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Nikon Z5 or Z1 to launch this year?

Nikon Z5 to launch this year?

While everyone else is pushing the mirrorless megapixel barrier, from the Panasonic Lumix S1R (opens in new tab) to upcoming Sigma 60.9MP (opens in new tab) Foveon-sensor camera, Canon bucked the trend by releasing the entry level Canon EOS RP (opens in new tab). Now it seems that Nikon is ready to follow suit, with an entry level model expected to be called the Nikon Z5 reportedly on the way in 2019. 

UPDATE 2: As we suspected, the below image is a design mock-up created during the development of what became the Z6 and Z7. It was shared by Nikon design directors   Naoyuki Murakami (designer of the D850, D5 and Z series) and Nobuo Hashimoto, during an interview with Nikkei BP (opens in new tab). It is a real design, but is not a design for the entry level Z series camera currently being discussed.

UPDATE 1: Mirrorless Rumors (opens in new tab) posted an photo alleged photo of a Nikon Z1 entry level body. No specs or information were shared, and the site noted that the image was not sent from one of its regular sources. There are some red flags indicating that the image is inauthentic, namely that the "Z" logo is not consistent with the branding seen on the Nikon Z6 (opens in new tab) and Nikon Z7 (opens in new tab). It may be a photograph of a prototype camera, taken during the Z camera development phase, before the branding was finalised, meaning that it may not be 'fake' but might not have any relation to the current entry level Nikon Z story.

An internal design mock-up of the Nikon Z1, during the development of the Z6 and Z7 (Image: Nikkei BP)

An internal design mock-up of the Nikon Z1, during the development of the Z6 and Z7 (Image: Nikkei BP)

According to Nikon Rumors (opens in new tab), at the CP+ (opens in new tab) show in Japan, Igawa Yuxi from Nikon China said that a new consumer-oriented Z camera will be coming soon – "a low-priced model similar to the Canon EOS RP".

This ties in with what Jordi Brinkman, Nikon Europe’s Product Manager, told us last year (opens in new tab). "Definitely we will widen our lineup… there will be models below the Z6. We will widen up the range to different users and different price brackets, definitely."

Brinkman also noted that there would be non-premium Z lenses to accommodate an entry level camera such as the Nikon Z5. "Having an S-line suggests that there should also be something else; non-S-line lenses, which will focus more on affordability. However, they will still meet a high quality standard while focusing on lower cost, so maybe won’t have weather sealing or they'll use different materials."

It's already shaping up to be an interesting 2019, as far as camera strategy goes. Olympus is really pushing the professional angle, with the pro-oriented Olympus OM-D E-M1X (opens in new tab), while the Canon EOS RP and now the Nikon Z5 targeted the advanced amateur user. 

With smartphones continuing to erode the camera market (opens in new tab), it will be interesting to see which strategy proves most successful when the dust settles. 

Read more:

The best Nikon cameras in 2019 (opens in new tab)

Low-cost mirrorless cameras, new lenses - Nikon's future Z system plans revealed (opens in new tab)

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.