Nikon camera rumors 2020
After unceremoniously discontinuing its 1 series APS-C mirrorless cameras, Nikon went full bore into full-frame mirrorless with the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7 cameras in 2018… then last year it shocked the world by resurrecting its plans for an APS-C mirrorless format, with the Nikon Z50.
The Z50 uses the same Z-mount as its larger-sensor siblings, which has created something of a schism in Nikon Z lens roadmap between standard full-frame optics and an emerging DX line. It will be fascinating to see how this split lineage for the Z system plays out – and whether a 'one mount fits all' mentality is better than Canon's system separation.
Nikon is also playing things differently to its arch nemesis when it comes to DSLRs. While Canon announced its intention to shift focus away from traditional cameras, Nikon revealed not one but two new DSLRs.
We've just reviewed the company's new flagship, the Nikon D6, though it has to be said that we were disappointed by how it compares to the professional sports cameras from Canon and Sony. That said, we were positively wowed by the fantastic hybrid Nikon D780. And, while Canon has ceased development of new DSLR lenses, Nikon has just unleashed the monstrous Nikon 120-300mm f/2.8E.
So, with two of of its biggest products for 2020 both being DSLRs, and both being known quantities, the rest of the year will be very interesting for the Big N…
While the Nikon Z50 is the little sibling of the Z-system family, it won't be the most junior member; there is talk that we will see the release of an entry level Nikon Z30 at some point this year (the 'ZX0' seems to be Nikon's naming convention for bodies with an APS-C sensor).
According to rumors emanating from Japan, this could be a super-small DX camera with no electronic viewfinder, a fixed LCD screen, a single microSD card slot and a 24 or 26MP sensor.
Recently leaked designs appear to confirm these rumors, as they show an APS-C size sensor in a camera body with a Z-mount. In addition, there's no electronic viewfinder to be seen, suggesting that this release will compete with other entry-level cameras such as the Fujifilm X-A5 and the Panasonic Lumix GX80.
Less is known about the Nikon Z5, other than we could be seeing it released alongside the Z30. And it could very well be a full-frame equivalent of the smaller system, with no electronic viewfinder and a fixed LCD screen, providing an entry level FX camera that sits below the Z6 and Z7.
Sony dropped a bombshell by announcing the 61MP Sony A7R IV, but it appears that Nikon is preparing a 61MP warhead of its own – and the Nikon Z8 will apparently feature the very same sensor that's inside the A7R IV.
Nikon has apparently signed up to purchase the 61MP Sony Exmor R sensor, which will power a Z8 featuring dual CF Express memory card slots, improved image stabilization, a new resolution shift mode to capture 240MP images, and an ISO range of 64 to 25,600 (expandable to 32-102,400).
What seems to be the design of the Z8 has recently been leaked by a Nikon patent registration, depicting a significantly more sizable body than the existing Z6 or Z7 – presumably to accommodate the increased heat dissipation from the larger image sensor, and potentially from shooting 6K video as well.
Rumors abounded in mid-2019 that Nikon might announce a professional Z-series camera over the summer. It would now be a bit of a challenge to get such a camera ready in time for the Olympics, but we'd be remiss not to mention the whispers of an alleged Nikon Z9 pro-grade body.
With the D6 now being official, it seems unlikely that Nikon would release a competing body that would cannibalize sales. So we don't expect the Z9 to materialize before 2022, in time for the next soccer World Cup – and it's arguably much more likely that it won't appear until 2024, when mirrorless technology would be mature enough for it to replace the D6 outright.
The Nikon verdict
What we think: We expect Nikon to keep building on the Z system for the foreseeable future, adding more full-frame mirrorless lenses to complement the Z6 and Z7 – along with new, smaller optics like the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR pancake lens to suit the new wave of APS-C cameras like the Nikon Z50. While it is keeping the DSLR dream alive with the D780 and D6, the Big N is undoubtedly sowing the seeds for a mirror-free future.