Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nikon 1 - Good, Bad or Indifferent?

Last week Nikon announced the release of the Nikon 1, their first foray into the mirrorless camera market. Not the first company to market with this type of camera as at least 7 other companies have mirrorless models out already, but I would suspect that most spectators were thinking that it was about time that Nikon entered this race.

Typical of any launch by any camera company, there were a lot of unhappy people. Most of them Nikon owners with a lot of negativity directed towards the Nikon 1. Why? Well that’s the big question now, isn’t it? To hazard a guess, it’s because the Nikon 1 doesn’t satisfy the wants of those who seem to be complaining the most. That would be the current crop of D3, D700 and D300 owners who have been anxiously awaiting upgrades, and were hoping that the announcement last week would hail the next best thing to the DSLR market. So I think the anger and disappointment at Nikon for the lack of new DSLR model has be directed, rather unfairly, at the poor little Nikon 1. Truth be told, I’m one the folks waiting to see what the D700 replacement looks like, but alas, I have to wait a little while longer just like everyone else. 

It doesn’t take a lot of searching to find the mass of critics opining on how Nikon totally missed the mark on this along with the “what were they thinking?!?” type of comments. Critical breakdowns of technical specs, breakdown of sample images (a pixel peeper’s favourite pastime) all with the conclusion that the Nikon 1 is a piece of crap that should never have left the stable. Oh yeah, I should mention that most of these criticisms are coming from those who have never seen, held or shot with said camera. The main problem with this is that others begin to believe all of the sideline critics and this group think mentality perpetuates the negative opinions that are not based on any sound evidence. The real kicker is that most of those complaining are not the real target audience for the Nikon 1, and would probably have never considered buying one in the first place.

So what was Nikon thinking? They were trying to fill a gap in their product line between the advanced point & shoot and the high-end enthusiast / pro level DSLR; that’s where the Nikon 1 fits. They also introduced a pink model, which I can only assume was a result of some careful market research and a deliberate strategy to target a particular demographic segment. Pink says a lot, they are appealing to a female audience, at least with one of the models.

The reality is that the high-end DSLR crowd was not the target audience for the Nikon 1. If you’re waiting for a D4, D800 or D400, you’ll have to wait a little longer. The D3, D700 and D300 are all still high performers and can still rival anything else in their class. I suspect that the next round of high-end DSLRs from Nikon will be more than just a surface update, and I can’t wait!

So what’s the overall fate of the Nikon 1? I guess time will tell. At first glance, it doesn’t have anything that out shines the other top contenders in the market, but it’s also not a bottom of the barrel camera. At the end of the day competition in the market is great for consumers and I’m sure Nikon will have a lot of success with this. The Nikon 1 is not for everyone, and it would be dumb if Nikon tried to position it as so. However, if you’re interested in a mirrorless camera system you now have another choice, and choice is never a bad thing.



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