Photokina 2016: Canon, Nikon, Sony – We All Didn’t Get What We Hoped

It’s kind of funny how Photokina 2016 turned out. The current big three of Japanese camera makers – Canon, Nikon, Sony (although Sony is in a distant 3rd place) turned up, but their loyal customers didn’t get exactly what they hoped for.

Let us start with Canon. They did everything right, making all their product announcements prior to the event so the press will have ample time and information to produce even better coverage of their products when they visit Canon’s booth. This is a good strategy and I am surprised more companies do not do this. However there is one glaring issue in their new product line-up – just hit the video embedded above for the gory details. 😛

But Canon still announced a pro-level MILC and several very compelling new lenses. So I think they still did a good job in this show. The 5DIV 4K in 500 Mbits MJPEG insult is the ugly blemish in what could have been a perfect show.

Next up is Sony. What users really want is a Sony A9 – a full-frame MILC with FE-mount in a SLR-sized body with better grip, superior ergonomics, convenient button placements and bigger battery. Instead Sony gave us all that in an A99 II with an A-mount – a near defunct product line which is still selling Minolta lenses from the 80s rebadged as Sony lenses at higher prices than newer and superior Canikon optics. (I consider Kurt Munger to be to best reviewer for A-mount lenses, as he is unbiased and really knows what he is talking about. His newer site focused on FE-mount lenses is here, though he posts very irregularly now due to business probably. Always a good thing!) It is interesting for marketing purposes and morale of loyal Sony users, but ultimately makes little difference to the users who are genuinely looking for a reliable solution to invest in. Phoblographers who spend more time writing and blogging about camera equipment and numbers on spec sheets than actually shooting stuff worth shooting would love the A99. People who actually produce stuff with their equipment just get something else. And I say this as an ex-A-mount user. :O

Let us come to Nikon now. Many Nikon users are extremely disappointed that of all things, Nikon is only showing their KeyMission series of action cameras. However I will admit that a lot of the negativity is simply down to a somewhat childish “This is stuff I don’t use. Boo-hoo.” Nikon is also late to the action-camera market, which is predominantly dominated by GoPro. There are a lot of questions about whether Nikon is being smart or stupid. As of now a lot of commentary is coming from users who don’t really use these action-cam equipment, so as much as I have reservations about Nikon’s business strategy, I also have the same scepticism about the opinions of their doubters. 😛 I will try to see if any users who actually use these things voice their opinions.

What is really lacking with the Nikon show is there was no mention of the D610/D750/D810 follow-ups. This is a glaring omission which makes one wonder if the impact of the recent Kumamoto earthquake is so bad that new product shipments are going to be delayed until after Christmas 2016, hence no point announcing them so early in time.

At the end of the day, the success of the KeyMission product-line depends on how real-life action-cam users react to them. Is Nikon giving these people a GoPro alternative they are going to be surprised and delighted with? Or will this be a case of Nikon designing a product that no real user actually finds useful? We’ll just have to wait to find out. – WY

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