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Nikon Announcement: A New Beginning for Nikon or the Beginning of the End?

Published: 27/08/2018
By: larry

Last week, Nikon announced its entry into the world of mirrorless cameras. It's been fun hearing what YouTubers who went to Nikon's hands-on event in New York on August 23 think about Nikon's Z6 and Z7, and the handful of Z mount lenses that will be available soon. Overall opinions are mixed. Jared Polin is generally positive, Kai W is positive, DPreview is positive, but Tony and Chelsea Northrup are not excited about the Z6 and Z7.

I enjoyed Jason Lanier's big picture analysis of what is happening in the evolution of mirrorless. Jason points out that:

  1. Nikon has been doing nothing with mirrorless technology for the last 5 years and
  2. Canon is expected to have a mirrorless announcement in the next month or so.
  3. The Sony A7RIII and A9, which are better than the Nikon Z6 and Z7 in most respects, are going on a year old.
  4. By the time Nikon and Canon's mirrorless cameras get on the market, Sony will likely blow them away with their next model.

So if you are thinking about going mirrorless, you'd better hold off for a while until you can see all the options clearly.

In the meantime, Thank you Sony for the Mirrorless Revolution:

12 comments on “Nikon Announcement: A New Beginning for Nikon or the Beginning of the End?”

  1. Actually, I was a little excited about Nikon Mirrorless (I have worn out expensive bodies, shutters), but when I realized they changed the lens mount, I was very disappointed. There probably is a good technical reason but when you have invested in great glass, and PCE lenses, adapters seem like a poor option, Sony has a more mature/advanced mirrorless history, I can also get adapters for that. Backwards compatible lens mounts was one of my major considerations when sticking with Nikon.

  2. As precisely zero units have been shipped I feel the wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments is a bit overblown.

    As I see it the greatest complaint is the lack of a second card slot. Maybe so, but I would hazard a guess that the vast bulk of users of two slot cameras leave the second slot empty.
    Of course a mount change is upsetting to many but there is no physical way to get from a mirrored mount to a short flange mount of a mirrorless design (except Sigma's humorous solution).
    There is no ideal time to change a mount. Canon switched from FD to EF and precipitated a lot of criticism but now is faced with another mount change. Nikon is banking on a lot of users moving up from their Costco specials and buying a couple of lenses. They are also offering their adapter that will most likely offer very good compatibility with existing lenses. Many of these same people are those who happily use a Sony A7x camera with an adapter for their Nikon lenses.We also cannot discount the fact that the Nikon name attracts a lot of newcomers to the market in a way that other names do not.

    It actually puzzles me that legacy glass users simultaneously complain of the new mount yet bemoan the lack of new lenses. Sony bought Minolta and their lens mount then introduced their E mount with nearly zero lenses. Meanwhile the A mount languishes and the E mount is forced into FF duty on the A series bodies. Again with precisely one lens at intro. While they have fleshed out their line up it was not without missteps and disappointments.

    We also have to remember that most people are not pros and even many pros do not care about the issues that occupy the hobbyists online. Of course market pressures have made Nikon and Canon move into the FF ML space. I expect Nikon to offer a second card slot in a Z9.
    Maybe they will offer other magical upgrades too.

    On balance the performance promised by the specs seems to be perfectly sufficient for a ton of photographers. What is unknown is the actual shooting experience. What makes one camera joy and another a pain.
    I have shot Canon for years because it is the tool I bought and have grown with. As a business tool it is a workhorse. However it is not a thing of joy to me. My Nikons of the 70's were as was my Pentax H3V and my Leica M4. If the new Nikons make photography a happy experience for someone they will have succeeded.

  3. Thanks John and Mark for your comments. When I look at the lenses I use, 14-24,24-70,70-200 and pce 24 & 19 that's a fairly significant lens investment. Mark, my H3v and H1A have long retired to my shelf of old cameras, still have them. I have three ff bodies to wear out so at my age that should last me, getting close to retiring, guess I am just loyal due to F mounts.

  4. For those of us with a significant investment in lenses, it’s somewhat of a relief to see they’ve finally provided something. The problem is, at best these offerings provide a catch-up to Sony’s previous offerings. It’s not just the lack of a second card. Where is the eye focus? Where’s the 4K 60? Where is the “breakthrough” technology that would make them desirable to photographers currently outside the Nikon family?

    It does appear that Nikon is freely admitting that they can no longer lead and are now relegated to playing catch-up. It’s sad when Nikon users, like myself and many others, now recommend Sony to newbies. And, if Sony were to release a lens adapter that provided full functionality for Nikon lenses, Nikon would be toast.

  5. Good if this is the beginning of Nikon making lots of leaps and bounds to catch up and getting out front again. But they'd better hurry and work non stop at ongoing upgrades and innovations. Hopfully they've learned their lesson from the beating Sony is giving them - that would be the best case scenario for all the many Nikon users with lots of glass.

  6. So far, the only compelling feature on a mirrorless camera for me is Sony's eye-focus. I'm getting older and for non-RE work such as portraits a few features on the newer bodies are useful. When I'm shooting RE, I'm using the body in manual mode or aperture priority for some exteriors and the dominant factor in my gear is the quality of the lens. But, the gear is far less of a factor than composition and lighting.

    There may come a point where purchasing a mirrorless camera for RE work is on my list, but it's not a priority now and certainly not at the prices the better mirrorless cameras are selling for. I'm hoping that the introduction of new mirrorless bodies and a new lens standard will mean that I can find some deals on top quality glass as others sell off their current equipment to buy the new stuff. I would appreciate finding a set of TS lenses and long-fast telephotos for less than they go for now.

    By eliminating the mirror, it's possible to get the rear of the lens body much closer to the sensor. That makes it possible to build smaller/lighter lenses at comparable focal lengths and apertures. That should make the new lenses more affordable, but that will depend on what the manufacturer decides to list them for. Adapting previous lenses to a new body with an adaptor may work, but there are always compromises when doing that. It's like putting a full frame lens on a crop sensor camera, it works, but it can be better to have a lens that is designed to work with the small sensor. For a given diameter, a lens for a crop sensor will be faster than a FF lens of the same labeled focal length and aperture.

  7. I'm with Ken here, I just see now reason to switch everything over to mirrorless. If someone is just starting out, or looking to upgrade from a medium level crop sensor body, then sure, mirrorless is a nice upgrade option. But for established photographers working with full frames and a collection of corresponding lenses, It'll be tough to make the move to mirrorless. I'm excited for the years to come when new lenses become available. Zoom focal lengths in the range of 20-90mm (or something similar) at f/2.8 or wider are now a real possibility.

  8. Well, a year ago I lost all my Nikon gear to a low-life piece of dirt, who broke in to my car and took two camera bags. $40k (AUD) worth of bodies and lenses, the holy trinity of zooms plus wide primes. My insurance gave me back $28k.
    I have been happily shooting all walks of real estate and corporate assignments on Fuji mirrorless X-T2 and GFX. I freakin love them. The dynamic range, the sharpness, the processing. I have subcontractors that work with me on their Nikons (D4, D4s, D800, D750) and Canons (loads of different ones!)...which I never had a problem with before, but when I open up the RAW files to process I think "man, did I used to think these were good?". They were. For most needs they are absolutely fine. My new set up is just better for me and my work.
    Love my mirrorless cameras. More about the complete technology and glass package than just "mirrorless though".

  9. The most interesting aspect of the new Nikon system is the Z mount. For RE and architectural photographers, the larger diameter mount will allow for better wide angle lenses and better tilt-shift lens performance. Sony's eye detection is definitely neat, but not really applicable to RE. The downside to Sony's system is the APS-C mount they use for their full frame cameras... It makes me wonder how much the camera is correcting for vignetting in software... Good thing their sensors have so much DR...

    The Z camera's also look promising for video with 10-bit FF video at $2k. NOT BAD!

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