The coming death of Nikon 22
Is it really already too late for Nikon?
Recently, there was a long lasting thread on this issue at NR site that seemed to be started with Thom Hogan's article called,"Thom Hogan explains why Nikon’s late entry to the mirrorless market could actually be a good thing".
Well it is a real complicated issue. I do not think it is a good thing, but the question is: is it really too late for Nikon to enter into so-called mirrorless market?
It is quite obvious while there is not even one good future-proven mirrorless mount system existing yet, most of these systems are now coming to almost the point we can call it state of maturity with lots of lenses and many third party flash systems, or at least nearing to it.
And it seems like the later they enter into the serious mirrorless market, the higher the hurdle bar raised up. The longer they wait to get into the market , the more demanding the minimam set of features and requirements for their first mirrorelss camera will become, and they must do it right at the very first try.
That said, they already try out the water with the Nikon One, and in fact, despite of extreme negative view of the series you read in many forums just because the Nikon One series has had a tiny sensor, it was actually very advanced system already from the very first Nikon One V1(of couse besides the sensor). At least the AF and video feature set were quite good for the time, and maybe the AF is still one of the very best in the mirrorless world.
Therefore, they do not need to change the direction dramatically, nor do they need totally new tech to actually make a decent big sensor mirrorless system from scratch: I mean they just need to swap the One sensor to FF or APS-C and improve the video part of it to the current level of the Panasonic , then it is already one of the best mirrorless out there.
If they can make it completely sealed and not just water resistant or weather selaed but water proof like the Nikon One AW1but with a big sensor and decent 4k, then it already is a quite sensational camera release.
And many of us (at least those who are in this industry here in Japan) already know that Nikon has produced a few (at least 4) FX mirrorless prototypes and one of which almost made it to the actual shop shelves, but Nikon suddenly canceled it just a few days before the original announcement day they planned for it. And many of us speculated it was because of the A7R2 announcement.........so I am sure it was originally planned for June or July 2015 but canceled out or postponed.
At the time, we all thought they should have actually released it even though it was not up to the level of the Sony A7R2. Then they would have been able to improve it from there on with many many experiments.
But now it seems like they must do it right at the very first try according to many mirrorless biased rumor sites. However, is it really as difficult as those rumor sites think it is for Nikon to beat the all existing mirrorelss systems?
Let's examin it here carefully:
1> the Sony E mount system......is it already considered to be a quite complete system? is its position already consolidated in Sony's long term business plan?
and is it really an intuitive system for photographers and videographers?
I think it is already a good system, but still far from what we call a complete system.
Why? cause there are no tilt and shift lenses, there are no weather sealed bodies, there are no powerful enough big bodies that comfortably take a big super tele prime, etc.
But for most of normal use cases, it is already at least as good or near as good as the state of the art best D-SLRs.
Well it is not close to the state of maturity as a whole system, as of this time of writing this just yet, but I think it is nearing to the point with about 32 lenses already released for this system and full Godox flash support and full Capture One and DXO support for it, and in case of C1 Sony users can download it for just 50 bucks, and we must admit that it is a big sales point for the A7X and the A6XXX series.
Then is it really intuitive ? Not yet, but it is getting better each iteration and Sony seems to be seriously committed to FW updates. Now both my A7R2 and A7M2 are on FW V4.0...and none of my Nikon got more than 3 FW updates.......to get as far as to FW4.0...
Nikon and Canon guys always trash Sony for its complete lack of user support or after sales support for its own cameras........but the reality is Sony has been one of the most user freindly and user supporting camera manufactures. Sony has already issued 5 major FW updates for the A7X2 series and each of these was really a huge update, not just fixing bugs but added many features that did not originally existed.
Nikon and Canon have never done this. So while I have to admit the current Sony A7x system is not as intuitive as it should be, I am sure it will slowly get there since Sony seems to have been seriusly committed to this system. But it takes a bit of time, and I think it will be more than a few more iterations, that means it will probably need about a several years at least to get the state of maturity.
So Nikon seems to still have some time to get it all right.....
2> m43...........first of all, I do not consider this system is a serious system for stills or hybrid work now, I used to think it as a such system, though.
I mean compare the file quality of it to a decent FF or even to a decent APS-C system like the X-T20 or the A6300, or anything better. The m43 IQ is really sad, pathetic......although I really want to love it since I love it for video work and I like the concept of the system: it is small as a whole system, it is fast and very intuitive(especially Panasonic ones), it has incredible lowlight AF, it shoots great video, it has incredible stabilization system, it has very effective self sensor cleaning system, etc...with m43 I never need to worry about sensor dust issue and for me it is a huge plus.
But the 43 sensor at the current level of tech is simply not acceptable for any serious stills work, IMHO. The high ISO output quality is terrible, the blue gain noise seems really bad...the color depth is so poor and therefore the files out of any m43 camera including the best ones like GH5 and EM1MK2 cannot be really malleable at all, it cannot take much software manipulation, and therefore it is useless for stills.
There is a rumor that Olympus will come out with a new big 43 sensor format system.
If it is true, I am very happy and I think it might be my dream system, but I doubt it actually materialized.
So I think here again, Nikon seems to still have some time, or I have to be more honest the m43 is an irrelevent system for many of us who actually enlarge our images to over A2 size or larger.
To me it is an irrelevant system at least for stills. I am using it for video but I think I will replace it with the A7SMK2 since I shoot video in extreme lowlight most of times.
3> Fuji X........still not even close to the state of maturity yet, simply there are too many missing lenses such as macros , TS, super wide primes, etc.
But just like Sony, Fuji has been really seriously committed to this system and I am sure they will get there eventually, but just takes a bit of time, I am guessing it maybe at least a couple of iterations more, and so roughly, in 4 -5 years.
So here it goes again Nikon seems to still have some times to build a nice system to compete with the rest.
4> Fuji GFX, well it is not a mainstream budget system, many of those who have growing boys and girls cannot afford........plus it has just a several or so lenses.
And I think it is not in the same market as Nikon is trying to get into......although I think this system will succeed since Fuji seems to has been really committed to this system...and they have the needed resources to get it going.
5> Canon M, well it also has only 5 or 6 naive lens selections, and so it is totally irrelevant to most of us who do not own any Canon lenses or dislike the adapter concept.
Plus, no one knows Canon is really committed to this system, if Canon really is, then why is Canon not designing a set of serious L class lenses for this system?
So maybe Hogan is right this time Nikon seems to still have some time left for themselves, but like even Hogan admits, Nikon must do it right at the very first try next time with at least the same level of AF, EVF and metering system as the A9 or be better.
I think the more important question here is: what mount should they choose?
Continue on the F mount? As many of Hogan followers have suggested or seem to have supported......or they need a completely new mount?
I think if they choose the easier F mount route that means that is the end of Nikon as a camera manufacture. Choosing the F mount for the next generation camera system is a fatal mistake and I am sure Nikon knows it. That is why we have been getting so many E type of lenses from them recently......only the E and P type of lenses are usable for video or LV work without too many usability related issues.
And the all new E type lenses they've released in the last 2 or 3 years are amazing, if not simply outstanding.
Anyway, many many Sony, Fuji, and Canon fanboys underrate Nikon LV technology just because the current F mount system has terrible LV and video mode. I was one of them but I realized that it is not because Nikon has no tech in this area or Nikon has intentionally crippling their D-SLRs for video or LV use, but the F mount and its mechnical aperture control system is the real issue here. That is why, Nikon must design a new mount that takes full advantage of fully electronic mount design and also release a fully F mount compatible mount adapter.
But even then, they can just re-use the E type lenses, they must ditch the G type and the other older D and AF lenses for the better future compatibility to fully electro-magnetic mount control system of their new mirrorless mount......
And they must design their future mount with a bit wider than the EF mount throat design to take full advantage of the 35mm sensor, if they can do this then their mirrrorless system will be the best IQ system in the 35mm format camera class..
I think Sony's only one major mistake was having re-used physically squeezingly narror E mount for their FF E mount system, e.g., the FE system........the E mount is obviously a bit too narrow for a 35mm format sensor, the amount of shadow cast we get from a lenses like the 16-35mm f4, the 24-70mm f4, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Samyang 14mm f2.8AF, and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 shows it clearly and it is an undeniable fact.
Many many current form of mirrorless fanboys online cliam Nikon has not technology to develop super fast mirrorless AF off the sensor, but is this really true?
No. They have already shown they can do it with the Nikon One.
Many Fuji and Sony fanboys do not realize why Sony and Fuji both suddenly got fast AF tech in their mirrorless, but it is actually from one of many Aptina patents that was originally co-developed with Nikon. Now Sony has been accepted to cross license most of their patents with Aptina(actually their parent company On Semi) and as a result Sony and Fuji've suddenly got the fast OSPDAF in their own cameras. But it was the Nikon One that got it first, way before Sony and Fuji.
So I think it is not too late for Nikon to enter into FF mirrorless market, but they must need a new lens mount.
Then do I sell my Sony to get the new hypothetical Nikon ?
No. I do not sell my A7R, A7R2 , A7MK2 and A6500, but I may add the Nikon in addition if it is really good with new wide FF optimized mount.
That said, I am no longer a gearhead, that means I do not collect cameras that I do not need, I focus on my priorities and ROI. So the cheapest body that can handle all my odd needs the most practical and cost effective solution, and thus it is the best camera out there for me. And it seems like the original A7R is that camera for me.
I do not need high frame rate, I do not need 4k in my stills camera(I own dedicated 4k cameras already), I do not need IBIS(it is actually a minus for me as it increases heat noise significantly). I also prefer the cheap A7R body over anything heavier than it since I already know it can take a lot of abuse after I have used it for 4 years or so.
I wish the next A7R would be smaller without all unneeded gimmicks such as IBIS, 8k(useless considering the current strange tech and internet speed),high frame rate(who wants it in a high resolution camera, that is completely beyond me), fast action AF(the A7R series was originally a slow camera and no need action AF), 650 AF points(who needs it? for me one point AF is fine if it is accurate).
In any case as I said it many times all digital cameras or products are a racket, and no need to get emotional about any of those digital toys(or tools).