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What's up with Nikon?

September 22, 2012  •  1 Comment

I'm a long time Nikon shooter.  When DSLRs started to appear in the early 2000 and 2001 I bought a Nikon because I already had some Nikon lenses.  Overall I've been pretty happy with Nikon over the last decade.  Things were starting to look a little dicey with the D2h and D300 as the Canon offerings were producing much better files, but then along came the D3 and all was good again.  Nikon is producing some of the best camera bodies both from a technical and price perspective.  So, what's not to like?  Well, I find a few things that Nikon is doing that are inimical if not downright hostile with regard to their customers.

Encrypting White Balance

Nikon started this with the D2X, where they encrypted the WB metadata in the NEF file.  This caused an uproar throughout the user community, especially when Thomas Knoll, the author of photoshop, refused to include the D2X NEF files in ACR because Adobe would be at risk of a digital rights violation.  Nikon finally relented to the extent of providing a SDK to read the WB.  It would appear Nikon was trying to force users to buy their Nikon Capture software.  Whatever they were doing, it sure was not in the customer's interest.  In fact, it was hostile.  I crossed my fingers and hoped it was just an employee getting carried away, and Nikon would not admit it was an error because, well, that just isn't done in Japan.

Nikon repair totally sucks in North America

Going back ten years and more, it was a pleasure to deal with Nikon service centers in Canada and the USA.  You could always talk to someone and often minor repairs were done at no cost.  Fast forward to today and horror stories abound and they are not just stories as I know from direct discussion with friends and personal experience.  It is not uncommon to have to make three trips to the repair center to get the problem solved.  They simply do not read what the problem is and send the cameras back without being fixed.  The service has gone beyond bad to appalling.  Nikon has been given an F by the Better Business Bureau in New York state.  Here is what they mean when they give a company an F:

We strongly question the company’s reliability for reasons such as that they have failed to respond to complaints, their advertising is grossly misleading, they are not in compliance with the law’s licensing or registration requirements, their complaints contain especially serious allegations, or the company’s industry is known for its fraudulent business practices.

This does not sound like a customer focused company.

Nikon no longer will sell parts to third parties

Older Nikon bodies had a rubber screw cap for the ten-pin remote terminal where you attach the remote release. Everyone was always losing the caps and Nikon charged some outrageous amount if you ordered them but would often throw one or two in with a repair or give them to you over the counter.  You left feeling pretty good about the way you were being treated.  They finally solved this problem by replacing the rubber cap with a fold out attachment that cannot be lost.  Nowadays what gets lost is the rubber cover on the base of the camera that you have to pull off to attach a grip.  Every customer has to be able to do this to attach and detach the grip.  If you lose this rubber cover you cannot get a replacement from Nikon.  You have to send your camera into Nikon for repair which will probably be about 3 weeks and you get to pay the shipping.  All so that some Nikon tech can put a new rubber cover on - that is if he does not screw it up.  How much more stupid can a company get?  Same thing goes for a replacement foot for a lens.  Someone with many thousands of dollars invested in Nikon equipment is not going to change to another camera system over this, but you can be darn sure they will be telling new users about this lunacy.

Nikon shipping policies and warranties

When you buy a Nikon camera it comes with a 1 or 2 year warranty and lenses come with a 5 year warranty.  That sounds pretty good until you are faced with a return.  The first thing is you, the customer, have to pay the shipping. This might appear reasonable after a year of so, but when the product is flawed of the shelf, this is a real kick in the pants.  The recent D800 focus debacle is a good example.  A number of bodies were not focusing properly on the left side, a problem that has been indirectly acknowledged by several Nikon regions.  A reliable, up-front company would issue a recall and fix the problem.  Not Nikon - not only do they refuse to publicly acknowledge the problem - they make you pay to ship the body back for repair.  At this point the customer trust level is not good at all.

Product deprecation

Nikon is proud of the fact that almost any Nikkor lens can still be used on their latest professional camera bodies and this is darn impressive.  It leads one to believe that this is a company that cares about keeping their products and customers whole.  Unfortunately this does not carry over to their software support.  Nikon has stopped updating the drivers for their scanners for new operating systems.  Heck, they have trouble updating their current image software for new operating systems.  Another case in point - Nikon's latest release of Camera Control Pro no longer supports any camera over 5 years old including the D80, D2X, D200.  And how does this help customers with these cameras? Ah, they don't count if they haven't upgraded to a new body is the only conclusion I can draw.

File format

I mentioned the D2X WB encryption fiasco earlier, but there is also the whole refusal to accept some form of file standardization, be it DNG or even just file documentation.  It is clearly in the customer's interest to be able to generate a DNG file from the camera.  This way software such as Lightroom, ACR, Capture 1 and others will be able to read the files.  With their record of letting software deprecate, how long is it before Nikon stops supporting older cameras the way they have in Camera Control Pro? Nikon continues to produce NEF files and the only reason I can think of is to try to push customers to buy Nikon Capture.  If Nikon really cared about their customers they would either adopt DNG or push for another raw file standard.  But they clearly do not care.

Superb engineering

What a shame that a company with such strong engineering and great products can fail so much in customer service and marketing.  I see no sign they care about turning this around.  In the meantime I sure hope my equipment holds together and I don't lose that rubber cap.


Sooo Disappointed with Nikon... They left the Pro DX user Hi and Dry. Really , Nikon is the D7100 your best ???? come on !!!! Next level up is a mediocre D600. When will Nikon wake up and realize there is a real market for Pro DX users and a REAL upgrade to the Excellent D300/s is Loooooooong over due !!!!
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