(news & commentary)
Nikon today announced three new products, two Coolpix models, an 18-140mm DX VR lens, and another low-end Speedlight, the SB-300.
As I noted yesterday, mostly a light set of consumer announcements released near the financial report to come later this week. No real surprises.
The 18-140mm is one of the super zooms that have been rumored for a long time, essentially the replacement for the 18-135mm, only now with VR. Price will be US$600, and it will ship in late August.
But let's talk about what all these announcements presage, as that's probably more important than the products themselves.
- Coolpix — we're down from the usual five or six fall Coolpix models. The last two years have given us only a couple of fall Coolpi. Unfortunately, both new Coolpix, an S6600 not announced in the US, and the L620 which was, seem to be "more of the same." Sure, the S6600 has a swivel LCD, which is new, but both of these Coolpix models seem to be of the same iteration progression Nikon has been following: take the basic model that's been produced, perhaps switch out for a newer sensor or lens, then add a few new functions. I personally don't think that's the future of compact cameras, but we haven't yet seen the serious compact camera announcement for this fall (I'm pretty sure there will be one). Things Nikon announces before the financial results tend to be "the expected," things they announce after the results tend to be more predictive of "the future." So far we haven't seen anything that indicates that Nikon is changing course with compacts.
- Lens — curiously, Nikon has made a habit of not announcing DX lenses with a DX camera, and not announcing FX lenses with an FX camera. The record isn't perfect on this, but I think Nikon tends to do this to remind people that they make other things. My read: the fact that the DX lens is announced away from the body announcement would make me think the body will be DX, and that we'll get at least one FX lens announcement with the DX body. One wonders also whether the 18-140mm might be the "kit lens" for a D400, or maybe a D7100s. This lens specification doesn't really seem like one that would resonate as a standalone purchase. Most people would jump to the 18-200mm or 18-300mm if they were upgrading an existing DX kit lens, I think, and 18-140mm isn't enough different from 18-105mm, either. So I think this lens tells us something: there's a body downstream that will use it in order to beef up the lens' sales. Such a body would have to be above a D7100, such as a D7100s or D400, I think.
- Flash — I believe this is another "telegraph" of upcoming intentions. You have to compare this to the SB-400. The SB-400 is more powerful and has manual flash modes. The new flash has a tilt head, but one of the press releases' bullet points is: simple operation. The press release has another interesting set of wording: "among Coolpix cameras, only supported by the Coolpix A," versus "compatible…with Nikon Coolpix compact digital cameras that support I-TTL flash control." Note the plural on the second statement. We're going to see another higher end Coolpix camera soon. The rumored 1" Coolpix cameras seem most likely.
The more important product announcements come later. I believe that we won't see them until September this year, but they could happen as soon as next week.
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