Nikon Did Not Say “Mirrorless Full Frame” 

I guess it was a weekend for Nikon to generate lots of forum discourse across the Internet ;~). The corporate types in Tokyo must be having conniption fits about the deeds and words coming out of SE Asia this week. 

The interview by a Chinese Web site of Tetsuro Goto, launched a plethora of “see, Nikon is going to make a full frame mirrorless camera” remarks all over the Internet, some of which even went so far as to say “only full frame.” Goto-san is currently an advisor to the Nikon Imaging business.

There were other misquotes and misstatements wandering around the net after the interview starting going viral in the Nikon world, including things like “full frame is the trend,” and especially Goto-san’s apparent arrogance in dismissing Fujifilm, Olympus, and Sony as not being used by professionals.

But nuance and accuracy is everything. The interview did not say what many suggests it says. First off, you need a more accurate translation, not the google-ish one I linked to above. Second, you need to pay close attention to the details. 

Goto-san was a key executive at Nikon, and highly influenced things in the D3 and D4 generations of products, including the design of the Df. But I believe he’s currently only a special advisor to the Imaging Business, not Director of Development as dpreview's headline reported. Thus, even if we get the translation and nuance right in his words, I’m not at all sure that you can say they represent Nikon’s thinking.

Indeed, I’m going to simply say that everything I wrote in my article They’ll be Back (Nikon) on sansmirror.com is still accurate to my thoughts and what my sources tell me. Elsewhere I elaborated a bit on that and hinted that I believe DX mirrorless might be first from Nikon before FX, partly due to lenses. I’m not going to change my mind on that, either. (Just a reminder: in that article in those thoughts I’m not reporting “news,” I’m passing along what I’ve heard from sources in Japan.)

So what did we really learn from the interview?

  • The Df was probably regarded as a failure within Nikon, and a followup model is not a given.
  • Goto-san added third-party accessories to his personal Df. In particular, he added a split-prism focus screen from a third party, apparently because he doesn’t regard the focus screen supplied with the camera as good enough. 
  • Goto-san has the opinion that Nikon should bring to market a full-frame mirrorless camera. He seems to believe that full frame “is a trend.” *
  • Goto-san took a dismissive view of Fujifilm's, Olympus', and Sony’s professional adoption. 

That’s about it. 

* I personally take this as a bit of a self-serving remark. Goto-san peaked in the executive suite at Nikon during the time that the D3, D3x, D700 moved Nikon away from being an all-DX DSLR maker. Add in the subsequent FX models plus the big “buy FX” push that Nikon marketing made, and you could say that Nikon was trying to create a trend: upgrade from DX to FX. I have to believe that was Goto-san’s initiative. As I wrote on one forum in response to this supposed trend: in 2016/17 the camera maker with half the ILC market (Canon) introduced 8 APS-C models and 3 full frame models while increasing their market share. That doesn’t seem like a trend to full frame to me.

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