I’m going to stop buying gear

I’m going to stop buying gear because whenever I get into a system things tend to go downhill.

My premise of buying into Nikon CX was to gain a smaller capable system and use the crop factor to extend my DX zoom capability.

I quite like my Nikon 1 system and still use it. Quite a lot actually. It’s not very often you can stick the equivalent of a 300mm lens in your pocket, carry it around all day and not notice.

In terms of extending my zoom capacity with the DX zoom it sort of worked. It would have been better if Nikon hadn’t of knobbled the AF to one centre point though.

Anyway the downhill part became the demise of the 1 system. Nikon couldn’t figure out where to go with it. By the time they released the V3 with the third different body style my expenditure on the system stopped. I’m feeling a bit of deja vu here.

As it happens Nikon’s expenditure on the system stopped as well.

On the DX side of things I started with a D70 had numerous bodies since and currently use a D200  and D5300. So you could say I stuck with DX.

For me DX is a nice compromise in terms of cost, weight, value and performance. I’ve happy with my DX system and for what I do don’t need full frame.

Now it would appear that DX could go the way of CX.

Im starting to feel the APS-C sector is going to become very niche. The only company really sticking to the format seems to be Fuji.

It will be interesting to see what happens as the APS-C segment comes under pressure from smartphones at the bottom end and lower pricing on full frame from the top end. This could also apply to m4/3 as well.

If you don’t need full frame will there still be a choice of formats long term? Or will we be forced to choose between a smartphone and full frame?

Fortunately there is more than enough pre-owned gear around to last for a while.

In the meantime I’m going to stop buying gear and see where the dust settles.

 

Is the Olympus camera division on the ropes?

Is the Olympus camera division on the ropes? Several sites are reporting they might be forced to forgo their digital camera business. This has of course fired up the comments on various forums. Some in defence and others proclaiming m4/3 is dying.

The situation isn’t helped by Panasonic deciding to change direction.

So what’s the problem?

Well….It would appear to be the investors in Olympus suggesting a new direction. While their latest camera the EM1-X  might be considered an expensive model, somewhere within the rooms and corridors of Olympus HQ it must have been discussed and agreed to release that product at that price point.

It’s interesting that its the investors – reportedly foreign investors – who are asking for change. Does that vindicate the Olympus marketing and production departments? Maybe. It can’t be easy in the digital camera business these days. Despite comments on what camera companies should do from forum users, I think that those very users sometimes forget what they want may not be appropriate for other markets or regions. A few vocal Americans [insert your country here] may not be representative of a global market.

M4/3 may not be the only casualty

I still think that anything smaller than full frame could well be challenged in the current climate. It’s possible, to get some clear product differentiation that Canon and Nikon may give up on their APS sized cameras and cede market share to smartphones.

That would leave Fuji in the APS segment, effectively in a niche. Both in style and sensor size.

Will Nikon continue to produce what is effectively three different ranges of lenses? I’d bet a bag of doughnuts that Nikon will (officially or otherwise) let the DX go. And I say that as an avid DX user. I just hope that they don’t do a CX on it and neglect it to death. Nikon published a road map for their Z series lenses. Let’s hope they have the kahunas to tell us what they might do with DX.

Will other investors want out of the camera market?

If Olympus investors want out, are they the only ones? Will this prompt other investors to think along similar lines and want to change direction away from a declining market?

Let’s face it investors want a return. If that is harder to accomplish in a diminishing market they may very well want out.

That could mean Olympus won’t be the only one in trouble.

It could also mean investors increasingly calling the shots …..

It’s a balancing act

It’s a balancing act these days. My new found interest in Astrophotography has resulted in a new found interest in the weather.

Keeping an eye out for clear nights is now something I do more often. The balancing bit comes in with fitting the odd clear night around family commitments.

According to the weather forecast we are looking at cloud and or rain for the next week or so. Oh well.

Talking of balancing acts, we photographers quite often have to manage compromise. How much we spend on a piece of gear versus  have much we will use it is a common one. For hobbyists it’s harder than professionals. Why? Because a pro will look at it as a tool. Does it add value to what I do? How quick will the payback be? For the rest of us it’s more a case of want than need.

How much have you got?

Another compromise amateurs make is what gear to actually take with them on a shoot. Too much gear can lead to analysis paralysis. You have some FOMO (fear of missing out) by leaving something behind. So you end up lugging a suitcase of stuff around – just in case. Chances are you will only use one or two lenses on that hike or day out. The rest is extra weight.

OK. What do you do?

Im fortunate in that I don’t have a huge amount of gear. I balance my photography needs with the needs of the family. (Plus the wife keeps an eye on the spending😀).

I’ve got less than half a dozen lenses for my Nikon DX body. I can usually leave a couple of lenses at home without too much anxiety. If I’m really unsure I might leave them hidden away in the car.

My CX kit is a different kettle of fish. I can cover (the FF equivalent of ) 28 – 300mm in three pocketable lenses with not much weight. Whenever I’m out I always carry a spare battery for whatever body I have. In reality I very rarely use it though. Theres that FOMO again.

More often than not my balancing act is do I take the DX or CX kit. If I’m going out for potential wildlife shots I.e. birds, dragonfly’s etc, I’ll take the DX kit with a CX body and FT-1 adapter. More urban adventures and I’ll take the CX gear.  Hiking it could be either. Or a combination. In some ways I’m glad I don’t have more.

In choosing the right gear your balancing what you think you’ll shoot against what you’ll actually shoot. A planned day out for photography can make that choice easier, but  how many times have you grabbed a camera bag to go out ‘somewhere’ because the sun is shining? Or your just going out anyway. I have to admit I do that all the time.

Sometimes I get some reasonable shots, others the gear just stays in the bag and I enjoy a day in the sunshine.

Whatever your up to may you achieve a suitable balance.

Fuji film won’t go full frame

Several websites have reported that Fujifilm won’t go full frame. Apparently the news has come about after Photokina. I hope they stick to that philosophy.

I tried Fujifilm for a while with an XE-1 and the 18-55 lens. It wasn’t too bad but for various reasons I ended up selling it and the 50-230 XC lens I used for the telephoto end of things. It was a bit unfortunate as at the time I was contemplating a photo kit comprising  XE series and XT series bodies. Alas it was not to be.

I don’t have any problem with the APSC format at all. In fact for what I  do I think it is somewhat of a sweet spot. For most amateurs the APSC size sensor is enough. My current DSLR is Nikon DX (Nikon’s version of APSC). Thinking about it all my DSLRs have been DX and I haven’t had the urge to go any bigger in sensor size.

Portmeirion, North Wales
Portmeirion, North Wales – Fuji XE-1 with 18-55mm F2.8-4 lens.

I don’t trust Nikon

After the Nikon series 1 debacle I’m not sure we can trust them to continue with their DX line. Nikon have alluded to the premise of less units and more value. In other words fewer cameras at higher prices. This seems at odds with the mass market consumer end DX is aimed at.

The fact that Nikon never really filled out the DX lens line properly doesn’t earn them any points. They iterated consumer zooms unnecessarily. At the same time the DX bodies received what can only be described as ‘meh’ upgrades. You also get the feeling they were forced to release the DX body they didn’t want to do. The D500.

Lets keep APSC going

So long term I hope Fujifilm keep to their promise statement that they won’t go full frame and instead keep the APSC format going together with their version of medium format.

Why?

Because the m43 market will be squeezed by smartphones. This would also imply any smaller format will be equally squeezed.

The full frame mirrorless wars are just starting. At a time when camera sales are falling there appears to be a Dodo like rush to get more fish into a shrinking pond. When the splashing stops there could well be some casualties.

If you’ve spent your R&D and tooling budgets gambling on full frame mirrorless and the sales don’t come to recoup those costs…well there may not be enough left in the piggy bank to change direction again.

But you’ve said Fujifilm are expensive.

Yes I have. I consider the lenses overpriced. You could argue they hold their value well though 😀.

The XT-3 is currently £1349 here in the UK (as of date of post) body only. For me that’s a lot of money for an APSC body.The XE-3 body only is £699. Compared to other APSC body offerings Fujifilm do seem to command a premium.

It’s a long game though.

If by charging these prices Fujifilm stay in for the long game that can only be a good thing. A camera is part of a system. If the system gets neglected by one manufacturer while another produces what people want that could well be worth paying a bit extra for.

Should Nikon (or any other manufacturer) continue to neglect part of their range the consequences are obvious. Others will step in to fill the void. It’s no good producing cheaper bodies with a mediocre lens line up hoping you can encourage people to move up a model or three. It might have worked years ago but I’m not so sure it works now.

If Fujifilm can keep their system offerings compelling I think their future in the APSC market could be a good one.

The caveat is whether they have the will to control their pricing strategy to remain competitive.

 

 

Will DX become the new CX?

It took Nikon three years to kill off the 1 series, so will DX become the new CX?

Nikon released their last 1 series camera in 2015. This year after all the speculation Nikon 1 owners were finally put out of their misery with the officially discontinued announcement. The lack of love for CX lenses was there all along, We were in denial.

Nikon 1 V1 with 10mm CX lens
Nikon 1 V1 with 10mm CX lens

Unfortunately there could be some parallels with DX here. Why on God’s green earth did Nikon put so much effort into 18-something zooms.

Surely some of those resources could have been put to better use. Like a couple of wide angle primes that people were begging for. But no…let’s do another zoom… just in case we don’t have enough.

Then the piece d’resistance – the AF-P series. Let’s release more of the same but this time we’ll nobble the backwards compatibility. Score.

Nikon couldn’t produce or didn’t have the will (your choice) to proactively run three lens lines. But they have backed themselves into the same corner again.

I am a CX shooter. I am a DX shooter. For me DX (or Aps-c) is a sweet spot of value, size and quality. I don’t need a £2k (or £3k)  mirrorless or DSLR or even full frame camera, my photography is more of a hobby.

I fear that Nikon will eventually ‘pull a 1 series’* on their DX range and ignore them out of existence. Maybe not straight away but in the next three to five years.

The problem then becomes a familiar experience. At which point do you say enough is enough and refrain from buying new bodies and lenses.

A bit doom  and gloom? Yes, but that is what Nikon 1 owners went through.

Learning from the past do we really want to [have to] go through it again with DX?

 

* ‘pull a 1 series’ – adj- to totally ignore telling people then discontinue. Pertaining to cameras, lenses etc  🙂

Where will Nikon stop?

Where will Nikon stop? With the 1 series and the Keymission discontinued will Nikon stop there or is a bigger repositioning coming?

No this isn’t about their new mirrorless camera and teaser campaign.

Nikon as well as other manufacturers have stated they want to sell more higher value items. It would appear the consensus is to sell fewer units at a higher price. Whether you agree or not there is a subtle shift in nudging prices higher.

Nikon have effectively discontinued their Keymission and 1 series cameras. DX hasn’t really seen a lot of love lately either. They seem to have an issue running three different lens ranges at the same time. CX, DX and FX fought against each other. People in the FX camp didn’t like resources being used on DX 18-xxx zooms. To be honest people in the DX camp would have liked some primes instead of those zooms as well. Same for the CX camp.

Now we have a potential new mount for the upcoming mirrorless cameras. That puts us back to three different ranges again. DX, FX and what everyone seems to be calling Z mount.

I cannot see how Nikon would be able to manage to satisfy the conflicting demands this will cause. They will want to put resources into a new release – fair enough. They will also want to maintain the FX range (for now) and keep those shooters happy.

That brings us to DX.

Has the APS-C format had its time as far as Nikon is concerned? Anything smaller and you have a comprehensive range of m43 gear to choose from with various body styles and lenses. Fuji provide a good APS-C alternative. Larger formats are also provided for. Do Nikon want or even need to compete in this market segment anymore? There is certainly volume but are the margins still there? Will they just neglect the DX range like they did with the 1 series?

Nikon D70
Nikon D70 – The camera that started my DX path.

If Nikon wanted to stop their presence in the APS-C arena, now would seem like a good time to do it. R & D effort and manufacturing could be assigned to the newer mount and mirrorless range. Production resources may also be freed up and diverted to a range that could have potentially greater rewards for Nikon. Time will tell if they are going to give up on DX, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a shift in focus away from the smaller format. On a side note – did / has Sony done a similar thing with their A mount?

Prices are going up.

Gear prices are rising across the board. Some consumer bodies have gone up by £100 in a year. New releases appear to be asking higher and higher premiums. Lenses are seeing increases as well. We have enjoyed an era of low(ish) costs unfortunately that is now coming to an end.

Photography is getting more expensive at a time of falling sales in the industry. For pros  it could mean putting prices up to cover costs. For the other end of the market there could be a shift to secondhand rather than new. As pre owned values increase even more people could call it a day and just use their phone. Camera manufacturers still seem to be dragging their feet around the connectivity / workflow issues. Will the new Nikons address this?

I’m not convinced that the upcoming mirrorless offerings from Canon and Nikon (or the response from competitors) will be enough to reverse the downward trend on a sustained basis. Sure there is going to be some excitement for a while, but longer term who knows? Younger generations prefer a smartscreen to a focussing screen (or EVF).

Makes you wonder what we will be saying in a couple of years.

Whatever gear you have – or are about to get – enjoy your photography….

Legacy Lenses – time to move on?

Legacy lenses are by one definition an old lens which can still fit on a current camera. Nikon actually use the same fitting from 1959 in their F mount lenses. The same physical fitting that is. A lot of people who had 35mm SLRs  may have kept the lenses and use them in some form or another on a more modern DSLR. Eventually though these legacy lenses will cease to exist.

Why? Because technology will dictate that newer bodies will require different functionality and maybe even different physical size. As sensors get better will it be worth using an older lens that may not be able to give the best performance? Are we already at the stage where manufacturers want to move on but are worried of losing customers?

Take Nikon. We have the full frame FX, the cropped sensor APS-C DX and their 1″ CX. That’s three different types although the DX and FX use the same physical F-mount. While you can use DX lenses on FX bodies because of the smaller image circle your back to a cropped image. The CX mount had to be physically smaller for the 1″ sensor. With it came a chance to redesign the interface as well. The physical connections for aperture and focussing were removed and everything went electronic.

Now if when Nikon release their mirrorless cameras will they keep to the F-mount dimensions or will they do something different?

Thus we get to the stage where we can say ” Is it time to move on?” It gives them a chance to hit the reset button and start again. Maybe even future proof the design a bit. Will Nikon change to a brand new mount? I think we all know the answer and it contains the words ‘stuck’ and ‘ways’.

Lets use computers as an example.

While changing anything we are familiar with can be disruptive for a while eventually people come around. Think of computers. Remember the original floppy discs? Mine were 5.1/4″. Then we had 3″, 3.1/2″, zip disks and a slew of others. These gave way to CD’s which gave way to DVD’s which gave way to cloud storage. Now we dont get external storage drives on computers. As internal storage got better DVD drives were removed to save space.

We have accepted all the technological improvements the computer industry have thrown at us sometimes moaning along the way. We have mobile phones that are more or less connected mini computers in their own right. Modern cars not only use computers to control the managemnt systems but you need a computer to perform diagnostics. Self driving cars are not that far away. I won’t even go into the ‘ Internet of things’.

Technology has provided us with the jump to digital cameras. Although improvement is slowing slightly we still expect generational changes between models not incremental. And we expect all this in a cheaper package on a refresh rate similar to smartphones.

So…

So why the hell do we still want to use old lenses on modern cameras?

Providing it is beneficial and not just a marketing ploy it might be time to release our hold on legacy lenses and … move on.