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Friday, August 19, 2016

New Nikon Products (and what Does It All Mean)

Nikon has officially announced a few new products. Normally I don't bother reporting on such things - unless there's something truly interesting going on - but this time I'll make an exception. No, no, there isn't anything cataclysmic happening. No compact-sized full-frame Nikon camera, and no wide-angle DX primes either.

More Nikon cameras and lenses available! Hot or not?
 So, what's the big idea?

I'll get to that, but first let's see what the new products are:
The lens comes in fact in two versions, VR and non-VR. It's not worth spending more than a second on the non-VR version, so I won't talk about it at all.



Let's take a quick look at the data first

Nikon D3400




  • 24 MP sensor
  • Increased battery performance
  • Snapbridge-compatible
  • Improved guide mode

I bet you're wondering why I bothered mentioning these things above. Well, ask Nikon! There's nothing else to report to indicate that this camera is in some way significantly better than the Nikon D3300. Heck, even the D3200 has more or less the same specs for things that matter (and not fluff). Although Nikon claims this is a "new 24MP sensor", in reality this is just more of the same. Technically it might be "new" but the results aren't - not when you shoot RAW; the jpeg engine of course might be improved. When all is said and done, give the D3200 and the D3400 to the same photographer and s/he'll take comparable pictures, with no difference whatsoever in the output. The only difference is that the older model is half the price. Apparently, the more expensive newer model also does not have self-cleaning sensor, nor can it take an external microphone. Wow...

But what about the lens?


Nikon Nikkor AF-P DX 70-300mm lens:




So, Nikon asks us to pay more money to get a lens that might not necessarily work for our existing camera, a lens that is slower on the long end than the existing DX 55-300, and not as wide on the wide end. Wh-whaat? If you're scratching your head, you're not alone. About the only positive development is the smoother/quiter autofocus for video users. Yawn...

What does it all mean?

Plain and simple, it means that:
a) Nikon wants to get rid of some old components (lens barrels, etc)
b) They don't want to stir the water too much at this point. Which means, more of the same old safe solutions.

But what does it mean in a more speculative, long-term sense?

That's harder to answer, but we could see it in two different directions - and I'd be unwilling to bet my money on picking a side.

Option A: They have absolutely no friggin' clue what they're doing. They don't know they need to reinvent photography, or they do but don't know how.

Option B: Some deeper change is coming in the Nikon camera structure. With the caveat that it's pure speculation, I'll mention DPreview's claim that Nikon 1 is no longer in development and wonder aloud whether, by dropping Nikon 1 (if that is indeed the case) Nikon plans to reinvent photography by redesigning the DX line as mirrorless. I've talked about this before, by the way.

Only time will tell!




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