Here is what we know and what we think
The latest reports say Nikon is targeting Sony’s A7 III and it’s $2,000 price tag as the primary competitor for their upcoming, professional, full frame mirrorless system. These reports also indicate that the new Nikon camera will be announced and on display at Photokina later this year, with shipments starting to go out a month or so following the big trade show. But the real question here is, given all that we have heard about Nikon’s upcoming full frame mirrorless system, will it even be able to compete with Sony’s entry-level [amazon_textlink asin=’B07B43WPVK’ text=’A7 III’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’61593c99-5dfc-11e8-8af1-2fce0b222682′]?
The reports, primarily compiled over on Nikon Rumors, so far point to the Nikon camera featuring a brand new ‘Z’ mount (official name unknown) with a 24MP full frame sensor, and that it will be announced with two lenses initially, with some additional lenses coming out 4-6 months following the initial announcement. The reports also talk about some features or functions that have never before been introduced, in addition to a sophisticated F-Mount adapter that will be intended to help make the change over easier for current Nikon system users.
But again, coming back to my original question; does Nikon even have a chance here to truly compete with the A7 III at that $2,000 price point? Well, realistically, sure, of course, they have a chance, and what we have seen so far in these specs (the 24MP sensor, etc) indicates they will likely be in the same ballpark with all of the essential features. But where Nikon will likely struggle, if you ask me, is in the small areas — the little things.
For example, Sony recently solved their battery life issue with their new Z batteries. Will Nikon’s mirrorless camera feature a battery capable of powering it for as long as the A7 III with the Z battery? How about other little things, like face detection and tracking while focusing? Nikon currently doesn’t do this at all (I’m not counting face detection after capture) and even though Sony makes it look easy with their latest technology, it is anything but. So will Nikon’s face detection AF be anything close to what Sony does, or will it just be a cheap imitation so that they can slap “Face AF” on the box?
Then there is this whole adapter thing; if Nikon can truly produce and F Mount adapter that offers 1:1 performance on their new mirrorless system then it’s game over. That would make it an obvious choice for Nikon shooters. However, we have yet to see any sort of adapter, and even optimized one’s manage to offer truly 1:1 AF performance with an adapted lens on a mirrorless camera. So, color me skeptical that Nikon manages to achieve this; that said, if they can get close it would still be a compelling reason for Nikon DSLR owners to consider the Nikon system over the already well established Sony one.
Honestly, in my estimation, it will be difficult for Nikon to meet the high bar Sony has set with the A7 III. Sony has many years of mirrorless development under their belts and they have gone through many iterations to get to the point they are at. Nikon, on the other hand, has been working on this for something like two years and basically has to start from scratch. It’s hard to get everything right when you are starting from scratch and are venturing into new territory.
So, the question in my mind isn’t so much can Nikon match the [amazon_textlink asin=’B07B43WPVK’ text=’A7 III’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6d03afeb-5dfc-11e8-a173-83ed7179cc04′], because I don’t think they can. The real question is can they get ‘close enough’ to give Nikon shooters a reason to stick with Nikon; and more importantly, can it match the A7 III better than the Canon offering (whenever that comes around) can. In my estimation, neither Canon or Nikon are going to be in a place to truly match Sony, at least not with their first attempts. So, what they are really doing is competing with each other right now over who is the better alternative to the Sony system. Canon has better mirrorless experience than Nikon, but sometimes coming at a problem with a fresh and clear mind can bring with it some amazing results.
So, time will tell — but things should get interesting in the next year or so, that’s for sure.