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Nikon Finally Enters Pro Mirrorless Camera Market

Five years ago, Nikon executives were describing mirrorless cameras as “gimmick” technology, last night they jumped on the pro mirrorless bandwagon alongside arch rivals Sony and Panasonic with their Lumix brand.

The moves come as Pro photographers who are the backbone of Nikon’s business started to move to using the Panasonic Lumix range of mirrorless cameras.

The new Nikon Z7 and Z6 cameras which were revealed in Tokyo last night, will feature new lenses and lens mount, and will be lighter than the current pro-grade cameras, the company said.

They are not cheap with a start price of $5K tipped in Australia.

The new Z7 Nikon mirrorless models will have a 45.7-megapixel sensor, and go on sale in late September, followed by the Z6, which will have 24.5 megapixels and cost around $4,000 in Australia, it’s tipped to be available by the end of the year.

“We will deliver new value to the mirrorless market,” Nikon President Kazuo Ushida said at last night’s media conference in Tokyo.

Bloomberg claim that with Nikon’s entry, Sony will no longer have the only high-grade mirrorless cameras that excel at capturing sharp images of fast-moving objects.

The move by Nikon is set to see arch rival Canon also enter the Pro mirrorless camera market.

While smartphones have decimated digital-camera sales, the three Japanese companies have benefitted from professional photographers staying loyal to Nikon and Canon.

“Mirrorless is no longer a niche product,” Stephen Baker, a consumer-technology analyst at researcher NPD told Bloomberg.

“It offers advantages in size and weight and battery that make mirrorless a very competitive premium technology.”

The move allows Nikon to make high-end cameras less bulky than before and provides an opportunity to develop new types of lenses.

But downsides to the technology include a greater toll on battery power.

Many industry watchers believe the move is critical to the Japanese firm’s future, at a time when smartphones have decimated demand for fixed-lens compact digital cameras.

Sales of mirror-based DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras have also been weakening.

“Increased competition among mirrorless cameras will lead to greater credibility for the segment, wider consumer awareness, increased support from retailers and affordable prices, which will ultimately benefit consumers and professional end-users,” said Arun Gill, an analyst at the consultancy Futuresource.

“We will aim for the No. 1 spot in the mirrorless market,” said Nobuyoshi Gokyu, the chief of Nikon’s camera business. Asked about how the Z-series will stack up against Sony’s Alpha line of full-frame mirrorless cameras, he touted its optical performance, including the lens mount, which allows for the use of older Nikon lenses, with an adapter in some cases. “We believe we can lead the future in mirrorless.”

Nikon delayed a push into the full-frame mirrorless cameras on concerns that it would cannibalize its existing SLR line-up, according to NPD. As a result, Nikon’s share of the combined SLR and mirrorless camera has fallen to about a quarter, which is about half its position a decade ago, according to company estimates.