’t just a movie plot in many places today. 😐

          • Accordingly we won’t be seeing a gold plated “Trump” edition, I guess.

        • madmaxmedia

          That gives a whole new meaning to the ‘action’ in ‘action camera’…

          • outkasted

            Porn industry

    • Merv S

      The problem that GoPro and pretty well most somewhat specialized cameras have is that people want the ease of use of an Apple phone

  • whisky

    “the premium compact cameras, Nikon DL18-50 f/1.8-2.8, DL24-85 f/1.8-2.8, and DL24-500 f/2.8-5.6, will be delayed due to the serious issues with the built-in integrated circuit for image processing. These cameras were originally scheduled for a June 2016 release. The new release date has yet to be determined.”

    “The Nikon KeyMission 360 action camera will not be released before October 2016 as more time is required for software adjustment.”

    well … at least Nikon’s now publishing their reasons.

    • Mike

      Maybe someone with mass production/tech experience can help me…. when a prototype is at the point where production ready units are out in the field making images for PR purposes….. shouldn’t technical gremlins be just about eliminated by then? Shouldn’t “serious issues with the integrated circuit for image processing” be dealt with by then?

      • Thom Hogan

        No. You’d build prototypes with first results of the EXPEED6A back from the fab. You start testing. Somewhere in your testing you discover a major, fundamental error that can’t be patched via software or by dropping a feature. So you have to stop the fab, quickly fix your chip design, and run another small run through the fab that you can then test again. You can’t really turn on the production spigot until you’ve cleared the test hurdle.

        • Mike

          Thanks Thom. 🙂

          • Thom Hogan

            This is all consistent with what I’ve written by the way: last year Nikon cancelled a number of projects and tried to pivot to others. They’ve rethought the whole line of cameras they want to provide in the future, and KeyMission and DL were just the first two salvos of that (along with finally approving the D500). The whole SnapBridge thing is a complete rethink, as is Nikon Image Service. Basically, bottom to top, Nikon did a rethink.

            But that probably put lots of necessary parts and software on critical path to launch. And now we’re seeing the first results that they some of those critical path elements are forcing delays.

            • manattan

              What does the new DL delay do to the Nikon 1 line? I imagine it only helps the situation /s

        • Eric Calabros

          I thought “A” means underclocked and everything else is identical with flagship edition. so its different design with what is inside D500?

          • Thom Hogan

            I believe there are differences, yes. Remember, the Nikon 1’s that used an A chip had sensor phase detect AF in them, and some of that is handled by the EXPEED.

            But since EXPEED is a black box unknown to the outside world, it’s impossible to say for sure.

      • Horshack

        Generally, yes, issues should be found before pre-production samples are shared outside an engineering organization. The general process for chip design verification is multi-faceted. First the logic is simulated and tested on a computer before it’s even put on test silicon. Then the logic is encoded and routed onto an FPGA to test things that the computer simulator can’t catch, either because the full integration couldn’t be simulated easily or because there are timing issues that weren’t easy to spot without running it on a real board. When all that is done, the first rev of the ASIC is produced and tested by internal testing engineers (both the original HW engineers as well as the firmware engineers testing their software with the chip). This is the phase that you want to catch any remaining problems, some of which didn’t manifest earlier because there wasn’t real software ready to run on it or because the timing of the ASIC is full-speed vs clocked-down on the FPGA due to the limitations of FPGA logic. Any major issues found during ASIC testing that can’t be worked around require a new spin of the ASIC, which is very expensive and tmie-consuming. Based on Nikon’s press-release it sounds like that’s where they’re at.

        • AlphaT

          And to add, and similar to what Intel encounters in chip development, is the issue with power delivery.
          This is hard to simulate, and problems usually discovered only during testing of the prototypes.
          With the fab process getting smaller, a lot of new issues comes with it.

    • Indeed, the good part in this is that Nikon seems straightforward (for once).

  • Chris

    Nikon should consider moving more of its manufacturing to regions less prone to earthquakes and tsunamis.

  • pedantic_brit

    I am DeLayed

    • AlphaT

      A guy’s nightmare, or something they don’t want to hear.

  • RIT

    Pity. I’d like a 360 as an in-car witness cam. Compact VR has other uses too, like filming surgery for educational purposes close in amongst the procedure. The market should mature well if they get quality right.

  • PhilK

    Unfortunately I think there’s a very good chance they will miss their window of market opportunity on this. Competitors for this type of product are popping up all over the place.

    LG for instance recently announced a dual-lens 360 degree action-cam “companion” for their new G5 smartphone:

    Shipping in early May…

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