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Nikon Says Things Are Getting Better for the Company

2020 has seen a lot of speculation that Nikon is in serious trouble, both due to its own internal issues and the ongoing pandemic's consequences. However, in a recent interview, the company has said that things are looking up. 

In a recent interview with Amateur Photographer, Tetsuya Morimoto, Nikon Europe's director, addressed some recent questions regarding the company and its future. In particular, regarding 2020, Morimoto acknowledged that the company was hit hard by the pandemic and the subsequent drop in consumer demand, but said that they have seen a better rebound than initially anticipated. This has been supported by "steady" sales of the D780, Z 6II, and Z 7II; however, due to the AKM Semiconductor fire, there may be shortages and delays of some DSLRs and F-mount lenses. The aforementioned fire did not solely affect Nikon, however, and it is possible that we may soon see shortages of Canon and Sony products as well, and Morimoto specifically said DSLRs and F-mount lenses might be affected, which could be an indication that Z-mount mirrorless cameras and lenses supplies may be untouched. As we approach 2021, it will certainly be interesting to see how the company continues to expand their mirrorless line and if their overall recovery can continue. 

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18 Comments

Ryan Cooper's picture

Not to be doom and gloom, but would Nikon say anything else in an interview? Even if the sky is falling, the PR move would still be to minimize it by pretending that things are hunky-dory. You don't want to make things worse by giving your customers a reason to jump ship.

David Jenkins's picture

Well for a while now they have been forthcoming about their financial troubles, they have come out and said themselves they expected heavy losses. It wouldn't do them any good to lie about it now because we will have the numbers soon enough.

Jason Savelsberg's picture

I am so tired of the Nikon is doomed message. 95% of Nikon's shooters still use Nikon's DSLRs, and with Canon pulling out of the DSLR market, Nikon will be able to capitalize on their DSLR offerings even more. Are dedicated Canon and Nikon DSLR users really going to switch to Pentax? Hello no. When Nikon releases the successor to the D850 this coming year, it will sell like hotcakes much to the dismay of the doom and gloomers.

Also, Nikon's Z offerings have improved and they recently finished releasing the Pro zoom trinity. The only gaps remaining in the Z lens lineup now is macro and long telephoto, and those gaps should be addressed this year.

Nikon will be fine. They are downsizing, reducing costs and focusing on products that will generate revenue in the future.

Sony will pull out of the full frame camera market before Nikon does. In just 2 years, Sony's share of the full frame mirrorless market has dropped from 100% to 43%. And unlike Canon or Nikon, Sony doesn't have a DSLR base looking to switch over to its mirrorless offerings. As a former Vaio laptop owner, I have seen Sony abandon a market before. It is Sony that will be leaving the camera market within the next 5 years, not Nikon.

Marcin Kowalski's picture

This is a shrinking market. And Nikon has no unique selling points.

Jason Savelsberg's picture

Hmmm, Nikon's 14-30mm and 14-24mm lenses are the only superwide zooms that take filters. Nobody else has anything that resembles Nikon's small and lightweight 300mm f/4 PF and 500mm f/5.6 PF lenses. The Z7 and Z7II have the best dynamic range of any FF camera with the ability to shoot at ISO64. Not to mention that they are about a thousand dollars less than the Canon R5. Nah, Nikon no selling points at all. Sheesh.

Rick Rizza's picture

I wish all the best for Nikon. I hope that they become better and stronger so me as a Canon user can keep doing stupid arguments between brands. I find that funny actually, even with my photo friends, we insult each other, the Nikon and Canon religion.

Lawrence Huber's picture

I do find it interesting that Nikon is clinging to DSLRs. Those buying old F mount cameras are in their 70's or older.
Not a good plan for future growth.
That same thinking cost them the pro market by staying with obsolete technology.
The desire to cling to the ancient F mount only pleases those over 70.

Ryan Cooper's picture

This is simply not true. DSLR sales still eclipse mirrorless sales for every major manufacturer who makes both. Even Sony still sells more Sony Alpha DSLRs than mirrorless. (Though for Sony, mirrorless may have passed DSLR in 2020 but numbers haven't been released yet)

Mirrorless is absolutely the future but most amateurs and pros are still buying DSLR for a myriad of reasons. Nikon clings to the F mount platform because it is still their #1 source of revenue. By a long shot. They are investing in the future while maintaining the current as to not give their users a reason to jump ship as well as to continue to generate revenue from the large market of existing DSLR users. Also remember that there is still a niche of film shooters on the Nikon F mount system.

I don't expect either Sony or Canon will see enough mirrorless growth for it to pass their DSLR sales in 2021. Though I'd expect by 2022 it will be in the conversation. Canon/Nikon Mirrorless is a superior product but it is also a far more expensive platform. Through COVID photographers both amateur and pro are going to be keeping their belts tight so I can't see them rushing to jump on a new platform that is going to cost significantly more money. (Not to mention the base cost of switching platforms to begin with)

(and no, it isn't just senior citizens buyings DSLRs)

Steven Dente's picture

I think you need to update your view. In 2020 ICL mirrorless outsells DSLR by a good margin in units, and by more that double in value.

https://nikonrumors.com/2020/12/11/october-cipa-numbers-the-best-months-...

The only reason for a manufacturer to continue to make DSLR cameras is to milk revenue out of existing their DSLR user base. This becomes even more important when the manufacturer is trailing the competition in mirrorless technology by a good margin as Nikon currently is. Nikon may catch up, that would be good. But for now they need to get revenue from wherever they can. That is why Nikon may make on more iteration of their most profitable DSLR models.

Buying DSLR now is buying into the past, not the future. Simple as that. That may be required if one limits his choice to Nikon as a manufacturer at this point. Nikon doesn't offer mirrorless cameras for certain market segments, and use cases currently. But, even with Nikon, they are coming.

The camera market has pretty much recovered from COVID returning almost to pre Covid-19 crisis sales levels in the same quarters for 2019. It looks like that pace continues during the current expansion of Covid-19. Unless solved, that won't last however.

Ryan Cooper's picture

I didn't say DSLR outsells mirrorless globally. I said it is still outselling mirrorless for makers who are currently manufacturing *both*. When you toss Fuji, Olympus, and Panasonic into the data it is unsurprising that it brings numbers to a 50/50 split.

As I mentioned Sony may have flipped. Probably has but they haven't reported 2020 final numbers yet. Nikon and Canon definitely have not. (If they did the data in your link wouldn't be a ~50/50 split. Even just based on your link alone, for mirrorless to only be half the sales Nikon and Canon have to be selling vastly more DSLR than mirrorless to offset the players who only sell mirrorless)

Canon and Nikon don't maintain their DSLR platforms to "milk" their customers. They do it to service their customers. Neither company would consider just dropping their chief source of income for sure but they also don't want to drive customers away. Tens of thousands of customers bought into DSLR systems over the last few years. You can't just tell those customers that their platform is now worthless and they have to buy into a more expensive system. (I mean you can, but don't expect them to stay customers)

Mirrorless is the future, but we are years away from DSLR dying off. You will see a continued decline in DSLR investment from makers, as we currently are but it would be foolish to just drop it completely. For Nikon that would mean bankruptcy. For Canon, it could mean the end of their imaging division. There has to be a transition that takes years.

I'd also add that for Canon. The EF mount is still the gold standard for filmmaking. Not relevant for Nikon but that EF mount is on the vast majority of video cameras currently being used in cinematic production. That will eventually change but it is going to be a while. Rental houses have millions upon millions of dollars invested into the Canon EF system.

Steven Dente's picture

Apparently from reporting I have seen, Canon doesn't agree with you on that. They have openly said that they are done developing the EF mount, and wont be introducing any new lenses for it.

https://petapixel.com/2020/11/27/why-canon-is-winning-full-frame-mirrorl...

https://petapixel.com/2020/01/08/canon-done-making-ef-lenses-unless-phot...

Should I now be expecting the end of Canon's imaging division?

The editor expressed the exact opposite opinion as you have.

"Nikon’s so-so performance—not an abject failure by any means, but certainly not the success they were hoping for—is the result of a tentative strategy that’s forcing them to split their limited R&D budget between pacifying DSLR/F-mount shooters and enticing would-be mirrorless converts."

"Canon is winning because they chose to go all in. Nikon will continue to struggle until and unless they do the same."

Time will tell.

William Faucher's picture

While Mirrorless has made leaps and bounds, and I myself find myself wanting one, DSLR's are not obsolete. A huge part of the market needs the most rugged, durable, water-resistant, long-battery life capabilities only a DSLR can offer. Forget about taking mirrorless to the arctic in intense conditions, your battery life will crap out.

My D800's battery can go without needing a charge for weeks of use. I so rarely have to think about charging it because I just know there's enough juice in there to get me the shots I need, regardless of temperature.

Mirrorless isn't the solution to every problem. Don't get me wrong, it is great, and the AF tools are super nice to have. But DSLR isn't going anywhere just yet.

*Edit* Wow I really touched a nerve with some of the replies here, yikes.

jim hughes's picture

Ok I won't go to the arctic. Other than that I see no reason to want a DSLR these days.

David Jenkins's picture

Then perhaps you should consider that there are many other people in the world, billions even, who are not you.

J. W.'s picture

I do hope the artic is not visited by billions of tourists :)

William Faucher's picture

I never stated that everyone was like me? I simply said that there's still a lot of people who are still buying DSLR's despite mirrorless being where it is now. Look at the sales numbers of the D850, for example. There's still a demand for them.

I want a mirrorless myself, and at no point did I state that DSLR was better. Just that it still has a few advantages.

Steven Dente's picture

Quick someone get in touch with AP. They are the number 1 in news photography, we need them.
They screwed up and switched all of their photographers from Canon DSLRs to Sony mirrorless cameras. This even after extensive intense cold weather testing in Alaska. They are supposed to forget about doing that according to our Mr. Faucher.

Rob Pul's picture

Obviously situation is getting better. In 2019 Nikon managed to sell almost 300k mirrorless with only 2 expensive cameras (that's 1/8th of Fujifilm's ILC models, which sold 500k), what do all the doomers thought was going to happen once Nikon started building a full line up of products.