After all the fur that was flying over the Microsoft laptop giveaway, it’s interesting to see the lack of accusations over Nikon’s program to give 50 bloggers the use of their top prosumer digital SLR, the D80.
It looks and feels like a giveaway, but it isn’t really. The bloggers get to use the camera, show off their pictures, write good or bad opinions, and either send it back, extend the loan, or buy it at a steep discount.
Smart move. I’ve certainly seen more Canons in the hands of the digerati, but there’s no reason Nikon can’t lay claim to having the coolest camera. Nikon, after all, spent decades as the preferred camera of professional photographers, despite a strong challenge by Canon.
Lesson learned? No matter how tempting it is to send a free expensive toy to influential bloggers and others, experience and common sense points to something more along the lines of what Nikon has done – a loaner, with options.
No matter that the cost of the camera is less than the value some professional journalists and others get from press junkets. The exchange of an identifiable, expensive, highly-valued gadget like the camera, or Microsoft’s laptops, calls for caution on the part of the company (and its agency).
Should bloggers feel guilty if they end up paying the discounted price and keeping a valuable camera? Not in my book. I don’t really expect them to write negative things about the camera. What’s not to like about a top digital SLR from a top brand? There are too many settings? That’s not a negative. It’s too big to treat as a pocket camera? That’s not a valid criticism. It makes my pictures look too good? That’s the more likely critique.
If I had to choose between reading a banner ad pitching a camera, or reading about someone trying it out, I’d go for the write-up any day.