NZ D4 and D800 launch event

On Wednesday March 28, TA Macalister (New Zealand Nikon Distributor) ran a Nikon D4 and D800 Launch event for a small group of their specialist photo dealers.
The purpose of the event was to give the dealers the chance to experience the new cameras in a real world environment, and see how they actually perform.
The event was held at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park in the Waikato.
The dealers moved around 3 activities, shooting a drift car on the skid pan, BMW circuit cars on the main track, and also a studio set up to shoot a professional model to test resolution in portraits.
Dealer response was excellent! The Nikon specialists came away with a much better understanding of the cameras, ready to share the unique features of the New D4 and D800 with the excited customers!

Here are some photos from that day. (Click to see a larger image) (Photo courtesy of TA Macalister)

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Q and A session with New Zealand Nikon Product Manager + AFS 85mm f/1.8G Samples

A few weeks ago, i sat down with New Zealand Nikon Product Manager Ken Newell and talked about a few different things… i’ve summarized that meeting in this artcile here:

During that interview, Ken asked the reader of Nikonjin to give him feedbacks and let us know if there is any questions we wanted to ask him. So, I’ve received many emails/messages from you guys with different comments and questions.. and I’ve summarised your feedbacks and went to TA Macalister and sat down with Ken again last week.
We went through most of your feedbacks and questions. This time Meg Luff, the new Nikon Brand Manager also joined the meeting and we spent another hour or two talked about many different things, here is a summary from the Q&A session with Ken and Meg.

NikonJin: So Ken, can you tell me what’s the best selling Nikon DSLR and lenses in New Zealand?

Ken: The best selling DSLR is the D3100. But the D5100 is selling very well as well, probably selling twice as much as our expectation! Probably because it’s using the same sensor as the D7000 and the swivel LCD screen which makes it very easy to taking photo and video.

NikonJin: Okay it’s not really a surprise the D3100 is the best selling Nikon DSLR, now how about lenses?

Ken: It would be the 18-55 kit lens.

NikonJin: What about if we don’t count the kit lens, just the stand alone lenses?

Ken: In that case, it would be the 18-200VR. But apart from the 18-200VR, we also sell a lot of 24-70 f/2.8 and the 70-200 f/2.8 VR II! And a lot of customer don’t know, but we actually carry a lot of lenses in stock. In our warehouse you can find lenses from 10mm – 600mm in stock. Recently, we are trying to increase our stock and carry as much stock as possible so customer doesn’t have to wait for us to order the stock from overseas. Of course there are some very popular items that are sold so fast that we just can’t get enough from Nikon and often sold out.

NikonJin: Last time you told me you are trying to lower the price of the Nikon products so they are competitve against parallel importers and oversea websites. Like you lowered the 85 f/1.4G’s price by around $1000, but some of the users are still complaining the price of some lenses are still too high. For example the Nikon AFS 24mm f/1.4G is selling at around $2000 US at B&H, but local price is almost NZ$4000. Why is there such a big difference?

Ken: Yes even though we have lowered 24 1.4’s price recently, I am still not happy with the price. I will definitely see if I can lower the price more but I will probably need Nikon’s help to achieve that so it may take a bit of time. It’s important to also factor freight and GST into any comparisons you make with overseas vendors.

NikonJin: That’s great! I’m sure that would be a great news for people looking at buying that lens. Now the new D800, because of its insanely high resolution, a lot of people including me are quite worried about it’s high ISO performance. How good or bad is it compare to the D700?

Ken: I have not really done any side by side comparison with the D700, and i can’t show you the samples from the D800. But it’s high ISO performance is really good. If you are happy with the D700, you will definitely be happy with the D800

NikonJin: That sounds promising. I think we all know D800 is a super high resolution monster and the high ISO performance is not it’s strongest area, so if it’s not worse than D700 than i think most people would be quite happy, that includes me. Now, I remember you told me the D800 and D4’s preorder number is very very good. How’s the preorder ratio between D800 and D800E?

Ken: I don’t have the exact numbers. Originally Nikon was expecting to sell 10 D800 : 1 D800E, but from what i’ve heard from various shops, the interest in the D800E is a lot higher than that..We are worried people who ordered the D800E doesn’t really understand the difference between the two model. I’ve looked at the photos from both cameras, while the AA filterless D800E is sharper than the normal D800, it’s only a small difference, but on the other hand, the lack of AA filter can also create a lot more unwanted image artifects.

NikonJin: Yes the D800E can gives you some ugly moire patterns and funny colours if you don’t know how to avoid them

Ken: Yes you are right, and the colour shift can be hard to remove in the post processing! So i’m telling the dealers, if the customer doesn’t know what is moire patterns, sell him the normal D800.

NikonJin: I agree. I definitely don’t want to use a D800E to shoot weddings and portraits. Now my next question, I heard that TA Macalister order all the stock from Nikon Hong Kong. Is that true?

Ken: Yes that’s correct

NikonJin: Why not order from Nikon Japan instead? Wouldn’t it be better if order from Japan directly? Wouldn’t it increase the cost and thus the price of the Nikon products?

Ken: Nikon HK is Nikon’s Asia hub. So all the Nikon subsidiaries and distributors in Asia and Australiasia order their stock from HK. for example Nikon Australia get their stock from Hong Kong as well. This is just how it works.

NikonJin: Ken, can you tell me how’s your job like working as the Nikon product manager? And do you get to pick any Nikon camera and lens and borrow them home for the weekend?

Meg: He loves it!

Ken: Ha Ha yes, I’m a Nikon geek and I’m a passionate and keen photographer so yes i love my job! And yes i do borrow cameras and lenses all the time. I need to know the camera and products well

Meg: He calls it research. (laughs)

NikonJin: So what camera do you use?

Ken: I have a Nikon D7000, had a Contax rangefinder, Fujifilm S2 Pro which is half Nikon camera, and many other cameras. I don’t really buy many cameras these days as i always borrow different cameras from work. Oh i love using a Nikon V1 with the 10mm prime lens. Great for taking photos of my kids

NikonJin: So there are “Nikon School” courses in some other countries that teaches people how to use their Nikon cameras to take nice photos. Are you guys planning to organise something like that here as well?

Ken: Nothing currently planned. But we are very interested to see the positive effect in Australia

NikonJin: Will there be a 70-200 f/4 VR lens coming out anytime soon? There is quite a big gap between the 70-300VR and 70-200mm f/2.8 VR2

Ken: There is nothing i know of. And there is actually a Nikon AF 80-200 f/2.8 which is an wonderful lens, and priced between the 70-300VR and 70-200 f/2.8 VR2. It’s what we call an “Indent” item, so you need to custom order it from your dealer. It’s not an AFS, and isn’t as fast to focus as the 70-200 VR2, but excellent for all but very fast action.

NikonJin: Any plan of introducing NPS in New Zealand?

Ken: NPS is only available from a Nikon subsidiary, not distributor. (TA Macalister is a distributor) so the short answer is no. But when there is a large international sports event, like the Rugby world cup last year. Then the NPS will come with their experts and parts.

NikonJin: The D4 and D800 will be released in other countries later this month. What about New Zealand? When will we see these new cameras?

Ken: For any new products, Nikon will set a international SSD which is the sales start date. We are trying our best to release our products on the same date or as close as possible. But sometime there are things out of control like delay in shipping.

NikonJin: That’s a very good news if we don’t have to wait weeks or months before we can see the new products here in the local shops. So what will be the initial D4 and D800 shipment size?

Ken: No comment (smile)

NikonJin: What do you think the camera scene will be like in 10 years time?

Ken: I think the cameras will be a lot simpler and easier to use, but there is still no replacement for talent.

NikonJin: My last question, what is your favourite lens?

Ken: 85mm f/1.4! 85mm f/1.4! 85mm f/1.4! I like prime lenses! But i also like the 70-200mm f/2.8 and the 24-70 f2.8

NikonJin: I like prime lenses too! Thank you Ken and Meg for spending your time with me. Looking forward to talk to you again soon

Meg: Thank you!

Ken: Thank you Richard!


AFS 85mm f/1.8G Quick Impression

During the Q&A session, Ken also showed me the new Nikon AFS 85mm f/1.8G lens. I had some quick play with it.
It looks, feels and handles very similar to the Nikon AFS 50mm f/1.4G. Personally I prefer the old AF lens’s more metal construction and build quality over the new AFS prime lens’s more plastic feel but apart from that, I’m quite impressed by this new f/1.8 lens. Bokeh is nice and smooth. There is a bit of vignetting but nothing too serious. CA is not bad at all (definitely better than my 85 1.4D) and it’s really quite sharp even at wide open.
The new Nikon AFS 85mm f/1.8G:


And here are two of the photos i took with the AFS 85mm f/1.8G

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