And Just Like That

. . . she dropped $2000 CDN in under ten minutes.

Whoa – back up! Who dropped two grand? Where? And why?

On Thursday I drove to Toronto in search of a bag. While at the store poking, prodding and playing with Velcro dividers, a woman walked in and announced “D70s or Rebel XT – I need to buy one for her. What’s the difference?” I prick up my ears as the salewoman says “Well, it’s hard. One is a six megapixel, the other eight.”

Right then and there I think “So this is how Nikon loses a sale.”

I doubt she knew anything about cameras. But in under ten minutes she’d chosen the Rebel XT, traded up from the kit lens to the EF-S 17 – 85 mm f/4.5 – f/5.6 IS USM (wise move), added a card reader and for good measure threw in a Griffin iTrip. She held the camera for all of 30 seconds. As I watched this, I’m thinking “This scene is being replicated all over the world – and that’s why Canon is eating Nikon’s lunch”.

Nikon’s current lineup by price and features looks like this:
D50
D70s
D100
D2Hs
D2x

See those two models – the D70s and the D100? That’s a big hole where Canon’s simply eating Nikon alive. The D70s is a refresh of the original D70, a model that singlehandedly saved Nikon’s lineup and was a formidable competitor to the original Rebel. It was so popular that it was often sold out and was awarded the 2004 Popular Photography “Camera of the Year” award. The D100 is a 3 year old dinosaur. With the exception of build quality, it’s bettered in almost every way by its younger brother. These two models are matched against the Rebel XT and the 20D.

It’s a hard contest to win.

The 20D is a serious tool; a solid build paired with the legendary Canon imaging and processing chips. 8MP now and about to be released as the 30D this September as a 10MP model, it has got a lot going for it. The Rebel XT’s the next step down. Smaller, significantly less “pro” build but in true Canon tradition with a better imaging sensor. It’s Canon’s answer to the D70s.

Those two cameras probably cause Nikon more lost DSLR sales than any other models. The biggest reason is the megapixel wars. And as an outsider its frustrating to see Nikon almost unresponsive to this threat. Heck – if I were in charge of product development I’d add a model right above the D70s – say D90 – with a 10MP sensor. Compete on features, not price and I guarantee that the tide will start to turn. In addition, I’d do something about the damn D100. Replace it with a D200 and the sucker better have at least 10MP or the 30D’s going to trample it again.

Bah.

Supposedly the D200’s being released this September. It better be the mother of all releases because Nikon users have been waiting for this model for the last one and a half years. If it’s not? If it’s only 8MP and doesn’t have any distinguishing features? Well . . . in that case Canon’s going to grab even more of the market.

And I guarantee you there’ll be a photographic lynch mob at the doors of Nikon Japan’s HQ.

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