Takeaways from Nikon’s Big Mirrorless Announcements Today

As the dirt settles on Nikon’s huge spate of announcements today – two lenses, the developed lens, a new FTZ adapter, a new roadmap, plus their highest-end camera ever – I’d like to put some of my thoughts to paper about the releases. Good and bad, what do these announcements say about Nikon’s future?

Table of Contents

1 . Sports are no longer the holdout of Digital slrs

The very first sign that mirrorless cameras would replace DSLRs intended for sports and wildlife digital photography was Sony’s announcement of the A9 in August associated with 2017. Before that, mirrorless systems like the Nikon 1 series and Olympus’s selection showed that fast autofocus was possible without a DIGITAL SLR, but the smaller sensor sizes of those systems hardly threatened the full-frame cameras of the time like the Canon 1DX II and Nikon D5.

In recent years, Sony plus Canon have both launched a number of sports-oriented mirrorless cameras like the Sony A9 II, Sony A1, Canon EOS R5, and Canon EOS R3. All of these cameras are good enough to tempt professional sports photographers, but not one of them are Nikon cameras. And while not every photographer is devoted to one particular brand yet another, plenty of us are. The particular sizable number of pro Nikon shooters have had little option but to stick with Digital slrs for the highest-end sports and wildlife photography needs.

The Nikon Z9 may be later to the market than ideal, but it’s a whopper. The combination of form factor, frame rate, and resolution sets the Nikon Z9 apart from almost everything else that exists at the moment, along with only the Sony A1 in addition an external grip being in exactly the same league (see our complete Nikon Z9 vs Sony A1 evaluation here ). Let’s assume that the Z9’s autofocus takes on scrutiny, it’s a more innovative camera than the Nikon D6 in almost every way (see our D6 vs Z9 comparison ). It clearly shows that mirrorless cameras can do more than just match a DSLR for action photography needs, but go beyond them.

Nikon Z9 in the field telephoto

2 . Man, some longer lens would be nice

All three of the Nikon lenses that were announced or pre-announced today can reach focal lengths much longer than 100mm. So , why does the telephoto end of things still feel absent?

Yes, Nikon did a development announcement for the 400mm f/2. 8 that looks like an absolutely stunning lens. But there’s simply no shipping date attached, and with the manufacturing issues that companies are getting these days, any shipment day before mid-2022 seems optimistic. Meanwhile, Canon is already delivery a 400mm f/2. almost 8 and 600mm f/4, as well as a 600mm f/8 and 800mm f/11 for budget options. Sony is in a similar position, with a 400mm f/2. 7, 600mm f/4, and 200-600mm f/5. 6-6. 3.

Nikon does alleviate some of the pressure with their long-awaited  100-400mm f/4. 5-5. 6 zoom, which should start delivery in early 2022. However , it is still an f/5. 6 zoom, and the longest focal length of 400mm at f/5. 6 is something that Z-series shooters already had (with the 70-200mm f/2. 6 and 2x teleconverter).

I give Nikon credit for their really great wide-angles and primes up to now for the Z system. Lens like the 20mm f/1. 8 , 14-24mm f/2. 8 , and 50mm f/1. 8 are some of the best available today – not just from Nikon but any manufacturer. And their two current stabs at the telephoto end (the 24-200mm f/4-6. 3 and 70-200mm f/2. 8 ) were some of Nikon’s bestsellers and they are great lenses at their own respective jobs.

The issue is that the Z9 is the type of camera meant to be paired with a 300mm f/2. 6, 400mm f/2. 8, 500mm f/4, 600mm f/4, or 800mm f/5. 6. None of those exist in local lenses at the moment. Yes, Nikon will eventually fill in the particular gaps at their much longer focal lengths (they even added mysterious 400mm and 800mm lenses to their roadmap   today), but they’ll hemorrhage market share to Canon and Sony until they do.

Nikon Z 400mm f2.8 TC
The Nikon Z . 400mm f/2. 8 whose development (and little otherwise about it) was introduced today

3. Look mother, no mechanical shutter!

Maybe those things took me by surprise one of the most about the Nikon Z9 statement is that it doesn’t have a mechanised shutter. This is a first through Nikon and a surprisingly vivid move.

But it also makes sense. One reason why? It is that word  unlimited in the approximated shutter life.

Cameras like the Nikon D6 and Z9 are intended to become high-end, professional workhorses that will photographers use to capture hundreds and hundreds of pictures  per day if necessary. Even the best shutter curtains on the market degrade. So , Nikon says, let us go with a stacked CMOS sensor and avoid the shutter curtain entirely.

This does come with its own issues. We’ll have to test the Z9 carefully to see if flicker is a problem within artificial light, as well as running shutter with especially fast-moving subjects. But Nikon says the Z9’s readout acceleration is the fastest on the market, plus I’m sure that a lot of work went into fixing these obvious issues before the internet loudly complains about them.

Add that to the high grade weather sealing on the Z9, and this should be a camera that may take a beating and lots of professional use.

Nikon Z9 Weather Sealing

4. $5500 is a much lower price than I expected

Nikon continues to be on a low price kick with some of their newest camera produces, like the Z7 II beginning for $400 less than the initial Z7 . But even with that in your mind, I didn’t expect the particular Z9 would sell for something less than $6000.

For context, the Nikon D6 DSLR is still currently selling new for $6500 and is out of stock right now, presumably because the supply hasn’t held up with the demand. As well as the Z9 is simply a better camera than the D6. Nikon easily would have been justified offering it for $6500, and it also still would have been out of stock for months. Maybe they were concerned that it would invite undesirable comparisons against the $6500 Sony A1, so they lowered the cost dramatically?

All I can do is think. And recommend that if you’re planning to get this camera, you really should put your title on the list sooner than later.

5. Is this the right path for an FTZII?

Nikon has finally released a smaller, slimmer, lighter in weight FTZ adapter, which they’re calling the FTZII. They have all the same functionality as the earlier FTZ other than the lack of a tripod socket, which was not that useful anyway.

Yet I’m already seeing some complaints about the FTZII online. The issue is that Nikon still hasn’t added full compatibility with specific old lenses, and now it’s starting to seem like they never ever will.

I’m a bit torn about this. What Nikon ideally should have performed is – in 2018 – release the first FTZ adapter with  complete compatibility. Which means autofocus with AF-D plus older AF lenses, and also an aperture feeler band to provide full EXIF information with non-CPU lenses. Indeed, it would have been a more complicated and expensive adapter, but it certainly would have been probable. (Even autofocus with old manual focus lenses might have been possible if Nikon put their mind to it; see the Megadap version for the purpose of autofocusing Leica lenses around the Z system. )

But alongside this – or at least at some point – Nikon should have announced basically what we got today: a good FTZ II that’s lighter in weight, smaller, and more ergonomic for use with modern AF-S and AF-P lenses. Plenty of Nikon shooters don’t need full suitability with old lenses and are also perfectly fine with the FTZ II’s slimmed-down design. This is clearly a better-designed adapter compared to awkward FTZ we’ve used.

In other words, Really dont have a problem with the FTZ II, even though some photographers online are criticizing it for keeping the FTZ’s compatibility issues . Rather, my problem remains using the original FTZ adapter. Sure, that ship has probably sailed – I doubt we’ll get an adapter with full compatibility along with old lenses – however it remains the source for some residual discontent among Nikon Z . shooters.

Nikon FTZ II

six. The standard zoom is 24-120mm rather than 24-105

For a while, the Nikon Z lens roadmap reports we’d get a 24-105mm Ersus eventually. And although that could appease some photographers exactly who complained about the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4’s short zoom capability range, the difference between 70mm and 105mm isn’t specifically massive.

Instead, Nikon surprised us today with the 24- 120mm ‘s announcement. That is a full extra 15mm!

Okay, the difference in between 105mm and 120mm furthermore isn’t massive. But 70mm versus 120mm is a different story. A 24-70mm f/4 is a lightweight, small zoom capability with a limited range; the 24-120mm f/4 is a somewhat larger but more extensive lens that doesn’t absolutely need a telephoto lens in order to pair with it. 24-105mm reaches an awkward place in between.

Nikon was smart to differentiate their f/4 zooms this way. I was already prepared to write a 24-105mm f/4 review that tagged it a bit redundant, and now I don’t think I can make that argument any more.

Nikon Z 24-120mm f4

7. My roadmap prediction was (so far) untrue

A few months ago, I said that we were nearing the end of Nikon’s roadmap, and as much as I liked it, I was worried I was concerned they wouldn’t release another. Turns out they required by surprise (and the particular rumor mill as well) by announcing a revamped version from the roadmap nowadays.

I’ll save you the click: There are five previously unknown lenses on the roadmap now. Nikon offers added a 12-28mm DX lens, a 24mm stream-lined DX lens, a 26mm compact FX lens, a 400mm prime (not the particular f/2. 8 one! ), and an 800mm prime.

Yes, even now no 70-200mm f/4 or even other lightweight telephoto zoom lens. Seems like Nikon is really pushing for those of us who want the lightweight telephoto to give to the allure of the 24-200mm f/4-6. 3 . Of course , it could always be a surprise announcement, or maybe Nikon may eventually add it towards the roadmap anyway and they are just having trouble with it for some reason.

No matter – what’s exciting is that the roadmap isn’t dead. I’m a large fan of knowing what to expect from companies whose equipment I use. Nikon surprised me personally this time, and hopefully they keep up the roadmap within the coming years, too.

8. I am glad to be a Nikon shooter

This particular brief article – created after a long, sleepless evening working on our Z9 coverage – probably has more criticisms (and typos) than it will. My biggest takeaway from the Nikon Z9 release isn’t that the FTZ adapters are mediocre or even that we want more telephoto options. It’s that I’m still seriously glad I’m a Nikon shooter to this day.

Even in a pandemic 12 months, Nikon has managed to release a camera that is unprecedented on today’s market and unquestionably their most advanced camera actually. They’ve marched through their own lens roadmap steadily and with a few nice surprises on the way (like the longer maximum focal length on the 24-120mm f/4). And despite brutal competition against Canon plus Sony, they’ve held their own and released some of the best cameras and lenses available today – both at a given cost and just in general.

I chose Nikon when I first started photography because I saw some sensor assessments that showed good image quality compared to Canon. It wasn’t the most informed decision and bordered on haphazard chance, but I’m happy I went this route. My Nikon Z6 using the 14-30mm f/4 and 24-200mm f/4-6. 3 is the best travel kit I can think of nowadays – other than upgrading towards the second version of the camera – and I’m looking forward to adding the 40mm f/2 to the set when it boats.

Other professional photographers I know are shooting with all the Z7 II and the complete set of f/2. 8 zooms, which Nikon has totally knocked out of the park. The particular 14-24mm f/2. 8, 24-70mm f/2. 8, and 70-200mm f/2. 8 are each the best example of their type of lens that we’ve actually tested at Photography Life. The image quality you can get with that system is near the peak associated with what’s available today.

Nikon has shown that they’re sometimes slower to release a product than the other brands, but when they do, they usually get it best. Today’s Z9 announcement – pending tests to make sure it lives up to the specs – makes that clear in my experience.

Nikon Z Telephoto Sample Image Half Dome
NIKON Z . 7 + NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2. seven VR S @ 105mm, ISO 64, 1/125, f/5. 6

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