Nikon’s Mirrorless Offerings Could Be Called Z6, Z7, but Are Launch Lenses Ready for Professionals?

Nikon’s reviving an old playbook with its new mirrorless release, focusing on a high-speed model and a high-resolution model in a one-two punch to competitors, at least if rumors are to be believed.

The naming scheme doesn’t quite follow past releases though. Instead of an “X” model and an “S” model to denote high resolution and high speed, the cameras look like they’ll be called the Z6 (according to Nikon Rumors, a “high speed, low light model” at 24 megapixels) and the Z7 (the “high-resolution model” at 45 megapixels).

Along with the names and the megapixel count, the mount looks like it will be called the Z-Nikkor with a few lenses available at launch — a 24-70mm f/4, a 50mm f/1.8, and a wide-angle lens. No word on any specifications for an adapter.

There is one mention of a specialty lens, a 58mm f/0.95 with the “Noct” branding, which always proves to be special.

The new models are slated to be announced on August 23, 2018.

For Professionals or Not?

With all that said, is this a good start for professionals? As someone who has shot Nikon professionally for the better part of a decade, I have some concerns.

Sports photography is easy with Nikon's existing lineup of DSLRs and lenses, but will that hold true when an adapter and mirrorless is thrown into the mix?

Sports photography is easy with Nikon's existing lineup of DSLRs and lenses, but will that hold true when an adapter and mirrorless is thrown into the mix?

The presence of two models would seem to indicate that Nikon was unable to build speed and resolution into one body, and we’re back to D3X and D3S days where you can have speed or resolution, but not both. 24 megapixels is fine for today, but with 4K video here now and 8K video tomorrow, the lower resolution might not age well on the Z6. The renders on Nikon Rumors, while they are best-guess Photoshop jobs, seem to be lacking that all-important AF-On button that professional bodies usually have, though the D750 gets by just fine without that, so this alone isn’t a disqualifying factor.

The interesting, and worrying, part of the rumor is the Nikon focus on fast primes. Fast primes are great, and I love them. But if I need cameras to just get out of the way and work, I’m looking for the real “get-down-to-business” holy trinity of lenses — a 24-70 f/2.8, a 70-200 f/2.8, and something wider, such as a 14-24mm or a 16-35mm. Sometimes I’ll also carry an 85mm f/1.8 if I’m feeling frisky. Whether it’s a wedding, event, or photojournalism, these are the lenses that professionals need. If these key lenses are not available at the introduction, then the system stands a chance of being dead on arrival. That doesn’t even begin to cover what sports photographers need, where 300mm and up is the order of the day.

That no information has been released about how the adapter performs puts the Nikon faithful, those with thousands of dollars in what will now be “legacy” glass, on edge. However, another way to look at the focus on primes could be that adapter performance is so good that there’s room for some esoteric lenses at launch. One can hope.

If an adapter works as good as a native mount, and image quality and performance beats what’s out there now from Nikon, the company could have as well created a mirrorless monster. If that’s not the case, though, then Nikon will need more than the promise of a few fast primes to lure professionals.

Do you think Nikon’s taking the right approach to its mirrorless models? Will you buy one? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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user-156929's picture

I think they're taking exactly the right approach. A couple small primes and probably small 24-70 will satisfy those looking for a "lighter,smaller than DSLR" camera. The 58mm f/0.95, as a promise of things to come, will reassure those looking for more professional offerings that capitalize on the benefits of a mirrorless camera. And being arguably the most important piece in the entire enterprise, the adapter will likely blow away every 3rd party offering out there. It just has to!
Rather than thinking of the dual cameras as an inability to come up with a high resolution, fast camera, compare it to the D850 and D5. The D850 IS a high resolution, fast camera but the D5 is even faster and, more to the point, a low-light monster!

But, no. I have no desire to own a mirrorless camera made by anyone.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

That's an interesting way to think of it as well, as a D850/D5 combo in mirrorless form. I was reaching a bit far back in Nikon history maybe? Let's hope that your take is what is actually the case!

Having used my fair share of adapters for Canon's mirrorless system and several for Micro 4/3 system, I'll remain guarded about it until I see it. Nothing beats native lenses on a mount designed for them, at least that's been my experience so far, but I hope to be proven wrong since I have a lot of F-mount glass.

user-156929's picture

Oh, I'm not saying it'll be better than native mount. I'm just thinking it'll have to be closer to that than third party alternatives.

"Do you think Nikon’s taking the right approach to its mirrorless models?"

Le me speculate based on your speculation that was based on someone else's speculation.... um, yeah. And I would take the low-light performer, thank you.

I guess theybshould be devided over photo and video if they have to , not over resolution against speed !!!

One of the benefits of the new cameras is the new mount that should allow better pro level lenses, namely the trinity. An adapter + F lens may give you a combination roughly equivalent to current equipment but will it be a solid I-need-to-begin-to-switch improvement?

John Dawson's picture

I personally think that Nikon should catapult past the competition by coming out of the gate with a medium-format with an outstanding adapter that auto-crops with legacy glass. I firmly believe that FX will be the new DX in the not-too-distant future. MX anyone?

i see what you did

Carlos Teixeira's picture

The Nikon speed cameras sported the H letter, not S (this one usually for second version of the same model) As in D1x and D1h, D2x->D2xs and D2h->D2hs, D3->D3s and D3x, D4->D4s

Your post is right on.... Being a pro who has shot Nikon for years I can attest to the fact that you have nailed our concerns on the head. If they can give us 20fps, great clean high ISO performance, and the camera is ergonomically fast like the D5 they are in the ball park. However, only if the adapter functions well / fast and does not inhibit the use of a 14-24. 24-70, 70-200. 300 2.8. with a convertor, and possibly a 200-400 VR. These are all go to lenses for the pro that shoots sports / photojournalism. It concerns me that there are rumors of a D6 coming in 2019. If that's the case the new mirrorless line won't do anything to threaten that new body. If that's the case then Nikon has made the decision to continue to sell $6500,00 + pro bodies. That's hard to compete with the Sony A9. I love my D5's and D850, but no one is talking about the fact that the Sony a9 is due for an update. I would think they are waiting for all the hype of Nikon and Canon mirrorless systems to hit then they will drop a new version of the a9 on us. The next 6 months should be very interesting indeed.