After years of rumors, Nikon has finally confirmed that it’s working on an all-new mirrorless camera system based around a full-frame image sensor. The company has given very few details, but we know the system will use a new lens mount and thus require new lenses, though an adapter for F-mount SLR lenses will also be available. (It’s unclear whether this will offer features like autofocus.)
This will be Nikon’s second line of mirrorless cameras after the Nikon 1 series, which launched in 2011 and was recently discontinued. Nikon 1 used small 1-inch sensors and unconventional controls, with an anemic lens range that mostly consisted of slow zooms, meaning image quality was usually closer to a point-and-shoot than a DSLR. There was an F-mount adapter available, but the sensor size meant that focal lengths were cropped to extreme degrees, turning all but the widest lenses into telephotos.
The Nikon 1 system was widely considered an attempt to enter the mirrorless market without cannibalizing Nikon’s greatest strength, its F-mount lens library that dates back to the 1950s. The problem is that you can’t really design a competitive mirrorless camera system around a legacy lens mount. Today’s announcement, then, represents Nikon’s acceptance that mirrorless cameras are the future of professional photography, though the company says it will continue to develop SLRs.
As for when we can expect more information, Nikon is only saying that release and pricing details will be shared “at a later date.” Nikon often announces the development of high-end products without giving much information; it made a similar pre-announcement for the current flagship D5 camera.