This has definitely not been a good year for Nikon, nor for most other Japanese companies or the Japanese as a people, for that matter.
The devastating March 11 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami followed by severe flooding in Thailand in November 2011 must – even if Nikon has been extremely careful in its damage assessments – have servery affected normal operations.
Our hearts go out to all the Japanese and Thai families who have lost their homes, properties, livelihood and dear ones in these natural disasters, and our hopes are for the proverbially resilience of the Japanese and their neighbors to recover from what – to other nations – could well be the definite blow.
Although most of us were quite disappointed in August when Nikon failed to launch the long-expected D800, in retrospect it was only fair to assume that – after the above events – the company would not be in shape for game-changing technology.
With the holiday season virtually over, it is fair to guess that Nikon will not launch anything else in 2011, and that – contrarily – 2012 may be a year to remember in the company's history: at least the D3, D700 and the D300s are up for a refresh or upgrade.
In 2008 and 2009 Nikon launched four new DSLR cameras, in 2010 two and in 2011 only one – the D5100.
The company did not drop off with Coolpix launches, on the other hand, where – in fact – 2011 was one of its most proliferous years.
No less than 14 CP models were launched during the current year, only comparable with 2006, when Nikon launched the same number of new cameras in the compact category.
During 2011 Nikon launched only two new lenses; the 50 mm f/1.8G and the 40 mm f/2.8G – neither of which is considered particularly ground breaking – versus 9 new lenses in 2010. We'd have to go back to 2004 to observe such a low number of new lens releases. Between that year and last, Nikon always launched at least 6 new lenses.
By far the most relevant Nikon launch in 2011 was that of the Nikon One System, but, even though the company reports “solid” demand, it is yet to be seen if this new format is here to stay.
The last “mayor” launch of Nikon in 2011 was the SB-910 flash, which – although appealing – is definitely not a game-changer.
It builds on SB-900 technology, improving on operability and making some minor, even though interesting, changes on the flash head.
The SB-910 allows for normal, wide and center focused flash, which makes for more subject oriented lighting patterns.
However, it does not include the – expected – continuous (LED) lighting for video, which could have been considered a mayor step forward.
All and all, that's it for 2011. It’s not that we like it, but then again it’s more than one might expect from a company that’s been hit twice by a mayor disaster.
Let’s hope 2012 is a – far – better year for Nikon, because it would mean a far better year for us.
Happy 2012, Nikonians!!
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