Nikon is Disappointed With Its Mirrorless Camera Sales, While the Rest of Us are Disappointed with Nikon Mirrorless Cameras

Nikon 1 J1

In Nikon’s latest financial results, the company revealed that its Nikon 1 series mirrorless camera sales have been less than expected in the US and Europe.

Nikon Imaging president Yasuyuki Okamoto beats around the bush about why the Nikon 1 series isn’t catching on, stating “In Europe and the U.S. the ratio of mirrorless to SLRs hasn’t grown at all, unlike in Asia, where it’s quite popular with women because it’s light. We had higher expectations for other regions. But people who like cameras tend to just go for SLRs, even though they’re very heavy.” (emphasis added).

Or maybe, just maybe . . . people who like and know cameras want a mirrorless camera that offers competing image quality with a SLR. The Nikon 1 series of cameras does not. This is apparently obvious to everyone but Nikon Imaging’s president.

(Hmm, reminds me of a story…)

The sensor size was a big question when the Nikon 1 series was introduced. I think we are now starting to see some of the fruits of that move.

Sure Nikon, you aren’t cutting into your DSLR sales; however, you aren’t growing in the mirrorless market the way that you could if you have just ponied up and offered a DX format mirrorless camera in the first place.

Sony is going to run off and leave Nikon in the dust in the mirrorless market (and Canon might too if it ever gets its act together with a Dual Pixel AF EOS M model . . . seriously, why don’t we have this yet?!)… And then, Nikon is going to pull out of the mirrorless market and say “people who like cameras tend to just go for SLRs…”?

Seriously Nikon?

Sony put your CX format sensor into a compact camera and made the best compact camera on the market. It fits in my the front pocket of my jeans.

Sony made an APS-C mirrorless camera that made Trey Ratcliff hang up his Nikon D800 and collection of Nikon lenses. He now shoots with a SONY mirrorless camera all the time.

Nikon can throw smoke and mirrors at the market analysts all it wants to in order to justify what’s going on with its camera sales forecasts; however, the truth of that matter is that when Nikon decided to make a mirrorless camera, it made one that was destined to fail as an inferior product to virtually everything else in the market segment.

If Nikon wants to compete in the mirrorless market, it needs to scrap the 1-inch sensor format and move up to play in the big leagues with an APS-C mirrorless design. The consumer and prosumer interchangeable lens camera market is going mirrorless whether Nikon likes it or not. Canon’s still in the basement, so Nikon has a chance to start afresh with its chief rival before it’s too late.

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  1. says

    Hear, hear! You hit the nail on the head, Eric. The brain trusts at Nikon and Canon think their best move is to protect their existing line instead of competing with it. I’d LOVE to know if these organizations are legitimately ignorant or have just adopted short-sighted product development strategies. Either way, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, and Fuji have to love what they’re seeing.

    I wonder if Kodak, who IIRC invented the digital sensor, said to themselves, “If we develop this digital thing, people might stop buying our film. Best not to rock the boat.”

    • M says

      I worked with Kodak in the early 90s while there were developing the most returned digital camera ever made. The company engineers would not listen to working pro photographers – insisted on making a camera that would shoot TIFF as its native format.
      I used on the of the prototype cameras to shoot the tragic bond-fire collapse at Texas A&M only to discover that the over-engineered camera had captured all the images as tiny TIFF images.
      I can tell you for sure that Kodak did not/ does not/ will not be part of the digital evolution – they are simply too conservative…”Wait and see. Best not rock the boat” to have a valid opinion in digital development.

    • says

      I’m all for cross compatibility but I really hate that 4:3 aspect ratio. It is neither square nor a strong rectangle and reminds me of cheap compact cameras and standard definition television. Yes, I could crop but then I’m throwing away resolution right out of the gate.

      • Anthony says

        I find I am almost always cropping my 3:2 format images and the results are often about as close to 4:3 as it gets. There is no one format that will keep everyone happy, but for me the 4/3 ratio would be close to perfect.

        • Anthony says

          I should explain that I use full frame 35mm and a Sony RX100. I have tried 4/3 DSLRs and micro 4/3 mirrorless but rejected them in favour of full frame.

  2. says

    When Nikon gave me preproduction series 1 for the test and when I finished I told them:
    – super fast with af and series of raw
    – too big camera size for such a sensor
    – marketing mistake of no compatibility with nikon’s dslr speedlights, including macro
    – designer’s mistake of v1 gesign
    – marketng mistake with the decision to use such sensor instead of 1,5 crop and missing great part of nikon’s users who was lookin for mirrorless and decided to move to panasonic, sony, samsung

    I also told them that the compact with such sensor would be super and popular (I have d800 and sony rx100 in my bag now) If it will be the same or smaller than p7000 with the same quality of lens like on p7000

    Now I say that I would be the first buyer if nikon will make crop 1,5 mirrorless camera with full compatibility of their dslr afs lenses and flashes.
    And… I really would buy full frame mirrorless camera with the same conditions.

    When i bought my first dslr nikon d100 back in years i told other users that mirror will die….and i bought samsung nx right out of the door when it happened

    Sorry for my english

    • Neill Graham says

      Oleg! How good to see your post here! Everyone is wondering where you went after Cliffs of Dover! I hope you are doing very well after your incredible success with the IL2 series and spinoffs.
      I enjoyed reading your review of this camera. I believe you summarized the major reservations that many of us Nikon aficionados have with the N1 which is about the sensor choice. What were they thinking at Nikon with this decision?
      Hopefully this will lead to changes that will give us a more suitable mirrorless.
      Take care, Oleg! You are the Man!

      • says

        Thanks Neil!
        Even I have now full frame couple DSLR at the moment I still keep several superb lenses for Nikon’s crop just because I’m waiting good mirrorless crop 1,5 made by Nikon…. They may still to develop the series 1 with some changes (20 MP, low nose, normal Nikon’s hot shoe, etc), but crop 1,5 is really neccessary…
        and then full frame… becasue mirror already now isn’t necessary….
        I understand that it is hard decision to close the line of DSLR for beginners and even middle calss of DSLR, but it is neccessary that to do not miss the feature.

  3. M says

    We never wanted a “mirrorless” camera – we wanted a high quality rangefinder digital camera. Something we could take everywhere without the weight/bulk/fuss of DSLRs. Fuji has one that is close, but no changeable lens. Leica has one , but cost is high, Canon is a dismal failure…OK Nikon give us a 20MP rangefinder with prime lenses and we’ll buy it like hotcakes.

  4. Lasse Jansson says

    Talking about mirrorless cameras….Leica has been mirrorless since the start a hundred years ago…..or..?
    One reson for no success is that first came Olympus Trip and we (the dealers) thought this fitting would be the standard. Then came Nikon with their fitting and after that Canon with even another. Standard is a no-word in the photo business and the customers are more and more confused. Four/third, Micro four/third, Nikon, Canon and so on.
    In my shop in Stockholm we still have a mirrorless Olympus from the first delivery in stock!
    I am not surprised over the bad figures.
    Happy snapping anyway
    Lasse Jansson

  5. Anthony says

    Nikon’s 1 Series has encountered the same resistance in the US and European markets as Micro Four Thirds. The attraction of a small, light camera has always been greater in eastern markets where Nikon 1 and m4/3 are doing very well.

    In fact Nikon 1’s figures for market share are quite strong, eclipsing those of Panasonic (LUMIX G), Olympus and Canon.