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Nikon Fails To Meet Financial Projections, Restructures Company

By Anthony Thurston on May 17th 2014

Nikon sales are down 9%, thanks mostly to the stagnation of camera markets in Europe and China, as the company continues to struggle to find its way in this ever changing photo industry.

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Nikon has missed its financial projections for the quarter ending March 2014, and the company’s stock is currently at a 3 year low. As a result of the now very apparent struggles, Nikon has announced that they have restructured the company. They have appointed new directors and officers, as well as changed the assignments for some of the executives.

The Japanese camera maker has also updated their projections for the year ending in March of 2015, and those projections show a continued drop in the company’s earnings. Which, while not exactly new news, has got to be somewhat troubling for all of you Nikonians out there.

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What are your thoughts on this news that Nikon is continuing to struggle? What do you think can save the company? Leave a comment below to discuss!

[Via Nikon Rumors]

 

 

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Servando Miramontes

    Bummer… Nikon, including every other camera manufacture should just stop creating Point and Shoot cameras… I can’t imagine they are making any real revenue on them with cellphones as popular as they are now , as far as photos are concerned…. Its only a matter of time before RAW is avail from phones….

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  2. Alex

    Stop ignoring all the customers they are losing to mirrorless systems and give DX users the lenses they are asking for. They think that by keeping DX lenses slow or “consumer”, they are forcing DX users to upgrade to FX in order to get better (faster, wider, better quality) lenses. Instead, what they are stubbornly ignoring is the fact that we now have other options and those of us who would have liked to buy more Nikon glass for our DX bodies have now reached a point where it makes more sense to just scrap it all and start all over again with another system rather than go Nikon FX. In less than 2 years Fujifilm has given me all the lenses I want. What was initially a secondary camera system has now become my first because it has everything I need. Meanwhile, my D7100 sits in a bag. Probably time I sell it and get an XT-1 and a 14mm…

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    • Von Braustich.

      Losing to mirrorless? Laughable. SLR’s sell 12 million per year between Canon and Nikon. Mirrorless sales are not even a sliver of that.

      Mirrorless is easily THE most overrated concept in cameras. Laughable battery life, ridiculous ergonomics, and stupidly overpriced.

      You can tell how hopeless the mirrorless world is when you listen to the drooling fan boys rant on and on about how the DSLR is dead.

      The next $1 in profit that a mirrorless camera earns will be the FIRST $1.

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    • Servando Miramontes

      I’ll take that 7100 off your hands…hahaha. And yes, Fujifilm has really stepped up and created something viable.

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  3. Nickk

    They need to downsize. They have done many things right, but the camera market is forever changed.
    They won’t be able to sell as much as before, so they should stay safe with what they can sell.
    Also they need to compete better on mirrorless. They could keep the “1” system, but also join the micro 4/3.
    They need to upgrade their Pro DX line (camera AND lenses).
    They have to wait until Canon bites the dust first (due to their poor sensors).

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  4. Peter Freeman

    Their slr cameras are great but no longer can one say that they are significantly higher in quality to the competition to justify a significantly premium price. Also seeing what Sigma are producing in terms of quality and price, Nikon glass is now sub par and grossly over priced. Together these issues result in the core wing of their business not making a huge appeal in the market which is what the sales are reflecting.

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  5. Stan Rogers

    (Sorry that this is more “article” than “comment”, but it needs saying.)

    It’s a mistake, I think, to see these as “Nikon numbers”. Nikon is, perhaps, uniquely susceptible in the industry, at least among the mainstream consumer brands, to the trend, but that is because of its relative reliance on small-format camera, lens and accessory sales. (Yes, Nikon does other things as well, but apart from the semiconductor fabrication optics, very little of what they do outside of small-format cameras involves periodic “gotta have it” upgrades. Last year’s binoculars are more than good enough almost all of the time, and world-shattering innovations in optical microscopy are fewer and farther between than you might think.) Even Fujifilm (a company that is hugely tied to photographic imaging, but mainly in consumables) has a large enough presence outside of consumer digital photography that they can essentially afford to run the X program as a sort of corporate hobby. Nikon is just the canary in the coal mine. Canon’s recent pricing strategies and Sony’s multi-pronged innovations are telling us the same thing in a different way.

    It’s ridiculous to think that one or two new cameras, or even a complete change in customer service strategies is going to turn this around. A “D400” (or, as rumoured, a D9300) will sell a paltry few tens of thousands of copies over its product lifetime. That may sound like a lot, but then you don’t have to build the tooling to produce it. It’s not going to be a high-profit item even if it’s a “big hit” at release. Maybe ten percent of the people who buy it (mostly birders and a handful of semi-pro sports types) will actually need what it offers over the D7100 ond the D610; the rest will just want the satisfaction of owning something that “goes to 11”. And the problems with the D800 (and the D600, for that matter) are really overstated. Internet amplification is a powerful thing.

    What we’re really seeing here is an industry that has pretty much reached its growth limit. And for those of us who are either earnestly professional or who possess the peculiar mental defect that makes us take photography seriously, the days of riding the bubble, of being subsidized by the unwashed masses, are drawing to a close.

    Whether we want to admit it or not, most of the photographic world breaks down into two camps. First there are the people who have never really either wanted or needed “a camera”; they want/need “a thing that takes pictures”. Preferably something they don’t have to think about or make special arrangements to drag around. Over the years, they have owned Brownies, then Instamatics, then gave up on the idea of owning a special machine altogether and went disposable (so that the “need a camera now” itch could be scratched at the nearest variety store or drugstore), then owned digital pocket point-and-shoots to get around the photofinishing hassle and the price of film, and now they are well-served by their phones. Every once in a long while, one of them will get a “serious” camera and use it just long enough to realise that they’re just not interested in lugging a camera around at all, and today they really don’t have to.

    Then there are the people who are somewhat more particular about the kinds of pictures they take. But by “somewhat more particular”, I don’t mean they’re obsessed with image quality, provided that it’s “good enough” (for varying values of “good enough”). They want to zoom. They want to shoot close-ups (of the sort that would be macro on a medium format sensor or film). They want semi-intelligent AF and AE. They want quite a bit more than their phone can give them, but they’re not all that interested in becoming too invested in the process if they don’t have to be. That is, they want to take nice pictures, not to become photographers. (They’ve tried to want to become photographers, but found out that there was actual work involved and gave it up as a bad job.) We, and the industry as a whole, have become rather too reliant on this group for sustenance. We keep trying to sell them new cameras, and for a while that worked very well — the new camera would totally blow the old one out of the water every eighteen months or so. There is really no comparing, say, a Minolta Dimage 7 to its modern equivalent, the Sony RX10, other than to say that they’re both large-ish bridge cameras with about the same 35mm-equivalent focal length range and about the same price tag (not even adjusting for inflation). Even if Facebook and the odd 4×6 or 8×10 are the only places their pictures are ever seen, it’s *really* easy to sell something like an RX10 to somebody who has something like a Dimage 7. It was only slightly less easy to sell the improvements along the way and to entice new people onto the bandwagon as prices fell and both quality and convenience (including faster start-up, better AF and AE and better low-light performance) rose. But think about things going forward: how easy is it going to be to sell a camera that makes *marginally* better 16×20 prints to sane people who (almost) never make 16×20 prints? Why would a “normal” person who owns a D3200 (with the kit lens practically welded on) want to upgrade to a D3300?

    We have quite literally hit a point where, for almost everybody, a camera that they can buy this year — or the camera they could buy last year — really is good enough. The current crop of entry-level DLSRs and MILCs is overkill for most purposes. The RX100M3, and the cameras from other makers that will no doubt follow on from that, should be a signal. Real, ordinary people now have something they can put in a pocket or purse that does everything that an APS-C form factor DSLR with an 18-55mm kit lens used to do for them, and does it better than the entry-level DSLRs of only a few years ago. (Okay, it only goes to 70mm equivalent rather than 85-ish, but it’s wider at the short end, and most people wouldn’t really notice a huge difference at the long end. Certainly not enough to make them say “ewww”, at any rate.) No, you can’t swap lenses, but most people don’t. It won’t be very long before almost everybody who wants a camera will have one that they’ll be happy with until it dies, and even the used market will be full of “good enough” machines with a lot of life left in them. That is not a “growth industry”. Sales *ought to be* declining. It can still be a profitable one, but expecting the year-over-year growth that has been seen over the past decade and a half or so is wishful thinking at best. (Hasselblad’s boutique Sonys are a good example of what happens when growth becomes a religion.) One company’s large growth spurts will come at another’s expense, and is likely to be temporary unless the losing company fails.

    So how does this affect us? Here the ol’ crystal ball gets a little cloudy. But let’s say that Nikon fails. Worst possible scenario. That will have about the same impact on Nikon shooters as Minolta’s and Canon’s shifts to a new AF lens mount had on their old MF shooters. You’ll still have something perfectly good that you can use as you assemble a new system. And there will be much cussing involved, no doubt. (I shot both the X700 and the F1n — Minolta’s TTL flash was years ahead of Canon’s, and the 24mm VFC was in a class of its own — and to say that I was miffed would be a bit of an understatement. Luckily, most of my “real” shooting was on the Mamiya RZ67 or a view camera by that time, so I didn’t depend too heavily on either of the 35mm systems.) On the other hand, you may be able to salvage more of what you already have than the MD-to-A or the FD-to-EF change allowed. An F-mount lens can adapt to a lot of cameras, often with working AF. And the Cactus V6 will let you use your flashes with manual control remotely from any brand of camera. If you’re a sports shooter who owns fast supertelephotos and burns through a lot of frames, well, you’ve probably just lost a metric craptonne of money — your shutters won’t last forever (these aren’t the 1/60s or 1/90s cloth FP shutters of old; there’s a lot more stress on them), and it’s hard to offload a $10K+ lens at anything like you paid for it on the used market, especially for an orphaned mount. But that is, as I said, the worst possible scenario, and not nearly as likely as the doom-and-gloom crowd would have us believe, especially if the company is reading the market carefully. But it won’t be the people who maybe might think about considering starting the process of contemplating an upgrade to *a* “D400” from a D300 or a D7100 if the specs and the price are just right, or the people wondering whether or not to step up to a DSLR, that’ll keep it from happening; it’ll be the people who buy a pair of $3000 or $6000 bodies every year or so because their livelihood depends on it.

    It’s far more likely that we’ll see a lot of changes across the industry. There will be technological innovations and price reductions to draw people into one system or another. There will be a continuing race to the bottom in some areas of the aftermarket as products with low development and production costs vie for an ever-shrinking customer base. At the same time, some things are going to get a lot more expensive, reflecting the cost of production, the limited market, and the need to keep the company solvent. There will always be some people who will walk straight from the camera counter at Best Buy to the business card wicket at the local quick print place to have their “professional photographer” business cards made (they were there when photography mean film and business cards meant letterpress), but their numbers will decline as people continue to realise that there’s more to the game than point, shoot and add a filter in post. (Unfortunately, that will also mean a decline in the need for new training materials and meta-photographic journalism. As a serious pursuit, photography will retreat into its natural population: the serious (who work through the difficulties and employ techniques to achive their artistic and/or business goals); the seriously deranged (who actually enjoy the difficulties and experiment with techniques without actually needing artistic/business goals); and the seriously deluded (who believe that there are no difficulties, and that their “artistic goals” are fulfilled by whatever came out of the camera, and that any failure to meet business goals arise from being tragically misunderstood by us Philistines). The lights, stands, modifiers and so on that are currently at about the same dollar cost as they were in 1990 will start to inflate to their “natural” cost, not because they cost any more to produce, but because keeping the producer up and running and the distribution channels open will become a more significant part of the price tag.And yes, it is likely that a few of the venerable names will either disappear or become marketing badges for completely different companies (as has already happened with Kodak, Polaroid and Vivitar, to give some examples).

    There are interesting times ahead, no doubt, and I mean that in the Chinese proverb sense.

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    • Rene Velasquez

      SLR Lounge, you should give Stan Rogers a job!
      Fantastic opinion piece Sir. Well done. Could not agree more strongly with everything you just said.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Thanks for your contribution to the discussion, Stan! I always enjoy reading “essasy”, lol.

      I also really agree with what you’re saying- I personally have essentially given up on Nikon ever “beating” the D700 at it’s specific game. Yes, the Nikon D800 is amazing. Yes, the Nikon Df and D600 are amazing, and all are quite superior in many ways. However Nikon has reached a point at which their sensors are all quite simply, even better than “good enough”. They’re GREAT enough. In fact even after the D800 came out, I wound up buying a 2nd D700.

      True, I did buy a Nikon D5300 the day it was announced, but that was only because I feel that DX had one last big “oomph” left in it with regards to resolution and features, which the D5300 delivers on all fronts- no AA filter with 24 MP and astonishing overall IQ, plus wifi and GPS. That, and it only cost me $700 or so when bought with a lens & rebate.

      I’m essentially done buying traditional DSLRs for the foreseeable future, barring a significant spike in my income that allows me to buy a Df just as a “status symbol” and to indulge my own Nikon nostalgia, lol.

      I’d also consider buying a Nikon D800e, if the Sony A7R wasn’t so close to proving that DSLRs are dead, and probably is 1 generation away from that. However again it would not at all be a replacement either my D700 for weddings, or my D5300 for adventures and lightweight travels. It would probably just be used for specific outdoor projects that absolutely demand the one thing that the 36 MP Sony sensor offers: The best IQ ever…

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  6. Dave

    I have a lot more faith in Nikon surviving than Canon coming out with any new, worthwhile sensors and my god it’s only 9%… not to mention Nikon isn’t just cameras either.

    Making “the camera you want” isn’t going to help the bottom line much.. they need to pull a canon and build a complete POS camera from old stock and sell it cheap at waldo mart and sell a zillion of of them. They need some marketing about how much better the IQ is on the cheapest Nikon vs canon because all these people think canon is the sh*t when in fact it’s just sh*t.

    It’d be more troubling to me to be in the canon camp and seeing anything new is basically for video and no new sensors or anything else worthwhile for actually taking pix (the two new lenses seemed more inline for video as well)

    Would be sweet though if Apple swooped in and bought them or even a nikon/sony merger could be grand

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    • Ryan

      There are reasons people go with canon, and you shouldn’t assume that many people (professional photographers) are stupid. America might not do many things well, but one thing is clear; we’re good at shopping. I can’t say this enough times, check your facts.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Lol. America is good at buying into bandwagons and letting brands be status symbols regardless of their true merit, too, Ryan. I’m just sayin’…

      The fact of the matter is that Nikon teaming up with Sony for sensors was the best thing they’ve ever done, and Canon just cannot keep up. Check the DXOMARK sensor rankings lol, Especially DR. A $500 Nikon gives better DR than a $6000 Canon.

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  7. John

    A company which doesn’t listen to their customers is doomed to die. Basic law of economics.

    E.g. small things like a +-2 EV bracketing for the D800: Many people want it for ages, extremely simple to implement – but nobody cares. Even Nikon Europe says it has been communicating this to the Nikon head office – without success!

    This is ESPECIALLY true in hard times of the DSLR market (and a mirrorless full frame future).

    Let’s see whether they can rescue the sinking ship or whether it’s too late now.

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  8. Nick

    I’ve stated this before and I’ll state it again; Nikon needs to make the camera we want. “Oh but it’ll cannibalize D610/D800 sales…” you might say. WHAT D610/D800 sales???? Look at the graph above!
    So yes, Nikon ABSOLUTELY NEEDS TO CANNIBALIZE the (theoretical) sales of its own cameras, taking on a completely different approach then what they’ve been doing, in order to change things around.
    I honestly don’t feel like Nikon is listening to us. Does anyone remember Nikon asking you want you want in a camera?

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    • Nick

      Also, to answer your question “What do you think can save the company?” – the answer is so simple and obvious; Nikon should ask us what we want, then build us what we want. The subsequent marketing campaign would write itself, along the lines of “You told us what you wanted, and we delivered”.

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    • Matthew Saville

      I don’t see how Nikon hasn’t already been doing this for many generations now. In fact every camera Nikon has released since their FX beginning has been spot on, in my opinion.

      Not trying to argue that you’re wrong, just that it goes to show that maybe Nikon IS INDEED making the camera that some photographers want, but unfortunately not others. Ever think it might be possible that you should have bought into a different system in the first place? Chances are you’re right…

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  9. Gary

    To many gimmicks: You have to buy a new camera to get a rebate on a lens. Accessories are not interchangeable between Nikon DSLR cameras ( batteries, remotes, etc.) WIFI is an expensive extra.

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  10. none

    If you read the news about how Nikon treats the D600 customers with their black spot problems in China, then you wouldn’t wonder why.

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  11. dave

    Maybe now they’ll lean that their name is not worth the premium they think it is.

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  12. Charlie

    Sony.

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  13. Ton Verkuijlen

    Well, if a company is not supporting his customers about real issues (D800) you lose trust very quickly.
    quality overal of the nikon products is going down hill, just like the chart.

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    • Edan

      Hmmm. What D800 issue are you talking about? Is there some issue I’m havimg that I don’t know about? I think Nikon support their customers pretty well really.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Yeah, because it’s starting to be a real issue that the D800 still has the greatest 35mm sensor ever made, and essentially zero flaws or limitations when used for its intended purposes. lol.

      Nikon’s own problem has often been, IMO, that they literally make cameras so well that they have a hard time getting people to buy newer cameras. The D800 was ground breaking, probably not even a Canon 5D mk4 will match its image quality and resolution. The D7100 was ground breaking for its IQ as well, and Nikon continues to be the one putting dual card slots in cameras of that price range (also the D610 and D300s) while Canon refuses to add that feature to anything cheaper than a 5D mk3.

      I could go on, but really the only phase where Nikon falls behind is video, and I think this one aspect (which I and many others don’t care about) may be what is in fact crippling Nikon. Which is a shame because cameras like the Df are really exciting to me. Oh well…

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  14. Brent

    D400

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