I belong in the group that believes photography equipment get better year-after-year naturally, and we have already reached a point where it is getting hard, even downright irresponsible to blame available modern equipment for not being able to produce good images. Even though I pay attention to new photography equipment news, I make an effort not to get overly excited since I know it won’t help me make better images. After all, Apple ran a marketing campaign with billboard-sized images shot on iPhones, so what is my excuse?
Despite this, recent moves by photography giants Nikon and Canon are making me increasingly intrigued about what they have in store for the coming year. Nevermind I have decided not to invest in any new equipment for the next few years. I can always keep abreast of technology trends continuously so as to have enough knowledge to make an informed upgrade decision a decade later. 😉
With the 2016 Olympics just around the corner, both DSLR giants are preparing for the launch of a new flagship camera body for the event. In Nikon’s case, that will be the official successor to the D4, which should be named the D5 as long as the marketing department isn’t feeling too adventurous with their branding and sales strategy. The D5 isn’t all there is. Nikon launched the world’s first 35mm megapixel monster camera – the D800 in 2012 as well. An incremental update came in the form of the D810 in 2014. Nikon is very likely to continue their traditional 4-year cycle update, so I’m expecting a successor to be unveiled by the end of 2016 as well.
It is no secret that the stalwart DSLR companies Nikon and Canon are currently under pressure from more compact mirrorless camera systems (MILCs) represented by Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Samsung and Sony. In general a large proportion of working photographers have stuck to their tried-and-proven DSLRs for getting paid jobs done and ensuring they have a secure means of maintaining their livelihood. However the traditional DSLR is slowly losing mind-share among photographers in almost every other photographic field. Sure the MILCs still have several things to improve upon before a working photographer feels comfortable enough to choose its compact convenience over a DSLR’s proven reliability. However the usability and performance gap is closing as time passes and some photographers have already made the migration, biding farewell to their DSLR systems in favour for a MILC system.
As a current Nikon user I am naturally more aware of their camera business strategies than I am of other organizations. As already mentioned, Nikon follows a 4-year upgrade roadmap with a mid-cycle update. We had mid-cycle updates in the forms of D4S for the D4, D810 for the D800, and theoretically D750 for the D600. These mid-cycle updates are incremental and Nikon tries their best to make the evolutionary release significant enough to entice users to make a purchase. (Of course there are also those users who are familiar with Nikon’s product cycles who purposely wait for the mid-cycle improved versions.) In general the updates are usually met with warm welcomes, with many review sites agreeing that the D810 and D750 are noticeably over their original models in real-life usage despite a modest list of changes on a spreadsheet.
As interesting as the mid-cycle updates are, the full 4-year upgraded models are the ones that promise significant changes. In the face of mounting competition from MILCs, it is getting important that whatever new camera models Nikon releases in 2016 has better be good enough to convince users that they are still a leading entity in the photography equipment business. Remember that the mid-cycle updates tend to be incremental (though significantly so), while the big updates are timed four years apart. In my opinion, 2016 marks the year for Nikon to give a definite response to the MILC competition. When Nikon unveils the D4 and D800 successors in 2016, those camera bodies may well define their technological vision and roadmap for their DSLR product line for the next four years.
So how has Nikon been faring at preparing for the 2016 announcements? Very well actually. So well that it prompted me to pen this article. ;)In the current year 2015 alone, they announced 7 new lenses with release dates within the same year:
300mm f/4E PF
18-80mm f/2.8-4E (DX)
Having lenses available before the new camera bodies are available is an admirable move, since this drives home the fact that there is no lack of new and upgraded lenses to mount on a newly released camera body. This is stirring my curiosity for what these new camera models are like. Will they live up to expectations? With such an impressive list of new lens releases, even rumours and hopes of a D300 successor have re-surfaced. Nikon is expected to announce the D5 in early 2016, and the D800/D810 successor before the end of 2016. The mythical D300 successor? Maybe it will come to us on the back of a unicorn running over a rainbow. 😉 Just kidding. On a serious note, who knows if we would really get a D300 successor? We could find out by 2016 I guess.
Meanwhile, I’ll just keep my ears to the rumour mill, keep shooting photos with what I have, and maybe plan for my next camera upgrade in 2021. 🙂