On top of all the uncertainty that Nikon’s cancellation of the DL produced, now we have rumor mania to deal with, too.
Consider this rumor that popped up (again): that the D810 update won’t happen because instead that camera will be replaced by a mirrorless model. That way Nikon would have a Sony A7rII competitor.
Well, they already have a considerable A7rII competitor: the D810. I own and shoot both, and I consider the D810 the better choice most of the time. I’d expect a D810 replacement to retain that distinction. So exactly what would we gain with a switch to mirrorless? I’m not sure we'd gain anything that excites me, especially if this means yet another new lens mount.
But let’s assume for a moment that this rumor is true and Nikon will not update the D810 but put out a high megapixel full frame mirrorless camera instead. What would that say about Nikon’s product line management?
To me, such a switcheroo would be just another sign of Nikon product panic.
Let's see, the F3, F4, D1h/D1x, D3/D3x all worked, and the D5 seems to be working while the F6 worked for the few remaining film-shooting pros. Great products that the pros and high end enthusiasts loved. The F5, D2h/D2x, and D4 didn't quite rise to the same level, but I know plenty of pros that (mostly) love those cameras, too. What I can't understand is why establish the h/s combo and then abandon it? Until the D4 came out we all had h/s twins in our gear closets. Now our gear closet is a bit of a mess. A mirrorless replacement for the D810 would just increase that mess.
The full FX line would have been great if it hadn't been accompanied by recalls and other issues. The D6xx, D750, and D8xx make a strong low-to-high FX DSLR lineup, but really only the D810 got launched without having to make fixes, and this has spooked quite a few folk and kept them from jumping in.
The D500 is one of Nikon's big successes recently—told you so, Nikon—despite the rushed and slightly unfinished feel. There really should be a D500s soon to polish it up, but we don't hear rumors about that, do we? Meanwhile, the D7200 has been a workhorse for everyone that bought it. It'll give a D500 a run for the money in terms of image quality, though not in build or a few critical performance aspects.
But everywhere else in Nikon's lineup there seems to be confusion. So we get rumors to fill the void as Nikon stays silent. Many of those rumors are simply made up.
For example, that Nikon is working on a new mirrorless system. It's FX. No it's DX. No it's just a refinement and change to CX. I've heard all three. As for those rumors, Nikon would be wickedly out of touch if they weren't prototyping various mirrorless options. With DSLR sales slowly dropping while mirrorless sales continue to stay relatively flat, at some point Nikon will need to have a viable mirrorless system. What worries me most about the multiple rumors on this front and Nikon's recent history of not launching new product lines with any stickiness at all is that Nikon might pick the wrong horse to ride.
Many of you think that horse should be FX mirrorless. But I don't see how that helps Nikon at all. Note what I wrote about the FX DSLR line above: those are all good cameras, and it's a strong lineup. Probably the strongest part of Nikon's current camera lineup. Do you really think they're going to risk that? I don't. Moreover, it doesn't solve Nikon's biggest problem: negative growth (see today's other article).
Nikon has two particularly sore spots right now: (1) no serious compact cameras; and (2) no APS-sized mirrorless product that slots from below the D3400 space up to the D7200 space. Okay, three: lack of a full DX lens lineup (buzz, buzz ;~). But frankly that last one isn't the giant sized hole that the first two are.
I've heard absolutely nothing about what happens after the DL fiasco. If Nikon is really not going to play in the 1" compact game, the only choice they really have is to build Coolpix A replacements. But Nikon proved they didn't know how to market the Coolpix A. Great camera, bit of a price stretch, terrible name and marketing.
Meanwhile, for DX mirrorless, I haven't heard a lot. I know Nikon has designed and prototyped such cameras and lenses, but I don't know what their target was or whether they decided to move forward with them.
What's happening with all these rumors is that customers are trying to build a mental road map for where they want Nikon to be. This is dangerous. If Nikon then produces something that's not in your mental road map, your initial reaction will be negative and marketing it will prove even more difficult for Nikon (and we all know how good they are at marketing ;~).
Even if Nikon produces the thing that was rumored that was what you wanted, there's still the potential for ship disappointment (e.g. sounds good on paper but actual product has problems; that by the way is the SnapBridge issue: it sounded good on paper but delivered lower than expectations).
My advice is to chill and take photographs. Eventually Nikon will stop starring at their navel and put some interesting new products into the market. When they do, that's when we should all be discussing them. The chatter at the moment is counterproductive to all of us and to Nikon.
So, are there products Nikon is rumored to be working on? Absolutely. 70mp, FX, mirrorless, will be good friend with Russian officials, shoots in coal mine and produces heat without pollution or global warming impact...wait, what?
Right. Rumors are just that. Treat them so.