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Tuesday, 02 August 2016

Comments

"... average person wanting to buy a DSLR wants to buy."

But that market is headed to mirrorless, where Nikon and Canon are way behind, and don't seem to have a clue about what to do.

DSLRs will remain for the serious photographers, always a small market.

As Thom Hogan says so often, it's not clear where Nikon and Canon end up long term.

Digital took over from film when it surpassed film (resolution, dynamic range, high ISO, etc.). Same will happen when EVFs surpass mirrors.

I find this interesting because what I found significant about the Canon Eos system for the first couple of years was that they did NOT have some of what I considered to be the essential lenses most press photographers used. Specifically the primes, 35mm and 85mm, f2 or f1.8.

In the 1970s it seemed to me that most news photographers normal kit was 24 f2.8, 35 f2, 85 1.8 and 180 2.8 and two bodies. I didn't like the f1.4 primes because of the weight (I owned them and sold them)

It seemed they were pushing (successfully) toward the 28-70 f2.8 instead.

These days I use my Sony a7 much more than my Nikon, but my experience of being able to borrow a 24-70 VR from NPS at the RNC Cleveland will certainly mean I keep my Nikons. But that is a consideration for less than 1% of even your readers I would guess.

One thing that bugs me with the "DX lenses not profitable" argument is that Sigma developed the amazing (and I assume costly in R&D) 1.8/18-35mm and 1.8/50-100mm for crop sensor SLRs. Since they're not trying to lure people to their (nonexistent) SLR system, I assume that the individual products are expeced to turn a profit. So I don't see how Nikon and Canon can justify not making the much cheaper small primes that TOP readers request.

"Which didn't concern me, of course—my only responsibility, as I saw it, was to preserve my own integrity."

And as a journalist, that Mike is all that matters, your integrity. Journalists have gone to prison for refusing to cmpromise their
articles/position/sources.

Been in a similar situation so I understand entirely. And lost a valued position as a result of standing firm on my principles.

Mike, you are completely right about the System Concept at least as far as Professionals or aspiring professionals are concerned. Knowing the lens or accessory is there if and when you need it has always been important in that segment.
The logic was, if the Pros buy, the amateurs will follow, and that strategy certainly worked to build Nikon & Canon.
Going forward, I'm not sure that model is quite as strong.
Way back when you wrote about "The camera I want to buy" you struck a chord that is still ringing. I resonated with enthusiast photographers, and was a bit of a fly in the ointment of the existing camera business 'System Model'.
Nikon & Canon make money on Big Volume. Nikon just Passed it's 100 millionth lens, and Canon must be closing in on 150 Million.
Enthusiast Mirrorless cameras are still, economically speaking, small potatoes to them. I'm sure they are watching, and they are obviously waiting. --Only time will tell if that strategy is right.

One place where they have been dumb is with Dx lenses, because if each of them had just made 1 or two really good wide angle primes, they would have blunted many of the arguments to leave.
Both Nikon & Canon make a 17-55 f/2.8 that is very, very good. We own both in our business and they are work horses. They both also make something like 12-24's which are sharp but too slow- the biggest hole is in this wide angle area.
We also use FF and Crop cameras together and when you need to get the shot, it is a very capable combination.
They both make SO many lenses, that 1 or two Dx primes to satisfy a loyal and vocal group of customers should have been a no-brainer, and as you pointed out is a failure of the system concept.

My question is, then, how a company can use the concept of "system" as a sales invigoration. Something that the british food industry has long ago discovered: cross recomendations to get a full product.

For instance, usually on a produce or ingredient purchase, within the very product they are suggesting what "goes great" with that.

That, surprisingly, does not happen on the photo industry. And I can not believe that none of the optic giants do not know their customers, or their customer preferences. That would make a good desing and marketing crossreference project.

Meaning that I can not believe that, when buying one of the FA limited lenses, one does not get the reasoning why the other two complement the others, and that it is a very nice set on itself to get A, B or C results.

I know that sounds bit naive, but usually the most obvious stuff is the one which gets past the emperor´s robe.

Good analysis, the kind that I find often lacking in Thom's analyses of Nikon's business, just for reference.

It's not as fun to write, nor as fun to read, but it's more accurate to talk about whole systems ("whole product concept" being the term of art) and whole-business strategies.

Very convincing!
On your theory, I would suspect that Sony is encouraging and perhaps supporting Metabones to provide adapters that ensure the full functionality of Canon EF lenses on Sone FE bodies.
Fritz

Of course Canon "got it right", with the system approach, whereby they flood the market with a bucket load of cheap camera kits, to bring in customers to their fold. they were doing it in 1990, when I bought my first SLR (EOS 1000 with kit lens), and they still do it today.

In the meantime, they have grown their pro customer base with fit-for-purpose cameras and lenses. I still remember the EOS 5 of 1992, the camera that was a lighter and cheaper version of the pro EOS 1, for those who could not afford the latter. The EOS 5 had some pro features borrowed from the EOS 1, and actually many pros bought them as backups. Having a complete range encompassing entry level, mid level, semi-pro, and pro cameras is the foundation of a system.

As for those complaining that Nikon does not have a comprehensive range of DX primes, they can look into the f1.8 FX primes, which are good value. And they can be used on DX cameras too:)

I think the principle of making a "system" comprehensive, without necessarily every component being profitable in itself, is, as Mike says, probably a good one for a manufacturer vying for top dog status in a field like photography where its practise can require different components at different times for the same or different people.
But as well as profitability, a manufacturer has to consider its production capacity. So if Nikon, for example, introduced further DX niche lenses, then their manufacture might be taking up production time that would lead to longer lead times on its more profitable other items. So when considering adding to its range, Nikon needs to take into account not only individual and overall profitability of its production, but also has to watch that it can continue to deliver the products that most people already want to buy. Because not having your best selling cameras / lenses on the shelf also risks losing customers, present and potential.

Mike, I do so enjoy these types of musings from you. It is fun to guess how and why hundreds of millions of dollars of R & D gets spent chasing the perceived whims of buyers.

I don't use a Nikon or Canon system, and don't really know what they have or don't have for a user like me, a dilletante shooter (in the archaic sense of the word) who enjoys the aesthetics of the experience in addition to the work product. In other words, much of your audience I suspect, whose real needs differ markedly from their wants. The folks who don't need to deliver a folder of usable images an hour after shooting make a rational choice to get a decent Canikon and a pair of zooms that will take them through 99% of what they rationally need to get paid. I doubt very many need your ideal lineup of DX lenses if they can get an outlier lens from old film days, or cobble something together for a particular job. But folks like me, well we like retro stuff, stuff that looks and feels like real photo gear, and since we don't need to satisfy anybody but our selves and we make a living doing other things, we can afford to want and pay for a whole lot of nice stuff that isn't boring DX lenses for boring DX cameras.

I think the one-maker camera/lens system may become less important than it may have been. The availability of good to excellent third party lenses, and the availability of adapters permitting lenses with one kind of camera mount to be used on cameras with a different mount, give the photographer a much broader range of options, and make them less dependent on a single maker. For example, I have an adapter which lets me use by Pentax 67 lenses on my digital Nikons. I son't use them often, but the minimal cost lets me expand my options without the cost of many hundreds of dollars for a occasional requirement.Similarly, a good 'doubler' will allow increasing focal length without the cost or weight of a longer telephoto. And this doesn't even consider the option of lens rental for special one-time kuses.

I would tend to disagree with the idea that Canikon "deliver what the average person wanting to buy a DSLR wants to buy. A competent camera with a kit lens. ... They just want a cheap kit lens, and at most another tele-zoom."

If this was true, in Nikon's case, there would be no reason for the D500 or even the D7200 to exist. There would be no reason for the 17-55/2.8 or the recently-introduced 16-80/2.8-4 lens. I think the two companies realize that there is money to be made from serious DX shooters, but both are grossly underestimating demand for lenses, if not cameras. If they never make a prime wide lens for DX, how can they know it'd never sell? And, no 1.8 FX primes are not substitutes for the missing DX lenses at the wide end. A 20/1.8 is very wide on an FX camera, but provides only a 30 mm equivalent coverage on a DX camera. I guess it goes back to Mike's 'complete system' argument. But more importantly, I think by not making those lenses, Nikon and Canon are leaving money on the table at a time when they're desperately trying to cut costs and survive.

Is this the first time the camera market has seen such sustained shrinkage? To me the mirrorless movement is partly about capturing bored experienced users who want something new, even if it doesn't work any better in the end (just differently). So fresh bodies matter more than a huge system, at least for now. Seems to be working for Sony, and it gives them time to slowly build more lenses.
I suspect that for Canon and Nikon to keep and attract more users they might have to introduce a competitive APS-C mirrorless system, and also full frame mirrorless cameras that use the existing mounts, reserving DSLR bodies for pros and perhaps a retro model. But all that and the market still shrinks for a while. Not that I know anything.

Re profitability being measured on a system wide rather than by individual components; I'm certain that was the case in the 1990's when you were told that, and I do believe it carries through to some degree today , but when businesses come under cost control pressures the ever increasing 'granularity' of available accounting information increases that pressure disproportionately on slow moving products and processes.
Nikon in particular is noted for very aggressive cost control . The camera business has been tough.
I personally love the system approach but there are those who see it as an unsustainable luxury.
Fujifilm seems to be building a new model of the System - namely we will build only what most of our customers Want us to build but not "everything "
It seems to be working for them on a small scale. If that approach is scalable or appropriate to large global volume and profitability remains to be seen. fujifilm customers seem to be very happy, so that's a good start.

Mike,

I'm glad to see this article, and have been thinking about this subject for a couple of decades now. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Nikon's brand recognition—mind-share if you like—was due in part to the number of and visibility of pros who used the gear. But anyone picking up a Nikon catalog in that era could also see they offered the complete solution for all photographic problems. They offered a 13mm ultra-wide, a 6mm fisheye with a 220-degree angle of view, a 105mm UV-Macro lens and a UV-producing flash to go with it, a couple of Medical Nikkors with built-in ring flash, the dual-element close-up lenses mentioned in the previous post's comments, an assortment of bellows and bellows accessories, lens-reversing rings, extension tubes of numerous sizes, the 28mm and 35mm PC lenses you mentioned, a 300mm f/2 with matched teleconverter, and catadioptric lenses of 500mm, 1000mm, and 2000mm focal lengths. They offered slide-copying attachments for the bellows systems, large and sturdy camera stands for macro and for copy work, and even the extraordinary Multiphot system with its Macro-Nikkor lenses. Even if one could never realistically aspire to own some of these goodies, it was very clear that Nikon had the right stuff—the engineering expertise, the comprehensive understanding of potential photographic needs, and the cojones to design and build such esoterica. If you were an aspiring pro, or a seriously dedicated amateur, why NOT choose Nikon? (And by the way, Canon had similar products in their lineup as well, and to a lesser extent so did Olympus and Minolta.)

But soon after the advent of digital, most of this "specialized" equipment began to disappear from the catalogs and from the actual lineup. Hell, Nikon STILL hasn't made a set of extension tubes for their electronically-communicating (i.e., AF) lenses! So does no one these days wish their telephoto would focus just a little closer? No one out there needs a UV lens anymore, nor an "all-sky" camera? I'm actually curious what current-day scientists, forensics experts, medical specialists, and their ilk use to solve some of these problems. Cell-phones? I'm fully aware that the majority of today’s photographers will never need, want, nor be able to afford many of the items listed above, but that was just as true in the '70s and '80s as it is now. Back then, though, the ability of a manufacturer to address anyone’s existing photographic needs, as well as any potentially arising ones, was surely a compelling argument for choosing a system to start out with. Why is that no longer the case? I cannot believe that the prestige arising from such a lineup is worth nothing. It all has the feel of being shareholder-driven—no short-term ROI, no product. Maybe that's the way business is taught and practiced these days—no strategic thinking, no long-term vision, just short-term profit, followed by a quick move to the next "big thing."

-gkf-

Great article Mike. I know someone that went with Canon because of the T-S lenses. I never had to because I used view cameras.

--

"I sorely needed the money at the time, but I turned Canon down. I told them they could have the reprint rights if they promised to buy two full-page ads in the magazine within some specified amount of time (which would benefit my employer but not me). A Canon employee later crowed to me that Canon had already been planning to buy that much advertising and more, so Canon got the reprint of my article "for free." Which didn't concern me, of course—my only responsibility, as I saw it, was to preserve my own integrity."

And that is why people like me, like people like you. ٩(⁎❛ᴗ❛⁎)۶

Ronny Nilsen is exactly right. Nikon and Canon's revenue stream is from mass market products. These rely far more on sales and marketing, so megapixels and video matter far more than build quality or optics.

Companies like Fuji are just mopping up all the customers who are not...

  1. mass market customers or...
  2. part of the very specific customer group at which Nikon and Canons pro equipment is aimed.

In this sense, Canon and Nikon live in a past era. Nowadays, even mainstream car makers make many niche models and ranges, even under different brands.

Life is now very hard for small, specialist car makers. A niche company like MG used to be could never compete with a product as polished and complete as Mazda's MX5. Niche now means exotic (Pagani, McLaren..) or track day special (Ariel, Caterham..).

Canon and Nikon could do the same quite easily, but their entire internal structure is geared around the status quo. It is dominated by salesmen.

No small volume product is worth making unless it has a very high margin, or keeps the pros on side. Loss leading halo products have great marketing value and they pay for all the R&D that filters down, eventually.

However, when your quota is in millions of units, no-one else is on the radar but Canon or Nikon, so that's who they look at.

There are signs this strategy is already coming apart. The huge pile of second hand nearly new DSLR gear I saw in a central London dealer were all exchanged for mirrorless cameras.

The sales guy looked at the Fuji XE2 over my shoulder and smiled. I told him I was an ex-Nikon user and he remarked that I was a very typical example, which I think was a polite way to say I was grey haired...

Which is a good niche. Older 'togs have more disposable income and already know exactly what they are looking for. They don't need to ask a salesman, so commission doesn't come into it.

Fuji stumbled into this niche by accident with the X100, but they have done a good job of cornering it and expanding it. How far they can go with it is a difficult question.

On the one hand, a full on assault on the mirrorless market by Canon and Nikon would likely be aimed at the mass market. It would almost certainly dominate in sales terms, but is unlikely to impress Fuji users.

Products in a similar price/build quality category to Rebels and D5500s would be far more vulnerable, so Sony would probably be most affected.

On the other hand, exactly how big Fuji's premium APSC niche is would be hard to estimate. I suspect it is big enough to be profitable, but I doubt Fuji's strategy would be best served by trying to take on the mass market. The don't have the sales infrastructure to do it, for one thing.

On the other hand, some disruptive technology like the organic sensor they are co-developing with Panasonic might be a game changer. 20EV of DR would be quite something, but I suspect it would be licenced to other companies.

I suspect Nikon considers DX a dead-end. We're getting close to the place where people won't pay a lot more for more pixels (I think we see that resistance forming at about the 24MP level which is adequate for almost everything -- see Kirk Tuck's current post.) If sensors stop growing, the price will come down, and when it comes down far enough, the advantages of FX become compelling, given the fact that there's not a lot of difference in size and weight between DX and FX.

The real question is between FX and smaller sensors, which have also become quite good -- I think FX is really going to be the medium format of the future, while smaller sensors (not necessarily m4/3, but maybe the one-inch sensors or something like them) will become the new 35mm equivalents. There's also the question of whether mirrorless will dominate (I think it will, but I'm not sure.) I have a very good mirrorless system, but my D800 still has a better viewfinder IMHO. But what if mirrorless begins delivering really good low-light and no-light viewfinders? DSLRs can't match that with light-dependant mirror systems. Mirrorless viewfinders, combined with super-high ISO sensors, may open up around-the-clock imaging possibilities.

As far as "complete systems" are concerned, I think Nikon probably knows its market very well, and what the real market wants are inexpensive zooms. Inexpensive zooms, combined with high-ISO digital cameras and camera-correction software like Lightroom make a powerful system even for pros. Prime lenses and very fast lenses are really small-niche products, and probably even diminishing-niche products. A complete system of the future may be five or six zooms, from very short to long (like 12-18, 18-24, 24-50, 50-85, 85-150, 150-400.) If the zoom range is kept short enough, and if the manufacturer doesn't have to worry too much about speed (because of high ISO cameras) then high quality lenses could be made fairly cheaply.


It is a proven strategy in marketing, that a company should have a "halo" or premium product range to showcase, not necessarily to sell. They advertise the flagship product range to build an image. The masses get influenced and buy their cheaper products. When you buy into Canon, you buy into a system...think of their EF lens line posters...is an image building platform. You will never buy that 600/4, but you will see it in your 70-300 IS.
It does translate into sales, in an indirect way, but ina bigger and long term manner.

We the photo enthusiasts tend to get out of touch with reality. The bulk of DSLR buyers can't be bothered with DX this and FX that debates and couldn't care less about prime lenses. All they want is an average quality body with a lens that's a jack of all trades - hence the popularity of those slow 18-55 zooms. Sometimes, when they think they need the extra reach, they buy a 55-200 zoom, but that's as far as they go.
This is not derogatory, mind you. Those camera buyers just don't share our interest in gear. They just want to take pictures with a good level of quality. I bet they take more pleasure out of photographing than many 'serious' amateur photographers. Canon and Nikon know all about this, hence their insistence in those horrid kit zoom lenses and apparent lack of interest in making prime lenses for the masses. A D5300 body (or 760D) with 18-55 and 55-200 zooms is all most people will ever need. Some will be happy with just a 18-105 zoom lens. That's alright for me. And for Canon and Nikon too. We the enthusiasts are not at the core of their business.

[I could be persuaded by this argument more easily if the D7200 and D500 didn't exist. Perhaps the D500 is just for tele shooters, though, and Nikon doesn't care about anyone else who might be interested in it? --Mike]

As far as I'm concerned, the biggest mistake Canon and Nikon made was when they made their first DX lens. Cropped sensors were never meant to be an end in themselves. They were just a stop along the road to full frame. If they were meant to be a discrete product line, the bodies would have been downsized accordingly. But, we know that didn't happen until very very late in the game.

The last few posts and comments about "systems" have been really interesting.

Per Mike's comment in his previous post about Fuji developing a fully thought-through system, I've noted something of interest with respect to their lens roadmap recently. And this based on the observation that Fuji is willing to change directions as it sees users needs evolving and as it evolves and matures it's product lineup.

With the arrival of the the X-Pro2 in January and X-T2 in July, it's clear that the top-level Fuji X-cameras are evolving into two distinctly differentiated product lines. One is centered around an OVF, the other a class-leading EVF.

The X-Pro2 is intended for street photography, reportage, and portraiture.

The X-T2 is intended for "working pros", and Fuji has built an excellent set of zooms that are clearly intended for an EVF-based "working pro" camera, e.g. the 10-24, 16-55/2.8, 50-140/2.8, 100-400; the latter three being true pro-level zooms with fast AF and weather-resistance. These are lenses that don't work well with the OVF of the X-Pro bodies.

But, it's the change in direction that Fuji is taking for the X-Pro2 is possibly more interesting. They are starting to release slightly slower versions of existing lenses e.g. moving from the 35/1.4 to the 35/2,and the release of the new 23mm f/2 is imminent. The 50mm f/2 will arrive next year, and Fuji changed direction of the roadmap for the 80 f/2.8 Macro. The reason they are releasing these new lenses is primarily for the X-Pro2. They know users want more compact lenses that intrude less into the optical viewfinder. While the current 23m f/1.4 is a superb lens, it's big for a 23, and takes up quite a bit of real estate in the X-Pro's viewfinder. These new lenses are becoming a "subsystem" of their own, intended for street photography, reportage and portraiture and bears a resemblance to the classic Leica M-series of primes. Soon, X-Pro users will have available to them a system very similar to Mike's description: a 14/2.8, 18/2.0, 23/2.0, 35/2.0, 50/2.0 and 80/2.8. If Fuji stays true to tradition, the new lenses will be superb optically, lighter, more compact and less expensive than their full-frame Canikon counterparts. Fully thought-through, indeed.

I think the system as a business tactic is still alive and well. Consider that Nikon has in recent years introduced the following wides for full frame: 20/1.8, 24/1.8, 28/1.8 and 35/1.8. The range is covered by professional zooms, there is also the 35/1.8 for APS-C and there are the higher end 24/1.4 and 35/1.4. Clearly, these lenses must be cannibalizing each other, since no one is going to buy all of them. The only logic for Nikon to introduce all of those is to raise the appeal of the system as a whole and hope that the additional customers coming for the specific lenses they need will offset the higher fixed costs of having a large selection.

In terms of APS-C, Nikon already has the 35/1.8 so as a bare minimum, a wide would need to be introduced, perhaps a 16/1.8, to offer a lens that's clearly wide, reasonably sized and offer good quality. The current 60/2.8 is in fact great on APS-C, but many users would surely be interested in something faster optimized for APS-C. Contrast this with a wide array of basic full frame primes between 20 and 85 mm and prestige lenses such as the 58/1.4 and 105/1.4; the full frame user does not have many gaps.

There's no such thing as a "system" in a single brand anymore. Camera stores bundle Canon bodies with Tamron zooms. Sigma makes the lenses Canon doesn't. I can use Canon tilt-shift lenses on my Leica or Sony just like they were native with the use of a Novoflex or Metabones adaptor. Sigma now make their own adaptor for EOS lenses to Sony bodies. "Speed Boosters" are here for Fujifilm and micro four thirds. There's an adaptor for nearly anything and except for the dinosaurs Canon and Nikon, companies are quickly moving to smaller and smaller flange depths so these adaptors can be made and used.

So the concept of a system is changed forever. Leica don't need to make tilt shift lenses for you to buy the SL. They just need to sell you the adaptor so you can use the Canon lenses that they can't make a profit on if they made those themselves. And since the firmware updates for the adaptor are delivered via updates for the camera you can be sure it's a deliberate strategy, officially endorsed by Leica. So through a few adaptors and some clever marketing Leica tell you that a camera with only two native lenses is a system that can accept nearly a hundred lenses (EOS, M, R and S glass). Sigma has made it easy to use their lens range on a Sony body without developing a single new lens. Sony even gave away a Metabones adaptor with the camera early on.

If DX primes aren't profitable for Nikon, they're not going to make them, like they would have in the past. They'll expect you to either by the profitable FX version or buy a Simga or Tamron. Either way they don't lose money. With camera company margins so tight the days of loss leaders are gone. They simply don't make enough profit elsewhere to cover loss making product like they used to.

Gordon

This is sort of odd. I tried to find out what those 3 primes were for the APS-C and I don't find them easily on the internet.

Yes the 35mm, never a favorite focal length for me until recently. What are the other two? 10.5mm? And?

I gave up on Nikon DX system when the D700 came out. If I were to go for a smaller than 24x36 format the M4/3 has tons of great choices, disproving the "nobody will buy them" argument. Does Fuji have the best APS-C prime range? But they seem to have a lot of lenses that seem faster than I really care to own, though as you say that is what gets the buzz on the interwebs these days.

You would think the system concept should be even stronger today than it was back in the film days. Now there is temptation to periodically update your body/sensor, in addition to all the pre-exising reasons. The camera companies would hope to lock these purchases in will in advance if you have bought in to the system.

ren't the thousands of ways of configuring the camera and hundreds of features almost no one uses addressing the same needs as the system camera 35mm SLRs did? The Sony mirrorless cameras are a good example. They are so configurable that it's hard for me to figure out how to use a friends camera that is more or less the same as mine. There are hundreds of things I will never use but other people obsess about. White balance and profiles for instance seem to be a big thing that I care zero about, but the expose for the highlights DRO settings are a big deal and a button or lever to switch from eye level to waist level finder would be worth an extra hundred bucks to me since the eyeball detector is just as good at detecting my stomach.

Something to keep in mind about feature bloat is that it probably makes cameras less expensive to buy because all the people who want those features, most of which are software, are subsidizing the features you want. It costs just as much to design software features and customizations as it does to design and build a handful of exotic money losing accessories The difference is that software cost almost nothing to add to every camera..

The thing about the "system camera" manufacturers like Nikon, Olympus, and Canon in the film days is that the cameras and lenses might not be the best, but you could pick from a selection of finders, screens, backs, motors, shutter releases ( and why can't digital cameras have decent customizable shutter releases? ) etc. How many 250 exposure backs or those fisheye lenses that looked like a VW hubcap do you think Nikon sold? How many people bought Nikons because they thought that maybe they might need to rent something like that one day.

Leica, who had the most lavish and bewildering array of accessories for their rangefinder cameras kind of blew the pro market because they didn't have the adaptability of the system cameras. I didn't know any Leicaflex shooting pros outside of fashion photography. Minolta and Pentax had great lenses but their pro bodies never caught on. I almost bought a Minolta XK but the dealer was pretty unenthusiastic and no one rented Minolta gear. Same thing for the Pentax LX even though the grip option that included a big hunk of wood and a knife to carve it with was really cool.

I know a few people who based their choice of camera brand on whether there was a sports finder option back in the film days. Canon had a great one for the F1, but boy were they pissed when canon went to the fixed prism EOS system.

Its easy to justify not making a good DX prime lineup by talking about production, markets, etc, but the truth is that Nikon is losing users who spend good money on photography but do not want FX.

The cheap DX gravy train is being destroyed by camera phones like the compact camera market before it.

Ok, I must be missing something. I shoot now with a Canon 6Ts 24 mg. Canon makes these lens, many of them for the EF-S format, but I can use full frame lens as well. None of these are L lens.
10-18 IS
15-85 IS
17-85 IS
18-55 IS STM
18-135 STM (which I use mostly)
20 mm f/2.8 USM
24 mm f/2.8 IS
24 mm STM
28mm f/2.8 IS
28mm f/1.8 USM
35 mm f/2
40mm f/2.8 STM
50mm f/1.8 STM
50mm f/1.4 USM
85mm f/1.8
And more zooms than you would ever need. Some may not be as fast as you may like, but hey.....

To clarify my post, I don't own all those lens. I shoot with the 24mm, 40mm and 50mm primes plus a 18-135 zoom.

I bought into Nikon system for the F mount: I just like those old Nikkors. I used a 28mm f2 AI lens on my D200 for some ninety percent of my pictures for more than five years. I am a daddy photographer using mostly manual focusing lens. Honestly, I don't care if Nikon stops making lenses, as long as they keep churning out latest and greatest F-mount cameras so that I can buy an outdated model that is nice and cheap.

I'm intrigued by the talk of prime this or that. To me, most primes are yesterday's lenses; the zooms we have now, combined with the sensors we hav behind them, render primes more or less unnecessary. On my Panasonic GX7 m43 camera I have the following lenses (2x for FF equiv focal length), Olympus f4-5.6 9-18mm, Panasonic f2.8 12-35mm, Panasonic f4-5.6 12-32mm, Olympus f1.8 45mm, Panasonic f4-5.6 45-150mm, Panasonic f4-5.6 100-300mm.

Just the one prime. The 12-32 zoom is a kit zoom of the most basic kind -- but it produces excellent results throughout the range. I dumped the Panasonic f2.5 14mm for it.

Even with the m43 sensor, I can go to ISO 1600 comfortably if necessary -- in color; back in the day I topped out at 64ASA in color and 400-800ASA in B&W. And further, I have built-in stabilization. The need for big apertures for low light has been slashed. Today I don't need the big apertures for manual focusing as I did back in the day; the AF takes care of that.

Having a bunch of primes feels like an itch, but it is an itch that goes back to 40 years ago; just not applicable today for either my professional or my private work.

Cheers, Geoff

Most buyers probably don't know, or care, about DX or FX. All they know is that Canon/Nikon make good cameras that pros use.

The problem with your post, Mike, is that it implies a static marketplace, one that values the same things over time. That is simply not the case. Aside from the fact that the business landscape has changed and companies are often pressured to reduce, or eliminate, "wasteful" spending of any kind (think parties), so has the technology and the consumer. The internet has only amplified the scrutiny. Everyone can read about Nikon's missteps mere hours after they happen and can lambaste the company to their hearts' content.

Your website, Mike, is indeed an echo chamber consisting of a small (overall) group of like minded individuals. But even here it is evident that not everyone feels the same -- and not everyone does as they say. Back in the day, zoom lenses were considered garbage by most pros and amateurs, to put it bluntly, and the film/reproduction workflow did not make extensive use of computers. Neither of these is a concern today. To use yourself as an example (just as an example, mind), you've often discussed your love of various prime lenses (like 35mm), but you've also said one of your favorite cameras was an F707 all-in-one (if I recall correctly)? And the lens you used for years on your K-M 7D was a 28-75 zoom which you did not mind at all. From previous posts, quite a number of your readers stated they use Sony RX10 and Fuji all-in-one zoom cameras for weight savings and convenience.

And then there's Photoshop. I really don't even have to mention it as we all know what it can do. Today's consumer is able to correct a lot of lens and perspective issues with software and this was not the case in the past.

Even though I only took up serious photography in the 90s, I learned on a manual Canon AE-1 and primes. I went through a number of Canon FD bodies and when I bought my first zoom (35-105 f3.5) I sold it! It was too cumbersome to use with its two rings -- one for focus and one for zoom. I much preferred working with my 50mm and walking. And from 2001 to 2007 what I really loved was using my Rolleicord and Rolleiflex. If I could not get the shot with them, it wasn't important. When I got into digital, at the very end of 2007, I purchased on eBay and had no money for auto focus lenses. I bought m42 and Nikkor primes and adapted them. But when I eventually got a used 17-50 f2.8 Tamron I could use the one ring for zooming and my thumb for focus. Suddenly, the primes went into a drawer. I now use the same Tamron and a second one, a 75-300 for all of my shooting.

Canon and Nikon know their market. They know that the parent and the photography student want an inexpensive SLR for "quality" and zoom lenses for versatility and reach. Canon and Nikon provide them in spades. I would argue that no soccer mom is bying an Olympus E-M5 and a prime to photograph their kids' sports. Very few, if any, photography students are doing that, either. And the prices of Olympus, Fuji and (dear goodness!) Sony products is ridiculous. Maybe not for the crowd here, but for the average consumer. Let's realize that mirrorless represents only about 10% of the total market, and it will be interesting to see if it goes much higher.

[From Wikipedia: "Mirrorless cameras constituted about five percent of total camera shipments in 2013. In 2015, they accounted for 26 percent of interchangeable-lens camera sales outside the Americas, and 16 percent in the U.S." --Mike]

Eliott, multiply the focal lengths of the lenses you listed by 1.6 to get their Canon APS-C equivalents and the problem becomes more apparent: There are no Canon fixed focal length lenses (other than the expensive 14mm f/2.8 L) that provide anything wider than a 32mm field of view.

I've used the 10-18mm EF-S and think it's a great lens at a great price. So is the 10-22mm EF-S you didn't list. But that's it for the wide-to-ultrawide range in Canon APS-C. These two lenses may be all that most Canon APS-C users ever want or need in this range but the argument is moot because they are the only two truly wide angle EF-S lens options Canon offers.

Gordon, I see your point. Thanks.

I'd argue that, at least for natural light photography, Fuji gets the idea of a system as well as/better than anyone right now. Canon and Nikon both have more comprehensive lens lineups (full-frame only, their APS-C lineups have all sorts of weird holes filled in by oversized full-frame lenses with slightly odd focal lengths). Fuji, however has an all-modern, all purpose-designed for their sensor size lineup with lenses that range from very good to absolutely superb (Canon and Nikon both have many superb lenses, but their range goes from "made from the bottom of a coke bottle" to superb, rather than starting at very good). Fuji also has a really nice range of accessories other than lenses, at least assuming you don't want a flash (what's that???). Everything they make is beautifully made and a joy to use, at least says this photographer with over 7,000 images on his X-Pro 2 (since March) and another 20,000 on various other Fujis over the years...

"Canon and Nikon know their market. They know that the parent and the photography student want an inexpensive SLR for "quality" and zoom lenses for versatility and reach."

From my experience regarding "photography student cameras," the above statement is incorrect. Every student I have known, wants or has a full frame Canon with "L" glass or a similar variant in Nikon, and that is not "inexpensive."

Why would an individual with a passion for photography want lesser tools?

I was saving up for the Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G UNTIL I saw&tried the X100. I thought about it, then concluded that while I lose a stop of light gathering capabilities, I'd be able to bring the X100 with me to just about anywhere, which I can't do with my D700. Fast forward a few more years and I've got more Fuji gear - I can bring this gear with me anywhere I want and be comfortable&discreet.

Paolo states in all his travels he's never seen tourists with MILCs. I shot this with an XPro-1 in Paris while being a tourist, and there were lots of other Fujis around - I would even stop and chat with other Fuji shooters that I met in my perambulations.

https://66.media.tumblr.com/b67905b1506cd9f9dc60359d172b6789/tumblr_o6us1zG7eY1r7pbnqo1_1280.jpg

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