How to Make Nikon Users Happier (fall 2021 edition)

Nikon marches to a different drummer, but I consulted with the best drummers in the world asking them what things Nikon could do to make the Z-mount transition have a more spritely and uplifting beat:

  • Manually transition the exotics. Start by offering a mount-change service only to paid NPS members, then all NPS members, then eventually everyone. Offer this F-mount to Z-mount conversion for the 200mm f/2, 300mm f/2.8, 400mm f/2.8, 500mm f/4, 600mm f/4, and 800mm f/5.6. Maybe throw in the 120-300mm, 180-400mm. The question is how far back can you go with this. For example, the 500mm f/4E has electronic aperture control, so should be a no-brainer. But could Nikon also convert the 500mm f/4G successfully? There are bound to be a few tough choices just in my short list, but as many of these conversions Nikon could manage, the better. Nikon thinks that the FTZ is enough. It isn't. It introduces an extra (and slightly clumsy) mount, which none of us want because Nikon's electrical connections tend to fail due to gravity.
  • FTZ-SAI adapter. The FTZ adapter was a good start, but it left screw-drive autofocus lenses and AI-S indexing out of the equation. Nikon user loyalty is based upon legacy support, and legacy support is broken or at least damaged for a bunch of lenses that should be able to work. Time for such an adapter to appear. Or, adapters. While not a perfect solution, I could see an FTZ, FTZ-S, and FTZ-AI adapter squadron.
  • Better Road Map. I was somewhat surprised when Nikon introduced a Z-mount lens road map with the original cameras. Nikon dislikes saying anything about the future, even vaguely. The initial Road Map was fine, it even had some semblance of broad dates on it. The current Road Map isn't fine, because it doesn't have any suggestion of order in which we'll see the future lenses. Nikon executives must have noticed that they keep having to answer the question "when will the current lenses on the Road Map be available?" And no, "by the end of our fiscal year isn't a good enough answer (and may not even be accurate now due to pandemic-caused issues). People are buying now for late year vacations and for use during the holidays. During the holidays they'll buy for next year's special occasions and vacations. Not knowing if you'll be able to have what you want/need when you want/need it is pushing sales to competitors. So, Nikon needs to update the Road Map once a quarter and give half year windows or some stated ordering of introductions. We'll understand if Nikon misses a window, particularly when there's a valid reason. But we need both communication of the window period (likely update order) as well as updates when things won't happen as expected.
  • Firmware still needs work. Low-hanging fruit is being ignored. Such as AF-ON+AF-area mode customization for buttons. Unlike some of you, I'm okay with saying only the current cameras should be getting this attention (e.g. Z6 II and Z7 II instead of Z6 and Z7). But the updates need to show that Nikon is correctly hearing user complaints/suggestions and addressing as many of them as possible now, not in future models. Moreover, where's the Z50 firmware update that includes the low-hanging Zfc changes?
  • Make the Z7 III into a D850 equivalent. This requires some of that low-hanging firmware work I just mentioned, but other aspects need to be addressed, as well: (1) put a dedicated shooting method dial under the Mode dial; (2) add back the Focus Area Mode button (and Focus Mode switch?); (3) add banks or fix user settings (preferably add banks and fix user settings); (4) bring back Group and 3D Tracking AF-Area modes; (5) add the Negative Digitizer mode; (6) add the D6-type workflow additions (e.g. JPEG Slot 1 — JPEG Slot 2); (7) bring back the two-button shortcuts. I'm sure I'm missing a few; this is just off the top of my head.
  • Flash for the 21st Century. Nikon started down this line with their wireless flash initiative (currently only supported by the SB-5000) and then stalled completely when they shifted engineering focus to mirrorless, which has generated a large number of dissonances with the way Nikon flash worked in the past. It's almost like the "flash expert" at Nikon left the room and never came back. Bueller-san? Bueller-san?
  • Answer the buzz, buzz. Okay, we now have two DX cameras but only two DX lenses. The Zfc, in particular, really only has three lenses that fully make sense on it (16-50mm f/3.5-6.3, 28mm f/2.8, 50mm f/2.8 macro). The Z50 does a little better with five (16-50mm f/3.5-6.3, 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3, 28mm f/2.8, 50mm f/2.8 macro, 50mm f/1.8 S). Difficult to sell an APS-C based camera against competitors when your lens set is 3 or 5 compared to your competitors' 8, 31, and 17 (Canon, Fujifilm, and Sony, respectively, and I'm not counting appropriate full frame lenses for Sony or adapted lenses for Canon). The larger problem here is that Nikon's Z DX plans seem vague, incomplete, and off in the future somewhere given the paucity of product produced so far. So Nikon really needs to start providing some clear answers as to Z DX's future, and soon. Dials, colors, and selfie screens aren't going to win the game. 
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