Nikon Went DL, Will You?

(commentary)

As you know, I included two short poll questions with the article I wrote on the Nikon DL introductions. With thousands of responses, here’s what you said.

In terms of already owning one of these higher-level small cameras:

  • 54% of you said you’ve never owned one
  • 21% of you said you own a Sony RX-100
  • 6% of you said you own a Panasonic LX-100

Everything else was “in the weeds.” The Other category at 12% revealed that some of you were using smaller sensor compacts, some mirrorless, some Nikon 1, and that you considered those substitutes. But even there nothing really stood out as being close to the level of the first three responses I note above.

So are you interested in purchasing such a product? (I’ll have to remember in 2017 to follow up and see if you lived up to your answers ;~)

  • 36% aren’t going to purchase one of the listed products in 2016
  • 22% of you said you’d purchase the Nikon DL 18-50
  • 12% of you said you’d purchase the Nikon DL 24-85
  • 9% of you said you’d purchase the Sony RX-100 Mark IV
  • 5% of you said you’d purchase the Panasonic LX-100

Everything else once again fell into the weeds where it’s not likely that there’s any statistical significance to the answer differences.

Someone at Nikon got the DL 18-50 idea right. It sits as unique among these small cameras, and the poll results seem to verify that there’s a need for a wide angle take-everywhere camera. You have to wonder if Nikon is prepared for a nearly 2:1 difference in demand compared to the DL 24-85, though. I’ll bet Nikon thinks the 24-85mm model will be far more popular. I wouldn’t be surprised if they managed their initial production orders the opposite of what my poll suggests. I notice that dpreview thinks that the DL 24-85 will be the more popular model among their readers, but I wonder if they’re right and whether they’re basing that on knowledge or their readership response or just a guess.

Note that the higher-priced and longer focal length ratio models (e.g. DL 24-500) did very poorly in this poll. That doesn’t mean that they won’t sell, it means that if they have appeal, they have appeal to a different group of photographers than this site caters to. They tend to not be small cameras but rather DSLR-like in size (though with less lens protruding when off). 

  • If I were Sony, I’d find a way to lower the price of the RX-100 Mark IV. The DL 24-85 will cut into the Sony’s sales if they don’t. Unfortunately, it appears Sony overproduced the earlier RX models, as they all seem to still be available new at dealers.
  • If I were Panasonic, I’d find a way to increase pixel count and use a modern BSI type sensor on the LX-100. The larger sensor of that model is definitely appealing to the group that understands equivalence, but I suspect that the pixel count is regarded as being on the low side now by most. [Disclosure: I do most of my shooting with this type of compact camera using a Panasonic LX-100. I don’t find the lower pixel count a liability, as the Sony’s lens doesn’t really deliver on the 20mp sensor. But the primary benefit to me is that the LX-100 operates like a traditional camera with traditional and very direct controls.]
  • If I were Canon, I’d scratch my head. The GX type cameras may be appealing to previous Canon G users, but they don’t seem to be pulling the RX-100 type of customer away from Panasonic/Sony at the moment, and now Nikon has entered the game with what look to be competent cameras that are attractive to that type of user. 
  • If I were Nikon, I’d consider adding one more model to the lineup: a DL 35-135mm f/1.8-2.8 or something similar. Why? Consider the demand for the DL 18-50. But it doesn’t have any telephoto reach. Two bookended DLs using the same battery and EVF would make for a very portable 18-135mm combo, and if you can’t get what you want with that focal range, you probably needed the DL 24-500 in the first place.  

It’ll be interesting to watch what happens. But we apparently have quite a while before we’ll actually be watching anything, as Nikon is being coy about when the cameras will actually ship. So far the only word is “early summer,” whatever that means. June?

Moreover, with Photokina coming right after summer, you might expect to see other compacts get announced in this space right after the DLs appear. The delay between announce and ship is already giving Nikon marketing some problems. 

For example, pull up the NikonUSA Web site and click on the Products heading. See any lenses? Yep, the pre-announcements of the KeyMission 360 and the DL Premium Compacts have pushed Lenses and Speedlights to a side scrolling invisibility on the Nikon site. So NikonUSA is now promoting visibility of products it doesn’t have ready to sell over products it does have to sell. Anyone care to ask their marketing professor if that’s okay? ;~)

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