A Open Letter to Nikon | Where are You ?

04-20-2021  |  Nikon USA

Dear Nikon,

Are you still in the game? That is a popular refrain these days and a valid question that sadly your actions are answering.

To be more to the point, WHERE'S THE GLASS ? You came into the mirrorless world bringing a lot of hope and a nice roadmap. Your new Z mount lenses offered new possibilities and what you have produced has been stunning in terms of build and image quality. Nothing less than what we would expect. Yes, the Z 6 and Z7 were both rushed to market, with a little behind in world class autofocus. Still as all previous Nikons the Z cameras were a pleasure to use and far out paced the competition in field use.

At that point I had great hopes that Nikon would produce the mirrorless system that tens of thousands of DSLR shooters have been waiting to get to the field. Sony had a leg up with their evolution of the A7 and A9 series but their handling, menu, and marginal glass was doing them no favors. Canon was still wallowing through the development stages and to my experience were not even close with their sad image quality and other issues. Panasonic introduced the S1R with its brilliant pixel shift that unlike Sony was actually usable in the field and the lenses in the L mount alliance are superb. But the Lumix is heavy, and autofocus is from the past decade not to mention their poor pro support. With those problems plaguing the competition Nikon had the best chance to be the market leader with their series II Z prosumer cameras, world class lenses, great image quality, and excellent in field handling.

That said, as Nikon did at the beginning of the digital camera era, you seem to have lost your way! You have been out paced by Sony with their great telephoto and zoom lenses, cameras with better handling ( buttons you can feel, i.e. back button autofocus) than their previous models and more logical menu. Canon has just breathed new life into their dying D series with the outstanding R series cameras and recently with the announcement of the Super Tele twins 400 f 2.8 and 600 f4 to go along with their brilliant 100-500.

So today along with many other professional, prosumer, and advanced amateur Nikon shooters we see nothing but talk. You promise you are going to concentrate the upper end of the Sports, Wildlife, and Nature photographers needs, but other than the increased rumors of an new profession top tier Z camera and a new 400 F 2.8 's what we really see is the possibility of yet another entry level camera and things like pancake lens. What do you expect the tens of thousands of Sports, Wildlife, and Nature shooters who actually need working Z glass todo? Your market has been trickling away. With the coming of being able to travel and get outside to pursue our passion do you really expect us to keep being hobbled by using adapted F mount glass? If that is your cooperate plain I suggest rather than yet another updated roadmap you need a new management team.

If you want to keep your current customer base, we need lenses like 24-105, 100-400, 200-600, 400 2.8, 600 f4. Without these lenses we will all turn to the other camera systems and you will soon see the trickle of people switching systems change to a flood. So please stop the delays. If other manufactures can come up with new equipment available on the shelf for clients to purchase we photographers will move to the systems that stay current with new technologies.

As a side note, a bit about my history with Nikon. I first used the Nikon F in the late 60's while in the military. Basically it was the camera that we could always depend on. In the mid 70 when I began shooting professionally I added the F2 and continued with the series of F's, FM's, Fe's, 8008's until 1999. I used those cameras to produce many editorial and advertising images including covers on most if not all of the major nature, wildlife and outdoor magazines of that period. Then Canon introduced the first IS/VR system that truly worked so I switched to the EOS and later DS systems while Nikon painfully tried to keep up with the innovation of Canon. Then came Nikon D800 system revolution and I switched back to Nikon. Today and for the past 21 years I also have lead photography workshops and had owned my own gallery. Currently we have in my business Nikon Z 6 II, Z 7II, D850, Sony A1, A7r4, A9, Lumix S1R, and way too many lenses. I am going to be down sizing in number of systems and like many current Nikon shooters I would like my only system to be Nikon. That said, if there is not a change soon I will be moving to one system without Nikon. That is a step I will regret but in order to keep my business current I need Glass! Nikon is falling far behind both Sony and Canon and I believe many of your current Nikon customers will follow and move to companies with available products.


Jess Lee


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