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 Post subject: Dealing with Sony Envy
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 2:47 am 
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Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 4:07 am
Posts: 1012
Location: North of the 49th parallel
A funny article that needs to be published (By Thom Hogan/Nikon fanboy) ...

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Summer panic sets in amongst Nikon users.

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Original: 9/5/2009

Sony's recent explosion of DSLR bodies and aggressive pricing seems to have stirred up a new round of "I'm switching" commentary on the net. Or as I like to put it, a resurgence of low self esteem amongst Nikon users.

Before I get to the remedy, let me comment about Sony's announcements, as several were made while I was off in Africa and away from the Internet.

Good job, Sony. It looks as if you may have made the leap from player-without-a-future to one of the three DSLR makers that will do okay in the coming years (there's room for one more, and my bet is that it will be Panasonic, who will likely take over the Olympus line, too). As I write this, Sony has a more extensive low-to-medium DSLR line than Nikon or Canon (A200, A230, A300, A330, A350, A380, and A500), though it seems that some of those models are destined to be retired. Curiously, Sony seems to be taking a shotgun approach at the market, and an inexpensive one at that. I really have to wonder how that will play out.

The Sony brand is not really known for depth, breadth, or low-cost, all things that you can see in the recent DSLR offerings. Thus, what I see is a change in how Sony wants to be perceived. Changing a brand position--Sony used to be known as a high-quality, high-price player--is always a bit dangerous. And going downstream to pick up market share makes it doubly dangerous. Sony is risking becoming a commodity player, and commodity markets do strange things and tend to be dictated by the sales channel not the manufacturer. When Walmart and Target and Best Buy become Sony's biggest sales outlets for cameras (I'm using US examples; apply appropriate ones for your region), well, the jig is nearly over.

Sony has other limitations, too. The lens lineup is still slim and doesn't reflect the same value pricing. Others are getting better results with the same sensors, which shows that Sony still has some Bionz to count. And I've heard too many comments about the "plastic nature" of the low-end offerings. Personally, I happen to like the new designs--they're clean and functional--but I've heard the "too cheap looking" comment too many times to discount it. Sony also doesn't have the installed base that Canon and Nikon do for upgrades, so they are stuck trying to do one of two things: appeal to new DSLR users, a population that's decreasing; or convert Nikon or Canon users.

Which brings me back to the Internet forum posts that go something like "if Nikon doesn't do X, I'm switching to Sony."

This seems like an appropriate time to repeat my oft-made and quoted remark: "If you can't take good photos that print to the maximum size of the desktop inkjet printers (13x19"), then it isn't the camera." That quote applies to all current DSLRs I see available, whether Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, or Pentax. Thus, I don't get the "I'm going to switch" comments. Moreover, it's not economically reasonable to switch, no matter how inexpensive the cameras on the other side are. Doesn't anyone do cost/benefit analysis any more?

So, to help those of you who are panicked about Sony's offerings, I offer the following (slightly tongue-in-cheek) advice:

You haven't mastered your current camera yet. I'll bet all of you that you can take better pictures than you are with your current equipment. Switching to another brand isn't going to help that problem, only make it worse as you'll have to learn new controls and procedures just to get back to where you are.
You have too much debt, so losing money on switching is foolish. Didn't you get the message? Saving is the new in thing to do. If you're going to buy a new camera with a credit card and not pay off the bill when it comes, you really didn't get the message. We can fix that. Spend more time taking pictures. Ironically, it helps with #1 and means that you have less time to go shopping.
FX is a selling point, not necessarily a useful feature. I hear the following comment all the time: "my next camera is going to be FX." When asked why, the speaker hems and haws and no coherent answer is heard. "It's the same as film" is not an answer. Nor is "it makes lenses work the way the used to." There are some minimal differences that FX makes over DX, but most of you reading this don't need those. Indeed, most of you reading this are better off with a DX (cropped sensor) camera. And if you're also waiting for a redone 80-400mm lens, you just revealed you're not an FX candidate (otherwise you'd want a 120-600mm lens). I hope you realize that there are some name professionals that are still using cropped sensors. Hmm. There must be a reason for that, right?
Sony just announced new stuff. Yep. The game is called leap frog and you learned it in Kindergarten. First one player jumps, then the next, then the next, and so on. Canon jumped first, Nikon second, Sony third. The jump will eventually come back around, so if you're just going to say "I'm going to switch back to Nikon unless Sony does X" in the future you really must like to spend money uselessly. Perhaps I can interest you in a book? Less expensive and probably more useful ;~).
The equipment isn't the picture. My hypothesis is that you buy cameras to make pictures, not to buy more cameras. But I may be wrong. If you buy cameras to make pictures, it's the picture that's important, not the camera. Some argue that some feature or another will allow them to take better pictures. Most people arguing that aren't taking pictures as good as they should be (see #1 and repeat the loop until you get it).
So, Nikon users, stop panicking. Everything is fine. Your camera didn't stop working. Someone else's camera is not making better pictures than you can make. It's time for you to start chasing better pictures, not better cameras. I think Aesop wrote a story about that once:

A man who left the Nikon equipment camp boasted very much. On returning to a group of users of his former equipment, he spoke of the wonderful and heroic feats he had performed with other equipment. Among other things, he said that when he was using a Sony the pictures just took themselves, and many other Sony users would attest to that. One of the Nikon bystanders interrupted him, saying "there's no need for us to ask other Sony users. If what you say is true just set your Sony down here on the table and let us see it take pictures by itself."


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:23 am 
The grass is always greener on the other side.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:00 am 
Is it so bad that they felt this needs addressing :D ?

I don't think they should worry too much, as in the end, everything usually balances out, and, lets be honest, some people love gear and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The problem comes up when people want to try out some new gear, and then they justify getting it. Clearly, they will get laughed at on some forums if they say they are switching out of pure lust, as opposed to claiming that this new system offers something they actually can't live without (FF for instance), and that their current system isn't cutting it (much to the disapproval of other users) and that's usually when the real fighting begins :D! Each brand has its critique points, Sony, Nikon, whomever.

In the end, you have to do what makes you happy. If 50% of your photographic enjoyment comes from the actual gadgets themselves, and playing around with new bodies and lenses, why hold back (if you can afford it)? Personally, I love gear, but I'm too poor to feed that addiction. Plus I am very happy with Sony's lineup at all levels (even with the 7D on the prowl).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:53 pm 
You seem to be mocking him but what he is saying is true. His message is that it's the photographer not the camera and it could be applied to any situation not just Nikon or Sony.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 3:48 pm 
Switching isn't neccesarily that costly, if you resell all of your equipment, you can generally get close to what you paid (if you kept in good condition). Then you can buy something equivalent to what you had. Folks switching from Nikon are uniquely capable because they save that extra $200-$2000 premium they pay to have that 5 letter logo on their camera.

No less, I do think its better to stay within the system, they all do great jobs and its only the most asinine of hair splitters that find some fault within their system that they think is done better in others. Perfect example: Sony users complaining of image noise. I know I would certainly be crippled for a while if I switched, readjusting to the format and idiosyncrasies of a new system.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 7:59 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 4:07 am
Posts: 1012
Location: North of the 49th parallel
I don’t get the perceived anxiety either, after-all they will soon be getting the “new” Sony 12.3 & 14.2 exmor sensor for their new/future line-up.
But imagine if Sony decided to cut Nikon off, than what?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:12 pm 
WestCoast wrote:
But imagine if Sony decided to cut Nikon off, than what?


Obviously, that's not very likely to happen given how well Sony are doing financially ...

Even if that were to happen, Nikon have demonstrated that they're capable of producing excellent sensors. See the one they've put into the D700.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 2:37 am 
I wonder if Nikon would go to Kodak for sensors, or who??

Has anybody confirmed whether the D700s sensor actually was in-house nikon? Or did they just do like they did with there 12mp cmos' and just not credit sony? I didn't think Nikon did sensors in-house...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:52 am 
Unless it was part of their contractual agreement with Sony, it is not in Nikon's interests whatsoever to credit Sony. Sony doesn't credit the manufacturers of the components in their PS3s do they? It doesn't happen and its not a unique situation. Pentax never credited Sony either.

Sony is unlikely to cut Nikon off because it's a huge revenue source for them as Nikon has 4x the market share Sony does (at the moment) and Nikon's DSLR segment, while not profitable at the moment is much closer to earning profit than Sony's.

The D700/D3 sensor is not currently in use by any Sony DSLR so it is possible that it is Nikon's own design. It could also be that Sony is manufacturing it under Nikon's specifications or it could be a completely Sony design that Sony has just chosen to not to use for their own reasons.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 5:49 am 
I am curious how you are aware of the profitability of the companies, Sony hasn't wasted money on Ashton Kutchin commercials either. A business can be profitable with a smaller established base, its all a matter of how they handle the overhead. And where you pulled '4 times' from is also curious, you are including point and shoot market?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:35 am 
Anbesol wrote:
I am curious how you are aware of the profitability of the companies, Sony hasn't wasted money on Ashton Kutchin commercials either. A business can be profitable with a smaller established base, its all a matter of how they handle the overhead. And where you pulled '4 times' from is also curious, you are including point and shoot market?


I don't mean to be rude, but Sony's financial woes are fairly well publicised. Sony has reported a $391 million loss for the first quarter of 2009, while Canon is still profitable (though with smaller margins) and Nikon are still profitable though expecting to make some loss by the end of the financial year. In addition to that while Canon and Nikon were profitable in 2008, Sony reported a loss of some $800 million. When times get tough, companies tend to restructure and reassess their product line. As it stands, it's no secret that Sony are far too diversified and do not have a clear focus. While both Canon and Nikon don't exclusively manufacturer cameras, everything they do relates to imaging. Contrast this with Sony, who have expertise spread all over the entertainment field. They can't keep bleeding money forever, and it should come as no surprise if they decide to consolidate their product line (i.e. cancel some products) and make it more focused.

As for the market share figure, here's one for Japan which shows that Nikon has more than 4x the marketshare of Sony. While it doesn't take international sales into account, it's quite hard to see how the figures could be vastly different. Here in the UK, Sony has practically 0 presence amongst photography shops and a quick glance at DSLRs used by amateurs and professionals does not give me any reason to doubt that Canon/Nikon are dominating.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:35 am 
Thanks for the links pqtips.

@Anbesol

No I did not include compacts in that figure. Nikon's compacts are not up to standard at all and I would not be surprised if Sony sold 40x more compacts than Nikon did.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:46 am 
lol @ 'nikon fanboy'. Funny how someone who has a brand preference, is automatically a fanboy. If it was a critical, analytical report about Nikon, written by a sony user, would you be calling them a fanboy?

What he's written isn't a sugar coated article for the benfit of Sony users. Just because he's not writing a glowing report about what he think


Last edited by Gregory.Rotter on Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:49 am 
Anbesol wrote:
I wonder if Nikon would go to Kodak for sensors, or who??

Has anybody confirmed whether the D700s sensor actually was in-house nikon? Or did they just do like they did with there 12mp cmos' and just not credit sony? I didn't think Nikon did sensors in-house...


Why should Nikon credit sony for anything? The sensor they get from sony is raw hardware. The processing is done by Nikon's processing engine. If it was just the sensor that was doing all the work, then sony's DSLR's would be just as good as Nikon's at high Iso's.

In a nutshel, the sensor hardware itself is Sony, the implementation, is Nikon.

I'll let you decide how much of a fanboy comment that was, and how much truth there is to it. :wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2009 4:13 am 
@ PGtips - no not rude at all. Yes I am aware of what you are saying in regards to Sony, but like you mentioned Sony is a lot bigger. Those profit margins relate to the entirety of Sony, not specifically Sony's imaging or DSLR division. I'm also pretty sure that Canon is a lot bigger than Sony, Sony only is more common to ordinary consumers. But Canon does a lot more commercial work, including medical technology. IIRC Canon has typically held about 35% greater market capital than Sony ever has. In any event, Nikon is certainly a fraction the size of either company, and in the condition of the economy this past year I'm sure thats a good thing. Its surprising though with as much money as theyve dumped into those commercials!

Gregory - "In a nutshel, the sensor hardware itself is Sony, the implementation, is Nikon."

I never said otherwise, and I really don't see what your'e driving at here.

Quote:
then sony's DSLR's would be just as good as Nikon's at high Iso's.
You're right, and Nikon would have as good tonal range as Sony's too. What is your point? My point is that there is Sony hardware in Nikon (and Canon, and just about every other Camera in the world). I never said it was a Sony processor or anything else.


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