Comments About Today's Announcements

Yes, there's been a lot to digest in the Z world today, and I'll probably be adding more comments and articles as we learn more information. But a few thoughts come to mind:

  • I'm a little surprised Nikon shot higher than an FX Z50. A Z5 centered on the Z50 body would have been easily done, and cost less (no sensor-VR, fewer buttons, etc.). This definitely means any Z6 update will have to push upwards (see comments below). 
  • The new kit lens is going to sell out for a while. I doubt Nikon will be able to meet demand for putting the new 24-50mm in new Z5 kits as well as sell individual copies to Z6 and Z7 users. Yes, you'll probably want one if you're already into FX Z: the published MTFs look really good and close to the 24-70mm f/4 S, but the new lens travels at half the size. I suspect the 24-50mm is the lens that will be on my FX bodies as I travel, with the superb 24-70mm f/2.8 in the bag for when I need more.
  • Shooting 4K video with the Z5? You probably want a 16-50mm DX lens, which will give you a 26 to 80-ish coverage.
  • NikonUSA's updated lens road map is different than the rumor sites published. In particular, the 60mm Micro is still 60mm, and the 14-24mm f/2.8 is still listed as coming. It appears that in Japan Nikon may have released slightly different information (50mm Micro-Nikkor instead of 60mm) and 14-24mm f/2.8 S is a development announcement for 2020 delivery.
  • The telephoto side is better but no better. With the 70-200mm f/2.8 seemingly slipping to September deliveries now, there's no near-term relief for Z users in having high-quality telephoto available. But with the 1.4x and 2x TCs showing up, it does mean that we have 70-200mm f/2.8, 105-280mm f/4, and 140-400mm f/5.6 in our future. 
  • NikonUSA can't even keep up with their own announcements. The EN-EL15c page, if you can find it (not in search) says only the Z5 is compatible with it. Nope. All the EN-15 cameras should be able to use the new battery (Nikon Japan lists it as: D6xx, D750, D8xx, D7xxx, Z5, Z6, Z7, V1, apparently forgetting the D780). It apparently has a higher capacity than the previous EN-EL15 batteries, though none of the Nikon sites currently list what that is.
  • Another launch-by-press-release. Yes, the virus is making splashy releases tougher, but Canon did a really nice job with the R5/R6 announcement, so it's quite possible to put a real solid launch together online, Nikon just chose not to do it. 

The elephant in the room, however, is this: where does the Z6 now fit in? 

For the time being, the Z6 is the 24mp Z you get if you're at all serious about video. Likewise if you're in the need of higher frame rates for continuous action. We're also likely to learn over time that there are additional simplifications with the Z5, such as no focus stack shooting, which means that higher-end enthusiasts will probably like the Z6 better. 

But technically, yes, the Z5 lands really close to where the Z6 was sitting. The implication to that is that the Z6 update, when it comes, will move up a clear step. How would that work?

  • Gain the Z5 power advances. The new battery and the USB-power while shooting are a given. 
  • Dual slot is a given. Ah, but what dual slot? CFe Type A can live with an SD slot to make that slot dual purpose. Could it be that we get dual CFe/SD slots? Or will Nikon go one CFe Type B, one SD slot? Likely the later, as they already have that part (D850). 
  • EVF/LCD advance is possible. The 5m dot level EVF seems likely for a Z6 update. And if the Z6 is still distinguishing itself as a video-capable camera, I wouldn't rule out a pivoting (instead of tilting) rear LCD.
  • Plenty of "we heard you" possibilities exist. A new grip with controls, adding the 5:4 crop, allowing Drive mode to be saved with the U1/U2/U3 positions, return of a built-in flash (not likely, though), additional of pixel-shift shooting, etc. (See Wish List)
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