This Month's DX Lens Plea

(commentary)

Have you ever knocked on a friend’s door when you know they're home, but no one answers? 

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Now I suppose they could be in the shower, or maybe in the bedroom making hot steamy love, or perhaps they’re on a critical phone call with their CIA handler, they might even be laying on the floor with a bookshelf that’s fallen on top of them. But in my experience, it’s never one of those things. They just don’t want to answer the door. 

That’s the way we should all feel about Nikon’s DX lens offerings, I think. We users keep knocking on the door, but it’s rarely answered, and never by whom we want to see. 

I write this because, yes, yet again we have evidence that another of our friend’s does answer the door. In this case, Fujifilm. Did you notice their new lens road map? 16-55mm (24-85mm equivalent) f/2.8 and 50-140mm (75-210mm equivalent) f/2.8 lenses have appeared for their crop sensor camera. Lenses that Nikon’s 15-year old crop sensor DX system still doesn’t have. Go figure. 

If Nikon really wants to survive long term, it’s not going to be with an all FX lineup. And it’s only going to be if they start thinking like customers. Here we are, year 15 and we’re still missing lenses, yet we’re seeing m4/3, Sony E, Fujifilm X, and other newer systems (even Samsung) fill them in for their crop sensor cameras. Plus here we are year 7 post the very successful D300 and we don’t have a current, high-end, pro caliber DX camera any more. 

Back in 2009 The Economist wrote about how Nikon (and Canon) lost much of the stepper business to upstart ASML. See if you see anything in this quote that comes into play with cameras: "The Japanese had far more resources and did everything in-house. So ASML redesigned the product to make it modular, which let it farm out work to specialists. For instance, Carl Zeiss, a German company, made precision lenses. This ultimately enabled ASML to innovate faster and surpass the Japanese, says Mr Maris. ASML's openness took a more literal form, too. “When a machine at Samsung broke down, 20 Japanese would come over and place a tent over it, so no one could see exactly what they did,” he says. ASML took the opposite approach, and showed customers the problem and how it would be fixed." 

Let’s see, Fujifilm and Sony are working directly with Zeiss these days. Plus when a Nikon camera has problems, they simply won’t acknowledge the problem really exists even as they fix it in their repair shops (e.g. D600 and D800). Anyone else seeing the same pattern repeating itself? 

WAKE UP, NIKON! Three or four much needed DX lenses, a pro-calibre D300 replacement, plus more openness with customers would fix things pretty fast, at least in one critical aspect of the camera business. 

Unfortunately, I believe Nikon’s management is creating self-sustaining problems by repeating the same patterns. The same culture and attitude that fumbled the stepper market is now visible in the camera market.

It’s time for all of us to pound really loudly on Nikon’s door. Maybe if sounds like an elephant is at the door, it’ll open…and just in case they’re in the back having hot steamy sex, let’s pound on the door for more than seven minutes ;~). 

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