Nikon needs a reset — to its camera branding

Recent news suggests financial troubles are plaguing Nikon. The company reported “extraordinary losses”, took steps to lay off 1000 people (10% of domestic workforce) and has committed to making its product lines leaner. Specifically, the DL series of compact cameras, the launch of which has been delayed over 6 months, is now officially canceled. This is a serious retrenching for Nikon and leaves its camera division as one with virtually only DSLRs as its products. There lies various problems as well, not the least of which is branding.

Nikon released a new top end camera body for both its FX and DX lineups — the D5 and the D500, respectively. The D# line is in good shape, including product distinction and naming. Photographers in the know understand that D3, D4 and now D5 are consistently Nikon’s most expensive and fastest (in frame rate)bodies, typically featuring the highest real ISO ceiling, the latest EXPEED processor and the most advanced AF system. In other words, this is the camera to use for sports, fashion shows, weddings and other events, wherever you must nail your shots, regardless of lighting and distractions. (The D810 remains Nikon’s flagship for image quality, but that’s another story.)

So we can easily see the D6, D7 and so forth roughly every two years. But what about the rest of Nikon’s DSLR lineup? Here the branding gets confusing. Even the numbering is muddled. Here are some questions that come to mind:

  • D6xx, D7xx and D8xx are all full frame bodies. But the D500 is a DX body. How are customers supposed to figure this out without going to Facebook, Reddit or other sites to ask?
  • What will come after D500s and maybe the D510s? Nikon can’t progress to D6xx for the next major change to this flagship DX body.
  • What will come after the D810s? If Nikon releases a D900 or D910, it could be mistaken for its SpeedLight.

Given that Nikon is retrenching, perhaps it’s time to start with all new branding for bodies not part of the D# lineup.

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