Could the Nikon Rumors Be True?
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.
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.