Wow, Those Lens Rebates are Transparent

(news & commentary)

NikonUSA announced their bundle rebates for August. Yes, you can now bundle your D810 with a lens and get a rebate. 

Which lenses? 18-140mm DX, 18-300mm DX, 55-200mm DX, 55-300mm DX, 85mm DX, plus the 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G, and 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G. These rebates last until the end of August.

In other words, consumer lenses, mostly DX. Nikon certainly seems to have gone all-in on consumer lenses, and now seems to be choking on them in inventory. If you have a long memory, you may remember that after the D3/D300 came out we went through the opposite problem: the lenses people wanted tended to go out of stock and remained out of stock for long periods of time. It seemed like I was having to report out-of-stock lenses virtually every month for a couple of years there. 

What strikes me over and over again is how can a company whose claim to fame was optics keep missing the demand curves on optics? 

FWIW, the only two of the eight lenses I’d consider buying with the D810 are the 24-85mm and the 70-300mm (and both are excellent choices for the D610). I almost wrote “just the 24-85mm” as the 70-300mm is a bit weak for the D810, especially when you compare it to what the 80-400mm can do. 

Perhaps this is a “cost reduction” strategy for Nikon: put all your eggs in a few baskets that you can crank out in really high volumes. The problem I see with that idea is that the market that would respond to that has mostly collapsed. True consumer cameras are in serious decline, and “convenience” is now being rolled into high-end compact cameras, often now with bigger sensors (Sony RX10, Panasonic FZ1000) for those that are still interested. What’s left in terms of continuing customers that will buy high-end gear (and basically everything in Nikon’s lineup from the D7100 up is high end) are serious photographers, and they aren’t looking for another super or convenience zoom. 

The D810 deserves a better 24-70mm, for instance. But no signs of that appearing any time soon. Instead, Nikon thinks you’ll be happy with shooting JPEGs with the 24-85mm with your D810. Perhaps you will. But I won’t.

The D810 Save and Switch rebates are still in effect, though (through September 30), so if you’re buying a D810 with a serious lens you might still get a bit of cash back via a voucher for future purchases. 

I should also point out that the current instant rebate program is a bit of a shift for Nikon. They used to build lots of “kits,” where you got camera, kit lens, and maybe a telephoto kit lens all in one bigger box with a discounted price. But that’s an SKU nightmare for dealers, amongst other problems. You have to estimate volume for body only, body+kit lens, and body+extended kit pack perfectly or you end up with extra boxes on your shelves for protracted periods of time. The current scheme is more dealer friendly.

In essence, NikonUSA is constantly micromanaging sales these days. So much so that sometimes they change their minds or announce things late. Micromanaging sales is an indication that they aren’t selling naturally at the volumes you want. Long term, you’re better off fixing the problem with the product that’s causing it to not naturally sell the way you want it to.  


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