July 21, 2022


Sony and Minolta SLR Weblog

Nikon to Sony: "Not so fast!"

Sony fired a shot across Nikon’s bow with the introduction of the A100. Nikon is firing back with an all new D80: a 10.2MP SLR priced at a body-only price of 999.95. Equipped with a 18-135 DX Zoom. the camera goes for 1299.95.

Are those figures the list price? I’m not really sure. Nikon is referring to the published price as the estimated selling price or ESP. According to the Nikon USA website:

ESP (Estimated Selling Price) listed is only an estimate. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change at any time.

Nikon Digital Website

So what does that mean? Sometimes manufacturers have published a list price and a lower “street price” — the figure that they expect most retailers to actually sell their product for. Nikon’s new term appears to blur these distinctions. Is the ESP just a another term for list price — or is it really what Nikon thinks the street price will be? Or is something in between?

In any case, the D80 is priced higher than Sony’s A100. They are both 10.2MP cameras — and since Sony makes the sensor in both cameras — most people assume they are one in the same.

Sony’s A100 is at priced $100 cheaper for the body only configuration, and about $300 less for the body and lens set. The A100 also offers the dust removal feature and in-body anti-shake system. The Nikon D80 counters that with something called the high resolution image processing engine. Both cameras boast of continuous 3 fps JPEG image capture.

One startling feature of the D80 is battery life. Nikon claims you can grab as many as 2,700 images on a single charge. That is a huge number of images — Sony is claiming a mere 750 images from a fully charged battery on the A100. I wonder how Nikon is getting that 2,700 figure. Can you actually collect 2,700 high resolution RAW images? Or is Nikon using the tiniest, lowest quality JPEGs to derive that 2,700 figure. In any case, it sounds pretty impressive.

One other thing about the D80 — Nikon is using a SD storage card rather than the Compact Flash card used in the A100. It might not be a bad move, as SD cards are smaller and cheaper to buy. On the other hand, someone with older Nikon equipment and a boat-load of Compact Flash cards may be disappointed that they have to purchase a different type of memory card to use in the D80. They will also have to carry both types of memory because they won’t be able to share memory between the old and the new SLRs.

If all that wasn’t interesting enough, Nikon has announced an ESP price of $579.95 for the body only version of the existing 6MP D50 dSLR. Want it with lens? You can get it for $699.95. Again. I’m not exactly clear on what the new list price is supposed to be — but Nikon appears to believe you can take home a new D50 less lens for under $580. Will the discounters go below this? I will be highly surprised if they don’t. Can the sub-$500 Nikon dSLR be far behind?

You may wonder why I would care about Nikon’s latest moves on a site clearly labeled as Sony and Minolta weblog. The obvious answer is that Sony will have to react, either directly or indirectly, to Nikon’s new announcements. The digital SLR business is a cut throat one — but Sony knew that when it embarked on the Alpha. I’m guessing that they expected a move like this from Nikon and have plans in place to counteract it. The fact that the D80 is actually priced $100 higher than the A100 actually gives Sony some breathing room. But not too much. Canon had been carefully watching these developments. You can expect their new Digital Rebel replacement to be influenced by both Nikon and Sony.

Fasten your seat belts — the dSLR ride is going to get a little rough!

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