The Nikon Lens Road Map Tells Us Something

bythom roadmap

It's been interesting to watch the Nikon Z-mount Road Map evolve over time. As it has, a number of "features" have started to be noted, as Nikon is being relatively consistent with the way they present information. Something people aren't noticing is that this chart is now labeled "Vers. 5.0 (to 2023)." What does "to 2023" mean?

Unfortunately, the chart form Nikon uses makes it difficult to see overlapping lenses that actually should be in a single line. So I'm going to split the Road Map into the lines I think exist and are being pursued:

  • In non-exotic Primes, we have essentially six clear lines being pursued. So what's missing in those lines?
    • NOCT: any additional lens; Nikon has stated they will probably add a lens or two in the future.
    • f/1.2 S-Line: probably nothing, but 24mm and 105/135mm might be future possibilities.
    • f/1.8 S-Line: <20mm is missing, 28mm is missing, and 105mm is missing.
    • Compacts: Given the way Nikon has spaced the initial pair, could there be 18/20mm f/2.8 and 60/70mm f/2 in the future?
    • Specialty/DX: Impossible to predict. Currently doesn't have high priority within Nikon. Eventually would need to include Tilt/Shift.
    • Micro-Nikkors: Conspicuously missing 200mm f/4 from F-mount offerings
  • In exotic Primes, I believe there are three lines being pursued:
    • Fast+TC: the 400mm f/2.8 is the first of what I believe will eventually be three (the others are a 200mm f/2 TC VR S, and a 600mm f/4 TC VR S)
    • Moderately fast: 400mm f/4.5 is the first of what I think will be two, the other being a 600mm f/6.3.
    • PF (Phase Fresnel): 800mm f/6.3 is the first, and I believe a 1200mm f/8 will be added. It's possible we might get the 500mm f/5.6 transferred over to the Z-mount, as well.
  • In zooms, things look more confusing on the chart, but I think are pretty clear:
    • f/2.8 VR Trinity: Done and excellent.
    • f/2.8 non-VR Trinity: the Road Map 70-180mm will complete this Tamron-created group.
    • f/4 Trinity: missing the 70-200mm or 100-300mm.
    • Variable aperture: missing a wide angle zoom, missing a superzoom to 300mm. Technically missing a 24-85mm style mid-range offering, but I don't think Nikon is pursuing that.
    • Long telephoto variable aperture: missing 70-300mm.
    • Long telephoto exotic zoom: the 120-300mm f/2.8E VR and 180-400mm f/4E TC VR really need to transition to Z-mount. I'm not sure why Nikon is reluctant to do this, though given the demand for the already announced Z-mount exotics, it might simply be production constraints.
  • In DX, well, buzz, buzz. Making the 12-28mm into a PZ lens is not going to please Zfc or Z50 users. 

On the telephoto side, I believe we see Nikon's emphasis on FX and producing more reach. This was clear with the 800mm f/6.3 PF, but given the rumor of a 1200mm PF being next, coupled with the 600mm and 200-600mm already on the Road Map, you should see that these are more FX focal lengths than DX. We don't currently have a DX body that would even match up well with the existing 100-400mm, as the Z50 body is too small and not configured for a big lens out front. The lack of DX appropriate focal lengths on the telephoto side (e.g. 300mm f/4 PF) would tell me that either Nikon is holding back information, or more likely, doesn't have a Z70/Z90 body coming in the "to 2023" time frame. 

My current belief is that there are probably two lenses missing from the Road Map that will come as surprises in 2023. Thus, I'm betting by the end of 2023 we'll have 32-34 full frame (FX) and 5-7 crop sensor (DX) lenses available. 

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