Strange Things Said or Written, Part XIV

"I'm a Nikon shooter, today I've seen the Canon R3 and I've seen the future. Got over £10k worth of Nikon DSLR gear and it's worthless. Wouldn't get more than £3K trade in for it at all now. DSLR is dead." Tweet from Lee Blease, UK soccer photographer. 

Aside from the internal contradiction—£3K is not "worthless," his gear is just worth less ;~)—this feels like a complete overreaction for unknown reasons. Moreover, apparently he also hasn't seen or used the Sony A1. I looked over his online portfolio just to see if I could figure out what he meant. His photos are fine (most of the ones I looked at seemed to be taken with a D4 and the 300mm f/2.8). Doesn't seem to have focus issues. Might enjoy more fps. So his proclamation seems odd to me. He's using a nine-year old camera, so yes, a future camera just might have some advantages over it. But I'm unclear exactly how that's going to help his photography. 

I should point out that for a working professional the US Internal Revenue Service basically says that you can depreciate the camera body over a five year period (not sure what the situation is in the UK). This implies that the annual amortized cost of something like the D4/D5/D6 body is about US$1300. Smart photography pros are doing the same thing any business does and evaluate costs against incomes constantly, and upgrading equipment on regular schedules that are determined by useful life, not some new technology that appears. 

"I thought that a grip-less design was indispensable to make the appearance [and feel of a] FM2." DC.Watch (Japanese Web site) interview with Nikon on Zfc camera design.

Okay, the question here is whether that—appearance and feel of an FM2—is something that is actually desirable. It's clear that Nikon set the FM2 as a style guide for the Zfc, as they were selecting details right down to trying to match the metal colors (the magnesium alloy of the Zfc had to be painted to match the metal used in the film camera). Making the camera grip-less involved pivoting the battery and card slot, which in turn changed some other internal body use, as well. This is really design for design sake, rather than design for use and function sake. Hand grips, after all, have a function. 

The real question here is "why?" Yes, Nikon is supremely proud of their long heritage of cameras, but given how little the Zfc deviates from what would have been a Z50 II, the "why" question is important to ask. Nikon's marketing (and even engineering) keeps talking about "casual" and "happy" as emotions they want you to have when using a Zfc, but that's really strange to me. Essentially Nikon keeps putting the Z50 under the bus and then driving over it repeatedly. The Z50 isn't fun and doesn't make you happy, apparently. (I think the Z50 is a great little camera, one of the best small options out there.)

Moreover, according to the interview, the Zfc concept was considered from the very beginning of Z System development, which makes it even more curious that we have a Z50 and Zfc that share almost the same specifications, but which Nikon seemingly can't figure out how to market together. And for some strange reason, the Zfc marketing keeps coming back to the phrase "younger generation appeal." As we've seen in the past, that kind of appeal is very ephemeral; whims change fairly rapidly when design is prioritized over function. Moreover, the colored versions appear to have been tailored towards young women's tastes (sand beige apparently is the most popular, by the way, at least in Japan).

I should point out that the final comment in the interview ("we have received many requests for style accessories") is an echo of the Goto-san commentary on the older Nikon Df camera. We're going to see more than the optional accessory grip pop up (again, at least in Japan) for this camera.

"The Nikon Z 50 is a camera that is easy to shoot, and the Z fc is a camera that has a high degree of hobby and is a pleasure to own." Digicam.info (Japanese Web site) headline.

This headline was trying to summarize the content of the DC.Watch interview on the Zfc camera design. But it illustrates the problem that Nikon hasn't figured out how to deal with. (For what it's worth, I'm not sure the headline quite got the summary right.)

Taken inferentially, the Z50 is easy to use but not a pleasure to own, while the Zfc is the opposite. Yikes! 

Nikon's been going out of their way to use what are essentially patriarchal generalizations concerning the Zfc: it's for the young. It's for the legacy appreciator. It's easy to carry (I wouldn't agree). It makes you feel happy. The advertising and marketing have a lot of women in it, and the colors were selected with young women in mind. 

So what's the Z50 all about then? "Tiny has never been a bigger deal. Insanely small. Amazingly bold." In terms of volume, the Zfc is smaller, oops. So what, the Zfc is a bigger deal, then?

I hate it when companies step on their own feet, and Nikon has done just that with the Z50/Zfc models. Selling the Zfc is going to come at the expense of Z50 sales, because Nikon's marketing can't differentiate how the products are actually different in ways that makes the Z50 look good. The only thing that's left is price, and the Z50 is currently about US$100 cheaper. It will probably need to drop more. I can hardly wait for Nikon's marketing to claim "older technology, less expensive." ;~)

What makes me think that Nikon is going to drop the Z50 from the lineup, but instead use that model without an EVF to create a Z30? That might solve the pricing/positioning problem in one sense, but having a Z30 doesn't solve the modern versus dedicated dials problem at all.

It's interesting that the Japanese Web sites are all picking up Nikon's marketing schtick and finding that they're then having a difficult time then describing why a Z50 exists. Just like Nikon is. 

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