February 14, 2017

Nikon Suffers Huge Losses and Cancels Cameras, Crashing Stock

Venerable still camera manufacturer Nikon, which has failed to gain traction in the motion market, has pulled back its product offerings and laid off staff.

"Are you Nikon or Canon?" It was a long-time question among photographers. Most serious photographers had a commitment in some form to at least one or the other brand, which was a difficult hurdle for latecomers like Sony moving into the market.

Filmmakers, however, have mostly avoided Nikon, while buying Canon in droves (we have more than twice as many articles tagged "Canon" than "Nikon," for instance), with filmmakers gravitating towards either the 5D/7D line or the newer C line. Of course, Canon is usually cross-shopped against offerings from Sony or Panasonic, but Nikon failed to occupy much space in the motion market.

After releasing a "notice of extraordinary loss" yesterday indicating that the company had hemorrhaged roughly $260 million in the last three quarters of 2016, Nikon announced the cancellation of the DL camera series. The announcement triggered a one-day stock drop of 14.6%, ​which cost the company around $1 billion in market capitalization. To be fair to the camera department, most of last year's reported losses were related to restructuring in the semiconductor lithography business, but the effects will certainly be felt in the cinema world.

This ultimately means less competition and fewer choices for filmmakers. 

This comes in addition to the announcement last November that Nikon would cut more than 1,000 jobs through early retirement. 


Nikon DL 25-85Credit: Nikon

Most immediate is the loss of the DL line, which was only announced last February and was intended to be a competitor to the RX100, with internal 4K recording and a choice of three different integrated lenses, depending on the model you chose. While professional filmmakers tend to prefer interchangeable lenses, integrated lenses can be a great choice for the beginner, both in terms of keeping overall package price down and offering a good zoom range for the money. In addition, the line offered other attractive features, like 1200fps slow motion, clean HDMI out for external recorder, and a price under $1,000. Those features would have made it a great C camera on a multi-camera shoot. Alas, now the camera will never be released.

To recover from the losses, Nikon is apparently going to refocus its camera business more directly on profits and worry less about revenue. This is great from a business perspective, although it's possible Nikon will focus on its core business (mid-to-high-end still photography) and pull back from integrating video features (Hasselblad and Leica, which dominate the high end, are notoriously slow with video features, releasing cameras in 2016 with only HD video mode).

This ultimately means less competition and fewer choices for filmmakers.       

Your Comment

18 Comments

Bit shocking, though this article, plus the recent BM camera thread does imply that "conservative Canon" do quietly know what they are doing, despite the detractors. By contrast, Canon are announcing new products tonight (http://www.canonrumors.com/this-is-what-canon-is-announcing-tonight/), and it is rumoured a full frame 4K mirrorless is coming later in the year, in addition to C100 Mk3.

Blackmagic quality control issues, Digital Bolex dead, Axiom stillborn, and Craft on life support, what are the real choices left now ?

February 14, 2017 at 6:12PM, Edited February 14, 6:14PM

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Saied M.
948

Panasonic and Sony for starters. They are doing everything right by targeting lower budget but serious in their craft filmmakers.

February 14, 2017 at 6:55PM

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John Haas
Cinematographer
433

Don't forget Fuji's XT-2

February 14, 2017 at 10:56PM

2
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Kinefinity!!!

February 14, 2017 at 11:13PM

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Matt Cronin
DP/colorist
74

Cant Agree with you on Blackmagic QC... especially when you paint it with that broad brush. that mostly Unfair. your opinion but not facts.

February 15, 2017 at 2:37AM

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Wentworth Kelly
Director/DP/Colorist/Drone Op
1959

All good responses here.
Wentworth, I was basing the BM comment on a recent NoFilmSchool thread and others, but if you know different, that is good with me. I had completely forgotten about Kinefinity, but there seem too few users/reviews (at least in the West). Sony and Fuji was mentioned, but aren't there overheating issues with continuous filming ?
It seems as if GH5 is the disruptive one at the moment. Tempting, but I would love to see that Canon 4K mirrorless.

February 15, 2017 at 7:02AM, Edited February 15, 7:04AM

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Saied M.
948

Sonys are notorious for overheating but the Fuji XT 2 does not seem to have this problem.

February 15, 2017 at 12:58PM

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Brad Jones
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor
550

After starting out with Canon then moving on to Sony > Blackmagic > Samsung, I'm finally getting a RED Epic-W and not turning back! :D

February 15, 2017 at 11:42AM

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Aaron Nanto
Creator/Filmmaker
33

we're all so happy for you, Aaron

February 17, 2017 at 9:37AM, Edited February 17, 9:37AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
830

DL was a bad idea from the get go. Of course this is my personal view.
They should've looked backed on Nikon Coolpix A(one of the smallest APS-C compact camera besides Ricoh GR) before they announced this in the first place.
Coolpix A was a great camera, great marketing also but they screwed up on price. They priced the camera at $1K, I bought mine for $300 couple of years ago. Thing is a beast, and I've used fuji X100 series, trust me image does not compare and it's actually pocketable.
I love Nikon, I started with Nikon film and on to their digital, have Canon because my work provides it and bought Panasonic and Sony for personal video projects.

They have so much potential but they are too busy patening lot of technology so that no one could make that product.
Main example is they patent Nikon F series digital back way way back, everybody knew they were doing this so no one could make digital back for their Nikon F series, not to come out with one. I personally think this could've been a different market compare to their DSLR market which would've had no effect on them negatively. Just another vent from a Nikon user.

Open your eyes Nikon. Been sleeping for a long time.

February 14, 2017 at 7:01PM, Edited February 14, 7:03PM

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Keith Kim
Photographer
1355

Leica did release the SL with 4K, L-log and 4:2:2 output in November 2015 which makes decent images. Regardless, they are still far behind because their system is highly impractical for video.

February 14, 2017 at 7:43PM, Edited February 14, 7:43PM

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Nikon had a GREAT video capable DSLR in the D800 and the follow on D810. Nikon chose to not support it just as it was gaining traction. We used the D800 on Dexter (us and wilfred were the first two shows to use them) and loved having a small body with good glass that we could use as a gopro and with the color profile that Technicolor built it was easy to grade it so we could cut it with the Alexa main camera footage.

It's sad they built a helluva good HD camera

February 14, 2017 at 11:17PM, Edited February 14, 11:17PM

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Eric Fletcher
Steadicam/Camera Operator and DP
12

WOW. 1200 fps for under $1000. Yep. Killer c-camera. No wonder they couldn't get the cameras produced... (super sarcasm)

February 15, 2017 at 12:56AM

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Craig Douglas
Writer/ Director/ Editor/ Videographer
1121

I'm sure that's a typo. I'm fairly certain it's meant to read "120fps". 1200fps is Phantom range of fps.

February 15, 2017 at 5:54PM

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Chris Kas
Jack of all trades
101

Yeah, there's no way that couldn't be a typo. But a fun typo!

February 17, 2017 at 4:10PM

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Craig Douglas
Writer/ Director/ Editor/ Videographer
1121

Hate hearing this. Bought my first Nikon in 1978. Have a drawer full of Nikon bodies and a large set of Nikkors I use on my video camera today. Nikon dropped the ball early on in the digital revolution and Canon ran with it. No choice but to switch over like most every other photographer I know but, they were my first love.

Nikon, if you are listening, you are perfectly poised to build the greatest digital cinema camera ever made... a non-dslr form-factor black box with a super 35 (or larger) sensor. Put a fan in it and make it record internal 4K 10bit, ProRes422. $5000. Throw in a clean HDMI and SDI out for an external raw recorder, some slo-mo and, boom!, we could all call it a day.

Why not? No camera line that needs protecting like Canon. What do you have to lose?

February 15, 2017 at 9:27AM, Edited February 15, 9:29AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
830

Nikon has had many chances to overtake the motion image market, since they don't have a pro video line like Sony or Canon do. Offering what customers want in one camera, instead of spreading development over their full line, is a stronger model since they would decrease development costs and focus on one great product, lowering manufacturing costs. Everyone knows what are the hot specs, it's just a matter of giving people what they want; for some reason few companies actually try to do this successfully.

February 15, 2017 at 12:09PM

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Jeremy Christopher
Composer, Director
6

if Nikon provide dslr full frame camera can shoot 4k 14bit video .. They will achieve higher sales .. But they are delaying .. So they took what they deserve

February 15, 2017 at 3:55PM

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Arthur
172