On Wednesday, many Italian and international newspapers reported the news that the famous Japanese camera brand Nikon is stopping producing single-lens reflex cameras, those that for decades have made the company a vanguard in professional photography and beyond. The news was provided by the trusted Japanese newspaper Nikkei, but a few hours later, Nikon issued a hasty rejection that the company “continues to manufacture, sell and service digital SLR cameras.” A phrase that does not contain assurances about the development of new models, and which therefore can literally mean that the company will only produce and sell the old ones.
It is not clear what will happen, but the reasons why Nikon may have made or want to make such a choice are there and are not insignificant. One of these is the proliferation of camera models mirrorless, ie without the inner mirror, which in the reflector shows what is framed by the lens. They have a more practical and lighter structure and provide results that are now comparable to those of the reflex cameras, at least of the non-advanced ones, but Nikon has never managed to establish itself in this segment like other companies.
The second reason, and perhaps even more relentless, is the sharp cut in the number of cameras due to the now widespread use of smartphones with increasingly sophisticated cameras.
Nikon began producing cameras after World War II and in 1959 released the Nikon F, which was not the first SLR camera in history, but was considered the most sophisticated and innovative. Nikon’s first digital SLR arrived decades later, in 1999: Compared to film cameras, the digital ones were easier to produce and Nikon was able to capture the potential of this technology so much so that Nikon’s digital models had a huge spread in the early 2000s. ‘erne. The company actually shares much of the DSLR market with Canon today.
In 2009, Olympus released the EP-1, the first mirrorless digital camera in history. Mirrorless cameras do not have a mirror like SLR cameras: the image is collected by the lens and shown directly on the display and without the mirror also in the viewfinder, which can be optical or electronic. This reduces camera size and shutter speeds and increases accuracy and durability.
In the transition from SLR to SLR, Nikon was not as fast as it had been with the transition to digital and was anticipated by brands like Sony. Nikkei explains that the reason Nikon was lagging behind was that mirrorless cameras needed an adapter to be compatible with the lenses Nikon had sold for SLRs up to that point – the company feared that this step would not be appreciated by consumers . and therefore he delayed investing. in this new technology.
Recently, this has been accompanied by a general crisis in the non-professional photography market due to the proliferation of smartphones with increasingly sophisticated cameras. Phones have effectively replaced compact digital cameras, products that in the early 2000s accounted for about 80 percent of the industry’s value. But that’s not all: with the proliferation of social networks, the quality of images has become less important in the prevailing view than the ability to publish images immediately.
In recent years, Nikon has scaled down its beginner catalog focusing on the market for products for professionals and enthusiasts. But he still had big losses: in 2019, he had to close two factories in Japan and lay off staff in foreign branches, and by 2020, he had closed the financial year negatively.
2020 was also the year when sales of SLRs surpassed sales of SLRs, and where Nikon presented its latest model of SLRs, the D6, which, if anything, Nikkei it’s true, it will be the last in its history.