2008-08-19

Nikon Coolpix P6000; get Canon G9 instead.

I'm a Nikon DSLR owner and as much as I like my Nikon DSLRs, I've been recommending the Canon G9 to people who want a compact camera that gives the user some measure of manual control. Not too long ago I was made aware of the P6000 -- Nikon's answer to the Canon G9 and I was somewhat excited. Mind you, I don't really care about the fact that they've bumped the resolution a bit and added nifty features like a GPS and an ethernet interface.

I just wanted a compact camera that gives me manual control of aperture, shutter speed, ISO, access to RAW images and good image quality. Period.

On the surface the P6000 looked promising, but when I started reading the fine print I discovered exactly how incredibly clueless Nikon are: the RAW support is tied to Windows Imaging Component -- meaning that you can forget about the RAW support unless you are running WIC-based applications. On Windows.

I'm not. Nor is the majority of photographers I know.

I am not sure what process governs how these decisions are made at Nikon, but someone needs to make these people aware of the fact that they are clearly on the wrong path. Also, this is not the first time Nikon do things that end up hurting them. Remember their stupid decision to obfuscate white-balance data?

A few tips to Nikon:
  • Try to understand your users. Your users want access to RAW images and they want to use their favorite applications. They want to use Aperture, Lightroom, Bibble etc. Ignore this at your peril.
  • Nikon Capture is not a compelling piece of software. The fact that I have Nikon Capture but that I never use it should tell you how worthless it is to me: you can't even get me to use it by giving it away to me for free. I still pay to use applications from your competitors.
  • You don't need to own the whole value-chain to be successful. The more choice and flexibility you give your users, the more compelling your camera products are to users. Your software offerings are bad. Make them mandatory and it will hurt parts of the value chain that aren't bad (ie. your cameras).
  • Guess what platform most artists, photographers, publishers etc use. Do you really want to exclude the core demographic in your choice of platform?
As for the P6000, it is a vaguely interesting camera, but with RAW-support being completely bungled, it isn't really worth buying. Get the Canon G9 instead. One can hope that Nikon will eventually grow a clue, but it is more likely that an updated G9 will emerge before Nikon clean up their act.

3 comments:

  1. I was initially disappointed as well. But I had a conversation with some of the Bibble developers about the raw issue, and they don't seem to expect much trouble supporting the new format. I get the impression that they don't use Nikon libraries anyway, so they don't care about WIC (Bibble runs on Mac and Linux as well as Windoz).

    I agree with everything else you said. Why they don't want to support a pro-ish camera in their pro level (if lame) raw developer is beyond me. I think they're confused about who their market is.

    Anyway I'm not pre-ordering one or anything, but I'm not going to buy a G9 either until the P6000 is actually out and I can see how it performs and if 3rd party raw converters support it. If they do, and picture quality is good, then a P&S I could put a SB800 on would be pretty cool.

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  2. @mrtim:

    If third party raw converters, like Bibble, Lightroom and Aperture will support the RAW output from the Nikon P6000 (on all relevant platforms), that would be a reason to reconsider my deicision not to buy it.

    I would still wait a bit to see if there are going to be issues making use of the RAW output from the P6000 before actually buying one. I mean: the G9 exists and it is known to work for users of non-Nikon and non-Windows software.

    As for Nikon not understanding their audience: I think this is a cultural thing. I think they are probably overly focused on products and fail to see the, no pun intended, greater picture. With open source and the practice of exposing APIs having become a mainstream occurrence, the way we, as a society, interact with technology products has changed. Nikon probably doesn't understand how this applies to them. They probably do not understand that they have far more to gain by openness than by limiting the usefulness of their products by fencing them in.

    (For instance I doubt they understood how directly the WB-encryption nonsense hurt them. I know people who were choosing between SLR systems and decided to go with Canon instead for fear of Nikon pulling similar stunts in the future. The choices of just people I know translates to somewhere in the region of $50.000 in lost sales for Nikon within one year).

    That they have completely missed the boat on the specific audience for which the P6000 is a candidate is just a further indication that their market people are out of touch with reality.

    (I would bet that just from the TWiP guys recommending you don't buy the P6000, Nikon must have lost thousands of sales. If their marketing guys don't pick up on this they are truly and utterly useless).

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  3. When buying a new compact I ended up getting the Canon G11.

    I don't hear anyone talking much about Nikon compacts on podcasts.

    Way to go Nikon. Dimwits.

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