Canon R7 Envy

It happens every time a camera company announces a new product: users of competitive products start to moan about what they don't have that the new product does. 

Canon's R7 (and R10) announcement brings APS-C to Canon's RF mount. With two DSLR-style cameras that check a lot of marketing boxes that Nikon Z DX users are now envious of. Is this the end of the world for Nikon? 

No.

(Come on, you saw that answer coming, right?)

Let's do the closest we can do with side by side comparison. That means a Canon R10 and the Nikon Z50.

Canon R10 Nikon Z50
24mp 6000x4000 pixels 20mp 5568x3712 pixels
1.6x crop 1.5x crop
RF mount (EF w/ adapter) Z mount (F w/ adapter)
ISO 100-32000 (+51200) ISO 100-51200 (+204800)
651 selectable AF points 209 selectable AF points
30s to 1/4000 mechanical 30s to 1/4000 mechanical
30s to 1/16000 electronic 30s to 1/2000 electronic
15 fps max mechanical 11 fps max mechanical
Flash built in (GN 6m) Flash built in (GN 7m)
15 ounce (426g) 15.9 ounces (450


At this body level, I'm not seeing a lot of Canon advantage, though arguably a few of the specs do tilt towards the Canon (though the price goes up, too: the Canon body is US$120 more expensive at list prices).  

So most of the complaints noise in the Z-mount world seems to center around the R7 and the missing D500 mirrorless update. In particular, the following features of the R7 are what are provoking the most wailing in the Nikon camp: 33mp sensor, 30 fps max frame rate with a 0.5s pre-buffer available, better focus subject detection, a fully articulating Rear LCD, a 120Hz viewfinder, accessory power/data pins in the hot shoe, USB 3.2 Gen 2, a bigger battery pack, and dual card slots.

That's not quite as many things as the complaints forum discussions might suggest need to be addressed. Could Nikon do something that creates a Z70 or Z90 model that catches things back up? Sure. Nikon's options range from making the current image sensor and EXPEED chip faster (which probably would pick up three of those R7 specs), to going all out with a new image sensor and body, and potentially playing leap frog with Canon. 

The question, of course, is how committed to Z DX Nikon really is. That's difficult to predict with only 1.x camera datapoint (the two current Z DX bodies are essentially the same body with different UIs and ergonomics), and only 3 lenses (with one necessary lens completely missing [wide angle zoom]). I know Nikon has prototyped other Z DX bodies and lenses, but we won't know just how committed Nikon is to the format until we see any of those products make it to market. I think the lack of a wide-angle zoom for the format is a hint: it's likely not coming until another body gets introduced. 

The Z9 and its success actually made Nikon's choices more difficult short term. Nikon absolutely must roll the Z9 tech down into the lower levels, but that seems to suggest the Z6 III and Z7 III first, not a Z90. (Note that Nikon disclosed they planned to push Z9 tech downward in the lineup in their Interim Management plan, so the only real question is where does this tech show up next.)

It bodes well that Nikon has upped their R&D budget for this year in Imaging. Nikon seems to clearly understand that time is of the essence at the moment, and the advantages they just saw with the Z9 can and should be pushed across the entire lineup as quickly as possible. That has been the Nikon engineering modus operandi for decades (reveal with top product, distribute to rest of line as quickly as possible), and I've not seen anything that indicates they've changed that. 

So personally, I'm not particularly worried about where the R7 and R10 are vis-a-vis Z DX. Indeed, I think Sony is probably the one that should be worried, as Canon's R10 takes on the A6400 and the R7 the A6600 pretty darned well (well, if you can ignore all the missing crop sensor lenses ;~). And Canon and Sony are playing a market share game now. 

________________________

Updated: it seems clear that Nikon mislabeled their slides. I've adjusted the dates to match the actual figures.

Meanwhile, Nikon published material from their IR Day (May 26) that reveals a bit more about their strategy moving forward. A number of things were repeated from earlier presentations (50+ Z lenses, deploy the Z9 features across the lineup, etc.). However, relevant to the above, Nikon specifically noted several things:

  1. Nikon will go from about 30% "entry models" in the 2022 fiscal year to 0% "entry models" in the fiscal year 2026 (which ends March 31, 2026). Now what Nikon means by entry models is not really specified or known, but it seems unlikely now that Nikon would introduce a model below the Z50. Much more likely that all subsequent models will be above the Z50.
  2. Revenue from the Z-mount products was just above 50% in fiscal 2022 and will increase to above 80% by fiscal 2026 (~98b yen to 160b yen). Overall, the size of the Imaging Group's sales will likely remain flat from fiscal year 2023 through 2026. What that means is that F-mount (DSLR) sales go from something like ~53b yen down to something closer to 10b yen during that same period. Nikon's targeting profit to remain flat during that period, and about 10-11% of sales. 

I'm still trying to evaluate everything that was said (early this morning my time), but the gist of everything is consistent with what Nikon has been saying for a while now: they are not targeting a market share improvement, they are targeting pro/hobbyists only with high value-added products. They claim to want to "meet expectations" of that group, and if they see the same expectations from you that I do, that means that a Z70/Z90 is likely inevitable and a Z30 isn't.  

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