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Nikon's cutbacks include no loyalty to customers

by Bill Stephens, Chief Photographer, Metro News Network

Nikon Corporation just doesn't get the picture when it comes to the basic principles the company was founded on such as a vision for the future. What ideals Nikon started with in 1917 surely are extinct in 2017.

Webster defines loyalty as, “the quality or state of being true and constant in support of someone or something.”

Each of us was raised with different examples of loyalty, however it all boils down to and shares the same virtues as do trust, faith and a good measure of respect. The things that we are naturally loyal too are God, country, family, friends and lastly to a particular brand.

We all choose our favorite brands to place our trust in, for various reasons. We have a favorite, car, truck, shampoo, etc. For those of us professional media photographers and videographers, we have our chosen brand to be loyal to as well. Some of us became loyal by virtue of the equipment we were trained on, others, not by choice, but by what was provided for use by our employer.

It really makes no difference what equipment you use to create your work just that you are creative and “use the tool” to get the outcome you want. I have used Nikon Camera equipment since I was eight years old. I will be 60 this year so, without doing the math – it’s been a long time.

The Reason I Use Nikon

I would call it an inherited brand. My Great Uncle Joe was a press photographer and he was always catching me looking over framed photos in his rec room and I just could not resist handling his camera equipment. So I guess out of frustration he gave me a 35mm Nikon F with a 35mm lens. He also gave me a package of Tri-X film to practice with. Having his own darkroom it was convenient to develop and make contact prints, and then check out my work.

Here I am, 52 years later, living and surviving through life changes good and bad but, still using Nikon equipment. That is what you would call being brand loyal.

Now, the Hitch

Years ago, I joined NPS (Nikon Professional Services). NPS was set up to recognize professional photographers and give those individuals priority in getting equipment repaired, discounts, etc. The requirements to join NPS were, you must be a working professional in the field of photography, use professional Nikon equipment and most importantly be recognized and recommended by another Nikon Professional. It was a group you had to truly earn your way into or not join at all.

As a way to ensure reliability, I regularly replaced my camera bodies at minimum every five years. Unfortunately, in 2013 while working a music festival in 100+ degree heat, I suffered a heart issue and after quintuple bypass surgery and six months of forced recuperation (living on my savings including my equipment fund) and eating through all of my savings as no work = no $$$. Then, just months later, came a cancer diagnosis. Fast forward to today, five surgeries and a round of chemo later - I sit here with no savings and very little revenue as I had lost clients due to not being available to work and now with the inability to update my camera equipment.

NPS has forgotten that brand loyalty goes both ways. If they want to be recommended by professionals, they need to respect us without requiring that we continually upgrade equipment just to maintain our membership and professional recognition in their eyes.

I have seen many examples of a brand making changes that have effectively thumbed their noses at the consumer showing a lack of respect to the very people that have helped to build their brand and keep them profitable. I am not only disappointed and am angry that they would do this by only recognizing us as professionals based on the equipment that we use and not by our work and accomplishments using Nikon equipment.

Nikon needs to step up to the plate and go back to their old rules and renew the trust, faith and most importantly loyalty in their customers. Doing this will always pay off ten fold when you let your product bring the customer to you and the people that they recommend.