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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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.

Ariel Martini's picture

they still haven't recalled d600

Why would you recall something that has no replacement yet?

Ariel Martini'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.

so your saying if the d800 had a sensor oil issue they would have recalled every unit and replaced it with a functioning product since its billed as a more professional product than a d600? what about if it was the d4? whos to decide when a camera is more worthy of a companies support than another model.

No, not at all. If I owned a D600 I would be upset. Personally, I think that even if the D 3100 had an oil problem they should replace it. The "professionalism" of a camera shouldn't have much to do with how well they take care of their customers. Even a $99 point-and-shoot deserves great customer service. I was just responding to your "on what they bill as a professional camera", that's all. And Nikon has, at least in the past, under billed the "professionalism" of their cameras to encourage pros to spend more. In the past, the D800 would've been listed as a "pro-sumer" camera. The D600 was built as an "affordable" full frame camera. It has a plastic body, similar to the D7000 and D 7100. The controls are laid out differently than the D800. But that doesn't mean you can't get professional photographs out of it. My first digital camera was a Nikon D70, and I used it professionally along with my Hasselblad film cameras. I made a 30" x 40" prayer for a bride that we displayed at their reception.

It sounds like Nikon will take care of their D600 owners, replacing both the shutter and fixing the oil problem. I think they wanted to come out with a new model because the D600 had a bad reputation. But it looks like they're taking care of their photographers.

Nathan - I agree that professionals should (and do) have more than one camera body. But - do most people have 3 $2000 camera bodies or just 2? Perhaps you have 3 camera bodies because you supply the camera for your second shooter, but if you are like most professionals you have 1 backup. So, if you have to shoot for (potentially) 3 months with just 1 camera, that means you now need to rent another to have as a backup.

Or perhaps you have 3 D600's you need to send in for repair... Now what? Well... You get where I'm going with this.

I could be wrong, but it doesn't sound like Nikon provides free loaner cameras while your gear is getting repaired. So, you'll be stuck paying the rental fee or buying another faulty camera from Nikon to have as a backup... Doesn't sound like a great situation.

I used to shoot Nikon back in the day but switched to Canon. Am I a fanboy? No. I am sick and tired that Canon won't push past 60fps 720p in even their $3000+ 5d3. When an iPhone, GoPro, Lumix, and many others can shoot 120 fps, I think DSLR's should be able to match it (or beat them).

Friday Wedding Photography

There's an old military term "two is one, and one is none...."...meaning, when it really counts, if you have one of something, plus a backup, you REALLY only have one, b/c WHEN something happens, you're only left with one....if you have one, you really have nothing, b/c WHEN something happens, you cant deliver.

Personally i have 4 bodies (not counting film bodies)....sure, they're not all of the same caliber, but if my main body (bodies) takes a dive, i can still keep shooting with confidence....pick up a used body or 2, and you're good to go...ANYTHING is better than NOTHING....

I understand your logic, but for a PROFESSIONAL, shooting with one or two bodies is just unacceptable....ESPECIALLY for a wedding shooter....

And yes, NPS (Nikon Professional Services) does offer loaner gear when yours is in for repair. Only on semi-pro level bodies and above....which, the D600 isn't considered...only D300, D700, D800, D2x, D3, etc, etc...

Thank you for elaborating (or stating in a different way) my point. If you shoot with 1 camera and have 1 additional as a backup, if ONE (or both) get recalled and will take 3 months to get repaired - you'll need to rent an additional 1 or 2 bodies to get back up at your "fully stocked" level with your backup gear for shoots.

Glad to hear NPS offers loaner gear. Does it apply in this situation? Do they lend you gear for up to 3 months while your stuff is getting fixed? If so - it wouldn't be as big of a deal - but if I just bought $6000 worth of cameras (3 cameras) and they were all recalled and would take 3 months to get them back... The rental costs for 3 cameras would be BLOODY EXPENSIVE and I'd be super pissed. Wouldn't you be as well?

Friday Wedding Photography

I am a professional and have only one body. What's the big deal, you can't be professional with just one camera body? That's a funny criteria.

It really depends on the type of work you do. If you're a studio shooter, then you very well could get away with one body...easy enough to reschedule a shoot if something happens...for wedding photography, then yes, i have absolutely no problem saying if you only own one camera body, you are absolutely NOT a professional...i dont care how good your work is...

Apparently having 4 bodies makes you a professional, and having 1 makes you an amateur. Stupid logic.

Reminds me of something David Hobby told us during a Strobist Seminar. "If you only have one body and something happens to that body, you're no longer a photographer."

I was without my primary body for over a month, and had to pay $45 shipping in order to fix a mistake that should never have occurred. No sorry, no offer to send a temporary replacement, no payment for the shipping. Seems to me they didn't really care.

i agree...irresponsible of them.

I am still waiting for the D400,

I'm in no way a loyal customer because loyalty doesn't pay off. However ... being heavily invested in Nikon glass jumping ship is a non issue. Being focused on still images only I don't see a reason to go for a new camera until my D800 buys the farm. Even if it takes 10 years.

Well said. There are many more of us who bought the recent camera for photos, not video or both. I also have D800 and a good selection on pro Nikkor glass, and no one's taking those off my hands...lightly :-) I somehow stuck to the 'brand' since the late 90-es and my F100, then D70, D7000 and now D800. The 'glass' just followed.

As for the upgrade, that will take a while as the D800 when released last year was already few years ahead of its time and competition, so most likely will stick with it for another 7-8 years at least or until the 3rd iteration of D800 (MK3 or some other model name) is about to hit the shelves in 2020.

Very well said ... but one questions for you guys: the problem about focusing is fixed or just exist on the eyes of "pixel-pickers"? I still have my D700, love that little big sh*t, but it's reaching the 150k, and have a choice to redo the mechanism or a brand new one ...

I don't think we will need to wait that long (2020) but I guess with the D800 (D800e) we can still be "proud" and do the job for another few good years... I love my D800e and as you said, I won't change that quickly... I'm addicted to Nikkor Glass :) As a funny commercial said "that's what I dream, that's what I paint" ...