Is The Evidence in Plain Sight?

Technically, Nikon still sells more DSLRs than mirrorless cameras. With Canon, I'm not quite as sure, as we start getting a bit too much into the definition of what "sell" means (into distribution, into dealer, into customer hands?). 

So let's start with Nikon. 

NikonUSA's landing page as I write this is:

  • Z9 — Get ready to experience image-making like never before
  • Z7 II — The proof is in the rating (DxOMark score of 100)
  • Nikkor Z — See the rapidly expanding lineup
  • Classic design meets Z mirrorless — about the Zfc
  • Z6 II — 2021 Winner! (TIPA award)
  • The power of photography — Four photographers tell their stories

Where are the Nikon DSLRs? (answer: in a sub-menu)

You see the same mirrorless emphasis in all the recent articles in the Education menu on NikonUSA's site, as well, though another anomaly appears in the Products & Innovation sub-section: all the recent Z mirrorless articles are labeled "Beginner." It isn't until you get to the "Intermediate" and "Advanced" articles that the DSLRs show up (ironically the Nikon 1 still makes its presence known in the Intermediate category!). That seems to contradict what Nikon corporate says is their customer emphasis: shouldn't NikonUSA be selling mirrorless to its prosumer and pro customers?

Nikon's marketing, in other words, has moved on from DSLRs. If you end up buying a Nikon DSLR, great, but that's not what the company is pushing today.

Supply chain issues may be driving Nikon, too. If you can only build X widgets, which widgets do you build? We have evidence that Nikon has been choosing mirrorless over DSLR when this problem comes up. 

CanonUSA's "Products" landing page seems retro and eclectic. Mirrorless isn't actually mentioned per se (at the moment; subject to change). We have categories for Cameras as well as for EF & RF Lenses together, along with 10 other categories. If you click on the Cameras shortcut you get a database retrieval that simply puts the newest things on top. Which right now isn't a camera, let alone a mirrorless one, but rather accessories ;~). 

CanonUSA's Learn page also doesn't seem to to want to talk about mirrorless or DSLR, but rather overall photographic concepts. It's almost as if CanonUSA has taken the anti-marketing approach to mirrorless (let the user figure it out). This is in deep contrast to Nikon's very targeted "tell them everything about Z mirrorless first and foremost." 

The oddity with this disparity is that most of us believe that Nikon will likely hold onto selling key DSLR cameras and lenses longer than Canon. But that's not what the Web sites seem to suggest.

As I've written for some time, messaging is extremely important in the reduced-size camera market. Nikon's current messaging is that they've moved on from DSLRs. Canon's messaging is that they have some cameras, come on down and browse to find out which ones. Neither of those things seem right to me, and both approaches are likely sub-optimal in terms of moving boxes. 

My headline is a question: has Nikon really moved beyond DSLRs and told us so via their visible actions, or is this just an anomaly because there isn't a new DSLR thing at the moment to promote (though the D780 sure made like a submarine real fast on Nikon's site, and quickly disappeared beneath the front page waves)? I can't tell for sure. History says Nikon only actively markets the latest and greatest thing, though. It's as if they can't do on-going marketing.

I'm on record as saying Nikon should lock in "top DSLR models" for the foreseeable future: D580, D780, D880, D6 and jettison the rest. Doing that would send a strong, and appropriate signal to the existing top-end Nikon DSLR crowd: you can transition now or later, your choice, we've got your back. It would also send a clear signal to the D3xxx to D7xxx users that it's time to upgrade to the higher-end DSLRs, or move to mirrorless.

The problem with trying to tell everyone to transition from DSLR to mirrorless today is this: Nikon doesn't have the lens lineup to fully justify that, and in crop sensor, they don't have the lenses or the cameras necessary to satisfy all. Moreover, the minute you talk about replacing lenses, you open the choice up to competitor's products, and one of them—Sony—has an extensive and excellent lens lineup with lots of third party support. 

Nikon's marketing should be "with you today, ready for your future." Unfortunately, by de-emphasizing the DSLR side of things, they're simply reducing their overall volume and market share faster than they can grow it with new mirrorless models. But again, consider the headline: maybe that's what they want to do.


Another evidence-in-plain-sight point for Nikon: if you go to the corporate site's landing page, you are first presented products for corporate customers (business-to-business). You have to click on a tab to get to the consumer products, where you find the categories of individual products, including Digital SLR Cameras and Mirrorless Cameras. 

So, strawman thesis: Nikon corporate primarily wants to sell you businesses equipment, while the more consumer-focused sites such as NikonUSA want to sell you mirrorless cameras and lenses. That's Nikon 2021 in a nutshell. 


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