Jakub Trávník's resources

Worst of Nikon, in 2010

A recent discussion in Fred Miranda Nikon forums prompted me to write what I dislike in current Nikon DSLR cameras.

What I dislike the most lack of openness.

NEF format is a secret

There is even encryption of white balance (already broken , but still the intention is clear). Raw conversion software companies have to reverse-engineer it for support. Nikon's own software is in many ways much worse than third parties. If Nikon would have opened the format, its cameras would be more useful.

Camera-Lens protocol is not openly documented

Third parties have to reverse-engineer it. That causes many problems in compatibility of third part lenses. Focus issues in Sigma lenses, exposure issues in Tamron lenses (that Canon users of Tamron lenses do not report). Also new bodies stop working with older third party lenses like new D7000 not working in live view with current Sigma lenses, because the protocol forward compatibility was not documented. Nikon's own lenses are good, sometimes great, but they lack a lot. Nikon does not make 50/1.4 with creamy bokeh at f/1.4 like Sigma. Nikon does not make stabilized 17-50/2.8 DX lens like Tamron and Sigma do. Nikon does not make wider than 35/1.8 DX prime that would be also fast (The 24/1.4 AF-S is compatible but costs and weights way too much because of FX coverage which is useless for many). If Nikon would have opened the Camera-Lens protocol, its cameras would be more useful.

Nikon does have open firmware nor it is programmable

Some Canon cameras have it with CHDK. Being a programmer more than photographer, this irritates me a lot. I'm not alone in that - see Thom Hogan's "Camera Redefined" article. It irritates me more every time I see photographers complain about some camera behavior that prevents them getting optimal photos where this behavior could be changed by competent programmer in minutes if there would be a reasonable way to program the camera. How many times have you seen following complaints?

All of these are problems that could be solved by programmatic access to camera. Not even need to open firmware like in phones with Android OS where firmware is not open, but third party programs are allowed to do and change almost everything. Irony is the camera in my phone despite having worst image quality can do things my pricy Nikon DSLR cannot. My Canon G9 with CHDK can do things my pricy Nikon DSLR cannot. If Nikon would have provided a way to affect camera behavior programmatically, its cameras would be more useful.


To be fair - most of the issues here not only pertain to Nikon, but to other DSLR camera companies too. Also mentioned CHDK is more a hack than a system solution, but even like that it is very useful. Also Nikon cameras deliver great photos despite these disabilities, that is why I have one.

Four years ago nobody could believe a mobile phone companies along with telecommunication companies would allow some third party software to be running on mobile phone except in very limited, almost practically crippled form like J2ME that enabled a limited and separated applications that cannot improve built-in phone functionality. In their mentality, they wanted to be supplier of all functions, a controller of all. Nowadays the platforms that do not have this limitation and allow third party functionality like Google's Android OS, Apple's iPhone, and Nokia's Symbian (existed before but was not as open) are among fastest growing and most money generating phones. So therefore I hope there is a chance that camera companies will follow the path of increasing openness too. Hey Nikon, do you want to be among the companies that produce fastest growing and most money generating cameras tomorrow? Act now!

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