More Thoughts on the D7500

As tough a critic as I’ve been on Nikon, somehow the D7500 announcement has me spending a lot of time defending them. 

If I am to read my In Box, Nikon Rumors comments, various Internet fora, and the shouts I hear from upwind of me, removing one of the two card slots from the D7500 will cause Nikon to experience a huge implosion, kill hundreds of workers, and make Nikon shares be worth negative 1000 yen. It’s a card slot, folks. 

No, it wasn’t a great decision to drop the second slot or leave the slot at UHS-I compatibility. It saved Nikon a bit of money, one of their oft-stated goals (to paraphrase the chorus in an Aeschylus play: cut costs, cut costs, but good win out in the end). I don't consider it a deal breaker, though. Indeed, I consider my D500 a one-slot camera, as using a second card in the SD slot just slows down my fast XQD card in the first slot. Still, removing a feature that distinguished the D7xxx from the lower models is a questionable move on Nikon's part, just not one that I think is going to do anything other than generate angst among a few users.

Nor was it a great decision to take out the AI-index tab, though this has proven to be even more ridiculous in most complaints I’ve been receiving (e.g. “I shoot with a D810 and Nikon’s decision to take out the AI-index tab on the D7500 has me wondering if I want to continue to be a Nikon owner.”). Dude, you don’t use a DX camera, why are you complaining about whether it has a small tab or not? I’m also having a difficult time believing that there’s a huge core of D7xxx users out there that just have to have full—as opposed to limited—automation of their manual focus lenses made three or more decades ago. Let me remind you that the D90—one of the cameras that Nikon hopes they can convince people to upgrade to a D7500 from—far outsold any camera that Nikon made in the manual focus era. The odds are that there are far more likely D7500 upgraders that won’t even notice that the AI-index tab is gone than there are ones who do. I'd think that those potential D90 upgraders are more interested in the addition of the power aperture capability on the D7500 than the removal of the AI-index tab.

In fact, let me dash the whole AI-index tab thing in one line: which would you rather have: (1) the AI-index tab or (2) a fuller set of DX lenses? Doh! If you’re going to complain about Nikon, complain about the right thing!

I’ve been trying to point out in various places I haunt that Nikon these days is going to get slapped by people on the Interwebs no matter what they do with a single product (or even a small group of products, had they shipped the DLs, for example). Photographers everywhere are waiting for a more dramatic move from Nikon than updating one of their better selling cameras. The perception is that Nikon is failing because the market is failing and Nikon hasn’t shown that they can produce something that turns the market around. 

Sine waves. These things go in sine waves. 

Do something great and you’ll get better-than-deserved recognition. Look how the world exploded positively on the PR side for Nikon when the D5 and D500 appeared with their 1m ISO values and focus performance that could track items moving at the speed of light. Lots of praise. More praise than deserved as it turns out (you might want to back off from that 1m ISO setting a bit, and it’ll take you awhile to figure out how to optimize your use of the new focus system [and eventually you’ll complain about something that the new focus system doesn’t do for you ;~]). 

Announce something not so great and suddenly you’re the pariah of photographic world. You won’t get shade, you’ll get full on sun blockage. Also probably not deserved, but I’m sure that everyone felt good applying the darkness.

Nikon’s on a long glide slope downwards at the moment. That glide slope is because there’s less lift than the drag and gravity increases that are happening. Market gravity is pulling everyone in the camera world back to earth, but Nikon’s given themselves a bit of extra downward motion because they’ve introduced some additional drag. Meanwhile, a few other companies have put in some bigger engines to try to gain altitude. Yet no one’s “winning” this battle at the moment (though see next article). Everyone’s coming back down from the dizzying heights, just at different rates. 

It’ll take more than one product to change Nikon’s course. And that product is almost certainly going to have to be something that’s not a DSLR. In the meantime, failing to iterate and maintain the DSLRs would be just like pushing the stick forward and trying to drill a hole in the ground below you. Nikon’s trying to maintain their glide slope as best they can while they design new wings and engines. The D3400 and D5600 didn’t manage to keep the glide slope maximized; I think the D7500 does. Nikon also needs the D750 and D810 updates to maintain their glide slope or at least minimize their altitude loss. Another exciting DSLR product in the middle of that, whether it be a Df done right or a D5x with megamegapixels or something else, might even help flatten out the flight path for awhile. 

But ranting because there isn’t a second card slot or an index tab or a vertical grip option is not observing properly. The D7500 should hold its own for awhile, and the D7200 priced properly below it will suck a few more folk from the D70-D80-D90-D7000-D7100 crowd and lower to opt in. Assuming, of course, that the D7500 shoots like I expect it to.

So what will happen is that eventually the D7500 small-parts flames will die down and probably be completely doused by those that opt for the camera and actually shoot with it and start reporting that it’s quite good. People seem to forget how "bad" the D7200 update was compared to the D7100. Yet despite only small changes, the D7200 shot like a different camera.

Eventually Nikon will announce a D750 or D810 update and we’ll start this whole mess all over again. 

Sine waves. We're currently in a trough of public opinion.

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