[Editorial] Why Nikon Built the D3200
I have seen a lot of remarks and questions as to why Nikon released a 24 megapixel consumer camera. Why did they pack so many megapixels into a crop sensor? The ISO performance is likely to suffer (though we won’t know for sure until we test it out). The smarter move? Keep the megapixels the same and increase the ISO performance. So why didn’t Nikon do this?
Because ISO performance doesn’t mean anything to the consumer market. Nikon was going for a sticker-shock of sorts. Nikon didn’t build this camera because it was the photographic tool the world needed or was asking for. No, Nikon built and released this camera for one reason only: to take down the Rebel.
Before I continue, let me again state, for the record, that I am a Canon boy. I love Canon. I’ve been shooting with a Canon for over 10 years. I shot with a Nikon FN back when I was using film, but when I transitioned to digital I was and have since been all about Canon.
Canon’s top selling camera line for years has been the Rebel series. Rebel is a great success story. For a small, cheap, light digital SLR, it’s fantastic. Its price point is perfect, and beginners and soccer-moms alike have flocked to the Rebel for years. Its pricing made it perfect for a new model every year, giving Canon consistent revenue. The Rebel is the last Canon camera to hold fast in the top 5 sellers spot on Amazon.com. It is a thorn in Nikon’s side, and Nikon is tired of it.
Nikon knows how consumers think. Big numbers, flashy videos, and low prices (and maybe Ashton Kutcher) sell cameras. To take down the Rebel, they would need to beat it at its own game. In order to do that, they slapped a crazy (and arguably unnecessary) 24 megapixels into a $700 package that includes a lens. That’s not only cheaper than the Canon T3i, but the numbers on the surface make it look like a much better camera. Sure, aside from the megapixels, the actual specs aren’t that different. But think of it this way: You’re a beginner without a lot of money and you want what appears to be the best you can afford. That, in this case, would be the Nikon. For an entry-level shooter or soccer-mom, there isn’t a very compelling reason to choose the Canon now, especially if the impending Rebel T4i doesn’t look to hold up in the sticker-shock-megapixel race:
“Other unconfirmed specs show the camera to be 18.1mp and running DIGIC 5, which should improve noise performance and overall image quality. I’m told we won’t see a new APS-C sensor until the 60D and 7D replacements are addressed.”
Canon looks to be doing the right thing, which is increasing the actual quality of the image. However, many consumers are under the false impression that megapixels mean everything. That said, Canon touting a better sensor can easily be overshadowed by the “mine is 24 megapixels and yours is only 18” people.
I have no doubt that the D3200 will fly off the shelves at Best Buy like hotcakes. But what remains to be seen is if those sales can unseat the Rebel.
What do you guys think? Do consumer cameras matter?