Details are sparse, and speculation is running wild, but it sounds like Nikon’s next two mirrorless cameras have at least been named: The Nikon Z5 and the Nikon Z30.
What could these cameras be? We have no idea, so, let’s speculate! If you have any thoughts to add, please leave a comment below. The two main things to consider are, what features might these cameras include (or exclude), and also, how much are these cameras likely to cost?
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not based on any insider knowledge, but years of a close study of how Nikon arranges its different lineups, and how it classifies them through different naming structures. I have been observing and reviewing Nikon digital cameras for 15+ years, and I enjoy speculating about what might come next, just for fun. These predictions could be totally wrong! You are also welcome to share your own thoughts with a comment below.
This is allegedly going to be Nikon’s “budget” full-frame camera body, which means it would be more affordable than the (already relatively affordable) Nikon Z6, which is the more modest version of the current mirrorless flagship, the Nikon Z7.
For reference, while the Z6 frequently sits at around $2K, it is currently a shocking $400 off, at $1596! So, what does this mean for a potential Z5?
Nikon Z5 Price
That low Z6 price is already an impressively good value for a full-frame camera body, especially for one as solidly built as the Z6. It stands to reason, of course, that a theoretical “Z5” would be more than just a “tiny bit” cheaper than a Z6; possibly even appreciably more affordable than $1600? That would be impressive!
Could it be as affordable as the Canon EOS RP? Indeed, we certainly might expect Nikon to aim for a $999 full-frame body, or at least a $1199 or $1299 MSRP at first, with a $999 price tag to be offered around the holidays this year. Even if we see an initial price tag of $1500 or so, we’d likely see a $1200 or $1300 price tag by the end of the year.
Personally, I’ve seen Nikon be one of the strongest competitors in terms of incredible value for an incredible price. I would not be surprised if the Z5 was $999, or no more than $100-300 higher. Bottom line- if it’s anything like the Z6, but cheaper, then it’s going to be a very attractive camera.
[Related Reading: Nikon Z6 review]
Nikon Z5 Features
Of course, if the Canon EOS RP is any indicator, we can expect a few compromises to be made on such an affordable camera. Could it omit Nikon’s robust “IBVR” sensor-based stabilization? Indeed, it would be understandable if Nikon omitted this, likely costly due to the fact that it’s a complex mechanical feature and not just software/firmware.
We might also expect a single SD card slot, slightly less robust overall weather sealing, and maybe one or two fewer buttons (but even more portable ergonomics) than the Z6.
What about the sensor, the most important part of the camera? We’re probably in for some VERY good news: It would likely be either a sensor handed down from the Nikon Z6, or maybe from the D5/D6, a 20-megapixel sensor. Either one would be great, of course, since both are incredibly high-performance and on par with even the strongest competition.
The Z6 sensor seems more likely, though, because to put the sensor from a $6500+ flagship camera in a sub-$1K camera could be perceived as de-valuing that flagship, (the Nikon D6) despite the likelihood that a Z5 will not have a huge buffer or “insane” FPS. Personally, I would be happy with either sensor, as such a camera would make a perfect B-roll video and time-lapse photography camera!
Lastly, some folks are speculating that Nikon might even omit a viewfinder from such a camera as a Z5, which seems possible depending on the price point they’re aiming to hit. However, personally I’m going to predict that even the most budget full-frame camera, unless it’s a cinema-oriented camera such as the Sigma FP, will indeed have a viewfinder. It might be as good as the very high-quality Z6 and Z7 viewfinder, but it might also be a slightly more affordable one. The Nikon Z50’s viewfinder is also quite good, and since it’s all electronic, you might even wonder if Nikon is simply going to take almost all of the Z50, and just throw a Z6 sensor in it? Who knows… Hopefully, we’ll find out soon!
If numbers and nomenclature are an indicator, a Nikon Z30 would be the little sibling of the DX Nikon Z50. If you remember from our Z50 review, it feels just as robust and high-quality as the Z6/Z7, so there’s certainly room below it for a more budget-friendly model.
Nikon Z30 Price
If the Nikon Z50 is the mirrorless equivalent of the Nikon D7500, then we could assume that a “Z30” will be either a D3x00 or D5x00 type camera, with a price point to match. The D3500 is currently $396 and the D5600 is currently $596 for the body-only, so we might expect such an impressively low price for this “mirrorless version” of those cameras.
Considering that the Nikon Z50 is slightly more affordable than the D7500, and significantly more affordable than the D500, I’m going to make a wild prediction and say that the Z30 could cost as little as $396.
Of course, that will depend on the spec sheet! Personally, I’d actually rather see a mirrorless equivalent to the D5600, with a fully-articulating (to the side, not the bottom!) LCD screen, at the very least. I’d pay $496 for just that one additional feature.
Alternately, we could flip the script, and follow the numbers even more strictly: let’s say the Z30 is akin to the D3500, but also that the Z50 is more like the D5600. This might imply that eventually, we will see a Z60 or a Z70… (Nikon loves the number 7, you can bet a Z70 would be an amazing camera!)
Who knows, maybe we’ll see a “Z500” eventually, too! The question is, which one do you want? Which one would you be most likely to actually buy?
Nikon Z30 Features
As I just mentioned, the one main feature I hope we see in a budget-friendly DX mirrorless Nikon camera body is a side-articulating “flippy” LCD screen. I don’t expect an enormous, gorgeous LCD like on the Z50. I might even be okay with omitting the EVF.
Aside from that, we could probably just assume that the rest of a theoretical Z30’s spec sheet would be either on par with the Z50, or almost. It would like have the same (impressive) 20-megapixel sensor, with incredible low-light performance and dynamic range. Hopefully, the autofocus would be just as good, or even better, since that’s another key feature that is becoming even more software-based and less mechanical/physical.
What Do You Think?
What else could we possibly expect or hope for from Nikon with this next round of cameras? If I could have one thing, one feature in both cameras, it would be direct USB power, and better in-camera battery charging. It seems that USB-PD is becoming more prevalent, so maybe that is the future; I hope that Nikon can get on board with this as soon as possible!
So, what do you want to see next from Nikon? Are you waiting for a high-end flagship? Or a successor to the Z6/Z7? Or are you excited to see even more affordable options for those who want to get started with Nikon mirrorless? Leave a comment below with your thoughts, predictions, or wishes!
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