It never made sense to me why Nikon made a D800 and an D800e.
From a consumers point of view it doesn't inspire confidence in the brand. Considering this If you just purchased a new D800 at the start of the year, it makes you wonder why your top of the line camera was replaced.
Is there something wrong with the current D800, is this like the D600 being replaced by the D610?
Or from a different perspective - it might put the D800 one up from the 5D3, as the the "newer"must have item.
It then repositions Nikon, to some consumers, as being the innovative company. While to others it screams new money machine.
Or, maybe, Nikon is taking the iPhone approach of:
iPhone 4 = New body, new design, new screen
iPhone 4S = Same body, same design, same screen, better speed / better battery / Siri
iPhone 5 = New body, new design, new screen
iPhone 5S = Same body, same design, same screen, better speed / better battery / thumbprint ID feature
I say that as it's easy for us to tune out a new release with the same sensor as an older design, but if the 'mid-generation refresh' offers a ton of value, people might bite at the offer.
What if, in some alternate universe, Canon took on a similar approach:
5D3 released at time zero: new sensor, new body, headphone jack, etc. but had the old 5D2 AF system
5D4 released at 12 months with everything the same but now offering the 1DX AF system
5D5 released at 24 months with everything the same as the 5D4 but now with WiFi GPS built-in
5D6 released at 36 months with everything the same as the 5D5 but now with a much faster processor and much larger buffer for burst shooting, or a special/improved uncompressed video output
5D7 released at 48 months with a fundamentally new body design and new sensor.
I imagine less people would have opted in for the 5D3 if Canon did this, but everyone would have one by the end of the 5D3-5D6 body lifecycle.
Neither Canon nor Nikon's methods are right or wrong, they are just different approaches to commercialization. My gut is that Canon prefers making many more of the exact same body for a longer period of time for the following reasons:
- Smaller excess/obsolescence than if they had a boatload of regular upgraded offerings
- Total marketing dollars are smaller as they only have to launch the system once
- The chance to upcharge folks with bolt-on upgrades for Wifi, GPS, etc.
While Nikon -- at least in the higher end bodies -- would rather sprinkle a mix of new bodies and upgraded bodies with the same sensor. Again, I don't think either is right or wrong -- I just find the strategies fascinating.