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Nikon to Enter Mirrorless Camera Market (Updated with comments)

I don’t follow how debuting mirrorless years after Sony did so can be seen as “continuing to lead”. Unless it’s that “leading from behind” oxymoron.

Be that as it may, I welcome the news especially if Nikon can improve upon the optical performance of its newer lenses like the Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED. That seems dubious, since the 105mm focal length grants little or nothing to mirrorless optical designs versus a DSLR (105mm is ample clearance of the mirror box). However, for wide-angle lenses there may indeed be some gains but there I am not excited about a couple of generic bulky f/2.8 zooms, so it will be interesting to see what Nikon prioritizes.

Funny, there are people like me and others out there, longtime Nikon shooters, that surely could help Nikon build a 'killer' product, but Nikon has never contacted me about any input whatsoever. I find that startling, if only from a “not invented here” perspective over in Nikon land. It seems to me that a company serious about innovation should find the most severe critics and make them happy with a camera design that draws little or no criticism. That cannot happen by designing a camera in secret by committee.

Nikon really has to wow me at this point, given Sony’s huge lead. That would entail:

  • Dynamic range and file quality similar to medium format cameras. Enough with this 14-bit nonsense, for example, 24-bit dynamic range or similar, achieved by taking a burst of photos electronically in short order (fraction of a second) with a single button press. This would require extreme lens quality (lens dynamic range), but it is feasible. Even 20 bits would be a major advance over 14.
  • A slightly larger sensor—where is it written that 36 X 24mm is the only option? If Nikon is indeed making their own sensors, then it’s a yield issue, but that problem already exists, it seems, with the Nikon D850.
  • Advanced features starting with automated focus stacking, but much more, namely every feature I’ve suggested over the years, including auto ETTR. Eliminate of all the mechanical time-wasters so I can focus on image making.
  • Please Nikon, don’t bore me with another lame-gamut RGB histogram based on JPEG settings which I never use. I want a real raw histogram as in the false 2015 rumor about a Nikon raw histogram.
  • Eliminate or at least compensate for focus shift in all new lenses and existing Nikkor-F lenses (will the new lenses be Nikkor-M?).
  • Eye AF like Sony, capable of nailing focus on human or animal eyes, the iris of the eye.
  • Quiet panorama mode (no shutter), something as good as an iPhone in ease of use, but with full camera resolution.
  • USB charging so I can just plug the camera into the computer and with a 12V DC adapter for my vehicle.
  • A terabyte of internal storage along with USB 3.1 Gen 2, so I can forget about camera cards except for internal backup.
  • A form factor that is friendly to the hand and with excellent ergonomics, not too small like Sony.
  • True 8K video (8192 across).
  • Bare minimum 45-megapixel sensor and it seems appropriate to head right for 72 megapixels to start.
  • Pixel shift, really good pixel shift. Better yet, a true-color sensor.
  • 4 megapixel EVF minimum and 4 megapixel rear LCD minimum. I am tired of low-res blurry crap-quality images. It should be as good as an iPhone X screen quality, or better.
  • It’s about time Nikon built in dovetails on the lens tripod foot like Sigma did on the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (kudos!!!). With a new lens line, it will be a telling lack of attention to detail if ignored yet again. And fix the hyper unstable teeter-totter design failure of current super-tele Nikkors.
  • Compatibility with 3rd-party F-mount lenses. A mirrorless Nikon that cannot mount my Zeiss DSLR lenses will really be disappointing.

What if the new mirrorless is just a Nikon D850 with a new mount and an EVF? That‘s good, but I’d be grateful, for then I’d feel much less pressure to buy one.

For my work, the Nikon D850 is the best camera available today. But its sensor has clear limits, and is not necessarily an advance over the Nikon D810.

Announcement and release date

If not even the release date is not even publicly known as yet, it seems dubious that this new system will debut this year, but I could be wrong. Such statements imply that the product is well along, but may have some gating factors to overcome, such as new lenses or bugs in firmware or all of the above.

One potential major downside I see is this: with a new lens mount, Zeiss will have no entry into Nikon mirrorless unless Nikon grants Zeiss a license to that mount. As Nikon has not been particularly friendly on this front even today, does this mean I’d be stuck with Nikon-only lenses? Let us hope that Nikon will not be that myopic.

NIKON ANNOUNCES DEVELOPMENT OF NEXT GENERATION FULL-FRAME MIRRORLESS CAMERA AND NIKKOR LENSES—FEATURING A NEW MOUNT—THAT PURSUE A NEW DIMENSION IN OPTICAL PERFORMANCE

MELVILLE, NY (JULY 25, 2018) – Nikon Inc. is pleased to announce the development of a next-generation full-frame (Nikon FX-format) mirrorless camera and NIKKOR lenses featuring a new mount.

The new mirrorless camera and NIKKOR lenses that are in development will enable a new dimension in optical performance with the adoption of a new mount. The system is the result of Nikon’s unsurpassed optical and manufacturing capabilities gained through more than a century of imaging expertise. Proven reliability and trusted performance are core traits of Nikon Digital-SLRs, and decades of feedback from professional creators around the world has further contributed to the development of this system.

Through the development of this new mirrorless camera, Nikon reaffirms our commitment to providing photographers with the ability to capture images that are richer and more vivid than ever before.

Additionally, an F-Mount adapter is being developed that will enable the use of a wide variety of F-Mount NIKKOR lenses with the new camera.

Nikon will continue to lead imaging innovation with the launch of the new mirrorless camera and the continued development of Nikon Digital-SLR cameras as well as the impressive NIKKOR lens lineup. Soon, Nikon users will have two industry-leading camera systems to choose from, giving consumers the choice to enjoy the unique values that each system offers.

Content relating to this product is available for viewing at the following URL: http://www.nikonusa.com/mirrorlessiscoming. Please stay tuned for more information.

Details, including the release date and suggested retail prices, will be shared at a later date.

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