The risk of Pre-Announcement Hype

kr-wap-2k Ken Rockwell, relates how Nikon hyped an announcement for weeks and then didn’t deliver.

The summary: (In Ken’s words… edited)

Nikon had been pimping a BIG announcement of its MX camera at WPPI’s BIG night.

Whatever it was, it was a product announcement so Earth-shattering and so definite that Nikon stuck its neck out for months promoting it.

What did we get after months of teasing?


All WPPI attendees got was a hastily-booked Blues Traveler concert instead when Nikon couldn’t deliver the goods.

All of this points out the importance of:

1) Expect and prepare for delays.  Companies have to expect them.  Rarely does Apple have only one announcement.  They que up a number of new products so that if one drops out at the last minute, the press’ time is not wasted.

2) Don’t hype early.  When talking about the level of hype, Ken uses the words “for months.”

On the other hand:

1) If the delay was because the product would not ship anytime soon, its good that Nikon held the announcement till closer to ship.

2) If the product was delayed because it was not ready for primetime, its good that Nikon held the announcement till they could showoff a great product.
Thankfully for Nikon this was an industry announcement (aimed it seems at wedding photographers) and not a general consumer announcement… (Although the product may eventually also be used by them).

But, nonetheless, Nikon still lost some credibility with (at least one) press.

Ken again… edited:

Oh well. Nikon botched BIG. The only thing BIG about it was that it was a huge failure and a humongous embarrassment. Nikon loss-of-face was incredibly BIG…

I almost went out to Vegas to cover it, based purely on that tease. I’m glad I stayed home.


  1. Who’s Ken Rockwell?

    • Ken is a well know photography writer. He is well known for his strong, and many times counterintuitive or counter common wisdom opinions (e.g. no one really needs a tripod anymore). If you like photography a very fun site/blog to read.

  2. Ken is a well known writer? Are you kidding me? He is considered an idiot in the pro and serious amateur photography circles. Just go to Fred Miranda and DPReview to see what pros and amateurs alike think about him.

    Anyway I doubt you will post this on your blog- but thought I would let you know!

    • Of course I will post it. But I will respond also.

      First, you know him (or his writing) well enough to have an opinion. I read him enough to have noticed this article. Fred Miranda and DPReview notice him enough to have an opinion. To me, this fits the definition of “well known.”

      Whether or not you or I like him, is a different area altogether. In my original post, I never mentioned if I did. You obviously don’t. As for me, I enjoy his writing a lot. I don’t always agree but I find he has a fresh viewpoint and is very opinionated. Strong opinions, contrarian views and respectful debates make for good learning environments.

  3. The better question would be, why was no one else discussing an MX camera? Was Ken Rockwell the only one Nikon’s little birds were whispering to? My money is on Rockwell, rather than Nikon, being the one trying to save face here.

  4. “Just go to Fred Miranda and DPReview to see what pros and amateurs alike think about him.”

    Lol, Josh, real pros are too busy to be posting on message boards, and now these are all the amateurs who have too much time in front of their pc and not enough time shooting.

    /Fail Josh.

  5. I respectfully disagree with Josh. As a fellow engineer, Ken’s analyses are spot on. He’s opinionated, but justifies his viewpoint with (typically) irrefutable evidence. The best part about Ken is that he is not beholden to any manufacturer. He loves Nikon, BUT let’s them have it when they’re wrong. Just read his review on the D3X’s pricing!

    Ken is respected enough to have Nikon’s ear. How many can say that? The “pro’s” are just jealous!

  6. Hahaha, my post dissing Ken was just deleted. Surely the author of this blog and Ken must be in cahoots. And to call this blog a textbook of business, the guy must have had a brain fart.

    • Nope, thanks not it. No Cahoots. Just a) your previous post did not have anything to say other then baseless and not well written attacks. And b) you put a blatantly false email address ( Write something 1/2 way useful to add to the debate and I’d gladly post it no matter how much you dislike Ken. Intelligent debate is where it is at not pure attacks with nothing behind them.

  7. That is a shame about the Nikon announcement.

    For the record – Ken Rockwell provides a lot more real, based on fact, information than do “people” who anonymously trash his views…

    A Lieca fan are we, Josh?

    Ken has saved me a lot of money, and I for one, appreciate his to-the-point demeanor.

    best regards


  8. message-board pros and ams (very little distinction here) don’t like ken because they’ve spent hundreds of dollars on top-of-the-line equipment that he effectively proves unnecessary. I don’t blame them for bad-mouthing him, they’re just protecting their investments.

  9. In the above, the criticism of Rockwell is misguided, as it is elsewhere in the virtual world, and the pro-Rockwell statements miss an important point in Rockwell’s work and the point of his website.

    He’s writing to the beginner and the accomplished amateur, mostly. This is what gets some purists rankled, I think.

    For instance, the statement that “tripods are for wimps.” Yes, in most cases they are, and with the Nikon D3 and D700 even more so.

    A pro knows when they need a tripod and they don’t need Rockwell to tell them when it is, but I’ve found Rockwell’s advice to amateurs is fairly spot on, although there are times when a tripod is needed, such as at night, and Rockwell acknowledges this.

    Yes, he’s over the top sometimes, as with his recent pro-film crusade. Everything he says may be true if you live within five minutes of a Costco or Wal-Mart, but a lot of us don’t (I live in China).

    Digital is not the only way to go here, but it is far and away the most convenient. Nothing involving film here or in East Texas where I hail from is easy.

    But Rockwell’s advice on lenses, large format shooting, digital settings and so forth are very useful for beginners and people trying new things. He states his prejudices up front and any visitor to his website are perfectly free to accept them or switch to Moose, Thom, Scott or any of the other digital or film wizards found on the Web today.

    Rockwell causes us to think about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it based on his point of view: what more could any reader expect?



  10. I enjoy reading Ken’s site.
    He is funny and has some interesting ideas that make me laugh. He also has some other ideas that make me laugh AT him, but that’s ok.
    I admire him cause I think he is completly biased but with a peculiar point of view.
    And that makes his writing kinda interesting.

    Nevertheless, he saves me some money :-)

  11. Some of the Ken-hate sites are aven funnier.

  12. The problem with the statement “Ken Rockwell is a well-known writer .” is that there is the implication, intentional or otherwise, that he is also a well respected writer. You don’t have to search the web very far to discover that that just ain’t the case. Do you read so many negative opinions about Phil Askey or Michael Reichmann? No, of course not. There’s a reason for this. They are well respected.
    I’ve been a photographer for decades. I look at Ken’s material and I know what’s true and what’s not. The sad truth is that many others don’t. Unfortunately, many will just accept his angry opinions and spread the poison on. We all suffer when this happens.

  13. Just go to […] DPReview

    lol wut?

    “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” — Winston Churchill.

  14. Ken is a point of reference, for me. Not my ONLY one, but one I check , when I want to learn something. Of course, I also check three or four other sites and see what they say. He is certainly the most UN politically , or industry , correct one. The quote about being well known must be true. We all know who he is and have enough of an opinion to leave a message. He doesn’t care what other “Pros” think about his site, because he knows they are out shooting and making money, not spending time parsing what he writes.

  15. Read his about page – Caveat Lector! (reader beware!). That will give you some clue.

    He has always stated that he has put practical jokes and minor truth contradictions on the site to catch out those those who should know.

    Even his main page image is a jape – he claims to have a left hand F100, but those who are aware have to know how that image has been manipulated. It was put there purposely so he could enjoy the notoriety.

  16. I use KR’s site quite a lot and agree that he writes about what he does and doesn’t like. Because he shoots from the hip, and mainly because all our needs/interests are different, it makes it interesting.

    I find he contradicts himself sometimes, but I guess he is trying to cover different points of view. What I find missing mostly, but you can’t really blame him as a one-man show who does it (mostly) for kicks, is that he reviews some products from only handful of manufacturers. So you don’t really know, even with his criteria, if something “better” is available.

    And let us not forget, he advocates shooting rather than wasting energy on technical specifications…. For the record, he likes bold colours while I am more into monochrome.

  17. I’ll take Ken Rockwell as a mentor over any measurebator at DPReview or Fred Miranda.

    Ken talks about photography and gear. DPReview and Fred Miranda users just talk about gear.

  18. I read both Ken’s and Thom’s websites, enjoy them both. Both Ken and Thom are not happy with Kion’s approach to pricing, neither and I. NOw considering a shift to Canon, Nikon is just too expensive.

  19. Ivan Abrams says:

    Ken Rockwell can be outrageous, correct, incorrect, politically incorrect, and incisive. He’s at his best when he pokes holes in illusions and at corporate greed. At least he’s trying to add some intelligent commentary to the vast wasteland (thank you, Newton Minow, for the apt phrase you made some decades ago) that is too often found on the internet. It seems fashionable to hate Ken Rockwell, perhaps because he’s an iconoclast. I disagree with him as much as I agree, but I read his material because it’s thought-provoking and timely.

  20. A big Thumbs UP for Ken. I was a newbie stills shooter in 2005. Ken’s evolving body of work is now deep and technically accomplished… all from just ONE guy who really cares about the craft and enjoys sharing this life’s adventure. He bares his creative soul. With four + years following his blog/site, a virtual friendship has grown such that I really do care about him and his family.

  21. As a newcomer to photography I have found Ken’s site very interesting and informative. I also read and enjoy and As an electrical engineer with experience in low noise systems and sensors (microwave RF) I also know that a lot of what Ken writes makes engineering sense. Of course that doesn’t mean I always agree with his opinions – not even KR agrees with all his opinions – but by providing an often contrary point of view he makes me think a bit more, which is always a good thing.

  22. Ken Rockwell is a joke. He’ll take a stand on something only to change his mind to suit the situation at hand.

    He’d go away and nobody would miss him. His blog is devoted to trivial things and he’s asking for hand outs in exchange. That’s how he makes his living: hand outs, not selling pictures.

    His photography: nothing of note except that he’s just a screaming colorist. Once the fade passes, he’ll be passe.

    He reminds me of the teenager that never grew up to become an adult.

  23. I will miss him if he goes… I enjoy reading his opinions.

  24. If you read Rockwell as an addition to the more staid information from other sites, and as entertainment, he’s very useful. I take his wilder opinions with a grain of salt, but he does a good job making his technical analyses of cameras and lenses informative to non-engineers, and pointing out strange little things that you might not notice otherwise. Plus it’s fun to watch him change hobby-horses from month to month. I’ve sure learned a lot from him about Leica M cameras and lenses over the past few weeks, for instance — even though I’ll probably never own any.

  25. Ken Rockwell? Puhleeeze!

    Go to his site and read his recent rants.

    “Digital is nice for kid pictures or unskilled people who “spray and pray” in the hope that God will help them find a decent picture out of the hundreds they mindlessly shot, but for both serious and silly work, the Mamiya 7 is it”.

    Are you serious? Nice job insulting the majority of your visitors. I can’t believe what I am reading. So those that shoot digital are “unskilled”?

    All this from a guy who states this:

    “Cameras don’t take pictures, photographers do. Cameras are just another artist’s tool.

    Maybe because it’s entirely an artist’s eye, patience and skill that makes an image and not his tools. Even Ansel said “The single most important component
    of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”

    A camera catches your imagination. No imagination, no photo – just crap. The word “image” comes from the word “imagination.” It doesn’t come come from “lens sharpness” or “noise levels.” David LaChapelle’s work is all about his imagination, not his camera. Setting up these crazy shots is the hard part. Once set up, any camera could catch them.”

    Without exception, he always maintains that it’s who is behind the lens not the camera they are using. He not only contradicts himself, he takes a cheap shot at budding photographers who take his advice seriously and get a decent digital cam and get out there and shoot.

    If Nikon ever lowers the price of the D3x then Rockwell will tout that he alone is responsible for this. He says he’s a “cheapskate” yet, parades his toys for all to see on his site. I used to listen to this guy but, he’s certifiable now. Like Nikon cares what he says? Gimme’ a break!

  26. you guys want some real perspective?!

    Probably every single person who has commented on this thread about the problems with Ken Rockwell got to this page using the link on KEN’s site!

    I’m in the same boat! I got here from Ken’s page but I’m not about to make myself into a hypocrite (or hate-stalker) by saying how stupid Ken Rockwell is after getting to THIS page from HIS site!!!

    This is a testament to how stupid some people are. Everyone who said Ken has mostly bogus opinions, I agree, but I think each and every one of you is pretty stupid not to realize how much hypocrisy is involved in the very existence of your posts.


  27. Greg Fahey says:


    Fair enough but, let me add this;

    I used to go to his site. Had it bookmarked and visited daily. However, the past few months he has lost me. His constant rants about the Dx3? Get over it Ken. Enough already. I don’t “hate” Ken but, he has resorted to insulting a majority of his visitors. I am “unskilled” because I shoot digital? How he is somehow making the case that going Leica is cheaper than digital is just plain insane. I’d love to have a Leica system but, it’s just not practical for me and I am sure, many others. This recent “HA-HA!” about Nikon’s pre-announcement non-event is juvenile and borders on infantile. So Ken, after buying, testing, using, touting and drooling over Nikon for years now hates them because the D3X is too expensive? I happen to be in the group that thinks even if the D3X went down to $5500 that is still too much for my budget. He lost respect and credibility with me over this faux divorce with Nikon.

    I love Nikon. The D3X is expensive, yes. But, I fail to see how Rockwell has no problem with Leica charging $4000 for a 10MP digital camera body that is really, not that great a camera. Just go to Adorama and check out prices on ANY Leica product! It’s beyond the reach of most everyone I know.

    From Luminous Landscape:

    What is essentially the same camera as the Panasonic LX-3 is also available as the Leica D-Lux 4. The differences between them appear to be the Leica red button badge rather than the Lumix name on the top right hand corner of the body. And….

    And, oh yes, almost $400 difference in price. At the time of this writing B&H, for example, is selling the LX-3 for $463 and the D-Lux 4 for $849. How is the remarkable price differential justified? I’m not sure.


    According to a source within Leica here are some salient advantages to the D-Lux 4…

    – a provided wrist strap rather than a neck strap (wow – a saving of about $7)
    – Phase One Capture One 4 raw software instead of Silkypix (a smart move, but not worth that much once other third party appears)
    – A two year warranty, vs Panasonic’s 1 Year with 90 days labour (Humm. How about I just buy a second camera for the extra $400 if the first one fails? Seems like expensive insurance to me).

    The bottom line on this is that while the Leica version might be worth an extra $100, to my mind it simply isn’t worth an almost $400 premium.

    Nuff said. Rockwell’s barking up the wrong tree and his tantrum is sorely misguided.

  28. Delfino Bernard says:

    You can all say what you like, but Ken has many very good points about today’s photography and equipment, often so obvious that some cannot even see them.

    One example: Among the general public (The great majority of the world’s photographers, probably 99%), I know hundreds of people who say they’ve never been so happy since decent digital cameras appeared on the market, simply because they can take as many pictures as they wish and easily erase them all if they don’t like what they see… AFTERWARDS. The thing is that only a handful of these people really care about their photos and try and compose them as carefully as possible like many used to do when they were shooting film.
    The end result is a host of poorly composed useless pictures that I wouldn’t even show to my cat… And do they actually erase these mediocre pictures ? Nope ! They save them to their hard disc, “just in case”… and never look at them again…
    This is just one point, among many others, that Ken is rightly making, and, whether you like it or not, he is spot on !

    No I’m not going back to film, but I certainly keep on looking carefully in my viewfinder before I press the trigger.

    Thanks Ken !

  29. Hello All,

    For quite a while now, I have appreciated the freely-offered gift of Ken’s opinionated and witty writing. (yes, I’m a rank amateur!)

    I’m also one of his readers who has been more than a little bothered by his recent turn towards his digital-is-great!-WAIT-no-it-sucks!-film-is-what-all-the-COOL-kids-are-doing rants.

    However, I’ve come to believe that Ken is either still learning, or simply has changed his mind about some things from time to time. Anyone reading this ever have a change of opinion, or learned something new that overturned a previous belief? Does that make us hypocrites?

    Ken may offend us now and then, but can we honestly fault him for having opinions and voicing them strongly?

    Ken, thanks for all your research, analysis and rank opinions… Keep on keeping on.

  30. Write you you will, Ken Rockwell’s site is one of the most popular and most visited photo Web site on the Internet. Ken is entertaining and provocative. Getting folks thinking about their approach to photography and gear is what he’s all about. Like many pros, he’s not only critical of hype but he will backup what he says.

    Too much photography “advice” on the Internet is mostly regurgitation from other sources, many of them dubious. Rockwell follows his own trends – these days he’s own a roll against the use of digital imaging as an end all, be all solution to photography even in a day when folks still shooting film who make more money than the 99% of folks giving advice advising folks against film. That Rockwell shoots film in certain cases with relatively cheap cameras and lenses, with little to no workflow, at affordable costs and producing fabulous images are an affront and challenge to digitally-bound shooters who dismiss film as an obsolete vestige of days gone by.

    Having spent some time with Rockwell in the field, I find that he understands the art and craft of photography as much as any other (and I’ve spent time with others). He is not about the camera at all as much as he’s about shooting and turning out photos in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of hassle with the most affordable processes. While I don’t agree with Rockwell on everything, I agree with him mostly with the idea that many so-called “experts” are far too much into tools and methods than they are in the art and finished image.

  31. Randy Rager says:

    I started digital photography 5 years ago, and have matured to film. It was a long and painfully expensive road getting here, I must admit. I own both Canon and Nikon DSLR’s and gear, and several different types of compact digital cameras. It took a long time to admit that film was better than digital for certain work. It was very painful to admit, as I was heavily invested both monetarily and emotionally. But admit it I finally did, and so should you.

    Being a minilab operator for a large corporation (four years experience now), I find it relatively trivial to test various formats against one another.

    Properly exposed developed and scanned, good 35mm film (Kodak Ektar 100 or Fuji Velvia 50, for instance) beats digital like a red headed stepchild. Imagine the image a 19.5 megapixel full frame Foveon sensor could deliver, and that’s what most modern minilabs can pull from good 35mm film. That Nikon D3X isn’t quite there yet (despite the “extra” 4.5MP), and you can check Ken’s comparison to discover for yourself what any moron lab monkey would have told you if you weren’t so darned full of yourself (or so heavily invested in digital) you wouldn’t ask.

    Medium format STARTS three times better.

    Keep in mind that this is with lab equipment. An Epson V700 will pull a 50MP scan from 35mm film, and a 130MP scan from 6×4.5. Those wealthy enough to afford it will tell you that drum scanning delivers even more.

    So let’s not hear any more ignorant nonsense about which format produces the superior image.

    Most of the professional photographers I’ve dealt with are incapable of properly exposing film. This is going to be tough for some of you to accept, but you suck at photography. Luckily for you, digital is JUST GOOD ENOUGH for your clientele, and you can just keep banging away at it until you manage to satisfy their uninformed desires.

    And that’s what makes digital great. Just as Henry Ford put out a cheap car that put dozens of overpriced craftsmen model businesses OUT of business, so Canon and Nikon have put out moderately inexpensive systems which let any twit make not quite repulsive images.

    Ain’t it grand? :)

    It sure makes my life easier to see someone roll up to the counter with a memory card instead of a bag of film, I’ll be the first to admit. The all-automated digital workflow of the modern minilab is is a source of constant joy, especially for those of us who have experienced it’s predecessor.

    But I’ll still put my Nikon N80 with it’s kit lens and a few rolls of Ektar 100 up against any 35mm based DSLR out there, for certain types of photography. Landscapes, for instance. Low light people pictures without lighting gear? Not so much.

    For that, even I still shoot digital, AS DOES KEN ROCKWELL.

    And Nikon screwed it up big time, just in case anyone was wondering. Or maybe they’re evil geniuses that knew they’d get HUGE publicity from this stunt so the hype would be even higher in a bit when PMA opens up.

    Who knows?

  32. Tim Knight says:

    I love contrarians. (I am the guy who preached to anyone I knew to get out of the housing market and get ready for a down spiral…in 2005 and 2006).

    Rockwell is at the top of my favorites heap (along with Thom, McNally, Heller, Jarvis, and Jorgenson).

    I too read his rants that digital is for machine gunners who shoot thousands of rounds hoping something will stick. Took it with a grain of salt but also realizing that every amateur I know did just that (there is a REASON amateurs are taking over the stock photo market). Then I was reading Moose Peterson one day, and stopped, reread, scratched my head, and read again, when he indicated that on a certain Alaskan photo trip, he had taken something like THREE OR SIX THOUSAND frames on one day. Did 6,000 frames make it to his website? No…10 did.

    On top of that, Ken can be hilarious when you read his work as he intends it: photo sacrilege.

    I got to this site through his. Now that I have marked this site as somewhere I will return, I’m hopping back over to Ken’s.

  33. I am always amazed at how easily impressed the Ken Rockwell worshippers are. No matter what he says there’s always some member of his fan club ready to back him up. Many of the people posting on this site say Rockwell is wrong, or Rockwell has flip-flopped on a particular issue. Then they proceed to make excuses for him or explain why he said something stupid. I have no problem with someone getting things wrong, but the pure arrogance of this man is overwhelming. You are a measurebator because you compare camera specs before buying. You are stupid because you buy digital instead of larger format film cameras. You are a whiner when you don’t agree with Ken. Yet, he still writes comparison articles and evaluations of the equipment he now hates for the people he dumps on. This guy insults you all and you all just lap it up.

  34. No, you are a measurbator if you compare specs to the point that you can’t make a decision. I am. I admit it.
    I love reading Ken’s stuff because I know that he will be difficult.
    I DO NOT agree with everything he says.
    I love the Ken Hate sites. They are even funnier than his site is.
    I shot film for decades and love digital because I can spray and pray.
    Yes it is normal for someone to have a strong opinion and then change it when it suits. It’s called being intelligent. When the data no longer fits, you change the hypothesis.
    I don’t feel insulted by people that don’t agree with me 100% of the time. But he does love e39 BMW’s and I own one of those too. :)

  35. Vagelis says:

    I like Ken. He is amusing and informative. I don’t agree with everything (like that tripod thing) but I enjoy some aspects of his site. I got here from there. Your comments are off topic. The original post is not about Ken. Don’t turn this into a place for mud-slinging.

  36. It may be intelligent to change your mind about a subject when new evidence proves the contrary to be correct, but nothing has changed with digital, except that it just keeps getting better. Anyone who writes hundreds of pages of material praising the virtues of digital cameras and then suddenly flip-flops is quite the opposite of intelligent.
    Some of you may not be able to make a decision on what to buy but those people are few. Most of us have some sort of camera and when we’re ready we’ll replace that one with a newer model. Rockwell is just insulting us by throwing around those names. I’m surprised so many people don’t know when they’re being dumped on.
    If you read any of the above you can see that this whole series of posts is about Rockwell and nothing else. Rockwell is the mud-slinger here.

  37. Will Fehlow says:

    Ken’s website is a wild ride that I love to take over and over, like a roller-coaster for your brain! Wheee! Or maybe a candy metaphor would be better: Pure divine madness with a chewy photography center! Yummy!:)

Speak Your Mind