Launched in 2011, Nikon’s mirrorless debut was a disaster. The Nikon 1 series of compact mirrorless cameras had plenty going for it: class-leading autofocus and continuous shooting frame rates. But with its small CX 1-inch sensor, the ill-fated series of cameras faced a matured mirrorless market, issues that came with its tiny sensor, and unpopular pricing structures.
With the inevitable tide of mirrorless cameras threatening to completely disrupt the consumer camera market, rumours of Nikon’s entrance into the mirrorless market have been spreading like wildfire.
This is in the face of the rapid development of the Micro 4/3 standard, Sony’s show-stopping mirrorless lineup, and long-time competitor Canon’s launch of the wildly successful EOS M APS-C mirrorless line of cameras.
Slated to launch as early 23 July, well ahead of Photokina in September, rumours point toward a launch of two models. The first could very well sport the full-frame 45.4-megapixel sensor found on the very capable Nikon D850 DSLR, while the other might be either an APS-C or full-frame camera with a resolution of around 24 megapixels like most of the field at present.
These point toward a series of products intended to directly compete with Sony’s full-frame line-up, which offers a standard, versatile full-frame body with the A7 category and a high-resolution specialised offering with the A7R family.
Officially acknowledged in an interview given by Nikon Imaging Japan executive Kimito Uemura during Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2018 (CP+), the company hinted at a showcase of its mirrorless line-up at the next show.
While Nikon’s F Mount is the most established in the entire industry, it would be necessary for the company to reinvent the mount to accommodate the shorter flange distances found on mirrorless cameras. This means Nikon would likely come up with a new lens mount.
Latest rumours point toward a 55mm opening, as compared to the 49mm of the previously anticipated Z Mount. The current F Mount has been in use since 1955 and has the smallest diameter in the industry at 44mm. This has limited technological developments, and is likely the biggest factor in the lack of in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) on current Nikon bodies.
Without the bulky mirror box found on DSLRs, Nikon’s mirrorless camera lineup is an opportunity for the company to redevelop its industry-standard optical designs for weight and space savings.
Previously limited to an aperture of f1.4, the much larger 55mm opening and shorter flange distance allows for groundbreaking lens designs. Recent patents were filed by Nikon for f0.9 lens designs, along with the NOCT trademark, which might point to a series of ultra-wide, ultra-fast glass.
Despite Nikon’s pedigree in stills and professional applications, there has been a dearth of information regarding other key features like video, image stabilisation and pricing.
We can expect at least three lenses to launch concurrently with the new mirrorless line-up, which would likely feature fast apertures and a refreshed design to emphasise its dominance over the field.
Pricing would most likely be on par with Nikon’s only full-frame mirrorless competition currently in the market: the A7III coming in at SGD2,899 (USD2,000), and the high-resolution A7RIII at SGD4,699 (USD3,450).