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Saturday, 25 August 2018

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Waiting for these was one of the options I considered last fall when I was dropping at least one of my two systems (Nikon and Micro Four Thirds). I mean, waiting for Nikon to get off the dime and do something serious in mirrorless; it was obvious to me that mirrorless was going to take over, and I wanted to switch there myself. (It still hasn't taken over; unless these made a huge leap, it's still not competitive with DSLRs for any kind of action photography; but it's going to be. And will be cheaper and need less maintenance and have more viewfinder options, etc.)

At the moment, these aren't what I would have jumped to, though. I don't care about two slots (and one of my cameras now has two), but I care about two dials. One of the ways in which modern cameras have better human interface than say 70s cameras is that you can adjust both aperture and shutter speed with the hand holding the camera, so you can do it on the fly, with the camera up to your eye, etc. You don't have to pause to adjust settings. (That's not the only reason, but it's a big reason I can glean from quick reading of your reports.)

I don't agree with "it's better to be first than it is to be better."

There were MP3 players before the iPod and there were all-in-one phones from Nokia before the iPhone. And remember that Nokia was a massive company. They are all history now.

Having said that, I don't think that Nikon's mirrorless is the iPhone of the camera market.

The best photojournalist I know shoots Canon because his employer issues Canon gear but he also keeps Fuji for times when discretion is required.
Back in his film days he carried Nikon kit with an M series Leica for those times when silence is necessary.
I could see the 24mp variant of the Nikon mirrorless fitting into a lot of working photojournalists bags. Especially if Nikon hits them with a nice pancake 35mm 2.8.

Wouldn't you really rather have a GFX [50S]?

No. But I would rather have a GFX 100S. :-)

"it's better to be first than it is to be better."

I’m not so sure. Apple was first and best with a graphical user interface, but Windows beat it totally. And Nikon was first and biggest with pro camera SLRs, but Canon beat it still.

'Deal-breaker!' Is two card slots really that big a deal?

No professional photographer has ever, in all of history, been able to work with a camera that only holds one card or one roll of film at a time. It's just not possible.

From Harvard Business Review …

First Mover or Fast Follower?

There certainly is circumstantial evidence supporting both camps. After all, Apple wasn’t the first mover in the digital music, smartphone, or tablet computing categories, but it’s done alright. A recent column in The Economist cited a research report that found that “that innovators captured only 7% of the market for their product over time.” Yet there are plenty of examples of successful early birds. For example, Amazon’s efforts as an early mover in electronic books and cloud computing have turned out fine for them.

Here’s the important thing to remember: ultimately, no one remembers who leads a race at the half-way point. They care about who crosses the finish line. So don’t ask “Should I go first?” Instead, ask “How do I accelerate the path to a breakthrough idea?”

https://hbr.org/2012/06/first-mover-or-fast-follower

My first thought about the Nikon Zs was that they had a long slog ahead of them -- selling a new body (and paying for its development) while customers wait for native lenses -- a body or lens has to be pretty special for someone to put up with an adapter. Now we've heard that the new lenses (or at least one of them) are terrific. Great new lenses will move existing Nikon customers while attracting new ones to the new bodies.

Drone on fan boys. I’m still high on the intro of t’ DJI Hassy widget.


Y.B. Hudson III

I took the plunge into mirrorless several years ago with Fuji X-Trans cameras and I haven’t looked back since. My Nikon D800E now spends almost all its time sitting on a shelf. I suppose I qualify as part of Nikon’s “lucrative target market,” but I don’t feel any pressing need to invest in a new full-frame camera.

However—and I admit I’m hardly a marketing expert—I don’t understand why Nikon didn’t bundle the F-mount adapter with the Z-series bodies, and absorb the manufacturing and distribution cost. Or at the very least, offer a one-per-purchaser coupon that could be redeemed for an adapter from a retail outlet at Nikon’s expense. Yes, Nikon is offering an initial discount on the adapter with purchases of a Z body, but that’s more of a concession to current Nikon owners who are going to buy one of the mirrorless cameras anyway than an attempt to provide an incentive to those who are on-the-fence.

"…it's better to be first than it is to be better."

At best that's incomplete, at worst it's flat-out wrong. Apple hasn't been first to any category it competes in. Betamax was first (it was also "better," by some definitions, but not in the areas that mattered to consumers). Ford wasn't the first automobile. And so on, ad infinitum.

History is littered with the bones of companies that were first.

[Ah, but they also specify that what's important is the perception--the mind of the buyer. Ford wasn't the first to use a production line, but everybody thinks so. Apple might not have been the first personal computer, but everybody thinks so. That's Law #4, the "Law of Perception." They make the case that there's no reality, it's all perception. The question as the authors might put it, I would guess, is a) whether people consider FF mirrorless to be a distinct category, and b) if they do, whether they will remember and identify Sony as having been first in it. Only if those conditions end up pertaining will it be a significant advantage for Sony. --Mike]

2 card slots cannot be a bad thing surely - you can still use only one if you wish.

Some (some randoms) points for todays discussion:

1. Regarding Nikon going after the high-priced, high-margin market that Sony has been going after in FF mirrorless: Well, of course, Nikon has to. They had to have a FF camera their first "statement" mirrorless offering be taken seriously by all the social media "pundits", and here's not enough overall FF mirror sales volume (based on info from Thom) to return on investment without going for high-margin products.

2. It's possible that one of the reasons that Nikon did not put two cards slots in the Z-series is that for pros that have to have that feature, they will have to buy the D850 or D5. This will help mitigate cannibalization of the high-end DSLR line.

3. Regarding the Ries and Trout book you were referring to the other day. I bought it and read it. I can tell you for a fact that, at least in biotech/genomics/sequencing, "first to market" is absolutely NOT the case. Unlike the lay public, scientists actually DO make data-driven decisions on what product is actually BEST, and will, if the new offerings are better, completely swap out inferior offering for new ones. Case in point: the first-to-market next-gen sequencing system was 454's pyro-sequencing. Another early market entry was Applied BIosystem's SOLiD sequencing. Fact: No ONE is using these anymore. Illumina, who were roughly second or third to market (depending on who you talk to), now pretty much own the next-gen sequencing market. Same thing applies for DNA Forensics human identity products.

4. If you want to see an impressive MTF chart, check out the Fujifilm GF45mm f/2.8 for the GFX system. Wanna know why MF looks better? Yowza.

I also tend to think being first doesn't matter long haul. Still need to run your business in an effective fashion, and all that.

My take is that it is the Z-Mount that will differentiate Nikon from Sony and Canon. And market differentiation matters.

And well, it seems these days that perhaps the majority of enthusiasts/semi-pro photographers that this gear is aimed at put a pixel peeping priority on sharpness, and if the early reports are true regarding the new Nikon S-Mount lenses that could be a big deal in regards to market differentiation.

I'm not sure how I feel about seeking after perfection, and how "perfection" has become a kind of societal priority. I guess I'm an old dog. For instance, I would gladly be rid of instant replay in all sports. This idea the calls need to be "perfect" remove the human element and imperfections that make sports what they are (or what I think sports should be anyway). The idea of perfection is an entirely different topic, but it does apply to modern photography as all the camera gear web sites would indicate, and all the "discussion" on the various discussion boards (i.e. "GAS-houses) can attest. Sharpness is the holy grail, no other attribute seems to matter (i.e. as reflected in controversial reviews of the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G where Nikon dared produce a lens where sharpness was not the primary objective). Not having perfect gear of course is the driver to acquiring yet more gear that's not perfect, and so on. It's a winning formula for the camera companies, but they gotta keep the gear coming, so in that sense Nikon has likely succeeded, for now.

Rant over. Heh.

About that first mover idea...

Was Canon first mover in AF SLRs?

Was Canon first mover on DSLRs?

No but they did go on to dominate both eras. Doing it again would be a big ask for them but Sony’s ergonomics and lens pricing still leave the door open for both Nikon and Canon.

@ David Dyer-Bennet

Not sure if I'm reading your comment right, but if you're concerned about whether the Z7 and Z6 have two dials, they do. Thumb and forefinger — very much like all other mid and upper end Nikon bodies. They were easy and comfortable to operate for me.

The Z cameras also have an extremely good and well-placed AF-ON button for so-called back-button autofocus, which is critical for me. So many manufacturers, including companies that get tons of praise in these parts (cough, Fuji), can't get this right. It baffles me.

To be fair to Nikon,



If you ask me, what the Fuji lens needs is more elements.

I mean, Nikon has as many elements in its current 50mm f/1.8 lenses* as Olympus has in this 25mm f/1.2, and if you take the Fuji's paltry ten elements away from the Olympus's nineteen you're left with nine, or one more than Leica uses in any of its clearly inferior line of 50mm rangefinder lenses.

By irrefutable Internet logic, I therefore declare

Nikon = Olympus > Fuji > Leica.

* Twelve in the new 50mm f/1.8 S plus seven from the existing f/1.8G equals nineteen, QED.

My view is that FF (Film Format) is an arbitrary size when applied to digital sensors. Such large sensors are no longer necessary, and sensor technology is developing so quickly that FF will become less and less beneficial. Then FF users will be stuck with huge, heavy lenses while we m4/3 users will have very sensible lenses. This one image says it all, comparable lenses:
https://screenshots.firefox.com/9fW6YoUMpchfjFPX/camerasize.com

Wow, Mike, you usually don’t sound like you have an axe to grind with any company, but you sure have had the knives out for Nikon these last few days. You say Nikon is copying Sony, when all they’re doing is entering this market segment in a logical and smart way. You almost sounds as if Sony was leading the way with everything, when in reality, they just lead with sensor technology and fall short in making a decent body. They’re leaving wide gaps. Surely, it’s easier to make a better body than it is to design better sensors. So, why don’t they do it, especially considering many see Sony as having a clear focus while Nikon and Canon are stumbling open the dark. Finally, first to market can be good or bad. And I say this while I have no intention of buying a Nikon and having given up on Sony.

A high price per pound is a *good thing*, right? After all, for a given price and performance, don't you want the lightest camera?

Re: "First Mover or Fast Follower?"

I would have happily purchased a Nikon Z 7 if it had been available when I ordered my Sony late last year--but it wasn't.

It's not just that I'd be reluctant to go back to Nikon now (yeah, I have sunk costs in Sony, Loxia, and adapted Leica-M lenses--but I also had considerable sunk costs in the Nikon system that I abandoned) but that I'm quite happy with the Sony that I never would have tried if the Z 7 had been available.

OTOH, I likely would have been quite happy with an X-T2ish camera if Fuji had had IBIS before I purchased the A7R III. . . .

Too late, too late.

re: “poaching off it’s own preserves.” In the tech world, this is called cannibalizing yourself. Steve Jobs summed the situation up when he said, “If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will.”

Yes, Nikon users will move from their DSLRs to the new system over the next few years, but the only other option is having them move to Sony or Canon. The new customers for Nikon can come from Olympus and Panasonic users, who ate up the Nikon 1 series and are now nibbling on Nikon’s APS-C DSLR line.

Eamon: Oh, good! Glad they got the dials right (met other people this evening who were confused about that too).

I must have misread or misunderstood something. A quick glance through what I'd read didn't turn it up again but also didn't turn up anything contradictory.

(I, also, am a devotee of back-button AF; learned it from a Canon user actually, we swapped systems for a week when I visited him and in discussing configuring the bodies when we came to that I said to leave it on, I'd try it. Never looked back -- and he configured my D200 (then) to do it also, and I used it that way from then on.)

....It still hasn't taken over; unless these made a huge leap, it's still not competitive with DSLRs for any kind of action photography...-David Dyer-Bennet

Hmm, I must be doing something wrong...

Hi Mike,
Thanks for compiling the commentary. Although, I don’t agree with the cannibalisation/poaching point - noting I’m not trying to pick an argument with you.
To take a simplistic hypothetical, if company A sells 2 products - 1 and 2 - and I decide that I want to buy product 2, because it meets my needs/wants better than product 1, have I really ‘poached’ from product 1? I’ve got what I want, and company A has made a sale and has my money.
I’m happy to be edumacated if there’s more to it than this.

Mike- I am pretty sure this new Nikon system is very nice and all but just taking for granted validation from a Nikon Ambassador paid by the company- what else but glowing praise to expect? As good as he is as a photographer. The psychology behind a conflict of interest is well researched even when people mean well.

So not saying to ignore all info coming out but to not take all claims for granted.

"That marketing book I was talking about the other day says the number one Law of Marketing is to be first in a category: "it's better to be first than it is to be better."

Apple might beg to differ given the success of the iPod/iPhone!

What Nikon has done is to legitimize mirrorless cameras as serious gear. Ther was always this feeling (just read the camera fanboy pages) that somehow you weren't a "real" photographer with mirrorless. There has to be a considerable proportion of those Canikon dslr sales that come from this market segment. While Nikon and Canon will bite into Sony sales, Sony sales will still probably continue to rise as the combined mirrorless market rips into the dslr sales.

I think the most potentially interesting camera this year would be the Fuji GFX 50R. I understand it's supposed to be a rangefinder style version of the GFX 50S at a lower price. It's still a price I would not be able to afford but it might be $1000 to $1500 less than the top priced Sony/Nikon. My guess is that most of the people who can afford a $3500 camera can afford a $4500/$5000 camera (which I might add already has a good selection of lenses). That would give Fuji two cameras priced between the top end Nikon/Canon/Sony models and Leica. For low volume, high price sales, that might be a better place to be.

I meant to write:

"That would give Fuji two cameras priced between the top end Nikon/Canon/Sony models and Leica."

Does anyone know if the camera will shoot 1:1, 16:9, and 4:3? One of the only reasons I bought into M4/3 is that it shot multiple formats, I believe the Sony's do NOT shoot 1:1 or 4:3, which made me cross it off my list immediately. (BTW, I think both new Nikons shoot native .tiff as well, finally, so they must be targeted to pros).

As a long time pro, who mostly shot sheet film and Hasselblad for cash, I cannot tell you the hate I have for the 35mm aspect ratio. I also can't read one more comment about how 35mm is the "golden mean" or the "perfect aspect", or any other nonsense gobbledegook.

I recently walked around with my old Pana G3, shooting native square 1:1 pics of people in their gardens...pure joy at shooting like I was using a Rollei or Mamiya 6

I’m a long time Nikon shooter with the requisite closet full of Nikkors - I think I’ve only disposed of two or three lenses since the late 70s. I’ve also dabbled in a fair number of mirrorless systems in the last few years, but with the exception of my XP2 (which I use as a M supplement, not a DSLR replacement) none of them have really stuck.

I see the Z line as replacing all my unused minor mirrorless systems by offering familiarity and great compatibility with my existing lenses. I only have two AF lenses that aren’t AF-S, and those will remain the domain of my DSLRs for action work - not what I would be using the Z for, anyways. I see the Z6 as being a potential great generalist body supplementing my DSLRs. I’m hoping they develop a S Line 70-200/4, I really don’t want to weigh myself down with speed glass - again, that’s for my DSLRs.

There is another I’ve waited to see what Nikon was going to do before I went full frame mirrorless (not counting my M here) - my distrust of Sony. I have been repeatedly screwed by Sony dropping support for different product ranges I’ve invested into over the years when they change corporate direction. A few that come to mind are Betamax, Minidisc, Vaio computers, their little dye-sub printers, and most recently NEX (this one still pisses me off.) Yes, I bought an RX10 last year as an all-in-one for my honeymoon, but that was an exception. Yes, Nikon drops support on products, too - but Sony is a serial offender.

I hate to bring this up (well, not really) but is it called the Zee system or the Zed system?

Kodak are the classic example of where being first is only an advantage if you capitalise on it. They practically invented the digital camera.

IBM made the first real PC, but were never a major player in the PC market and are no longer even a major tech innovator. More of a glorified services company that never predicted the demise of the mainframe.

Since the departure of Bill Gates, Microsoft has sat on its monopoly in the business OS market and done almost nothing of note, apart from outsourcing the manufacture of some badly designed hardware.

A more salient point is that most companies seldom survive the demise of the person(s) who founded them by more than a decade. Once the single-mindedness of the founder is no longer there to take risks and innovate, the bureaucracy that replaces them rides along on momentum, only to be crash at the first bend in the road.

Once your innovation becomes a cash cow, it's very tempting to sit back and milk it.

...the number one Law of Marketing is to be first in a category: "it's better to be first than it is to be better."

I guess that's why everyone is still using Word Perfect and Lotus 1-2-3 instead of Microsoft Office.

For me, all things being equal, it's (1) weight (lack of), (2) size (ditto), and (3) lens mount / lenses. I was thinking of moving from my now almost decade old D3/D4 DSLRs to Sony A7RIII because I no longer shoot sports, and I wanted the mpxs and weight reduction all in one (I looked at MF - GFX and XD1 - but the gains on MF image EQ is too incremental for the trade-offs). Nikon's tease-vertising must have worked on me because I waited for the release (harking back to Mike's earlier posts). Since (a) the Zs seem to be comparable in size and weigh to the A7RIII (within 50g or so), (b) I have a bag full of Nikon lenses, and (c) hence, I can hang onto a DSLR as a second body for them (saving the immediate cost of a second Z), I've put myself down for a Z7 and all 3 Z lenses. I do wish Nikon's lens map had some smaller and lighter primes -even if slower and MF - Zeiss or Voigtlander Z mount anyone?

Above all things the tool should conform to the users needs. If the need changes or it does not meet the need then the tool should be changed. So if that is the imperative why is a mirror-less camera body better than one with a mirror? That is the question that each photographer should ask themselves.

(You added it to the post, so I’m commenting on it, not another commenter. :)

Ah, but they also specify that what's important is the perception--the mind of the buyer

Which directly contradicts #1. If what matters is perception (and I would agree, it is), then it doesn’t matter if I am first, it matters if they think I’m first. And what causes them to think I’m first?

That I’m better (in ways that matter to them.)

Ergo, ipso facto, QED, etc. being better is more important than being first, if you’re better in ways that matter to the target market, and if you’re enough better to make them forget who was first.

I’m keen to replace my D800 mainly because I find the bulk of the camera and lenses limits my enjoyment of their use.
I’m no lens expert but surely the reduced flange distance should allow Nikon to create some small f2.8 (or even f4) prime lenses without compromising image quality. The stabilisation of the sensor and low light sensitivity will more than compensate for the loss of f stops and if the photo software manufacturers can keep up with the smartphone coders then apparent depth of field and Bokeh will be able to be adjusted to taste in post-processing (if required).

It will be interesting to see how this ultimate IQ strategy plays out for Nikon. There is already a well-established FF system with comparable resolution and a good range of extremely fine lenses.

Nikon is in a tough position here, not wanting to alienate their base, but needing to compete with existing products that are arguably equal or perhaps even superior.

We are way past the point of sufficiency here, and while there is always room to improve, at some point one has to ask "Why?"

"I've never seen bokeh this good at 35mm."

Now if that isn't hyperbole, I don't know what is, considering that Voigtländer makes a slew of 35mm lenses with far, far better bokeh. I'm not going to mention the "L-word," because it is crazy-making. The Fuji X variants (for my money the X100 is amazing) have better bokeh.

And boy howdy, that is one big lens! And it's only an f1.8? I'm afraid that Nikon is at second and thirty with their foray into mirrorless cameras.

Re: Won't Some Wait? Mike, from here on the working side of photography let me offer this admittedly myopic view of new camera technology. The only thing that makes economic sense for me, in my business, is to by the newest camera immediately when it comes out. This is driven by two factors. One is that that the lifespan of the latest technology in cameras is two (maybe three) years I have a limited time to use the camera before something better is out there. Second is that the expense of the camera pales compared to the expense of getting to the places where I'm going to be taking pictures. I really can't afford to be investing lots of money going someplace and then take the pictures with anything less than the latest technology. And given that getting just one really great picture can easily pay (over time) for the entire cost of the camera system I can't afford to risk missing that image. (And believe me, I've missed some in my time.) I know I'm in a real minority and this logic totally falls apart for most sane photographers, but there it is. My logic: buy it immediately and use it to death.

@Andy "Does anyone know if the camera will shoot 1:1, 16:9, and 4:3?"

The Z6 will shoot at 3:2 (FX and DX), 1:1, and 16:9.
The Z7 will additionally shoot at 5:4.

The source is Nikon's own page for the cameras:
https://www.nikonusa.com/en/nikon-products/product/mirrorless-cameras/z-7.html#tab-ProductDetail-ProductTabs-TechSpecs

https://www.nikonusa.com/en/nikon-products/product/mirrorless-cameras/z-6.html#tab-ProductDetail-ProductTabs-TechSpecs

Mike,
A question I have about the Nikon release regards Nikon's ability to deliver the product. B&H has had the D-850 listed as "back ordered" since it was released and is still doing so today. The Zeee7 is supposed to be available end of September and the Zeeee6 at the end of November. If you were not the first one to arrive at the party, wouldn't you be ready to deliver when you did arrive? Why make this HUGE media release and not have the cake ready to serve?
Cheers
Ray

Two card slots a deal-breaker? As designer I worked with many, many different professional photographers. Can’t prove it but I got the impression that their artistic level was usually inversely proportional with the number of exposures they needed to solve the problem. My favorite portrait photographer for example always made only two exposures on sheet film. Then she gave one to me. The second, similar one, was just for back-up.

The size comparison between the FUJI GFX Medium format and the NIKON mirroless has convinced me or at least peaked my interest to investigate Medium Format Digital. I have 3 Hasselblad lenses from my film days so all I need is the adapter for the GFX and I have a great system that beats the NIKON in both image quality and cost. I guess you can make the argument to wait for the Hasselblad adapter for the NIKON but I still think for landscape photography the FUJI will still be better than the NIKON.

I am a Canon-user. Have not seen any estimates about timing of Canon's entry into FF mirrorless. When are they expected to announce and reveal?

People expecting short flat rangefinder style wide angles are going to be disappointed, since regardless of flange distance, telecentricty is critical to any digital sensor. And you wont get that with pancake style non-retrofocus wide angle or even slightly wide angle (eg. 40mm) lenses. So, expect lenses to be at least as big/long as typical so-called full frame lenses are now for mirrored slrs.

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