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Author Topic: Nikon imaging division in trouble  (Read 4833 times)

Martin Kristiansen

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Nikon imaging division in trouble
« on: November 12, 2019, 08:12:08 pm »

https://petapixel.com/2019/11/12/nikon-says-its-cameras-need-to-justify-their-existence-as-a-business/

I am not a frequent reader of this website but stumbled across this during a bout of insomnia. I hope itís not as serious as is being reported and if it is hope the company can turn things around. Tough times for the photo industry in general but I think Nikon have made and continue to make errors in certain areas. But hey, what do I know about running a big business, nothing really.

Have also come across a few disturbing articles indicating Olympus may shut down their camera division. 
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TonyVentourisPhotography

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2019, 08:57:55 pm »

Lots of clickbait lately... always falling is the sky...
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kers

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2019, 05:59:59 am »

In general I think the camera makers have two problems...

1 the camera in the phones have become so good, no amateur camera is needed.
also you can send directly what you made to friends...

2 The hobbiest and pro camera's are so good, the need to buy a new camera is not so high anymore.
Also the extra megapixels are often not much needed considering most of the photos will be shown on TV's and the web.
-
In the analogue days i bought a camera every 10 years;
In the beginning of the digital camera age every 3 year quality made a jump.
I think that blooming period is ending now.
I think we go back to about a camera in 5 years.. or so...
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2019, 11:35:16 am »

Pieter's comment mirrors what I think about all this.  Both my wife and I have Pixel phones which have excellent cameras in them.  One can make prints up to 13x19 using LR's up-rez algorithm.  I have been trying out Gigapixel AI recently but have not seen how it might work on cell phone shots.  It just might be that the quality would be even better.  Certainly all those people who just rely on social media for photo display really don't need much more than that.

I had a Nikon SLR that I bought in the mid-1970s which served me well until the digital age.  I've had four digital Nikons of increasing pixel capacity until moving to the Z6 earlier this year.  I'm not sure that I will need anything more than that going forward as the biggest I print is 17x25.
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BJL

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Nikon imaging division in trouble (along most of the non-phone sector)
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2019, 04:53:21 pm »

Pieter,
    I mostly agree, but would tweak one word:
In general I think the camera makers have two problems...

1. the camera in the phones have become so good, no amateur camera is needed.
"Amateur" covers a lot of ground; I would say that most  "casual" or "snapshot" photographers are now satisfied with phone-cameras, but there are plenty of true amateurs (lovers of photography as opposed to mere likers of photographs) who are poorly served by any phone camera and instead well-served by an interchangeable lens camera with a couple of lensesóand a lot of them prefer to do it for under US$2000 for that kit, and without much agonizing over post-processing. Phones are eating away dedicated camera alternatives from the bottom, up to what used to be done with an SLR and only the 3x kit zoom lens it came with.

Back to Nikon; it is a decline similar to what the industry as a whole is experiencing, perhaps exacerbated in Nikon's case by some poor planning and predictions, but hardly a death spiral. For one thing I expect the shift to mirrorless to pick-up pace over the next few years, leading to improving sales of the Z system; it is to be expected that a major transition like this has some extra costs and pains. Sony lost money for some years while it built its ILC system from what it had acquired from Konica-Minolta.

Remember when Canon was well ahead with its CMOS sensors vs everyone else's CCDs? There were of course predictions that no other brand would catch up to the Canon CMOS sensor juggernaut. And before that, a growing dominance of the Canon and Nikon duopoly over all others (Konica-Minolta, Olympus and Pentax back then) was often predicted. But things change ...
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kers

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble (along most of the non-phone sector)
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2019, 06:55:01 pm »

Pieter,
    I mostly agree, but would tweak one word:"Amateur" covers a lot of ground; I would say that most  "casual" or "snapshot" photographers are now satisfied with phone-cameras, but there are plenty of true amateurs (lovers of photography as opposed to mere likers of photographs) who are poorly served by any phone camera and instead well-served by an interchangeable lens camera with a couple of lenses—and a lot of them prefer to do it for under US$2000 for that kit, and without much agonizing over post-processing. Phones are eating away dedicated camera alternatives from the bottom, up to what used to be done with an SLR and only the 3x kit zoom lens it came with.

You are right of coarse- my bad- i often say the only difference between an amateur and a pro is only that the latter earns money...
-
Personally having a d850 ; i have enough pixels, good enough dynamic range and colour, but some lenses might be a little better... and for me it is important to have a silent shutter... so at some point i jump to mirrorless... Having said the weakest link is me.


and Yes the camera makers see their sales declining, but at the beginning of the digital era i am sure they did very good business... far better than in the film years before ...
The chemical companies had the real problem, like Kodak, Agfa and Ilford.


« Last Edit: November 13, 2019, 06:59:02 pm by kers »
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2019, 08:12:19 pm »

This doesn't look good, but there are good news within the story.

The main one being that Nikon is doing good in the high end, which is the only segment that is going to survive.

Now, Nikon has been executing very poorly on many accounts unrelated to the quality of the equipment they deliver.

I would personnally disagree that their financial loss is the result of smart phones success. Their financial loss is the result of how they have dealt with the situation. They could have executed much better and come out stronger.

Thom Hogan has written an excellent article on this: http://dslrbodies.com/newsviews/nikon-2019-news/november-2019-nikon-canon/followup-on-nikons-financia.html

Cheers,
Bernard

Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2019, 10:37:35 pm »

Itís a bit sad that there projections for the Z range of cameras have not been met. Disturbing and disappointing. Nice cameras.
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gkroeger

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2019, 12:01:02 am »

The uptake rate of the Z system has, undoubtably, been stunted by lens availability. Folks like me, without F mount lenses, have to wait to see the Z lenses get delivered and tested before deciding whether this mount/system is where to invest. At this point, although Nikon has the lead in haptics and ergonomics, menus and compression, and a couple of outstanding Z lenses, Sony is still a "safer" investment bet due to the amazing range of Sony and third-party lenses. Nikon should have opened the Z mount to Zeiss and others from the get go. A few lost lens sales up front would have been a small price to pay for a wider adoption of the lens mount and the long term commitment that adoption entails.
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kers

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2019, 05:30:38 am »

The uptake rate of the Z system has, undoubtably, been stunted by lens availability. Folks like me, without F mount lenses, have to wait to see the Z lenses get delivered and tested before deciding whether this mount/system is where to invest. At this point, although Nikon has the lead in haptics and ergonomics, menus and compression, and a couple of outstanding Z lenses, Sony is still a "safer" investment bet due to the amazing range of Sony and third-party lenses. Nikon should have opened the Z mount to Zeiss and others from the get go. A few lost lens sales up front would have been a small price to pay for a wider adoption of the lens mount and the long term commitment that adoption entails.
+1
I agree they better opened up the lens mount to others. It would seriously make me think about a future camera if i can only use  S-lenses and nothing else.
Also they should make TS-adapters for the F bajonet. After the pixelrace it will go about other things.
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scooby70

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2019, 06:06:20 am »

I'll be surprised in Nikon pull out of the market but then again who'd make camera kit these days? There doesn't seem to be any money in it unless you're a niche player or using it as a loss leader shop window to sell something else. Maybe at some point the leading camera brands of the past will be Leica like entities, if they survive at all, unless there's some upturn due to some disruptive technology that'll drive sales and profits back up but would that be likely to come from Nikon? I'd guess that any disruptive and profitable new tech is more likely to come from one of the large electronic companies or some new player.

I wouldn't blame Nikon quality or the lack of lenses for their poor mirrorless sales. I think it's down to them being too late to the market and coming out with a "Me too" range of bodies as for me there doesn't seem to be any real appeal except for those with a bag full of Nikon lenses and of course those who only see the badge and simply must have a Nikon and those two categories wont sustain them.

Being late to the market may only just put off the inevitable though as even mirrorless as it is now can't bring back the glory days. The market is still shrinking and even if they'd brought out a best in class system they'd still be looking at a temporary blip in an market showing one general trend, downwards.
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2019, 09:13:15 am »

I think it's down to them being too late to the market and coming out with a "Me too" range of bodies as for me there doesn't seem to be any real appeal except for those with a bag full of Nikon lenses and of course those who only see the badge and simply must have a Nikon and those two categories wont sustain them.

The appeals I see with the Z system:
- most of the S lenses are simply outstanding and include at least one piece of glass nobody else has (the Noct). Nobody else does super high quality f1.8 glass accross the various focal lengths
- the viewfinder is more pleasant that the higher res a7R IV I have started to use
- the size is compact but the ergonomics of the body are great
- IBIS works great
- colors are great and so is the AWB
- it's fully waterproofed
- you can adapt any lens on it, including the Sony E lenses so it's the closest thing to a universal lens carrier
- there is zero sensor dirt issue (that can't be said of the Sony bodies)
- video works great, in particular video AF

The only thing that's clearly not close to best in class is the AF on moving subjects, but it's still completely usable. I got a high rate of keepers with the Z6 and the 200mm f2.0.

So all it would take to Nikon to have the best range of mirrorless bodies is improved AF, and the good news is that they have been the best in AF in the DSLR era, so they already have the algos... and a second memory slot.

I am not sure that a body that close to being the best can really be called me too. ;)

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: November 14, 2019, 09:16:34 am by BernardLanguillier »
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chez

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2019, 11:02:42 am »

The appeals I see with the Z system:
- most of the S lenses are simply outstanding and include at least one piece of glass nobody else has (the Noct). Nobody else does super high quality f1.8 glass accross the various focal lengths
- the viewfinder is more pleasant that the higher res a7R IV I have started to use
- the size is compact but the ergonomics of the body are great
- IBIS works great
- colors are great and so is the AWB
- it's fully waterproofed
- you can adapt any lens on it, including the Sony E lenses so it's the closest thing to a universal lens carrier
- there is zero sensor dirt issue (that can't be said of the Sony bodies)
- video works great, in particular video AF

The only thing that's clearly not close to best in class is the AF on moving subjects, but it's still completely usable. I got a high rate of keepers with the Z6 and the 200mm f2.0.

So all it would take to Nikon to have the best range of mirrorless bodies is improved AF, and the good news is that they have been the best in AF in the DSLR era, so they already have the algos... and a second memory slot.

I am not sure that a body that close to being the best can really be called me too. ;)

Cheers,
Bernard

And yet this class leading camera comes in 20th on the Amazon mirrorless camera sales list. That's the problem...some people might think the Nikon cameras are class leading...yet others just are not buying them as can be see on Amazon and the disappointment of not meeting sales projections at Nikon.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2019, 11:42:36 am »

And yet this class leading camera comes in 20th on the Amazon mirrorless camera sales list. That's the problem...some people might think the Nikon cameras are class leading...yet others just are not buying them as can be see on Amazon and the disappointment of not meeting sales projections at Nikon.

Every Nikon camera should come with a "Bernard's Seal of Approval." ;)

John Camp

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2019, 11:52:07 am »

And yet this class leading camera comes in 20th on the Amazon mirrorless camera sales list. That's the problem...some people might think the Nikon cameras are class leading...yet others just are not buying them as can be see on Amazon and the disappointment of not meeting sales projections at Nikon.

Yes, but ten of those cameras are sub $1,000 cameras -- not in Nikon's class. I think only four of them cost more than Nikon, which means that price is probably important. Not saying that Nikon is dong great with these things, but the Amazon sales list is not really where you'd want to look for serious photographers -- B&H or Samys would be much more likely sources in the US.
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chez

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2019, 12:07:59 pm »

Yes, but ten of those cameras are sub $1,000 cameras -- not in Nikon's class. I think only four of them cost more than Nikon, which means that price is probably important. Not saying that Nikon is dong great with these things, but the Amazon sales list is not really where you'd want to look for serious photographers -- B&H or Samys would be much more likely sources in the US.

Sure...but that might be some of the problems resulting in the continuous revenue and market share drop at Nikon. There still seems to be a market for the $1,000 camera out there as can be seen by the sales at Amazon. I just can't see too many new photographers waking up one day and saying I want a "real" camera and be ready to drop thousands of dollars.

Actually half of those top 20 camera sales were greater than $1,000...so yes right at the budget of the Z6 that is 20th on the list.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2019, 12:12:06 pm by chez »
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BJL

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Nikon imaging division in trouble (or not?)
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2019, 06:54:02 pm »

I was surprised when Nikon initially launched its "future of the imaging division" Z system only in the higher price, lower unit sales, lower revenue, hopefully higher margin sector of 35mm format: notwithstanding predictions for the future, the current reality is that Nikon's revenue leaders are still the lowest priced DX mount models, and industry-wide, 35mm format revenues are far smaller than for the smaller ILC formats.

But at least the Z50 is out now, and I will not debate whether a top-down roll-out can be a good long-term strategy.

With that initial approach, and with all the R&D costs of the Z system to cover, it was completely predictable that for now, profits would dive, and that unit sales of the new 35mm format gear would not come close to offsetting the general decline in the far higher volume APS-C sector. But I have hope that this will turn around somewhat, as EVF cameras continue to increase their share of the ILC market, and the Z-system expands, with more lenses and with the volume of DX-Z body and lens sales.

BTW, DPReview has an article on the financials for Canon, Nikon and Sony over the last two quarters: https://www.dpreview.com/news/3735695524/a-closer-look-into-the-latest-financial-reports-from-canon-nikon-and-sony
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2019, 05:15:32 am »

Every Nikon camera should come with a "Bernard's Seal of Approval." ;)

At least have I used the cameras I am commenting about... ;)

Cheers,
Bernard

scooby70

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2019, 06:04:30 am »

And yet this class leading camera comes in 20th on the Amazon mirrorless camera sales list. That's the problem...some people might think the Nikon cameras are class leading...yet others just are not buying them as can be see on Amazon and the disappointment of not meeting sales projections at Nikon.

Yup. I read on another site that someone had looked at Amazon sales and worked out that the Sony A7III is outselling the Nikon Z range 30-1. If that's anywhere near true Nikon must be at least concerned and no, I don't think that the Nikon system is best in class at everything except AF on moving subjects or at least it's not being perceived as the best system, it's being perceived as a me too system that's late to market and lacking in a couple of areas that some see as key.

Oh and the f0.95 is no doubt nice but IMO an irrelevance. Give me the Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 every time.

Good luck to Nikon but they're in a contracting market and in the short term with a product that isn't selling well enough. They have a lot of thinking to do as maybe do they all in the longer term.
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2019, 06:18:28 am »

Oh and the f0.95 is no doubt nice but IMO an irrelevance. Give me the Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 every time.

The Zeiss 55mm f1.8 is a great lens, but the Nikon 50mm f1.8 S tops it in most ways.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: November 15, 2019, 07:56:44 am by BernardLanguillier »
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