Winners and Losers

I was looking at my blogging license, and apparently I'm required to declare winners and losers when a new product appears. Failure to do so means Google will banish you from their search listings, and influencers will denigrate you for not having an unsupported opinion. 

Um...ugh...awk...okay, I think I've gotten my tongue unstuck from my cheek...

I'm being asked by a number of you to assess Nikon's Z fortunes. I'm willing to offer you my opinions, but those things change over time. 

In terms of recent announcements, I'd say this:

  • The Z9 will be a huge hit and will be tough to obtain for quite a few months. As I will outline on bythom.com on 11/1, we are starting a new era again, and Nikon is once again leading the way. The price versus capability appears to be well received by the Nikon faithful, so much so that people who were sure they wouldn't be buying a Z9 are actually ordering one. We don't even really know the downsides of the Z9—and yes, there will be some, as Nikon is making multiple ventures into new territory with the camera—but it's clear the Z9 is going to get the nod for "best camera of 2021" from quite a lot of year-end opinionaters. 
  • The Zfc enthusiasm is dying down, but that camera is still going to do well short term, particularly this holiday season. I'll reiterate, it's a very good camera, but I'd rather have had a Z50 II. That's not true for those of you reading this site: you seem to be completely split in thinking, with some favoring the Z50 form, some the Zfc form. It's ironic that the camera prior to Nikon starting a new era (shutterless) that they made a camera that completely points at the past. The photographic community is not entirely consistent in their desires, it appears. 
  • The Nikkor lens parade just keeps hitting extra base hits with a few home runs. Nikon is building a really solid base set of Z-mount lenses. They haven't taken any real stabs at anything outside the 14-200mm base you'd expect other than the NOCT. The telephoto lenses are just now starting to appear, so they'll be snapped up as fast as Nikon can make them. It does look as if Nikon will take a few "outside the norm" stabs with telephoto, as they're putting a TC into the 400mm f/2.8, and we suddenly have 400mm and 800mm silhouettes on the road map that look like they must be PF lenses. But overall, the lenses are pretty much all hits. 

It's the rest of the Z System camera lineup that needs some love at the moment. Why do I say that? 

Well, I've been talking to a number of camera dealers in the last few days, and I've asked them all the same question: what is the Z9 excitement doing for the Z6 II and Z7 II? In a perfect world, when you add a hot new flagship to your lineup, it improves the sales of the other models in the lineup. It's way too early to tell whether the Z9 will have a strong halo impact on the Z5, Z6, Z7 models, or whether the whole new shutterless thing makes people pause when considering those lower end models. But this holiday season should tell us something in this regard. Z9's aren't going to be sitting on any dealer shelf, while all the other Z models will be.

A really solid firmware update that added features and increased some performance parameters for the Z6 II and Z7 II would have a tremendous impact at making it a more perfect Z world, and goose holiday sales. Lack of same would leave doubts in many minds. 

Of course, I'm on the record as saying (over and over) that the Z6 II and Z7 II are both excellent cameras, and often underestimated. The disinformation about their "focus deficiencies" is going to have continued legs now given that Nikon themselves just said the Z9 has unprecedented focus performance. 

I keep thinking about all the folk that never felt they had to upgrade from their D200, D300, D40x, D90, or other older Nikon camera. If they were given the right information the right way about Nikon's current Z offerings—and if Nikon hadn't fumbled the ball with no screw-drive adapter—those folk would be lining up at the local Nikon dealer to buy a Z. Of course, they'd probably want a Z50 II or a Z90 ;~). 

I do think this needs to be said out loud: buying a Z50, Zfc, Z5, Z6, Z6 II, Z7, or Z7 II today should give you plenty of photography joy for the next few years. You're not missing out on image quality or other performance, the focusing is fine if you learn how it works, and you're getting value for your dollars. Your next camera after that one is likely to be a shutterless version of what you buy today, and that may reset the image quality/performance bar for you, but that's in the future. 

Okay, I've completed my obligations under the bloggers contract. I'll be flipping the "track everything the reader ever does from here on out" switch in the hidden Google-toolkit the site uses, passing copies of that data to Metabook or Face-a or whatever their name is this week, and popping up incessant reminders to buy, buy, buy!

Dang! Somehow my tongues in my cheek again. Darned tongue has a mind of its own...

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