And We Got Both

bythom nikon mirrorless

Since it seems everyone is into forensic examination of any material Nikon supplied—this image was in a tweet from NikonUSA—you may note that you can read the number 24 at the back of the front ring, and a 3 at the top of the lens, probably a marking for 35mm. There are more details to be gleaned from close examinations, but I’ll leave something for you to do with your spare time as you wait for the products ;~).

Article updated to clarify wording/meaning

I mentioned Development Announcements from Nikon on Monday when Nikon started their tease campaign. As expected, on Nikon's anniversary date we got the Development Announcement: “Nikon is pleased to announce the development of a full-frame, Nikon FX-format, mirrorless cameras and NIKKOR lenses featuring a new mount.”

That’s really the only information in the announcement (FX, mirrorless, new mount, adapter). No details about the new system have been disclosed. One line should be paid attention to, though: “Soon, Nikon users will have two industry-leading camera systems to choose from, giving consumers the choice to enjoy the unique values that each system offers.” Nikon appears to believe that both their DSLRs and mirrorless cameras will be “industry-leading.” Certainly the DSLRs can be claimed to be so. But it’s bold to state that their re-entry into mirrorless will be as good.

The singular wording in the Development Announcement probably came as a surprise to many, as the rumor sites had been predicting two cameras. Actually, I’m going to predict otherwise. It’s neither one nor two mirrorless cameras coming from Nikon in the coming months, it’s four: two FX and two DX. (And no, it’s not all four at once, as some people seem to be interpreting this. I try to write with precision. The key words are “in the coming months.” To put it another way: I’ve seen no indication that the DX mirrorless models Nikon has been working on have been cancelled; they’ve just been pushed back, and multiple times. I suspect that if Sony had been more active with the A5xxx/A6xxx models Nikon might have not reversed their launch priority from what it originally was. But Sony’s continued full frame push certainly plays right to where Nikon wants to be: higher priced, high margin products. Nor is my contention that there are four mirrorless designs moving to production for Nikon derived from Nikon’s press release wording about two leading systems, as many seem to think. Nikon’s press release implies that they will have leading DSLR and mirrorless systems, as I note above. I’m writing, based upon discussions with a few people that know the details, that Nikon will have DX/FX in both mirrorless and DSLR within the year, and probably within about six-eight months from today.)

I’ve written on the site for some time about Nikon’s apparent internal debate about how to proceed. Originally it was launch DX mirrorless first, then it was launch FX mirrorless cameras first. Over time there’s been a lot of testing and argument in Tokyo and with the subsidiary presidents on how to roll out what engineering has been developing. 

It appears that stretching out the announcements is a marketing choice Nikon made to give their new system a fairly continuous Internet Amplification Effect. It also gives Nikon's Thailand plant some time to absorb all the changes implicit on it with the closing of the China camera manufacturing facility. If I’m correct, Thailand may be producing as many as nine Nikon ILC cameras soon.

Nikon’s modus operandi has long been “launch top end first, then roll the technology downward.” Thus, the first model we’re likely to see I’d guess is going to be the flagship for the new mirrorless lineup Nikon is launching given that it is FX.

There are some additional surprises in the product(s) itself, but Nikon is playing this as a slow, controlled roll, and I’m fine with that, as it gives me plenty to write about ;~). The actual launch date of the first camera is in late August (August 23rd in Tokyo is what the Japanese press is reporting), with an additional announcement at Photokina in late September, which I’d guess at this point to be either a shipping announcement and/or about additional lenses.

Nikon has started scheduling customer viewing sessions in September starting in Japan. I take this to mean that the camera is in production, but won’t be available to customers until late September at the earliest. 

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