It is no secret, to anyone who researches their camera purchases even a little bit, that Nikon buys Sony sensors for most of their cameras. It is an arrangement that has suited both companies well, allowing Nikon to focus/invest in other areas and allowing Sony to make use of their sensor factories during a time when their cameras were not the most popular.
But times have changed, or are changing, and I have a question to pose to you. The explosion of popularity surrounding Sony’s mirrorless cameras – not just their FF series, but their crop bodies as well – has become a big negative for Nikon. It now seems like every time Nikon or Sony releases a camera, we hear one of two things: ‘This is the same sensor as in the Nikon, blah blah” or ‘This is the same sensor as in the Sony, blah blah’.
So my question is this: Is it more of a detriment now to Nikon that they use Sony sensors? In the past, Sony cameras were not a big deal, so the comparisons were never drawn, but now the dynamic is different. Sony’s camera division is on the rise, and Nikon is struggling to keep its spot at #2. Regardless of how awesome everyone knows Sony sensors to be, it can’t be good for your marketing when everyone talks about another brand’s camera whenever you release a new one.
[REWIND: Initial Impressions on Nikon’s New D7200]
It would be like if Ford made Chevy’s engines, and every time Chevy made a new car, all the press and fans said, “It’s the same engine as in the Ford…” It’s just not something that I would consider to be an ideal situation, regardless of performance. Marketing is about perception, and the perception is that Nikon sensors are secondhand or hand-me-down Sony sensors. Any consumer seeing this would have to wonder why they should go with a Nikon camera over a Sony.
That is not to say that sensors are the end all be all of a camera, but they are an integral part, and when you farm out its production in such a public way, it’s risky.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think that the Sony/Nikon sensor deal is still good for both companies? Should Nikon try to start producing their own sensors? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!