The Good News and Bad News 

(commentary)

With Nikon now acknowledging a flare issue with the D750, we have four major FX DSLR bodies in a row from them that have had problems that really should have been caught before leaving the factory (I discount the Df because it was a very low volume product). While the D750 problem and D810 problem (white spots) are far less serious than the D600 and D800 problems were, anyone paying attention is going to have a reaction to the continued issues in the FX DSLRs. 

So let’s start with the good news: Nikon seems to have acknowledged the D750 and D810 problems sooner than they did with the D600 and D800 issues (massive dust and focus performance, respectively). I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and guess that we’ll quickly have a fix that deals with it and Nikon will do the right thing by early owners. All that would be exactly as we want it to be. 

But there’s two bits of bad news in this situation:

  • Four major cameras in a row have had QA issues.
  • Nikon themselves don’t seem to be discovering the problems.


The second thing I note above means that we’re totally dependent upon users identifying issues and getting Nikon to acknowledge them. Nikon’s customer support isn’t exactly stellar, and the usual response people have been getting when reporting such issues—including those that I know who’ve reported the D750 flare banding—is typically a denial of any problem. Nikon’s first response on the D750 reports customers made to them all seem to have been “don’t shoot into the sun” types of responses. 

I can’t believe it, but I’ve now written for over 15 years that Nikon needs an ombudsman (most recently in this article). Someone who can act as an intelligent intermediary when customers don’t get what they consider to be an adequate response, and who is proactive in responding to potential issues like this one. In other words, someone at Nikon who’d get out a couple of D750s and actually try shooting into the light when a user says they had a problem with that. And who has the ability to ask customer support to count and forward all calls that come in about the same thing. David Dentry at NikonUSA was sort of acting in that role for awhile, but that wasn’t his main job, he wasn’t directly accessible to customers, and now he’s no longer with the company. It’s past time for a visible and consumer-reachable ombudsman, I think.

But it’s the first of the two bad news bullets above that’s the real issue today for Nikon. Say you’re considering buying a Nikon FX DSLR. But you’re aware that all four of Nikon’s previous major FX DSLRs had teething problems out of the gate and many (if not most) needed to go back to Nikon for fixing. Hmm. Do you now buy a new Nikon DSLR immediately after it is introduced? No way. You’re going to wait at least a couple of months to see whether or not anything problematic surfaces. Which is going to present a significant drag on Nikon DSLR sales.

Simply put, Nikon has to fix both the D750 problem and their systemic problems, stat. If they continue to operate as they have been, they’re just piling up sales frictions that are going to be more and more difficult to overcome. That’s bad news in a time when camera sales are drifting downwards.

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