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Nikon’s Future: A Flagship Z Camera, 8K Video, and Affordable Lenses

Nikon's future: a flagship Z camera, 8K video, and affordable lenses

Nikon will be releasing “a flagship Nikon Z-series mirrorless camera…within the year,” said Keiji Oishi, a Department Manager of Nikon’s Imaging Business Unit. The camera “is being developed with the goal of surpassing the D6.”

This comes from a recently published DPReview interview with Oishi, which touches on the past, present, and future of Nikon’s camera business, including new cameras, lenses, Nikon’s mirrorless sales success, and the pursuit of 8K recording. 

The development of a flagship mirrorless model is welcome news for Nikon fans; it firmly reinforces Nikon’s commitment to growth and innovation in the face of supply struggles and questions about the company’s viability.

While Oishi didn’t offer many details on Nikon’s upcoming flagship camera, he did claim it “will respond to the advanced needs of professionals” and will “debut a newly developed, high-resolution stacked CMOS sensor.” The term “high-resolution” is a relative one, but this could signal Nikon’s intent to compete with the upcoming Sony a1, an all-around powerhouse packing a 50 MP sensor, class-leading autofocus, and 8K/30p recording.

In other words: Nikon’s flagship model may look to satisfy more than just professional sports photographers. Were the camera to pack 45+ megapixels while offering fast autofocus and shooting speeds in the spirit of the D6, it’d be capable of capturing sports, events, portraits, and even pro-level landscapes. 

As for video:

Oishi claims that Nikon’s engineers “are considering powerful video features such as 8K that respond to the needs of all kinds of content creators and professionals.”

So while 8K video isn’t a guarantee, it’ll likely find its way into the upcoming flagship model. With the 2020 arrival of the Canon EOS R5 and the days-away release of the Sony a1, Nikon will soon be the only leading camera manufacturer without an 8K hybrid camera. And while Nikon is ostensibly a stills-centric brand, the 8K bandwagon is one that it won’t want to miss. 

So when can we expect this high-resolution, high-performance, 8K powerhouse?

Given the lack of recent leaks, don’t hope for anything before summer 2021, and fall or winter is a realistic possibility. But we’ll definitely see the camera before the year is out, assuming all goes to plan.

A few other interesting tidbits from the interview:

Nikon aims to produce lenses “with a focus on more compactness and affordability” in the hopes of “mak[ing]…lenses more accessible to more people.” This will come alongside an effort to offer an expanded lineup of APS-C Z-mount cameras. 

(Currently, Nikon only offers a single APS-C Z-mount model, the Z50.)

Nikon camera sales have “defied expectations” these last few months, especially with the launch of the Z6 II and the Z7 II. As Oishi explains, “In the last quarter, we reported record mirrorless sales, which was helped by strong performance of the Z7 II and Z6 II. We observed strong sales of new products, both mirrorless cameras and lenses.”

Oishi thinks the hot Z6 II and Z7 II sales come from DSLR holdouts; he states that “many loyal Nikon users [were] waiting on the second generation of the Z series,” and that, thanks to “the improvements we put into the second generation,” Nikon DSLR shooters have finally bought into the Z system.

This is all excellent news for Nikon fans, and while the company still has a long way to go, it’s clearly taking steps in the right direction.

Now over to you:

What do you think about Nikon’s upcoming flagship mirrorless camera? Where do you see Nikon headed over the next few years? And what affordable lenses would you like Nikon to produce? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Jaymes Dempsey
Jaymes Dempsey

is the Managing Editor of Digital Photography School, as well as a macro and nature photographer from Ann Arbor, Michigan. To learn how to take stunning nature photos, check out his free eBook, Mastering Nature Photography: 7 Secrets For Incredible Nature Photos! And to see more of Jaymes’s work check out his website and his blog.

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