Nikon’s intention to enter the full-frame mirrorless segment hasn’t exactly been kept secret, we’ve seen mention of it in the mainstream press (admittedly where the publisher has a camera title in its portfolio). However, on the eve of the official announcement, several of the Japan-based rumor sites have published images of the 24-MP Z6 and identical-looking 45-MP Z7 cameras. They’re also confirmed three new lenses, two primes; 35mm F1.8 S, 50mm F1.8 S and one zoom; 24-70mm F4 S and an F-mount adapter.
All will be revealed tomorrow but here are few musings based on what little we know so far. Firstly, the camera looks very similar to the Sony A7 and A9 series, with the exception of the huge D850-esque grip and diameter of the mount’s throat. The latter will enable faster lenses to achieve their expected gains in lens speed, and the rumored 50mm F0.95 is likely to become a reality, one day. Pictures of the adapter don’t show the F-mount, so we can’t say for certain whether the screw-drive coupling required for AF-D lenses is supported, but it’s unlikely.
The Nikon D850 has been mostly out of stock for the last few months, if not longer – it’s back-ordered at B&H Photo in the US for example. This suggests that the factory making the D850 (it’s made in Thailand) has switched to producing to the Z7 and Z6 in its place, at least for a while.
Another possibility, is that the shortage may be due to the sensor supplier. The 45-MP sensor sure looks like it’s related to the one in the Z7. Given that a number of journalists have been flown to Tokyo, where they’re likely to be shown the production facilities, I’m inclined to believe it’s a sensor shortage. Located in the sprawling Tokyo suburbs, Nikon’s Ohi factory would be a good choice to produce the new Z6 and Z7, at least given its historical significance. Ohi opened in 1918, a year after the company was formed (by the merger of three separate optical companies), and is the same plant where they made their rangefinders and the Nikon F and F2, before moving production of their flagship models to Sendai. It’s all conjecture, though, at least till the embargo is lifted.
Sony has been making gains with their A7 and A9 models but if sales of the D850 have been disrupted due to the new mirrorless models, this of course raises the question of who is Nikon actually competing with? Nikon aren’t only watching Sony, of course, they’re counting on getting ahead of their arch-rival, Canon. They already have a successful range of APS-C mirrorless models, the EOS-M series, and have yet to announce a full-frame model and new lens range. It’s not inconceivable that they will do so at Photokina this year, but with no leaks from the Japan rumor sites, that doesn’t seem likely.
Update (07/23/2018): Nikon has formally announced the new mirrorless Z7 and Z6, please see here for more details
Pre-ordering is likely the only way you’ll get one for several months. See below for pre-order links.