Former Nikon general manager and product designer, Tetsuro Goto is weighing in on the brand’s future. In response to last week’s report that the storied Japanese camera manufacturer plans to wind down DSLR development ASAP—a report Nikon so far doesn’t deny but also doesn’t confirm—the mastermind behind such products as the retro-fabulous Nikon Df says mirrorless should be the brand’s sole focus.
Wait, Nikon is done with DSLRs?
Well, no, Nikon is not officially done with DSLRs. But, a report in the Japanese financial newspaper, Nikkei did set off quite the commotion last week with hints that the brand plans to pull the plug on all DSLR development soon. In a somewhat rare fashion, Nikon responded to the report, saying:
“There was a media article regarding Nikon’s withdrawal of SLR development. This media article is only speculation and Nikon has made no announcement in this regard. Nikon is continuing the production, sales, and service of digital SLR. Nikon appreciates your continuous support.”
While Nikon doesn’t confirm DSLR development is over, the brand also doesn’t deny it. In fact, Nikon already shared with its investors plans to wind down the DSLR end of the business by 2025, so Nikkei‘s report puts that plan just a few years ahead of schedule. Furthermore, Nikon’s F-mount range has already been whittled down to just four camera bodies, so none of this really comes as much of a surprise.
“The ‘historic’ role of SLRs has already ended”
In response to the initial report, along with Nikon’s retort, the Japanese publication, Aeradot reached out to the beloved Nikonian, Goto (who has since retired from Nikon) for his take. Note: the following quote is machine translated.
“I think the” historical “role of SLRs has already ended because the performance of SLRs has already reached the point where it has reached its end. I think it’s enough, so in the future, the mirrorless Z series should inherit it.” says the former Nikonian who lead the teams that also developed the Nikon F3, F4, D3, and more.
Goto goes on to compare the photography industry’s evolution from DSLRs to mirrorless to shifts in the automotive world from gasoline-powered cars to EVs.
“Mirrorless cameras are completely electrical products except for lenses. Until now, Nikon has been a precision equipment manufacturer. We have fully demonstrated our strengths in cameras. The durability of the mechanism that we have cultivated over many years, the wonderful operation feel including shutter sound and vibration, etc. However, when a camera becomes an electrical product, how it differentiates itself from its rivals, it will be difficult to plan for this. In other words, how do you set out the significance of the existence of Nikon cameras? I think that is the question.”
You can read his entire machine-translated interview on Digital Camera Info. There’s even a juicy tidbit in there about the Nikon D900 (sorry, it’s never coming out).
We’re unlikely to see another new F-mount camera
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, regardless of what Nikon acknowledges or doesn’t, it’s very unlikely will see another new F-mount model. And that’s ok. The flagship Nikon Z9 is already selling like hotcakes, the new Nikon Z30 looks like a super-solid option for the video/vlogging crowd, and the Nikon Z5 is one of the most capable full-frame mirrorless bodies for the money.
Furthermore, Nikon is wise to not step on the toes of its current DSLR customer base. The brand surely hopes it can eventually ween these folks off their “outdated tech,” and welcome them to a more mechanically-streamlined mirrorless future. Until then, here’s hoping Nikon keeps supporting DSLRs, at least until most of us have had the chance to make the jump (myself included).