Nikon 2014 Predictions & Wishlist

Camera Talk With Saville May 20th 2014 1:22 PM 12 Comments

 

Nikon-Corp-stock-chart-550x529The recent news of Nikon’s “financial projection shortcomings” (click here!) might be alarming to many readers, however, it also reminded me of another story in Nikon’s recent history.  To be precise, this sentence from their official press release caught my attention:

Nikon Corporation (Makoto Kimura, President, Tokyo) today announced a reorganization of its corporate structure to build a foundation designed to support sustainable growth and establish a more robust corporate culture.

Why did this catch my attention?  Because in 2005, allegedly, a very similar thing happened and it led to a complete revolution at Nikon, one which catapulted them away from past DSLR-related doldrums and towards a very successful line of FX DSLR bodies.  Details and press releases are harder to find than this most recent one, but here’s a quote from Wikipedia:

Then, 2005 management changes at Nikon led to new camera designs such as the full-frame Nikon D3 in late 2007, the Nikon D700 a few months later, and mid-range SLRs.

What does this tell me?  Possibly, at least, it tells me that Nikon has the ability to recognize when it is in trouble, and to take drastic action if necessary.

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Before 2007 and the D3, many Nikon fans may remember how Nikon’s official “line” was that DX was the way to go, and that 35mm was nothing more than a popular film format.  Well, with cameras like the Canon 1Ds Mk2 and Canon 5D hitting the market in 2004 & 2005 (respectively), Nikon’s fate was becoming more and more apparent.  From what I remember (admittedly according to hearsay, speculation, and un-official sources such as Thom Hogan etc.), it sounded as if the existing Nikon higher-ups were being stubborn, and so they were somehow ousted, or at least “fresh thinking” types were brought onboard in order to turn things around.

I’d bet that a few people got a very stern, matter-of-fact lecture about how the D2X (and even its wildest dream of a successor) were simply not going to cut it, and that a camera like the D3 was absolutely critical to the company’s survival.  Sure enough, the D3 (and the D700, and the D800) were all so popular that Nikon’s factories could barely keep up with production demands for at least the first year each camera was on shelves, sometimes more.

Nikon-financial-estimation-for-2015-Imaging-Company-550x418

So, what is next from Nikon?  The bad news is that even now they’re predicting that a decline will continue until March 2015.  Maybe they’re actually not doing well, but maybe they’re just trimming the fat.  All I know is that this whole situation reminds me of the DX-to-FX transition a whole lot.  They realized things weren’t going well, they made some tough decisions, listened to their customers, and produced a winning lineup that the market gobbled up.  Maybe we’re ~1-2 years away from that happening again?

Hopefully by then, it won’t be too late.  If Sony has a leg up on Nikon in just one respect, it is in the fact that consumer electronics, Sony’s bread and butter, are on a far faster release cycle than cameras have ever been.  So this means that Sony might even be another 2-3 cameras into their A7 full-frame series and A6000 series before Nikon joins in that game with any competition.

Nikon 2014 Predictions

For the remainder of this year, I don’t think we’ll see much of a difference in the status quo at Nikon.  Maybe, by the end of the year, we’ll start seeing more rumors about Nikon making an A7R type camera with their D800E sensor, and/or a  DX sensor sized mirrorless camera with the D5300 etc. sensor.  Unfortunately I doubt we’ll see more than that.  The only other telltale sign might be a continued dwindling of availability of Nikon’s current 2.7x crop mirrorless cameras.  Also quite inevitable, in my opinion, will be more under-whelming reviews of that system.

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So until 2015, I won’t feel too worried about this seemingly un-responsive behavior.  People talk a lot of trash on Nikon, as if they’re failing miserably and are falling far behind their competition.  In reality, each of their current DSLR is at the top of its respective game, from the D4s and the D800E, to the D610, D7100, D5300, and D3300, Nikon’s image quality is fantastic.  Feature-wise, Nikon is still ahead of Canon with respect to things like putting dual card slots in more affordable bodies, flagship or near-flagship AF in affordable bodies and even crop bodies.  Oh and almost the entire line now offers AA-filter-less sensors, too.  What does Canon have?  Better video, (in some respects) and a couple cameras with touchscreens.

But I digress.  My point is that Nikon doesn’t have to worry about their DSLR game for another year or two.  Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see a D400 (D9300) by the end of this year, maybe even at Photokina 2014.

Nikon 2015 Predictions

Both this year and next, I think we’ll see at least two or three exciting new lenses from Nikon, as well.  A 135mm f/2 VR, maybe, or a 180mm f/2.8 VR, would both be very welcomed.  Another classic Nikon lens that hasn’t been updated in forever is the legendary 200mm f/4 Macro. (Micro)

Considering that Sigma offers both a 150mm f/2.8 OS Macro and a 180mm f/2.8 OS macro, I think Nikon might consider combining their efforts and create just one telephoto prime, maybe a 180mm f/2.8 VR Macro, or a 200mm f/4 VR Macro. I’d be very interested in either one, if it could compete with the prices of the Sigma tele macros!

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A Nikon D300s replacement in 2014 or 2015 is, in my opinion, very likely.  However that is highly debatable, and many people (on the infamous interwebs, at least) argue that the D7100 is “all we’re gonna get” and that pros who want such a heavy-duty flagship body should just pony up for full-frame.  Personally, I believe this just isn’t true, as Nikon has had a strong history offering its flagship body styling & functionality for under $2K.  (D100, D200, D300, D300s)  So, anybody wanna place a bet?

On the other hand, I’ve almost given up on seeing a D4 / D4s sensor show up in a D800 body, unfortunately.  However, there is hope yet!  For 2015, or maybe for 2016 at the latest, we ought to see the results of Nikon’s upper management changes.  My bet?  A D4s / Df sensor in a mirrorless camera body.  If they can match the quality of the EVF and hybrid AF that I’ve been seeing lately in the Sony A6000, they’ll have a camera that I might consider to be worthy of replacing my pair of D700′s.

Either way, the bottom line is that I’m not worried about the immediate future, and I expect to see some serious results from Nikon (and hopefully Canon too) in the next year or two.  What do you think? Is this doomsday, and time to jump ship?  Or business as usual?

Take care,
=Matt=

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About

Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge. Connect with him on Google Plus

12 Comments

  1. Scott Wyden Kivowitz

    I think Nikon just got a financials shock and will finally now listen to their customers. I can see a A7 competitor in the future.

    • Matthew Saville

      You and many others keep saying “maybe they will FINALLY now listen to their customers”. I don’t see how the term “finally” really fits into this, though. Like I said, For the past ~7 years they have been stomping the competition WRT traditional DSLRs. They listened to their customers time and time again and delivered killer camera after killer camera.

      Can they please everyone? No. They prioritize, and deliver cameras that the greatest number of photographers are interested in. That’s just good business.

      Have they completely dropped the ball in other respects? Sure. They’ll probably never surpass Canon with respect to video. They desperately need to compete with the likes of the Sony A7, but then again, how immediate is this “desperate” situation, if the Sony A7 series is still less than a year old, and has plenty of shortcomings, bugs, etc?

      Either way, my point is that IMO the word “finally” is still 1-2 years away from being necessary in describing Nikon listening to its customers’ real-world demands.

  2. dave

    Nikon needs to start competing with Canon. Get rid of the Nikon name surcharge and compete with Canon and Sony. I could get a full frame Sony or Canon for $1500, yet for a Nikon full frame I’d be paying over $2K. Same goes for their over priced lenses. If I weren’t already in the Nikon system I’d jump ship.

    • Matthew Saville

      When you compare specific cameras head to head, you start realizing why Nikon charges more. They’re simply better cameras and lenses. How are Nikon lenses “overpriced” when the Canon equivalents are either horrible, or more expensive?

      The ONLY sticky situation right now is the D610 versus the Canon 6D or the Sony A7. That’s it. In almost every other respect, Nikon is still a champion of either image quality or features, and often both. I know I’d certainly rather have the IQ of the D610 sensor over ANY Canon sensor, period, and I also know that the Sony A7 series thus far is still on its very first generation and still has plenty of bugs to work out.

      BTW, that’s exactly what “jumping ship” means- You’re already in the system, otherwise it wouldn’t be called “jumping ship” in the first place. ;-)

      =Matt=

  3. Pablo

    I think Nikon does a fine job listening to ita
    customers- and as stated in the article, does a better job lately of packing valuable features into their mid priced DSLRs, something Canon hasn’t done. If i wasn’t so invested in Canon gear, and didn’t prefer the Canon user interface, ergonomics, and menu systems- i would definitely switch… The camera market has changed- innovation is necessary- and even that may not be enough to save some of the manufacturers… The DSLR market is fairly saturated- and they can’t rely on point and shoot sales to carry the segment. Smaller high quality mirrorless options may be the way to go for the near future- in the long run who knows…

    • Matthew Saville

      Pablo,

      It is a shame that we can’t take our interface and ergonomic preferences with us, so to speak. I’d love to be able to just slap a Canon 5D or 6D sensor in my Nikon D700 some days, just to get the look of those skin tones for a portrait session. Or I’d love to take my Nikon D700 functionality / customization, and shrink it down to be exactly the same but in a Sony A7R form factor. And who wouldn’t love to try out that Canon bokeh from time to time?

      The bottom line is that we’re creatures of habit, and the more we use one camera, the more we become comfortable with it. Just like our cars and everything else. Interface and function are everything.

      This fact alone is what keeps me with Nikon, and many others with Canon, or whatever.

      We’ll see what the future holds, though. Interchangeable sensors / lens mounts would be awesome. Maybe in 5 years I’ll be using a Fuji mirrorless FX body and Sigma lenses, but with the Nikon F mount. LOL… (Smells like Kodak, once again!)

  4. Peter Freeman

    Ok HOW come Sigma can make such vastly superior lenses for less money? I think a big problem is over priced and under speced glass.

    • Matthew Saville

      Under-speced, not really for Nikon, but over-priced, maybe indeed. Canon is the one with (some lenses, not all) crap glass AND outrageous prices, IMO…

      =Matt=

  5. Ben

    Funny how “the competition” means only “Canon” to you. And funny how many of the Nikon “innovations” you mention were actually introduced by Pentax and Sony.

    • Matthew Saville

      Ben, where did you get this from? I’ve clearly mentioned in this article that Nikons biggest concern right now is NOT Canon, it’s Sony. And what innovations are you talking about that sony and Pentax did first? This article isn’t supposed to be some sort of argument, just a prediction for Nikon fans to get an idea of what lenses or cameras they can expect in the near future…

  6. Orfeu

    Sure they can’t please everyone. Who can? Fuji is doing an amazing job with their “X” family and with the level of customer support and ability to listen to feedback and quickly turn it around in firmware updates and new models. And yet they have their flaws too. Nikon has done great things over the past several years and they have also royally dropped the ball with issues like the D600 debacle. And then there’s the whole green light of doom from the D800 that makes its battery life a serious issue.

    Is Nikon perfect? Who is? They could have done a better job at listening to their customers and acknowledging their massive problem with the D600. They could have done a better job listening to more feedback and pay closer attention to market trends before releasing the Df. Hell, they could have ignored everyone and simply followed up on the success of the D300S and the D700. But they didn’t do that. Instead they coughed up along the way, did some fair work in the entry level DSLR market, took some weak jabs at the mirror less market, came up with the behemoth of a camera that is the D800 and let out a beautiful and overpriced Df.

    I think that Nikon had a clear roadmap with the D300S, D700 and the D3. Unfortunately they only followed up with the D3. Such an awesomely missed opportunity, perhaps they will reexamine this and finally listen to feedback from customers and come up with products that fulfill the demand from the market. It’s always nice to be innovative and create demand and perhaps this transition will get Nikon to find a sweeter spot between creating demand and listening to current and desperate demand from customers.

  7. Talwin Davis

    I would love to see a 24-70mm VR lens by Nikkon

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