A Mirrorless Teaser from Nikon

Nikon seems to like teasers and Development Announcements: the micromanagement method of leaking information ;~). 


Today Nikon put out a first teaser for its upcoming mirrorless system. These campaigns are basically much like an official leak, in that they presage an upcoming actual product announcement without providing any specific details.

The first time I recall Nikon doing that in the digital age was with the D70, but recently both the D4s and D850 have gotten the Development Announcement treatment, as well as a number of lenses, including the as-yet-to-be-announced 500mm f/5.6E PF. While the Nikon Df DSLR wasn’t officially Development Announced, it was instead teased—the first parts of that teaser campaign are no longer visible, this video appeared in the middle of the campaign—which is what we’re now seeing with the Nikon mirrorless system. 

Why do we get these teasers and pre-announcements? I think it often has to do a bit with a combination of paranoia and eagerness within Nikon marketing. But this time I think this is an echo of what Nikon did with the Df (retro DSLR). The upcoming product is enough different from their DSLR mainstream that Nikon wants to set the discussion about it before the specifics are revealed.

Tech is relentless in terms of having to keep moving. If you go back and look through the recent years’ of actual product announcements, you’ll see that things have been slowing for Nikon in the past few years in terms of ILC product, but the market is still very “noisy” and is best served by keeping the marketing engine active. 

So what to make of today’s teaser?

Well, it’s not at all unexpected. While I’ve known about Nikon’s FX mirrorless development for some time, originally the idea was to release DX mirrorless first. It’s not clear to me why Nikon made the switch to release the FX cameras first, but the internal debate was loud enough that there were some very visible leaks and specific information that managed to get out of Tokyo headquarters.

Indeed, Goto-san’s very public remarks at a Chinese user group last year that Nikon needed to go FX mirrorless I believe were part of an orchestrated campaign to force a decision. Or perhaps test a strawman position in public. And curiously, Goto-san was the one in charge when the Df teaser campaign was done (he’s now an advisor). 

Whatever pushed the decision to do FX mirrorless first it is now clear that the cameras are being produced. Beyond the teaser, which basically only gives us an outline and shape to the product, a few more revealing shots appeared briefly on the Internet, which was long enough for some to copy them and repost. What we seem to have is a far smaller overall body, but with a large grip. Unlike the Sony A7 bodies, Nikon also appears to have taken the “edges” off; there’s a lot of slant to all the panels other than the absolute top and LCD back. 

The devil is in the details, of course, and there wasn't much in the way of details in the teaser. There have been a few substantive reports of specifications—most notably on Nikon Rumors—but I think that there is much more nuance than has been rumored. This is a big launch for Nikon, with multiple products (cameras, lenses, and accessories). There’s much, much more that will be revealed.

Which brings us to the teaser campaign. If we go by past Nikon teases, they usually last two weeks to a month. Photokina is the last week of September. Nikon has a press conference in their booth scheduled just prior to that show, but I believe they’ll announce prior to that. At this point, given Nikon’s past actions, one could imagine a full announcement anywhere between late August and mid-September. Between now and the announcement, we’ll see a series of more revealing teasers and emails (you can sign up for the email list here), much like we did with the Df.

When we have an official product name and official details, I’ll be opening up new sections for the products in the camera and lens menus of this site.

Update: I’m seeing a lot of people write about Nikon’s first serious mirrorless system. Sorry, but the Nikon 1 was a serious system. No other mirrorless system had some of the things that Nikon pioneered there, including early phase detect focus that worked, the AW, an 85mm equivalent f/1.2 lens, and the 189-810mm equivalent telephoto. Nikon did confuse themselves about how the camera should be positioned, but the Nikon 1 system had several key D3 designers in its development, and this was a very serious product that was marketed and priced poorly.

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