Production volume of the single digit D-series
UPDATED 03.2017 with new highest serial number for D1h, D2hs
Many speculations and theories float around in the internet about sales volumes of the different D-series models. Derived from that theories about portfolio decisions on Nikon’s part become common wisdom. Unfortunately, some of those theories are way off base.
The most popular theory is, that the success of the D700 impacted D3 sales so much, that we now have a slow, high resolution body in the position of the D700 (D800/D810) instead of a mini-D4. In my opinion this theory is complete nonsense and can be dis-proofed by looking at the sales numbers.
Since Nikon does not publish sales of individual models, those numbers can only be derived from the serial numbers of camera bodies. Fortunately, this is a rather simple task for the single digit D-series. Nikon does not use regional serial numbers like on the lower positioned cameras. If a serial starts with 2000001, the numbering scheme is the same for the entire production run. It is safe to assume that the numbering is sequentially, as it is with the lenses.
Looking at the highest serial numbers, that I could find for each camera body, the situation looks quite interesting (sources are internet auctions, sales offers and own purchases):
D1: 5038*** > 38.000
D1h: 5222*** > 22.000
D1x: 5165*** > 65.000
D2h: 2036*** > 36.000
D2hs: 30082** > 8.200
D2x: 5073*** > 73.000
D2xs: 6024*** > 24.000
D3: 2095*** > 95.000
D3s: 2061*** > 61.000
D3x: 5036*** > 36.000
D4: 2069*** > 69.000
D4s: 2039*** > 39.000
Looking at the figures, the D1 generation begins at 115.000 bodies. The D2 styled body achieved at least 143.000 units, D2hs not included as I could not find much data and the few serials are rather low. The D3/s/x sold an astonishing 192.000 units and the D4/s will reach a bit more than 110.000.
Calculating it on a sales per year basis, D1 series sold a bit more than 25.000 bodies yearly, the D2 series comes to approx. 30.000-40.000 units a year, the D3 series on almost 50.000 units and the D4 drops back to approx. 30.000 units.
Given the fact that the D3 sold much better than D2 or D4, it is simply impossible to argue about D700 taking away D3 sales. Also, comparing D2 series to D4 series it is safe to assume, that we are today back on a regular sales level for such expensive cameras – with a slight downward trend.
During the next few years the DSLR market will move into a replacement market. People are more and more satisfied with what they have and fewer upgrades will happen. Nikon will compensate this with higher prices while forecasting lower sales volumes.
The first signs of it can already be seen with the price hikes happening from D800E to D810, D4 to D4s. Also it is very interesting to see what corners are cut to lower production costs. Dropping some dedicated controls in the D4 is a first indicator.
UPDATE 01.2016: The D5 is announced and the price hiking continues: 7.000 € compared to 6500 € introductory price for the D4s. At least this will hold the D4/s used prices stable for a while.