What the heck happened to Nikon? Did they just give up?

Not a traditional camera. 

I'm mystified by the latest trend in advertising for Nikon products. I looked at their feed on Twitter only to find an ad that told me, boldly, that 92% of Americans wanted 360 Imaging and that the Nikon Key Mission cameras was just the family of cameras fulfill that need. In fact, Nikon's advertising states to me that up to 15% of this 92% desire to use the camera when "getting intimate." To which I respond, "What the hell has their advertising agency been smoking? And how many product managers have been hospitalized for utter stupidity?" This is not an attack on Nikon products but the incompetence of their advertising personnel in north America. The attack on the products comes later...

I made a reply to Nikon (also on Twitter ---- just like the president elect...) telling them that I seriously doubted some 280 million people even had any idea of what 360 Imaging was, much less having a desire to buy some. I write daily about photography and I have no real idea of what the hell Nikon was trying to say in their ad. "Key Mission"? Is that latin longhand for "WTF"?

Then some wild eyed Nikon fan boy, who feels that the credentials of graduating from Central Florida Investors College and Trade School give him license to lecture me about advertising, wrote in response to call me "grandpa" and state that I must not understand enough about social media to scroll down and read the (initially occluded) fine print (two point type) at the bottom of Nikon's twitter ad. I went back to Twitter to see what he was talking about and laughed even harder. 

Apparently Nikon extrapolated their 92% number from a survey sample of 1,000 people. Chosen at random? I hardly think so. 

Look. I get it. Nikon is panicking and grasping at straws. They've made a nice copy of a Go-Pro action camera and are desperate to sell it. To sell anything. But even though "Lying With Statistics" was one of my favorite books when I was in the advertising business, wishing something was so doesn't make it so. 

A large portion of 92% of American adults over the age of 18 don't give a rat's ass about photography and many more don't have a clue what Nikon is talking about. Nikon's ad is an insult to the intelligence of real photographers and, in fact, to most consumers. 

Here's what Nikon really needs to do: Fire your north American advertising agency and find an agency with balls and brains. Figure out what products you make that are good and worth owning. Sell those products by telling us about their features and the benefits we would accrue from taking advantage of those features. If it turns out that the only two products that are worth more than a good spit are the D500 and the D810 then just concentrate on making those and talking about them in your advertising. 

Fix all the broken crap you've stumbled over in the last few years (two different recalls on my D750s... oil on the D600 shutters...D810 horrible back focus...) and apologize to those nice customers who've been patient enough to keep buying your stuff. Then....

Go out for a long walk with a Fuji XT-2 in your hands, or a Sony A7Rii, or an Olympus PenF, and see what the f#ck you are missing. For God's sake, at one time your company made great rangefinder cameras so the whole idea of designing and making a nice product should not be a frikking mystery. Just pretend you are designing an S series rangefinder then put an EVF in the viewfinder and a CMOS sensor in the film plane. Fill in the rest with current imaging technology. Market the crap out of it and let everyone know that you thought of it back in 1948. 

Just give up on the jellybean design cameras. They've had their run and everyone is tired of the form factor, the kludgy-ness and the desperately poor, pentaprism viewfinders. No more boring stuff. 

Don't screw around with CX mount this or DL that. Kill the small formats that you so obviously hate and concentrate on bringing a decent, full frame, rangefinder style, EVF enabled, camera to market. And while you are at it spend a few dollars more and upgrade the processing chips you spec to something that's not so cheesy and budget-y so you can actually offer faster frame rates, 4K without desperate cropping, and all the other stuff we savvy consumers expect (and deserve) in 2017. Oh hell, while you are getting the facelift and the marketing tummy tuck why don't you just max out the corporate credit card and make the video better than everyone else's? Faster frame rates, more bit depth and even the ultimate splurge: 4:2:2. And while you are catching up with the rest of the industry also try fixing your almost absent AF ability in video mode.

Or you can keep making up fatuous statistics, pushing out defective products and swigging beers on the loading dock of international commerce while you watch your market share shrink like my favorite jeans dried on hot. We just don't have to care because we've moved on.

One last suggestion, sell the name to some group of European scarf makers while it's still got some value. At least you'll have the last laugh.


Eric Rose said...

Nikon and Canon are so last century. I bet they still think newspapers have large PJ staff. I swear given the way Japanese companies are structured I am sure the people at the very top of the food chain probably care more about building ships and heavy equipment than cameras. How else could you explain the totally absurd/shoddy products they are producing plus the delusional advertising they engage in. The exec's at Nikon and Canon have been drinking the koolaid for far to long.

Joe Gilbert said...


I love it when you lay down the law!



Gary said...

With all due respect (and I do respect your observations), this post is more polemic than analysis. You like EVFs, many don't. Nikon makes excellent, durable cameras. Among the enthusiasts I know--and this is by no means a proper statistical sample--I don't see many using mirrorless cameras. This is not to say that mirrorless cameras are inferior, rather that there is room for both platforms. Nikon (and I'm sure Canon as well)keeps improving its DSLRs. I can't comment on the Nikon 360 video cameras, as I have no interest in them, or on Nikon advertising,to which I pay little attention. I just think their DSLRs are pretty great.

Hugh said...

I think Canon have got it right at the moment.

I've had a 5D1, 5D2, now got a 5D3.

Next camera will be a 5D4 or the mark 2 version of the 5Ds. No brainer.
Not very interested in cameras - just want one that will do the job, without having to think about it.

I hope that when Canon do a serious mirrorless camera, it will have a 5D style body and ergonomics.

Canon reliability and service support is excellent as well.

MikeR said...

I admire your restraint, Kirk.

Kurt Friis Hansen said...

You're ba'ack!!!

I love it, when you enter the "Saloon", guns (eyes?) blazing looking for a good bar brawl!

Especially, when you get away with it...

Ahhh... the world is whole again and Kirk Tuck back amongst the living. What a glorious start to a new year.


Del Bomberger said...

Tell us what you really think Kirk...

phil said...

Hi Kirk....you are spot on. (apart from the European scarf manufacturers - what have you got against Europe lol)

Greetings from the UK.

Dogster said...

Ouch! absolutely agree about their advertising. It seems totally unrelated to their cameras. Nikon makes some good cameras, but advertises them ineffectually. A D3300 could be an effective foil to the mirrorless cameras, marketed correctly, and upgraded some. But they do need a mirrorless line. Myself, I currently own a Nikon D750 and 3 Olympus OM-D cameras. There are good and bad about all of them, as you better than I know. Bottom line though is Nikon does seem lost, and this makes me hesitate to invest anymore in their stuff.

MartinP said...

". . . sell the name to some group of European scarf makers while it's still got some value . . ."

Ooooooooooo! That made me giggle.

The rest is not totally inaccurate either, unfortunately. For those stats, I have the idea of 'researchers' cold-calling a thousand people by phone, but there is a problem with the dialling list and so the same fifty people are giving increasingly weird answers during their week of nuisance phone-calls . . .

Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

Hey Phil, I love the Europeans. I was making a (not so oblique) reference to the French company, Hermes, which owned Leica for a while... Very chic. Not such good camera marketers.

To MartinP, If over 200,000,000 Americans know about 360 VR that would at least twice as many as can name their own state capitols. I'm just certain they are wandering the aisles at Walmart and asking the friendly and knowledgeable staff, "Excuse me, but where are the Nikon Key Mission cameras? And which memory card would you recommend with that?" Right.....

Del. Well......oh don't get me started.

Unknown said...

Do You work for Nikon? The short point of this article is that technologically Nikon is behind everyone else except maybe for canon. The author does not even want to get into a features like focus peaking, ability to use multiple lenses from a different manufacturers, and multitude of focus points. Finally, the only time you see your composition through optical VF is on your camera. After that, is screen on the back of your camera, your computer's monitor or maybe print...no more optical VF. Another words, if all camera manufacturers switch to EVF tomorrow you'll just use EVF...

JereK said...

That pretty much sums it up. Just please Nikon already wake up and make a digital s or f3 with evf. Throw in a new shorter flange distance mount that with a adapter takes all f mount lenses and.. but alas. No.. I went the Fuji way and will maybe return if that happens.

Peter said...

I have no idea what a 'Key mission' camera is, and I certainly don't come into the 15% who have intimate uses in mind for it! On the other hand, I don't actually care. I (still) have lots of Nikon stuff: an F2, FM3a, F100, about 7 lenses, and even an S3 rangefinder with 4 lenses. But no digital Nikon stuff, that side is taken care of by Leica, and Olympus. If Nikon disappeared, it would be unfortunate, but I wouldn't loose any sleep.

Now if Nikon brought out a digital S3, like a full frame Fuji XPro-2, or a more versatile AF Leica M240, I would be VERY tempted. The chances of them doing this are about zero.

Peter Wright

Anonymous said...

The only reason I still use my Nikon is that I passionately dislike EVF viewing. It is like looking at a video game scene. I regularly peep around the EVF to make sure the real world still exists. I much prefer an optical viewfinder. I look forward however to trying the new higher resolution GH5 EVF. Maybe I will learn to suspend reality much like our electorate recently did.

Craig Yuill said...

Well Kirk, I share many of your views about Nikon's marketing and camera-development strategy, but not your outrage. Over the last two years Nikon has introduced some very good (if not unique) lenses. And demand for the D500 that you have been very critical of is apparently very strong.

That said, I agree with you that the video specs and features of most Nikon cameras (especially the DSLRs) suck. My Nikon D7000 is great for taking still photos, but poor for shooting video. My Nikon V1 is a fine video camera, and an decent stills camera, but the only stabilized lenses there are for it are relatively-slow zoom lenses, which are not the best for low-light shooting. Image and video stabilization has become a more and more important feature to me, so I have been seriously thinking about trying one of the newer m43 cameras that have IBIS and decent video specs (along with a few of those small, relatively-fast m43 primes). I won't be in the market for one of the top-end models, like the new GH5 and E-M1 Mark II. But the E-M10 Mark II, E-M5 Mark II, and G85 all have their fans, and should fit the bill. I don't know if this new m43 gear could completely replace my Nikon gear, but it would definitely complement it.

Doug said...

Kirk: Nikon's made so many foolish decisions in the last few years that it's hard to believe. For me, their decisions around the Nikon 1 line have been especially perplexing. I travel internationally and wanted a smaller camera/lenses. The N1 cameras were small and light and had fantastic AF. Yet, they chose to use an inferior sensor, crippled their camera features (no AEB), and kept releasing lenses few wanted. The Nikon 1 V3's design was so poor and the cost so high, it was absurd. Can you imagine a Nikon 1 with the Sony 1" senaor, D7200 features and a few great, fast lenses with OIS? Anyway, they obviously preferred to lose me as a customer rather than allow me to shift from a D7000 to a full-featured Nikon 1. Why should Nikon care which of their cameras I use, as long as it's a Nikon? Makes no sense to me at all.

Noons said...

The entire dslr market is ready to be archived.
Their marketing (Canikon et all) is a sad joke that still lives in the era of clunky flipping mirrors and still thinks that's what everyone wants.
Never mind that it costs a lot to produce precise and reliable focusing systems with those and it adds tremendously to the weight of their paper weights disguised as cameras.
I only hope it won't be too late when they finally wake up as I don't wish that market to disappear. It has a niche. But it's not where the majority of folks are nowadays.
Ah well, who cares? "When all else fails just keep banging against the same wall" seems to be the sum of all knowledge of marketing departments in the camera business.
Good luck!
Welcome back and looking forward to reading your posts this 2017!

atmtx said...

But wait, Nikon just announced the D5500. No need to worry. All is good. I can't wait for the D3500 and D5600, next year.

Thomas F. said...

I agree, Nikon marketing sucks.

But I think their DSLRs are better than you give them credit. I still haven't found a mirrorless camera that would replace my D5300 for the same price and with the same image quality.
Plus, I love the jellybean form factor, it's easy to hold in the hand.

But if they made a mirrorless D5700 with a great EVF without price increase, that would be far more interesting than KeyMission.

Anonymous said...

Why are mirrorless fan boys so determined to pronounce DSLRs dead? What is it in their psyche that seems to require this? Why the wishful thinking? What difference does it make to them? Why, why, why? So strange (to paraphrase our president-elect)


Lorenzo said...

I agree. Nikon and the other one are just sleeping. Or comatose. Ok, let's suppose that you prefer the OVF for a lot of good reasons like...ehm...slightly less VF blackout in burst mode (that will be gone in 2017 models...) and...better battery life (this is a good one!)...and...some nostalgic something about optical stuff. Ok, fine. Do a DSLR. With a mirror slapping around super-fast with small gears going up and down and small curtains too like a steampunk clockwork (oh dear...) while others, all the others, have e-shutter and will get to global shutter in a couple of years (and IBIS, Dual-IS, hi-res mode, sealing, the fu***ng sensor that follows the stars!!!...). Fine, your choice.

But at least bring the electronic part on par with the rest of the world (let's not even talk about innovate). There is no way to defend this.

Ok, your latest model has 85 more AF points and 0.2EV more DR and...what else? Where is the cool part of your thing? Pro capture, focus stacking, 4k shooting...focus peaking at least?

Do I really have to take the picture and review it after the shot in the LCD? What about the WYSIWYG mantra?

Ok, sorry for the rant.

Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

Just to answer Chris...... It's like vaccines, refrigeration, lithium batteries, the eradication of polio, etc. Technology and innovation march forward. Not understanding it and rallying for scraping the mold off your cheese is hardly un-strange or logical. Big machinery replaced by technology. Adding machine replaced by computer. Typewriter replaced by word processor. In each example the cost of building them ultimately dropped while the convenience and value soared.

Welcome to 2017 Chris.

Anonymous said...

That's a good one. Mirrorless = vaccines, enlightenment and progress. DSLRs are like Dreadnoughts, the Spanish Inquisition etc etc.

This is what I mean. Lorenzo's highly emotional extolling of the benefits of the mirrorless is a classic of its kind. There seems to be a not entirely rational hatred of "...mirror slapping around super-fast with small gears going up and down and small curtains too like a steampunk clockwork (oh dear...)". These mirrors have been going up and down since about 1959 or earlier and most are still working. It's all so hyperbolic.


Bassman said...

Nikon got half way there with the V1 - superb focusing, great form factor, same battery as my D7000, limited crippled yet functional use of my F mount lenses. Then they lost the plot. New battery, not the same as any other Nikon, worse battery life. Worse form factor. Ugly! No improvement in F mount lens compatibility. Lousy new lenses (not bad lenses, but not the right ones). No possibility of third party lenses. No integration with flash system.

You could have had me, could have charged me a lot for the V2, V3, etc. But Olympus and the open m43 standard gave me better images, way more than two camera choices, unbelievable lens choices. Too late.

Craig said...


That's the hardest I've laughed at a photography blog post in a long time.
OMG, what a hoot!

"In fact, Nikon's advertising states to me that up to 15% of this 92% desire to use the camera when "getting intimate." To which I respond, "What the hell has their advertising agency been smoking?..."

So the 15%, or 138 of the 920 people that are interested in 360 Imaging want to use the camera when getting intimate?

I'm not a consumer of porn or erotica, but the few Midwesterners I know that admit to having 'consumed' that media in the past weren't expressing interest in videos of themselves and their partners.

I assumed that the amateur producers of that tripe would choose their equipment just like the pros choose their on-camera talent and "Go Pro."

Actually, the line you quoted above makes me wonder whether Nikon Japan is trying to produce their U.S. Marketing Materials in-house to save a few bucks, and the people doing it have a poor command of English/American as a second language - similar to some of the camera user manuals I've suffered through from Japanese manufacturers.

On the other hand, if it is an American ad agency producing this garbage, maybe they're sprinkling some Ecstacy powder on their joints before rolling and smoking them...