To paraphrase the great Mark Twain, rumors about the demise of the digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) are much overstated. In light of the fact that Nikon has announced that it would be releasing the new D780 in the midst of the wave of mirrorless cameras, this move could seem irrational to some people, but from a purely economic perspective, it might be brilliant.
Now, before I begin, I do want to make it clear that the purpose of this piece is not to engage in a discussion about the relative benefits of single-lens reflex cameras (SLRs) versus mirrorless cameras (Mirrorless). Even though this debate seems to elicit an abnormally large number of responses on Twitter, the fact of the matter is that the type of camera you use to take pictures—whether it be a mirrorless camera or a DSLR—does not really have that much of an impact on the overall quality of the photographs you take.
Instead, I’d like to discuss the reasons why Nikon, which is a company that is in the business of making a profit, is doing the right thing by continuing to service and even expand its line of DSLRs. I’ll start with the first reason, which is that Nikon is a company that is in the business of making a profit.
According to the most recent statement made by Nikon, the D780 will be an updated version of the well-acclaimed D750. 24.5MP BSI sensor. The enhanced central processing unit 7 frames per second still photography. The ISO range was increased all the way up to 204,800. a faster shutter speed of 1/8000 seconds as opposed to 1/4000 seconds for the D750. It has the same back LCD as the D850 did before it. It will offer 4K at both 24 and 30 frames per second.
It is capable of going up to 120 frames per second at 1080p resolution. Most significantly, it is expected to inherit the exceptional video capabilities of the mirrorless Z 6 in the realm of video. Although I would anticipate it to be a little heavier than the Z 6, there are rumors that it will be slightly lighter than the D750. This is something I would expect to be the case.
It will have the same number of autofocus points as the classic DSLRs despite having an optical viewfinder. When shooting in live view mode, however, your focus points will be stretched all the way to the edges of the frame. When using the viewfinder, it functions like a DSLR, but when using the LCD, it behaves more like a mirrorless camera. Additionally, it will, without a doubt, be equipped with two card slots.
There will not be an IBIS station located on the missing front. The D750 will no longer come equipped with the pop-up flash, which, in my case, was utilized infrequently. And Nikon remains committed to the peculiar practice of rendering their cameras incompatible with battery grips. Its suggested selling price is $2296.95 dollars.
The details have been presented in their entirety. There are some outstanding things and some dubious stuff. Now that we get that out of the way, let’s go on to the reasons why this camera, a speculated successor to the D850, and the imminent introduction of the D6 are all excellent for business for Nikon.
The “mirrorless revolution” has received a lot of attention recently. I anticipate that the use of mirrorless cameras as the first body for cameras will continue to be popular among photographers who are just starting out. A significant proportion of newer photographers who are just getting into photography now will have had a mirrorless camera as their first body.
Once more, the purpose of this post is not to criticize mirrorless cameras or to deny that they are becoming a more significant competitor in the market. With a range of cameras that is entirely composed of mirrorless shooting alternatives, Sony was even able to surpass both Nikon and Canon in terms of new sales in 2017.
Therefore, according to this line of reasoning, in order for Nikon and Canon to compete for the top spot, they must only produce mirrorless cameras. First things first, calm down. To continue to be competitive in the long run, both Nikon and Canon will, without a doubt, need to make progress in the mirrorless sector at some point in the future.
But just as the slam that you watched on ESPN last night is probably not the best dunk that has ever been attempted, the strength and staying power of the 102-year-old Nikon brand won’t be judged over the course of one poor sales year (or a handful of bad sales years).
They may be trailing in the standings at the moment, but you can’t be in business for more than a century without having experienced some highs and lows. They have been through it all. Wait to write them off completely just yet.
Canon and Nikon had dominated the market for cameras for several decades before to Sony’s ascent to dominance. They grew their business and their reputation by manufacturing reliable and powerful tools, which are now essential components of the equipment carried by the vast majority of professional photographers.
Canon and Nikon both still have considerable numbers of existing DSLR consumers inside their present bases, despite the fact that Sony is spearheading a revolution toward mirrorless cameras and exerting a rising amount of influence in this space. These consumers have not necessarily made their careers in photography by chasing after the most recent technological advances. They have been able to build successful careers with dependable equipment that has assisted them in performing their work each and every day.
They have accumulated a large supply of lenses and accessories in their warehouse. However, the most crucial aspect is that they have developed a degree of confidence in their apparatus. Over five years after its initial introduction, there is a reason why the D750 is still in such great demand among photography enthusiasts.
It’s been drilled into my head several times that if you want to be a successful photographer in today’s market, you absolutely must invest in a mirrorless camera. And while advertisers who are trying to sell mirrorless cameras would love for that message to sink in, it would be best for us to pause for a second and wonder why that would be the case. If we take a step back, we can see that this is the wisest course of action. Are you receiving requests from your clients to shoot mirrorless? Unlikely. Is there an improvement in image quality when using a mirrorless camera? No.
Do not misunderstand me; mirrorless offers a number of important advantages. Because it allows you to get a sample of what your final image will look like, some people believe that the electronic viewfinder is superior to traditional models. However, this is not the case for everyone. A photographer who needs to carry their equipment around all day will undoubtedly find the weight to be an advantage.
IBIS, eye detection autofocus, and a number of other technological advancements may unquestionably make the job of a photographer simpler. However, the customer is not in any way impacted by any of these factors. The only thing that the customer is concerned about is whether or not you can actually deliver the finished product. And I would argue that there is nothing about a camera not having a mirror that would preclude a talented photographer from achieving that. There is nothing that would prevent them from doing that.
The problem is that the advantages of mirrorless cameras are primarily designed to help photographers, rather than customers. When the industry transitioned from film to digital, there was a noticeable improvement for the customer in terms of convenience.
The customer would have a faster opportunity to obtain their photographs. Tethered shooting allowed photographers to capture images while simultaneously allowing clients to provide immediate comments, ensuring that all parties involved were on the same page. No longer must we wait for the outcomes of the lab tests to see whether or not the photographer was providing the assets that the customer required.
The shipping of picture assets has become less expensive and more time and labor efficient. A consumer experienced a genuine and palpable improvement as a result of switching from film to digital. Because of this, customers started making demands for it. As a result, the vast majority of professional photographers adopted the new approach.
Mirrorless provides photographers with several additional luxuries and conveniences. On the other hand, the final product that the customer receives does not change. As a result, there is very little motivation for the customer to exert any kind of pressure on the photographers to switch over.
Therefore, whether or not a photographer perceives enough of an advantage to radically upend the way they’ve previously conducted business is the single most important factor in determining whether or not they will switch to a mirrorless camera. This benefit will be available to some individuals.
Altering to a mirrorless system is more of a nuisance than it is an advantage for some people. And because the end user receives very little additional value from the product, there is very little pressure to implement a modification.
In a recent video, Tony Northrup made the astute observation that sales from Nikon’s mirrorless Z 6 and Z 7 lines only account for around 2% of the company’s total income. In addition to this, he mentioned that despite the fact that the D750 has been out for five years, it is still the most sought-after Nikon camera on the internet, exceeding even the newly released Z 6 and Z 7 models.
Consequently, even if it cannot be denied that the media buzz surrounding mirrorless may appear to be a tsunami, customers who are likely to seek to Nikon for their camera systems are still doing so mostly based on the performance of their DSLRs.
That is not to say that the quality of their mirrorless cameras is compromised in any way. It only indicates that their DSLRs are of exceptional quality. And the clientele is aware of this fact. The digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) are so fantastic, in point of fact, that current Nikon owners have shown themselves to be quite reluctant to transfer to mirrorless cameras.
To reiterate, why switch to mirrorless cameras only to show your other photographers that you’re ahead of the curve when your DSLRs are already doing an excellent job of enabling you to satisfy the needs of your customers and thrive in your business? Perhaps they enable you to perform a certain action, such as record videos with eye and face identification, which you consider to be necessary (an issue addressed in the new D780).
That is an acceptable justification. However, this does not mean that a camera cannot be focused without the use of face or eye detection.
Both the Z 6 and the Z 7 are highly capable cameras. When you take into account the fact that they are Nikon’s first attempt in the mirrorless arena, you will notice that they are very good. However, regardless of how well they performed on their initial attempt, it was impossible for those cameras to be as excellent at being mirrorless as a D850 or D780 would be at being a DSLR.
That has nothing to do with Nikon and everything to do with the natural rhythm of product development cycles. The initial iteration of a product is never and should never be considered to be the greatest possible version of that product. The Nikon DSLRs are the culmination of decades’ worth of technological advancement and photographic expertise. These mirrorless cameras from Nikon are brand new and straight off the boat.
The mirrorless cameras are already rather outstanding, and it is expected that subsequent generations will make them much better. If you were going into battle, and you found yourself in a foxhole with another soldier, and your survival depended on him to get you out of there alive, would you rather that soldier be highly skilled but fresh out of boot camp, or would you rather that soldier be a hardened veteran with medals on his chest and battle scars who has proven that he can get the job done time and time again?
Everything will shift at some point in the future. Mirrorless cameras will continue to advance in quality, both from Nikon and the industry as a whole. In the long run, the proportion of photographers who have only ever worked with mirrorless cameras will grow to constitute a greater and greater share of the market.
And although I don’t necessarily see DSLRs being extinct, there will come a day when even Nikon and Canon’s base will be dominated by mirrorless cameras. This will happen at some point in the not-too-distant future. However, how soon can we truly anticipate that taking place?
If mirrorless cameras only account for 2% of Nikon’s client base, then it indicates that DSLRs make up the vast majority of the remaining 98% of the company’s sales (or other film cameras that likely use the F mount).
This indicates that roughly 98 percent of the market for Nikon lenses is for the F mount lenses linked with the DSLRs, rather than the Z mount. The same principle applies to all additional accessories. These goods from Nikon will be purchased for a DSLR by 98% of the individuals who make this purchase. It would be counterproductive to ignore the needs of 98% of your clientele.
Therefore, despite the fact that mirrorless may represent the future in the long run, Nikon must continue to serve their current client base if the company is to survive long enough to see that future. It would be the same as if you had a successful wedding photography company, but you decided that you wanted to focus your career on architecture photography instead.
That is an admirable objective, but keep in mind that regardless of how talented you are, it will probably be some time before you have completely established your credibility in this new area of expertise. You will succeed, but the journey there will be drawn out. In the meanwhile, you still have to take in some food.
Therefore, despite the fact that you may start to progressively transfer more and more of your attention to architectural photography, you may discover that you still need to shoot at least a few of weddings in order to maintain your current level of financial stability throughout the transition.
That doesn’t mean Nikon should give up on mirrorless, though. I’m only trying to get across the point that, for the benefit of the company’s business, it wouldn’t be smart to overlook the strengths that they now have in the market.
All of this leads me to the conclusion that purchasing a D780 is a really astute move on your part. Earlier, I brought up the specifications, and while I generally believe that specifications can be overvalued, there is one line item that really struck me as potentially being the deciding factor in whether or not the D780 is going to be a very successful product for Nikon, and that is the resolution.
I have both mirrorless and DSLR cameras in my collection. For the vast majority of my professional work, I have typically relied on Nikon bodies (D850, D800, and D750). Additionally, I have a few Fuji mirrorless bodies in my collection. In addition, I just hired a Nikon Z 6 for a period of one month.
The rental of the camera served three different purposes for me. First, I was interested in comparing the experience of shooting with this camera to that of using my DSLR. Two, I wanted to see whether the additional functions were useful enough to make me think about switching from the DSLRs that I had been using.
And third, and perhaps most significantly, I wanted to determine the circumstances under which I would reach for the Z 6, as opposed to the circumstances under which I would reach for one of my existing DSLR cameras. This wasn’t a scientific experiment in any way. I just wanted to determine, on an instinctive level, which camera I liked better and why.
Even though this is not a comprehensive assessment of the Z 6, I will state that it was an outstanding machine that was able to handle the workload of the majority of hybrid shooters. Excellent quality of the photograph. Strong EVF with only a little bit of blackout.
However, when it came to recording video, the Z 6 truly showed its mettle. Because I had such a good time shooting videos with it, I’m really considering utilizing it instead of my X-T3 or even my C200 in some situations when I need to record videos for my projects.
On the other hand, I continued to like using my DSLR cameras for capturing still images. After a month of shooting with the Z 6, I was still not persuaded that I would not have preferred using my D850 or D750 for the same assignments rather than the Z 6. I shot quite a bit with the Z 6. That is, without a doubt, an entirely personal point of view.
This viewpoint is predicated mostly on the fact that my hands are somewhat small, which made it more comfortable for me to hold the D750, and despite my best efforts, I continue to choose optical viewfinders over electronic viewfinders. It would make me feel horrible, but considering that 98% of Nikon’s market share is still concentrated on optical viewfinders, it is apparent that I am not the only one who feels this way.
I bring it up because I believe it has the potential to be the secret to Nikon breaking out a massive new market sector. In a previous piece, I discussed some of the features that I had my sights set on for the next-generation Z 8 or Z 9 camera from Nikon.
In the article, I expressed my hope, which I now realize was in vain, that Nikon would find a way to incorporate some kind of hybrid viewfinder into the Z 8 or Z 9 camera, something similar to what I have on my Fuji X100S, which allows you to easily switch between using an optical viewfinder and an electronic viewfinder. I am aware that the implementation of this idea would be quite difficult, but it certainly sounds appealing.
But the more I thought about the specifications of the new D780, which would presumably be carried over to a D880, the more I realized that Nikon may have just found a way to grant my wish. In other words, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Nikon may have just found a way to give me what I want.
The company is satisfying some of the ergonomic preferences of a significant portion of its customer base by developing a single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) with a mirror that enables existing Nikon users like myself and others who favor an optical viewfinder to continue shooting stills without being required to use an electronic viewfinder (EVF).
However, by adding the same video capabilities as the Z 6, those same customers will be able to make use of the significant benefits that mirrorless cameras offer when it comes to the recording of video.
It is correct that users will be required to take pictures utilizing the back LCD rather than gazing through the viewfinder in order to take advantage of these benefits. The fact that I can capture still photographs with one eye pressed to the viewfinder and videos with the other eye turned away from the viewfinder and focused on the LCD screen demonstrates that this camera truly offers the best of both worlds. It is simply a combination of two cameras in one housing.
When shooting stills, I put my eye on the body of the DSLR camera, which has an optical viewfinder. When shooting video with the back LCD, mirrorless cameras include innovations such as face identification, eye autofocus, and focusing points that extend all the way to the edges.
A current Nikon DSLR shooter who recognizes some of the benefits of mirrorless cameras when it comes to video but who still favors seeing through an optical viewfinder while capturing still images might find this to be the ideal middle-ground option.
The customer who still has a lot of legacy F mount glass and is not ready to make the wholesale switch to mirrorless and buy all-new Z mount glass can still partake in some of the advantages without having to completely overhaul their approach to gear. This is because they will still be able to use their legacy F-mount glass.
It is obvious that the firm cannot compete with Sony if they immediately convert its whole client base to mirrorless cameras, but there is a method for the company to capitalize on its existing capabilities while it is in the arduous process of developing its own line of mirrorless cameras. Keep in mind that we all like to speak about how Sony is dominating the mirrorless market, so keep that in mind as well.
And you’re absolutely right. On the other hand, it is also true that Sony does not have any kind of a foothold in the DSLR market. Even though it is by far the less popular of the two markets, it is nevertheless expected to be a highly lucrative market in the year 2020 and perhaps for some time after that as well.
The difficulties that Nikon is experiencing are, to some extent, its own fault. Simply put, they have developed a product that is simply too excellent for its own good. My Nikon D850 is now three years old, but I don’t foresee any reason why it won’t continue to serve as my primary camera in another three years.
If I had kept the Nikon D800 after upgrading to the D850, it would be becoming eight years old right now; yet, if it were still in my camera bag, I would not hesitate to take pictures with it.
Despite the fact that the Nikon D750 was first introduced five years ago, I did not purchase it until very recently. I honestly do not see any reason why I won’t still have it in another five years unless, of course, I decide to upgrade to the Nikon D780, and then I will have to sell it. Despite the proliferation of mirrorless cameras, single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) will remain popular for the foreseeable future.
It is not surprising that Nikon and Canon feel the need to compete with Sony’s offerings. Sony is the up-and-coming player in the mirrorless camera market, and its offerings thus far have been very impressive. Mirrorless cameras were never part of Sony’s product lineup, as one might expect.
Both they and Fuji were early entrants into the market for mirrorless cameras, and the entirety of their brand reputations are founded on the quality of their mirrorless products. Therefore, it seems to reason that they would have an advantage in the market for mirrorless cameras, and it is quite probable that they will continue to have an advantage in this market for at least the next five years. Putting together your own market has this advantage over participating in an existing one.
However, Nikon and Canon have established a separate market for themselves called the DSLR market. It is anticipated that this market, despite the possibility that it may become extinct in the long run, will continue to exist for at least the next ten years, or until this revival of the roaring twenties gives way to the year 2030.
During that time period, Nikon will continue to develop its mirrorless offerings, and I anticipate that it will eventually regain its position as the most successful company in the market. In the interim, though, there is no justification for tossing away the proverbial “baby with the bathwater.”
They have to keep growing, but they must not lose sight of the fact that they are not beginning from scratch. They have a rock-solid basis upon which to construct. In this regard, the D780 appears to be a step in the right way.