What's With Development Announcement of Compact Lenses?

Some are asking why the compact lenses deserved a development announcement last week. Most of the time, Nikon has reserved such announcements for high end products with new technologies or important attributes. The closest I can recall to a low-end product being pre-announced like this was the D70, and I think the reason is the same: the original schedule has been pushed back slightly for some reason, but Nikon thinks these are important products they want their customers to be ready for. They do help fill a currently empty niche within the Z lens lineup after all (compact, reasonably fast primes).

My original understanding was that the compact primes were to be launched alongside a new DX body, most likely what we’ve been calling the Z30. The reason for that was dualistic in nature: compact prime lenses for a compact camera hit at the Canon M competition, but these lenses are also compact for full frame and thus fill a need against Sony’s recent compact FE lens introductions. In other words, two birds with one stone. 

Nikon really wanted that message to hit prior to the next round of camera buying, which is centered around graduations and father’s day. By not launching the camera and still having supply chain issues, Nikon risked looking like they weren’t filling in some niches, thus the development announcement as a short term placeholder.

I believe we’ll see the compact lenses soon enough. And they still may launch with a camera to emphasize how compact the result is with excellent image quality. But every camera maker is juggling their announcements now, so it’s getting tougher to predict when a known (leaked) product actually finally appears.

What we know after the development announcement: 

  • Both lenses cover full frame
  • The 28mm is f/2.8, the 40mm is f/2
  • Both use 52mm filters
  • Both are designed to be light and small

It also appears that they’ll have a non-metal lens mount, which would mean that they’re likely low in cost, too.

Meanwhile, the Road Map for Z lenses was only updated with the information about the two new macro lenses and the aperture details of the compacts. While this may disappoint many, Nikon still has a lot of unreleased lenses to get to, so I don’t see the lack of new lenses being added to the Road Map as an issue. Yet. I’m pretty that at least one lens is being held back in secret for a camera launch, and it might be two lenses. 

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