It’s been a very quiet early year for Nikon, but the camera giant is still back to rumors that its new Z-mount lenses have been delayed.
So far in 2021, Nikon has made only one development briefing Nikon Z9 mirrorless flagship – the Z-mount roadmap has no news at all about many of the long-awaited lenses.
This had led to growing speculation, such as Nikon rumorsthat the planned launch of some of these lenses has been delayed. The site claims that “Nikon was scheduled to release several new Nikkor Z lenses in April, but the announcement was postponed,” apparently because “Nikon is now focusing primarily on the Z9.”
We asked Nikon if it was true that its Z-mount release schedule was delayed, and it certainly told us that “there is no such delay.”
Then we asked Nikon if according to the Japanese website Nikkei Last month, it planned to release another 12 new Z-mount lenses by the end of this fiscal year (ending in March 2022).
It confirmed to us, “We plan to expand the Nikkor Z lens range to approximately 30 lenses by the end of fiscal 2021.”
Despite this “roughly” qualifying, this provides some certainty for Nikon mirrorless camera owners who last saw the new lens, announced almost eight months ago in September 2020.
But Nikon has to move forward and it seems likely that at some point we’ll see a great opportunity for new announcements for Z-mount lenses – possibly joining the full announcement of the Nikon Z9.
Analysis: Pro Nikon shooters are hungry for lens news
To be fair to Nikon, it has not yet given up its promises on its Nikon Z lens roadmap. The latest version of the roadmap is targeted at “a total of 27 amazing lenses and two teleconverters” by the end of 2022.
The frustration of Nikon mirrorless camera owners is the speed of that deployment, especially compared to Canon and Sony. Canon recently announced two pro-level RF telephoto lenses for its mirrorless cameras in addition to the system the first real macro lens.
Meanwhile, Sony has by far the largest collection of native lenses for its full-size mirrorless cameras, having had a significant lead and has recently fun to sign up for exciting beginners not yet in Nikon’s roadmap.
But the picture is also not quite as simple as competing for big numbers. Nikon owners have long been ready to change the lightning-fast development in terms of the quality of their lenses. There is also a difference between a company reporting lenses and buying them.
For example, when comparing the availability of mirrorless lenses on a Canon RF mount and a Nikon Z mount on their official UK stores, there is not much difference. In the Canon store, only ten RF lenses are in stock. Likewise, out of a total of 16 Z-mount lenses in the Nikon store, you can once again buy only ten of them.
The degree of frustration with Nikon is likely to vary depending on what kind of photographer you are – and recent rumors and concerns about Nikon’s Z-mount are likely to rise due to a lack of news around pro-level offerings.
Currently, the Nikon Z system does not have native lenses with a focal length greater than 200 mm or any macro settings. These options are valued by wildlife and landscape photographers who currently need to use an FTZ adapter to use Nikon’s older F-mount lenses, e.g. Nikon Z7 II.
It’s perfectly acceptable as a stopping interval, but the permission for the new Z-mount – and the reason many have switched from Nikon SLRs to mirrorless cameras – is the permission for a new level of optics thanks to the new mount design.
Photographers also see lens notices as a sign of the health and longevity of the system they purchased – even if they don’t end up deciding to buy those high-quality gemstones in the crown of the Z-bracket.
Nikon insists that the expected offerings, such as the Nikon Z 100-400mm and 200-400mm, are on their way and have not been delayed, but increasingly it looks like they won’t be available for purchase until later this year. Still, if Nikon fans can hold on longer – or if Nikon can satisfy them with a ‘development announcement’ – they may well find themselves worth the wait.