Thursday, December 15, 2005

Nikon P1 Day 3

The camera didn't come out of the box today so it's not much of a day.

Doing some reading however, got me thinking about the state of the camera nation.

I've been chewing over getting a digital camera for some time now — for years I guess. What changed that caused me to go out and get one now though? Why this one?

Over the last year, I've been looking at various cameras, primarily Nikon, but those of other manufacturers as well. A month or so ago, I was wandering along Yonge Street looking in the windows and saw a beautiful new camera from Panasonic. The brand line is called Lumix. The camera I saw that caught my attention was the LX1. It's a pretty camera. Even the packaging is appealing.

The camera has few features that I like. It has optical image stabilisation. It's compact although I guess that there are many competing products that are that as well. It offers a 16:9 perspective. It's got 8.4 mega-pixels. The gem feature however is that it offers RAW format pictures. However, after reading about it, I came away without any hunger to possess it.

The Digital Camera Resource Page doesn't have a review yet on the P1 but … I like Nikon. I've had a 35mm SLR since about 1988 that still works well. A company that offers that kind of quality earns credibility.

Back to why now

I have been considering various options but none of them excited me. I'm thinking specifically of cameras like the 7900 or 7600. They look okay but are nothing to write home about.

This camera has 8MP which may be the most that Nikon offers, at least in a non-DSLR. It has the toy feature of wireless connectivity. Curiously, I think that this may hurt the camera's sales. When I was in Henry's and brought up the feature, I got blank stares from the staff. I'd called another store prior and the guy there told me that he didn't know how it worked. He was willing to try it out but that store closed too early for me to get there. I arrived while the gate was being locked.

Getting the wireless to work required an installation on the computer. It was relatively straightforward in the store. The salesman made a curious statement at the time that the first image was being transmitted. He said that if we'd used a wired connection, we'd be done already. I replied that while his statement was true, so what. I pointed out how easy it was to get to work.

While he was putting the kit together for the sale, the saleswoman with whom I'd originally been speaking wandered back over to ask how things were going. She gave him the sale which was good since she'd really done nothing whatsoever and looked really, really tired. Those were both points that she made during the sale. As he gave her a brief explanation as to how it worked, he mentioned that he would be setting up their Macs the next day so as to demo the wireless feature in the future.

If they get on this pony and ride it, they may make some sales. They made one this week because a customer wanted something and was willing to teach the salesman how his product worked. If nobody in the store (or in another store) knows how this product works, they will be requiring the customers to provide the impetus and imagination for the product. This doesn't bode well for Nikon. Imaginative customers are not the norm. I know that after working in retail for several years. New design features need to be sold in order for the product to be sold.

This salesman had the right amount of energy for the day. He was also willing to suspend his disbelief while we tried out the camera. In the past, I've seen PC salesmen trying to talk about Macs in big stores like Best Buy or Future Shop. They weren't trying to sell any Macs. They were trying to sell PCs. They used the Macs as foils for the PCs. It didn't do Apple any good. At the end of the day, I think this was one of the causes for Apple to create their retail chain. Owning the stores was the only way to get knowledgeable and committed staff who wanted to sell Macs.

Anyways, given that I can't get what I want for $500 — meaning 8MP (or at least 6), 5x optical zoom, fully manual controls and the ability to generate uncompressed images (i.e. TIFF or RAW), this camera gives me what I want for now.

Next year, I'll see about getting those features although I won't hold my breath for the 500 bucks.

p.s. When all was said and done, I paid a lot more than $500. The camera was actually $540 CDN and I bought a few accessories including two cases, a spare battery, an extended warranty and a 1GB SDII card. The salesman messed up on printer promotion and I also want the AC adaptor so I'll probably go back next week to pick those up.

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