Could the Nikon Rumors Be True?

Posted Jun. 7th, 2017 by Daniel J. Cox

Could the Nikon rumors be true? If so it’s very sad, but one that is making its way around the Internet that suggests the Japanese government is trying to broker a deal between Nikon and Fuji. It first appeared on Fuji Rumors, a sister site to 43Rumors. The story, by Japanese news site Sentaku, discusses the many issues Nikon has faced over the past ten years that’s created their difficult situation. Additional sources suggest Fuji is being pressured to buy a substantial stake in Nikon to make sure it’s not purchased by other non-Japanese entities.

Those who travel with us know that I’ve been predicting something like this since about 2008 when I first started shooting the Lumix MFT system. I had been a Nikon user for over 35 years, and during that time had built a strong relationship with the great folks working in Melville, NY. Even so, during that long relationship, there were many, many times I suggested an idea or a need for something to make my photography more productive and every suggestion was met with the comment, “You don’t need that.” No, I’m not joking.

We Know Best

Here’s an example. Back in the late 80’s, I was working on my Black Bear book, and in 1988 Nikon released their newly developed 80-200mm AF zoom. I had been using their original 80-200mm manual focus zoom for several years and it was my favorite lens. That original 80-200mm manual focus zoom had a tripod collar, but the new AF version had been designed without one. Admittedly, the new AF version was much, much smaller than the older manual one, but the new AF lens was extremely heavy and impossible to control when attached to a camera, connected to a tripod. It was extremely unbalanced when shooting horizontal and when I wanted to go vertical, forget it. It was impossible.  During a conversation with Nikon’s NPS representative I mentioned this issue and his exact words were, “Well, you don’t need one.” Are you kidding me, I thought? At that exact time, I was busy working on a project that involved a black subject (black bears) under a heavily canopied forest in northern Minnesota, shooting Kodachrome 64 film, and I was told I didn’t need a lens with a tripod collar. Shortly thereafter Canon announced their new 80-200mm that had a tripod collar you could remove. Imagine that. Somebody giving the photographer a choice.  That’s just one example of Nikon always knowing better than the photographer about what he or she did or didn’t need.

 

Nikon lens table courtesy of Ken Rockwell. Click on the image to see more on Ken’s website.

I have to say I had a great run with Nikon, and I hope whatever happens, the name will always be around. But I can’t say enough about the difference in attitude of one company over another. My time working with Panasonic has been an open door with lots of interest on their part for how they can do things better. With Panasonic, you’re made to feel like you’re part of a team and not just one of many. Nikon has always made great products, but they’ve often been last to the game or at least very late. In the 90’s I should have switched to Canon due to Canon’s superior AF. Nikon eventually caught them but it took at least ten years. Lets not even talk about Image Stabilization.

Too Long to Market

Nikon has always been proud of the length of time it takes them to come to market with a product. Their belief has always been to take their time and do it right. But it didn’t always work that way. Does anyone else recall the first Nikkor 300mm F/2.8 AF lens? It was shaft driven. Canon’s had the motors in the lens. Nikon eventually, over a period of several years—as many as ten—released 3-4 versions of the 300mm F/2.8, eventually accepting that the best way to do a lens of this type was using motors in the lens.

In today’s fast-moving world of technology, you can’t wait years, especially ten, and then release an inferior product. The market will kill you. It’s sad to say, but unfortunately, Nikon is finally losing the argument that they always knew best AND that customers be damned, they’ll take their own sweet time to do it right, even if they fail. Not a pretty sight, but to be quite honest I’m not surprised. Very sad.

 

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There are 21 comments on this post…
  1. Louis BerkOn Jun. 22nd, 2017 (2 months ago)

    Let’s hope something can be brokered. Nikon and Canon have both had their heads buried in the sands over mirrorless. If either company produced a mirrorless camera (with the size/weight reductions we expect from Panasonic/Olympus and the like) I would probably sell all my m4rds gear and go with either one of them. Especially Nikon. Can you imagine a lightweight/compact Nikon mirrorless body – even with an APS-C sensor (in some ways a distinct advantage) and access to the entire Nikkor range of current and legacy lenses? What other camera manufacturer, other than Canon (and Leica) could offer that? Now and then I have come across a company where the product managers are so embedded in their philosophy that they cannot lift their vision to the future. I am sorry to say it (as a former Nikon and Leica shooter) but Nikon (and probably Canon) have this problem. As I say. let’s hope they can sort themselves out.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 23rd, 2017 (2 months ago)

      Louis, I think Nikon could build one heck of a mirrorless system if they decided to do so. However, I really like the size advantage the lenses of the MFT cameras have over even the APS-C sensor cameras. Additionally, yes, it would be nice to have access to the huge range of Nikkor lenses, but I personally feel using the most advanced lenses that were built with the MFT cameras in mind is a better way to go. I have a friend who shoots video exclusively. He bought the GH4 and chose to adapt all fairly old Canon lenses to the new camera. Eventually, he decided to get out of MFT because he was unhappy with the quality but I can’t help think he missed the boat not having the most up to date lens technology to go with the most up to date camera. So many cinematographers think it’s a great idea to use older, noncompatible MFT lenses. I can’t think of anything worse. Yes, Nikon and others have great glass but so does Panasonic. But Lumix/Leica lenses are designed to work with the new cameras as effectively as possible. No adapters needed and no issue with losing AF, Auto Exposure, etc., things we need to worry about when trying to adapt old lenses to new cameras. If you get the impression I’m not a fan of using old technology with new, you would be correct. I’m a firm believer in going with the most current and up to date lenses made for the system you have. Of course, there can be exceptions but overall, I’m extremely happy with the lens line we have for MFT and it’s just getting better all the time. Nikon has decided to ride on the success of their name and it may be too late to jump in and compete with a company as large as Panasonic.

    • Louis BerkOn Jun. 24th, 2017 (2 months ago)

      Daniel, you do make an extremely good point which for some reason I keep on forgetting. The Lumix 12-35 and Lumix 35-100 are some of the best lenses I have ever owned. In fact, the 12-35 is so sharp when I stop it down that I honestly cannot distinguish it as a zoom over a prime lens, which in days gone by would have been my first preference. Sometimes when I look at other systems I have to prompt myself to remember that I already own some great glass in the Lumix and Olympus line up. I suppose I am nostalgic for the days when a AF-D 24/2.8 and AF-D 50/1.4 were such great lenses. Here’s a thought, though. Maybe the Japanese government should be trying to force Panasonic to take over Nikon, instead!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 24th, 2017 (2 months ago)

      The Panasonic/Nikon idea has crossed my mind more than once. But in all honesty, I think that train has left the station. I no longer really know what Panasonic would get out of such a deal other than a great name. But on the technology side of things, Panasonic is blazing their own trail and quite frankly, Nikon’s lack of forwarding thinking has saddled themselves with what I feel is old technology. I’m not convinced Panasonic would want or need that. I really believe Panasonic is finally over the hump in many ways and they’ve made it there without any help from acquiring other companies. That’s a great position to be in. On a path to profit without having to buy others to get there.

  2. AlainOn Jun. 20th, 2017 (2 months ago)

    Daniel, you sound like a friend of mine who divorced his first wife . Since then his ex wife only has faults, but his new wife is as perfect as he wants her to be.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 20th, 2017 (2 months ago)

      That’s one point of view Alain. Another might be, ten years ago General Motors was the largest car company in the world. Today, that spot is held by Toyota, just beneath them is Volkswagen, GM is now number there. I think few will argue with the fact Toyota is the most durable and well built car being made. Maybe an even better analogy would be Kodak. Kodak, at one time was the number one company in the world. You know the rest of that story. Finally, a good marriage is all about being able to change with your partner and both having a willingness to compromise. The example I gave of how Nikon built their early 80-200mm without a tripod collar, then telling their users they don’t need one, is not compromise. On the other hand, Canon building their 80-200mm with a tripod collar you can remove is compromise at its finest and giving your customers what they want, not what YOU think they want. Big differences in all these examples.

  3. Alexander S. KunzOn Jun. 18th, 2017 (2 months ago)

    I’m not defending the recent duds in Nikon’s product releases, and I’ve certainly been exposed to Nikon’s customer-unfriendly attitude, but “Nikon has always made great products, but they’ve often been last to the game or at least very late” appears to leave out quite some parts of the whole picture. For example:

    The D3 pushed both low light abilities and AF into an entirely new territory.

    Beginning with the D7000, Nikon had sensors that have a terrific dynamic range, to this day (the closest to Nikon’s D810 at #1 from Canon is the 5D4 – ranked #35 for dynamic range respectively, on DxOmark).

    Or pushing the resolution of full frame sensors WAY up with the D800 in early 2012, when everyone said “36 megapixels?! That is just nuts!” – and now they all have at least one model with a sensor that has an equal or higher resolution…

    I would rather say that the pendulum swings back and forth…

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 18th, 2017 (2 months ago)

      Alex, the D3 is a great point and well taken. I agree with you on this. But that’s one example. There are numerous others that suggest my take is more accurate. Those include Auto Focus, Image Stabilization, 4K video, image stabilized sensors, radio transmitters in strobes. These are just the big ones. You also mention your experience with “Nikon’s customer-unfriendly attitude” which I heard many others complain about. My experience with the software debacle I mentioned was very eye opening. If someone, like myself, who had worked with them for thirty years and built up a decent relationship, was blamed for the problem, what chance would the average consumer have in trying to figure out a problem like this? Thaks for your insight Alex. I appreciate you joining the conversation.

  4. Geoffrey LeeOn Jun. 15th, 2017 (2 months ago)

    I have used a Nikon 1 V1 for many years and have been happy with it. I used to use a Leica rangefinder film camera. The only thing I have disliked about the KeyMission is that the thing is completely automatic. Not holding to a name, the 1 series would have been better if it was a fourthirds camera.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 18th, 2017 (2 months ago)

      From folks I’ve talked to, the V1 series had some great technology but I’m guessing Nikon was not excited about making them too good–spicifically a larger sensor–due to potential cannibalization of their traditional DSLRs. Kind of like Kodak who invented the digital sensor, but still wanted to hold on to selling film, eventually losing out to the Japanese who built a better sensor and killed the film business. We all know what happened to Kodak. Thaks for your input Geoffrey.

  5. Con Boland MPaOn Jun. 15th, 2017 (2 months ago)

    I fully agree with Itamar. As a long time master photographer who photographed with Sinar, Hasselblad, Leica, Nikon and more recently with Canon (5DsR), I often get asked what camera is best.
    I usually answer with the question: “Which piano sounds best, Steinway, Yamaha or Bosendorfer”?
    Well, perhaps it depends on who plays it.
    Wishing you all success in the exceedingly challenging market of selfies and ever more “photographers” who do things for nearly free.

  6. Kolbein DahleOn Jun. 12th, 2017 (2 months ago)

    Through the last 13 years I have left Nikon, sorry for that, but Canon was a better option then, and I have no intention of a new change.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 12th, 2017 (2 months ago)

      Whatever works for you Kolbein. I was a very long time Nikon fan myself but with all the change going on I decided to try Panasonic Lumix and could not be happier.

  7. Scott HightonOn Jun. 11th, 2017 (2 months ago)

    I, too, have been a Nikon photographer fro close to 40 years now. I’ve rarely been disappointed in my Nikon equipment.

    As one of the earliest VR photographers, I eagerly looked forward to Nikon’s offering when they announced their first VR cameras, and purchased one of their KeyMission 360 cameras during their pre-order phase.

    I was horribly disappointed in the result. The design looked good, the apparent build quality looked good, but the results were pretty dismal. Resolution sucked, there was no in-camera stabilization (even though this had been touted), stitching was poor, sharpness was lacking, and the user interface / software was a disaster (especially bluetooth connecting).

    I spoke directly with the Nikon team who’d designed and marketed this, and they acknowledged its shortcomings, but were confident that it was everything that VR photographers would want because they’d spent so much time on it.

    Ultimately, I returned the camera for a refund — the first time I’d ever done that with any piece of Nikon equipment.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 11th, 2017 (2 months ago)

      Thanks for your insight Scott. I recently took a look at the KeyMission 170 (GoPro competitor). It’s a beautiful camera. Well built, nice design, much better than GoPro IMO, but the dealer selling it actually helped talk me out of buying it. He suggested I go online and read the reviews about user experiences and told me to pay close attention to software comments. I did and I never went back to make the purchase.

      Which is a great segue into another sad but true Nikon software story. Several years ago I bought the newly released Nikon D600. I went on assignment forgetting to download the newest Nikon software, which was easy to do since I was using Aperture. Halfway through the assignment, I decided to start using Nikon View NX to caption the images since NX was supposed to be able to safely place all IPTC Metadata in the RAW files. I had been using Aperture and had already safely collected and Imported about 10,000 images. During the shoot, my wife was staying back at the lodge to caption the pictures which went well until I suggested we start using Nikon View. After she opened the 10,000 images with Nikon View they were no longer seen by my Mac or Aperture. I tried everything, including downloading all the newest updates for Mac and Nikon. Thankfully I had a backup of all the files. Eventually, once I got back to civilization and called Nikon I was told I should have downloaded the D600 update for NikonView NX. In other words, it was my fault. I never was able to get those files resurrected in RAW format even though we sent them to Nikon in Japan. All 5000 pictures were destroyed.

      Finding out that Nikon would release software that could destroy original NEF’s was bad enough, but through the whole process, I also found that the person who used to be in charge of software, at Nikon USA, had been let go two years earlier. And amazingly, they never replaced him. This was a huge Red Flag for me. How could a camera manufacturer producing world class digital cameras, not have a software person on staff? This was just one of about 6 things that happened over a period of years that made me rethink my dedication to Nikon. And the rest, as they say, is history.

  8. Dave GlatzOn Jun. 8th, 2017 (2 months ago)

    This story has been debunked already on Nikon Rumors.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 9th, 2017 (2 months ago)

      Not necessarily Dave. Time will only tell.

    • Dave GlatzOn Jun. 9th, 2017 (2 months ago)

      I dunno, Dan but saw this on June 6. https://nikonrumors.com/2017/06/06/about-that-fuji-helping-nikon-rumor.aspx/

      They characterize it as “another 100% fake” rumor/story making the rounds.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 9th, 2017 (2 months ago)

      One rumor site refutting rumors from a competing rumor site. Guess we will just have to wait and see.

  9. Itamar EngelsmanOn Jun. 8th, 2017 (2 months ago)

    You might well be right but the main problem today is the ever shrinking market of cameras due to the quality of images from phones. Yes, for us professionals we will always need a larger camera with a large sensor but how big is the professional market ? Our products are developed and marketed on the back of the mass produced cameras and lenses that bring the larger part of the profit. In that light neither Nikon nor Fuji will probably survive by themselves and combining the two together might be able to save the resulting Company and give us more of the professional products we need and want. Let’s not look at it from an emotional point of view but an economic one how to survive in this rapidly changing market.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 8th, 2017 (2 months ago)

      Could not agree more Itamar. Part of the reason my Lumix products are producing the results I need is due to a changing market. Does Nikon produce a better image? Sometimes it does. But does the market care? Some markets do, most don’t. Add to that, Nikon’s slow to change business model and it becomes clear there will eventually be consolidations within the camera market.

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