Nikon and the Entry Level Camera

November 02, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

One of the fringe benefits of reaching the birthday count that I have achieved is the view. Perspective is everything, they say. I'll set my time frame by revealing that my first camera was a Brownie Hawk eye. A bit later, thanks to my Dad, I began my passion for darkroom work. At first, I was Dad's assistant, then eventually worked alone. As you might expect, these days I'm a digital devotee. My SLR gear is all Nikon. In my pocket, sits a Samsung S7. While my SLR equipment is my favorite gear to use, I do not walk around with it twenty four seven. In those moments when an image presents itself and I'm without serious gear, my phone is right in my pocket. To refer to this wonderful gadget as a phone is to mislabel it. More accurately, it is a handheld computer that can make phone calls.


Just recently, Nikon announced that it is closing its China factory that manufactures entry level point and shoot cameras.  In a single year, Nikon’s expected digital camera sales will be 24% lower than the previous fiscal year, with compact camera sales being the hardest hit.  Camera manufactures are all having issues with this slice of the camera market. Entry level cameras have been largely replaced with cell phones. Most of us carry our cells everywhere we go. They are always with us, and can produce very clean snapshots. The digital SLR product market is about to change also. Rumor has it that by 2020 mirrorless cameras will overtake the DSLR market.


Change is always with each of us, and so too with corporations. More and more we live in a society where everything seems temporary. The slideshow of life seems to click by faster and faster. The skill that gives us a bit of insurance against the shock of change is to be flexible. Nikon could have been more flexible. They should have seen the writing on the wall and adapted to this market shift. It would appear that the cameras that will survive, are the ones that offer something that the cell phones can't deliver. To that end Nikon is making a large investment in its next issue, the Nikon1. The new factory which will be built in China is 93,000 square meters, and will have 10,000 workers.


In my early years of creative photography, I eagerly fell in love with my latest camera acquisition. I tend to hold onto my gear, so I am nowhere near an early adapter, however each issue of new and improved gear did make photography better in lots of ways. At one point, as the pace of change increased in speed, I found myself becoming annoyed at the cost of staying up to date. I then started my transition of beginning to not be so emotionally invested in what gear I owned. My attention focused increasingly on the image I committed to paper and frame. It's amusing to think about my relationship with camera gear, and so obvious that what is in the frame supersedes the tools that created it.


The skills that are most important to me are not newly discovered. They are the same today, as they were years ago when I was using my cherry wood 4 X 5 field camera. Issues that I've worked at for a long time like, stay flexible, be open to what is in front of you, keep my camera always ready to shoot, look for effective compositions, keep my attention focused and on task, and keep my gear clean and ready to go. Nowhere on that list is there anything about my gear limiting my potential. The most important tools are imagination and vision.  At some point soon the cool gear I now use will be obsolete, and the next change will wait in the wings. If I pay attention to what is really important then my photographic skills will be sharp and up to date. As long as I can get a sharp, crisp, clear, and well composed image into a frame the gear I use is secondary to the image. I have no idea what camera I'll be using five years from now. It matters less than the creative side of my work. I'll just have to keep up to date and stay flexible.


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