It's been widely reported that Nikon are in serious financial trouble. This is an article from a dedicated Nikon fanboy wondering why that is the case.
One of the long term contributors to the SOUNDIMAGEPLUS blog, Chris Handley wrote this in an email conversation we were having the other day (Well middle of the night actually)
'+Soundimageplus great to hear you're enjoying the Df.
On occasion we have discussed "if I could only have one camera". For me, the Df wins hands down. Forget all the "fancy" cameras I have, or have had, the Df is now my go to choice, I've used it for indoor sports, landscape and product, it excels at all. I'm of the opinion those who knock it have either never used one, or have no appreciation of what a versatile sensor it has. A couple of days ago I looked back over my Df images, superb colour, amazing dynamic range, excellent exposure and white balance is spot on.
I enjoy this camera so much I've invested in more lenses because this camera deserves to be used.'
i have to say I agree completely with that. I think the Df is a marvellous camera. I can shoot anything with it, in any light. It does the job anytime, every time. So if Nikon can make a camera this good, why on earth are they apparently in poor financial shape? This article will discuss why that might be so and includes my suggestions, which will of course fall on deaf ears, or any ears at all really, as to what they might do to perpetuate one of the most important brands in photography. But that's never stopped me before, so here goes.
And the hope is that Nikon don't go the way of THE most famous name in Photography. KODAK, the company that turned photography into a mass participation activity and whose very name was synonymous with photography. They couldn't deal with digital photography and made a series of poor decisions that led them finally to be the maker of a string of poorly regarded compact cameras before suffering the ignominy of having to sell their name for a pittance. Now Nikon aren't in the same boat. They are still producing the goods, but they too seem to be ignoring the marketplace and are falling into the trap of continually offering what they think people should want rather that what they actually want.
The problem is that Nikon have lost their cash cow. That endless stream of Coolpix compacts notable only for the Nikon logo on the front just haven't got a market anymore. People use their smartphones these days. And no amount of discounting their budget DSLR's is going to compensate for that. Plus their attempt at a 1" sensor, the Nikon 1, has turned into an overpriced, under specified disaster. I bought the V1 and loved it, but then I bought it (two of them in fact) at a knockdown discounted price. Since then I haven't even considered the V2 or V3.
So what do they do next? Well I can't say what the answer to that is. if I could I'd be a rich man. But I do know that Nikon somehow have to excite our imaginations again. Firstly, they have to stop making all their cameras look exactly the same. The D750 may be a fine camera, but it looks exactly the same as every other Nikon DSLR. Secondly they HAVE to come up with a viable, economically priced Mirrorless / CSC / E.V.I.L system. Thirdly they have to embrace modern tech. in the way that the third great name in Photography, Leica, have. Leica's T system, their new X range and their expanding partnership with Panasonic show that the German luxury brand aren't planning to rely on past glories alone to secure their future.
Samsung released the NX1 at Photokina which got everybody buzzing. But why didn't Nikon release something like that? It's not as though they aren't capable of it. Nikon remember were the first to release a video enabled DSLR, the D90. And while the video quality wasn't great, it was a trail blazer. But they just sat back and let their great rival Canon and everybody else pass them by. Sure Nikon make decent enough video enabled DSLR's these days, but where is the ultimate hybrid that knocks our socks off?
It's not as though they don't have an attention grabbing piece of retro kit available to them to do this.
These are Nikon rangefinders. And damn good they were to. In the view of many actually better than the equivalent Leica's in their day. Now a reasonably priced mirrorless, high tech, hybrid 4K video enabled system based on these that used the Nikon F mount would create an almighty buzz. There is no need to come up with a new mount, nor any point. Just put an AF motor in the body and start making all those beautiful D lenses with aperture rings again. I'd buy a camera like this in a heartbeat and so, I'm sure, would lots of other people.
But Nikon won't do that and will lurch on in the way they have in recent years. They may keep going, they may end up being taken over by one of the electronic giants. The way things are going they could even end up merging with Canon, who are also not in great shape. The CaNikon abbreviation we all use could actually become a reality. And though that would be a shame, ultimately it doesn't matter. If Nikon disappeared I'd be sad. But after about five minutes I'd move on to something else. Plus my Df would probably become a collectors item!!! and since their lenses work on lots of other cameras via adapters, there's nothing to get sentimental about here.
But it would be a pity if one of the great camera makers, arguably the greatest lens maker ever and the designer of the remarkable D4 / Df sensor were to go out of business or have to merge or get taken over. They know their stuff when it comes to gear, but their marketing division needs sacking and replacing with people who actually have a clue as to what the marketplace for cameras is these days.
So they need to get their heads from up their..... out of the sand and spend some time on the photographic internet looking at what gets people's pulses racing. Otherwise they will turn into Pentax. Which is not a good place to be. Another company that used to stir my imagination and whose cameras I loved until they turned into an overpriced peripheral bit player. Remember the hideous K-O1?
So come on Nikon, show us that you're not dead in the water. Give us something that gets us all hot and bothered. We know you can do DSLR's and great lenses, prove to us that you can do mirrorless seriously as well. Take a chance, listen to the buzz on the internet and actually go out and ask people 'What do do want from a Nikon?' Because you can't rely on those well-heeled doctors and dentists to get you out of trouble. You actually have to convince people who left you for Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and Fuji to come back and embrace your brand again. Because otherwise it's a case I AM NIKON, I AM GONE.