Will The Next Nikon Z Be An Entry-Level Camera?

Will The Next Nikon Z Be An Entry-Level Camera?

Now that Canon has recently announced the EOS RP, is the next Nikon Z camera on its way? And if it is, where will it fall in the Nikon Z lineup of cameras? If rumors are correct, the next Nikon Z camera will most likely be aimed at an entry-level full-frame user. Perhaps called the Nikon Z5?

Numerous sites are reporting that a Nikon executive has confirmed that a new Z series camera is being developed for the entry level user. It appears that Nikon is going to follow Canon’s lead of offering a mirrorless full-frame camera to the entry-level community. With the vast majority of the photography community panning the Canon EOS RP, will this be an opening for Nikon to grab a share of the entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera market? Or will Nikon succumb to the same reviews as the Canon EOS RP?

For Nikon to reduce the development cost of the rumored Z5 and to separate it from the current Z6, the rumored Z5 will most likely be a stripped down version of the Nikon Z6. For example, will the rumored model incorporate an XQD card or shift to an SD card slot? Since the camera is being developed for entry-level users, the inclusion of an XQD card instead of an SD card would seem to be unlikely. With the cost of XQD cards and the extensive use of SD cards, it seems an entry level user would be more attracted to a Z5 with an SD card slot. And even though Nikon was widely criticized for only having one card slot in the Z6, I can’t imagine they will have two card slots in a lower level Z line camera.

Of course, the sensor is another place Nikon might separate the Z6 from the potential Z5. Using the same sensor as the Z6 would most likely be the most economical approach for Nikon, but this approach doesn’t provide an incentive for the consumer to spend more money to purchase the Z6. Of course, there is the chance Nikon could use the sensor from the D750 as a cost-saving approach and a way to distinguish the Z6 from the rumored Z5.

As with most lower level cameras that are modeled off of higher-end versions, the use of more plastic can be expected, especially in the body itself. Along with that reduced quality in weather and dust-sealing is to be expected. Perhaps a lower quality EVF might be in the offering for the potential Z5.

I wonder about Nikon and Canon’s strategy to offer full-frame mirrorless cameras that appear to be targeted at the mid and entry-level consumer. Is this a strategy both companies are pursuing so they don’t cannibalize their top-end DSLR market? Or do both companies feel their full-frame mirrorless technology is not ready to compete with the well established full-frame DSLR cameras? Perhaps a third possibility is move camera manufacturers are looking to entice new customers who are not DSLR users. Maybe Nikon and Canon want to start these new users off in the full-frame mirrorless technology and have them grow as Nikon and Canon improve and grow their full-frame mirrorless camera line.

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16 Comments

Ryan Mense's picture

The current Nikkor Z lenses at least suggest it wouldn't be a strange move. Given the RF lenses Canon seems to want to make at the moment, the EOS RP made less sense.

Douglas Turney's picture

Yeah,​ I don't understand Canon's approach with releasing the EOS RP and the RF lenses.

michael andrew's picture

Get people into the ecosystem. That’s why the RP came with the eos adapter included in the box. Canon wants a camera that keeps people into canon. The RP is really affordable, I’m not going to buy it but lots of people will that don’t read forums and watch YouTube reviews.

If rumors become reality there won’t be a high megapixel Canon body before the end of this year and a mirrorless 1DX-like body will be even further out. They need to do something to keep their high-end users from jumping ship with all the choices we have now.
You can’t adapt RF-mount lenses to Sony E-mount so if you want to use these new high-quality lenses you need to buy a Canon camera. Therefore, I think it was a strategic decision to start with lenses like the 50 f/1.2 and 28-70 f/2 instead of “cheap” lenses.

JetCity Ninja's picture

the only reason i can see as to why we havent seen a canon or nikon top tier, pro level dslr yet is a matter of economics. you wont get many pros moving over until there's a lens lineup to speak of, so there's no need to waste your resources rushing out a top tier body.

this is especially true when top tier cameras aren't their moneymakers; mid to low end cameras are, simply due to economies of scale not just in sales numbers but in manufacturing numbers improving the margin. top tier bodies have a lot of margin, but canon, for example, probably sells at MINIMUM 50:1 midrange to top tier ratio.

as for a mid to low end Z series camera, i'm sure it'll be plastic, with the same Z6 sensor (since it's mostly just an adapted D750 chip anyways) but with an older gen Expeed processor, less RAM, less buttons, no top plate LCD, lower res EVF and LCD, less ports combined with the older CPU resulting in less options with video (like 4k30 4:2:0), low to no firmware update priority, SD card and no IBIS. they'll probably price it at $1200 and push the video capability that far exceeds that of the Canon EOS RP.

my crystal ball is a loaner, so no promises.

Douglas Turney's picture

Of course, you can always use the F-mount glass on the Z line-up with the adapter. I have my hands a Z6 at the moment and I'm using my F-mount glass on it with the adapter. The adapter doesn't seem to be a problem for me. Eventually,​ I would want there to be a good line of Z glass.

or just shape off 500 bucks from the z6 and give it sd card slots ;)

If there's such a thing as a $1200 Z5, I'd definitely add it to my D850 as a second Fx camera.

Sure, go ahead and remove 4K video if it keeps the costs low. I don't need it. I'm a stills only shooter. Just cripple the Z5 as necessary, as long i can get a full frame cheap.

For those interested in video Z6 is already one of the best options money can buy.

Tim Gallo's picture

We have olympics next year. And we (by collective we I mean a lot of my japanese industry friends) hope that Nikon and Canon would put something serious... we laughed of Z7 price, looked sideways on Canon R... and most of us drooled over S1R. (but than pana colors are not very trusted in editorial community).
pretty much sure canon and nikon will come up with something.

going cheaper is great for both of them.... also Nikon will probably never beat canon in "cheap but great camera game", at least here... there are never position or promoted like that. nikon has "serious amateur" or "pro" image still.

michaeljin's picture

Out of curiosity, what is there to drool about in the S1R? Aside from the form factor and the dual slots, everything I've seen suggests that it's looking to be a mediocre stills camera with even worse actual AF performance than the Z7. That's not to mention the extremely limited native glass choices (which are also expensive). I know that Sigma is releasing their ART series in L-Mount, but it seems like it's just an adaptation of their DSLR lenses rather than actually creating optimized glass for the mount.

Tim Gallo's picture

"out of curiosity" <- this ;)
mostly curiosity. but seriously, if the af is somewhere on par with modern dslrs, than nothing to wine about. Z7 with adapter costs 300-500usd cheaper than s1r, and it is hardly a sub-camera... also boring for sub ;), cause sometimes you want to bring different character to the scene (many use sony as sub for that reason, also video). I using a7r3, tried Z7 (could not find any reason to buy it) and so far nothing even comes close to d850 experience - especially in studio... so maybe s1r will.

Pana lens prices are roughly the same (well, so far), but L mount looks really interesting... sigma is great, i cant say about how good are new pana lenses, pretty sure they are - also with their own character, and there is also extremly expensive Leica (talking about character). And video should be pretty amazing. So whats not to drool about? Personally I cant wait to try Leica lenses (probably would just rent em) for work....

Ah, and there is a EVF. Again, promising...

Pretty sure AF performance would be usable soon enough on both z7 and s1 series...

But i have to tell you, I am not talking about sports or action, and know nothig about it. Since my work is mainly editorial... studio, location. Nothing too extreme...

Yavor Kapitanov's picture

Can't wait to see what Sony comes out with to compete with those budget options. I really need a cheap FF camera to be my general bitch and abuse it without a care in the world.

Douglas Turney's picture

If they can drop the price to the $1200 for a FF that would be nice. Especially if they only drop some of the video features and keep most of the still photo features.

Eric Salas's picture

They already have the A7ii released 5 years ago that competes with the Canon RP for 300 bucks less with a lens.

To say it competes with a 5 year old camera isn’t just my opinion but also many well known youtubers.

Yavor Kapitanov's picture

Price-wise yes, but it's not a direct competitor as it is 5 year old tech.

Eric Salas's picture

5 year old tech that is mirrorless , has incredibly similar specs for 300 dollars less, and comes with a lens.

What’s not competitive ?