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Opinion

Nikon Mirrorless In 2018? What Nikon Must Do In The Next 12 Months | Cameratalk

By Matthew Saville on January 4th 2018

Will 2018 be the year that Nikon finally dives into the serious or professional mirrorless camera market? It appears that will the case, based on various rumors that seem to be (allegedly) floating out from Nikon headquarters. But, which mirrorless camera will we see first, and what could it offer? Those are the burning questions.

Disclaimer

This post is not meant to be a criticism of Nikon, nor is it meant to be just another DSLR versus mirrorless debate. It has a simple premise: If Nikon were to make a serious mirrorless contender some time in the next ~365 days, what would it be? Which features or specs do Nikon engineers absolutely have to “get right the first time”, and which, if any, shortcomings, might be in the first generation of a new Nikon MILC system?

nikon mirrorless predictions for 2018

First and foremost, it would be fantastic to see both FX (full-frame) and DX (APS-C 1.5x crop-sensor) mirrorless systems hit the market at the same time in 2018. However, since Nikon has always taken a “slow and steady wins the race” approach to everything they do, I would settle for just one serious mirrorless ILC option appearing on shelves before Christmas 2018.

[Rewind: Is the Nikon D750 the best wedding DSLR ever?]

The boldest statement would be a professional full-frame mirrorless camera, and this would be a wise move by Nikon. If anybody has been counting, Sony is now eight full-frame mirrorless (ILC) bodies into their own system, and their latest two cameras, the Sony A7R3 and the A9, are in my opinion, nearly perfect executions of the ideal mirrorless camera, comprising a kit which almost any professional could find acceptable for the type of work they do.

So, if Nikon only had the resources to produce one mirrorless “flagship” in 2018, I’d like to see something that is roughly the same price as either the D750 or D850, with roughly the same basic photography features.  However with that should come the certain added benefits of a mirrorless system, including being smaller and lighter, but more importantly, (to some at least) things like great hybrid autofocus, a great EVF, and maybe IBIS if we’re lucky!

Having said that, we could certainly see both FX and DX mirrorless contenders in 2018. Something with the performance of the D500, but in the size / weight / price range of the D7500 or even the D5600, I would imagine could be an amazingly hot camera that Nikon couldn’t make fast enough.

Nikon 1 J5 Front Angle 1

Nikon 1 J5 & Kit Lens

Nikon 1 Series Mirrorless: a baby step or a misstep?

Like Canon, Nikon does already offer a mirrorless system: the 1-series.

However, the sensor in this Nikon mirrorless ILC is very small, with a 2.7x crop factor, the same size sensor we see in high-end point-and-shoot cameras like the Sony RX10 and RX100 series.

The reason the Nikon 1 system wasn’t widely adopted by very many serious photographers is that the image quality just isn’t as good as the latest DX sensors we’ve seen from Nikon, let alone the FX sensors.

Furthermore, I’ve owned the Sony RX10 mk2, and I honestly can’t imagine too many reasons anyone would rather have an ILC system with this sensor size instead of a high-end P&S camera like a Sony RX series with its 24-200mm (equivalent) f/2.8 lens, or an RX100 with its 24-70mm (equivalent) f/1.8-2.8 lens.

Sony RX10 mk2

Sony RX10 mkII (24-200mm equivalent f/2.8 lens)

I don’t know what happened at Nikon headquarters or in their testing, but it’s a shame that they had to completely nix the DL series which would have competed nicely against the Sony RX10 and RX100 series. I would have loved to own the Nikon DL with the 18-50mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens.

But I digress. The bottom line is, Nikon went in a very different direction with their existing mirrorless ILC system, likely for two reasons: they wanted to avoid hurting DSLR sales before they were truly ready to make that leap of faith, and they also wanted to maximize the advantages of portability and affordability that a mirrorless system can offer.

The important question we face now is: has Nikon learned anything from the development of those ~10 mirrorless cameras in their 1 system? The answer is yes, at least based on the on-sensor technology that we’ve seen in the latest Nikon mirrorless cameras like the hybrid autofocus and viewfinder quality in the Nikon 1 J5. It’s not yet entirely on par with what Sony, Fuji, and Canon are offering in terms of on-sensor autofocus, but it is at least a good sign that Nikon won’t be starting from scratch when they release an FX and/or DX mirrorless body this year.

Canon-EOS-M-Top-EF-M-22mm-f2.0Canon EOS-M series mirrorless camera,
with 22mm – a great candid walk-around kit

Sony A6000, with Rokinon 12mm f/2,
a fantastic compact astro-landscape kit!

Nikon’s Mirrorless Mount and Lenses

Nikon’s biggest decision is not whether to make a DX or FX mirrorless camera body first. The big decision is, what to do for the mirrorless lens mount?

Nikon has by far the greatest legacy of all camera mounts, since unlike Canon they did not switch mount sizes in the late 1980’s. Nikon’s F mount is many decades old, and modern high-end DSLRs are compatible with almost every Nikkor lens ever made.

So, will Nikon mirrorless finally be the system that breaks this long-standing tradition? Yes, I believe it is inevitable. A major advantage of any mirrorless system is the potential for a shorter flange distance which makes camera bodies significantly smaller, and in some cases, (mostly linked to wider focal lengths and slower apertures) …more compact lenses.

Nikon Mirrorless: electronic autofocus only

Nikon’s AF-D motor was phased out of beginner Nikon DSLR bodies over a decade ago, however it has still been included in most advanced Nikon DSLRs to this day. With a Nikon mirrorless camera, that will have to change.

Nikon Mirrorless: electronic aperture only

Nikon’s mechanical aperture coupling has been around in one form or another for many decades, basically since the very beginning of Nikon SLR cameras. Only a few of the latest, most exotic Nikon lenses have begun offering electronic apertures, but again this will have to become the norm for Nikon mirrorless cameras.

Nikon mirrorless: A legacy F-mount Adapter

Of course Nikon will not leave its hard-working pros (or die-hard collectors) without an F-mount adapter to whatever sexy new mirrorless system they debut. No matter how many new mirrorless lenses they might be able to deliver within the first year of announcing a mirrorless system, it won’t be enough, nor will it satisfy the large number of folks who will undoubtedly want to just continue using their current Nikkor lenses.

It should be easy for Nikon to create a simple F-mount adapter which works with fully-electronic lenses such as the new 24-70mm f/2.8 E VR. The hard part will be, how to integrate a mechanical aperture coupling, and/or a mechanical AF-D focus motor, into a relatively small adapter? The adapter will either need to be extremely high-tech and therefore quite pricey, or it will need to be a bit large and unwieldy. Or, unfortunately, there is a perfectly good chance that an adapter which offers full mechanical F-mount compatibility will be both large and expensive.

This is probably something that a lot of folks at Nikon are currently losing sleep over, but in my opinion it is a necessary leap to take. Actually, I suspect that Nikon already knows this, considering their departure from the AF-D motor system over a decade ago, and their recent increase in usage of electronic apertures in lenses as consumer-oriented as the DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4.

Maybe Nikon will offer multiple adapters, one  basic model that only offers electronic communication, another that offers electronic communication plus mechanical aperture functionality, and then one full-featured adapter that does it all.

Nikon Mirrorless: Autofocus Performance

While a handful of features and design aspects are easy to guess, a few key items are still a wildcard. Namely, how good will Nikon’s on-sensor autofocus be? Can it match Canon’s Dual-Pixel AF, and Sony’s latest hybrid AF seen in the Sony a9 and A7R3? Hopefully.

A Nikon patent surfaced recently for something called “quad-pixel” autofocus, which sounds like a competitor to dual-pixel autofocus. Only time will tell if Nikon can get this crucial feature right the first time.

[Rewind: Sony A7R3 | The Much Anticipated Successor with A9 Power]

Nikon Mirrorless: IBIS?

What about in-body, sensor-based stabilization? I have no idea what Nikon will decide to do here. A few other companies have already proven that lens-based stabilization can work well in tandem with sensor-based stabilization, so it’s not entirely out of the question.

Nikon Mirrorless: The EVF

How good will the EVF be? It’s very hard to tell where Nikon currently stands on this technology because EVFs are downright scarce in Nikon’s lineup right now, mostly only appearing in P&S superzoom cameras. Meanwhile, the EVFs found in the high-end Sony A9 and A7R3 are cutting-edge, almost lifelike some would argue.

Therefore, I do not have 100% confidence that Nikon will execute a professional-grade EVF flawlessly the first time, however I do expect that whatever they try will be impressive, even if it needs a few tweaks before it’s perfect.

Nikon Mirrorless: The Battery Life

Last but not least, one of the most important things that I hope Nikon will do differently from other mirrorless systems is an all-new, high-capacity battery. Sony originally went with a very small battery for their mirrorless cameras, likely to impress the market with how lightweight the cameras could be. Unfortunately, these batteries die after just minutes of video recording, or just a few hundred clicks of still photography. Now, with the likes of the Sony a9 and A7R3, we’re seeing bigger batteries, at the expense of some weight savings.

Hopefully Nikon decides that weight savings is not as important as battery life, at least for many serious photographers, and that a balance should be struck, one which maximizes battery life, and matches that of a DSLR, preferably.

Late To The Game in 2018

If Nikon doesn’t hit a home run in 2018, they will receive lots of criticism. This of course may not concern Nikon management, and it may not affect their profit margins or market share at all just yet. However, 2018 could be the year that a snowball effect starts “rolling” towards a major, unavoidable market shift. In other words if they delay in 2018, 2019 will bring even higher expectations, and it will only get worse from there.

Nikon D7200 vs Sony A6300 KitsNikon D7200 kit, versus Sony a6300 kit
(Both are versatile prosumer tools worth considering)

Why Does Nikon “Need” a Mirrorless system?

I do not wish to beat the dead horse that is “DSLR vs mirrorless” too much, but I must address this one question from a practical viewpoint:

One major reason that mirrorless systems are gaining traction in the market is something other than actual superiority. Mirrorless camera systems can simply be cheaper to manufacture since they involve fewer mechanical parts, and more simple electronics.

In today’s increasingly competitive market, affordable mass-production option is almost always a winner.

Despite doom-and-gloom predictions shouted around the internet, Nikon (and Canon) will at least appear to be doing just fine for a few more camera generations whether or not they deliver full-frame mirrorless in 2018. However, the technology gap is closing, and with each year that goes by the overall consumer opinion changes slightly. Sooner or later it will begin to have a more significant impact on actual sales than the decades-old status quo has led executives to believe.

Simply put, Nikon (and Canon) need to make their next big move sooner rather than later, because with each new camera generation the competition gets more impressive and the excuse “we’re still ahead in market share” becomes an increasingly tenuous argument to make.

I hope the near future includes fantastic mirrorless and DLSR options from Nikon, Canon, and Sony. Healthy competition is better than a dominating monopoly.

 

Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

Follow his personal wilderness adventures: Astro-Landscapes.com

See some of his latest wedding photography featured on: LinandJirsa.com

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Roger Landolt

    I guess some of youe thoughts are still valid: http://www.nikon-mirrorless.com/what-to-expect/ we will know more on the 23. August 2018. Really looking forward to it. 

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  2. Matt McNally

    You need to pick up a Nikon V2 or v3 before you write such a article, clearly u have not done your home work. The af is blazin fast, (I’m a birder) it nails focus 95 percent of the time. The ft1 “adtper for f mount g version glass” already has a mechanical apture control. It’s dose not how ever have a focus motor built in for afd glass. Also the image  while yes has noise at base iso it…. A. Has a film look to it. And B. Is easy cleaned up mostly in post. Let’s not forget 15 FPS full auto for v2 and 20 FPS full auto silent shutter….Just like Sony. 30/60 FPS with first frame af locked…….. object tracking work extremely well for video and smooth transitions for focus pulls.  If/ when the full frame or crop camera or cameras are realized they will be a hit if the same tech is used.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Matt, I think you’ve missed my point WRT Nikon 1.

      I actually consider the V3’s AF to be a very hopeful indicator of what Nikon will eventually be able to do when they produce a DX or FX mirrorless camera, especially with the patent for “quad pixel AF” lurking around.

      My main disappointment in Nikon’s 1-series is certainly not its AF performance, it’s just the sensor size. Nikon shouldn’t have gone with 1″ sensors, and I firmly stand by that statement. They should have done what Canon did, and start with a DX mirrorless system instead. If they had done this, they’d be in a much better position now.

      Either way, I agree with you that the Nikon 1-series AF is really good, much better than any mirrorless camera of just a few generations ago, and I also agree with you that if/when the FX / DX cameras are realized, they’ll be a hit. But, for mass appeal when in competition against the likes of the Sony RX10 and RX100 series, I think the Nikon 1-series was a mistake. They should have done the DL lineup instead, years sooner, and then done a DX MILC system as well.

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  3. Ricardo Boks

    Fuji is doing well with there X and  GFX serie, a full frame Nikon mirrorless wil be something between X and GFX, personally I think it will be a better idea for Nikon to choose for a large new mount, say 48mm it gives Nikon the choice to use full frame and also larger sensors,  a full frame mirrorless body and a 44×33 body ore even 48×36, new lenses has to be cover de 48mm cirkel. With a good F-mount adapter the Tilt and Shift serie can easily used for archictecture photography and a lot of other lenses cover larger sensor size. In the past there were some rumors about a so called MX format, Nikon has a history of making lenses for medium and large format. It is not impossible to think in this direction.

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  4. Chris Bonney

    Your post puts Sony in the frame as the ones to beat in mirrorless technology, but fails to mention that the ergonomic high ground is squarely with Fujifilm’s X-mount cameras. I wouldn’t swap my beautifully crafted X-T2 for any Sony body, no matter what ridiculous pixel count they put in it.  But I would swap back to Nikon in a heartbeat if they got back to making cameras that are fantastic working tools instead of ones that come out of the Ford Sierra jelly mould factory.

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    • adam sanford

      That’s like saying Nikon’s next album should sound like Radiohead when everyone is buying Beyonce albums.

      (i.e. You are correct… but that’s not where the money is.)

      But your point it well made, albeit off target.  A dainty/svelte Fuji
      APS-C setup is certainly thoughtfully designed but underweight for the
      physically crushing realities of FF f/2.8 zooms and f/1.4 primes, which
      are going to be used on these cameras on the very. first. day.  (Copy and
      paste even a FF-scaled-up X-T2 and put a 100-400L II or 70-200 f/2.8L IS II on it and tell me how your wrists feel at the end of the day.)

      So yes,  Nikon and Canon can poop all over the A7/A9 brand with a
      mirrorless FF rig with terrific ergonomics, but those ergonomics will
      come from *their own* decades of ergonomic know-how.

      So as much as thin / full mount depth is a legit 50-50 decision for
      CaNikon in FF mirrorless (see below), the grip is absolutely not:  it’s
      should 100% be 5D / D8xx chunky for the big glass it surely will carry.

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    • Matthew Saville

      “Ergonomic high ground” ….there’s a new phrase I haven’t heard!

      On the one hand, Chris, you have a very good point. IMO FUji is far ahead of Sony when it comes to designing cameras that just FEEL right in your hand.

      However, on the other hand, whatever experience Fuji has, Nikon and Canon have more. They’ve been making professional SLR-type cameras for many decades.

      But, you already know this, I suppose, since you mention that you’d switch back to Nikon in a heartbeat lol.

      Enjoy the X-T2! The Fuji system is fantastic, and the GFX system is only getting more and more affordable. It’s also as light as, or lighter than, a D850, depending on the lenses you choose.  It would be awesome if Fuji developed a full-frame 35mm mirrorless system too, but I think their best move is to just focus their resources as strongly as they can, instead of risking being stretched too thin.

      Nikon will certainly offer a DX and / or FX mirrorless camera before the end of 2018, but I don’t know how well they’ll do at “catching up” with Fuji’s overall system. Keep in mind that from the very beginning, Fuji and Nikon have had a special relationship. The Fuji S2-S5 Pros were Nikon F-mount cameras, and they were freaking awesome!

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    • Chris Bonney

      @adam – The X-T2 is not exactly dainty or svelte, but I can understand you feeling like that if you’ve succumbed to accepting the behemoths that Canon and Nikon are producing as being acceptable. Solid point about the grip though and one that really irks me (please take note Nikon).

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  5. George Malczynski

    feels like 2019 ‘Nikon Mirrorless’ is to the camera world what the 2019 ‘Toyota Supra’ is the car world. 

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  6. Benton Lam

    I don’t think they necessarily need to start on a full frame mirrorless.

    An APS-C sensor with a good G adaptor could mean that the camera would have a decent library of VR lenses. 

    Which it should attract a health amount of Nikon shooters that want to slim down from their DSLR.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      APSC would offer much more flexibility for adapting. Frankly it would open up Nikon’s mirrorless to the use of Fuji lenses and such, which would help at the early stages of a limited native lens line-up

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    • Matthew Saville

      Nikon does have a strong history of building their customer base from the ground up. It is very possible that their first new ILC system will be DX instead of FX, and that it will more closely resemble a D7500, not a D500. Such a mirrorless camera makes so much more sense in today’s market compared to the “dinosaur” beginner cameras like the D3xxx and D5xxx series; Nikon could save a ton of money by killing those lines almost entirely and selling DX mirrorless consumer / prosumer bodies.

      However, having said that, Nikon does have a history of “going for broke”, too. And they also know that at this point, they need to make a splash. If Nikon does nothing in 2018 besides announce a mirrorless version of their D5600 / D7500, they’ll be mocked relentlessly by Sony, Fuji, and even maybe Canon users, if Canon chooses 2018 to expand their EF-M line to include a full-frame body + lens system.

      So, in my opinion, Nikon does need to “go big or go home”, in at least one or two bodies.

      It shouldn’t be too difficult to deliver both, though. A mirrorless beginner / affordable prosumer body somewhere along the lines of the D5600 and D7500, PLUS a mirrorless D500 or D850.

      That would be the best statement they could make, because it would immediately stop the nay-saying and ship-jumping almost 100%. (Assuming that the flagship mirrorless cameras are good at on-sensor autofocus, and maybe even include in-body VR…)

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    • adam sanford

      But K, you presume it’ll be a thin new mount.  That may not happen.  People can put their fingers in their ears that ‘mirrorless is all about being thin and that’s a ground floor, day one must’ all they want, but there is a legit argument for going full DX mount in APS-C mirrorless and full FX mount in FF mirrorless.  (See similar argument for Canon below.) 

      In short — tons of glass works on day one without any added hardware is a more attractive than ‘You can adapt lenses you don’t own yet!’

      (I’m not saying it *will* be a full mount — but it’s not a certainty that it won’t be.)

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    • adam sanford

      Matt, you presume ‘going big’ for Nikon is a must because… Nikonians hate being made fun of?  Because trust is earned with huge Spruce Goose sort of ‘pushing out the boat’ sort of super-products?

      Disagree.  Sony isn’t Nikon and it shouldn’t try to be.

      Trust is earned through products that work well without problems, have a broad line of lenses/accessories to use them with, and a *non*-frantic development pace / long ownership cycle (without it, you get vicious buyers’ remorse).  In short, trust comes from no alarms and no surprises.

      And anyone who thinks their company needs to swing for fences because the internet will be mean to them if that doesn’t happen I simply cannot help.  They are lost.

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    • Matthew Saville

      No, not because Nikon shooters can’t stand being made fun of. In fact thanks to “the dark ages” pre-2007, I couldn’t care less about that. I served my time, shooting with a D70 while Canon shooters had the 10D / 20D, and then the 5D… It was rough, but I didn’t care, because despite the sad ISO noise of those 6-10 megapixel DX sensors, I preferred EVERYTHING else about Nikon.

      Again, the point I was trying to make is this: Sony did the 7-series “frantically” because they had to. They had very little experience designing cameras in general, (and the A900 / A850 were nothing to brag about!) …and so they made a calculated decision to simply be the first to the table, with whatever they could scrape together.

      Let me put it another way: Nikon’s standards for build quality, ergonomics, and overall performance simply would not have allowed them to ship an A7, period. As long as Nikon has been working on FX mirrorless for a while now, there will be nothing frantic or Spruce Goose-y about it. They’ll be doing something they’ve already done before: Delivering a winning flagship camera right out of the gate.

      So, it’s not about the “shame” of the internet. It’s certainly much bigger than that. However Nikon is indeed a proud company, that does make decisions based on their prestigious brand history. If you don’t believe me, Google “gold plated lizard-skinned Nikon” lol…

      However, since you have a point about the relevance of the pulse of social media, I’ll also say this: There is plenty of business sense in “going big first”, too. As I said, the D3 sold like hotcakes, and its profit margins were insane compared to that of a D700. If Nikon had shipped the D700 in 2007 and then the D3 in 2008, would they have made the same profits between those two years, and the subsequent ~1 year? I don’t know, but I’m absolutely certain they did NOT make the decision lightly.

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    • Matthew Saville

      RE: your scale graphic,

      That’s exactly what I tried to ponder in this article. Which is the smarter move, to create a totally new mount, or to stick with the existing mount? The way the Sony A9 and A7R3 have gone, you’re almost weighing as much as a Nikon D750 already. The D750 is still noticeably bigger, yes, but even if you stick with the flange distance of the F-mount, you can still save a bit of weight and space in other areas. And I imagine 99.9% of ounce-counting weight weenies will shut up if Nikon is able to say “what this camera lacks in portability, it makes up for with an incredible new battery that shall set records for mirrorless CIPA ratings!”

      I think that a shorter flange distance is useful, and in the long run they should develop a new mount, but if they don’t do so right away, I’m fine with that. Things like IBIS, (IBVR?) EVF, and on-sensor AF are far, far more important than flange distance.

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    • adam sanford

      100% agree that the original A7/A7R never would have shipped from any reputable major camera company.  That’s spot on.

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    • adam sanford

      re: thin vs. full mount, there are also smart decision you can make with a thin mount — like giving it a proper grip.

      Camera companies have a habit of presuming you’ll only put a 35 f/2.8  on it so ‘who needs a grip!’.  That’s insane.  Put a big honking 5D4 / D850 grip on it.  You won’t save any space in your bag with a smaller grip given how big the lenses will be!

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  7. adam sanford

    Love your insights, Matthew.  Here are mine:

    1) You don’t *lead* with high end / pro mirrorless, you offer an enthusiast model to get the kinks out and vacuum up the large pent up dollars from your own mount’s people who want to shoot with one without needing 3rd party adaptors or new glass.  Consider, Sony couldn’t pull off a legit ‘all-arounder’ for pros until the A9 / A7R3 came, which is their third gen offering, and that was only possible from peddling enthusiasts model after model until they had all the know-how and tech to deliver a professional product.  Further, this process is profitable!  It’s worlds easier to make a sale to 25% of your own people than 1-2% of the competition — Nikon would be wise to offer a modest mirrorless system first and use that money to build up their mirrorless portfolio.

    2) Independently of mirrorless, Nikon needs to *offer more than Canon for the same money* and not have quality issues.  In short, Nikon bodies need to be the spec sheet beasties Sony have been but in the proven SLR market they know a ton about.  Expand the D500/D850 supercamera concept into a D760 and D620 that mop the floor with the 6D2 and outperform/undercut the 5D4. 

    3) Nikon needs *two* mirrorless systems, btw — APS-C and Full-Frame.   APS-C SLRs, which have huge volumes and keep the lights on at Canon and Nikon alike, will be pitching their mirrors in the next 5-10 years (perhaps sooner) in favor of the lower mfg costs and smaller sized products that mirrorless designs allow.  Enthusiasts scream about FF mirrorless, but as an existential threat they need APS-C mirrorless as well.

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    • Matthew Saville

      1.) That was previously Nikon’s game plan with DX and selling to the masses, (they played one of their best cards, the D70, early on) …however when it came to full-frame, Nikon went all-out and did their flagship first, the D3.

      For this reason, I think it is entirely possible that we’ll see a D5-class FX mirrorless camera very early on, if not at least a D500-class DX mirrorless camera.

      Sony couldn’t pull off the A9 right out of the gate because, to be blunt, they didn’t know how to make cameras, period. It took them massive amounts of trial and error, listening to customers / photographers, and a whole lot of growing pains before they got the series “right”.

      Nikon had the advantage in many respects, in that they’re already expert camera makers, period. Think of it this way: If they did absolutely nothing other than rip out the mirror and OVF from a D850, and swap in a killer EVF, …the camera would immediately *destroy* the A7R3 from the perspective of handling, ergonomics, customization, etc. Really, the only kinks left for Nikon to work out are on-sensor AF, and EVF quality, plus of course the huge decision about whether or not to add sensor-based VR to the mix.

      I absolutely agree with you about the profit-generation, though. Nikon’s best move is to just deliver whichever camera will bring in the most $$$ the quickest. I just think that there’s a small chance they’ve still got the guts to try and “go flagship” first, under the assumption that (again, like the D3’s release) ..EVERYBODY will buy one, even if it’s way more camera than they really need. I remember when the D700 came out, half the D3 buyers were like, well that was pointless, I just “wasted” ~$2K on a flagship camera when this new one is the product I really need!”

      2.) Nikon has almost always succeeded at offering more than Canon, for the same or less money. Nikon’s bodies have always been very feature-rich, and their image quality advantage is not going away any time soon either.

      3.) 100% agreed.

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    • adam sanford

      “Really, the only kinks left for Nikon to work out are on-sensor AF, and EVF quality” — a bright dude who knows a lot

      Counter argument:  *Those are not “kinks”*, Matthew, they are a vital part of the success/failure of such a camera.  If Nikon ‘goes big’ and the EVF is laggy, lacks detail or customization options, etc. the brand will stutter out of the gate.  And if they AF is not absolutely money, ditto.

      Again:  start small, nail it, and walk your way up to more demanding asks.  It’s worked for Sony in the A7/A9 progression, and it worked for Canon in the EOS M progression (which I believe is #2 WW in APS-C now, despite underweight specs).

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    • Matthew Saville

      VERY much agreed. Nikon cannot afford to “just” take the mirror out of a D850, and slap in a half-assed EVF with buggy on-sensor AF.

      However, based on the fact that we’ve heard murmurs of a “quad-pixel” autofocus, which sounds suspiciously like Canon’s dual-pixel AF, …I have high hopes that they’re simply “kinks” that Nikon is in fact currently ironing out. I also have high hopes because of how much of a juggernaut Nikon managed to be in terms of FX sensors. Apples and oranges, I know, but the bottom line is that Canon was bragging, and rubbing it in, but when the D3 hit, it was game over, and Canon has not been able to keep pace ever since.

      I could be totally wrong, though. There’s still a chance that they deliver something that falls flat on its face. I’m trying to think of examples where Nikon flopped on a major feature right out of the gate, but I can’t think of any. The only skeletons in Nikon’s closet for the past 10+ years have been minor QC / MFG corner-cuts that got blown out of proportion, for the most part. (Compare with, Canon’s 1D3/4 AF epic fail- That’s a sports camera failing at the one thing it’s designed to excel at…)

      Simply put, considering Nikon’s long-standing tradition of “slow and steady wins the race”, I highly doubt they’ll hit anything less than a grand slam on their first try. Right about now, as 2018 opens, I imagine the Nikon CEO is Babe Ruth-ing up and down the halls at HQ. “This next one’s a goner, folks.”

      I just hope they don’t make us wait until the bottom of the 9th to pull the trigger!

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