Nikon is Out of Sync With Itself

I mentioned it in my previous commentary on software updates, but during my revisions of the Z8 and Z9 books for recent firmware updates I'm noticing that Nikon is creating branches of change that are out of sync with one another. 

For example, I had complained about the use of the word Start in the Auto capture function when it appeared in the Z9. It's the same in the Z8, but then a few days later, it appears that someone in the Z9 firmware update chain got my message and changed it to the more appropriate Set. If you look carefully at the history of Auto capture you see an original option, a Z8 2.0 fork, and now a Z9 5.0 fork. This function isn't the only place I've noticed the problem, too.

I'm a little worried about this as functions get added to or changed in various cameras. From a product management standpoint, you don't want forked code like this (even if it's just things like labels, though it's more than just labels in the recent updates). 

I catch these things because I have to do a deep dive that moves word by word, menu item by menu item, screen by screen as I update my books. I usually have them open side-by-side because I sometimes find that in updating one I want to "fix" some wording, grammar, or structure in others. Thus, I immediately see forks. What's worrying is that Nikon themselves is not seeing them (or is ignoring them). That means that they're either in too much of a hurry, or they don't have someone carefully watching and managing differences. 

Oh, and another thing: can we please stop using Type A and Type B as options? Even Nikon recognizes that this isn't useful, as they're now adding automatic "help" to functions that have those option names. Unfortunately, whoever's writing the help—remember, it has to be done in dozens of languages—isn't helping ;~). For example, the new High ISO NR mode function gives you two choices: Nikon's traditional noise reduction; and some new, undefined noise reduction routine. So why wouldn't Original (or Traditional) and New work as mode names? That would tell users a lot more than what they get from the menu system right now. 

One of the things I did in Silicon Valley through almost all my career is write the manual for a product before we developed it. If during development we found that something couldn't be done or needed to be changed in the manual, we discussed it, resolved the difference, and I updated the manual. Help and documentation are being done well after the fact at Nikon, and it doesn't seem as if there's a useful feedback loop to catch these silly bits. I'm almost surprised that the Z8 wasn't called the Type B and the Z9 renamed to Type A. /SARCASM OFF

Meanwhile, you can see how Nikon has tied themselves into a pretzel with something as simple as Image quality. With the Z8 2.00 and Z9 5.00 firmware things are being renamed and the consistency of those setting options is a mess. Let me try to fix it for Nikon. Here are the Menu Items and Options as they should be:

     Image quality
         JPEG (forces Tone mode change to SDR, maximizes Picture Control choices)
         HEIF (forces Tone mode change to HLG, minimizes Picture Control choices)
         RAW + JPEG
         RAW + HEIF
     Image size
         FX image size
          DX image size
     Image compression 
             Optimal quality
             Size priority
             Lossless compressed
             Optimal High Efficiency
             Standard High Efficiency

No scrolling menus, no extra menus, clarity. And this ain't rocket science. Image quality isn't the only place in the menus where we're now seeing unneeded scrolling, extra unnecessary options, disorganization, and lack of clarity. Instead of someone in design enforcing rationalization and hierarchy, it appears that engineers can just willy-nilly add (and name) things. I'd like to sneak into the automobiles they drive and do the same thing to their controls and see what happens ;~). The problem is simple: the folks making these things up simply can't be using the cameras themselves. 

And while we're at it, if you're going to grey out a menu item, tell the user why. I've discovered a few more of those recently (which I document in my books), and it took me a while to figure out why. For example, it turns out that using Creative Picture Controls can do silly things like turn off Auto capture

Yes, I get in a sour mood when I'm going through hundreds of Menu Items and thousands of pages trying to find all these anomalies and documenting them. Okay, I'm going to my happy place now...

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