Nikon - their biggest mistake?

sanj

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Friends. I met a guy who uses D850. I handled the camera for a bit. It felt robust. It felt comfortable. I looked through the eyepiece and it looked fine. I tested the focus, it was snappy.
The zoom on the camera seemed just fine. 24-70 f2.8
Made me wonder what Nikon did so wrong to fall so behind the competition?
Any thoughts? Thank you.
 
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tron

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My response will not be popular in this forum these days but I do not care. For me the mistake was a single word: mirrorless!

As you said. It is a nice camera. Although a Canon user (5DIV, 5DsR, 90D with lenses ranging from 11-24 and 14 2.8II to 400DOII and 500 4 II) I recently
bought 500mm 5.6PF with D500 and it was a powerful combination. Then as a second camera I got D850 (to have some FF advantages although the pixel size of D850 is the same as the one of D500 so the magnification is the same).

Going back to mistakes Nikon seems to have abandoned D500 just like Canon abandoned 7DII.
It will be a second mistake if they do not make a D850 replacement.

This is my non-experienced view since I only use it for birding having 2 bodies with 1 lens.

People seem to prefer mirrorless for not having to microadjust (Canon term :) ) but both Nikons with a small offset seem to do quite well either in close or in far distances, and either in center or in non-center focus areas. I am happy with both bodies. So what Z7 could add to D850 except for worse battery life, EVF lag and need for a lens adaptor?
 

ajfotofilmagem

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I did some work with D7XXX, D6XX and I know that they are quite capable.
The menus and button layout are meaningless.
It also doesn't make sense to me that an autofocus lens doesn't work on a D3XXX because it doesn't have a built-in motor.
The Nikon bayonet breaking alone in the bag left a bad impression.
The Nikon TTL flash seems to have a better hit rate than Canon.
Here in Brazil the Nikon technical service was already bad, and now it has officially left the country.
The new Nikon Z lenses look great and can recover from discontent if the price is right.
 
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AlanF

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The D850 is what the 5DV should be, as is the D500 the 7DIII. Its 45Mpx sensor is on a par with the R5 and the AF is incredible. It and the D500 paired with the 500PF are much loved by birders. But, as tron, who has the same 3 Canon Bodies and 2 Nikons as me, writes the manufacturers all see the future as mirrorless. I have an R5 on order but I don't see it outperforming the D850 for birding for AF and IQ. I want the R5 to use with my Canoon zooms and I'll find the eyeAF useful. The big unknown for me is how fast the R5 will latch on to subjects like dragonflies in flight - the Canon DSLRs are very fast as well.

Nikon must have lost a lot of money into its foray into the disasterous 1 series (MILC with 1" sensor).
 

Bert63

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Friends. I met a guy who uses D850. I handled the camera for a bit. It felt robust. It felt comfortable. I looked through the eyepiece and it looked fine. I tested the focus, it was snappy.
The zoom on the camera seemed just fine. 24-70 f2.8
Made me wonder what Nikon did so wrong to fall so behind the competition?
Any thoughts? Thank you.

D850 is sweet. Gave it a hard look when I was shopping 5D4. The giant pile of glass behind me kept me in place.
 
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unfocused

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Well, first, I think the rumors of Nikon's demise are greatly exaggerated. They remain at around 20% of the market, almost the same as Sony.

However, I do feel like they have fallen a long way from when I got my first job as a newspaper photographer back in the late 1970s. At the time, virtually every photojournalist I knew or heard of used Nikon and I was about the only person using Canon. Truth was, I would have used Nikon, but Canon was cheaper and I could get an extra lens for what I saved buying Canon.

I really don't know how they lost their top slot. I'm guessing it was a combination of several factors. Canon aggressively marketed their professional lenses and bodies, Canon came out with the A series bodies that offered automatic exposure, Nikon stuck too long with their lens mount and, as I said, Canon used to be cheaper for similar quality. On top of that, the professional SLR market was starting to die as long ago as the 1970s. It's been a 50-year slide as newspapers consolidated and reduced staff. Photojournalism of the kind we all aspired to in the 70s and 80s is dead. Nikon was always focused on the professional market. Canon was a consumer camera company first that moved into the professional market with the F1. Nikon was a professional camera company that tried to moved into consumer products and I don't think they ever quite mastered that market.

As far as Tron's comments, I don't think the pursuit of mirrorless has much to do with it. On the other hand, I do feel Canon may be making a big mistake if they indeed abandon the DSLR market. People on this forum are tech geeks who love the shiny new toys. But, I'm not sure the move to mirrorless is as inevitable as people think. I think it is way too early in the game to know what the future holds and I see some warning signs for Canon (Remember that we are only seeing market figures for 2019 now, so the R series has probably contributed next to nothing to that market share).

The biggest warning sign to me is the new RF mount, which takes away the universal mount advantages of the EF mount. From what we've see so far, I don't see anything the RF mount offers that blows me away. I worry that by going all in on the RF mount, Canon has basically cut loose a large percentage of its user base and created a lot of unnecessary uncertainty. I'm probably wrong, but I'm not totally convinced the new direction for Canon is a good one for the company or consumers.
 

Billybob

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Well, first, I think the rumors of Nikon's demise are greatly exaggerated. They remain at around 20% of the market, almost the same as Sony.

However, I do feel like they have fallen a long way from when I got my first job as a newspaper photographer back in the late 1970s. At the time, virtually every photojournalist I knew or heard of used Nikon and I was about the only person using Canon. Truth was, I would have used Nikon, but Canon was cheaper and I could get an extra lens for what I saved buying Canon.
Interesting insight. My first SLR was a Minolta. When someone stole it, I replaced it with a Nikon FE because it seemed professional.

I really don't know how they lost their top slot. I'm guessing it was a combination of several factors. Canon aggressively marketed their professional lenses and bodies, Canon came out with the A series bodies that offered automatic exposure, Nikon stuck too long with their lens mount and, as I said, Canon used to be cheaper for similar quality. On top of that, the professional SLR market was starting to die as long ago as the 1970s. It's been a 50-year slide as newspapers consolidated and reduced staff. Photojournalism of the kind we all aspired to in the 70s and 80s is dead. Nikon was always focused on the professional market. Canon was a consumer camera company first that moved into the professional market with the F1. Nikon was a professional camera company that tried to moved into consumer products and I don't think they ever quite mastered that market.

I wasn't following the camera market then, but I hear that Canon's audacious switch to the EF mount without maintaining compatibility with its previous FD mount allowed it to take a lead in offering AF products while Nikon--unwilling to totally abandoned its earlier mount--awkwardly moved into the AF world.

As far as Tron's comments, I don't think the pursuit of mirrorless has much to do with it. On the other hand, I do feel Canon may be making a big mistake if they indeed abandon the DSLR market. People on this forum are tech geeks who love the shiny new toys. But, I'm not sure the move to mirrorless is as inevitable as people think. I think it is way too early in the game to know what the future holds and I see some warning signs for Canon (Remember that we are only seeing market figures for 2019 now, so the R series has probably contributed next to nothing to that market share).

I don't see Canon abandoning the DSLR world anytime soon. But Canon may only offer updates in the 1DX line. I think that the R5 is a huge step forward especially for action photography and, perhaps, video as well if Canon can work out the overheating problems. I suspect that many of the advances (maybe all the major ones) could be implemented in a DSLR body. However, why would Canon do that since MIL bodies are so much cheaper to make and, thus, a source of greater profitability? Canon has an incentive to move its users to MIL, so most significant innovations will appear in MIL first and in DSLR later if at all.

The biggest warning sign to me is the new RF mount, which takes away the universal mount advantages of the EF mount. From what we've see so far, I don't see anything the RF mount offers that blows me away. I worry that by going all in on the RF mount, Canon has basically cut loose a large percentage of its user base and created a lot of unnecessary uncertainty. I'm probably wrong, but I'm not totally convinced the new direction for Canon is a good one for the company or consumers.

I don't see the RF mount as a big game changer either. Ironically, what I thought would be its biggest advantage, vignetting control, appears to be its biggest achilles heal. But, nonetheless, I see RF lenses providing compelling reasons to switch. Rather than exploit the RF mount, Canon is offering compelling and innovative new designs generally in smaller packages or unusual focal lengths. A 15-35 IS instead of 16-35 non-IS, a super-compact 70-200 with the best IQ in that lens range yet, a 100-500 instead of 100-400 in virtually the same-size package, and 600 and 800 primes again in ridiculously compact packages. Then there are the behemoths, the f/2 28-70 and f/1.2 lenses, which have created a lot of buzz, but for which I have no interest. The new mount and mirrorless provide some size savings, but the compelling new and different designs is what will sell the RF mount. Also, don't forget that EF lenses, unlike the antiquated FD mount with respect to EF cameras, work just as well on RF-mount cameras. So unlike the previous transition, Canon users don't have to abandon their existing portfolio of lenses to transition. Thus, the cost for transitioning for current Canon users is limited to the cost of acquiring a new body (obviously not trivial with the R5 coming in just under $4000).
 
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Mt Spokane Photography

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All camera companies are struggling. Nikon is not dying, but Sony has passed them due to mirrorless sales. Nikon still has no serious full frame mirrorless, one may be out soon, but maybe too late. They have been releasing new models that are too expensive. The Z7 is pricey and apparently not selling well. Canon opted to stay with their practice of making low cost cameras with adequate performance. As long as a camera gets the job done, many will buy based on price. The RP absolutely cornered the market for low cost full frame bodies. Since buyers want additional lenses, Canon is cleaning up there as well. Its not so much what Nikon has done wrong, but they have not judged the market demand as well as Canon and Sony.

Canon's M series is a huge success in Asia and Japan. Sales there are becoming more significant than in the US and Europe, there are many more potential customers! Nikon has not really produced a camera aimed at that market.
 

Maximilian

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... what Nikon did so wrong to fall so behind the competition? ...
Good question, sanj ...

Technically they still seem to be on par with slight advantages here and there.

When people ask me for advice buying a camera and look at Canon vs. Nikon I always say that there is not much difference in Canon to Nikon.
I tell them that they should look at the interface and ergonomics and then choose what is more intuitive to them.
The biggest difference to me for beginners with low budget is the EF50/1.8: a cheap but decent lens leading you into the land of DOF and portrait.
The Nikon equivalent (though better IQ) costs twice as much. A lot of money for people with an overall budget of less than 1.000 $/€ thinking that a double zoom kit is the answer to all their needs.

And as these companies make most of their money in the xxxD and D5/7xxx range it must have to do something with a better marketing.

I used Nikon in the 1990ies SLR past. That's the reason for my custom title "The dark side...".

Today there is one main thing that I personally don't like at Nikon:
The prominent shutter release button.
The Canon one is more ergonomic to me. And I don't like the M one either .
And as this is one of the most used interfaces ;) the choice is clear to me :ROFLMAO:

Thank you, Luigi Colani and your T-90.
 
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privatebydesign

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Friends. I met a guy who uses D850. I handled the camera for a bit. It felt robust. It felt comfortable. I looked through the eyepiece and it looked fine. I tested the focus, it was snappy.
The zoom on the camera seemed just fine. 24-70 f2.8
Made me wonder what Nikon did so wrong to fall so behind the competition?
Any thoughts? Thank you.
They made several missteps in products that cost a lot and returned little, if running a corporation successfully means looking into a crystal ball and guessing where the market will be in five years and placing your product managers and R&D teams to achieve that Nikon are an abject failure.

The 1 line used sensors that were not much bigger than phones, great system with fantastic innovation but never overcame the price and IQ. They announced several high end powershot style fixed lens large format cameras that they could never bring to market and dropped before they were even released. They did what the market said they wanted and released a stills only ff camera, the Df, it was yet another costly mistake. Going back a little further they refused to go FF sensors until way too late and even their ‘L’ series lens equivalents didn’t have the image circle to cover the ff when they did release them. They made a couple of missteps back when they first released AF lenses, mainly putting the AF motor in the body not the lens, but the AF was not competitive and the system compatibility became a complete nightmare. The D600 was hugely popular but had such a manufacturering issue that they were banned from sale in China! That camera alone was a huge PR disaster that Nikon foolishly tried to ignore.

Basically their crystal ball gazers have not been up to the task, the products in general are great (if you ignore the Df V1, J1, the high end P&S’s they announced but never released, and the cursed D600) the 800 series widely beat the comparable Canon 5 series for resolution, AF, fps etc, the D4,5,6, has been the equal of the Canon 1 series in general. Most of the cameras have been good solid cameras, the lens choice hasn’t had the broadest range the Canon system has and many of the really specialist lenses lag behind Canon but they are very low volume sellers and don’t impact ‘the market’ as such.

Nikon’s woes have to be the fault of the crystal ball gazers and the management that trusted them. Everybody makes one or two missteps, over the last 20 years Nikon have made far too many.
 

tron

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Speeking for myself and not the majority of course but as far as I am concerned they could make a D860 and a D510 and all could be forgiven :cool: :LOL:
 
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docsmith

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Interesting thread. Before figuring out a mistake that lead to a problem, it is usually good to talk about the problem. If I were to take a stab at the problem with Nikon, they act like a company without much vision and/or working capital to implement that vision. A vision that really differentiated their product line so that they could grow from their base. If anything, I see Nikon barely keeping their base happy. As for vision to grow, both Sony's and Canon's are pretty evident, Sony growing into a new market (MILC), Canon holding the base but diving into that new market with, arguably, as good or better products after that market has matured a bit. But Nikon, they have done some amazing things like the 500 PF, 14-24, some great camera bodies, but, to me, they act like a company that either does not know where they want to go or do not have the working capital to get there. Specific items are great, but look at their mirrorless lens lineup? Canon has given us an "L" level holy trinity of zooms, Nikon? Then the Z mount cameras, a friend has one and loves it, but my general impression is that it lags behind Sony and, now, Canon.

So, my thought as to the mistake, it probably happened over time, but a number of decisions that hurt their profitability diminished their working capital and led to a lack of investment. One blatant example of this, buying sensors from Sony very likely reduced the profitability of their camera line.

Speeking for myself and not the majority of course but as far as I am concerned they could make a D860 and a D510 and all could be forgiven :cool: :LOL:
:D Sure

I haven't written Nikon off, but a D860/D510 would actually be an example of what I consider to be the problem. They are playing to their existing base instead of doing things to expand their base. Give me a Z7 II that is as good as the R5 (for stills) plus a number of great new Z mount lenses and then they are in the MILC game. Or, even give me a DSLR and lenses that make me think I do not need mirrorless!

And perhaps this is all their strategy, Camera/lenses are a shrinking market. Maybe Nikon brass have decided to make token releases into MILC, but ride DSLRs out as long as possible. As long as they have an alternate strategy, that would be unfortunate for the camera market, but that could be best for the company. But, their stock is ~40% of 2017 peak, so, investors think something is amiss as well.
 
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AlanF

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Interesting thread. Before figuring out a mistake that lead to a problem, it is usually good to talk about the problem. If I were to take a stab at the problem with Nikon, they act like a company without much vision and/or working capital to implement that vision. A vision that really differentiated their product line so that they could grow from their base. If anything, I see Nikon barely keeping their base happy. As for vision to grow, both Sony's and Canon's are pretty evident, Sony growing into a new market (MILC), Canon holding the base but diving into that new market with, arguably, as good or better products after that market has matured a bit. But Nikon, they have done some amazing things like the 500 PF, 14-24, some great camera bodies, but, to me, they act like a company that either does not know where they want to go or do not have the working capital to get there. Specific items are great, but look at their mirrorless lens lineup? Canon has given us an "L" level holy trinity of zooms, Nikon? Then the Z mount cameras, a friend has one and loves it, but my general impression is that it lags behind Sony and, now, Canon.

So, my thought as to the mistake, it probably happened over time, but a number of decisions that hurt their profitability diminished their working capital and led to a lack of investment. One blatant example of this, buying sensors from Sony very likely reduced the profitability of their camera line.


:D Sure

I haven't written Nikon off, but a D860/D510 would actually be an example of what I consider to be the problem. They are playing to their existing base instead of doing things to expand their base. Give me a Z7 II that is as good as the R5 (for stills) plus a number of great new Z mount lenses and then they are in the MILC game. Or, even give me a DSLR and lenses that make me think I do not need mirrorless!

And perhaps this is all their strategy, Camera/lenses are a shrinking market. Maybe Nikon brass have decided to make token releases into MILC, but ride DSLRs out as long as possible. As long as they have an alternate strategy, that would be unfortunate for the camera market, but that could be best for the company. But, their stock is ~40% of 2017 peak, so, investors think something is amiss as well.
If any of these companies could maintain a base that is large enough, it would be an achievement. All camera sales are going down, Canon is also only ~40% of its 2017 peak, and that includes all products.
 

tron

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Interesting thread. Before figuring out a mistake that lead to a problem, it is usually good to talk about the problem. If I were to take a stab at the problem with Nikon, they act like a company without much vision and/or working capital to implement that vision. A vision that really differentiated their product line so that they could grow from their base. If anything, I see Nikon barely keeping their base happy. As for vision to grow, both Sony's and Canon's are pretty evident, Sony growing into a new market (MILC), Canon holding the base but diving into that new market with, arguably, as good or better products after that market has matured a bit. But Nikon, they have done some amazing things like the 500 PF, 14-24, some great camera bodies, but, to me, they act like a company that either does not know where they want to go or do not have the working capital to get there. Specific items are great, but look at their mirrorless lens lineup? Canon has given us an "L" level holy trinity of zooms, Nikon? Then the Z mount cameras, a friend has one and loves it, but my general impression is that it lags behind Sony and, now, Canon.

So, my thought as to the mistake, it probably happened over time, but a number of decisions that hurt their profitability diminished their working capital and led to a lack of investment. One blatant example of this, buying sensors from Sony very likely reduced the profitability of their camera line.


:D Sure

I haven't written Nikon off, but a D860/D510 would actually be an example of what I consider to be the problem. They are playing to their existing base instead of doing things to expand their base. Give me a Z7 II that is as good as the R5 (for stills) plus a number of great new Z mount lenses and then they are in the MILC game. Or, even give me a DSLR and lenses that make me think I do not need mirrorless!

And perhaps this is all their strategy, Camera/lenses are a shrinking market. Maybe Nikon brass have decided to make token releases into MILC, but ride DSLRs out as long as possible. As long as they have an alternate strategy, that would be unfortunate for the camera market, but that could be best for the company. But, their stock is ~40% of 2017 peak, so, investors think something is amiss as well.
On the contrary I would consider a D860 and a D510 THE solution. You even said yourself :
"give me a DSLR and lenses that make me think I do not need mirrorless!"
Even now D850 and D500 focus excellently. So what is it with mirrorless?
 
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docsmith

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On the contrary I would consider a D860 and a D510 THE solution. You even said yourself :
"give me a DSLR and lenses that make me think I do not need mirrorless!"
Even now D850 and D500 focus excellently. So what is it with mirrorless?
To an extent, that is part of the problem, right? The D850 is very good (I have not used one, going with conventional wisdom here), what can Nikon add that will 1) make a D850 user upgrade to a D860 (pulling from existing base); or 2) make a non-Nikon user purchase a D860 over a competing camera (growing the base). I have heard a number of people call the D850 something to the extent of "the best DSLR ever made" and yet it isn't dominating the market. It is doing well, and perhaps dominating certain niches, but I've never seen it as one of the most rented cameras by lensrentals, the top selling DSLR, etc. To an extent, Nikon took a very good shot with their cameras and are #3 and losing market share. Even trying to think about it for myself, if I was a D850 owner, what features could they add that would make me upgrade? Why would I pick a Nikon Z system over the Canon R or Sony A7 system?

As for "what is it with mirrorless", a good portion has nothing to do with the user experience, from what I understand. But, I have seen a couple of times that mirrorless cameras are less expensive to manufacturer as an EVF is mostly automated and OVFs/mirror boxes have a lot of labor involved. This would be critical to survival in a declining market. Second, mirrorless does offer new tech not available in DSLRs. While the 1DXIII does have "deep learning" algorithms, it does seem like "eye AF" is a benefit for EVFs. The rest really gets into pros/cons of MILC v DSLRs and whole threads have been written on that. If it is correct that MILCs are less expensive than DSLRs, imagine 5 years time when the R5 II is less expensive than the D870 by 30% (guessing). Which would customers not invested in systems buy?

As for me personally, if I had a D850, I probably would not upgrade to a Z7 or even an R5 equivalent if Nikon had one. This is part of Nikon's problem. Nikon would already have my money and would not be getting any more of it. Canon has the same problem with me right now. I am sitting tight with my 5DIV for now. But, they will get my money, eventually, as I do want a better buffer and more FPS. Plus, and this seems to be under emphasized, but the sensor on the R5 seems very good using a dual base ISO (first time for Canon that I am aware of). I bet I eventually get the R5 and a couple RF lenses, but I am also considering the 1DX III and staying with my EF glass for awhile longer. But, as a Canon user, they are giving me a reason to upgrade. I can also see users of other systems switching to Canon (or Sony for that matter) for the R5/R6 and RF lenses. I just do not see Nikon making similar investments where if I was a Nikon user, I would upgrade, or as a non-Nikon user, I would want to buy into their system. They are not bad (actually they are very good), but I do not see them as well position to entice new sales.

So, what could a D860/D510 look like that would drive existing users to upgrade and others to switch into Nikon?
 

Codebunny

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Nikon are a wee bit slow to get their mirrorless lenses out. But every one of them S primes is fantastic and punches way ahead and their Z cameras are only a wee bit behind in AF and it seems they are behind in pure CPU grunt and not in software. If anything I think the DX + FX push is too much of a strain just now. The Z50 and Z5 are good products but they should put that effort into besting the Z6 and Z7.

@docsmith the D850 could be improved with the D6's AF which is top notch. The Z6/7 just need more processing grunt and a second CF Express slot and they would be right up there with the R5/R6. The sensors aren't lacking in any major metric, they just need more CPU grunt and to get the 70-200 and 100-400 S lenses out. The upcoming 200-600 is also sure to be.a hit.
 
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tron

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The mirrorless do not look cheap to me. EOS R is little cheaper than 5DIV at the expense of one card slot a 6D body quality, a 3fps for AF priority and 5fps for shutter priority (both at AI Servo), less shots per battery and EVF lag (the sensor is the same).
 
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Codebunny

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Give me a Z7 II that is as good as the R5 (for stills) plus a number of great new Z mount lenses and then they are in the MILC game. Or, even give me a DSLR and lenses that make me think I do not need mirrorless!

The 120-300 f/2.8, 300mm PF, and 500mm PF, and the D6 AF show there is a lot of life left in that system. We'll need to see the Z7s and Z6s in order to gauge if they have mirrorless sussed, the plan seems to be a second processor, proper battery grip, and second slot(hopefully another CF Express slot). Those changes would make bodies that can compete with the R5/R6, as the current bodies are just at a wall processor wise, and we can see this with a noticeable AF improvement when you start turning on exposure preview.

There is nothing wrong with any of the Z S-line lenses, these are all top notch and Nikon users have a roadmap of what is coming up including the 50 f/1.2, 100-400 S, 200-600, and 105 macro. If anything the issue with the roadmap is nothing in there is exciting, its all very much just markedly better versions of lenses that are already on the F line.
 
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Del Paso

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I too was hesitating: D 850 or 5 DIII...
The reasons why I chose Canon?
- Much better TSE lenses (24 & 17mm)
- The possibility to use almost any vintage lens due nto short flange-sensor distance
- The much better service (thanks, CPS)
- EF 100-400 :love:and 16-35 f4 :love:
But: I would have bought the D 850 with an EF bayonet anytime over the 5 DIII.
In my opinion, for quite a long time, Nikon didn't have many "interesting" lenses (Hi quality WA zoom, apart from the 14-24 ,T&S UWA lenses, telezoom, etc...)
They got the excellent new lenses (500mm, 20mm, 24mm , 300mm, T&S 19mm...) a bit too late, when the field was already occupied by Canon and the wonderful :LOL:novelty soni mirrorless.
But the F 2 still remains the best DSLR ever made !!!!
I would hate to see Nikon disappear, they deserve a better fate.
 

Joules

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The mirrorless do not look cheap to me. EOS R is little cheaper than 5DIV at the expense of one card slot a 6D body quality, a 3fps for AF priority and 5fps for shutter priority (both at AI Servo), less shots per battery and EVF lag (the sensor is the same).
You can't judge the cost of designing and manufacturing these products based on their retail prices. Their costs and pricing are influenced by different factors.

As Was pointed out before, sales numbers are declining for quite some time now and will likely still continue to do so. In other words, each new models has to cost less in manufacturing and design, since there are fewer sales that these costs can be spread across. The alternative would be moving up the price beyond what is to be expected based on inflation.

At the same time, the challenge of improving certain aspects of the design increases. We already see with the 1DX III, that even with the development resources afforded by the high end, some AF features could not be incorporated into the OVF (which uses a radically new type of AF sensor that's unlike anything from previous Canon bodies).

With SLR, the AF should be a major driver of production and development costs. Think about it. Even the high end 1DX III can't match the AF features already found in far cheaper bodies like the R6. Reusing the same AF sensor in lower-end bodies may be not feasible due to pure costs of the part (it is basically a second image sensor) or be too problematic from a product differentiation aspect. Who knows.

The R5 and R6 are out there now. They have demonstrated amazing AF performance. I can't see how releasing DSLR equivalents with lesser AF capabilities and in the case of Canon, likely lesser or no IBIS (due to issues with framing differences and maybe even obstacles in the image path) would be in either Canon's or Nikon's interest. If it could be done without harming long term profits, we would have seen them doing it.

But I believe that pushing AF sensor capability and mirror assembly capabilities forward even further is associated with greater cost than the market can sustain. Only at the very high end, where sales numbers probably decline the least and large prices can serve to balance high costs have we seen progress.

For anything below, moving away from mostly hardware based improvements in AF and mirrors, to more industry partner and software driven solutions is the way to go. Screens for EVFs are designed and improved by other companies, and the AF improvements come along naturally with improvements in sensor read out (also helps FPS and video) and processing chip capabilities, so that only the software has to be driven forward.

To add something to the subject, I think this is also a big part of why Nikon is struggling maybe more than others. Canon has played the super long game here, tipping their toes into the mirrorless waters with the EF-M line that now is such a massive success despite what many consider lackluster investments from Canon into the system. They are now in a position where they had first hand experience with the mirror less market and its customers. In particular, the part that sees mirrorless as all about small size and weight. And while Nikon has basically outsourced its sensors (which should include the AF sensors, right?), Canon has made massive strides with their proprietary DPAF architecture that they are now beginning to harvest the fruits from. Nikon seems more reactive rather than proactive in some of these regards.

The crystal ball gazing has been mentioned already. I think in this regard, the most interesting question is still not answered. It seems like Canon has decided to serve the 'mirrorless is about small and light' and 'professional gear is large and heavy' folks with two eco systems (although RF is also space efficient, just not to the extreme as EF-M) while Nikon goes with the less radical approach again, mushing both market segments together to be served by the Z mount.
 
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