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 When a lens is adapted to another system, the flange distance of the system the lens was originally made for must be greater than that of the adapted system to maintain the full range of focus.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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47 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.

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).

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.

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.

No different than what Sony is doing.

William Howell's picture

Other than weight, what are some of the advantages of mirrorless camera bodies?

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.

William Howell's picture

I like the idea of using nostalgic lenses and being in focus wide open via peeking. Yeah, that is appealing.

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.

William Howell's picture

Sam do you shoot 35mm or medium format, i mean I know you shoot 35, but I was wondering what your main setup is?

Why doesn’t the mirrorless camera format interest you? I have heard some interesting things about mirrorless, but the lag time of the electronic view finder I believe would be annoying.

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.

William Howell's picture

Dude that is exactly what I think, although I couldn’t have written as nice and succinct as you just did.
Thats it precisely, CCTV, that is my qualms with mirrorless. Wow, thanks Sam.
I think you’re right, to be able to see through the pentaprism, the actual view, in real time, is what makes a DSLR preferable than mirrorless.

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.

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.

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

William Howell's picture

Good one!

William Howell's picture

Canon and Nikon do have a slew of lenses don’t they!

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.

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