"Retro" Nikon MILC?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by rodeo_joe|1, Jun 1, 2021.

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  1. There are rumours circulating that Nikon will soon anounce a retro-styled small mirrorless camera. Anyone heard anything, and more to the point, would anyone be interested?

    Because I suspect such an announcement would annoy those that have just put their money into a Z body. And those that haven't will be looking for something with small, matching lenses, or the ability to take older F-mount glassware.

    Myself, I can't see the appeal of a minimalist retro-styled body with a honking-great Z mount lens on the front, or fitted with an FTZ adaptor plus AI or AF F-mount lens.

    For this to work, it would surely mean another set of lenses being produced. So, another Nikon foot-shooting exercise in the pipeline? Or what?
    bobbudding likes this.
  2. The idea behind the Df was not to look retro as an end in itself but to have traditional tactile controls that give a different user experience than the current press and hold a button and turn a generic dial paradigm. I really liked the Df a lot but didn't buy it as I felt the AF module was not a good fit for such a pricey camera. I regret not buying it to be honest, as its shape closely resembles the F3HP which I very much loved when I was shooting film in the mid 1990s. Being able to adjust exposure (from the lens aperture ring and shutter speed dial) without turning the camera on or lifting it to my eye is appealing to me. I really like the physical controls and how it was designed, with the exception of the sub-command dial which might have been better implemented differently (but is not needed if you use a lens with aperture ring). Some people complained that there was no split-image screen available from Nikon but third parties manufactured such screens for the Df. Another thing that I didn't like about it was that it didn't use the EN-EL15 series batteries which I was using in other cameras.

    A Df Z camera likely could alleviate the concerns that some manual focus users had with the original Df. An EVF allows focus peaking, zoomed-in viewing and other focus aids including potentially a digital rangefinder. I think it would potentially be a good fit for manual focus lens users. I don't think it would include a separate line of lenses as Nikon only made one special 50/1.8 with the Df and a 45mm f/2.8 pancake with the FM3A. The roadmap includes two "compact prime" Z lenses (28mm and 40mm) so I think a "Df" style Z camera might come offered as a kit with one of those. Some Z lenses have additional control rings which could be used to set the aperture and thus complete the two-handed operation of exposure parameters (shutter speed dial with right hand, aperture with control ring) but I am not impressed with the implementation of the control rings to be honest, and the fly-by-wire control generally is not my favorite. But users of older lenses may like it (though the adapter pushes the aperture control ring further from the body).

    I haven't bought a Z camera as Nikon haven't put out the kind of lenses or cameras that I feel would take the best advantage of the technology. These include tilt/shift lenses (more freedom of movement and less vignetting due to the large mount diameter and short flange distance), and camera bodies with fast sensor read time (so no obvious rolling shutter in electronic shutter operation). Z9 is likely to solve the latter issue but at a high price, so still it wouldn't be quite "there there". A Df Z type camera wouldn't be on my list of high-priority items for my own use. I would be interested in a Df II DSLR with optical viewfinder if equipped with the EN-EL15 and the autofocus module from the D780. I know several people who would, however, like a Z Df camera so it's interesting to see how it plays out.

    Ah, I see that NR has posted about a retro-styled DX Z camera, if that's what's coming out, then my description above might not apply. Most users of older manual focus lenses prefer FX cameras as those older lenses generally cover the FX area. A Z DX Df would be an odd duck in my opinion. However, the 28mm compact prime might actually be a nice normal lens for such a camera, so maybe there is some potential there. Fuji have sold a lot of APS-C mirrorless cameras with physical control dials so that could be Nikon's motivation. But it does complicate the lens situation to have this camera in DX format rather than FX.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2021
  3. Retro, maybe...:)

    DX, daft idea...:(

    MLDX, daft idea...:confused:

    Not even sure a mirrorless D500 has any merit. The extra 'reach' disappeared with the D850.

    ..and the wider distribution of AF points disappeared with FX mirrorless.
    q.g._de_bakker likes this.
  4. Right, but they could put more pixels in there (some of Canon's 1.6x crop cameras have 33 MP now) and maintain speed, if they go in that direction.
    The new Z lenses (and modern F mount lenses, especially teles) have increased MTF and this would show benefits at higher pixel densities. Admittedly the lighting conditions where one could take advantage of those pixels are relatively narrow. Maybe that's why Nikon seem to have stopped going in that direction, now using 20MP instead of 24MP in DX. But I think the increase in pixel density is inevitable. It's how they sell cameras. ;-)

    A D850 with grip and EN-EL18 + charger is quite a lot more expensive than a D500. It's also louder, but that difference might be less in mirrorless.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2021
  5. With the Df it's impossible to make it the same size as a 35mm SLR but the idea of the Df is to provide a retro style FX DSLR (that is FX and SLR) and with that requirements it got as close as possible but still its size is out of proportion.
    With the MLIC one of course there will be no SLR but it's now possible to make an FX retro style that is the same size of the F3 and looks even more like the F3 than the Df was. Perhaps they could return to the interchangeable viewfinder? Not in the same way as the Nikon F series but a choice of EVF, remote viewing etc..
    Would I buy one? I don't think so because I don't want an MLIC. I think the only MLIC camera I would want is the view camera.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2021
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The fact of the matter is that Nikon has not announced any new lens since September last year, when they announced the 14-24mm/f2.8 S and 50mm/f1.2 S, both in the Z mount. The last camera bodies are the Z6 ii and Z7 ii in October. Today is June 1. That means about 8 months without any important new product announcements. The rumor sites just need to manufacture some rumors to keep themselves relevant. Nikon is currently behind both Sony and Canon in terms of mirrorless products, and Nikon is down-sizing to focus on higher-end products. I don't see them diverting into retro again.
  7. Yup! Besides Nikon is moving production to Thailand so where do they make this retro camera? If they make it in Thailand it misses 1 retro aspect as old Nikon were made in Japan.
  8. There are still a couple of compact prime lenses on their Z roadmap I hope they deliver before deviating into the retro-land - which can be fun to watch even if it is not designed with me in mind.
    I don't have to take every Nikon decision I disagree with as a personal insult.

    Should they do something for me, a slim Z body with "rangefinder" style layout like Fujifilm X-E4 wouldn't be the worst I could think of - retro styled or not.
  9. OK Ok ok... Here's what I want: A "compact" EVF w SP rangefinder styling, Z mount, FF in black paint on brass (like Pentax did with their cute little MX-1 DigiCam). I'd be all over that (after they have released those compact Z primes).
    steve_gallimore|1 likes this.
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Excellent point. The Df has a prominent "Made in Japan" marking on the body. A Thailand made retro body will have little appeal to the intended market, which I am afraid is pretty small in these days.

  11. Waiting anxiously for the 200-600 S lens.
  12. I would like to see some "retro" lenses, in Z mount, but smaller! Am looking forward to the compact prime, probably the 28 for me. A little wider would be better.

    A small/light fixed focal length short tele Z would be nice, that would replace the tiny Canon 100/3.5 LTM that I use now. I would prefer faster, but f/3.5 would be OK if over 100mm and small/light. AF would be good if the lens could be kept small.

    As for longer fast aperture lenses, I am still more likely to buy (actually just keep the lenses I have) in F mount unless there is a compelling reason to buy in Z mount.
  13. So, that's a no to a DX retro model then...not sure how it could be high-end with inherently poor ISO performance.??
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2021
  14. Retro DX doesn't make sense. The old Nikon film cameras were all full frame.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  15. Did Nikon ever make any film camera gear that wasn't full frame?
  16. The first Nikon was 24x32mm.
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Nikon did make some APS film cameras, such as Pronea and their IX F-mount lenses.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2021
    mag_miksch likes this.
  18. The new 50 mm macro is very compact and lightweight and the MTF may suggest some degree of optimization for DX cameras (MTF drops outside of the center area). I think it's a smart move in making some lenses attractive for DX Z users and compact to take advantage of the shorter flange distance. However, lack of internal focusing, nano coating and the fall in MTF towards outer areas of the frame tell me that this lens may not be for me, but it may be appealing for travel and as a general-purpose "macro normal" lens. The 105 mm MC by contrast appears to have very high MTF (on Nikon Imaging web pages) and in Ricci's videos it provides strikingly improved detail compared to the current F-mount version.
  19. Should the rumour come true -
    1) I'm not sure what the 'intended market' is, and
    2) Why would its country of origin make a difference?

    I didn't buy a Df, not because it was made in Japan, but because it felt like a cheap plastic camera with a thin tinfoil coating. Had it felt 'right' and well-made, I wouldn't have cared where it was made, personally.

    But let's not keep harking back to the somewhat 'Marmite' Df. Hopefully, any new camera isn't going to be a regurgitation of that half-hearted attempt at stealing back Nikon's long-gone reputation for cameras with a precision-engineered 'quality feel'.
    It would definitely have to in order to compete with Sigma's 105mm Art macro - currently only available in Sony and L mount. Which I'm pretty sure will soon be ported across to Z mount.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2021
  20. The bee's knees in close-up photography for many years have been the Voigtländer Apo Lanthars (125 mm F-mount, 65 mm and 110 mm E-mount) but these are manual focus lenses (great for some uses such as carefully considered close-up and landscape work, but e.g. for portraits and automatic focus stacking one may prefer an autofocus lens). Sigma makes good macro lenses, e.g. the 150 mm has a very good reputation, but many people who are really serious about close-up photography have gone with the Voigtländers (especially in Sony mount, as the 125mm F-mount is only available on the used market and at extremely high prices).

    Nikon's F-mount 60 mm AF-S Micro is an excellent lens in my opinion and I love to use it for general purpose as well as close-ups, but the 105 VR Micro has always left me wanting for better correction of aberrations especially in the macro range, and mostly it has sat unused. I have used it when I needed to get some portraits where only a part of the face is showing and it worked well for that. For focus stacking of macro subjects I think it has too much aberration to get really good results (and the G aperture mechanism can give inconsistent exposures in a stack). The new 105 mm Z MC seems excellent from what I've seen so far (Ricci's video especially, though using a prototype) and it seems likely I will be making a purchase.

    Nikon have come out with so many good 50 mm lenses for the Z mount that the 50 MC may not get in my bag. Partially due to my affection for the 60 mm AF-S but also the telescoping focusing leaves me wondering whether it is rugged enough to withstand field use. On the other hand a telescoping, narrower front lets in more light to the subject than the flat end of the internal focusing 60 mm AF-S. But I'm mostly here concerned about having a lens that can withstand a few bumps when working in the field. Of course, it may turn out that my concerns are unwarranted, I will wait to see how it reviews in the coming months. But I think that it's still a very smart decision from Nikon, considering e.g. Z50 users, to make such a compact macro lens.

    No "retro" camera was announced. Perhaps it was just a rumor.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2021
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