Joey Shooter, Issue #1

Updated version above. Original version here. Thanks to you Dan for the suggestions.

There are a number of folks around the internetz who seem to have forgotten two basic realities in regards to Nikon’s forthcoming announcements:

A) Nikon’s “new and improved camera” is only worth what the market will bear, and
B) Various realities, including Moore’s law, dictate that the cost will almost definitely stay virtually the same, product will improve exponentially, and profits may marginally improve or degrade depending on a number of factors.

Folks seem to think that Nikon produced the D3 only for a niche market of folks with highly specific needs, irrespective of their sensitivity to price. Really, it’s the other way around: the D3 is made for a photographer who can spend roughly $5k, give or take a few hundred. The best, generally appealing camera Nikon could produce while still sustaining profitable margins is, in the end, what they shipped.

If they charge significantly more than the $5k price point which the D3 carried they’ll get folks who will bail on that segment and find a lower end body, or jump ship altogether and find a different brand. Charge significantly less, and they also risk attrition, but this time through the photographers who think they’re being ripped off in the feature, specs, or quality department—regardless of the facts. For them, more is more (money) no matter what logic says.

If Nikon produces a D3 replacement that is more than, say, 10% higher (or 20% lower) than current selling price Nikon will not only profoundly confuse buyers, they will ultimately drive many of them away.

But alas, if you look at recent history you’ll see they did increase prices (dramatically!!!), but in a way that “reset” buyers’ thinking enough to partially mitigate market damage, or at least spread it over a longer period of time. They needed to increase prices to adjust for the softening dollar. What did we see? The DnH line was “done away with” (psst…it was really just replaced with the D3—sans the “h”) while the DnX (D1x, D2x, D3x etc) line saw a significant “bump” in price.

Now ask yourself, can you recall the response to greet the D3, (again, remember that it was being introduced with an effective price increase of $1,500)? It was embraced with open arms.

Now, if you’ll consider further the D3x announcement—particularly, how was that received: it was hailed as none other than the biggest ripoff in corporate history, with many photographers speaking out publicly against purchasing it until the price came to a more reasonable level.

Why? The D2x -> D3x was within the same realm of price increase as the D2h -> D3 (both bodies seeing roughly a 150% increase). See below:

(D2h) $3,499 -> (D3) $4,999 = ~ 145% increase
(D2x) $4,999 -> (D3x) $7,999 = ~ 160% increase

I don’t think it was the fact that the Nikon D3x was disproportionately increased compared to the D3 (i.e. folks weren’t angry because the D3x wasn’t priced instead at 145% above the D2x, or $7,250). I think folks were expecting to buy a camera with a D3x emblem, something that was historically in their price range of around $5k, and upon release they realized the new price had eclipsed their budget. Until the D3x was released, many claimed the DnH line was dead, and the D2h and D2x bodies had merged, resulting in their highly talented love child, the D3. They were more than happy to pay the $5k for that camera assuming it was the new “X” pro camera, despite there being many factors which indicated otherwise.

In other words, Nikon has a market full of people with preset expectations which they must consider if they desire to remain competitive. These people are not necessarily objective or rational. In fact, Nikon bet on this very idea during the last round. They got their big bump in market price, and while they may not have sold as many D3x bodies as they did of the prior D2x line, did they really need to given the increased profit margins? I doubt all those calls for boycott did nearly the damage the decriers dreamed it would. In fact, it probably just fed into the ego of those who could afford the D3x but were on the fence—likely enough to push them over the edge, driving them to splurge on the newest status symbol in the DSLR photo world.

For the record, my predictions for the next round of pro camera bodies:


16-20 megapixels
Top ISO somewhere between 204,800 and 1,638,400 (likely 409,600)
16-bit processing
Full HD (or higher) 24p, 25p, 30p, and a good chance of 720p or higher 60fps. Full manual controls are guaranteed.
$4,999 – $5,500
The rest (fps, autofocus, buffer, etc) is already incredible, so any improvements will be that much more amazing.


36-50 megapixels
Top ISO somewhere between 25,000 and 102,400 (likely 25,000)
16-bit processing
Full HD (or higher) 24p, 25p, 30p, and a good chance of 720p or higher 60fps. Full manual controls are guaranteed.
The rest (fps, autofocus, buffer, etc) same as above

Of course, lots of magic powder is likely to accompany these new cameras—things we never saw coming. Here’s to hoping…

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