Here in the US we have had a long election campaign that seems solely to cater to feelings. Facts don’t matter. Experience doesn’t matter. Plans don’t really matter (at least they don’t need any specificity, let alone be based on reality, and who cares if they are even achievable). Nothing matters except how you feel. And apparently everyone feels bad.
Blame the media, who are telling you that you should feel bad.
Funny thing is, you could describe the camera market that way, too, especially when it comes to Nikon. And you could blame the media here, too, including me.
Nikon’s weak Photokina showing (D3400, KeyMission) seems to have all the Nikon faithful examining their feelings. And those feelings are turning bad. They just might vote (buy) another candidate based upon those feelings. And that would be really bad.
Funny thing is, Nikon still sits on an impressive DSLR and lens lineup. I’d argue that in practical use the D810 is still the most well-rounded camera enthusiasts have (and it’s two years old). The D5 and D500 are remarkably good cameras with awesome focus systems. Recent telephoto lenses like the 300mm f/4E and 200-500mm f/5.6E have proven to be quite good, and very reasonable alternatives to buying a lens that costs as much as a car (e.g. 500mm f/4E). Despite all the complaints about the f/1.8G primes, I find them quite good and more than one has made it into my regular bag.
True, the nonexistent DLs (“no prototypes available”), the no-longer-updated Nikon 1 (“no comment”), the strange (and late) KeyMission launch, the apparently lame D3400 update with AF-P lenses that really only work on a few models, all these things have everyone wondering what’s going on. Feelings in the Nikon crowd are getting based upon perception of those few items, and not all the good things I mention above.
Not that I completely blame Nikon for their appearance here. They came to Photokina with “what they’ve got.” What they have are a great DSLR lineup plus some new action cameras they want to sell, so that’s what is in the booth. At least everything in the Nikon booth is already available, or will be within about a month. That’s more than many of the others who’ve been more visible with just pre-announcements can say.
The problem, of course, is that we’re in a viral, social, word-of-mouth, no-facts-needed world now. You can look up anything on the Internet, but the site you look at for the answer might actually be wrong ;~). You just never know when a dog is the one creating a Web site, not a human. (That’s not as absurd as it sounds; I know of several Web sites that don’t employ humans to obtain and vouch for information.)
Moreover, one moan from someone visible to others on the Internet gets amplified into a chorus of moans very quickly. Then the moans become shouts. The shouts become swearing. The swearing becomes…well, you get the idea.
Realistically, Nikon’s got a huge perception problem. The DSLRs are percolating along pretty much as normal and expected. But that’s not Nikon's entire ambition in cameras, nor is the entire set of cameras that we users want.
It’s the rest of that ambition that people are complaining about this year regarding Nikon: silly Coolpix that were slow to ship and offered nothing new; DLs that now seem like only a night-fever dream; mirrorless that disappeared, probably due to its small size ;~); and an expansion leaping headfirst at the leading competitor in action cams right when that market has collapsed, too, and with nothing really all that new.
Yes, I know that I wrote yesterday that Nikon was swimming in the wrong direction. Some of you jumped right back to me with “drowning,” “thrashing like a non-swimmer”, and worse comments. I’ll stick by my statement: to all current appearances Nikon is a duck out of water when all the other ducks are fishing, washing up, floating happily, and doing the things ducks usually do.
That’s causing bad feelings among one of the most faithful customer bases in photography. Bad feelings can turn into something worse if not acted on.
Nikon has another chance to fix perceptions next month at PhotoPlus Expo in New York. We’ll see if they do. In the meantime, get in touch and in control of your own feelings. Feelings don’t make the D500 or D810 worse cameras for shooting. Substitute D3xxx, D5xxx, D7xxx, D6xx, D750, D4, D5, or whatever other DSLR you’re shooting.
If you’re a Nikon DSLR user reading this and pondering Nikon’s Photokina experience, relax, the DSLRs are fine. Yes, we could use a couple updates soon and fill in some lens gaps, but the DSLRs are fine. Take a deep breath, pick up your camera, and keep shooting...