It seems that production is picking up for camera manufacturers. Canon has a scheduled event on July 9th where many expect the EOS R5 and R6 to be officially announced along with 6 new lenses. Sony is rumored to announce a a7s III model and a 14-24mm f/2.8, and now Nikon is following suit with reporting that a new Z-series camera dubbed the Z5 will be announced sometime this month along with three new lenses.
It is also possible that additional lenses and products are announced, but the industry expectation is the Z5, Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3, Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.2, and Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 to headline the announcement. Let’s dive into what we know so far.
Currently, it looks like a Nikon Z5 is the only camera on the table and ready to be announced. Rumors have swirled all spring/summer about a potentially Z8 or Z9, which would compete with one of Sony’s professional grade bodies (A7r IV and A9 II). It looks like Nikon users will have to wait a little longer for those bodies, but they are definitely in the pipeline.
- Same EVF & AF as Nikon Z6
- No electronic top panel LCD
- Dual SD UHS-II memory card slots
- 24 megapixel full-frame sensor
- In-body image stabilization
- Magnesium alloy camera body
- 1-million dots back panel LCD
- New battery: Nikon EN-EL15c
- USB-C camera powering & charging
- 1.7x video crop in 4K
- 6 fps burst rate
NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3
- Expected to be kit lens with new Z5
- Plastic build quality
- Consumer grade lens
NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S
- Professional grade lens
- Very anticipated and will compete with Canon’s similar offering
- Best for portrait work
NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S
- One of most anticipated S-series lenses
- Rumors say it could potentially take filters, which would be huge selling point (current 14-30mm takes threaded filters).
- This lens will complete the ‘holy trinity’ (14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.80
Nikon Lens Roadmap
Again, no one is sure right now if there will be more announcements and releases made. The expectation is the products above will be announced July 21st. As stated above, there is the potential for even more products to be announced. I wanted to touch on two lenses that Nikon wildlife photographers are or should be anxiously awaiting. Nikon has two telephotos listed on their roadmap through 2021, a 200-600mm and a 100-400mm. A major gripe with the Z line right now is, there are not great native telephoto options. The addition of a 200-600mm and 100-400mm lenes would change that. The 200-600mm should setup up perfectly for wildlife. I know many are concerned with the AF of the current Z models, but it has been drastically improved with recent firmware updates. The 100-400mm will work great for wildlife, but also be a great lenses for telephoto landscape and abstract images. Canon’s 100-400mm is fantastic and Nikon really has never has an answer to it. Nikon users will still have to wait for that first supertele prime, which seems to be very far out right now. Sony is the only major manufacturer to offer native supertele primes for their mirrorless offering right now. And honestly, that fact combined with the fact that the A9 II is probably the best wildlife camera on the market makes it hard to suggest a wildlife shooter looking to go mirrorless should go with anyone but Sony currently.
A Perfect Ultralight Kit
I want to touch on a very important one for Nikon shooters. The 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR for the Z-series was scheduled to release on April 16th, but was delayed due to COVID-19. It is tough to get your hands on the lens as it is out of stock all over. A few have been lucky enough to get one though. I am very intrigued by these lenses and I’m hopefully we starting seeing reviews soon. My guess is image quality will be excellent, not quite a pro grade f/2.8 lens, but definitely very good. If there is one thing Nikon got right with their mirrorless line, it’s the image quality of the Z-mount lenses. This lens has me excited because it has the potential to complete my landscape photography kit with only 2 lenses, while still getting coverage from 14mm to 200mm. Right now, I have the 14-30mm, the 24-70mm f/4, and I use an adapter with a 70-300mm AF-P FX. If I buy the 24-200mm, I could have a perfect landscape kit with a Z7, 14-30mm, and the 24-200mm. Pretty awesome! Take a look at this.
Ultralight Nikon Z Kit
- Nikon Z7 – 1.49 lbs.
- Nikon 14-30mm f/4 – 1.07 lbs.
- Nikon 24-200mm f/4-6.3 – 1.26 lbs.
Total Weight – 3.82 lbs.
Previous Nikon DSLR Kit
- Nikon D810 – 2.16 lbs.
- Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 – 2.2 lbs.
- Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 – 2.35 lbs.
- Nikon 70-200mm f/4 – 1.86 lbs
Total Weight – 8.57 lbs.
The above comparison does not include the weight from carrying a bulky filter adapter and 145mm filters for the 14-24mm f/2.8 as well. Yes, the DSLR lense setup I was running before I switched to mirrorless included the best of the best for the most (Nikon D850), but the Z lenses are really pushing the limits with what can be done with image quality and lens design. The 14-30mm f/4 actually is sharper and has less distortion than the renowned 14-24mm f/2.8, plus you get an extra 6mm that I find very useful.
In my opinion, the size and weight has been enough to justify my switch from DSLR to the Z series. I recommend any landscape photographer to do the same if they can. The image quality is fantastic with these lenses and it only takes a little bit of shooting to get used to the Z7/6 vs. D810/D850. For wildlife photographers shooting with Nikon, I would wait it out to see if a mirrorless equivalent of the D6 or D500 is released, as well as the upcoming super telephoto lenses.
Matt Meisenheimer is a photographer based in Wisconsin. His artistry revolves around finding unique compositions and exploring locations that few have seen. He strives to capture those brief moments of dramatic light and weather, which make our grand landscapes so special. Matt loves the process of photography – from planning trips and scouting locations, taking the shot in-field, to post-processing the final image.
Matt is an active adventurer and wildlife enthusiast as well. He graduated with a degree in wildlife ecology and worked in Denali National Park and Mount Rainier National Park as a biologist. He also spent 6 months working in the deserts of Namibia before finding his path in photography. Matt’s passion for the wilderness has taken him to many beautiful places around the world.
As a former university teaching assistant, Matt is passionate about instruction. It is his goal to give his students the technical and creative knowledge they need to achieve their own photographic vision. He truly enjoys working with photographers on a personal level and helping them reach their goals.
You can see Matt’s work and portfolio on his webpage at www.meisphotography.com
Don’t Miss the Next Session of BCJ “Live”
Backyard Bird Photography: Simple Techniques for Wildlife Close to Home
with Russell Graves
Tuesday, March 9th, 2021 at 11 am (Mountain)