Nikon's Full Frame Mirrorless Camera Will Likely Have a New Lens Mount [Rumor]

Nikon's Full Frame Mirrorless Camera Will Likely Have a New Lens Mount [Rumor]

Those anxiously awaiting a full frame Nikon mirrorless camera will be interested to hear this major piece of news: the company will likely be introducing a new mount, the Z Mount, for their upcoming mirrorless camera.

Here's the basic problem Canon and Nikon are facing right now: the flange distance of a DSLR is much greater than that of a mirrorless camera (for example, the EF mount is 44mm, while the Sony E mount is 18mm). When a lens is adapted to another system, the flange distance of the system the lens was originally made for must be greater than that of the adapted system to maintain the full range of focus. That's why Sony cameras can adapt so many lenses, as their short flange distance leaves plenty of room for an adapter to fill in the remaining space for the flange distance of whatever lens you're mounting. DSLRs have longer flange distances because they need space for the mirror. 

Thus, Canon and Nikon are left with a paradox of how to create a mirrorless camera that isn't the size of a DSLR. Both manufacturers have an advantage over Sony, Fuji, and the like in that they have deep libraries of lenses, and if they can make those work natively on a mirrorless camera, they stand to have a huge advantage out of the gate. The other option is to create an adapter, and perhaps a first-party adapter will have less autofocus issues than a third-party one. I personally think the size advantage of mirrorless is overplayed a bit (though the other benefits are great), particularly since the physics of lens design place a limit on things. Nonetheless, Nikon Rumors is reporting that Nikon's upcoming full-frame mirrorless camera will have a new mount, the Z mount (that name could change), with a flange distance of 16mm. This would leave about 30.5mm of room for an F mount adapter (plenty of space), but it would mean that Nikon would likely be introducing a new range of lenses for their mirrorless line, and it of course remains to be seen what kind of performance adapted lenses would give on such a system.

[via Nikon Rumors]

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41 Comments

Hmmm. I love my Nikon, and have been shooting Nikon for over 40 years, but I am not interested in investing in new glass.

It would depend a whole bunch on the price. Nikon would have to hit it out of the park, and I'm not sure that they will. Buying new glass pretty much means investing in a whole new system, and there are lots of choices out there. Sony is a great camera, Fuji does, too (although cropped sensor, the XT-2 is an outstanding camera).

It can be 30.5mm smaller and noone knows how much lighter. You can't make stabilized 70-200/2.8 on full frame small.

Deleted Account's picture

According to this rumor, though, you could use your existing glass on a new mirrorless camera and add new glass, in the new mount, at the same rate as you would add new glass otherwise.

michael prudhomme's picture

Me neither. I have no problem with the current DSLR builds (except the D5) for all day comfort.

Still curious to see what they'll do; however, really going to have to really hit a grand slam if they are coming this late to the market (years behind Sony and Fuji).

Well it wouldn't make sense to go mirrorless keeping the old flange distance, it would negate two of the most important advantages of mirrorless technology: as I said, small flange distance that allows you to mount every lens and to make smaller lenses (see how light is Sony 12-24 f/4) and smaller bodies (or bigger bodies with more features).

Deleted Account's picture

A shorter flange distance doesn't do anything to make a smaller lens. While a lot of folks like the idea of smaller bodies, I cringe every time I see the Sony's et. al.

Ryan Graham's picture

This is true, but somewhat misleading. While the lens itself is not smaller, the shorter flange distance results in a shorter overall depth-of-system. For larger, fast lenses, this difference has negligible impact. However, with primes, particularly primes built to be compact, the savings in depth can result in a significantly smaller overall package. When you look at my A7RII, with one of my Loxia lenses mounted on it, it is not appreciably larger than the flagship m4/3 cameras. My father's D810 is an absolute beast by comparison, regardless of what lens is mounted on it.

Deleted Account's picture

I see your point.

f/4 and no stabilization is what makes it small.

Sigma 12-24 isn't stabilized and it's way bigger.
Canon's 11-24 is humongous and only has 1mm more.
A DSLR + 12-24/11-24 is almost 800grams more than a FF ML + 12-24.
That's a limit case of course, but look at how small are other ML wide angles like Leica's 24/28 mm f/1.4 are compared to DSLR equivalents.
Whatever the case, there will always be more freedom in lens design if you can use those 3 centimeters you gain from DSLRs simply because you can still design the exact same lens you used before, but not the other way around ;)

thomas Palmer's picture

If there is any flaw with the adapter, this could really be a catastrophe.

Deleted Account's picture

No different than what Sony is doing.

Funny thing is people say Lens selection is limiting on the Mirrorless but for me is the other way around, I am not tied to a mount system. So, with adapters, I can mount almost any lens ever made, it is fun giving new life to vintage lens and with focus peaking and focus magnification, it makes manual focusing on those lens - effortless. And I can use modern features like Zebra Stripes & Live Histogram with those lens and all with Real Live Preview.

Deleted Account's picture

Mirrors require time to open and close, have vibration, experience a black-out when the mirror is open, etc.. Even so, I have no use for a mirrorless camera.

Deleted Account's picture

I mainly shoot with a DSLR. The specifics aren't important. I have no interest in mirrorless because my initial interest in photography, and my enduring pleasure, comes from a connection with the subject. With a DSLR, SLR, rangefinder, etc. I'm actually looking at my subject, whether it's a landscape, the Northern Lights, someone foolish enough to look back at me, a flower or a bug. With a mirrorless, I'd be looking at an image on a "closed circuit" television. No connection. No pleasure. No thanks.

Hans Rosemond's picture

As someone who is all about the experience of shooting and the romance of the viewfinder, I totally understand your point here. That said, mirrorless has come leaps and bounds from a few years ago. The viewfinders may surprise you. When I want that immediate, oh man I love my viewfinder sensation I reach for my film cameras. For subject connection, nothing beats a 6x7 in my opinion. But for my commercial/editorial work, I can’t complain about mirrorless.

Deleted Account's picture

Agreed. For critical commercial work, a mirrorless has a lot of benefits over a DSLR. In my case, though, I don't have to shoot for money. I only do it because I enjoy it. Occasionally, I'll use the LCD for critical focus but I always compose with the viewfinder and do a last check with the viewfinder. The day I have to shoot mirrorless, I'll quit. It's just not for me.

As for an EVF surprising me, no. It wouldn't. In this case, it's not about appearances, it's about reality.

Usman Dawood's picture

Personally, I'm not really bothered about a smaller lighter option, ergonomics really suffer. I'd prefer if Canon and Nikon made a hybrid which has the same mounting option but then also has all of the benefits mirrorless cameras have. Also using an adapter really sucks.

Get rid of the mirror and the prism, then use any potential extra space for something more useful. Granted there might be a big gap between the mount and the sensor but maybe this could help with better cooling and more efficiency?

Besides if you're a Canon shooter you don't need to adapt other lenses :P.

Deleted Account's picture

If you're a Canon shooter, it would be nice to be able to adapt other bodies. ;-)

I had an idea of what to do with the space between mount and sensor: I'm still dreaming of changeable sensor units. Nikon shooters could still use all their DSLR glass on the mirrorless camera without adapter and had the unique feature of putting different sensors into the same body.

This would also offer opportunities for dedicated 4k sensors for video, black and white sensors and stuff like that. Like this they could maintain the biggest part of their existing customer base (no need to buy new glass) and this feature might even attract some new customers.

Usman Dawood's picture

A modular DSLR. I guess medium format is already that to some extent. I think if a company can make it financially viable it could be a great solution. Not a bad idea.

What I dream is a Bayer matrix that can be mechanically "toggled", a bit like what happens with the 1.4x teleconverter in the recent 200-400 lenses. Need color? Switch it on. Need a bare B/W sensor for fine detail and super low light sens? Move away the filter and enjoy.

Joshua Boldt's picture

I never realized how much I hated the way small cameras fit in my hand until I got my D810 with a grip and it fit so well and balanced my big heavy lenses.

Usman Dawood's picture

Tell me about it, I really don't understand why "smaller and lighter" is made out to be such a huge advancement in every tech field. In a lot of cases it's not moving forward, it's a compromise.

Jim Hawkins's picture

Just take the guts out of a D5600 but retain it's features. Small but not too small. Still has the F-mount to use all legacy glass natively. Plenty of room to prevent overheating. Make snap bridge better. Solved. Of course this makes too much sense so Nikon won't do it. Instead they will try to create a whole new lens market from thin air like with the 1 series and it will be a dismal failure just like the 1 series.

Jim Bolen's picture

I like that idea! That would be a nice sized mirrorless. Would think it could also keep production costs lower.

Terry Poe's picture

I agree with you that the size advantage of mirrorless is overplayed and would have preferred regular (in my case EF mount) on future Canon or Nikon ful frame mirrorles bodies, obviously to accommodate all the glass without adapter.

Good. The F mount is a dinosaur with far too many stupid hacks all around (literally), the longest flange distance in the 35mm still camera world, and too small an opening for weird novelty lenses pretending to be any good at f/1.2 or faster. Keeping that monstrosity when moving to mirrorless would be about the dumbest decision imaginable.

The EVF is not like a cctv at all! Horses for courses, I guess. I have never noticed any lag either on my Sony. DSLR technology is amazing right now. Mirrorless is the future. I just hope they can find away to keep the F mount.

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