The Nikon mirrorless Z system


version française

After the failure of Nikon Series 1 and Keymissions and the abandonment of DL compacts, Nikon had to react to a changing photo market. While Nikon and Canon remain the world leaders in the DSLR (mirror chamber) market, this market is declining in favor of mirrorless lenses, a market where Olympus and Sony are very much present and where Sony is now a leader in USA with its Alpha A7 and A9 series.

Nikon has put everything "on the table" to propose a new range of cameras and lenses around a new mount. A new mount was imperative following the abandonment of the mirror room. This mount Z is very wide and has an outside diameter DE of 55 mm and a focus-film distance DFF of 16mm. For comparison the Nikon F mount has a DE of 44 mm and a DFF of 46.5 mm and the Sony E mount has a DE of 46.1 mm and a DFF of 18 mm.
This mount allows ultra-bright lenses and ensures that the full-size sensor (24 x 36 mm) will receive all the light. Obviously this mount is entirely electronic like the previous Serie 1 mount and has any mechanical coupling.

Nikon presents the 23 August 2018, two new cameras using the same architecture and design.

Z the beginning of everything


Nikon Z

Nikon Z

back of Nikon Z

back of Nikon Z

The Nikon Z6 and Z7, introduced on August 23, 2018, are completely new mirrorless cameras.
They both have a full-format backlit CMOS (FX) sensor with a 5-axis internal vibration reduction system but different definition of sensor.
They also share a tropicalized magnesium alloy camera with an ergonomic handle, two configurable buttons located at the front alongside the optics and two dials, a 3.6 Megapixel OLED electronic viewfinder with a 100% coverage and a magnification of 0.8 which offers a very comfortable view, a black matrix OLED display on the top and a 3.2" touch-and-tilt rear display of 2.1 Megapixel, full-size 4K video (3840 x 2160) with a 10-bit output 4: 2: 2 N-Log via HDMI, no built-in flash, a new Expeed 6 image processor, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, a USB-C 3.0 port that supports charging, a microphone output and a headphone input, a memory port XQD with the future support of the CFExpress, they are powered by a battery EN-EL15b for a weight of 675 g only.

The two cameras presented in August 2018 are:

Nikon Z7

Nikon Z7

The first camera, the Nikon Z7 has a 45.7 megapixel (35.9mm x 23.9mm) full-format (FX) backlit 5-axis stabilized sensor without antialiasing filter, ISO 64 to 25600 (ISO 32 and ISO 102400), auto-focus to 493-point phase detection coupled with contrast detection, burst shooting up to 9 fps.
It will be available in black at £3,339 or $3400 camera only, £3,999 or $4000 in kit with the zoom 24-70mm / f4 S and £4,099 or $4100 with the same zoom and adapter FTZ (September 2018).



Nikon Z6

Nikon Z6

The second camera, the Nikon Z6 has a 5-axis, 24.50 Megapixel (35.9mm x 23.9mm) backlit full-format (FX) sensor with antialiasing filter, 100 to 51,200 ISO sensitivity, 273-point phase detection autofocus coupled with contrast, a burst shooting up to 12 fps.
It will be available in black at a price of £2,099 or $2000 camera only, £2,699 or $2600 in kit with the zoom 24-70mm / f4 S and £2,799 or $2700 with the same zoom and the adapter FTZ (November 2018).


new lenses of S-line

new lenses of S-line

with its cameras, Nikon proposes at launch three lenses of its new range called "S-Line", S for Superior:
- The Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S Nano Crystal with an aspheric element ED and three aspherical elements is available at a price of $999.95 (September 2018),
- The Nikkor Z 50mm f/1,8 S Nano Crystal with two ED elements and three aspheric elements is available at a price of $599.95 (September 2018),
- The Nikkor Z 35mm f/1,8 S Nano Crystal with two ED elements and two aspheric elements is available at a price of $849.95 (September 2018),

These lenses should be followed by the highly awaiting 58mm f0.95 "Noct" that will not be autofocus. It will use ED aspherical elements and a new ARNEO anti-reflective coating.

Nikon, Sony's challenger in hybrid cameras, announces a list of planned Z (S-Line) lenses:
in 2019 a 20mm f/1.8, a 85mm f/1.8, a 24-70mm f/2.8, a 70-200mm f/2.8, a 14-30mm f/4.
in 2020 a 50mm f/1.2, a 24mm f/1.8, a 14-24mm f/2.8 ...
If this roadmap is respected and if independent manufacturers, such as Sigma, propose lenses in the new Z mount, then Nikon will be able to catch up Sony.



Nikon also offers an adapter to use the "old" F-mount lenses on the Z cameras. This adapter without mechanical AF coupling makes full use of the autofocus of the AF-integrated lenses and even combines the VR mechanism of these lenses with the built-in stabilization of cameras Z. It is sold $100 with a kit or $249.95 out of kit (August 2018)

My first feeling (August 2018)

Nikon is clearly targeting the Sony Alpha market. The prices and performances of the Z7 and Z6 are close to the Sony Alpha 7RIII and 7III. If the camera is a success and demonstrates once again the expertise of Nikon, it is a pity that Nikon did not choose an SD card but only a card XQD, this card is rare and expensive, manufactured mainly by Sony but used only on Nikon cameras. Even Sony does not offer it on these cameras.
The viewfinder could have received an up to date 4.4 Megapixel viewfinder like the Leica. The capacity of EN-EL15b battery is only 400 shoots.
Other point, Nikon is in a logic of margins and therefore cameras and lenses are more and more expensive. The Nikkor 50mm/f1.8 is sold $219.95 in mount F against $600 in mount Z and it is more compact in F.
The adapter is sold $249.95 alone, it is more expensive than a Nikon lens adapter F to Sony Alpha.

At last, it remains to demonstrate the benefits for the photographer of a hybrid camera against DLSR, certainly the camera is lighter but lenses have the same size, maybe more.
Nevertheless, the Nikon Z6 and Z7 remain the most desirable cameras of the moment.

pierre j.


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Created July 24th 2018, Updated August 23th 2018.
v1.1 © Pierre J.