Nikon Sales of High-End Cameras Slipping

Nikon Sales of High-End Cameras Slipping

Nikon has always been the silver medal holder in the High End Digital Camera race behind Canon, but always remained proud with their numbers boasting well above Sony, Fuji or Olympus. With their recent quarterly statements however, Nikon seems to be struggling even more than they had thought, and posted slipping numbers for the third quarter of the year.

Released just the other day, Nikon has shown a 41% drop in operating profit to $222 million for the last six months leading up to November. Stating that depressed demands for Professional Level DSLRs in oversea markets the reason for the flux of numbers, Nikon plans to cut its sales projections from 6.55 million units to 6.20 million - the second cut they've made this year.

While numbers are dropping considerably for Nikon, 48.2% drop in operating profit this year so far; people still have high hopes for Nikon. Many of the features made within Nikon cameras are outsourced, which will often cut into profits (but would require higher operating costs as well). Sensors are often made by Sony, and other parts come from various electronic suppliers. Is this downturn in the Pro level DSLR market a symptom of no new gear, or is it a transition to the iPhoneography and growing mirrorless market that we have come to expect?

[via Rueters]

Zach Sutton's picture

Zach Sutton is an award-winning and internationally published commercial and headshot photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA. His work highlights environmental portraiture, blending landscapes and scenes with portrait photography. Zach writes for various publications on the topic of photography and retouching.

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I think this has a lot to do with Nikon not quite imbracing video yet. Sure, there cameras have them, but they don't work nearly as nice as Canon's do. Pair that up with Magic Lantern on Canon, and you can have a pretty amazing RAW video camera for an incredibly affordable price.

I personally know 3 or 4 photographers who have jumped ship to Canon for their video advancements.

Seriously?? Because they don't produce such good videos???

Let's be honest, I'm a Nikon fan. I own the D700 and I love it but what would someone buy out of the current lineup if he wanted a camera like the D700? Or in other words, what camera would someone buy who wanted to jump ship from Canon to Nikon who has a 5DMKIII? A D800? Hmmm?!? Nope. A D610? No thank you. That only leaves a used D3 or D700 and it isn't quite as good as the 5DMKIII. And yes, THAT camera as no video.

Up till the D610 Nikons line-up is okay. And the D4 is also okay. The 1DX is better though. It is also more pricey

No really, video is a big deal for many who both photos and video. One of my good buddies was a D700 shooter and loved it, but had to move to a 5D Mark II because she needed video. You're in Denial. It's ok, I used to be a Nikon fan too.

The D600 is heinously annoying to shoot video on. Inability to change camera settings, like aperture, while in live view video mode is horrible.

If the lighting conditions don't change, it takes really good video actually but as soon as it becomes brighter, it's amateur hour with having to stop shooting or raising the shutter speed (which changes the look). The ISO settings come in handy when it's dark.

Sorry that you don't know what AIS is, you're really an embarassment to the photographer community, with your lack of basic knowledge of the cameras you like to ignorantly beetch about so very often.

Also, it's HEINOUSLY hilarious how you compare a $2 nikon camera to $3 ones from canon. Talk about being clueless AND IGNORANT.

@Blabla...... Do you mean me?? Your comment is neither helpful nor well articulated.

@Mansgame Which part of my comment was about denial? I know full well that Canon has the better lineup at the moment. Still I don't think that there are millions of people switching from Nikon to Canon simply because Canon does better Video. Are there some? Sure. But I also know of some that switched from Canon to Nikon because they like the handling, haptic and the image quality.

And shooting video comes down to way more than just the camera. If you want to shoot quality video you need to have a steadycam, a slider........
My D700 can't shoot video and I don't need the video capability but if I would need it, I would go for a GoPro. It is easy to use, rugged, small, I can put it onto my camera, I don't need to switch a whole camera system....
But that's just me.

actually, nikon has better video (ignoring canon's video-only DSLRs). the 5d3 doesn't have uncompressed RAW data. the D800 does.

Is this true? I've never heard of such thing... I've been shooting video with Nikon for over a year now (I own 2 d7000), and image look very clean, even at hi iso's.

it's all canon-fanboy bs. the d800 has superior video quality. think about it: 36MP massive dynamic range sensor vs the ancient 5d2 sensor. not to mention the 5d2/3 cameras do not offer uncompressed RAW video. compression = lower quality. this is a fact. compression of a low dynamic range sensor recording video = lower quality video.

None of this is accurate. Having a higher resolution sensor when you're downsizing to 1080p will not a better image make. Once you go beyond what you need to get a full resolution debayer, they have to start selectively throwing away resolution in a technique called line skipping. Not to mention that resolution is only one area of video quality. The 5d3 is better in low light, doesn't exhibit fixed pattern noise and rolling shutter is under control.

Without a hack, none of these cameras do raw video (uncompressed or otherwise); You need to go to a blackmagic cinema camera for that. What you're referring to is uncompressed video over the camera's hdmi output. The 5d3 also offers uncompressed over hdmi (added in a firmware update).

The d800 is a decent camera for video and I've seen good work produced with it, but Canon and Panasonic are leading the charge in terms of video quality in dslrs.

I have never been a Canon fanboy. If anything I was Nikon fanboy until the D600 opened up my dust filled eyes. Every video test I've seen shows the canon outperforming Nikon. Try panning and you'll see the difference. Try the live autofocus and you'll see the difference. compressed vs. uncompressed doesn't matter if your shot looks like jello.

Actually it's the other way around, Canon has uncompressed RAW video for the mark 3 when using the Magic lantern hack.
Nikon has uncompressed via HDMI but not RAW.

Agreed. They fcked up the lineup with no D300 successor, no true D700 successor, no D700s, so many small problems that are adding up over the entirety of their lineup compared to Canon, sadly.

Here's an idea for Nikon; Make the cameras we want.

And you know, not have dust.

Yeah and since we all want the same thing it will be even easier than you said.

I actually agree with this. Everyone has slightly different needs and wants!

you're being literal and missing the point.

Nikon's problem is partially self inflicted and has been predicted for a while. The company's current policy is driving consumers away. First, they are way too aggressive in trying to turn their service centers into profit centers. They refuse to sell parts to third party service centers then claim "impact damage" (for any tiny scratch) to refuse warranty service. Second, despite their denials their QC debacle is soiling their name. More important is how they deal with. Changing a model name from D600 to D610 allows them to escape a recall but screws over thousands of loyal D600 customers. Sure, the market is shrinking but Nikon's management is making the company sink faster.

Forgot about the service and how expensive it is given they're the only game in town.

The D4 isnt new anymore
The D800 isnt new anymore, many people are just buying over-zealous people's used d800 or refurb.
The D600 had dust/oil issues so people were shy to buy it.
There is no true D300s replacement yet.
Lower end cameras have been getting lukewarm reception.

I would also assume the global economy being pretty poor isnt helping things. People are much more likely to buy used now more than ever.

This is quite the menagerie of hearsay and ignorants.

Nikon, much like Apple has always had the attitude that "Nikon knows best" and "we will not apologize". Maybe it's a cultural thing, I don't know. Dealing with Nikon has been like dealing with an old college professor with liver spots on his bald head , but I digress. Some companies like Apple can get away with (at least so far) with giving customers what they THINK the customer wants, but Nikon is #2 and they aren't considered cool. They can't get away with it.

That's why before the D3/D700/D300 lineup came out, Canon was just absolutely killing Nikon. Every wedding or sporting event I went to before that had Canon Photogs. At that point, Nikon did right by photographers by giving them a solid pro lineup without compromise. The D700 blew the doors off anything Canon had and caused Canon to answer with offering video. D300 was a solid pro DX camera. Even the entry and mid-range cameras were better than most anything Canon had. The D40 was better than the XT. D80 was better than the XTi. Later the D90 was a darling of mid-range users as it was the perfect price point and functionality. Pros embraced these cameras.

Then Nikon got greedy. They started spitting out entry level cameras and created a sub-catagory between entry and mid-range with the ridiculous D5000 that nobody wanted. People wanted more FX choices but for 4 years the D700 at $3000 was the only choice. It was $3000 for the entire time too. People wanted better video and had to settle for the absolutely horrible video of the D90 and the D7000.

FINALLY, Nikon decided to come out with the new FX lineups. The D4, loved by many and it was no surprise. But then the D800 came out. What? 36MP sensor? Who asked for that? Mostly studio shooters and landscape guys. Great camera but not what the people wanted - a Baby D4. D800 is not ideal for sports nor weddings given the massive file sizes. And some had left focus issues, but eventually the camera got off the ground and has a solid following. Not as solid as the D700 however.

Then the D600 came out. Don't get me started on the D600. (ok fine, I'll start). People wanted a $1600 entry level FX camera but instead got a $2100 entry level FX camera. At that price point, the camera better have had its act together and offer a solid spec sheet. It did not.

The flash sync was 1/200, max shutter speed was 1/4000, the AF system was exactly the same as the D7000 cameras which on an FX viewfinder were centered to the center, video didn't allow for changing the aperture while in movie mode, no gps, no wifi, no swivel screen, no fully metal body, etc.

The saving grace was that the 24 MP sensor while too big for most, was a great sensor. Much like an arranged marriage, people learned to love it until wait for it... wait for it...people started noticing spots in their pictures. Surely this was user error they were told on here, flickr, Nikonians, and other websites. Nikon wouldn't put out a camera without QCing it!

Soon a few dozen people turned into a few hundred people and Nikon admitted nothing was wrong. It got to the point where if you even typed Nikon D600 on google, google would suggest "dust" . At first all the Nikon fanboys were attacking D600 owners telling them to stop whining and all cameras have dust, but they had no idea how much dust and oil the D600 shutter was spraying.

It got to the point that even Nikon offered a Nopology saying "maybe there is dust". They never offered an explanation of what was wrong and how they were going to fix it. They'd just get the cameras, wipe them off and send them back only for the dust to return after a dozen shutter clicks.

The D600 went from $2100 to $1600 in 3 months. Surely Nikon would keep on supporting the D600 and come up with a solution. They did. They called the D610 and told the D600 to eff off with their worthless dusty cameras.

So Nikon, are you surprised? Really? REAAAALLLLLY? You screwed the pooch. You're untrustworthy.

Well said.

very well said indeed!

I love Nikon...But you are spot on sir

Well written!!! Thanks Mansgame, I feel the same way!

Not to mention the green screen nonsense that was supposedly more accurate. I owned many Nikon cameras over the years and they lost me completely after they sold me a lemon of a d800 with poor autofocus (not just the left points) and an off color LCD! Canon's 5D III's sensor isn't as good, but it auto focuses all the time! It's what the D800 should have been.

The D800 is focused on a very different market than the MK III is. fyi.

It's like comparing the 6D and D600, completely different target segments, just so you know.

6D... D600 different target segments.. what are you on... crack?

both are aimed at entry level FF customers. get a clue what your talking about.

ok, you explain to me how they're targeted at the same market segment big boy.

Here's a hint for even the most common of mongoloids, price /= market segment.

even though market segment sometimes is the reverse. I'm sorry that 1+1 = 3 for you in your world.

care to explain your point? How are they not marketed to the same segments of the market?

I just wanted to make a further reply level to the thread, but I failz.

I guess you mean one is in the market for Canon and the other is in the market for Nikon.

You sir is a genius!

No, they're the exact same market segment: entry-level, prosumer FF's for enthusiasts and semi-pro's. You're trolling pretty hard here, just not very well. At least try to be funny or something. Nobody likes an unfunny troll.

What a Troll comment!

Yeah I was a big fan until all the recent hubub. So I switched to canon. Still got my old Nikon equipment though. I like it. Just wont do what I need it too nowa days.

kinda surprised to say this, but for once I really agree with Mansgame! Really well said dude!

Thanks. It feels kinda dirty doesn't it? :)

Very well said! I am a frustrated D600 user who went through the same pain. Nikon is really lacking in QC and too arrogant to admit their fault and leave the problem behind to the users. Being a dedicated Nikon user for 20 years, I have now officially left Nikon camp and joined the more superior Sony + Carl Zeiss camp.

Well written. I could read this over and over. All true.

Before the era of Nikon D800, everyone complained Nikon couldn't match Canon in the megapixel race, and how Nikon is losing their market share, and how so many are switching, etc. etc. etc. And now that Nikon finally released a marvelous high-megapixel body that rivals that of medium format cameras that sell for three times as much, everyone still complains. I suppose it's human nature to complain (believe me, as a retail studio, we deal with customer service issues regularly :-)

I suppose I must be the only one who thinks the D800 is an absolute engineering wonder.

And regarding the dust on D600s; You must understand, from a PR standpoint for Nikon to admit this widespread issue would probably bankrupt them. Nikon would have to cover shipping, sensor cleaning, and possibly changing the shutter mechanism (once a solution had been found) for hundreds of thousands of customers. Believe me, it's a move their board members had probably considered, but knowing well the financial burden, they've decided to treat it on as-needed basis.

Does that make it okay? Of course not. But Nikon is in the business of turning profit, make no mistake about it, and weighing the long-term costs of possible drop-in-sales of D600s, vs. admitting to a massive failure, and offering to fix all D600s free of charge... it's not an easy decision to make.

Michael Kormos
Fresh & Modern Family Photography
New York | San Diego

I agree 110%. I am an 800 user and I think it is the best camera for the money (granted I am a landscape photographer and it probably suits my needs more than a wedding or a sports photog) and I absolutely agree that it is an engineering wonder. I guess I'm lucky that I have not experienced the problems that others have had. The auto focus on the 800 seems no different than the 700, it's just as quick and accurate, and just as good with ISO performance, especially for a sensor that's 3x the size of it's predecessor. I've never notice the greenish hue of the screen that others have mentioned, I personally think that the screen represents an accurate color range of the pictures I take using RAW, JPEG, or TIFF.

Maybe I'm just lucky, I have never had a bad experience with any Nikon I've owned, from the D90 to the 300 then the 700 and now the 800. Absolutely love/loved all of them. However, I can see the argument made by most Nikon users with Nikon slipping and making cameras that are sub par. If they expect to keep a faithful following, then like any other company that have to meet the expectations and demands of their current population (easier said than done). I guess with business adaptation is key, but at the same time making sure that Nikon sticks to the principals of making quality cameras with little compromise.

#justsaying actually the D800 can replace the D700 if you have enough cpu. that said, I heard the AF implementation is a fail. sigh

I'll still get one and a cpu upgrade though. D610 can't replace the D700, it was their best chance to make the D600 series right with the D4 AF.

D400 is conspicuously missing also, making many sports/bird photogs pretty pissed.

I began using Nikon professionally in 1973 with a few used F Photomic Tns and my first NEW Nikons, two F2 bodies. In my 38 years as a professional photographer, I have owned 19 Nikon systems worth over $174,000. To say I am a Nikon Photographer is an arguably accurate statement.

The dependability of Nikon, the assurance that their quality was as Ford used to say, "JOB ONE!" was a given.

When their ads said, "More Nikon cameras are used by Professional Photographers than all other 35mm cameras combined." They were correct in their boasting, Nikon was KING!

But since digital arrived, Canon, with their background in electronics, Nikon began to slip.

As everyone has said, prior to the D700, Nikon appeared to be rode hard and put away wet, not even in the running to compete with Canon.

I very seriously considered changing brands to Canon, then the D700 came out and I saw there might be hope after all.

I wrote a seven page letter to Nikon in which I told them to "FIRE SOMEBODY! DO IT NOW! DO IT TWICE!" or whatever was required to stop dragging Nikon down into the quicksand.

But, the D700 came along and the D3 satisfied the needs of many, but today... Once again I am sitting on the fence, ready to reconsider my dedication, devotion and loyalty to Nikon.

I rented a D800E for a photo shoot two weeks ago and it was like a fist fight trying to get sharp images. My Nikkor 85mm f1.4 lens would not focus with the D800E, I had to use the autofocus calibration, the camera kept backfocusing the lens. I would focus on the eye closest to me and it would be OUT while the hair on the back of the head would be tack sharp. I was going for min. DOF, wide apertures for this shoot, but the camera kept fighting me. I have used this lens on my D700s and D3 without issue, but on the D800E... INSANE! To correct the focus, I had to recalibrate the camera body to -10.

I also used my Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 zoom on the D800E and again, backfocusing horribly. With the zoom it was even worse. If I recalibrated the 70mm end of the focal length to -18, the lens was sharp and focused on point, but then the 200mm end was out, so I ended up shooting the 70mm at -18 and the 200mm end at -20 to get anything I focused on sharp.

I have never seen this kind of nonsense in a Nikon product before and frankly, I am disappointed to the point of setting my Nikon Mugs on fire in the back yard as sacrifices to the gods of nevermore.

I am not talking left side focus point error, I am talking, having to check critical focus and recalibrate on every lens swap I did.


Get back to QUALITY FIRST! Or stick to making Binoculars!

I agree with most points, barring the apple comparisons. I've never felt that there wasn't an apple computer to suit my needs and apple's decisions are more often than not, the right ones... At present there is no nikon that fully suits my needs.

It's compromise after compromise. The D4 is great (I have one) but some won't like the body size/weight and the price means I can't justify buying the two bodies I need. The D600 is compromised by crappy AF and functions that have seemingly been left out to distinguish it from it's big brother, the d800. The D800 (I have one of these too) could've been amazing. It has everything I need in a camera but is let down by the resolution that no one asked for. In releasing the D600 and D800, Nikon never replaced the brilliant D700. Finally the DF. Brilliant in many ways but again, crippled by nikon by giving it the D600s sub-standard AF, a single card slot, no video (granted, it's not 'that type' of camera) and a price tag as high as the D800.

Why couldn't nikon release a 16/22mp D800 aimed at the d700 faithful and leave the 36mp sensor to the d800e for more specialist use? Sony had the good sense to do this with the A7. Both incarnations would've sold well and, guess what Nikon, your D4 would've still sold to it's intended market. The df was another camera that was poorly executed. It should've been specced for the price or priced for the specs - a $2k camera with the d600 AF or a $4k camera with pro AF and duel card slots. As is, it's over priced and under specced.

Incidentally, both our D4 and D800 had to be sent off to Nikon to rid them of their AF problems - something none of our other, older Nikons ever needed.

I hate hearing Nikon users try and justify this decision making in terms of the company's profits and sales cannibalisation. If nikon are worried about people buying the D800 rather than D4, it can only be because the D4 has larger profit margins. Why should we care about Nikon's profits?!

Steve Jobs, who for all his flaws, often did know what was best, said that you should never be afraid to cannibalise your own sales. If you don't, someone else will. Right now, the 5dmkIII looks ever so appealing to me...

I love my D800...I started off as a Canon shooter (film days) then out of necessity in 2008 bought a Nikon, D40. What a dream! I stuck with Nikon after that.. Went to a D90, then my first FX, D800. I have no complaints, I never had problems with any of my cameras.. However, given Nikon's recent attitude to shut up or put up.. Wow, well let's just say, I have no problems returning to Canon. Nikon, remember those who helped build your brand and company..We are loyal, but not fools!

Well if what you are saying is that non professional oriented users go for the iPhone and mirorless cameras instead of Pro-Level DSLRs I more than welcome it. Maybe in the future phones and mirorless will be enough for the casual users and the now thin (atleast for the non enlightened customers) line betwean pro and "average joe" will grow like it was back in the days before I was even born!

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