Love Letters to Nikon

(commentary)

Or maybe not. I’ve gotten thousands of emails in response to my leaking, sampling, waiting, and last camera syndrome articles, as well as some of my commentary on what Nikon was or wasn’t doing in response. 

Yes thousands, and maybe tens of thousands, as I stopped counting long, long ago. I kept about 500 of these emails around because I thought at some point it might be interesting to print a few of those. "Some point” has arrived. 

The following are snippets from all the emails I received. Yes, I’m doing a bit of picking and choosing amongst them, but frankly, I’m not sure it would make a difference which 24 I picked, they all pretty much say the same thing: “Nikon failed me.” 

So here we go (other than a few spelling corrections, I’m trying to leave this in your words):

  1. My situation: Leaker (from FX to something smaller and lighter):  sold off 14-24, 24-70, 70-200, and 16-35f4 in the last 2 months. Keeping D810, 16f2.8D fisheye, 24-120f4, 105VR, 80-400G, 500f4VR.  Won’t buy any more FX lenses and unlikely to upgrade from D810 unless something really interesting comes along (e.g., mirrorless, outstanding EVF, on-chip PDAF that is quantum improvement in AF speed and accuracy) – good for short-term, but in the long run, FX is a dead-end for me. 

    Sampler (of CX):  keeping V3, 6.7~13, and 70-300CX for now.  V3 is crippled unless Nikon does some magic with firmware upgrade. Would buy a 42mm f2.4 micro CX… but really waiting for a V4 before deciding whether to stay with CX or give up and leak to Sony.  It would be a shame to give up on Nikon – been with them since 1966.  I tend to be brand-loyal, but I’ve bought Sony (audio, TV, videocams) almost as long.

    Pocket Pro Sampler (combination of several categories):  I think I will order a RX100III as a throw-in-backpack/waistpack carry-everywhere cheap compact camera. “Cheap”, since there’s no ‘system’ to buy. It’s too back Nikon targeted the V3 to “moms” – a V3 with 20Mp BSI chip would make the RX100 unnecessary.

  2. I can relate with your article on "samplers" very well.  I have been a Nikonian from the F days (first acquired it in 1973) but thru the years have sampled others .. and your article reminds me of me in love with the Rollei 35, sampling the Contax G, and now quite happy to have sampled the LX3-5-7 and now LX100.  My last Coolpix was the P6000 which is to me the right form factor but the sensor was such a bad one (how I wish Nikon put the same LX3 sensor into the P6000 at that time and I would be so happy not to sample the LX3).  I consider myself a 90% Nikon person during the film days and 100% Nikon during the period from the D100 (~2003) to the D700 (~2008) but now I am more like a 65% Nikon (using my budget expenditure as a guide to come up with that %).  I still enjoy the Nikon FX and DX as well as the Nikon1, but a good portion of my disposable $ also going to Lumix, micro 4/3, and Fuji X.  

  3. You strike very close to home with your commentary on "Waiters” as part of the Leakers and Samplers series.  I should be up to full capability and understanding of my D300 and D300S by the end of 2015.  I will start my serious analysis of available products mid 2015 in preparation to acquire in 2016.  Unfortunately, my investment in glass makes it hard to leak, so it will either be a downgrade or upgrade to full frame if there isn't a viable D300/D300S replacement.

  4. So, I was in Nikon Dslr world lock, stock, and barrel. Though an amateur, I was the proud owner of a D3 and close to 10 Nikon lenses including the exotic stuff. Today, it's all gone. Some of that is financially motivated, but Nikon has a role to play. I badly wanted the d800/e but the user-reported problems made me leery. I also became tired of carrying around that heavy gear. Finally, perhaps most importantly, there is a wealth of choice in other brands. That new Nikon body purchase never happened and, as of now, I see low odds of going back to Nikon. I'll stay on the sideline for a while and see what 'develops’'

  5. Well I too have leaked from Nikon, but I think I might be a little bit different to anything thus far mentioned. I loved my D300 and the extra reach it gave me. I had an old 17-35F2.8 and old 85 F1.4 and old 80-200 F2.8 from my film days with Nikon. I was ( I'll get to the was shortly) a Nikon user for 35 years. With my D300 I also purchased a 12-24 to give me a little more wide angle. Also a 24-70 F2.8 and then a 70-200 F2.8 VR (v1). I was happy for some 4 -5 years, but started to wonder, as nothing Nikon were bringing out made me enthused about Nikon new kit.

    I'm predominantly a jpeg shooter. A friend raved about the jpegs his canon 1D4 was producing, and after some thought I realized this was what I was looking for. The 1d4 had the build, superior focusing and some extra reach over the full frame I craved, as I could not hope to afford a 500 or 600 mm lens. So I have moved to canon purchased a used 1D4 for $2,500.

  6. I must confess I became a "leaker" almost by accident. I kept waiting for Nikon to upgrade the D300 for my three quality zooms but there was nothing but silence. Then I saw a great deal to purchase an EM-5 with a couple of kit lenses to ease the load on my wrists. Sure nuf, the little bugger did almost everything I wanted except capture fast moving subjects. However, after looking at the last 1,000 pictures, only 1 was really fast [ed: I think he meant bad]. Not a bad keeper rate. I still bring out the D300 when quality flash is required, or the target is moving faster than a mild trot, but the rest of the time I throw my "5" into the back seat and shoot all the time now. The D300 is back gathering dust.

  7. I had (close to) 20 Nikon lenses and (at least) six cameras and it's all gone to Ebay or KEH recently. This mass selloff of my Nikon kit even included your example the 70-300mm VR...sold for $325. All that's left are a few items I need for work purposes. This is no love affair--I have a couple Nikon tools I must have on hand because I need what they do. I started this dump by making a spreadsheet in excel with all the lenses, their expected resale, and a total dropped out that I realized could place me into another system with JUST enough good glass to hold me.  What got me off the fence was KEH's web-based quotation...it offered me cash on a few high-dollar items that would have been very close to going through the hassle of selling on Ebay. How fast would a lot of people hand over their material goods if they could on the spot get back what they initially spent? KEH was close...I just boxed the stuff up and sent it off with prepaid label on the box. Wait a few days...boom...money in paypal. 

    At some point recently I crossed the "I'm not really a Nikon guy" line. It felt good. All this gear jockeying consumes too much mental space, though--time to get back to the craft!

  8. Sold my D800 and everything with it. Just got tired of Nikon lenses breaking down, bodies out of adjustment and empty promises in lens line-up and upgrades. And terrible customer service. I owned and sold D90, D5000, D7000, D600, D800. The only one that worked without problems was the D90. Bought Oly E-M1 - VERY Happy.

  9. I've sold my D300 and D700 bodies and a couple of lenses. I still have a good selection of Nikkor lenses left but currently no body for them. Please ask Nikon where the pro level DX body is because unless they build and sell that camera I'm done.

    I'm very happy with my OM-D EM-1 and now the pro level lenses are coming as you know. If I never took another photo except with an Olympus I could do quite well, certainly well enough. As I said a long time ago in another email: if I'm satisfied then what else matters?

    Well I won't be satisfied with a consumer DX or FX and I don't need a pro level FX like the D810. Nikon isn't going to get my money for something that isn't what I want or need. I need a pro level DX camera, period. If that doesn't come soon I'll sell everything Nikon and never look back, gone from their consumer base forever.

  10. I am a loyal Nikonian "prosumer" photographer since 1990s; still actively using my F100 and F4 bodies and also a D300. I have been waiting for a real replacement of my D300 since 2010 and this is the first time I really feel that it's time to switch to another brand. I do not understand what they're planning at Nikon in Japan and I do not want to wait any more. They're always missing something in every new camera. There’s always a problem with a new camera.

    Although I had an intention to buy a new camera when I heard the D750; after the release and seeing the missing specs and buttons, my intention is completely vanished. On the other hand I do not want to take a production fault risk like on D600 and D800. What will happen right now? Will they release a D751 instead of D750 if they find a new production fault after the release?

    If the competition can release a prosumer DX in 2014; why not Nikon? Loyalty cannot survive if it's one sided. Nowadays I do not feel that Nikon is loyal to their customers.

  11. My wife and I shoot APSC Nikons  and she also has the Sony RX 100 II. I have a V1 picked up in the fire  sale because I believed the marketing hype which hinted at a connector for my SB 800 flashes allowing for off camera flash use. We are dual income, kids grown and both have healthy technology based income.  Affording gear is not an issue.

    I keep looking at the new compacts, Panny LX100 drool!!!! and keep coming back to the V1.  When set in Aperture priority mode with small flash attached its adequate for most of the casual shots I do - grand kids running around.  Lightning fast auto focus keeps me using the V1 with the grand kids too. Don't care about stuffing camera in pocket.   Bad Nikon for no CLS or way to have manual flash radio triggers like my pocket wizards. And shame on me for thinking marketing hype can be believed.

    APSC gear gathering dust!  The wife's RX100 has also caused her D5200 to gather dust.   Same for my D 7000.  Small portable wifi in camera direct to social media with minimal post processing done from a tablet coupled via wifi to her RX 100 is my wife's new workflow.  I have to use sneaker net to do the same.

    We have decided to stop adding to our APSC gear as a result of the wifi based pocketable cameras AND WORKFLOW now on the market.   So long further Nikon purchases!

    Lately I am thinking more about video.  I don't want to do much in post at the moment. I am working through the Audio issue of external mic and have concluded that my smart phone with an I Rig for phantom amplification will do the job for casual video shots.  The Irig also works for the V1 with its external mic input.

    When I travel for business it's the V1 that goes in my carry on computer bag despite its kludgy menu based system.  Set and forget works 95% of the time. If a small pocketable camera with an external mic input comes out I will drop the V1 Till then the V1 keeps sucking me back in.  

    What's changed in my household  is the new workflow of post processing using a tablet & wifi enabled small easy to carry quality image cameras.  For my household small wifi cameras with good lens and image quality has already disrupted us from looking at Nikon, Olympus,  and Canon.

  12. I recently bought a Fujifilm X-T1 in the hopes of lightening my load from my D800 when I travel. I did quite a lot of forum reading before and after my purchase. One thing I noticed was how many people moving to Fuji confessed they were selling their Nikon equipment and not cheap stuff. Things like D800s. I have seen maybe 8 or 9 such confessions for each equivalent confession from Canon DSLR users. I think a lot of people got tired of waiting for a D400 and talked themselves into a D800 and realized that was more than they wanted and are seeking a smaller camera that will have much of the capability of their D300/s.

    As part of your Nikon does not get it argument, this fleeing from Nikon seems like a hidden reinforcement if it is true.

  13. I sold my D800E yesterday and the last of my Nikon lenses today. Frankly I have a queasy feeling in my stomach, this is the first time in 15 years I haven't owned a Nikon DSLR system (started with a D70).  I don't want to ramble, but everything you've been saying and what was said in yesterday's post rings true. I bought an OMD EM1 but am leaning toward the Sony because I miss the cleanness of full frame images.  Would love to see more reviews or at least discussion of the Sony's and others that Nikon is pushing us into.

  14. I am one who was very disappointed in the D750 not being a valid successor to the D700. In my sports photography, I would rather use my D700 with grip. But, my clients want photos during the game. I purchased a D7100 to be able to use Eye-Fi cards and still use the 70-200VRI f/2.8 lens. I even purchased a 24-120VR f/4 to use on both bodies. However, the D7100's slower FPS and focusing is very frustrating. Hit rate down from close to 100% to in the 80’s. What I want is an FX body with Wi-Fi capability and 8 or better FPS. The D750 falls short in my opinion.

    The Canon 7D Mark II is a better fit for my work though I would have to by 2 lenses  (24-105 and 70-200) to make it work. Major investment on my part to. Eye-Fi compatibility needs to be determined as well.

    Wish Nikon would not be so scared to put the D4s sensor in a D700-class of body. I guess the D3-D700 pairing really hurt D3 sales and they do not want to do that again.  Sigh… Thanks for listening and you add this to your future leaker pile if Nikon fails to answer Canon's 7D Mark II threat by February.

  15. Just to add another perspective to your list regarding failure to replace the D300 and add DX lenses...Nikon's failure to act has lost thousands of dollars from me as well.  I have a D300 and about 1/2 of my lenses are full frame and the rest DX.  Pretty much any time prior to having our second child (about 2 years ago), I would have upgraded my D300 and bought some wide lenses if they were made.  The jump to FX would have cost me twice as much in lens upgrades as the FX body so that is not happening.  With two kids, I don't have the dispensable cash to spend now (or any time soon) so even if they do replace the D300, its unlikely I'll be buying anything new at this point.  Like they say, timing is everything and I doubt I'm the only one Nikon lost sales on because of their increasingly poor timing.  

  16. Your article on leakage neatly summarizes a big issue with Nikon, and not only for those who've lost patience waiting for something like a D400. I have a complete FX setup, the D800e, a D610, the holy trinity the 50 and 85 1.4's and a couple flashes.

    I mostly really like them. But for a lot of what I shoot, which is public scenes or people in various low-light activities (playing chess, looking at art, some indoor sports, music) I would also like a more compact and inconspicuous but high quality system. There's no doubt in my mind that within two years Fuji and Sony will offer a selection of equipment that fully meets my desire. They almost do now. I have no idea what Nikon will be offering.

    You would think a major company under the kind of business threats Nikon faces would show more concern for addressing it's customer's needs. Instead, they can usually be counted on to put out strangely compromised cameras and ignore updating the lenses people clamor for.

    Furthermore, I get increasingly frustrated with how my NEF files interact with Lightroom and wish Nikon could get over itself and actually partner with a company like Adobe.

    All that said, I'm in no big rush to get rid of my Nikon stuff. It's really good at what it's good at (resolution and dynamic range, controls on the D800e, the IQ of several of my lenses). But I'm far from being a fan boy and if other companies beat them to the punch of offering a full  compact system that can handle the situations I shoot, I won't hesitate to explore their options. Hopefully they sense the frustrations of their customers through your blog.

  17. Let's call me a 'pre-leaker'. My story is that I started with a D90 and upgraded to a D7100, but from the start I expected I'd eventually wind up with a Dx00 class DX body someday; it's just the obvious step for a serious DX user. But, well, there was no D400 when my D90 got long in the tooth and the D7100 came out, and there's no D400 now. Plus there's no lenses either (well, from Nikon). I'm happy with my D7100 and what I can do with it today, but I'm not anywhere near as happy as I could be with the whole overall situation. And Nikon's moves have not left me at all confident that I have a long term future with DX as a relatively serious photographer.

    The first upshot of this is that I haven't bought any camera gear this year, which is good for my budget but not for Nikon (and the last lens I bought was the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8; at this point it's more than a year and a half since I bought a Nikon lens). Right now I've lost so much confidence with Nikon that I don't expect that to change any time soon because I don't expect them to release anything interesting in DX.

    (There's lenses I'd love to buy if they exist but at this point I’ve given up expecting them to ever do so. Nikon has very solidly left me with the impression that they're never going to do anything in DX for the serious enthusiast because we're all supposed to go FX.)

    The second upshot is that I'm a pre-leaker to m4/3rds. I have no interest in going to full frame in general and I certainly have no interest in doing so with Nikon FX if Nikon forces the move on me. That leaves m4/3rds as the obvious choice, especially since it has a lot that's attractive about it; I like the idea of going smaller and lighter, there's the drool-worthy lens selection, and I'll probably get a higher-end body in the bargain.

    So right now I'm in a holding pattern. My D7100 is fine but I'm not going to put any more money into more stuff for it until and unless I have more confidence in DX. If that confidence doesn't arrive by the time Olympus releases an E-M1 successor, I think I'll give up and leak.

    (I could leak now but I haven't entirely given up hope, I'd actually like to stay with DX given my existing gear, and my personal twitch is that I want to buy bodies when they're the best new thing as opposed to partway through their life cycle.)

  18. I know you keep track of these sort of trends, so for the record: I had Nikon DSLR (crop) gear for the past 9 years, ending up ultimately with a D7000 body, 70-200VR2, 300/4AF-S, TC14E, Sigma 18-35/1.8, 2 strobes, etc.. I just sold all of it.

    After waiting for 2-3 years for a D300 successor, I ultimately decided that there is no future in Nikon APS-C. In light of the mirror less competition the gear seemed oversized for the given performance. Rather than going for an even larger full frame body (and more, bigger lenses) I went with an Olympus micro 4/3 kit. The main reasons I decided against Nikon:

    1) Their "1" mirror less system is not very convincing compared to the competition. Smaller sensor, limited lenses, seems dumbed down to protect their DSLR market.
    2) Nikons backwards repair/service policies are a major down side for someone who moves around internationally a lot.

  19. I was planning to upgrade to the D300s but I am not going to wait anymore.   My may interests are birds, landscapes, and travelling.  My solution:
    1. Keep my Nikon 1 and AF-S 300mm lens for birds.  I may down grade this to the Nikon 1 70-300 F5.6 lens or the new AF-S 300mm lens.
    2. Buy the latest Sony RX10 model assuming its still water proof for landscapes and travel.  I live on the East Coast of Canada and its foggy, rainy, or snowy most of the year.  Waterproofing is important to me.
    3. I have a bunch of the N1 lenses - 18.5, 10mm, 6.7,10-30, and 30 to 100 for when I want to go light.  The lenses are good enough.

    I have a bunch of older lenses that I can going to sell on eBay to fund my acquisitions.

    This is everything I need and I much lighter package.  I can live without wide angle.  If I really want to do some wide angle, I will dig out the old D300 and Sigma 10-20 F4-5.6.  It still can take produce pictures beyond my skill level.

  20. Here's one more data point for you:  I couldn't decide which digital ICL system--preferably lightweight and probably mirrorless--I should buy into in order to upgrade from my aging Nikon D300, so I punted:  I just bought a Sony RX10 (Mark I; I'm a stills photographer, and the price was much better than the Mark II coming out).  I'll use it primarily as a travel camera (we're going to Alaska in August).

    I was leaning towards the Sony A7II, but I found I wasn't ready to commit $5K or more right now to body and lenses; moreover, I think I want to see what response, if any, Nikon has over the next year or so to Sony's mirrorless challenges, particularly on the DX front.  So I'm not a "leaker" yet, but a temporizing "punter," if you will!

  21. I've had a D7000 for the past 5 years. Didn't upgrade to the D7100 because I didn't see the benefit of the upgrade, especially that quickly. Thought I'd wait for a second generation. The 7200 fixes a few things, but the big lacks were no articulating screen, like the D750, and no move to 4K video, which lags lots of other offerings.

    I use my camera both for stills, and for the occasional family video. The video capability is not the priority, but it's not something I'm going to pass up.

    Nikon's apparent lack of interest in DX has got me thinking: Move up to FX with the D750 (still no 4K video, and its bigger and heavier, but it would be a good long-term investment), wait to see if they ever do a D400 (and what that would actually look like!), or look at other options like the Samsung NX1, m4/3 or Sony... better screens, smaller bodies, smaller lenses, not much given up on quality of stills, often better video, etc., etc.

    I wanted to buy a new camera this summer before going away, but now I'm thinking I will hold off a bit longer, in hopes of some further clarity... Kind of sub-optimal, to be honest. It is a significant investment, and not one I want to make lightly. Nikon is making me hand on.

  22. I think I personally fall into the “waiters" category with Nikon overall (even though I recently purchased a D750). As much as I love my Nikon bodies, lens and flash system, It’s hard not to be impressed with what is going on with Sony, Fuji and Olympus right now. I’m also aware that my attraction to these systems is largely because of the tech inside the bodies, especially Sony right now. However, the “Pure Photography” train of thought from Nikon actually still echoes in my ears and continues to remind me that simple can sometimes be a good thing, a reason why I also recently purchased an F100.

  23. Just read this article. Covers what my thinking has been. I waited through two iterations of the x100 and N1 for Nikon to offer a well thought out small camera with good sensor at a realistic price. I just bought an X100T.

    I have a Nikon D4 that I don't mind carrying all day with a Luma Labs strap and it has great ergonomics, but put a zoom on it and sitting down to lunch at a restaurant becomes "OK, where do I put the camera?” 

    Bought a Nikon 1 V1 at fire sale. It's OK but the controls get in the way. I have the shooting mode dial taped down. Can't tell you how many time I have gone, WTF? Oh, I'm taking a video. Options?

    Didn't want another small sensor-based camera after the N1V1 "experience”, but I wanted to stay with Nikon. I have used their gear for decades. Looked at CoolPix A because of new, lower price but no viewfinder. Nikon Df not enough of a size savings. D5300? Good size but no wide angle primes.  So I bought an x100T yesterday.

    Focus appears to be good enough, great controls, ND filter. If I like the camera, I might try an XT1 (sampling leaker). If I do and I like it, I can see having the 56 and 14 to complement my x100T. If I do this, do I really need two camera systems?

  24. I've been using and thoroughly enjoying my D3x for 5 years now, but for my work there are some definite improvements I've been interested in for a while. Higher resolution and faster frame rates are 2, with improved low light and improved AF with facial/eye tracking of animals if possible. I know that's a lot to ask, but the improvements I've been reading about in the new 24 and 36 MP FX sensors have led me to hope for pretty great things from a 54 MP D4x (the FX version of the current DX sensor). Unfortunately, it currently appears Nikon isn't going to make one, basically because they have completely abandoned the D3 product map, as you say. I have no idea what is coming next that might satisfy my needs, but all I can say for sure is its not the recent strange mix of products they've been pumping out. That's a frustrating place to be.

    And, in the "failing to support their users" category, add my recent experience. I wanted light macro flash that could act as master or slave in a dual flash setup, so I was excited by the SB 500. I asked Nikon tech support in writing if the SB 500 would provide both modes, noting that I wanted to use them with my D3x. They replied simply that the flash offers both modes. So, I bought 2, only to discover upon reading the manual (which wasn't available online before or even after product release) that they only work in master mode with the D750 and D810. No one at Nikon bothered to tell me that in response to my query, and the engineers intend their new products to lack backwards compatibility. All of this makes me feel quite unappreciated as a Nikon user since F4s days.
  25.  

As I noted, that’s just a random 24 of 500 emails I kept, out of thousands received on the subject. Consider it an alternative view to last week’s poll about upgrading. And, no, I’m not really cherry picking the Nikon-negative emails from the Nikon-positive emails. The number of bad to good probably has been running 20-to-1 lately. 

I’ll be the first one to admit that sometimes the emails I get don’t make logical sense, aren’t exactly correct (the “moves around internationally comment” above, for example; Nikon does support people who move), or dismisses something Nikon is doing while overly promoting something a competitor is doing. Logic has nothing to do with what Nikon is doing to its customers. 

Nikon simply isn’t making an emotional connection to its customer base, and it shows up every day in my email box. Heck, it started showing up from professional photographers in phone calls and voice messages back over a decade ago. If you aren’t one of Nikon’s “chosen few” to get direct contact and support (read: an Ambassador), you probably don’t feel much of a connection to Nikon at all. They’re just a disembodied corporation that wants to sell you something and often has to recall it for repair these days. 

Apple does make an emotional connection with its iPhone customers, and it does so with the camera side of that product much of the time, too. The whole Shot with iPhone campaign being run right now is a subtle instance of it, and is also a subtle echo of Kodak’s old cherished memories campaigns. But it goes beyond that, too. Apple is approachable. You can walk into an Apple Store and they’ll try to help you. You get the distinct feeling from Apple that they want you to succeed in whatever you’re using their products for.

Photographs evoke emotional response. For some that’s just a memory of something they did once when they stumble on the photo, for others it’s a direct projection of their current personality to others via Facebook, while for still others it’s pride in a large print displayed in a gallery or even on their living room wall. 

The strange thing is that Nikon’s marketing gives lip service to the emotional side of photography. Heck, they even have a “Feel Nikon” section on their corporate Web site. But where I think Nikon falls down is that they just doesn’t manage to connect to the customers’ emotions in any direct way. It doesn’t help to talk about the emotional impact of photography from a distant standpoint. Routing everything to a distant tech support person or a voice mail system is not exactly connecting with the customer, either.  The important thing is whether the customers feel connected, loved, and feel they are producing emotional content from the product they bought. 

On the Love/Hate continuum, I think that most Nikon customers would rate Nikon’s connection to them as “disinterested.”  Indeed, I saw that comment in another form many times in my email: “all they want is my money.” 

I should point out that I’ve been supporting Nikon on the Web for over 20 years now, originally through a newsgroup, but for the last 15 or so with an active Web site. I have a pretty long relationship with thousands of Nikon customers, and I’ve sensed the times when the customers were excited (D1! D3/D300!) versus the times the customers were restless. We’re in a restless time right now. 

Will a D5 and all that it suggests bring the Nikon faithful out of their restlessness and back to excitement? We’ll find out soon enough. 

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