How Opinions Get Formed

It seems that the initial "reviews" of the Nikon Z5 starting to appear all share something: "The real question is whether its lower price is low enough" and "While there will inevitably be grumbles that it’s too expensive...". Even I mentioned "The price was a little on the high side to expectation" in explaining the low initial Z5 demand being reported by dealers.

This is the way that opinions get formed on the Internet: a consensus of observation, whether realistic or not, eventually drives the discussion if the manufacturer doesn't jump in to take control of the messaging. 

But is the forming "too expensive" conclusion accurate for the Z5? 

The two things that seem to drive this conclusion are: (1) the Canon RP and Sony A7 Mark II; and (2) how sophisticated an APS-C camera you can get for US$$1400. I'm not sure either of these things should be the real criteria for establishing the Z5's "worth," and I have problems with those that keep pushing both thoughts. 

Let's start with "sophisticated APS-C camera." That wouldn't be a Fujifilm X-T4, which at US$1700 competes more with the price of the Nikon Z6. It might be the Sony A6600, which is the same price as the Z5, but has a slower top shutter speed, less of the frame covered by focus, less touch-screen capability, a body/control design that's still a little too gamer for most, and, of course, it isn't full frame so it's a stop behind. But as I noted in my comments when the Z5 was introduced, my take on the Z5 was that this was the camera Nikon intended for Nikon DX DSLR users looking to move to full frame, and particularly the D70/D90/D7000 crowd and below. To those users, the Z5 is an appropriate step up, and decently priced okay for any leading edge buyer. That user also probably already has a set of lenses that are mostly FX, so they really only are going to want kit zooms and wider angle lenses in the Z mount. 

Meanwhile, the Canon RP, which now usually sells for US$1000, gets tagged for being too old school with its sensor capabilities, limited in some key ways for performance-type shooting, and not quite up to current expectations with video and focus (it's a fine camera worth the US$1000 IMO). The Sony A7 Mark II is currently going for US$900, but doesn't have 4K video, doesn't have a current focus system, uses the older small battery, has lots of niggling UI/ergonomics issues, plus features only a single slower card slot, among other things. 

Today on I posted an article on trailing edge versus sweet spot versus leading edge. These two full frame examples used to show how "high priced" the Z5 is both feel trailing edge boundary to me; the Z5 is more directly in the sweet spot. Moreover, I'm betting that the eventual Canon RP replacement (R3?) and the upcoming Sony entry full frame (A5?) both come in very close to Nikon's initial US$1400 price. Why? Because the camera makers have no choice but to try to push upwards those continuing to iterate and upgrade. Selling <US$1000 camera bodies just doesn't bring in enough gross profit dollars given the ever-contracting market size. 

Finally, it's inevitable that the Z5 gets discounted. Most cameras get discounted over time. So if the Z5 is US$1200 during the holiday season, does that mean it is still priced too high?

Nikon, unfortunately, is letting the Internet wag their tail. NikonUSA's Web page for the Z5 isn't bad. For once it stays focused on the user benefits of the product. But it sort of skips a step with "Your full frame mirrorless journey starts here." I can just see some users saying "Uh, why am I on a full frame mirrorless journey?" NikonUSA doesn't answer that question.

I've got no real issues with Nikon's pricing for the Z5. I think when the dust settles, Canon's US$1000 price will go away for something higher, and Sony can't possibly keep building Mark II's forever in a world that's demanding the IV. No, I think entry full frame mirrorless is going to have starting prices of US$1200 to US$1400, and that's right where Nikon is (though at the top). Indeed, that's exactly where Canon started (US$1299 for the RP when it came out ;~). 

text and images © 2020 Thom Hogan — All Rights Reserved
Follow us on Twitter: @bythom, hashtags #bythom, #zsystemuser
other related sites:,,,