UPDATED: Nikon's D610 and Canon's T5i are Proof That Brand Loyalty is One-Sided

UPDATED: Nikon's D610 and Canon's T5i are Proof That Brand Loyalty is One-Sided

When Nikon released the D610, I’m sure that many of you (myself included) initially reacted with joy. “Hooray!” we said. “They’ve fixed the problem of the D600! Nikon made things right!” But then I let things sit for a few hours and I realized, Nikon did no such thing. They didn’t fix anything, no more than Canon “fixed” the T4i when they released the T5i. Hooray? No. Not hooray.

As photographers, many of us have an unhealthy attachment to our cameras, and rightfully so. I’m sure there are many of you who have a camera shelf, a place for you to venerate cameras you might no longer use, but can’t seem to part with. They’re part of your past and your dedication to your craft. They are an extension of who you are.

As such, Canon and Nikon each have their insanely rabid fans, fans that fight tooth and nail in comments sections, forums and on Reddit furiously to claim their little black box is better than the other little black box. For those of us who keep a clear head, we know there isn’t really a huge difference. In the end, it comes down to preference (but even then, we would still like to claim for one reason or another that our chosen preference is the smarter, better preference).

So we fight, we bicker, and we defend our camera and the camera maker time and again. Some of us might not even know why we’re so fiercely loyal. But it’s time for all of us to stop deluding ourselves and recognize one serious fact: this loyalty is completely one-sided.

Canon and Nikon don’t love us back. They love our money and they love the free publicity and viral reach they get when we argue. They want us to list the products we use and tell our friends how great their latest product is. They want to see “shot on a Canon 5D Mark III” listed in the first sentence of a Vimeo description. But don’t confuse the desire to see us use their equipment with their desire to make us happy.

Canon and Nikon are guilty of exactly the same thing. When Canon’s T4i exhibited problems with the rubber grip, rather than recall the cameras, fix every broken one and return them to the users, they just re-released the camera with a new name. Within six months, all was forgiven and forgotten. Mistake? What mistake?

Even though I’m a Canon user, I still find myself respecting Nikon a bit more for sticking to their roots. Canon has a ton more products across a vast number of markets, so to me they’re the big hulking beast. So for that reason, I found myself holding Nikon in higher regard. “Nikon would never do what Canon did,” I found myself admitting. “They have too much respect for their much smaller customer base.”

I was wrong. Nikon, rather than issuing a recall and replacing the faulty parts for all those proud D600 purchasers, ignores their customers and releases a “new” camera with marginally expanded functionality. What about all those D600s already out there? What if you saved for 6 months and finally were able to purchase one last week? Tough. Nikon doesn’t care about you. They care about money. Fixing your camera doesn’t make them more money.

Maybe it’s time we took a hard look at how we talk about and feel towards the big two. Do I think or advocate moving to a different manufacturer? No, because the sad fact is they would all act this way. Why? Because they’re corporations whose single goal is to make money. That’s a fact. Not a sad fact, not a disappointment, just a fact. But it’s important for us to actually mentally recognize it, because our blind loyalty to these brands is only benefitting their bottom dollar, not our experience as consumers.

UPDATE: Canon totally did recall their T4i, and I missed it. That was my error. So kudos Canon!

[Originally published on JaronSchneider.com]

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146 Comments

Good article and sane, sensible comments. I thought exactly the same when I heard about the D610 - (much like the iPhone 4/4s where Apple- in the UK at least- practically admitted telephony issues...cue more fanboy vitriol). The current exception appears to be Fuji at the moment with an anticipated Firmware update for the X100 (a 2 year old camera) imminent.

I suspect that a large part of the decision was around that the camera model's name was "tarnished". The D600 will forever be associated with oil dots. Does the D610 have the problem? no no - that's a _new_ camera.

pati feroolz's picture

they still haven't recalled d600

Why would you recall something that has no replacement yet?

pati feroolz's picture

yes there is, read driver49 comment

So... think about it, to be sure, but don't *do* anything about it? While it's true that there probably isn't much the average consumer can do over the short haul, I think it's moves just like these that weigh on consumers' minds over the course of a photography lifetime. Many of us will buy any number of bodies, lenses, etc., over the years, and when you hear stories about someone switching brands, it's sort of a big deal, but you can start to see how someone might eventually get mad as hell and decide they're not going to take it anymore.

I'm aware that among pro-level shooters, the CPS program has done quite a bit to cement brand loyalty, which makes a fair amount of sense to me. Take care of the people who spend the big bucks, and let their halo fall over all the amateur wannabe's. To whatever degree that's true, I think it's worth noting that pulling a stunt like this on a (relatively) low-end camera probably won't hurt the brand as much as doing the same thing with a pro-sumer camera like the D600/610.

Still, I think the real lesson for consumers might be simply to wait for some of those early reviews to come in before jumping on a new camera... or take your chances.

I don't think CPS would repair any Nikon. All snarkiness aside, if you buy any camera (or any other product) which fails during normal use within the given warranty period, SEND IT IN TO GET FIXED FOR FREE. No product is perfect, but that's exactly why warranties exist. If a company fails to back their warranty, however, you're free to unleash internet Hades upon them.

Right. I'm not trying to suggest that CPS would fix a Nikon. I'm suggesting that people figure out how well a company stands by its products, and the expectations are a little higher for high-end cameras.

I'm not sure how Nikon is planning on treating all the D600's already in the field; surely, some have been fixed under warranty already, but for all the cameras out there that *haven't* been in for service yet, it seems reasonable that Nikon would take care of those owners -- I think there's an implied level of quality for a camera in this price range. Nikon needs to keep these high-end customers happy because of the influence they've got over prospective customers.

If I am not mistaken, Nikon completely supports fixing your D600 if it has the oily issue...so I wouldn't say that they don't care.

I agree. Unfortunately, just to rehash the sad D800 AF story one more time, it takes Nikon quite some time to admit a flaw and take measures.

As I posted on another article, it's also up to the buyer to sort through websites and check for insidious flaws in a new product.

If consumers would shun faulty products, manufacturers would care a lot more. It's up to consumers to teach them that shitting customers has severe repercussions.

Zach Sutton's picture

Thats not caring so much as good PR. If they didn't fix that issue, their fanbase would have their pitchforks and torches ready

That is not a solution. A 1-3 month repair window is a death sentence to 99% of photographers doing it for anything besides a hobby. I can't even fathom being without my body for a week let alone a month or god forbid 3 months. Thats an absolutely ludicrous request of someone spending 2000+ on a body alone. I've been a diehard Nikon loyalist for a long time and this whole thing has left a bad taste in my mouth.

If you say you're a professional, and have only one camera body......well....you get where i'm going with this.....

I sold my first body in favor of having 3 good lenses and a good body. For what I do I make one camera work just fine. I'm careful enough to not damage my equipment and I have it insured for any issues that could arise but excessive oil buildup on what they bill as a professional camera is unacceptable and the solution they have proposed is not an option for most.

They don't bill the D600 as a professional camera. Full frame yes. Professional no.

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