When Do Manufacturer Delays Make Switching Camera Brands the Right Choice?

When Do Manufacturer Delays Make Switching Camera Brands the Right Choice?

After receiving yet another email stating that my new camera order is still backordered, it is becoming even more difficult to fight the urge to look at other options.

I have a problem: I have no willpower. In almost any situation, given the choice between options, I will almost inevitably choose “all of the above.” It goes well beyond photography. For a man who only possesses two feet, there is literally no practical reason why I need three separate closets lined with shoes. And as I documented my struggle with weight in the past, it mostly boils down to an inability the know when to stop.

Fortunately, I have a superpower. We all have them. And like many of you, I rely on my superpower to overcome my areas of weakness. My superpower? Discipline.

If given the an immediate burst of free will to either make the right choice or overconsume, I can be in trouble. But I am very good at making plans and sticking to them through thick and thin. It is this discipline to deny my own free will and stick to a set schedule of predetermined choices that helps me regulate my consumption and avoid excess.

Here’s a brief example. I love pizza. For all the gourmet dining I’ve been blessed to enjoy over the years, and the multitude of unbelievable chefs I’ve been surrounded by, nothing truly strikes my taste buds quite as squarely as a slice with sausage and pepperoni.  

Like many, prior to changing my life and my physique, food was just one of the many things I used as a Band-Aid to make myself feel better when I was depressed. When we are having trouble finding the answers to complicated questions, we tend to over rely on the things we know for certain. At that time, I may not have known what I was doing with my life, but I did know that pizza was good. Like, really good. And, just my luck, one of the best pizza places in the city just so happened to be right on my way home.

I started to pick up a slice every week. Then it was every few days. Then, I noticed that it’s more of a bargain if you bought a whole pie, so I’d buy the large. Then the extra large. Before I could say “pass the anchovies,” I was stopping to pick up at least a couple full pizzas each week. Telling myself I could spread the slices out over a few days, more than likely I was downing the whole pie in one night. My love of pizza wasn’t the only reason I was overweight (the days off from the pizzeria were often spent at the McDonalds just five blocks away), but it certainly didn’t help.

Thankfully I was able to turn my life around and my waistline reaped the rewards. But while it took me years to finally see the light, the key ingredient to making a positive change was a fairly simple one: discipline.

I don’t believe in denying oneself all the things in life that one enjoys. Life is meant to be lived, after all. But a small bit of discipline goes a long way. I still eat pizza. Boy, oh boy, do I love pizza. But, knowing my lack of will power, I have instead placed preset limits on how and when I can have it. Specifically, I allow myself exactly one slice of pizza per week. Not two. Never a whole pie. Just one. Only one. It’s something of a reward for sticking to my clean diet for the entire week. To be sure, I almost never go a week without a slice, but I also never go over my one slice limit.

This may sound insane to you. I’ve had more than one cross-eyed conversation with my friends over the matter. But this restriction helped changed my life and is emblematic of using my superpower to overcome my Kryptonite.  

By limiting myself to that one slice, I set a hard limit on the number of calories I can ingest on a given week from pizza. Less carbs. Less fat. Less weight. Because I have a preset hard limit, there really isn’t an option of having more than one slice. I never have to walk into the restaurant and think, “I wonder what I’m going to get.” I know exactly what I’m going to get (as do the waiters who start preparing my slice before I even need to order). And because I already know what I’m going to get, I am not tempted by additional options. Because I’m not tempted by additional options, it helps to quell my lack of willpower. It is a strict policy for sure, but it allows me to continue to enjoy something I love, without the inherent risk of excess.

Oh, and on a side note, when you know you only get one slice per week, every single bite of that slice tastes sooo good.

And now that I’ve likely made everyone reading this really want to go out and get a slice of pizza, you’re probably wondering what in the heck this has to do with photography.

Well, to make it short, Nikon is killing me right now. OK, not literally, but it sounds more dramatic put that way.

As a proud member of the Nikon family, I have been shooting primarily with Nikon bodies now for basically the entirety of my professional career. I won’t say exactly how long that career is, but, so you have an idea, I will point out that it wasn’t always completely digital. As a long time Nikon user, I also have accumulated a wide assortment of accessories to accompany my periodic camera upgrades from lenses to flashes to everything in between.

I’ve had no complaints. Except one. It seems as though every time Nikon releases a new camera, there is a simply monumental wait before most photographers can actually get their hands on one. At the time of this writing, I am lost in the mire of the endless backorder that is the D850, but this isn’t the first time I’ve had to wait to get my hands on a new release.

To be fair, as someone who graduated with a business degree, I understand there can be a marketing benefit to scarcity. In fact, many businesses use scarcity as a strategy. For those who don’t already know, the idea of scarcity is based on supply and demand. In this case, when demand is high, and supply is low, the result will be a product of higher value. In basic terms, you can charge more for a product that everyone wants but is in limited supply. People are willing to pay more to feel part of an exclusive club.  

Even if you’re not using the strategy to increase prices (which I don’t think is Nikon’s goal here), you can also use the strategy to improve promotion. If word gets out that everyone wants something but only certain people actually have it, that thing starts to be perceived as more valuable. Because it is perceived as more valuable, more consumers want to buy it.  

To put it in less economic terms and in more photographic terms, if you create a photographic masterpiece and only make one print, that print will be incredibly valuable and you’ll be able to charge a mint to someone who wishes to buy it. If, on the other hand, you flood the market with thousands of prints of the same image, each print is no longer perceived as unique, and thus the price you’ll be able to demand will be less.

Of course there’s a third and far more practical reason for market scarcity: limitations in a company’s supply chain make it impossible to meet demand. They simply can’t make the cameras fast enough to keep up with the market demand. This, I suspect, is the real reason why it is always so difficult for me to get my hands on a new upgrade and why I’ve been waiting so long for my D850. Presumably, it’s a darn good camera and worth the wait.

But while this is decidedly understandable, it does, in actual practice, provide an opening for my old nemesis. It puts incredible strains on my willpower. You see, I like Nikon. No, I love Nikon. I don’t want to switch camera brands. I’m happy where I am. So happy, in fact, that even the idea of switching brands wouldn’t even occur to me under most circumstances. Because it wouldn’t occur to me, even though the speed of technology has introduced a flood of amazing cameras to the market since my last upgrade, I hadn’t really been paying any attention. Why would I? Like my slice of pizza, I already know what I’m going to buy the next time I open my wallet, so knowing all the other options available only makes it more difficult for me to fight the urge to buy everything in the store.

But therein lies the downside of scarcity. As much as I love Nikon and have no desire to leave, I do have a business to run. And while I try to keep my equipment budget limited, I do need upgrade my technology from time to time to meet increasing demands in the marketplace. In my particular case, it is the need to greatly upgrade the video capabilities available on my D800. The longer I have to wait to implement the new technology in my business, the more stress that lack of technology will have on growth. And, in a business where you either grow or you die, it is somewhat impossible not to start to look around to fully access your options.

In just these couple months that I’ve been waiting for my order to be fulfilled, I’ve discovered a vast sea of competing products that can address my business concerns and are available now. Many of these cameras I had never even heard about and probably would never have heard about were I not made to wait so long to get the new Nikon in a more timely fashion. And while I haven’t jumped ship yet, and I still really feel as though the D850 I ordered is the best fit for my needs, the longer one has to wait, the stronger the urge to look around.

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Alexander Petrenko's picture

“it is becoming even more difficult to fight the urge” - especially when all your cameras are suddenly broken... They are OK? Then go and shoot with what you have! :)

Deleted Account's picture

I understand the desire, and sometimes need, to upgrade but, if you were to switch brands, presumably to Sony to satisfy your video need, what of the desires and needs that kept you with Nikon for so long? Every single time I hear about somebody switching from one brand to another, except in actual cases of long-term need (not very often), I lose a margin of respect for them. It says something about them.

David Penner's picture

How does it say anything about them to want to try a different system? It actually says more about you that you base your respect for someone based on brand loyalty. Especially with camera gear people sticking with a system is usually not based on actual loyalty but due to the fact that they have a lot of money invested in that system.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Open minded, not ready to compromise something for something, decisive. Says a lot.

Deleted Account's picture

Completely unrelated to the article or anyone's comments but I've never associated "open minded" with "decisive". It seems like you could be one and then the other but not both at the same time.

Deleted Account's picture

I didn't write what it says because nobody would agree with me. I only responded so you wouldn't think I was ignoring you.

Felix C's picture

Susan Stripling is a good example. Totally lost respect for her and the Canon Explorer of Light program. She is not an Explorer of Light, she is known for her Nikon work and to suddenly switch brands and then becomes an Explorer of Light. If they waited a year and then gave her the Explorer status would have been better. But all her work she posts on Instagram from all the weddings she did in 2017 were Nikon images. Where is her outstanding work with Canon?

Deleted Account's picture

Same with Scott Kelby. When he switched, almost everyone working with him did too. He would have us believe it was coincidence. :-/

Disclosure: I'm a Nikon guy but I feel the same way no matter what one switches from or to.

Deleted Account's picture

I'm a camera whore. I'm not monogamous to any brand. Whatever I find cheap at a garage sale, I buy it: Nikon, Mamiya, Yashica, Canon, Minolta, Polaroid, Pentax. Not sure what that says about my camera morals. ;-)

Deleted Account's picture

I really wish people would spend even a fraction of the time it takes to write my comments, into reading them. <sigh>

The article is about switching brands for a particular reason. His main point is about lacking willpower (the point of my comment) but he also mentions, almost as a side issue, his need for video. My comment makes exception for need. If he's doing a lot of that, I think he should go ahead and switch or, as someone else stated, get a more dedicated video camera. In this case, he'd be more happy with a Sony than the D850 for video so that's something he *should* think about.

Since you're nice and usually funny, I'll tell you the thinking behind my original comment. People's habits influence their attitudes about seemingly unrelated subjects. People who randomly switch from one shiny bauble to another (the point of my comment) are more likely to treat morality, principles and even people in the same way. That's clearly not the case for a camera whore, not that there's anything wrong with that! I own three different makes of cameras. ;-)

I've been meaning to ask you since you live in Detroit. Having read articles about photographing abandoned industrial buildings, what is the reality of being able to do that? Have you ever done it? I don't live a great distance away and had thought about visiting some time to try it. Not being a young man, however, I've been a bit reticent.

Deleted Account's picture

Oh, Sam. i wasn't picking on your comment. I was trying to be funny, but it apparently fell flat. :-(

As for photographing abandoned buildings, there are some hotspots where there are muggings. Theives have learned that photographers flock to those particular buildings and they wait for them.

In other cases, where the buildings are owned, I have gained permission and paid the owner to photograph the building. I'm one of those follow the laws kinds of persons and won't trespass. <- not a joke.

Deleted Account's picture

I knew you were kidding. :-)

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

TL;DR: Nikon give him this f**king camera :)

Deleted Account's picture

While he often strays away from photography, he's an excellent writer and worth reading if you have the time.

Jonathan Brady's picture

And a slice of pizza for the inconvenience of waiting!

stir photos's picture


Grant Schwingle's picture

Nice article, I appreciate the candor about willpower. It's something I deal with as well. I had my D850 ordered from B&H for a month on back order, when I finally cancelled and got it within a week from my local seller. Should have done that at the start and just taken the hit on the tax.

As for video, your new 850 is not stopping you from creating. I've used my 800 a bunch and it's been fine, though the one thing I've preferred working with video is having a dedicated camera for it. I like the idea of dialing in and setting up a rig specifically for video work so it doesn't interfere with either medium, as trying to do both on the same camera can be maddening.

Deleted Account's picture

Agreed. I don't understand wanting one camera for both if you do a lot of each.

Dennis Johnson's picture

so buy a pizza already,.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

Great and funny article. Pizza is certainly bad for your waistline.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

True. I love pizza but my intestines don't.

Deleted Account's picture

Except it's more addictive than most other foods. :-)

Kawika Lopez's picture

Great write up. I hope people can appreciate the relevance of self awareness and how it relates to your professional decision.

I think it takes a lot of emotional maturity to accept your strengths and weakness and to leverage them in order to love more effectively.

I just hope this doesn’t get interpreted as just some memoir of a struggling pizzaholic. There is great value in recognizing the psychological factors that make us tick, and our professional decisions are not immune to them.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

I am not a pro and I would like to switch from Sony (aps-c) to Fuji. I love what is coming out of the camera, but I hate the fiddly ergonomics of the a6xxx series.
However photos and videos are just a hobby and cost money.
Switching brands is rather expensive. So I am staying for now.

michael buehrle's picture

in %99 of the people switching brands it is not needed. you don't NEED a new camera to make you a better photog. cameras that are 10 years old are still kicking ass. glass is what effects pictures the most. i laugh every time i see a guys or girl switch brands to a "better" platform. what a waste. every brand has great gear, period. no one will hire you just because you have a D5 or 1Dx as opposed to the other brands. you might like to think so. you will get hired for your work. period.

Deleted Account's picture

Yep, I'm shooting on very old digital gear. 10 year old Canon.

I won't include the film cameras, which are obviously older. ;-)

However, if those who switch have the disposable income, I don't fault them. It's their money and their choice. They can do what they want.

Kai Fredriksen's picture

This feeling makes perfect sense to me, if you can´t trust the camera manufacturer to sell you a brand new and expensive camera, how can you then expect them to get a replacement to you quickly, when something breaks.

Deleted Account's picture

You really think trust is the issue here? The D850 was wildly more popular than they had anticipated. End of story.

Kai Fredriksen's picture

You miss the point completely. If they can´t deliver it when I pay a whole load of money for it, how can I be sure they will be able to fix it when it breaks down. If it was widely popular that does not change anything, if anything it makes it more likely they won´t be able to deliver either a replacement or a new cam in a timely manner. Don´t matter if it is an Apple, Nikon or Random-brand-product. If the supply for new sales is not working, most likely replacements or repairs are suffering too, and usually takes second place to new sales.

Deleted Account's picture

I see your point now but I've never had issues with Nikon repairing cameras or lenses. I know others have, though.

Kai Fredriksen's picture

I got badly burned on a Mac Pro, trash can edition :D - Got a busted one from start, and due to delays, it took me 1.5 months to get a replacement, which cost me work.

Ps, writing this on a Mac.. so guess I did not switch :P

Deleted Account's picture

Oh! Sorry about that. I've never had any kind of Apple product but others have reported good luck. I don't know...

Ralph Hightower's picture

In the first paragraph of this article, I thought "This guy bought a Nikon D850".

Deleted Account's picture

Where's the pepperoni and sausage? Also, didn't he say he preferred square? ;-)

Tim Driman's picture

You have made an interesting point, but as I see things, there are TWO problems....* These are my own person observations after some pretty extensive research, so take them as you wish.

1) The delay in receiving your new NIKON D850, which we believe it a great piece of equipment and
2) NIKON - The Brand....

Purely by reading the reports and using a little deductive power, as I believe things, NIKON as a brand is suffering a number of problems , one of which is that financially things aren't so grand! This will certainly impact on stuff like cash-flow and capital available to build new products and run the business efficiently.

Personally when I saw the impact that SONY made to the two main flagship brands ( CANIKON) with their new mirrorless technology ( A9 and now their A7Riii and their G Master lens range...*I know their range of glass is not as large as CANIKON blah, blah, blah.... But there is enough between the ZEISS and G Master lenses to cater for most professional and semi/pro photogs, and it is also great quality)

I shot with CANON for >18 years, but when I saw the technical reasons why, and specifications of the mirrorless technology, it was abundantly clear that mirrorless technology is now superior for so many technical as well as practical reason.... The hard fact of life being that CANIKON's DSLR technology is behind the curve and old fashioned!

Both CANIKON realise that to compete favourably with the SONY and even the FUJI technology ( To a lesser extent), the capital outlay is astronomical.

You cannot simply change the production of old factories and start making mirrorless bodies without huge cost or better still, building new plants specifically mirrorless technology.

The same goes for the lens plants... You need new plants designed to build bespoke lenses for mirrorless bodies....

I suspect in NIKON's case it is a matter of financial cashflow.... Do they have the cash or are they willing to expand the old fashioned DSLR plants, knowing full-well that they should be pursuing the new mirrorless technology....Its a financial thing!

SONY are specifically an electronics company, and are undisputed leaders in sensor development and build.... They had the luxury of building new mirrorless plants, as well as the superior expertise in design and development as opposed to CANIKON who started out with film and built their brands around mechanical cameras....

As for NIKON failing to supply the great demand.... I guess it is because they are trying to do it with their limited facilities and do not want to grow those old fashioned plants...

As the photogs, we pay for the equipment and therefore we have the prerogative to spend where we like to suit our own needs....

In my case, I wasn't prepared to wait for CANON to get out of their own shadow and develop the modern ( Superior) technology, so I took a big decision and went with the brand which I felt are keeping pace with the industry and delivering what photogs need to do their jobs....

I sold ALL my Canon stuff ( 1 DX MKii, 5D MKiv, 7DMKii and all the iconic lenses....and replaced with 2 x SONY A9's, an A7R iii, three G Mater lenses and I am extatic with the results!

Don't get me wrong CANON is fantastic equipment...BUT.....it can't do what my new SONY equipment is achieving!

Boris Sheikman's picture

What a a strange article! You bring up the idea of switching brands and systems because of the delay between new model releases? How often did you feel the need to upgrade your film bodies and lenses? Ask a Pentaxian about switching because of delays and they'll think you're nuts! There are users of "old" K20D bodies who are just now thinking of moving up to a K-3 or K-3 II ... and they waited --forever-- and a day for the full frame beast, the K-1.

You can switch brands every day for whatever reason ... or no reason. Do what you want as long as you can afford it.

If you want to switch or add bad enough then you'll find a reason and a way.

jon Glaser's picture

Ha,,years ago when I was a Canon 5d mk III shooter, there were tons of rumors that canon would be coming out with a beast. Meanwhile, Nikon produced the d800, d800s and D810.. I JUMPED SHIP! Sold all my canon gear for my Nikon gear.And never regretted it. I would never do it again because the 850 is THE BEAST! oh dont get me wrong I loved that mk III and still miss the way it handled with ease. But, my Nikon behaves the same way now that I switched some buttons and LOVE IT..

I ordered from Adorama and Green toe in October..Greentoe had it to my door in 1 month..