Nikon Z3 design leaked – entry level APS-C Nikon mirrorless camera set for 2020?

Nikon Z3 design leaked? Reports indicate new Nikon mirrorless camera due in 2020
(Image credit: Design Watch)

Recently leaked designs indicate that the Nikon Z3 might be appearing sooner than we may have thought. These detailed images clearly show an APS-C sensor housed inside the body, while any indication of an electronic viewfinder is missing. 

This marks a new step in the Z wave of Nikon mirrorless cameras, as both the Z6 and Z7 housed an EVF and were full-frame format (specifically built with the larger Z lens mount to complement the larger sensor). 

While the other three Nikon Z-series cameras expected within the next couple of years will likely be aimed at the enthusiast and pro markets (the crop sensor Nikon Z5 (opens in new tab), the 61MP Nikon Z8 (opens in new tab) and professional Nikon Z9 (opens in new tab)), these leaked designs (opens in new tab) from website Design Watch show a camera presumably aimed at entry level consumers. 

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This ties into previous rumors from Japan, which indicate that the Nikon Z3 (opens in new tab) 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. 

The apparent Nikon Z3 design omits the electronic viewfinder

The apparent Nikon Z3 design omits the electronic viewfinder (Image credit: Design Watch)

While this product design was registered on 07 June, this doesn't automatically mean that it will come to fruition. However, with entry level mirrorless cameras such as the Fujifilm X-A5 (opens in new tab) and Panasonic Lumix GX80 (opens in new tab) proving popular with consumers, it only makes sense for Nikon to expand into this market – especially since Nikon's sales (opens in new tab) slipped by an unfortunate 15% this year.

The lack of an electronic viewfinder is interesting, with some speculating that it'll be available as an optional extra that can be slotted into the hot-shoe. Digital Maniacs even postulates that a rangefinder style (opens in new tab) might eventually be adopted to compete with the Sony A6500 (although these current designs don't support this theory). 

One of the most curious things we're wondering is how Nikon is planning to pitch the Z3 against Canon. By positioning this camera in the Z-series, Nikon is setting it up to compete with Canon's EOS R range, which is strictly full-frame. 

We wonder whether it would be smarter for Nikon to follow Canon's suit and divide its full-frame and APS-C cameras into two distinct ranges, to avoid undercutting the Z-series' slick and high-tech branding. The Canon EOS M50 (opens in new tab) is wildly popular in the Asian markets so, if Nikon is looking to replicate that success, perhaps it would be wise to keep the Z-series solely full-frame and develop a new and exciting APS-C line instead. 

In whatever iteration the Nikon Z3 finally comes to market, it's clear that expanding its potential consumer base into the entry level market is high on Nikon's priorities. We're excited to see how this story develops…

Read more:

Nikon Z lens roadmap (opens in new tab): new lenses for the Z system and when they are coming
Nikon Z5 (opens in new tab) to launch later this year for under £750 / $1,000?
Nikon Z7 review (opens in new tab)

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With over a decade of photographic experience, Louise arms Digital Camera World with a wealth of knowledge on photographic technique and know-how – something at which she is so adept that she's delivered workshops for the likes of ITV and Sue Ryder. Louise also brings years of experience as both a web and print journalist, having served as features editor for Practical Photography magazine and contributing photography tutorials and camera analysis to titles including Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab) and  Digital Photographer (opens in new tab). Louise currently shoots with the Fujifilm X-T200 and the Nikon D800, capturing self-portraits and still life images, and is DCW's ecommerce editor, meaning that she knows good camera, lens and laptop deals when she sees them.