Camera Pollution

With the proliferation of all kinds of gadgetry not only for everyday needs, but also for needs we thought we would never have, the camera market sadly seems to be moving in the same direction. Actually, it is already half way there. New cameras, lenses and accessories keep popping up every few months and come in all shapes, forms and colors. The camera market seems to be experiencing the same over-saturation that other electronics companies are seeing today. People do not want to buy new TVs anymore, so manufacturers are trying to find new ways to sell more TVs by adding more features. The approach is built on typical consumerism – make something look shiny and more interesting than it was before and it might lure people into buying it every year. Camera companies are sadly following exactly the same practice. Announcements are becoming more important than the products themselves, so manufacturers are pushing more redundant choices year after year just to make headlines.

Nikon D3300 in 3 colors

As recently as five years ago, we did not have DSLR cameras in different colors. Silver and Black were the only colors used and they were good enough to cover the majority of the products. Not anymore. Now we have every manufacturer selling entry-level choices in different colors. Pentax is selling the K-50 in 120 different colors and you can customize it any way you want. Now that we have pretty much hit the innovation wall, camera manufacturers seem to be trying the same cheap tricks just to make their products look a little more attractive. They want you to think that once you buy a certain color, you will stand out from the crowd. What nonsense. Pink Nikon D4s anyone? And if color is not your thing, they will make a new DSLR with mostly the same specs every year! A perfectly good example of such behavior is now Nikon with its never ending line of basic DSLRs.

Since the lion share of of Nikon’s DSLR sales come from entry-level cameras and camera sales are on a steep decline globally, Nikon clearly pointed out earlier last year that it wants to concentrate on entry-level cameras. As a result, we have seen two new entry-level models announced within the last 6 months (Nikon D5300 and D3300), with probably faster refresh cycles in the future due to the new corporate strategy. If Nikon follows the point and shoot (and recently mirrorless market) past, we might see entry-level DSLRs pop out every year. If you look at Nikon’s current DSLR line, we have the following cameras listed: D3100, D3200, D3300, D90, D5100, D5200 and D5300 – a total of 7 DSLRs! And this list does not include the Nikon D3000 and the D5000, which you can still buy new today. I cannot imagine the pain a typical buyer goes through when trying to pick one camera among such a wide array of entry-level choices. It confuses the heck out of them as they try to figure out different models, prices and value. Choice is not always a good thing. We are getting spammed with DSLRs just like point and shoot cameras of yesterday. Although Canon follows a similar practice with their line of Canon Digital Rebel cameras, at least they have only four listed on their website. Why continue pushing such old cameras as D3100 and D90? The D90 is now almost 6 years old, so why is it still listed on the website? I get it, too many of those were made and there is still plenty of inventory left. But for 6 years?

Instead of pushing more crap-gadgets to the consumers that clearly do not want them, why not work on pushing existing inventory and working on releasing cameras with innovative features every 3-4 years instead? I would welcome a D3300 with a built-in GPS, WiFi, a well-balanced 16 MP sensor and a fast hybrid / electronic viewfinder. That would be innovative. But when I look at its current specs and see the same camera as the D3200, plus a couple of extra features here and there, I realize why Nikon is in trouble. So much waste to create, market and sell something that is practically the same as the predecessor.

Time for a change. Nikon needs it badly.

  • StevenP

    Its simply impossible to keep up, and you are spot on when people go to buy a camera they are hit with too many models…how do you possibly find the one which meets your needs. So far, at CES Nikon has released the D3300 and the D4s. But from what I have read they are not telling what will be in the D4S????
    I can see that as the flagship camera you would want to advance the technology…but do professional photographers replace their cameras every year. I would suggest that they don’t, let alone the $6000 price tag.
    I like reading about refreshed and updated lenses…that is the focus I would prefer. We are starting to reach limits on improvements to sensors, and the analog/digital processing engines are probably advancing incrementally. Be nice to see a decent mirrorless range from Nikon, one which shares the core lenses…eliminate the D3X00 series and the D7X00 series and update the D300s.
    Who knows. And, that Nikon is bad…Canon is worse…

  • Aston B

    Couldn’t agree more, especially when all the effort seems to take away from effort needed on a D400 and some decent DX lenses. As Thom Hogan has pointed out, nikon still doesn’t have a full set after 15 years and is becoming vulnerable to having its lunch stolen from under its nose.

    • Nasim Mansurov

      Aston, the D400 is a huge pain point and a missed opportunity. Nikon is really shooting itself in the foot with these wasted announcements.

      • Aston B

        90%+ of Nikon’s DSLR customers use the DX format. To not have a lens and comprehensive camera body set for them is almost criminal.

        • Sergio

          Aston, remember we have the FX bodies D600,D610 on the market also, Nikon has given these new camera bodies at good price ranges, DX format users are starting to move to these fx bodies to make the jump, on the other hand, lenses for Fx bodies are quite expensive but that’s something people have to think before making the change.

          • Neil

            Sales data does not show this out. FX makes for a very small percentage of sales. And I sincerely doubt many of the D3xxx and D5xxx crowd will spend thousands more to upgrade to FX which, honestly, has only marginal benefit for them. Some certainly do. I went from a D50 to D200 to D300 to D700 to D800 before I said no more. Sold all my Nikon and moved to Fuji. Great system, reasonable price, small and light.

            • Mack Rockwell

              Which Fuji Camera? Can you please suggest other readers like me? I am too feeling too much with my Nikon gear! almost 10-15 lenses and couple of DX/FX cameras. I want to get rid of everything and start again like you.

            • Neil

              I’m using a fuji X-E2 and a fuji X-E1. I use the latter for astrophotography after getting the filter replaced. I really like the E2. It has a fast refresh, the focus is much improved, the body is pretty light. The lenses are great, none are a dud.

      • whisky

        Nasim, the D3000, followed by the D5000 are by far the largest majority of Nikon’s DSLR sales. a D400 would be lucky to sell a fraction of that amount. exactly how many would depend on what features were offered, and at what price point? it’s conceivable that Nikon did a cost analysis, but didn’t find the D400 a cost effective alternative at this time. it’s less conceivable that given the cash flow situation Nikon find itself in, they’d willingly leave money on the table.

        while it’s easy to jump to conclusions with few facts, Nikon’s overarching strategy and tactics remain opaque to us. about the only thing we can confidently agree about, is that the camera market has become over saturated with options.

    • Lois Bryan

      … on the nose, Aston B … you said it first … After reading Nasim’s post, I was just going to comment “and STILL no D400″ …. sigh … and the beat goes on …

  • Peter

    Completely agree.

    While I do not mind Nikon making most of its money off low-end consumer bodies and the slower zooms which will eventually be upgraded if anyone is to go pro (such as the DX versions of 55-200, 70-300), it’s painful to watch people interested in photography ask what’s the difference. I mean, Nikon should have just stopped with the D3200 and D5200 and add more to the D3300 and D5300 and release that in 1.5 years from now instead of now.

    But instead they have multiple assembly lines dedicated to different versions of very similar bodies, all requiring different packaging, slightly different component parts. It’s just mind-boggling. And there now has to be slightly different advertising, all the reps have to be educated on the differences in case someone cares to ask, etc.

    Having too many choices is horrid, especially for consumers who may not know whether the differences are worth it. I mean, how many consumers buying a D3200 or D3300 understand or care if the moire is slightly reduced? Seriously. Or about the low-pass filter. Anyone that educated would spring for at least the D5300 or better, which kills the point of the lower-end bodies having so many “features.”

    These newer low-end DSLRs are a lot like the new smartphones nowadays: they have hundreds of functions and little things which few people rarely use or care about. It’s mostly just repackaging and slightly more speed and faster battery drain for the most part.

  • Richard Middaugh

    How right you are. Nikon seems tp be on a mission to cheapen itself. All things to all people. The company’s cameras used to be the gold standard. Now Nikon is just another big, commercial company that happens to make a large variety of cameras. To me the degradation is very sad. The name is losing its cachet. I’m addicted to Costco, but when I see Nikon cameras featured, I think the die is cast. Of course, the high end cameras will always be highly regarded by the professionals, but a new version every season?

  • Andy

    Canon are just as bad as Nikon, if not worse. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it started with Canon and Nikon followed suite. I’m a Canon user and I get fed up with the constant changes and emerging models. In the old days it used to be easy: Basic, Semi Pro, Pro models to choose from.

    Now we have really, really basic, really basic, old basic, new basic, what-used-to-be-semi pro but now isn’t, semi-pro crop, basic full frame, full frame and flagship.

    It’s the low end models that bug me the most. Oh, you can’t afford that extra £50 sir? Don’t worry, we’ll take one of our current models, dumb it down slightly and sell it for £50 less. Really? Is it worth doing all that for the sake of £50? They seem to be trying to create an SLR for every pocket, when all each pocket needs to do is buy the model they can’t afford NEXT month, and not NOW.

    • Andy

      oh, as a side note, I can’t help but think Canon are distracted by this consumerism and aren’t paying enough attention to their high end products. Don’t get me wrong, Canon are good, but they just don’t have the sensor technology that Sony/ Nikon do. They are so far behind it is unbelievable, and that is what frustrates me the most: particularly the lack of DR. They better come up with something good for the next 5D.

    • Steve

      I agree. Canon has just added 50 to the model names each year and advertised as a new camera. 500d, 550, 600……
      Now Nikon is trying the same trick they’re getting criticised for it.

      • Chris

        I used to think that but after many bloggers started reporting excellent performance in real world by sensors on 6D and 5dmk3 I changed my mind.
        6D is apparently better than D610.

  • BartC

    Nasim, I could not agree more.

    When I started in this business Nikon was the leader for 35mm format. And the glass was renown. But, sadly, Nikon is having its lunch eaten from under its nose, and has clearly lost its way. I think they are scared by the proliferation of phone cameras, and thus we see this scatter shot approach to the lower and entry level cameras.

    Canon has taken the video part of the D90, and run away with it. It was a Nikon idea, and they had no idea what to do with it. They ignored folks in the cinema industry, while Canon went courting. Just compare the number of 3rd party accessories (for video) on the market for Canon vs Nikon and you will see who won that battle. And, worse for Nikon, with the Cinema EOS series Canon is pulling far ahead.

    And, really, why is that D90 still on the market.

    And, why aren’t they serious about the DX segment. The latest sensors are very good, but where are the Nikkors to match?

    I can not help but think that all the corporate treasure (research, development, manufacturing, etc.) devoted to this camera pollution is only weakening the company.

    It is all very sad, and I wonder if in 5 or 8 years they will even be in the camera market anymore, having been squeezed out by smarter players.


  • Tom Crossan

    Another who completely agrees with the article.

    When I returned to photography some 4 years ago after 40 years in the photographic wilderness with marriage, children, mortgages etc ., I wanted a cheap but good digital entry camera just in case I was not as enthusiastic as I though I was.

    I knew nothing about digital cameras and digital photography and after some research, which really confused me, I settled for a Nikon D60 package with two lenses just based on the best price that I got.

    And I only picked Nikon as I knew the name, as I had always wanted one, but back then could never afford one.

    Happy to say that I continued with digital photography and now have a D800 and all that entails with more powerful computers, better lenses etc. etc. I have had the D800 for some 8 months now, and still learning more about it all the time.

    With all the money I have spent on the D800 plus lenses, software, computers etc there is no way I will “upgrading” very soon if ever. This D800 will see me out.

    Now if I was starting off today (only 4 years later) I would be completely confused with all the different digital camera brands, model numbers, and never mind the new colours, on the market today.

    Electronic manufacturers have to go this way to stay in business trying to upgrade customers with products with features they will never use. Look at the smartphone manufacturers.

    How many people actually will use all the features in their latest smartphone or computer?

    And yes, I agree with Peter as I just need a mobile phone that sends and receives calls.

    • fotojack

      Tom, it’s as if you read my mind! I feel exactly the way you do about this whole “latest and greatest” scheme Nikon has foisted upon us. I wish Nikon would come up with a D400….the one that DX users really want! As it is, I’ll never get rid of my D300. I just love this camera!

  • tom

    this is sad, and honnestly i don’t think this is gonna make any change, amateur people are not going to buy entry level camera every year!

    I have a confidence to do, i switched last month to go all the way to sony (A99) after owning successfully a D3000, D90, D800 and a couple of great lenses (24-70, 85 1.4G, 50 1.8G, 135 f2 DC) the reason is I spent 5 months on 12 in 2013 without camera. my D800 was sent back 4 times for autofocus accuracy issue and never came back properly adjusted… at the end and with the help of my shop and the general conditions of sale i got fully refunded of what i spent the day i bought it. royal isn’t it? however Nikon refunded me persisting to tell me that was because of the lenses (or me…). For the record i tested all of them on a brand new D800 in the shop and all was perfect. I signed papers of divorce.

    I’ve though to get a canon, like i used once but again… where are the innovations? still no IS on high end fixed focal lenghts, a great optical park but somehow getting old, sensor technology lagging behind and a new price policy without comments.

    so sony it was. it is not exactly as good, it is different. you loose one stop iso, but gain 3 stops with image stab with fixe focals… EVF vs OVF… but one thing for sure, you can see until now at least a true reseach and development. when you think full frame, you think future on a medium to long time term.
    last but not the least, i got extremly excited to see the 58mm 1.4 behing released… until i see the price. I’m not sure in your countries dear readers but in mine look what follows: nikon 58mm 1.4G: 1700 euros, canon 50mm 1.2L: 1500 euros, and the sony carl zeiss 50mm 1.4 SSM i got: 1270 euros

    they have all their little differences and specificity, but for sure this sony zeiss is stellar straight from 1.4, certainly better in sharpness than the other 2. for the bokeh that’s another story…
    At the end my only conclusion is that Nikon must not be that worried enough and let the competition being aggressive. Certainly professionnals can’t afford a switch and every brand “own” their customers. But i decided on my side it was enough. some constructors deserves laurels and reward for their risks, their inventivity, their courage to face the BIG two and mostly for their will to move the technology itself forward (not the features…).

    Big up for Sony, Sigma, Fuji and others who would join.

  • Paul Digney

    It seems to me that Nikon and Canon management need to read “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. It’s an older book that documents the complete turn over of the leaders in a number of industries.

    If a company has a significant presence in a market it doesn’t want to compete with itself. By forgetting that others will the company ends up totally out of the market.

    If Nikon and Canon don’t give teams the goal of making a mirrorless camera at half the weight of (say) a D600 and it’s lens system. That offers equivalent or better performance at something like 2/3 the price then they will be out of the camera business in 5 years. Others are closing in on this and there isn’t much time to respond.

    Screwing around with half (or should I say quarter) measures as described above just distracts them from the real threat.

    In two years I plan to start the gradual switch over to something else and phase $15,000 dollars worth of Nikon gear out.

  • Antony

    Camera manufactures are like rabbits.
    A touch of myxomatosis is what’s required. In the end it will come an eventual collapse as most things do. To be honest I find all this new this and new that boring. Where’s the photography ? To all those aspirational people out there I say this. Stop messing about with the low end consumer stuff and get some Pro kit learn / love and grow with it. One camera one lens…Exploit its, and your creative potential.

  • VanWeddings

    well, the canon t5i is not that different from the t2i, a camera supposedly four generations old. they would add some features, then take them away, each time calling it a new model. it’s all about their brand power at this point, because the cameras themselves haven’t had anything new to write about for a long, long time…

  • Khürt Williams

    I looked at the Nikon D5300 announcement and I thought to myself “this does nothing” for me. My D5100 still does what I need it to do. So … I’ll save my money toward the purchase of a lens.

  • Volker D

    Maybe we have a pollution in some area, but the D7100 and the DF are both outstanding cameras who safe my investigation in lenses. I am sure Nikon will continue this way so we will see other high end DSLRs and I couldn´t care less if Nikon is announcing an D5400 and a D3900 next week:-). Entry DSLR is not the place for cost expensive innovation. Best regards

  • Neil

    As if people didn’t know, all of this is signs of a declining market. The standard product curve has held true. Innovation during the early adopter stage, mainstream success, and minor differentiation in the declining market. They are just grasping and hoping that something innovative will pop out to restart the market curve. It may not happen.

    Look at computers and mp3 players to see the same thing. Once style and silly options are the marketing points then you know you’re in the declining stage of a market. Smart phones have now hit the same thing as they are talking up features that aren’t all that innovative and the interest is declining.

  • HomoSapiensWannaBe

    As Thom Hogan mentioned recently, one can only hope Nikon’s “A” team is busy working on the innovative product we hope they will release. For me, it’s a small, full-frame mirrorless system with (Nikon 1) PDAF onboard chip focusing equal or better to the D4, and having all the other handling, menus and ergonomic features we love about Nikon DSLRs. Sony’s A7 pair is interesting, but half-baked in many ways. Nikon can do it better — if they want to.

    If they release an APS-C mirrorless model first, that’s OK (the D400?). That we are not seeing new DX lenses recently is an indication this is probably next (Photokina?).

    Meanwhile, they have stuffed the retail channels with too many nearly identical models. Sheesh, they still have numerous older model, inferior lenses in inventory that nobody wants anymore. They should just have a big blowout and get rid of all these older bodies and lenses. They also should read and apply the lessons from “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less,” by Barry Schwartz.

    • HomoSapiensWannaBe

      Forgot to mention: If you have a D600 or D800 and a few quality lenses, what more do you really need other than to learn how to get the most out of them?

      Apparently, lens sales are way up, so there is one bright spot in the industry.

  • Flemming N

    You nailed it, Nasim. And nice to see that you have come around to seeing a serious future for DX – Nikon willing ;-)
    In a weird paradox, Nikon actually has one serious selling point, they can still bring out: Just make a darn system for their cash cow – the DX camera.
    Meaning a full line from entry level to full blown action (semi)pro-camera. And LENSES! A full set of lenses.
    D7100 looks like a wonderful camera, but personally I wouldn’t consider upgrading my D7000, before there is a prime wideangle for DX. Also include me out, if the D7200 or D400 doesn’t have built-in wifi – and preferably gps.

  • Aaron

    I’m looking for a new mid level camera and I’ve been extremely disappointed in options for this very problem! I thought I would be able to quickly find one, but Canon and Nikon are both flooded with many DSLR’s that are almost the same.

    I don’t think I will be buying one anytime soon.

    • Flemming N

      If you need a mid level camera – what are you missing in a D5200/5300 or D7100? Other than the lack of connectivity and prime lenses that are hard to find for any crop dslr?

  • Barbareola

    The year has just started – that is not the end of the Nikon entry level cameras multiplying like the proverbial rabbits.

    Remember – this is a Photokina year. Do you really believe that Nikon will go to Cologne without a “new and exciting, innovative” camera?

    Now in a perfect world, that would be the D400 replacement that I see so many people clamoring for. Those for whom the D7100 is close to that but not close enough.
    Or a camera that hits the sweetspot between the D800 with its HUGE megapixel count and demands for high quality lenses and the “entry level” full format of the D600. The kind of camera a pro like a wedding photographer could use as a backup. The Df came close – except that it has only one SD slot and you have to be very brave as an event photographer to trust an SD card to NEVER fail and leave you without your shots. I have mourned shots that got lost due to faulty cards, but as a hobbyist and unlike a pro, loosing all my shots of a shooting will not ruin me.

    Do I believe that the world is perfect? Nope.
    I predict for Photokina 2014 none of that. Instead I predict the D7200! It fits the 1.5 year product cycle Nikon seems to have assumed and would fit in perfectly with the date for Photokina.

    And of course another iteration of the mirrorless Nikons…

    I remember what I thought when I read the specs for the “new” D3300. 24,2 MP sensor – seriously? That is more megapixels that I need or even want. 5 fps? Not that exciting. Anything less than that would be laughable in 2014. Compatible with the wireless adaptor? What? *Still* no build in wireless? Full 1080 video? If I really cared about that, I’d look for a higher end camera. Compact and lightweight? Like they’d say big and clunky… And my “favorite”: easy panorama mode. Wow. So the DSLRs can now do what compacts have been able to do for years?

    Seriously, Nikon – if you want to know what innovation it is, take a look at mirrorless camera manufactures. Not everything they come up with is gold, but at least they try out stuff.

    I’d like to replace my D90 with something more iso-capable (yes, my preferred subjects would profit from that) but so far, I have no idea with what. I would never thought it possible, but I have lost my faith in Nikon as a company that is innovative and stands for high quality. I’ll observe the mirrorless market to see how Olympus and Panasonic react to the Sony gambit of the alpha7.

  • L. Lee

    I am glad that Nikon knows it is in trouble. But I doubt that they will wake up soon from their hubris. The way they have been treating their loyal customers base is atrocious. It really does not matter how quick and how good they put out new products until they know how to treat their customers with respect and honesty. In the meantime, I am trying to sell my much depreciated d600 for a different system. And it is not going to be Nikon.

  • Art

    Thanks for the great article. I think you just answered my question which was related to our workplace photography club “Beginner’s Class” that took place last weekend.
    Every quarter we have a beginner’s class to give a basic course on photography, answer any questions and to take them out the next day for a field exercise to demonstrate some theory to practice. Normally people come to this event to see what the club is all about and to ask questions about their cameras. This time we got a lot of people (about 25%) who were interested in photography and had not yet bought a camera asking about what cameras to buy. We never really had that happen before but after reading your article I guess people new to photography are just getting confused because of all the choices. Like you said sometimes choices are not a good thing.
    The other thing I noticed when we did the field exercise is that a lot of new photographers do not realize that shooting discipline and good glass are important with today’s high resolution so called entry-level cameras. In my group I had 2 people with D3200’s, 1 with a D7100, and 2 with D5200’s and they could not understand why their pictures were constantly coming out soft. For all these people it came down to either poor shooting discipline or lenses that did not compliment their camera. In one case the person was just going to give up and return all of her newly bought gear. In her case it was the use of inferior glass; so we did a little experiment. I let her use one of my D40’s that I keep for loaners with her Nikon 18-200 that she was using on her D7100. She was amazed how a cheap outdated camera could take wonderful pictures with her lens when her new expensive camera did such a pitiful job. Then I let her use a 35 1.8 on her camera to see what her camera could really do. She could not believe that a $200 lens could outperform a $600 lens. I asked her who recommended that lens for her a camera and she said that the camera shop salesman did. Yesterday she called me to tell me that she returned the 18-200 and bought a 35mm 1.8 and a 70-200 f4 and is now a very happy photographer.
    So maybe camera manufactures are really shooting themselves in the foot not only by giving newcomers too many choices but only offering entry level cameras that demand good shooting discipline and decent glass. I am sure that a lot of people just get frustrated and give up and go back to taking pictures on their phones.
    By the way we are going to develop a photography buying guide class in the next couple months to try and take some of the confusion out of the buying process.

    • SNG

      Perfect! Unfortunately, only few people are raising this issue.
      Nikon, if you have only D3000 and D7100, you can get away with 18-300 because the D3000 crowd will get good result, but with D3300, D5300 you have painted yourself in the corner. Now even the basic DX shooter need good lens.
      Want to know why I am still using D3000 even though l only shoot with 35mm F/1.8 DX and 105mm F/2.8 FX micro and won’t be disappointed with the latest bodies? I would rather splurge the money on a good lens and good tripod and improving shot dicipline so that I can get the benefit of your latest bodies than buy D7100 and see that the body does not deliver what it has promised.

  • Alan R.

    This crazy proliferation of almost identical camera models did not start in the digital age. Back in the era where all we had was film, all of my gear was Minolta. Just prior to the coming of digital, Minolta, & I’m sure others, went on a tear of bringing out new models. I think their attitude was, well if you don’t like this model, wait a week or two, & we’ll come up with another one. Minolta made some great film bodies, I had an XE-7, but where are they now ? Nikon looks like they are headed down the same road. Sad.

    • Tonio Loewald

      Minolta is called Sony now :-) — and they’re producing way too many bodies and way too few lenses too.

  • Iliah Borg

    Most of what we see are incremental updates, and they are about camera features that are visible to the end-user, like adding 1 fps, or 1 ISO stop, or 60 fps video. Those are not enough to cause the majority of the owners of the previous model to buy a new model. Skip one or two generations (iterations) policy still works.
    Nikon D3100 with 14 megapixels appeared in the year 2010, and D3300 looks like a welcome upgrade for those who still use it. But is it a timely upgrade too? Problem is, are their many of D3100 users out there or they already replaced it with D3200, or graduated to 5xxx, 7xxx, 6xx? Or left Nikon for another manufacturer, not having much of the money invested into the lenses (they typically buy just 1 lens)?
    Another category of buyers would be those who add D3300 to their existing camera (may be a “lesser”, like a P&S; or maybe as a secondary for some “superior” one), or replacing a “lesser” camera. But what is so particularly impressive about D3300 to choose it? It is $150 less compared to D5300, and that is about all that speaks in its favour.

  • elliot madriss

    Hi Nasim and happy new year to you and your family:

    Thanks for the article and I would like to share my experience in the corporate world, where the smartest guys in the room aren’t even in the room or the on the planet, for that matter. I worked for IBM in the 90s and they had moral officers and voted huge raises for their execs when IBM’s fortunes were dwindling. I saw them announce to the world that they had no vision for their future. I worked at Intel where they promoted the worst engineers to managers, who had no training and no desire or talent to manage. In a nutshell, the corporate world is full of incompetent and talentless people.

    With regards to Nikon, Nikon is a failed company, loaded to the brim with scared, fear-based execs who know nothing about photography, less the needs of people who love this art form. I have coined a word called Nikonism, whose definition is as follows:
    Nikonism – Definition 1: A company whose operating strategy/behavior centers upon greed, cost cutting and unnecessary austerity measures rather than providing the products/service and value that customers want and need. Definition 2: A company like Nikon

    This all may seem like Nikon-bashing to your readers, but I am very familiar with the corporate mindset and Nikon is company on the ropes, directed by people who haven’t a clue on how to create a viable and wonderful company that millions of photographers can enjoy doing business with.


  • whisky

    we’ve seen this before. there’s a huge bubble in the “camera” market, and like all other bubbles, it will pop. to restore balance, the camera makers will:

    1. acknowledge and accept this premise.
    2. take drastic steps to reduce inventory.
    — if they need ideas, look to what apple does. bulldoze surplus inventory before moving to the next model, then scale manufacturing as to build “to demand”. no more fire sales.
    3. modularize the chassis, standardize components, license standards to third parties.
    4. add value by selling upgrades to the logical components or add physical extensions to the existing camera.
    5. innovate, innovate, innovate. then innovate some more.

    — or ignore the premise and —

    6. face the nuclear option.
    — they must absorb the “bubble pop shock”, and find a way to rebuild from ground zero.

    • elliot

      Many of your premises are correct but you are missing the main point – these companies, and Nikon in particular, lack the vision, balls and intelligence to make the necessary changes. I have met people like this and they are boring, useless and dangerous to the progress of the industry and to all mankind!!

  • Colin Scott

    My deepest sympathy goes to Nikon:

    Around the time of the D3s/ D700/D300s there must have been some far sighted individual in the company who thought “OMG, these are terrific cameras, where do we go from here?” Clearly, they didn’t really know.

    How much camera does anyone need when Nasim can take great shots with a little point and shoot job he was sent by mistake?

    As Photographers, we now have the choice of D4/D800/Df (chuckle)/D610(RIP 600 and boos for Nikon off-stage)) and theD300s (Some mistake surely?) at the top end and, a plethora of mid/entry level cameras .

    This leaves Nikon with a really big problem: they will all take great photos under the right conditions in the right hands. So, if you bought any of these cameras after long and careful consideration as being the right tool for the job why would you want to “upgrade” while the darn thing is in working order?

    Advice to a beginner considering the D3300: get a new D3200 CHEAP!

    Okay, I’ll confess: if Nikon put a drinks holder, a pop up umbrella and a gizmo for getting stones out of horses hooves on that new pink D4s, I may just be tempted. After all, they must have gotten Homer J. Simpson to design it!

  • Marco

    No surprise, it’s more than obvious. In the absence of real innovation Nikon chooses only to iterate. I know some posters above me have suggested that the last generation of Nikon cameras was near perfect which suggests that there’s nowhere left for Nikon to innovate. I disagree!

    * Where’s a Nikon DSLR that has a live histogram visible outside of Live View?
    * Where is a reliable, next generation PDAF module? The D800 is using a warmed over 2007 PDAF system that is clearly not up to the focus tolerances required of 36+MP sensors.
    * Where is a PDAF system capable of consistently achieving focus with fast f/1.4 lenses? The D800 can’t reliably do so as document by numerous reviewers.
    * Where is a PDAF system with complete coverage over the FX frame?
    * Where is a PDAF system with 100% cross type AF points, not just center frame?
    * Where is a PDAF system that is insensitive to the color of the ambient light? Or one that allows focus offsets to be saved for various color lighting conditions?
    * Where’s a PDAF system that can focus accurately with the AF Assist Light of a Nikon speedlight active (yes, incredible but using the AF Assist Light causes focus error)?
    * Where’s a Nikon DSLR with built in wifi?
    * Where’s a Nikon DSLR with a customizable UI like Ricoh? I can currently only map a few functions to a handful of buttons… I want control over more than that to optimize the camera for my use.
    * Where is a firmware that allows AF micro adjustment to be saved for each focus point?
    * Where is a firmware that allows multiple AF micro adjustments to be saved for various zoom levels on zoom lenses?
    * Where is a firmware that allows multiple AF micro adjustments to be saved for aperture related focus shift?

    Instead of using its R&D resources to move the industry forward, Nikon is actually wasting time and effort to create feature compromised, niche products like the Df. They deserve to lose market share given this level of ambivalence towards what their users actually want.

    • Iliah Borg

      Dear Marco,

      > Where’s a Nikon DSLR that has a live histogram visible outside of Live View?

      How are you going to implement that?

      As for the rest, how much the users are going to pay for that, how many users can use that (say, AF micro adjustment saved for each focus point), how many D8xx with those improvements Nikon would sale in your opinion, and what accuracy – in numbers – do you expect from an advanced AF module?

      Df: well, you may consider that when Nikon put F on the market it was also called niche product. FA, same.

      • Barbareola

        How to implement a live histogram outside of Live View?

        Do what Sony did with the A7 – get rid of the mirror.

        That is what I hoped the “hybrid” Df would be: the Nikon version of an A7. No mirror, lighter camera, bright EVF with 100% coverage, live histogram and focus peaking. And able to use my old set of lenses….

        What did Nikon present? Not more of the same old, but of the really old….

        • Iliah Borg

          Dear Barbareola,

          > get rid of the mirror

          Not enough. You need also to get rid of optical viewfinder, matrix metering, fast AF, and all the lenses.

          • Barbareola

            The optical viewfinder would need to go. Sure. Personally, I won’t miss it. Maybe if I had a full frame camera, I’d see it different, but I was very impressed by the latest generation of electronic viewfinders that I tried out in the camera store.

            Metering would need to change, as well as AF. Hard? Sure. Impossible? Apparently no. Sony did it – and you can use NEX lenses on the Sony A7 and A7R. Yes, so far only manually. But the electronic viewfinder is brighter than an optical one and focus peaking ought to be a big help. That is more than those who own the Df have with their manual lenses.

            Yeah, getting rid of the mirror demands a lot of changes and innovations. The kind of innovations that we have seen from the company that produced the D3 that at its time was a major breakthrough for photography. That together with its rival Canon was one of the go-to addresses for pro and enthusiast photographers.
            I really thought that if one could pull it of, it would be Nikon, not Canon and Sony. Mind you – the A7 is a toddler. It will take time to get rid of the kinds and establish a line of native lenses. But Sony did make the first step. It is the others companies that have to catch up.

            At the moment, the idea that Canon or Nikon could disappear due to lack of innovation and ignoring market demands still seems ridiculous. They are the big boys on the playground, certainly they’ll survive, won’t they? But there are other companies, once the heroes of their time that have drowned. Despite my frustation and annoyance I still want Nikon to rise and kick their competitions… back sides.

            • Iliah Borg

              Dear Barbareola,

              > The optical viewfinder would need to go. Sure. Personally, I won’t miss it.

              Well, LCDs are not an equivalent replacement for a good optical viewfinder. One of the reasons – LCDs tend to compress geometrical and air perspective. Couple more reasons – delay in refresh and eye fatigue.

              Mirror gone is not an innovation, SLR and TLR cameras were far from the first camera design. There is a reason why even rangefinders were giving market space to SLRs. Even now SLR design is more flexible when it comes to using wide lenses with digital sensors, fast AF, reliable metering, protecting the sensor from dirt, interchangeable focusing screens, and compatibility with existing lenses.

              That does not mean Nikon should not attempt rangefinders and EVF-based DX and FX interchangeable lens designs. But only to complement dSLRs, not to replace them, be it lower, middle, or high dSLR market segment.

      • Marco

        Barbareola thanks for replying to Iliah on my behalf. Concur with all of your answers, we’re kindred spirits on this topic.

        Dear Iliah, especially if you’re Iliah Borg, I wish you would help us push Nikon forward on new technology.

        Like Barbareola has mentioned, EVF’s keep getting better and there are innovative ways to bridge their limitations. Look at what Fuji did with the hybrid viewfinder in the X100 as an example. Is it perfect? No. Can it be further developed? Absolutely! Now look at Fuji experimenting with X-trans, non-Bayer based sensors. Other than Lytro they seem to be the only company actually moving photography forward.

        My main point here is that no-one is surprised to see Fuji innovate in the market. Nikon, on the other hand, is perceived as an incremental iterator which is a risky business strategy and leaves them vulnerable to being leapfrogged

        • Iliah Borg

          Dear Marco,

          I will skip saying negative things about Nikon, as much of it is already said here. To some I agree, but more of those are driven by wishful thinking and not understanding market, design, and engineering. Some are even just hate speech and lack of photographic skills. Sometimes I wonder how many of Nikon critics run their businesses to the innovation lines they want Nikon to hold to, and how successful are their businesses if they do.

          The reply offered by Barbareola does not address the questions I suggested, less answered those.

          While you may concur with the idea of Df being Nikon version of A7, “me too” strategy is suboptimal, especially in the total absence of NIkon lenses optimized for full frame mirrorless with short registration distance.

          The problem with innovation is also a problem of education, including self-education. One can’t appreciate a camera like the Df if he does not understand the underlying design ideas and supposed mode of shooting.

          You may like EVF, but for now they are not a viable alternative to optical viewfinders. Why would Nikon replace an excellent viewfinder with a not-so-good one? The debate was actually closed by the time of Apollo–Soyuz project It was proven that monitors do not allow to sense the perspective, which is essential not only for earth-orbital docking, but for visual arts as well. For more details, please see the works by Boris Rauschenbach.

          Fuji are innovating on a rather small niche market, touting non-existing advantages of X-Trans. If I want to experiment with X-Trans I can by a Fuji camera. My Nikon cameras are for my business, and I do not want any non-proven “innovations” in them. I need to know that if my D4 goes out of service I can get a D4s which will be exactly what I expect it to be, no “surprises”.

          Nikon are having a much broader and more demanding market than Fuji or Sony cameras. Nikon will be bringing new things to the market when those things will be ready to be marketed, which is in approximately in a year from now. Leapfrogging is no danger nor to Nikon, nor to Canon for that matter.

          • Neil

            Quite cavalier of you to summarily declare X-Trans to have no advantages and mirrorless as being inferior. Your opinions are very much based upon your perceived needs. They do not necessarily reflect the real world experiences of other people.

            Nikon is in fact facing serious questions in a declining market. Same as Canon and all the rest. And if they don’t address the needs of the majority of camera buyers (non-professionals) then they will fail. And if they don’t improve their quality control their reputation will continue to sink.

            Also, I have to laugh at the comment about Apollo-Soyuz. Come on, you’re saying that monitors have not improved in over 40 years? Personally, I prefer the EVF. It shows me what the result will look like instantly — not just my imagination. It suits my needs even if won’t suit everyone else’s. But I don’t summarily declare it inferior.

            • Iliah Borg

              Dear Neil,

              > Your opinions are very much based upon your perceived needs.

              More on actual use of those cameras, writing demosaicking routines and profiling them.

              > I have to laugh at the comment about Apollo-Soyuz. Come on, you’re saying that monitors have not improved in over 40 years?

              Read the works by Boris Rauschenbach, and maybe you will laugh just a little less. It is about how we see, how we perceive – and not about the progress of monitors.

              > It shows me what the result will look like instantly

              Of course it does not if you have your monitor on wide gamut, or print on a good printer. And of course it does not if you are going to attempt to represent the actual scene, or post-process.

              It is not about something being inferior, or superior. Different tools for different jobs, and festina lente.

          • AP

            You are quite right, Iliah.

            The number of us, who can be described as enthusiasts at least, are dwarfed by those who aren’t. We know the features of most models and what we think we want. Indeed, even if the D400 which many are clamouring for comes out, I bet many will come up with excuses not to buy it e.g. 8fps only? 50 raw files in buffer only? cannot trust Nikon’s QC etc. etc.

            The age of the model matters a lot to the vast majority in the market. The difference can be subtle but if it offers a new feature (even if it is not going to be used alot) at a small premium, they are going to buy it.

            Any camera manufacturer that doesn’t play the iteration game will be left behind in mindshare, and ultimately market share. The ‘purists’ here will decry this statement but I wager they will be up in arms over Nikon selling a x-year old model as its latest.

            What these ‘purists’ want in an ideal world doesn’t gel with the real world. Nikon will go out of business sooner if they adhere to all their wants.

  • Dallas Texas Photographer

    Sadly this is just like watching TV and seeing Kim K. being all over the place. The reason is because people buy this crap. If people would stopped buying certain lines of product, they would go away. Because people buy the next new model the big companies will supply them. Simple business ideas here. Its not the big companies like Nikon and Canon to blame. It’s the consumers. I am sure it will all even out at some point. Especially as we are not seeing any new major advancements in the cameras. There is a wall that will need to be passed to offer a really new innovative camera.

  • Sergio

    You’d think that some of these companies could take a cue from Apple and trim down their offerings. Apple has no problem moving just one (until recently) phone. I don’t think the types of technology involved are that different that you need so many choices when buying a camera body and just one when buying a phone. There has to be a happy middle ground. Hopefully Nikon will find it soon.

  • Russ Burden

    Nikon – if you’re listening and/or reading and you want to make a lot of money for the company, I have a one letter and one number suggestion:


  • Mark

    The retailers share some blame as well, for fanning the flames of the megapixel race. Walking into a well-known electronics retailer, I found that the placards on all the cameras do not list the sensor size, even though sensor size is one of the key differentiators among the cameras that they carry.

    Overall they don’t do even a half-decent job of describing the products they sell, and what makes a $400 compact camera better than a $150 compact. Or what makes a 16MP camera better than a 16MP camera in a cell phone.

    • Barbareola

      I agree – retailers but also camera manufacturers do a ****poor job of educating their customers on why a 10 MP camera with a brilliant sensor outshines any 16 MP cell phone camera.

      That too is a lesson Nikon and Canon could learn from Apple: show the customer why they’d want their product. As in: because a very lightsensitive DSLR and fast lense allows dad to take pictures of his little darling in the school play without wrecking the show. To take a picture of your sweethard without that nasty background by throwing it out of focus. Because that stabilized wind will allow me to get much sharper pictures than the cell phone that I hold with outstretched hands.

      Recently I read that Canon had to reduce their estimated sales of entry level DSLRs from 9 million down to 8 million. Who did they blame? The smartphones! That smartphones are eating away at the compact camera market I can get. I think compacts outlived their niche. But DSLRs? If smartphones are truly a threat to DSLRs, it is because Nikon and Canon and co allowed them.

  • elliot

    Again the thing to remember is that Nikon is already a failed company – all of their moves, product releases, lame advertising are the result of uncreative people making decisions that they pray will bring in revenue. But you know what —they do not know exactly how to do it. They have no marketing geniuses aboard the Starship Nikon and thus they are all making this stuff up as they go. Remember – in 2017 the company will now be called “Sony/Nikon” – Nikon as a lone company will no longer exist.

  • kamuran

    Thom.Hogan said the same thing about a year ago. And very true.

  • Allan Wood

    Indeed the proliferation is certainly going to put a lot of folks off DSLRs, no matter the manufacturer. I am satisfied with my D700 and a couple of lenses, until one of the latter really dies. I am OK with being a fringe full frame niche object, as I get what I want from it. No amount of manufacturer hype will get me to buy until I really need to. Heaven help the entry level folks.

  • Allan Wood

    I suppose this is where societies are going. Are we not all to be responsible for wanting instant gratification in many forms. This is not just confined to camera makers or retail. Even in my service business we chase our tails trying to do more for less, produce questionable services since clients want the bottom line. I think we consumers have trained ourselves into this.

  • Holger Wagner

    Hello photography community,

    this is an article I’ve been waiting for a long time now. I love it, Nasim!

    I would say the photography industry takes the same road the car industry has taken and some of them are died, more will follow soon.
    Who needs all these cars anymore? Face-liftings all over and each 6 months new models around the globe.
    I live in one of those carmaker countries on this planet but you know what, private people don’t buy cars anymore! Older people don’t drive too much around and the younger generations prefer to buy iPads and smartphones.
    Hundreds of car models but no innovation since years! Okay they have full iPhone connection meanwhile! But they still need 6-12 liter/100km gasoline in 2014 (sorry about the km, I’m a European). What a crazy world, with limited resources btw!

    Quite similar the photography companies since years now. Who needs all that plastic and metal they sell today?

    I shoot Nikon. Why? Because when I started digital, I bought expensive lenses right from the beginning. A photographers secret:) And sorry, but Nikon lenses are the best for me. So in my opinionespecially Nikon needs a hybrid DSLR for a future living and to let photographers use all their lenses they bought so far. This would be really innovative, exactly as you’ve written here, Nasim!
    But it won’t come soon. Why? The reasons are carefully explained in this so valuable post.
    I love all the Nikon equipment I have and honestly and happily, I spent more money in good glasses instead of DSLR bodies.

    A friend of mine has a camera store. Yes, a real store with windows, counter and all that stuff less people know these days. I recently asked him what he sells when customers come in and ask for a DSLR camera and have no idea what to buy. He smiled and replied after a short break:
    “I ask them what their friends or family members have. Then I turn them in this direction where they might feel trustful.”

    Not bad, isn’t it?
    With all the gazillions of DSLR bodies on his shelves today, what should he recommend?
    Maybe the one where he has the best profit margin! Who can take care of all these camera models?

    To be honest, I feel the wall is reached. We all need a break and time to go out shooting instead of waiting on the next gadget. A cycle time of 4-5 years is what I wish personally. Sorry Nasim. But you’ll find other things to write about. You’re a smart guy :)

    I think, we all need true innovation, long lasting and high quality products, nearly 100 % recycable materials, lower weight, and perfectly manufactured with love. Then we have more time to safe the money for a quality and innovation which is worth.

    I wish all photography lovers and the blog readers here fun, always good light and keep shooting with what you have right now.

    Because of that I want to close with one of my favorite quotes from Ansel Adams:

    “The single most important component 
of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”

    Take care,
    Holger Wagner
    Photographer, Germany

    For inspirations and fun check out my guest post here:

    Keep going your great work for the community, Nasim!

  • Gary

    I certainly understand the sentiment of this article, and I too feel overwhelmed many times by our consumer culture…but allow me to be a bit contrarian:

    First, the nature of all technological progress is usually incremental improvements over time, with a few big breakthrough moments. We’ve all gotten so spoiled that we expect something earth shattering every time a new product is announced, and when we don’t get that, we whine and complain. But that is the nature of progress…always has been. And if Nikon just skipped a few years until the next model, then people would complain about that. Plus, the only way you get more dramatic improvements is usually by doing the work of incremental innovation.

    Second, this new D3300 is not necessarily an insignificant upgrade: it uses Nikon’s new EXPEED 4 processor, gives you a stop better ISO performance, and gives you better video performance. It’s not groundbreaking per se, but it’s not nothing either. And in this model you have a very good camera, relatively small and lightweight, which for a fraction of the price will outperform some of the mirrorless entries in the market. Compare this to the Oly OMD EM1 for instance; it holds up very well and is half the price, with a lens thrown in for good measure.

    Third, you are correct in that as markets mature, you get more and more of these incremental improvements and there is less room for breakthroughs. But a company cannot just stop creating new products, just like a blog like this cannot stop putting out new entries. To stop doing so is death to the company.

    Fourth, the real culprit is that we have a consumer driven economy that is dependent on always coaxing people to buy more and more. That’s the nature of our market economy. It’s not great, but so far it beats the alternatives. Advertising is simply about creating discontent. People every year buy tons of stuff they do not need. But it keeps people employed and the money flowing. And no one has come up yet with a better alternative.

    Fifth, I’ve noticed on so many blogs this incredible predisposition to negativity. Why? We live in a world with the greatest prosperity mankind has every known. With regards to cameras, we have the greatest choice of equipment ever. And yet is seems the commentary no matter what is just to complain about every little thing. That irks me far more than the fact that some company dares to release a camera that isn’t the solution to life, the universe, and everything.

    So lighten up, people. The world isn’t so bad, and there is much beauty to capture with whatever camera equipment you wish to do so. Let’s shake off the blues. That doesn’t mean we can’t be critical of a company or its products, but let’s balance it out with some appreciation of what we have.

    • nunatak

      “perspective” is something best seen from a distance. it’s healthy for a contrarion voice to give us some, but especially when everyone else is leaning on one side of the boat. :)

    • JR

      Completely agree, Gary. Well-said. You take the prize for common sense and pragmatism.

      Bloggers like to generate hype by spawning topics centered around negativity and controversy and that’s what draws our attention(via our clicks and content). It works quite well for them.

  • Jorge Balarin

    That happened in profesional boxing. In the seventies and eighties I knew who was the champion in every weight category. No you have so much organizations, weight categories and “champions”, that I stopped to follow the sport. Now I’m seeing MMA.

    • Jorge Balarin

      Typo correction: I wanted to say: “Now you have so much organizations…..”

  • Roar Arne Velle

    Dear Sirs,
    – a good and timely article. But, – it would realy be worse if Nikon (as representative) didn’t sell all this old models. Where would this old models go then?, – to the trash bin? Better they still are sold and used, giving not so wealthy buyers an alternative and a road into more complex photography. That I think is not so bad! :-)
    You also miss something. We more often then wished, sees new models mostly equal the old one. Here, with 3300 and 5300 replacing 3200 and 5200 some important thing has happened: First the use of Exspeed4. – which I believe need twisting and trimming to get the best out of it, among one is bettering the low light processing of NEF and Jpeg. Next: The use of new production material, new reinforced plastic, where one need experience before using it on more pro models (eventually) ,for cheaper production? All in sum not a minor upgrade this time?
    Good cameras sells lenses and good lenses sells cameras. In some ways Nikon seems to have forgotten it with DX. But the two last lenses: The consumer 18-55 and 18-140 is a step in right direction? I think Nikon still needs many new or upgraded enthusiast lenses DX format to support their good new bodies and hold up market position. I think most important is new 10-16, 16-50 2.8 and 70 1.8 portrait.
    PhDAf developing: Nikons is fast and maybe the best for speed and tracking, but not always for precision. I think we will see some (many) years before the on sensor AF on big sensors is up to it. Realy I don’t like the use of image sensor as: Light meter, RGB sensor for tracking, contrast Af metering, Phase detect AF metering, Video, EVF reading and image sensor all at one time. Is it possibly this being optimal? Think of energy consume (enviroment issues), warm sensors and degrading of image. Therefore I still believe in using a form of mirror, maybe e flipping half transparent one, and a second sensor little like the image sensor, but with other functions placed where the ground glass is. A lot of the problems in todays two solutions can be solved in that way.
    Still: Have a blessed New Year with a lot of interesting photography!

  • chris Zeller

    I think that the digital camera is basically and finally good enough for most everyone. We’re back into the level of maturity that we saw at the end of the film era. That is not a bad thing as we can focus on lenses rather than upgrading our cameras every 2 years. Thom Hogan has coined this Last Camera Syndrome. I think this is part of the motivation behind the DF. We’re good enough now that people can consider buying an “heirloom” camera.

    That said, for me I think I’m still one generation away from my “last camera”. The D600 scratched most of my itch, but I cannot for the life of me understand why GPS and wifi are still add-ons when most compact cameras include them. I also cannot understand why wifi cannot control exposure parameters or connect to a laptop. Top end shutter speed, flash sync and -3 EV focusing are also missing. But we’re very close.

  • gianpaolo

    I own a D700… sometime I am tempted to buy a new camera, but only because of size and weight. The IQ of D700 still surprises me, I don’t find the D800 etc so much better to justify the expense; but most important is the fact that more than 1/2 of the total weight is the lens, p.e. a 17-35 F2.8, and in FF that is unavoidable. M4/3 is lighter, but the IQ and bokeh are not comparable, as far as I can see up to now .
    So, on my side, the DSLR evolution came to an end…
    good for my pocket.

    • Michael Lo

      I agree. I too have a D700 for many years now and the IQ always amaze me. The cameras after the D700 have not attracted me enough to “upgrade” but I am getting old and the weight will eventually become a factor. I do not wish for a smaller form but a significant weight reduction will definitely be welcome. A 16 MP sensor and a flip screen will be all I need added to the D700. Hopefully Nikon can achieve the weight reduction with new materials.

  • Jamie

    They really need to get rid of the old cameras from the lineup when they release a new one. It would be easy if they just had the 3300, 5300, 7100 for DX. Then consumers could easily look at that lineup and easily distinguish which level they wish to purchase. But when you also throw in a 3000, 3100, 3200, 3300 then you get really confused looking at the minor (if any) differences between them. The consumer then often makes mistakes buying an old and outdated system perhaps on the pressure of a sales person trying to clear their shelves. If they want to offer colors then that is ok for the lower end but still only have the latest version available.

    It almost seems they are making the same mistake the auto industry did where you would have Ford, Chrysler, or GM offer essentially the exact same car but under 3 or 4 different nameplates. Look where that got them and how they have since narrowed down that practice. I see the camera makers (Canon and Nikon especially) heading down this same bad route. Choice is good for the consumer but only if the choices are clear and you can easily see the differences in order to make that choice.

    Unfortunately it seems the camera makers are doing what failed in the auto industry. Too many models that don’t differ from each other. Remember how you would have the same car under 3 different names

  • JR

    This article is way over the top, Nasim.

    Photography equipment is hitting physical limits and to expect Nikon to “innovate” very often is silly. Take the D800; it’s about as advanced as a camera can get in the digital 35mm sensor sector. Aside from a few more bells and whistles what else can Nikon do to improve the image quality? Answer: NOTHING. And when all is said and done, it’s about the image quality. Everything else is superfluous.

    If performance is paramount, then Nikon makes the highest performing professional cameras, only rivaled by Canon’s 1 series of pro bodies.

    So what’s the problem? That Nikon is making too many entry level cameras? Would you expect it to be any other way? The vast majority of photographers are entry level hobbyists that don’t need enthusiast or pro bodies. Why shouldn’t Nikon, Canon or any other manufacturer cater to the largest customer base? They’d be foolish not to.

    Let’s face it, camera gear cannot improve beyond what human eyesight can discern. We’re reaching physical limits and all that camera manufacturer’s can provide are add-on gadgetry that won’t make the resulting image any better.

    Until we hit some completely new photography technology, like 3D imaging, innovation in photography is pretty much DEAD!

    • Iliah Borg

      Dear JR,

      > We’re reaching physical limits and all that camera manufacturer’s can provide are add-on gadgetry that won’t make the resulting image any better.

      Noise can be decreased. Pixel count can be increased. Colour accuracy can be increased. Pixel and field non-uniformities can be compensated much better. Autofocus can be improved. Autoexposure can be improved. Flash control can be improved. Ergonomics can be improved. All with very visible results.

      > completely new photography technology, like 3D imaging

      Hm. Is it really new? 3D viewfinders are (somewhat) new, but not 3D photography.

      > innovation in photography is pretty much DEAD!

      That is, you never been to labs I guess.

    • Nasim Mansurov

      JR, you know, Ken Olsen once said “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home”. And in 2014, pretty much every family in the US owns at least one smart device.

      Saying that innovation in photography is dead, is very similar to the above quote. There is a lot to innovate! Just take a look at the EVF of the new generation mirrorless cameras and you will realize that we are just in the beginning phase of development of digital technology in cameras. We have just moved away from film and now we need to move away from mechanical shutters.

      As for entry level cameras, I never said that Nikon should not have them. Perhaps you did not fully read or understand my article? The point is, there are too many of them and it creates lots of confusion among buyers. I am not making this stuff up, I am bringing this up from my experience – lots of people email me every day, asking which one of the Nikon D3x0 or D5x0 cameras to buy. All Nikon needs to do is push out the old inventory before releasing a new model. If they did that, there would be one current model to worry about. But no, they choose to have 7 models, some of which are 5-6 years old!

      • JR


        Please tell me if the FINAL IMAGE will be different with the mirrorless advancements vs, say, the Canon 5dmklll? Don’t bother responding, because I know what your answer will be, because there’s only one possible answer.

        As for ergonomics improvements, I’m willing to bet that the there will be a full pendulum swing in a couple years toward bigger cameras. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again.

        Perhaps you didn’t re-read your article, but you clearly criticize Nikon for having too many of the same cameras. That was the crux of your article. If not, then you are writing in code, like our other friend.

        Having so many choices is a clear indicator that photography is hitting some very serious limits. The current improvements are being made in size(reduction, for now), connectivity and this, that or the other gizmo, but little to no improvement in image quality. Ever since the D800 and D600, the rest of the camera world has been trying to make those same cameras smaller! How’s that supposed to excite me when I have extra large hands and no desire for James Bond style spy photography?!

        Show me some advancements in image quality and I’m all eyes and ears. Otherwise, the so-called “advancements” in small format digital cameras don’t impress me. On the other hand, medium format systems intrigue me, but they’re far out of reach for me financially.

        • Nasim Mansurov

          JR, but is it always about the final image? Isn’t the process important anymore?

          Regarding ergonomics improvements and bigger cameras, just take a look at what happened with the computer industry. When smaller tablet devices came out, a lot of people claimed they were no threat to PCs. And now the tablet sales far exceed PC sales. Just judging from this, I just do not see how cameras are going to get larger. History does not always repeat itself, especially when it comes to technology :)

          And yes, I did criticize Nikon for having too many choices and I even proposed a solution. That was the point of the article – Nikon should make it easier to choose its cameras, not harder.

          As for the D800 being in the top right now, will you have a different opinion when Canon or Nikon come up with a 56MP camera? There is always room for improvement. Even if image quality cannot be enhanced (which is not true, just wait and see), that same D800 can be changed to make it far better in autofocus, live view, fps, GPS, WiFi, etc. A camera does not comprise of just the sensor, so it is not JUST about the image quality my friend :) The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is an amazing camera, but it has a smaller sensor and its image quality does not beat full-frame. And yet it is the most popular camera of 2013 (according to DPReview). I have it on my table right now and I am very impressed, especially after coming back from a very cold trip where the temperatures hit -5F. My Nikon Df’s shutter froze and created exposure issues, while the E-M1 worked like a charm. And yet the Df has arguably the best ISO performance and image quality…

          So it is not just about image quality!

          • JR


            Hasselblad and other medium format manufacturers have been selling 50+MP cameras for a while now, so a 50+MP Nikon would not make me get off my chair. Plus, the current Nikon glass struggles to keep up with the D800. How good do you think it will do when you throw a 56MP sensor behind it?

            If image “improvement” for Canon and Nikon means larger sensors, then they would have to change their businesses model to compete with medium format companies and I highly doubt that they will go that route.

            If you’re the kind of person that enjoys rapid and drastic advancements, then photo tech is the wrong business for you. You’ll be bored to tears and writing article after article like the one you just wrote. Human eyesight is the limiting factor and no matter how much the tech improves, the eye cannot.

          • JR

            The D800 would not “improve” its autofocus via new tech. All it would need to do is recycle the tech that’s employed in the D4. Hardly an innovation. Albeit, a KICKASS camera that would be!

            • Iliah Borg

              Dear JR,

              D4 autofocus is old news.

    • Marco

      JR, kudos for challenging Iliah a bit. Not quite sure why his perspective is so conventional & linear here, we should all be working together to push/pull Nikon forward. As you can see even on this blog, there’s never a shortage of Nikon apologists. What a lucky company they are to have a cadre of users ready to make excuses for their misses and failures whenever they happen. ;-)

      I would challenge your own viewpoint, however, that nothing substantial can be improved on the D800. Users have reported substantial deficiencies in the body & controls since its launch. Take autofocus to start… the D800 has be cited for poor PDAF with ultra-fast primes, poor PDAF in incandescent/CFL lighting, poor AF calibration consistency between left/center/right AF points, and back focus with Nikon Speedlights when using AF Assist.

      I would argue image quality is only a consideration after the photographer successfully manages to take an in-focus shot in the first place. I’m not saying you can’t coax that out of the D800… it just takes jumping through too many hoops to do it. Photographers shouldn’t be limited to consistent focus with f/2.8 or slower lenses only. Photographers shouldn’t have to focus their professional DSLR with central AF point focus & recompose like a compact camera from 2003. Photographers shouldn’t be forced to shoot at double the speed of the old focal length rule or with tripod and mirror up to avoid blur from instability & mirror slap. Photographers shouldn’t have to manually enter different AF micro-adjustments into the D800 for each lens just to shoot in different ambient lighting. Photographers shouldn’t have to disable their AF Assist lamp on their flash to get accurate focus. Yet if you read the DPReview FX forum you’ll see D800 users doing one or all of these things to compensate for design deficiencies and Nikon technology that fails to meet their needs. The D800 camera body is substantially imperfect as it exists today.

      It’s not just about the image quality from the sensor. And even with regard to that remember that the D800 sensor is Sony’s accomplishment, not Nikon’s. If anything Sony’s 36MP monster shows how badly Nikon’s bodies & lenses have failed to keep pace with the demands of the sensor!

      • Iliah Borg

        Dear Marco,

        > kudos for challenging Iliah a bit

        Saying “innovation in photography is pretty much DEAD!” is hardly challenging anything but common sense; and is an ugly thing to say – not just because the photography hardware, firmware, and software are rapidly progressing, but mainly because it means separation of oneself from photography. Progress in photography is far more than the progress in photography tools, if that even needs to be stated explicitly.

        > why his perspective is so conventional & linear here

        Well, things are not always like you see them.

        > we should all be working together to push/pull Nikon forward

        What is forward for one person is backward for another. I do not need an LCD on my Nikon cameras. I do not need PSA modes. I do not need on/off switch. I do not need G-lenses. I do not need JPEGs. I do not need white balance. I do not need video. Want me to push Nikon into that direction? Other folks suggest raw is not needed, or demand Nikon start FX mirrorless without having lenses, or a b/w camera. Is that what can keep a cameramaker afloat?

        The answer to the diversity needed is not Nikon, or Canon, or SONY. It is open source camera, and modular camera. It is already possible today, but will take three to five years before it will hit the shelves.

        • Marco

          Dear Iliah,

          Going back & forth, point to point without font control tools is a bear, isn’t it?

          >>> kudos for challenging Iliah a bit.
          >> Saying “innovation in photography is pretty much DEAD!” is hardly challenging anything but common sense; and is an ugly thing to say.

          As my posts have reflected, I obviously think there’s still much to fix in photography. JR’s sentiment here is the one I am agreeing with not the one above… “I’d like to keep chatting with you but not if you’re going to communicate through code and fragments.”

          >>> we should all be working together to push/pull Nikon forward
          >>What is forward for one person is backward for another.

          Interpret this as a compliment. Because your work on RawDigger is respected by both of us I think both JR and I are especially keen to hear your ideas for what’s “forward” for you. You have to admit your earlier posts have been a little obtuse on that even as you’ve questioned the utility of other’s suggestions. While it’s clear JR thinks there’s no where substantial to go (at least in image quality), I definitely see some really easy things to fix/improve on Nikon’s camera bodies right now. It’s like the UI of today’s DSLR’s is like smartphones were before the Apple UI in the iPhone kicked up everyone’s game.

          >>>The answer to the diversity needed is not Nikon, or Canon, or SONY. It is open source camera, and modular camera. It is already possible today, but will take three to five years before it will hit the shelves.

          Agreed. Like Thom Hogan has proposed, a modular camera body that would allow users to substitute optimized sensors for various applications and would be a Godsend for photographers. I’d buy one last body and at least two sensors, maybe one more. Do I expect Nikon to give me this camera, however? No, not after witnessing them stubbornly refuse to give users a fully featured D400 or D750. Like Kodak, they are now so wed to their iterative business model they will probably drive it into the ground before going for something as radical as modular.

  • JR

    I have no idea what “labs” you’re referring to. Photography, to most folks, is a means to record the world around them and either print the results or display them digitally and not theory or calculus.

    Prints from a D800 at mural size are impeccable up to very high ISOs. If you need larger prints than mural size, you would step up to medium format. Larger prints? Shoot with large format digital back. How many photographers do you actually know that print mural-sized or larger prints? I would bet that no more than .1% of photographers print at those sizes. There simply aren’t many places, other than museums and select galleries that can display such prints. Hence, photography has indeed hit limits of human eyesight.

    – Larger pixel count is already there (see medium format and large format backs)

    – Noise can only improve so much before images begin to look artificial, for most photographic applications. Astrophotographers would certainly benefit from better noise handling at high ISOs. But Joe Blow photographers who shoot portraits and/or landscapes and never print beyond the typical 20×30, higher noise performance beyond what’s already available is unnecessary.

    When I mentioned “3D imaging” I was referring to cameras that would allow you to shoot then display a rendered 3D image, much like what we saw in the movie Ironman. Now, that would be innovative! Everything else you mentioned are marginal and boring improvements.

    • Iliah Borg

      Dear JR,

      > I have no idea what “labs” you’re referring to.

      Exactly. Let me put it in other way – you have no idea what is under development, and you see the needs of photographers through a prism of your needs and experience.

      > Noise can only improve so much before images begin to look artificial

      That is untrue, and of course “so much” is not the same as “very little”.

      > But Joe Blow photographers who shoot portraits and/or landscapes and never print beyond the typical 20×30, higher noise performance beyond what’s already available is unnecessary.

      How much can you underexpose a sunset?

      Pixel count is not the same as resolution. 3- and 4-colour filters are not the only possible.

  • JR

    “you have no idea what is under development, and you see the needs of photographers through a prism of your needs and experience.”

    OK, then illuminate us with what you know about what’s being hatched in these “labs” you speak of. If you’re not capable of providing solid proof that X, Y & Z substantial developments are actually taking place in the photography world, then your speculations are no more accurate than mine. Emphasis on SUBSTANTIAL and not marginal improvements.

    You write in fragments and incomplete sentences. What exactly do you mean by “underexpose a sunset”. If your goal is to prove me wrong, then please do so in a way that’s educational to me and everyone else on this forum.

    I can only assume that you’re referring to the need for bracketing high contrast scenes. I suppose that dynamic range can be improved to render HDR images similar to what’s currently done with top end HDR software.

    But, again, how is that going to improve upon what’s currently available? The final image won’t be any better; but generated by a different source. Yawn….

    I’d like to keep chatting with you but not if you’re going to communicate through code and fragments. Please step it up or this conversation is closed.


    • Iliah Borg

      Dear JR,

      > substantial developments are actually taking place in the photography world, then your speculations are no more accurate than mine. Emphasis on SUBSTANTIAL and not marginal improvements.

      What others see as substantial is marginal to you, so no point.

      > What exactly do you mean by “underexpose a sunset”.

      Exactly what I said. Just answer the question if you can.

      > I can only assume that you’re referring to the need for bracketing high contrast scenes.

      Of course not.

    • Nasim Mansurov

      JR, before you continue arguing with Iliah, let me just give you a quick glimpse of his background. Please first read this article that he provided to us a couple of weeks ago, then visit (he created the software). The man knows a thing or two about cameras and the technology in them.

      As for substantial developments, take a look at the Sony A7 and A7R – aren’t those substantial developments when compared to full-frame DSLRs? Yes, they have their issues (and many), but the technology in those cameras is very much different. And it will continue advancing even more…

      • JR

        I know who he is and why I expect much better from him. He’s not provided a single example of a significant advancement in photography technology. He keeps saying that I don’t get it, or that it’s not worth his time to explain these advancements. If he’s trying to impress me, then he’s achieving the opposite.

        Look, like anyone else who visits this site, I want photography tech to improve. But I’m not going to lie to myself, or anyone else, by saying that I’m impressed with the latest attempts at making existing cameras smaller.

        That’s all I see from the A7/R. Not much more than making what we already have smaller. If that excites you and a number of others, great! But I don’t share your enthusiasm.

        • Nasim Mansurov

          JR, when you have a chance, please rent/borrow/try one of those smaller camera bodies and explore them a little. It might change your mind. We are not just talking about making something smaller. The EVF alone is a huge difference compared to OVF. Please read this article, where I talk about the differences in much more detail.

          The smaller size comes as a result of removing the mirror and pentaprism. But there are far more advantages to mirrorless than size. Just the ability to review images in the viewfinder is a huge plus when working in daylight. You would never be able to do that with a DSLR!

          • JR


            I fully understand the tech behind the A7/R, but am not impressed with it. Last week I was in Canyonlands doing some shooting and ran into a couple guys from California that had various mirrorless cameras and one Leica.

            They changed batteries a number of times during an evening shoot when the sun came down and it got real cold….and did so after only taking a few shots! The batteries on my Nikons lasted me until the next day and I took many more shots.

            Ultimately…’s the image. THE IMAGE.

            • Iliah Borg

              Dear JR,

              > I fully understand the tech behind the A7/R

              In that case, please explain why the limit is set to 17220.

            • JR

              Dear Iliah,

              I don’t know what “17220” means, nor do I care. But evidently you know and like to use that knowledge to throw your weight around this forum. You’re not impressing me, but instead coming across as an arrogant blowhard.

              Do you know what 3:1 means?

              That’s the ratio of battery changes that a photographer had to make to his A7R -vs- my D800 in a matter of two hours during a recent outing. Any other number is meaningless to me.

  • Joseph

    I fully agree with the initial commentary by Nasim. I am researching to buy my fist digital camera. It looks like I will end without any purchase for the second time since my first time around shopping for a digital camera ended the same way…no purchase. Too many cameras, reviews appear to be simply marketing agents for the camera companies. Model names are similar, confusing. I once again will give up on the purchase for a digital camera. Too much of a draining hassle.

    Then I read about recalls from Nikon and Canon. I see all the cheap plastic junk with the mushie controls, though high price tags. It is sad, in my opinion the camera, photography industry has turned into a common freak show and a dirty business.

  • Barry


    I support and understand the manufacturers operating in this manner and here is why.

    I’m a first-time dslr owner of a d3300. So I had the option of getting the d3200 for a little less, but in waiting for a good sale, I was able to get the d3300 at a very close price.

    I believe there is value in having these minor upgrade releases for folks like me who aren’t upgrading from the previous generation and appreciate the few added improvements they’ve made on the current model.

    Are they really putting much into the development between, for example, the d3200 and d3300? I doubt it. The marketing likely isn’t a big thing. They just shift from marketing the d3200 to marketing the new product is all. Had they not released the d3300, they would continue marketing the d3200 as long as the sales continued.

    And I’m guessing they have other R&D hard at work on the next major upgrade that will be announced at the 3-4 year mark that you had mentioned. I doubt they let a few years go by and then determine they need to get a much better model released in one year that is a huge upgrade from the last. They had been working on the guts of this big upgrade in parallel w/ the ‘teaser’ upgrades in between.

    They should probably just add an S to the in-between models like Apple does their iPhone though to show that it’s “pretty much the same as the current one”.