Shared publicly  - 
7
Derek Randall's profile photoBrian Stone's profile photoMichael Barker's profile photoRick Bauer's profile photo
25 comments
 
The more I think of it, the more I feel like this is what the Nikon 1 could have been (should have been?).
 
+Lior Kravitz It's remarkable how simple and straight forward the Samsung NX approach is. Someone's thinking about photography and trying to keep the excess nonsense out of the way in the designs (though a few things are sneaking in, like all the WiFi mess, partly to support the proprietary WiFi in Samsung TVs).

We've had non-broke designs before in virtually all camera categories. The constant iteration mode coupled with marketing checklist mentality just keeps adding layers of garbage on top things, making the cameras require deep manuals (which they don't tend to get) and lots of buttons.

Funny thing is, as decent as Samsung has been at this, they're not selling. At least not so far. You wouldn't need many more than 10,000 people to count all the sales on your fingers ;~).
 
Brand does count in photography, if it is Nikon it would sell huge.
This maybe due to a fact that too many people believe that brand of a camera is what makes photographs good or bad.
 
+Bratislav ILIC True. See my articles earlier in the week about whether you're buying for what you want to be perceived as, or what you need (plus the brand deposit/withdrawal discussion).

For its size (breadth and depth), Samsung tends to be a pretty poor marketer. It took them a while to get any effective smartphone advertising, and their camera advertising is invisible, at least here in the US. Business Week says the Samsung brand reputation has now passed Sony's worldwide, but that's a broad overall brand recognition. When you make everything from chips to refrigerators, it's hard not to have a wide brand recognition.

AFAIC, Samsung isn't making any tangible errors in camera product. I've now used three different models, and they've not mucked up anything and have progressed on overall image quality to where I consider them a serious player. It's distribution and marketing that needs to change for them.That'll be difficult here in the US. First, there's the DSLR bias that has to be broken through. Second, there's the constant dealer coop flyers that generate in-store demand for the Big Two (and sometimes the Little Two ;~). Third, they simply haven't made a serious photography statement that resonates, even though their cameras are capable of it.

The issue for Nikon at the moment is simple: the three competitors they most fear (Canon, Samsung, and Sony) have chosen a significantly larger sensor, while the two they next fear (Olympus and Panasonic) also have a larger sensor and a far bigger lens lineup. The primary Nikon 1 attribute is continuous focus ability. That's a mighty risky proposition to pit one attribute against lots of significant attributes in the market. The recent one-year anniversary Nikon 1 announcements were pretty weak compared to what all their competitors did in one year. My analysis is that Nikon will find it harder and harder to move Nikon 1's without making other significant adjustments. As I noted when they announced the products, the one area they can use to their advantage is pricing. Nikon's margin on the 1 is enormous (even with the latest J2 at the lower price).

But that, too, is a problem. Nikon didn't get to be a go to photography brand because of price. Unfortunately, their actions here in the US over recent years now are doing just that: buy Nikon first and foremost on instant rebate pricing, not technological ability.   
 
Good points all ... it seams you have been in this for a while 8~)
 
Obviously Nikon can't change the CX sensor size- it would be a major lose-face for too many people in the company (read: and the company itself). What they do have is a single technological advance (which probably won't last as a competitive moat), and a theoretical potential for size/weight advantage. They should have been out there with 3~5 pancake designs already (24, 35, 50, 85 and possibly 105 equivalents, on top of the 28). They should have launched the Z1 you so aptly described last year, and not the "upgrade churn" J2. They should have introduced (or co-opted) branded, color matching wrist-straps to point out the size/weight advantage. There are probably a half-dozen other things that could have been done in the past year to make this line a real contender in the market.

But they didn't. So they're relying on pricing and better marketing (or rather, the sore lack of marketing from some of the competitors) to maintain their market position. This does not seem like a long-term success strategy.
 
+Lior Kravitz No, it's worse than that. With Canon picking APS, Nikon has little choice but create a DX mirrorless system. The Nikon 1 is going to become their compact upgrade, I think. But that puts them on the scene with four mounts (CX, DX, DX-M, and FX), which I find incredible and problematic. While FX continues the Nikon legacy, what they've done since (and will do) is just yanking users around, and that's going to reverberate at some point.

An interesting point: since the Nikon 1 announcement I've seen exactly no new Nikon 1 patents, but several DX mirrorless patents. I hope I'm missing something.
 
Nikon is already stated implicitly and explicitly that Nikon 1 is just a compact upgrade. I think it would be better if they have made it a compact in a first place, there are not too many Nikon 1 users who actually need interchangeable lenses anyways and I am sure there would be only a handful of them buying primes . It seams to me that Nikon is recently considering even DX DSLRs are just a compact upgrade so this is confusing customers and many of those who want something better than compact are going for DX.
Currently system 1 looks to me more and more failure like Pronea line was.
 
+Thom Hogan Okay, let's assume Nikon don't want to maintain four mounts. Can they have a DX-M mount that will cater to the consumer/prosumer DX users, and drop the current DX mount completely? An adapter for existing DX lenses should be trivial (and if done right, could be dirt-cheap). The AF-in-sensor should be able to provide SLR-like focus performance. The only thing you will really lack for the "higher caliber" user experience is the zero-lag of the optical viewfinder. While I haven't used Fuji's "solution" to this problem, I think they could make the EVF fast enough for all but the most demanding pros. Those will have to settle for FX, but it seems like they're already doing that.
 
Actually there is no such thing as DX mount, DX lenses are F mount only with smaller coverage so you will be able to use DX and FX lenses with an adapter. On the other hand I really do not see too many recent DX lenses I would need and I would really like some new and compact lenses designed for mirrorless system.

I doubt Nikon will drop DX DSLR any time soon and it would be more sensible and less painful to drop CX mount first.

Sony makes EVFs that are really great and almost as good as optical one so yes it could be done but the question here is what to do about the investment Nikon made in developing CX ...
 
It's ironic how the enthusiasts claim that the Nikon 1 is such a huge failure, based only upon the idea it does not meet their unique perceived needs. If Nikon made yet another mirrorless that used fat lenses, like Sony, then there would be little distinctive beyond the brand name on it.

Sales figures for the Nikon 1 have been fairly solid, though the V1 is only a small part of that. I agree on the need for more lenses, yet there has been indication from past sales that many low end DSLR users stick with one kit lens, or get one super zoom. Whether Samsung really challenges Nikon J1 sales with the NX1000 is an open guess, but I would be surprised if Samsung did any better. With the Canon mirrorless, that is aimed at people who want fat lenses on little camera bodies, and do their imaging at arms length through the back LCD.
 
+Bratislav ILIC Actually, a DX lens put a signal on the mount communications that FX lenses do not, so yes, technically there is a DX "mount." Moreover, Nikon labels lenses DX that are DX, effectively labeling the mount. The fact that the bayonet is the same isn't really meaningful any more in mounts, it's the communications that identify what equipment is going to do with a lens.

A DX-M mount would likely have to be different from the DX/FX mount, because otherwise you might have DX-M lenses that can damage internals on DX/FX cameras. Moreover, the mount-to-sensor distance would be different, so yes, you'd need an adapter. At that point, a DX-M camera could probably ignore the DX communication (as does the Nikon 1) because FX is a superset of DX in angle of view.

No EVF is going to have zero lag. Right now, most companies are using LCDs that would have a minimum 1/60 or in a few cases 1/120 second lag. That's still significant. If you're going to process the data in that signal (i.e. correct white balance or show monochrome when set, etc.), you'd add lag.

I wouldn't characterize the Sony EVFs as "almost as good as optical." There are so many ways in which EVF is not the same as optical as to deserve an article in and of itself. You'd also need the EVF to change characteristics with ambient light to preserve night vision, amongst other things. I've used video EVFs that are better than I've seen on ANY still camera, so it is possible to do better. However, those solutions are costly at the moment.

I wouldn't get hung up on "Nikon's investment in the Nikon 1." Nikon doesn't quite work that way. They investigate and propagate technologies across products. So we'll see PDAF in other sensors down the line, and we've already seen some of the bandwidth changes they had to make for the Nikon 1 in EXPEED3. Investments don't tend to get lost because a product disappears. All of their engineering groups cross pollinate over time.  
 
+Gordon Moat Canon, like Panasonic did, says their EOS M is designed primarily for women. You can think of the 4Ti and M combo as his and hers off the same technology, basically. Women tend not to be lens hounds, nor do they seem to care if they have to hold a camera at arms length. (That's generalizing, of course, but I believe correct generalizing from the surveys.)
 
+Thom Hogan My biggest problem with Samsung is that, in the UK at least, it's very difficult to find their cameras in stock and next to impossible to get the lenses.

It took them over a year to get from product announcement (on their last set of lenses) to listed for sale in the UK. That makes it very hard to commit to joining a system for people like me who do want multiple lenses.

Samsung are in danger of making the best failed products in the mirrorless market simply because all their potential customers will choose a different system that is properly supported.
 
+Derek Randall That's sort of my point: Samsung may have cameras that are good, but their distribution and marketing are lagging. Here in the US they don't have a lot of traction, either, though they've recently signed up to have their cameras go through one of our big dealer distribution networks, which will help some.

Overall, Samsung's marketing leaves a bit to be desired on almost every product they sell. I see very little of "why you should buy a Samsung over Brand X" in any of their overt product marketing. The closest they've come to that is some of their clever smartphone advertising. 
 
+Thom Hogan I wonder how can they be so successful if their marketing is "bad". You don't become the world's largest handset maker and largest smartphone maker by having bad marketing. And you don't get to be a leader in computer monitors, TV's, and several other categories "by chance".

I think part of the story is that Samsung have historically been good at marketing to very large customers (cellular carriers, Big Box retailers), less so to the end-user. In some markets this is all you need in order to succeed (US cellphone market comes to mind). In the camera market this is evidently less so.
 
+Thom Hogan +Lior Kravitz  It's not so much the marketing (or lack thereof) that's the issue, it's distribution. It's puzzling because, as Lior says, Samsung have done a good job at getting phones, TVs, etc. into stores. Unfortunately they seem utterly incapable of doing the same thing with their cameras.

What I infer from this is that it's a conscious strategy not to push the NX line (can't buy them in Japan, very difficult to buy in Europe or US). I just can't think of a logical reason why they would act this way.

Re Marketing: The only significant marketing I've seen for mirrorless cameras in the UK has been from Nikon and Panasonic. Panasonic's has been quite good in terms of explaining the benefits of the cameras. Nikon has tried to sell the 1 cameras on the basis that they can take a picture before you fully press the shutter. (insert confused emoticon here)
 
Samsung is a pretty good marketer. I don't think they have their A team together, yet. They don't seem to put their mouth where their money is until they believe they have an advantage or two with their product. This camera may be at the "Hobby" stage. Wait a bit.
 
Stumbled upon your review. Costco has a great 2 lense deal on the Samsung. Thinking I'll go for it over the Nikon j2 or Sony
 
The Nikon comments are interesting. I am disappointed that Nikon didn't jump into the mirrorless game with a large sensor like SONY, but I tend to be a bit more bullish about their future. It seems to me that Nikon may be many things but being blind to the future isn't one of them.

Anyone can plot the trajectory of sensor image quality relative to size and it'd be pretty obvious that the smaller sensors are catching up at an astonishingly quick pace; Moore's law suggests that 1" sensors and m4/3 sensors are probably going to on par with mid-level DSLRs in numbers in the next couple of years or so. There are a few small barriers left to cross in terms of user-experience; EVF technology is still just okay, and auto-focus and tracking is still largely behind for the bigger sensors. But, that's just a matter of time and innovation.

So, the question, really, is what then? If you assume that point-and-shoots die by phone cameras and entry-level DSLRs get eaten by small sensor systems, it seems only natural that Nikon would want to get in early on the small sensor/big performance game early, at the smaller end of that sensor size spectrum. Voila, the Nikon 1. 

Nikon 1 was never going to be a serious-photographer's tool, but as an anchor for the next wave of changes in the photography industry at the better-than-cell-phone end of the market, it makes total sense, especially when, in a couple of years, the Nikon 1 will already be a well established small sensor brand leader.

The big question is what about DX? My guess is that DX will eventually become a Mirrorless DX system, much like the Canon-M. That Nikon isn't following suit now may be puzzling but if you take a conservative-ish market strategy, it sorta makes sense to lead in a new product segment and resist the temptation to be too far ahead of the curve in the segment you are already entrenched, particularly when it requires a new ecosystem of lenses and accessories to follow. Note that SONY's NEX system is still being weighed down by crappy lens selection; and the really decent ones (aka that one Zeiss 24mm f/1.8) makes the NEX-6 about as big as a Nikon D3200 which is also nearly 2/3 the price of the NEX. About the only thing the NEX really has going for it at the moment is weight and a handling as a video camera. My guess is Nikon understands that price is going to be a biggest factor when convincing someone to step up to a APS-C sized system.

That said, Nikon seems destined to get into the DX mirrorless game; particularly since that's what DSLR shooters seem to want--with a few decent small primes and an adapter for DX and FX lenses, it'd be a no brainer for existing high-end Nikon shooters to get a M-DX as a travel system or a backup unit. Note, that market is still smaller than the consumer market upgrading from their cell phones; and, it seems that if they are going to do it right, they'd not want to come out with a dud like the Canon-M. My guess is that if they already have decent hybrid optical/live-view system and are able to pack it into an SP-like frame, we'd already see one in production. Yes the Fuji X-Pro/X-e1 shows what's possible but they are still years behind in lenses and not-quite there yet for someone who is practiced on a DSLR. 

Maybe its wishful thinking on my part, but I don't look at the delay as 'standing still'--I just think they are building it stealthily by getting the various pieces working first, e.g. fast image processor and pipeline (D800), awesome video (D600/D800); PDAF (Nikon 1); small lens systems (Nikon 1), etc.

Cheers
 
> Moore's law suggests that 1" sensors and m4/3 sensors are probably going to on par with mid-level DSLRs

Sorry, but no. Moore's Law has to do with reduction of transistor size (or more transistors per area). Imaging sensors don't get full benefit from process reductions driven from Moore's Law, and the larger the sensor is, the less it benefits from transistor size reduction. Short of putting a lot of computational capability at the pixel level, the gain isn't all that great for the sensor sizes we use in cameras.

Take Canon versus Nikon in full frame. Canon is still using the old large process stepper they started with. Nikon (via Sony and others) is using smaller process steppers. The benefits of Nikon's smaller process sensors are small at full frame.

Moreover, state-of-the-art sensors are remarkably efficient now, with many getting down to 2e values for read noise. There aren't a lot of places to drive more efficiency in current designs. Some engineers think we're within two stops of ultimate ability using current technologies.

That's not to say that there aren't other things that might impact light gathering. But process size reduction (Moore's Law) isn't going to drive sensor improvement by very much short of changing the way we think about pixels.
 
I was using Moore's Law to describe the exponential growth of technology and the improvements of price to performance ratios, not narrowly about quantity or size of transistors. Though, I don't quibble with your description of the state of sensor technology. Perhaps, I should have been more precise by saying that "given the aggregate improvements of technology, such as faster processing power, better sensor design, cameras using 1" sensors and m4/3 sensors are probably going to be on par with mid-level DSLRs."

My point is simply that these days a m4/3 such as a OM-D EM-5 could credibly replace a D7000; the sensor itself isn't the overriding barrier to for that displacement that is happening. And, I am sure this isn't news to Nikon.
 
btw, this whole Moore's law thing has been debated at length; e.g.  
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/moore-rebuttle.shtml, for those following this thread who might be curious. Thom's right in the we are probably not going to squeeze out much more from the light-capturing end of things (the sensor) but good old computing power can continue to make big impacts on image quality outside of the sensor.
 
I think Nikon has just been trying to be the most successful character in the story of Matthew 25:18.  This is my thinking ... for Nikon, to create a direct replacement for a DSLR by creating a DX mirrorless system would have been taken as a statement that the DX DSLRs are on the way out.  That would have destabilized a stable source of revenue.  The only way they could have done that in a satisfying way would have been to make a splash introduction that was so attractive that their existing DX customers would flock only to them.  To do it half way would just make all of their followers think too much and maybe choose someone else. My guess is that they judged they were unable to accomplish the former and wisely avoided doing the latter.
Add a comment...