The "Lowly" D7500

Every now and again I get an email that has a lot of meat in it, and which describes Nikon's problems as well as I can. Here's one I received recently (my comments will follow):

"I read your review and what you have to say about the D7500 with great interest.

I have struggled for a year with the poor perception many photographers have of this camera on the internet.  It came to the point where I felt embarrassed to use this camera.

The biggest grief for me was when I added two SB-5000, the WR-R10 and WR-T10 for studio work.  I am not a pro, and I had never used radio triggers before, just optical ones.  When I tried to set everything up, I failed.  I looked at the user's guides (for both camera and flash) and I couldn't find my answers.  It turns out, the instructions were poorly laid out for somebody who had never used the radio system.

I called Nikon and their tech reps started telling me that the D7500  is not compatible for radio trigger!  I couldn't believe this.  I had to call three times to get one that would tell me what to do (it was a detail that I had missed). I called the shop where I bought the radio control kit, they told me that the camera didn't do radio control!  That was the ultimate.  I nearly returned the camera. Finally, after 3 calls, a tech rep was able to walk me through the settings.  It turns out, many people were like me, uncertain how to set up.

But, in this context, I have no clue why they treated their own camera this way.  I got very disgusted because it meant they didn't care for customers who felt this camera fit their needs.  

It's often very hard for me to get answers to questions I have about this camera.  As you said, it came with powerful new features.  Nikon never promoted those features, so many people don't even know about those hidden gems.(I have been using the camera for a year and have discovered its new features, finally).

I also have to say that even the local Nikon reps I have met showed no interest in this camera.  Over time, this made me feel horrible.

It was nice to read that you wondered about the same things as I did regarding promoting this camera.  I am grateful for your input because I know people listen to you.  They think the camera sucks, is a D6000,  but then, after they read your entry, start thinking differently.

I discovered an issue though:  In live view, when using both optical and radio, and manual mode for the flashes, the optical flashes won't fire.  They will only fire when using TTL.  It's totally fine when not in LV. I know that it's not a good idea to use LV, but sometimes I like to frame this way. Unfortunately, I also forget to get out of LV, and so I don't get my shots.  I use one or two SB-700s when I mix optical and radio.   It took 4 calls to Nikon to sort this out (after several reps again insisted that the D7500 didn't support radio control of the flashes) and for them to recognize that there is, indeed, a problem.  They were able to replicate it. And then the local reps kept telling me they never experienced the problem, but that's because they don't use this camera!! It drives me absolutely crazy because I would frame in LV, and then move away and forget to get out.  Since I use the remote (WR-T10), it's easy to forget.

But, in general, I love the camera, and the videos it produces.  It's a good one that should have been marketed differently.  Promoting a product sufficiently well and at least fighting back against the bashing  also empowers its users instead of making them feel bad.  I did feel bad.  Of course, I suppose that the casual user won't care.  But I take my photography seriously even if I am a hobbyist!"

Oh my. 

Virtually everything this user writes about needs to get back to Nikon corporate and dealt with. The problem, of course, is that most of it probably won't. Virtually everything in this email is also something I've written about before. Let's go to the punch list:

  1. The D7500 is just not being actively promoted well. That people are still buying it despite Nikon's lame marketing of it is a testament to brand reputation Nikon took decades to build. Unfortunately, that brand reputation is going down with each round of cost cutting. 
  2. Customer support often gives wrong answers. I've mentioned this many times before. But more to the point, how many times did this customer get the wrong answer from different people at Nikon? Knowledge sharing within an organization is important. If a customer suddenly manages to alert you (the customer service rep) that the D7500 does something you didn't know it did, did you (the customer service rep) discuss that with the rest of the reps ("hey guys, I got something wrong with the D7500, anyone else miss that, too?")? Customer service should get better with time, but it didn't appear to here.
  3. Nikon did not get the dealer system excited with the D7500.  They didn't get excited about the D3400 or D5600, either. Or KeyMission. Something is fundamentally wrong here, and I keep hearing from more and more dealers saying they're tiring of NikonUSA's practices. Late last decade NikonUSA was incredibly active in pushing customers into dealerships and helping dealers turn iron. Now they're often not even getting warnings that models will go on sale, which means that they can't stock to what they think demand might change to. The dealers end up reacting, not anticipating. 
  4. Beyond the issue of the WRs being out of stock much of the time after introduction, Nikon has never really marketed what they can do, and with what. Did you know you can use them to do synchronized firing of cameras? Even more incredible is that you need firmware version 3.0 in the WRs to be able to use them on the D5 generation cameras as intended, and I'm still hearing from people getting older inventory that isn't version 3.0. Unfortunately, this isn't a firmware update the user can do, so you can still buy a new WR and it has to go back to Nikon for update.
  5. Nikon documents like a tech company wanting to reduce documentation costs. Because, of course, they're costs. They're not. They're selling opportunities. By clearly showing someone how to set something up and how that once done, there's a big payoff, you get more customers eventually. 
  6. Who at Nikon is actively using their gear? Problems get noticed and fixed faster when you have a vested interest in the outcome ;~). I've met with a lot of Nikon folk at various trade shows and office visits, and that includes almost two dozen Japanese executives at this point. Very few have been carrying a Nikon camera that I could see. Makes me wonder how much they actually use their own gear. I don't see this same problem with some other camera companies.  
  7. So when customers find a problem, how do they actually report it to Nikon? And are we sure that when customer support verifies that a problem exists that the folks who maintain the firmware end up hearing about it? Unclear. There's also a lot of the Telephone Game going on here as customer says to customer service rep who says to manager who says to product manager who says to engineers (and somewhere along the way it was also translated into Japanese). The chance that something doesn't get passed correctly along the way is large. I've experienced this several times even trying to take shortcuts across the Pacific (e.g. me dealing directly with a manager in Tokyo). Add to this the fact that Nikon doesn't seem to be really vested towards updating their firmware compared to companies like Fujifilm, particularly the lower down the lineup we go. So, even if the message does get through intact to someone who can fix it, it might not get fixed.

Nikon has been moving further and further away from their customers over the years—and by customers, I mean both dealers and photographers. Emails like the one I reproduce above are the result. Note that this particular customer has feelings. He's not so much faulting Nikon for something as he is making the point that he's not feeling good about his purchase. Half of his issues got resolved eventually; the other half may end up getting resolved in a firmware fix (I'm not holding my breath). 

That's not his point. His point is that he's not feeling good about his purchase. And remember, this is a very good camera. One I like a lot and I think is far better than Nikon's marketing manages to convey. Gee, what happens when Nikon makes a more mediocre product? ;~)

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