Nikon Kills the DL Lineup Before They Are Born - Ramblings

This news release came out in Japan.  I have not seen it posted at Nikon Canada at time of writing.

Cancellation of release of the DL series of premium compact cameras
February 13, 2017 TOKYO - Nikon Corporation announced today that sales of the long-awaited DL series of premium compact camera, the DL18-50 f/1.8-2.8, DL24-85 f/1.8-2.8, and DL24-500 f/2.8-5.6, will be canceled.
A June, 2016 release was originally planned for the DL series. However, with the identification of issues with the integrated circuit for image processing, release of the three cameras was delayed indeterminately.
Since then, everyone involved has worked very hard to develop products with which our customers will be satisfied. However, it has been decided that sales of the DL series will be canceled due to concerns regarding their profitability considering the increase in development costs, and the drop in the number of expected sales due to the slow-down of the market.
We sincerely apologize to all those affected by this decision, especially those customers who waited so long for the cameras to be released, retailers and others whose business will be affected, for the inconvenience this decision may cause.

While I am not surprised, this is disconcerting news.  I know that Nikon has been facing financial challenges for a while and nothing in the pipeline that I can see is set to take on the growing mirrorless space.  While lots of people are saying that mirrorless is killing DSLRs, as an instructor, I can tell you that entry level DSLR courses are outselling introductory mirrorless courses by a substantial ratio, so in the Canadian market at least, there remains lots of upside for mirrorless.  When I rarely step behind the counter in my local camera store, I would estimate that DSLRs outsell mirrorless by 20:1 although my sample size is rather small.

The DL series were set to compete with the higher end point and shoots and super zooms from Sony and Lumix, two companies who are doing great work in the space.  When the DL series was announced a year ago, they looked like they would be competitive with the then shipping alternatives.  Now, a year later, they are seriously underpowered compared to the alternatives.  So while I am sad to see that Nikon is not going to compete in this space and also do a reduction in force of 1,000 jobs, I do credit Nikon leadership for choosing not to play a game that they could not possibly win.  

I have high hopes for Nikon but they need to streamline further.  The D5600 is nothing but the excellent D5500 saddled with the burden of the unreliable Snapbridge remote control.  To be kind, Snapbridge even works sometimes, but it's so little so late as to be unimportant.  Nikon builds great cameras, but their software is really quite horrible, much like every camera manufacturer.  

We are hearing rumours of a replacement for everything in the full frame lineup other than the D5.  That would be a lot of cost being incurred in a very short time, particularly as retail spending on consumer products is softening.  Certainly the D610 and even the D750 are starting to show their age, although they remain excellent bodies.  I have even seen a translated piece from Japan talking about a Df2.  That piece set me off a bit.

I love the Df.  It's a great camera in my opinion.  Based on sales, and the volume of trade-ins, I am standing in a field by myself on this one.  I have so far met one person who liked the Df enough to buy one.  This is out of the hundreds of people I meet in and around photography.  The Df is/was far too expensive for what it is, basically a D750 without video capability and having a retro design.  Nikon spent a bomb on marketing and advertising to create demand in advance of the Df release and the customer response was a resounding meh, presuming that they bothered to look.  Digital buyers do not want a camera that looks like an old FE for $3,000.  Smart buyers went for the D750.  There just is not a large enough marketplace of buyers who are willing to spend an extra $1000 for retro looks.  Trade-in Df bodies are languishing on used shelves because the sell price for used bodies is at least $1200 higher than would be reasonable to pay.  They didn't sell new and they aren't selling used.  I see used shops paying too much, and looking to make 150% to 200% margin on what they paid.  Perhaps this is needed to pay off their LSD bill.  If Nikon brings out a Df2, someone needs to be fired, unless the new body comes in at about $1500 and I seriously do not see that happening, mostly because of a continuing series of asinine decisions.

Do we need a successor to the D810 with more megapixels?  Especially considering that the D810 is a rebadged D800 to deal with the horrible customer experiences that came from that first release?  Yes I know that Canon has a 50MP sensor.  Trust me when I tell you straight up that it's more a pain in the butt than not, generates microshake like no tomorrow and brings new lows to high ISO performance.  In fact some shipping glass isn't good enough to keep up with the sensor. If Nikon, or anyone else for that matter, drops a 75MP 35mm sensor on the market, where is the money going to come from to replace all the lenses that cannot resolve well enough to keep up?

Do we need a successor to the D610?  Probably.  The D600 experience was very poor and I have seen enough D610s need to go in for service due to half the screen being in focus and the other half soft that folks are dissatisfied.  The D750 had none of those issues, but had no better dynamic range than the D610 and maxed out at 1/4000 making it mostly unsuitable to be the pro's second body.  Sports shooters needed more speed than a D810 could muster.

The Nikon 1 lineup spent all of its time getting kicked in the kneecaps by the media and sellers.  I thought and still do, that the V3 with the better glass did a really great job for a relatively small product.  Sadly, it got no love from corporate and got left behind by more innovative and active competitors.  Nikon has no mirrorless play.  They have no serious play in superzoom and now no play in large sensor compacts.  There are a few Nikon point and shoots, but that market is so dead it has already decayed and smells really bad.  I have not shot the D5600 but still think that the D5500 is a stupendous value for the new or upgrading consumer photographer because it works so well and is not burdened by Snapbridge.  I have less use for the D3400 which is of course a D3300 complete with the curse of Snapbridge.  The D7200 continues to be a strong choice amongst those interested in photography while also having to be cautious about spend.

I suppose that you could say I am snobbish.  I loved the D4s and love the D5.  The better fast Nikkor glass is killer quality and even some reasonably priced glass such as the 24-120 is really very pleasing.  It may behoove Nikon to keep the focus on the DSLR user, with a slightly leaner lineup, and less attention on useless features like Snapbridge.  They have the glass, and if they focus on their knitting and keep the line lean, they can get through this.  What gets in the way are stupid decisions such as releasing two identical lenses, one with and one without VR for a $50 difference.  That's just moronic.  When your smartphone has vibration management, your kit lens should have it to, and there should not be yet another option where it doesn't.  That's just bad planning and unnecessary complexity.  When and if Nikon makes the mirrorless play, it must do one thing more important than anything else.  A Nikon mirrorless must be able to use existing FX and DX lenses right out of the box.  No idiot adapter a la Canon, no third party piece of crap converter needed, just a native Nikon mount.  Any mirrorless offering from Nikon that does not natively use existing Nikon glass is DOA.

This is of course, just my opinion and I could be wrong.

Except that I'm not.  C'mon Nikon, we are counting on you to survive and thrive.