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A New Nikon Rangefinder Mirrorless Might Surprise Us All


A recent post from the folks at NikonRumors hinted at the possibility of an upcoming entry-level model in Nikon’s mirrorless lineup. Based on some patent drawings for a camera mount, it shows a mirrorless camera without an EVF. While this model might look like the Sony a7c, I’m hoping the Nikon Z4 (as the report says it might be named) will actually be a digital Nikon rangefinder camera.

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What Does the Report Say?

According to the report, the new Nikon Z4 is rumored to:

  • “be smaller than Z5 with dimensions of 63mm x 129mm x 96mm and a weight of 565 grams”
  • “come without in-body image stabilization in order to cut on weight and price”
  • “be more like an FX-format “iCamera” – totally different UI and design, small and light (think Z50 but with an FX-format sensor), very well connected (apps and more)”

Two new compact FX lenses with VR are supposed to be announced with the Z4: 16-24mm f/4-6.3 VR and 24-105mm f/4-7.1 VR.

I wonder if there’s really a need for a new camera that would sit below the Z5 in the Nikon lineup. The Z5 ably assumes the entry-level mirrorless camera role. Sure, the Nikon Z4 might be cheaper than the Z5, thanks to the absence of VR and an EVF. But is this a camera existing Nikon users are really looking for? The Z5 is already a capable camera. It’s attractively priced for Nikon DX DSLR users to jump into the full-frame world. The Z6 and Z7 are no slouches themselves and are now more affordable after the launch of their successors. Why not make a bold change and bring out a silver rangefinder. This could be in the mold of their classic S line from the early 1950s. Granted, it might not be as pocket-friendly in terms of size as the Fujifilm X100V series.

The Industry Needs More Beautiful Cameras

Right now, Leica is leading the pack when it comes to lust-worthy design. Fujifilm hasn’t been far behind with its retro-inspired designs for the most part of this millennium. Admit it; even if you’re not a Fujifilm user, you have secretly longed for a camera that looked like the X100V. Remember the Sony R1Xr series of compact full-frames with their pop-up EVFs? That was innovative and compact while being something of a conversation starter too.

The Nikon S2

Nikon’s Zfc is a step in the right direction for them when it comes to cosmetically appealing cameras. I think if the Z4 could be a Nikon rangefinder, it would really be a winner. Nikon has a history of producing visually delightful rangefinders for decades, and a mirrorless version of one of these would definitely be on my wish list. I own a mint-condition vintage Nikon S2. I won’t mind using a digital edition of this cameras if Nikon rolls one out. That slot could have been occupied by the Zfc if it had a full-frame sensor instead of the crop one it was released with.

The Nikon ZL?

Nikon DL Series
The DL range – a series of cameras that ended up not being released

The Nikon Z-mount is currently the largest among full-frame mirrorless mounts, which means a potential digital rangefinder won’t necessarily be a pocket-sized camera. I’m perfectly okay with that. Let’s just skip the interchangeable lens idea for this model. I wouldn’t mind if they kept it as a fixed lens, variable zoom camera like the ill-fated Nikon DL series was slated to be. This could be a full-frame rangefinder that street and travel photographers would enjoy carrying as a second body. I think I’d probably use it as an everyday walkabout camera. Maybe call it the Nikon ZL to mend my heart that’s still aching after the launch of the DL line was canceled.

A rangefinder instead of a dumbed-down Nikon Z5 might not be what everyone is expecting from Nikon now. But it could be something that grabs them a sizeable amount of the market share again. We’ve written more than a handful of articles on the immersive experience of using rangefinder cameras. Retro-inspired designs are good for the soul. You don’t just love using them; you enjoy just having them around you and being seen with them. The Nikon Df was a much-lauded camera when released nearly a decade ago. The Zfc became a bestseller in Japan almost instantly after its launch last year. As long as Nikon doesn’t cripple any potential rangefinder by doing things like excluding video functionality, they could have a winner on their hands if they try this new digital design.






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