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Thursday, 26 June 2014


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The Wall Street Journal published an article on June 19th: "Nikon Lost in Hall of Mirrors". You can find it by searching Google news.

"In the first four months of this year, shipments of mirrorless cameras by Japanese companies were up 12% from a year earlier, according to the Camera and Imaging Products Association. Measured by revenue, mirrorless sales globally were up 39%, likely due to a shift toward higher-end models. Over the same period, shipments were down 42% for compact cameras and 17% for DSLRs."

If DSLR sales are down by 17% from January to April this year, and there is no indication that this trend will slow down, then the DSLR as we know it is facing extinction.

My understanding is the Nikon D810 uses the same sensor as Sony's mirrorless A7r which is selling today for about $2,300 which is about $1,000 less than the D810.

The only growth in the marketplace is in the mirrorless category and Sony, Olympus and Panasonic are the lead players here.

Oh, I doubt that anyone comes here for the camera/electronics "news", Mike. Plus from what I gather (as a non-Nikon person) this was hardly a surprising announcement.

Go back to sleep.

Looking through the improvements in the D810, it's a relief to see a return to normality in the market. No need to upgrade any more till your shutter dies. We have reached the era of incremental improvement.

Having said that, if Fuji hit a home run with an organic sensor 24MP replacement for the Xpro1, the Dragoon's days may be numbered. My recent holiday reminded me how tedious a heavy camera can be when hiking up mountains.

But the files are still sublime...

When I really really like a camera with interchangeable lenses, I tend to buy two, not immediately but over a given period of time. Why? Because backup is good, not having to think about differences between two cameras on hand under working conditions is good, and because changing lenses, while theoretically easy, is in practice a pain in the butt when working quickly in the field. But product upgrade cycles are now so short compared to the 'good ole" days, that I find my traditional buying habits harder and harder to accomplish.

Already owning one D800E and with a whole arsenal of F mount glass, there may be quite a few D800/D800Es now coming on the market at good pricing in the advent of the D810. Yet the D810 does appear to be a significant upgrade on all the little niggles I have about the D800E...i.e., .LCD screen in LiveView being very challenging when trying to achieve critical focus, shutter vibration that can cause "almost but not quite" optimal resolution with superb lenses (like Zeiss), and unintended highlight clipping due to metering idiosyncrasies that favor slight overexposure when in fact the sensor's extraordinary dynamic range lies more in the deep shadow recovery than in highlight recovery.

So, I do think Nkon engineers should be commended rather than criticized for remaining conservative and concentrating on these subtle refinements to an already remarkable device rather than attempting to wow the "purpose-built" camera audience (i.e, those who will carry a camera in addition to a smart phone) with a brand new design. Sometimes evolution is indeed better than revolution.


Actually may have to get this. Last time I do a video (piano concert) using mainly Nikon equipment (V1, D7100 and D600). With changing light setting in the stage out of my control and only a few seconds to response (and no raw to get the highlight clipping saved in video), some of the announcement like zerba, highlight metering etc. seems addressed to me directly. I still need a few camera for angle changing but at least I do not need to dump the D600 video to bin and rely mainly on the V1 for the video I hope! As Nikon is my main camera system, I think I would upgrade. (Just sold all Sony A last week to get the cabinet free for Sigma DP1/2/3M.)

I do not much enjoy using Nikon these day though. It is just those occasions where I cannot experiment. I just bought Sigma DP1/2/3M for this 2 week family holiday. Do wish to have a Nikon when saw the mother bear with her two cubs.

Hope it is not another D800 focus or D600 dust issue there.

Maybe next time you take a day off Canon will announce something?

On the other hand, I just got a terrific deal on a Olympus OMD-EM1 with 17 1.8 lens kit, could not resist... this will soon be joined by the 75 1.8 lens... sigh...


Is it me or is this announcement just a little too reminiscent of the years leading up to the great financial meltdown, when American auto companies continued to build big, heavy, pricey vehicles because such vehicles offered the largest profit margins?

Then the market changed. Money and credit were tight. Gasoline prices rose steeply. Young people decided to delay buying a car in favor of less expensive transportation such as bikes, busses, subway trains, or even walking. People who already had a good car decided to keep it--or buy a used vehicle--rather than trade it in for a newer model.

I'm not predicting a nascent financial meltdown; I'm just hoping that Nikon is more alert than the U.S. automakers were.

Interesting that the D810 has no OLPF, and that there isn't a version with one. I wonder if this is an indication that the anti-aliasing filter is disappearing?

You may commend Nikon for their conservative, measured approach, but Nikon's share holders have punished them.

Nikon's stock price plunged from 2,314 to 1,593 yen in the past 12 months. Part of the drop is due the collapse of P&S cash flow. But without P&S cash flow, how can Nikon fund DSLR R&D at previous levels? Oops.

Canon, SONY, Fujifilm Group and others have extremely diverse product lines compared to Nikon.

Well, it does not even have 4K video :-), what a turd, a cellphone can do 4K these days :-). Having said that, I agree with Mark little nags in a camera can realy get you off your balance and get you off your game and you don't need that as a photographer.

Greets, Ed.

Dear Robert,

Point 1: The Wall Street Journal does not understand the camera business. What I wrote six years ago:


is still pertinent and worth reviewing.

At least since the introduction of the Instamatic, and possibly longer than that (in other words, half a century or more) the camera business is been dependent upon particular cash cows, which have changed from decade to decade. They have never been able to count on one particular class of product line to carry their fortunes into the future. The ascendance and decline of DSLR sales is not a portent of disaster, nor an indication of a disruptive (used in the business sense) change in the industry. It is business as usual.

No, I can't tell you what the next class of cash cow will be. Never could. Makes it tough for the prognosticators. The companies, though, they've managed for 50 years to deal with this. It's how that business works.

Point 2: Your observation about the Nikon and the Sony cameras is actually a good thing, and more evidence that the market and technology have matured in a way that is useful to us consumers. One of the annoyances of the early era of digital cameras was that you were buying, in essence, the film and camera combined. Buying a particular model of camera locked you into a particular “film,” and the films were often less than entirely satisfactory. We were driven to upgrade simply to get better “film.”

Well, now all the “film” is pretty damn good (once you get above the really cheapo cameras). Oh yeah, they have different characteristics–– some are faster, some are finer grained, some are sharper, some have better color rendition–– and that can affect your preference, but overall, they are just plain good. That makes that part of the package less and less important in the collective buying decision. (Note to nitpickers: less important does-not-equal unimportant.)

Which means, simply a return to the good old days [ahem]. In the film era, format distinctions aside, you didn't buy a camera based on what film it used. You bought it based on specifications, performance, features, durability, and lens set (well, within what you could afford, of course). The fact that the Sony and Nikon cameras happen to use the same sensor is pretty much irrelevant to that. By that line of thinking, everyone in the 80's should've bought a Pentax ME Super (like I did) instead of a Nikon F3. Except, they weren't close to offering anything like the same features and characteristics.

The features and characteristics of the A7r and 810 are more vastly different. I could spend a whole column just listing the differences that would likely be important to some photographer or another.

More and more in the future, you'll be buying a camera based upon that rather than upon analyses of image quality and characteristics.

This is a very fine thing.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

How can you compare a lovely reflex viewfinder to a contrasty, laggy, TVish EVF? One-day, I'm sure EVAs will be as good, but of course most mirror-less cameras don't even have an EVF!

I am a Nikon guy and have owned about every major camera they produced since about 1993 - starting with an F3 and FM2, through the F4, a very early adopter of the D1 and currently shooting with a D3S and a D800. But I will be shocked if I purchase another DSLR and I think that Nikon is committing suicide much the same way Kodak did. Their fear of cannibalizing the DLSR and breaking from the mount has left them a lame duck.

I've been shooting lots of Olympus OMD-EM1 over the last few months. The image quality is not the D3. But I get the sense that clients would never see a difference. It can't compete with the D3 at high iso's. And most importantly, the continuous autofocus is completely unusable at the moment. But for the subjects that don't exploit those weaknesses, I grab the OMD every time. Smaller, lighter and much better shooting with the EVF.

Why won't Nikon build a mirrorless, professional full frame camera??

I have been reading many comments on various forums about the D810. Many folks are disappointed in how little "progress" has been made by Nikon. They want a "game changer". The internet, by the very nature of its immediacy, makes us all want the newest game changer, and we wanted it yesterday. Sony A7R should have killed the Nikon D800/D800E/D810 market. But it hasn't.. Reasons are obvious. Many of us have lots of F mount glass, but no Sony/Zeiss lenses,.and we don't feel inclined to pursue lens adaptors. The latest EVF in the A7r, sorry, is still not good enough. Image ghosting and low light noise, image sharpness, and overall scene color and contrast display through the EVF, are just not up to professional grade, IMHO, though one could rationalize it's good enough if so inclined. I'm not so inclined. A fair ways to go, IMHO. So, I think the D810 is still a good pathway forward for many of us who prioritize mage quality and camera handling ergonomics over the latest "cool new tech".

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