Nikon 'rethinking' Nikon 1 CX system - Some thoughts of my own




Nikon plans to:- "Reconsider product planning of Nikon 1 (non-reflex camera)." as "Nikon 1
represents the majority of sales volume reduction of 550,000 interchangeable-lens type digital cameras."


Source - Dpreview 



So what might they do? Well before that, a recap of where I'm coming from.

First off I'm a Nikon 1 fanboy. Anyone who has read this blog this year will know that. I love the system for its speed, size, weight, image quality taking into account the size of the sensor and after heavy discounting in recent times, the price. Its the fastest system I've ever used, shoots great quality video and has some terrific lenses like the star of the show, the 32mm f/1.2 pictured above. Now I'm currently trimming down my Nikon 1 gear as I have too much of it for what I can usefully currently take advantage of, but I've enjoyed all the lenses I'm selling and can testify to their quality. I'm planning to keep the smallest and fastest of them and have a miniturised three prime outfit for a while. So I've bought into the system both financially and philosophically, and though I'm far from being a lone voice, have been one of the few to champion the system on a regular basis. Commercially, the images I take with it satisfy the demands of my picture libraries up to A3 file size and have sold well, so its not just the fact I like it, the system has also served me well in terms of earning a living. While its not the best quality mirrorless interchangeable lens system out there, its my favourite and it does things that no other cameras can do, most of which revolve around the phenominal 60fps burst rate.



Having said all that, and taking into account the fact that I'm still using V1's and have no wish to upgrade to the V2 there are things that I think can be improved and in the unlikely scenario that someone from Nikon is reading this, this is what I think they should do.



THE SENSOR.


While I like the results from the 10MP Aptina sensor, which are capable of upsizing quite dramatically and produce great looking files, there is no doubt that increasing the MP's would make the system more appealing. Now I don't know what Nikon have in mind but the similarly sized 1" sensor in the Sony RX100 and RX100 ii squeezes more pixels into those cameras and still produces excellent results. Whether Sony want to keep it to themselves, who knows, but if they could use that sensor, then I believe that Nikon could get a lot more positive press about the Nikon 1 system as a whole. The Nikon 1 lens range with a 20MP sensor recording the images would, I believe, create a much more attractive product.


THE STYLING.


This is of course a personal taste thing, but am I alone in thinking that a high-end Nikon 1 camera with a styling based on the Nikon rangefinders of the past would attract a lot of positive attention?

Lots of other companies have sucessfully used their historic designs to launch new products and its always amazed me that Nikon don't do the same.

GET RID OF THE 'FLUFF'.

Motion Snapshot, Smart Photo Selecter and the 400fps slow motion features are all just fluff, and unless Nikon can turn them into something useful, they should go. They achieve little, don't do anything thats interesting and are superfluous to what the camera is good at, which is take great pictures and video. These 'gimmicks' do nothing to enhance the camera and I doubt many people use them.

PUMP UP THE VIDEO.

Nikon 1's can shoot 4K video in short bursts apparently. So lets see more development on that. The cameras have tremendous potential for video as a whole, as the quality is really good. The lens IS unfortunately doesn't work that well for hand held work though. The APS-C 18-55mm zoom has a much better implementation of VR for example, and even the Fuji X-E1 is more stable for hand holding with the 18-55mm lens. But there is fantastic potential here and if I was shooting video on a tripod, my V1 would be the camera I turned to first. A word about video. Forget depth-of-field and all the 24fps / 25fps 'cinema look' nonsense, video is video. If you want a film-like 'cinema' look, go get a film camera. NO video footage looks like film, no matter what the fps rate is. Back to the system, more options are needed and if added Nikon 1 could be a real contender in the video / stills hybrid market. For example the Sony RX100 I had was a superb camera for hand held video. Pretty much the best I've ever used. Almost steadicam stability. It also didn't hunt around for focus and the footage I shot looked really smooth. The Nikon 1 system could / should? do all that AND have interchangeable lens capability.

ACCESSORISE.

The SB-N5 speedlight is a wonderful little thing. I did half of a property shoot with one, photographing hand-held bouncing the light off the ceiling. Really natural looking results and easy to use. It powers itself from the camera as is ready to go with no setting up. Since the 1" sensor is never going to be able to compete with larger sensors for high ISO noise, why not put some effort into really good flash implementation? Its not as though Nikon don't know how to do this. They are pretty much market leaders in portable on-camera flash with the speedlights. 

This of course needs power, and one of the reasons I use the V1 rather than a V2 is the larger battery. The same one as in my D7100 and D800E. Running a live view screen and EVF obviously uses more juice than on the DSLR's but I've never had a battery even get close to running out after a days shooting on a V1. So Nikon should definitely reverse the decision to use a lower powered battery in the V2 and go back to the larger capacity one. Plus there should be an optional battery grip for the demands of improved video and flash and to make the handling better.

SORT OUT WHO NIKON 1 IS FOR.

Like everybody else, Nikon seem to be chasing the mythical 'Teenage Facebook Girl' market and I think (just like everybody else) they miss the point. If there is such a thing as 'Teenage facebook girl (or boy)' then its going to take a miracle to separate them from their smartphone and smartphone cameras which, of course, does the whole instant uploading to social networking sites much better anyway. The idea that this market will reach into their pocket for another lens misses the point. This kind of photography is spontaneous, (mostly) non-serious and social activity centred and requires nothing more than a decent phone camera. In fact the whole style and ethos of social networking is based on it. Nikon 1's aren't that light or small anyway. Plus of course it ignores all those other markets that have more money to spend on cameras and lenses etc.

Panasonic and Olympus have finally realised with the GH3 and OM-D where a lucrative market lies. The point here is I think that the Nikon 1 system COULD be just as good. In terms of speed and for the purposes of an action / adventure / sports camera it is fact more useful than either m4/3 or NEX. For the purposes of shooting outdoor pictures quickly and unobtrusively its also great. (I refuse to call that street photography because to me that term implies Cartier-Bresson and all the other greats rather than the shoddy crap that takes its name in vain these days.) Plus I saw a great piece on a photographer who used Nikon 1's to photograph and video the Paris > Dakar rally which crosses the Sahara desert and he thought it was the best camera for the job. So there are situations where a Nikon 1 already can be the camera that suits a photographer best in certain situations.

SUMMING UP.

So Nikon, for me, have to concentrate on the positives in the system and what its good at. The 32mm f/1.2 is a great lens, so lets have a 13mm f/1.2 and what about a 75mm f/1.2 as well? Fast lenses with lots of depth-of-field and small and light. They also need to get more of a 'buzz' going and silence the rubbishing from other (mostly) mirrorless owners seeking to defend their purchasing choices. This I think could be easily achieved by ugrading the sensor to Sony RX100 proportions, retro styling the cameras and promoting the whole speed and action abilities of the system.

Of course knowing what suits in boardrooms get up to they will probably go completely the other way. Smaller, more apps, more wi-fi, more silly colours, more 'Teenage Facebook Girl' friendly (or so they imagine) and the system will just disappear into a black hole of multi-coloured, plastic landfill with all the other ill-judged products of short-sighted executive decisions from people who think they understand the marketplace but obviously don't. Their losses testify to that. Haven't any of them noticed that Fuji have sold 130,000+ X100's? Don't any of them look at the figures suggesting that proportionately DSLR sales are holding steady while mirrorless sales are falling? When people want to buy a camera, and yes there are those who buy cameras who are over 25 (and who incidentally generally have more money to spend on photography) who are looking to get 'serious' about photography. And they want a 'serious' looking camera with 'serious' specifications. Nikon already know about the enthusiast / hobbyist market with their DSLR's and the point and shoot market with their Coolpixes. But since the latter are probably doomed eventually, there has to be an alternative, and its surely in Nikons interest to contribute to the mirrorless market. They already have a two-tier system with Nikon 1, the smaller basic J and S series and the higher specified V series. I'd love to see an all stops pulled out V3 with all of the above in it that aims squarely at the enthusiast / hobbyist with pretentions market. Despite its current lack of ambition and somewhat mixed and confused targeting there are still those of us who rate the Nikon 1 system very highly, and can see its capabilities for certain photographic uses. It is a largely ignored and undervalued system and its about time Nikon acted to share the 'secret' of what they have with more than a few enthusiasts, which is how it seems if you read the photographic internet. The potential is undoubtedly there and I'd love to see them exploit it. If they don't then its probably back to ebay and onto something else.