Photokina 2012 Disappointments


Nikon DSLR and other non-mirrorless High-End Gear

This page documents products that were disappointing. (For mirrorless camera disappointments, see sansmirror.com)

Page last updated 9/20/12 at 6pm GMT (latest items on top)

  • Product Deprecation--Some of you may not have noticed this yet, but in announcing the new version of Camera Control Pro that works with the D600, Nikon made a little change: Camera Control Pro no longer supports the D2h, D2hs, D2x, D2xs, D100, D200, D40, D40x, D60, D70, D70s, or D80. This likely means it's gone from Nikon's SDK, which some third party products use. As I've reported before, Nikon has a long history of breaking software support for older products, as Nikon scanner owners well know. Basically, we're now down to Nikon supporting five years worth of DSLRs. Under that time scenario, D3 and D300's would lose support next year. Nikon's "control everything" strategy ultimately ends up pissing off customers when things don't get upgraded timely for OS updates, or things break, or support just gets discontinued without notice. The more this goes on, the more we're going to see a resurgance of Open Standards and DNG file support requests of Nikon. Nikon's telling us in no uncertain terms that our digital cameras are ephemeral. That they'd drop support for pro level bodies so aggressively means they think no one is still using them, but that can't exactly be right, can it? All the D2x's didn't end up in land fills already, did they? Nikon users deserve better than this, and Nikon needs to do better than this for its customers.

  • Coolpix S800C--A camera needs to be responsive. The S800C feels sluggish as a camera. Ironically, it feels okay as a picture sharing device. In other words, from the moment you decide you want to take a picture until the moment you've taken it, the S800C is suboptimal. Once you have the picture, the S800C seems to perform as you'd expect. Now, one would think if you were a camera maker, you wouldn't want to screw up the camera in your camera. But as a few of you write me, I obviously know nothing about camera design or how it should be done and I should just shut up. Except, there's this other Android camera here at the show, the Samsung Galaxy. And it performs just fine as a camera. Just saying. Nikon needs to send the S800C crew on a crash iteration course. Being the first with the worst isn't a great start.

  • Lensbaby Version 127--At least it seems that way. The Lensbaby Spark is yet another variation on the theme Lensbaby has been milking for a long time now, just done cheaper. Not exciting. Unless, I suppose, you don't already have a Lensbaby and don't want to pay much to get one. When will this image fad die?

  • Olympus XZ-2--Like Nikon, Olympus hasn't seemed to gotten the message that their high-end compact needs to have a larger sensor to stay current. Basically, we get a slight bump in pixels (12mp instead of 10mp) plus a 910k dot touchscreen and better video capability. Olympus did hear all the "grip complaints" and has put a small removable your-choice-of-color grip onto the camera. Not a huge move of the bar, though. I guess we should be thankful they didn't mess up any of the things that made the XZ-1 such a nice little compact. I'll take a closer look at it when I get a chance, but nothing at the press conference makes me think it's a must-see, must-have camera.


  • Nikon UT-1--In what has to be the most convoluted solution to a simple problem, Nikon has launched the UT-1. This accessory works with the D7000, D800, and strangely, the D4, which doesn't need it. The press release headline says "redefine how photographers...share their content." You bet it redefines it, in a way that Rube Goldberg would be proud of. Let's see, I can plug the UT-1 into my hot shoe and run a cable (that will get torn out at some point by someone catching it accidentally) to my USB port. This allows me to run another cable (Ethernet) to the UT-1 in my hot shoe (remember, the D4 has a direct Ethernet connection, so doesn't need this). Let's see, now where do I plug in my Pocket Wizards? (A few PWs have passthrough hot shoes, but mine is already occupied by another PW accessory ;~). Okay, maybe I don't want to run an Ethernet camera in my studio to my camera, let's use WiFi. After all, Ethernet connectors are slowly disappearing off computers these days, so why are we trying to add them to the camera? To do WiFi we need the WT-5a in addition to the UT-1; we just plug the WT-5a into the UT-1 and still run a cable to our camera's USB port, and our hot shoe is still occupied. For the priviledge of using this contraption that actually makes life with a camera in the studio more difficult, we can pay US$470 (or US$1300 if we need the WT-5a, too). What's Nikon's response to the hot shoe problem? "the UT-1 can be mounted on a tripod." Sure, and now there's a cable between my camera and the tripod. Oh, and did I tell you that the UT-1 requires more batteries? Sorry, but I don't get it, and this seems to be another example of Nikon inventing solutions without actually understanding how photographers work. Yes, we want to have images get immediately into our studio computers and up on external monitors for clients to see. Yes, we sometimes want to control our cameras remotely. Yes, we want more speed for both those things. No, we don't want the UT-1. A WT-5b that worked with the D7000, D600, and D800 would be a better answer. A camera with a built-in Ethernet port would be a better answer (oh, we have that, it's called a D4). US$470, available in October.

  • Pentax K5--Pentax seems to be slipping back into its old mold. Let me back up a bit. In the film days, Pentax was one of the first with basic manual SLRs and developed quite a reputation for a nice, small, rugged, and reliable SLR. Only problem was, that as Minolta came in with autofocus, and as Canon and Nikon began responding, Pentax was slow to do much beyond basic iteration of their product. Eventually, this meant that their product line was well behind the times when compared to the three market leaders, and this is one of the things that led to Pentax's first collapse.

    Pentax got into the DSLR race a bit late (with the *ist D), but with a reasonable product for the times. But the acquisition first by Hoya, then by Ricoh, has unfortunately put them right back into the same place they were in the 90's with film SLRs: slow iteration of traditional DSLRs that are good, but don't break new ground.
    pentax k-5 ii

    The K-5II and K-5IIs are another small step. And I mean small. The K-5II seems to be mostly different in autofocus module and some internal electronics and features (I'll be getting a full briefing directly from Pentax next week, so watch for updates). The IIs takes away the anti-aliasing feature.

    Don't get me wrong, these are likely very good cameras. The K-5 has been a solid performer since it appeared two years ago, perhaps a better performer than some of the DSLRs it has been up against. But it doesn't feel like the II versions move the bar much, and Pentax has needed to move the bar more than anyone else just to stay in place with market share. K-mount users will be very happy that Pentax keeps iterating away, just like they did at the end of the film era, but open-minded DSLR purchasers aren't rushing in to grab their wares, also like the end of the film era. The good news is that Pentax is now part of much bigger Ricoh, and Ricoh seems serious about keeping their camera efforts moving forward.

    Still, I'd like to see some of Ricoh's more open-minded and risk-taking attitude hit the Pentax camera designs. It's still early in Ricoh's ownership, so perhaps we're just seeing the easy stuff still iterating while the more interesting things percolate. Nevertheless, I was expecting a bit more from the K-5 followup.

 

 

 

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