#753. The Monday (Guest) Post – Kirk Tuck’s take on Nikon’s mirrorless plans

"Why pine for unavailable cameras when it's really the lighting stuff that makes the real difference?"

“Why pine for unavailable cameras when it’s really the lighting stuff that makes the real difference?”

Why I will absolutely rush to buy the new mirrorless Nikon but will probably never take possession of one…

 

Breathlessly waiting for the big announcement of Nikon’s mirrorless delivery date. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t even drink coffee because I’m so excited to finally be able to buy the camera(s) I’ve always really needed. Right? Yawn. Not so much…

 

****************************************************************************

 

This article appeared on Kirk’s VSL site this morning and is such a perfect accompaniment to the Monday Post of a couple of weeks ago, that there was no justification in trying to write something of our own. Better to ask Kirk if we could re-post his work. Thankfully, he agreed.

 

****************************************************************************

 

I’ll rush to Precision Camera and put my name on the Nikon waiting list the minute we find out when that mirrorless, premium camera has a ship date! But, I previously put my name on lists for the Nikon D850 at Precision Camera and at Amazon.com (it’s a race!!!) and that was months ago. I still don’t have one of the “world’s greatest” cameras in hand with which to shoot. At this rate the mirrorless camera from Nikon might be available to average consumers like me in late 2019… But by then someone else will most likely have announced and actually delivered the very next “miracle” camera and my choice will be to grab something that exists and is purchasable versus waiting for an object of desire that seems to be more “vaporware” than attainable, own-able hardware. Yep. just checked again and both outlets are still showing the D850 as backordered. Wasn’t that camera launched like six months ago? I guess once they sent one to every Nikon V-Logger they had to go back and make the next batch of one hundred “super sensors.” Maybe they get more profit per camera from those suckers in the EU….

 

In the painful lull between announcement and launch, and then launch and ultimate accessibility, I’m sure Canon will launch something with even better specs. And I’m pretty sure none of us expect Sony to stand still and wait around for Nikon to actually fix their delivery pipeline.

 

But I guess that’s okay because I can’t really get excited about buying into another proprietary lens mount right now. I’d have to either use adapters with my motley collection of Nikon F mount lenses or sell off everything and start over from scratch. And I’m not eager to be a repeat beta tester for a brand new, never seen before, selection of lenses. Of course, with my luck even a dedicated Nikon F-to-new lens mount adapter won’t work in my favor. Some of the lenses I like and use on my D700s and D800s are the older D style lenses that have the little screwdriver autofocus mechanisms and I’ll bet you cash money that whatever adapter hits the market from Nikon will only work with either the latest “P” series lenses or, at best, AFS G series lenses. You know, the newer lenses with no external aperture rings. The manually settable aperture lens are the ones I actually like best…

 

I might be able to use my oldest F series manual focus Nikons in exactly the same way I use those lenses on the Panasonic GH5 right now. And that would be in a totally dumb, totally manual mode. Today I can play nostalgic dilettante and shoot a Nikon 105mm f2.5 AIS lens on my D800e and I’ll get a focusing confirmation light in the viewfinder as well as correct exposure in manual and aperture priority; as long as I remember to program in the lens’s maximum aperture and focal length. But I also think the lens mount adapter would have to be a strange looking beast since the mount on the older lenses will be so much smaller in diameter than the opening in the new body mounts. Think “cone head” camera adapter look. Kinda weird.

 

In the last week or so, since the big non-announcement-announcement torrent I’ve watched used prices of D800s, D810s and D750s all drop. I’ve noticed more recent Nikon lens models hitting the used shelves and the sale webpages of camera retailers. People are already trying to factor in the value of the new launch into the liquidation pricing of the newly old. And I think most people assume Nikon will drop the traditional DSLRs the moment the sales curve of their products favors mirrorless models over last century mechanical tech.

 

There’s more than enough afoot in this who new product imbroglio to give even me, an avowed new camera consumer, much pause. For example, if Nikon fails to advertise, support, and deliver the new product in quantity what’s to prevent it from dying the long and sad death that befell their first mirrorless effort? If I stock up on the new stuff will I end up like the small legion of Samsung camera users whose systems were orphaned with little warning and no real recourse?

 

And while I may love the idea of buying into some new, “revolutionary” cameras won’t I want some new and revolutionary lenses to use the “miraculous” bodies with? So, what do I do if the first flurry of new mount lenses are droll, entry level zooms with crappy performance where it counts = in the optics? Do I wait for years, as original Sony A7 series adopters did, for a smattering of fun and useable optics? I’ve never been known for my patience so I’m doubtful that I’d buy a new body and wait around for very long in order to squeeze out whatever good comes from the new platform.

 

No, I have a different Nikon strategy. I think the 800 series cameras are really, really great performers. I’m judging them on their ability to make beautiful portrait and product photographs. I’m not a sports shooter (and very few photographers really do shoot much fast sports work…) so I don’t need huge buffers and nosebleed faster frames per second. I generally take time to meter and white balance. What I love about the modern Nikon 800 series cameras is the high imaging performance combined with a decent price for that performance. I think the d810 and d850 represent tried and true, very mature tools that can be used in the hands of experienced photographers to make images as well as any other (non medium format) camera out there.

 

If the mirrorless Nikons and Canons exceed my expectations by leaps and bounds then I’ll wait around and pluck as many used D810’s as I can, along with one new D850 and I’ll use them for tons and tons of portrait work in the studio and on location. I’ll use the D850 for all those times when I want full frame, full sensor 4K video so I can play around with skinny depth of field and the associated look that fast lenses on a full frame camera can deliver. If the market is cruel enough I’ll be buying D850s for song while more impulsive folks are helping Nikon find all the bugs in the newer cameras.

 

And if the older lenses are awkward to use with adapters on the new, mirrorless cameras, then I’ll probably be able to reap a bonanza on one time coveted and then discarded Nikon lenses.

 

One more thing for me to think about —– once I ignore all the good advice I’ve just given myself above and I decide, “what the hell? I think I’ll try one of those new Nikon mirrorless cameras!” and I give myself permission to get one don’t you just know that Panasonic will announce the GH6 and it will be so amazing that I’ll be back to square one in my gear acquisition strategy.

 

(But just to be honest — you know there’s NO strategy. Right?)

 

So, will I buy a Nikon mirrorless the minute they launch? The real question might be will they ever launch enough of them to satisfy the rank and file? Maybe yes, maybe no.

 

I shot with a Nikon D800 and an older 24mm f2.8D lens today. Not a bad combination at all. I don’t know why I shot it at full resolution, in the 14 bit mode, and uncompressed but I’m pretty sure I’ll be downsizing it to 2200 pixels at 8 bits and in Jpeg format in order to share it with y’all. Not sure that makes much sense either. But, I don’t know that any of us are using rational thought in camera selection versus actual use parameters in the second decade of this century.

 

The operative word seems to be: OVERKILL.

 

YMMV.

16 Comments

  1. Avatar
    jean pierre (pete) guaron July 30, 2018

    ROTFMHAO – the rest of you will be delighted to learn that Kirk just took the words right out of my mouth. :”) I’ve already picked up two Nik tilt-shifts (one brand new and the other scarcely ever used, so virtually brand new), for WAY less than half price – I’m watching the prices on super teles with F mount – and I’m lining up to get a second hand (spare) D810 or D850 body in good nick (joke!), with a reasonably low shutter count.

    FWIW the estimate release date is September 2018. Don’t wait for me to turn up for the event – I prefer taking photos, to talking photography. Anyway, there’s something WAY more interesting than that in the pipeline, and it should be announced later this year.

    What really freaks me out, is why in God’s name did Nik produce yet another compact. Yeah, I know, it has a 24-3000mm zoom. The target market has given up on cameras, and they’re shooting virtually exclusively on cellphones. The sensor size is crap. I’ve seen clearer shots of the moon off crops from FAR shorter tele lenses. There’s no way it’ll fit into anyone’s pocket (unless they’re wearing one of those jackets that shoplifters wear, to stash the loot). In short, I just don’t get it. Put another way – I’m just not getting it (either). Not that I’m expecting Nikon to cry over what I do or don’t do.

    • Avatar
      Adrian July 31, 2018

      I don’t think you are alone in not understanding Nikons product strategy.

      Some very uninspiring small sensor pocket cameras with nothing to tempt the enthusiast with premium models – they don’t have 1″ sensor offerings as apparently they were “not economic” (Sony and Canon do alright with them, of course).

      The Nikon 1 was technically excellent but ruined by terrible marketing and internet negativity that Nikon failed to respond to (by making a body that was more enthusiast oriented).

      Their SLRs are competent, but popular models from a few years ago don’t get replaced, and SLRs are so mature that inevitably they become “me too” competing with all the other brand models on the dealer shelves with little to differentiate them. And they are not very cool or sexy and not always terribly good at video, video focusing, 4k, live view focusing and all the other modern features that mirrorless are good at and by which they are inevitably judged (regardless if some users actually want the features).

      And then there are the quality control own goals about sensors and shutters etc that have plagued several models.

      If Nikon mirrorless uses SLR lenses it can only work with the modern ones with lens controlled apertures and in lens focus motors, which would probably be a compromise technically. If it has a new lens mount, which I would say is almost mandatory, then how can they compete with other mounts and their relatively extensive lens ranges?

      At which point… What’s the point, and why would anyone buy it?

      But… Canons EOSM is the top selling mirrorless camera on Japan, in spite of a fairly late and terrible start, because brand sells.

      But does the Nikon brand have enough kudos now? They are on the back foot,which makes it much harder to make a comeback and get praise.

  2. Avatar
    NMc July 30, 2018

    I have no skin in the game with Nikon, and the last week or so things seemed to be just that, a big game. Nikon seem to be teasing and provoking a bunch of internet based commenters who are all making divergent but absolute claims of what will be the measure of success or failure. The big problem with this is that by definition most commenters will end up being wrong about something.

    Has Nikon have lost control of the message?
    If they do have a message, or story, or whatever marketing scheme to be hatched, they now have to kitten-herd the expectations onto whatever the product actually is. If they get the next stage wrong they will waste a lot of effort trying to counter ideas about what the product is not rather than promote what it actually is. When the last three products lines were failures, unsupported, no shows, or, just too late me-to imitations, then you need to do better than viral style marketing gimmicks. Any publicity is not good publicity if you want people to commit to a system.
    Regards Noel

  3. Avatar
    Cliff Whittaker July 30, 2018

    The only feature of mirrorless systems that appeals to me is the silent, or nearly silent, shutter. Other than that the whole system seems to be a step backward toward the old 35mm rangefinder cameras of the late 50s and early 60s. I was happy to leave that system in the rearview mirror as soon as I could afford an SLR.
    But, I did have a serious GAS attack about the same time that Nikon made their announcement for the their new mirrorless system. This attack was for a medium format mirrorless system and started when I found my old 1985 copy of a Calumet catalog. I immediately flipped to the Horseman VH-R 6×7 technical field camera and my heart did the same flitter flutter it used to do back in the ’80s when I lusted so mightily for this beautiful instrument (and couldn’t afford it).
    In my mind I can see myself taking this camera into the field with b&w film and making masterpiece after masterpiece with it because, surely, such a heavenly instrument could not record anything less than a masterpiece-quality image.
    I had forgotten what it was like to actually lust for a new piece of photography equipment until I got this shocking reminder. Buzzing ears, sweaty palms, halo around the object of desire, et al. Visualizing happy hours in the darkroom, living in a dim glow of red and smelling developing chemicals. Owning a piece of craftsmanship that could be anyone’s pride and joy if even if I never made a picture with it. Such a joy.
    Can’t remember ever feeling that way about a new digital camera, can you?

    • Avatar
      jean pierre (pete) guaron August 02, 2018

      Sigh – my “must have” analogue cam was a top of the range Zeiss SLR, with all the options and accessories I could possibly want – and because 99% of my photography through the analogue days was B&W, I did all my own processing. Commandeered the cellar – filled it with my enlarger and printing dishes, and the rest of it. That made it stink, because of the chemicals.

  4. Avatar
    Kristian Wannebo July 30, 2018

    The practical photographer’s practical reaction to marketing practices…

    … but it rests on the “more impulsive folks helping Nikon find all the bugs in the newer cameras”.

    Which is just fine also with me, although in another camp…

    AND thanks for this good read!

    • Avatar
      Adrian July 31, 2018

      It’s funny. There has been constant bitching about the Sony lens mount throat diameter for so long I thought we were over it now. It’s the same size as F mount, and Leicas newer SL mount, and nobody says they are hopelessly compromised.

      And, since everyone forgot, a FF E mount sensor first appeared in a video camera a couple of years before the A7, and only a couple of years after NEX was released.

      Who says it wasn’t designed for FF?

      • Avatar
        Kristian Wannebo August 01, 2018

        A wider lens mount makes cameras more clumsy and reduces finger space in the grip, so I guess designers don’t like to accommodate more than necessary to possible future wishes for more special lenses, and anyway more sensitive sensors have reduced the necessity for super fast lenses.

        But I get the impression that the market of super wide angles has increased, and that they are becoming faster. That may be a reason for an even wider mount.

  5. Avatar
    Kristian Wannebo August 01, 2018

    A wider lens mount makes cameras more clumsy and reduces finger space in the grip, so I guess designers don’t like to accommodate more than necessary to possible future wishes for more special lenses, and anyway more sensitive sensors have reduced the necessity for super fast lenses.

    But I get the impression that the market of super wide angles has increased, and that they are becoming faster. That may be a reason for an even wider mount.

    • Avatar
      Kristian Wannebo August 02, 2018

      Sorry about double posting.
      Please feel free to remove.

      When this post hadn’t appeared after several hours, I tried again, was met by “duplicate…”, clicked again, and it appeared – once!

      And now the original one has also finally appeared … (but not as a reply).

      As this has happened before, is there maybe a glitch somewhere?

      • Avatar
        paulperton August 02, 2018

        Hi Kristian,

        Mea culpa. We – that is Pascal, Philippe and me – usually curate comments on our own posts and overlap when someone is absent, on leave or otherwise committed.

        I’m having major problems with my shiny new MacBook Pro and until it’s fixed (Friday hopefully), tend not to be on line as much as usual, especially later in the day. I saw your post on my phone late last evening (South African time) and decided to deal with it this morning.

        No glitches, ust a sequence of errors.

        • Avatar
          Kristian Wannebo August 02, 2018

          No problem!
          🙂
          And sorry, I wasn’t aware you curated comments, they usually appear at once!

          I was beginning to wonder if my not too good i-net by phone connection might cause communication glitches.
          ( I seem to be the only one with two double postings within months..)

          • Avatar
            paulperton August 02, 2018

            It’s OK. We don’t curate as such, but there is a fair bit of spam, despite the software we use to restrict it.

            As I said earlier, the rapid response is simply that one of us is usually sitting in front of a computer as the comments arrive.

            Best,

  6. Avatar
    Kristian Wannebo August 02, 2018

    Thanks Paul for updating me!
    Same to you,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.