Your To-Dos for Nikon

As usual when I ask broad questions like I did in last week's article, I got a lot of specific answers.

But let's start with some of the broader suggestions that came in first. Here are your To-Do's for Nikon in 2018:

  • Become truly global, break the only-Japanese barriers. Here's the arguments I got: The folk both doing the designing and making the decisions are all in Japan. They're kept insulated from actual customers for the most part. The Japanese auto makers eventually figured out that they needed more regional input, and it paid off for them. All true. But even just looking within the camera industry, I see the Canon and Sony executive and design teams more often out in the field than I do the Nikon ones. Ultimately, to be a global company you really do need global outreach, and more than one responder mentioned this.
  • Fix SnapBridge. It was #4 on my list, but it's clear it's on many of your lists, too, and often the primary ask. "All I want is an easy way to mark a photo or photos to be sent to my iPhone" and then have that happen quickly and without all the unwieldy stuff that SnapBridge generates. A number of the SnapBridge fix suggestions also point out that it needs to talk in infrastructure mode, too, which I agree with. Likewise, many of you want SnapBridge to work with Camera Control Pro, too (which would require infrastructure mode). 
  • Go Mirrorless. Number 1 on my list, and on many of your lists, as well. Indeed, so much so that many of you had indicated that you were already sampling other vendors, or had leaked already to a different company's mirrorless product. Given the audience I write for, it shouldn't surprise you that most of the "get a mirrorless system out" requests were for full frame, and they all want full legacy support. And most of those also demanded a lens road map so they could understand how Nikon would prioritize lens development for any new mirrorless system. People want to know where the F-mount is, and where it is going.
  • Fill the DX lens lineup. Buzz buzz folks. I guess I should have expected that to come back at me since I've written it so many times. So why wasn't it specifically called out in my To-Do list? Because I see the Nikkor lineup as oddly shaped now no matter where I look. It isn't just a DX problem Nikon is starting to have. It's a bigger issue: what lenses should Nikon be making and why?   
  • Fix radio flash. This was a multi-parter. But the primary thrust was on how horrible the WR-R10 idea is (I tend to agree). A simpler approach could have been done with the hot shoe itself, and wouldn't be as fragile as the 10-pin connector solution (I've already broken one WR-R10, and I'm sure I'm going to break a 10-pin connector on a body at some point). Where's the SU-800R? And one person whose email to me talked about fixing radio flash also wondered why we don't have Speedlights that take an EN-EL15. Yeah, why?

Now for some of the specific requests:

  • 18-180mm f/4 VR DX. Thom's comment: probably not. It would be as big as the 70-200mm f/4 FX. Lenses that cross over from wide to telephoto end up with the size/weight characteristics of the telephoto end, and tend to have to compromise a lot to get there. A 10x zoom will be highly compromised. 
  • Slower, more pancake-like FX primes. Thom's comment: I think that Nikon thinks they already have this with the very old 20mm f/2.8, 24mm f/2.8, etc. The problem, of course, is that these lenses aren't all that good on the current high-end Nikon FX DSLRs. Moreover, these and even the f/1.4 and f/1.8 primes Nikon has produced have this tendency towards "slow-to-focus." Which seems strange. That has to be a design compromise they're making with the new primes, and it makes you wonder why the f/1.8 primes weren't done with the low-cost AF-P type motor in the first place.
  • 24-70mm f/4. Thom's comment: Yes!  Particularly if designed with compactness in mind. As many of you know I'm using the 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 on my D810 for some things, and it's workable, but a constant aperture would be nice.
  • CX revival, DL revival. Thom's comment: I was a bit surprised how many went this route at first, but then I thought about it and found that in some way it mimicked something that I believe Nikon really needs to do: create a compact camera that's clearly Nikon. Nikon, like Canon, tends to pull content out of the lower end models, even when there's no cost advantage to do so. It's the old HiFi CES product line approach so as to create pricing tiers. But that's the opposite of what the true Nikon enthusiast wants. If I want something that's not so contented, I can find plenty of pocket and small compact cameras I can choose from. What I want is what the DL's promised to deliver: a smaller product with a smaller sensor that still has all the Nikon "magic" in it. Lossless Compressed, full Picture Controls, great WB setting, good ergonomics, the high-end touch/tilt screen, interval shooting, and so on. I really don't care if that comes with a well designed V4 or a NewDL18-50 (no, not DL24-80). But right now I and many others are using a competitor's product. 
  • D500 followup in body with fixed vertical grip, D7500 followup just ups into the old D500 point. Thom's comment: long-time readers will know I've suggested this before. Again, look at the auto makers. How much has a Corolla grown over the years? It's a really natural followup to take a satisfied user a little more upscale with a product iteration. It also would have solved the "why did you take that out" problem with the D7500, as you wouldn't have to take anything out at all ;~). 
  • Lenses for video. Thom's comment: I almost wrote something about video in my 2018 Nikon To-Do list. I didn't because Nikon has bigger problems to solve first. But ultimately, Nikon needs to either be in or out with video. The fence straddling isn't helping them. 
  • 200mm f/4E Micro-Nikkor VR. Thom's comment: it's almost criminal that Nikon has ignored the outdoor macro crowd for so long. Yeah, I know that Nikon seems to be able to convince more people to buy a 60mm, which isn't particularly useful as a 1:1 lens (or worse still, a 40mm DX version). But for a company that claims they want to defend the high-end, they're not defending it!
  • Paid NPS. Thom's comment: I've written before that Nikon is paternalistic, and this is one of those things. Nikon I'm sure feels that this is their gift to a handful of their customers. But those of us who are working professionals don't want a gift, we want well-guaranteed service, access to the support we need, occasional loaners for special projects, and we're willing to pay a reasonable sum for that. Nikon's NPS policies mean you have to "qualify" and pass an armed guard for their gift. Canon's CPS policies mean that you only have to apply (and pay for higher levels). Big difference.
  • Matching slots. Thom's comment: sort of a double-edged sword as we're talking mostly about XQD here, and XQD clearly has no support other than from Nikon and a vestigial bit of Sony. But yes. Match my slots if I get two. (And to you other camera makers laughing out there, you need to match the speed of your slots; I'm looking at you Sony.) Moreover, I still don't understand why we have cameras with USB ports on them that I can't plug a USB drive or device into and just download directly to. Oh yeah, I do, the camera makers are worried about power. Okay, make me something like the WD MyPassport Wireless SSD (it has its own battery) and let me plug that into my camera. The Copy function is already built into most Nikon DSLRs ;~).
  • More PF lenses. Thom's comment: I think they're coming. At least one more, maybe two or three. I'll give Nikon a little slack here as this is not simple engineering to get right, and there's still a price/quality barrier they are awful close to with present technology. But yes, the 300mm f/4E PF is a great lens, and unique. And it sells decently. Why you wouldn't want to make more variations on this I don't know.
  • Meet demand on new products. Thom's comment: again I'll give Nikon a bit of slack here. You don't want to get into a "ship massive amounts on day one then shut the factory" type of situation (that's an exaggeration, but I think you'll get my point). But there are two components that I think Nikon could improve. First, the whole regional serialization bit is problematic. Nikon can't shift inventory once shipped to a region. Second, Nikon hasn't done a good job of setting expectations or communicating what is actually happening.
  • Think like a customer. Thom's comment: this was followed by "has Nikon ever done that?" I do wonder just how much management drinks their own Kool Aid. Is top management just a bunch of older guys that sit in offices managing a company that makes things, or do they actually get out and use any of those things themselves? There have been examples of the latter. Goto-san was not only behind the Df design, but was a dedicated Df user. 
  • Fix the D500 battery issue. Thom's comment: this is a bigger problem than that, I think, and Nikon really needs to be forthcoming about why there's a difference here. There also appears to be a deeper and likely related issue: there's at least one way that all the D5 generation cameras, including the D5, can be triggered to go into an indefinite state, and then the only method to fix that is to remove the battery and put it back in. There should be a team on figuring what exactly is going on and fixing this issue, and I'll bet it's power related.  

Finally, I got a lot of "ship has already sailed" comments. In other words, it probably wouldn't matter to those folk what Nikon's 2018 To-Do list actually produces, they've been turned off as a customer. The good news is that a few of those "ship has already sailed" comments were about DX, and those folk went to Nikon FX. But they still had a To-Do list ;~). 

A common email I get these days is "I have to confess I gave up on Nikon a few years ago..." followed by a reason or reasons (lack of DX lenses, missing camera iterations, no mirrorless, customer service, bad quality control, etc.). I got more of those with my request for Nikon To-Dos. 

So perhaps there's a bigger To-Do that should be on Nikon's list: win the customer back. Develop products, programs, and services that make a Nikon customer truly happy with their choice of vendor.  

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