Three Systems, Three Brains


I really fail to understand Nikon's thinking sometimes. Now, this is going to seem like it's a little out in left field, but bear with me for a moment. 

Today Nikon introduced...wait for it...wait for it some more...a close up lens for the Nikon 1 lenses. Woohoo, you say, but why the heck is Thom writing about that on this site and not on sansmirror? (It is on sansmirror, by the way, just look in the Accessories section.)

Nikon has three "systems" of cameras: CX, DX, and FX. It appears that Nikon has a strongly variable definition of the word "system" if you look at those three simultaneously. Let's talk about close-up lenses for a moment. 

Nikon had two basic close-up lenses in the film (pre-FX) era: the 5T and 6T. These were highly useful accessories to carry around with you, especially back in the days when Nikon's filter size wasn't so variable. They could take many lenses and give them useful macro capabilities, meaning when you were traveling light, you didn't need a macro lens. They were also necessary for the short-lived 70-180mm Micro-Nikkor, as they were what allowed that lens to get to 1:1. Why then Nikon stopped making and selling the 5D and 6D before they discontinued the 70-180mm is thus, another of those strange Nikon systems' decisions. 

FX lost it's close-up lens. DX never got a close-up lens ;~). And now CX has one. What? Now the cynical would say "Nikon doesn't want to make a macro lens for CX." Could be, but the DX Micro-Nikkors are incredible on the FT1 on the Nikon 1 bodies, so why not just point to them in your marketing? Indeed, the DX Micro-Nikkors seem more useful on a CX camera than on a DX camera, especially the 40mm. Moreover, what is it about a Nikon 1 user that justifies providing a low-cost CU macro option for the kit lenses but not one for the DX kit lenses? (Remember, Nikon 1 bodies can cost more than Nikon DX bodies, so it isn't because the Nikon 1 folk are cost conscious ;~.)

It's becoming clearer and clearer that CX is controlled by one brain at Nikon, DX by another (slightly non-functioning one), and FX by yet another. Now that's not all bad (other than the DX brain being weaker than the CX and FX ones), but here's the problem: there's very little coordination and conformance between these brains. It's as if Al Gore ran the MacBook Air division, Jacques Clouseau the MacBook Pro, and Steve Jobs the iMac. 

Should Nikon hook someone moving up from smartphones with the Nikon 1, can they later move them up to the DX DSLRs? Well, if they do, that poor former CX user will find that things they were expecting are missing (remember, one of the first CX lenses was a 28mm wide prime equivalent). That can't be right. 

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