Nikon D500's with slow DX lens and fast FX lens (the 35mm and 85mm respectively). Illustration courtesy camerasize.com.
August is the month that Thom Hogan of bythom.com disappears. In the European fashion, he takes the month off.
As a see-you-in-September present, he left us with one last fascinating article: "What Does Nikon Excel At?"
Thom Hogan is the leading independent Nikon expert, certainly on the English-speaking Internet and probably in the whole world outside of Japan. His knowledge of all things Nikon is holistic and profound. The Internet used to have a Canon counterpart before Rob Galbraith's Digital Photography Insights went into "deep hibernation mode" in 2012 so Rob could take a teaching job at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. The late Michael Reichmann also knew a lot about Canon, although he didn't focus on it. Given that Thom is also a "gadfly," in the Socratean sense, it's possible Canon is happier that there isn't a deep Canon expert online any more, outside of its own Chuck Westfall; but for most of us it's a loss. As it would be if Thom ever disappeared, indefinitely rather than just for one month. No offense to Thom, but I hope nobody offers him a teaching job.
(Thinking of the good of society, I question the efficacy of having Rob teach a few classes of students rather than write his unique DPI site for tens of thousands of people; but then, what's best for society as a whole is not always the way things operate.)
I'm not going to quote any of "What Does Nikon Excel At?" article here, but I especially recommend that you scroll down to the pie chart and the paragraph beneath it.
As a substitute, I'll pull a quote from another T.H. article, "How Do FX and DX Sales Compare?":
"I wanted to point something significant out: Nikon has not completed a full set of DX lenses, yet their established customer base is most certainly DX. Can you spell stupid any other way? ;~) "
See what I mean about that gadfly business?
Thom's description of Nikon's competencies and incompetencies reminds me of Ferrari back in its glory days. Enzo Ferrari cared about a) racing and b) engines, not necessarily in that order, and very little else. Selling sports cars to what are now called "consumers" was merely a means of homologating racing cars for their class and raising cash for the racing program. Traditionally, that's what Nikon would have liked to do. When I was a kid—walking from the Corcoran, around the South lawn of the White House, past the Willard Hotel where the term "lobbyist" originated, to Penn Camera, on E Street, where all the D.C. pros went—Nikon was known as the professional brand. It catered to newbies and amateurs with notable reluctance, and cared very little for that pop market phenomenon of the '80s, the point-and-shoot (I vaguely remember that it was a small but notable event when Nikon eventually designed a point-and-shoot in-house, rather than just slapping its name on something some no-name factory on the Pacific Rim built for it). According to Thom's view, you still see the heart and soul of Nikon in the cameras it sells the least: from about the D7200, Dƒ, and D610 on up to the top pro model. The lower you go, the less it cares.
And as that damning pie chart points out vividly, Nikon does most of its business in consumer APS-C SLRs, but figures most people are happy enough with a few kit zooms. Beyond that, give 'em the equivalent of the old slow 50mm (the lens on the left in the illustration above) and call it a day, more or less.
By the way, Thom pointed out that sometime last month, Nikon sold its 100,000,000th lens. What, Nikon worry?
(Thanks to John Krill and of course Thom)
Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Gordon Lewis: "Canon has not completed a full set of DX lenses either, at least not in my opinion. In either case this begs the question, 'What do you mean by "complete?"' Thom has answered this question on his site. What I would ask your readers is what they think is missing. Personally, I'd love to see a super-compact 18mm ƒ/4 (28mm-equivalent) and 28mm ƒ/2.8 (45mm equivalent) similar in spec to Canon's 24mm ƒ/2.8 EF-S STM. I don't expect Nikon to produce either one though. They seem preoccupied with making big, heavy, expensive, high-margin stuff for pros and deep-pocketed enthusiasts."
Eamon Hickey: "I was late to a couple of posts last week where Nikon's 'cluelessness' was much discussed, but this seems like a good opportunity to toss in a couple of thoughts. I don't disagree with Thom H.'s basic characterization of Nikon, or on the basic idea that Nikon could be far, far better at the consumer still camera business than it is. And I am no Nikon apologist—in fact, I have real reasons (several tens of thousands of dollars worth) to bear the company a grudge. My personal cameras are Sony mirrorless models, which I like a lot more than DSLRs for most (not all) things I photograph.
"But. But. Over the past 15–20 years only one company has done better in the consumer (i.e. not industrial) still camera business. That would be the other clueless dinosaur, Canon. I don't have time to do the exact research right now, but I believe both companies have earned more than a billion dollars in profits—not revenues, profits—selling consumer still cameras over the past 15 years (Canon certainly has). There's no way to know for sure (the public financial reporting isn't detailed enough), but it's very, and I mean very, doubtful that any company, with the partial exception of GoPro, has made any money—that is, profits—at all selling consumer still cameras over that time. Not Sony. Not Olympus. Not Fuji. Not Pentax. Nobody.
"So, it's fine to dislike Nikon and Canon cameras. It's fine to be bored by both companies. It's fine to point out what they could be doing better (which, again, is plenty). Having worked for Nikon, I could tell stories of that company's stupidity that even its harshest outside critics wouldn't believe. But on the strict business question, success is easily measurable. It's a number, and the numbers are crystal clear. People who want to talk about how stupid Nikon and Canon are at operating a camera business need to account for a simple, giant fact: despite all their mistakes, they make tons of money selling cameras to consumers and almost nobody else makes even one red cent at it.
"It's a little like hitting a baseball. If you do it right three out of 10 times, you're among the very best. So, yeah, Nikon messes up seven out of 10 times. And that makes it the second best performer in the world."
Dave Van de Mark: "Ferrari and Nikon! Both those words hit home. I read everything I could in the '50s and '60s about Enzo's two V12s and went to as many races as I could to listen to and smell the Castrol goodness of those mighty engines.
"And the camera hanging from my neck, trying to 'chase' those Ferraris, was a film based Nikon, of course. Fast forward to digital and I soon settled down for a long run of DX bodies. And one of my all time favorite lenses was a 17–55mm ƒ/2.8 if I remember correctly. Yes, not enough good DX lenses.
"Even though I have moved to Fujiland, I still read Thom because I think he is the best at honestly reporting on both the high and low points of a camera. He has not been kind to Fuji's sensor but much of that criticism has been valid and has been verified by many others. The things about Thom I enjoy the least would be his—at times to me excessive—attention to camera industry economics. He should create yet another web site and put all that there! And...probably due to his review thoroughness, he often takes an excruciating long time to release a review after a camera or lens has been released.
"But the bottom line is: I hate August!"