Joint J6 and V4 Launch on the Horizon?

Speculating about what a camera manufacturer may do is always fun…but also a ‘shot in the dark’…kind of thing to do. A little over a month ago an interview done by Nikon executives in Japan received a lot of camera media coverage with the (translated from Japanese) statement “bringing in multiple mirrorless cameras at an early stage”. This was interpreted by many folks to mean that Nikon would be launching some larger sensor mirrorless cameras in the very near term. Perhaps a lot of wishful thinking is wrapped up in that interpretation. There could be another, simple way to interpret that translated statement.

Nikon executives have recently stated a number of times that the company intends on staying the course with its current DSLR product line-up of full frame and APS-C cameras, and with the Nikon 1 system. Nikon executives have confirmed that the company is interested in the mirrorless market, specifically monitoring larger sensor mirrorless camera models. To me this sounds that Nikon is still quite tentative about larger sensor mirrorless cameras, rather than signalling that the company is preparing to aggressively invest a ton of capital in this market this year.

With the cancellation of the DL camera line Nikon’s action signalled that it is looking for product profitability, not simply revenue growth at any cost.  Since R&D investments in Nikon 1 lenses have already been done some time ago, there is no need for Nikon to put a bunch of scarce cash into the development of more Nikon 1 lenses…at least not in the short term.

The company could expand the market appeal of the Nikon 1 system by introducing a couple of improved CX sensor Nikon 1 bodies, then leverage its existing line-up of Nikon 1 lenses. If Nikon wanted to send a message to the market about it being committed to the Nikon 1 system it would need to take a ‘go big or go home’ marketing approach. A dual Nikon 1 new model launch would do that for them.

This leads me to think that we may see a joint launch of a J6 and a V4 (or perhaps a V5 model if the ‘4’ is skipped over) perhaps as early as 2017. Nikon has gotten a bit of a bloody nose from the V3’s rather convoluted design, but the J5 has been met with very positive reviews. Also, according to comments made by some Nikon executives the sales of J5 cameras have been good.

Whether Nikon is committed to the Nikon 1 system in the long term is anyone’s guess. In the near term we do know that the interchangeable lens camera market has been far more stable in terms of industry volumes than has the fixed lens camera market. Plus the current line-up of Nikon 1 lenses does represent an opportunity for Nikon to generate some cross-selling revenue if it can improve the market acceptance of the system with updated J-Series and V-Series bodies.

I’m not a betting man but I do think it is a safer bet that we’ll see the concurrent launch of two CX sensor Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras, rather than Nikon announcing any full frame or APS-C mirrorless bodies in the near term. That’s my Canadian 2 cents worth.

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41 thoughts on “Joint J6 and V4 Launch on the Horizon?”

  1. Hi Tom,

    I’ve been following official Nikon 1 Official on FB (@nikon1.nij
    ). Recently they published a note that Nikon Imaging Japan Official Instagram page (https://www.instagram.com/nikonjp/) is going online. It also stated that Nikon 1 works and information will be published on their official Instagram. Having heard the message, I truly think there is still hope for Nikon 1 survival. Let’s just wait and see, while keeping our fingers crossed.

      1. Helo Thomas, hope you well. tick-tick, tempus fugit.

        it would be irritating beyond belief, if ken rockwell was proven right that the 1 series will become an orphan system, like nikon APS-based pronea, and 110 before that.

        the 1 system can produce really good results.

        the fact you use it professionally – get paid for your work, sucessfully, is proof of that.
        rather than abandon it totally, as I want another body, a J6 (J5 with optional shoe -mountedEVF), would make me happy. such a J6 would wjden appeal beyond he sucessful J5
        some odd things appear to have curred in nikon. the announced nikon P milennium bridge super-mega-zoom, never became available, for lunar photo-addicts it, perhaps . the DF2?, no more availability news, I have seen.
        ‘crying wolf’ is a dangerous strategy.

        1. Hi Allan,

          The demise of the Nikon 1 system has been predicted for quite a few years now. Remember when the DL Series was rumoured to be its replacement? That never made any sense to me at all. In some earlier articles I pondered whether the DL Series would ever see the light of day. As we all know, the DLs ended up being cancelled and Nikon 1 is still standing.

          Looking at which segments of the camera market have ‘relative’ strength, it makes no sense to me that Nikon would cancel the Nikon 1 product line. The one caveat, of course, is that the product line can generate contribution margin for Nikon. If it does, there really is no reason to think it will disappear. Without question Nikon needs to improve its marketing of the system to more fully capitalize on the system’s strengths.

          As you know, I have completely switched over to the Nikon 1 system, having sold all of my Nikon full frame gear about 2 years ago. Rather than worry about the potential disappearance of the Nikon 1 system, I added some additional bodies to extend the usable life of my system. Even if something did happen, I have a sufficient amount of Nikon 1 gear to last me for at least another 3 years of use…possibly even 5.

          Thanks for your comment Allan…it has sparked an idea for another article.

          Tom

          1. Hi Tom, I understand your forward strategy for maintaining your nikon 1 system. I will be looking out for a couple of lenses myself.

            nikon 1 now shows on nikon’s official discontinued web page. zero availability of V3 on amazon.com, amazon uk.
            apparently som J5s’ in pipeline, still.

            unless nikon elect to ‘batch manufacture’ nikon 1, from time to time, it looks like what in my opinion is a ‘photographers camera system’,-ie one that enablesone to get cosistently good results, is history.
            they could batch produce items, but as time progresses, the spec and performance gap will widen. so unlikely imo. agree with your last posting, entirely. hope you keep this site going. my very best wishes, Allan.

            1. Hi Allan,

              As I’ve noted many times in my replies to readers, I have been adding gear to my kit to extend the usable life of my Nikon 1 system with the intent of shooting with it for at least another 5 years. My choice of camera system has absolutely nothing to do with my dedication to continuing with my blog. I appreciate that many of my loyal readers are also Nikon 1 owners, but the intent of this blog was never to specifically highlight the Nikon 1 system…it is simply the system with which I choose to do my video and photography. Rest assured I will continue to add content to this blog for many years to come…and also produce a range of photography-realted eBooks.

              The Nikon Canada website shows two models of Nikon 1 bodies available, the V3 and J5, as well as all of the lenses used with these cameras. The AW1 has disappeared which does not surprise me at all given the water infiltration problems experienced with that particular body.

              Is the entire Nikon 1 system now shown as discontinued where you live? As far as I can tell it is still shown on the Nikon UK website.

              Your comment about Nikon doing some ‘batch production’ of Nikon 1 from time to time is certainly a possibility as Japanese manufacturers in general are known for their expertise with rapid production line change-overs.

              Tom

  2. Well I see that Nikon rumors has 4 new Nikon cameras registered with the Indonesian Communications Agency two of which are made in China. China is where Nikon 1 cameras have been assembled before. Maybe there is still hope for a V4 and J6.

    1. Hi Robert,

      Thanks for sharing the update – always appreciated! I arrived at the points in this article by making note of comments from Nikon executives over the past 6 months or so, and spending some time with the latest Nikon annual report. Other than that I was dusting off my former corporate strategy hat and doing a bit of theorizing about what it all meant to me. Whether I’m right or not is another story! I find it to be an interesting mental exercise to go through from time to time.

      Looking at market statistics, Nikon 1 as an interchangeable camera system makes strategic sense to me, whereas the DL Series of cameras never did, especially given the dramatic erosion of volume in the fixed lens camera market. I never saw those cameras as being targeted towards Nikon 1 owners, nor did I see the DLs as a replacement product line for Nikon 1 system. I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Nikon cancelled the DLs. I think Nikon 1 will survive at least for the next several years, and if Nikon can get its head around how to properly market the system I think it could be a permanent part of the product line-up. Time will tell.

      Tom

  3. Hi Tom
    Right now I am travelling in Italy. For the first time Nikon 1 is my prime system (two V3 and one J5 body plus “your” holy trinity), everything has place in a relatively small shoulder bag. D810 and D800e are with me as well, but only with special lenses (PCs, macro and two Zeiss primes for panos and as assurance should Nikon 1 not be up to the task.). First week Nikon 1 got more use and as I am getting used to it (e.g. manual mode), I like it more every day. So, if there should be progress, I would not mind.

  4. they have much to prove. with A6000, GX7 and EM10 costing about $100 more, they come with EVF and huge choice of lens.
    Give me ibis, bracketing, more lens choices which doesn’t cost a ton like the 32mm, I’ll gladly ditch my EM5. oh and focus peaking too.

    PS : I love my V1

    1. Hi Nick,

      Thanks for adding to the discussion! I think most people would agree that if a wide selection of lenses is an important buying consideration then going the Micro 4/3 route would be a better choice compared to Nikon 1. This is especially true if a photographer prefers using prime lenses over zoom lenses. It is also true that some specific features like focus peaking and bracketing may be extremely important to particular photographers depending on the work that they do. As a result some folks would choose other gear that better suits their needs. This is a prudent thing for each of us to do, i.e. use the gear that best suits our needs.

      Whether the Nikon 1 system is a good choice for a particular photographer all depends on the needs of that individual photographer of course. I shoot all of my client videos primarily using 4 Nikon 1 lenses: 10mm f/2.8, 18.5mm f/1.8, 32mm f/1.2 and the 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD zoom. The odd time I also use the 10-100 f/4-5.6 and the 30-100mm f/3.8-5.6 (sometimes with extension tubes). I’ve never not been able to film a particular video clip because I was lacking lenses with the Nikon 1 system. This may not be the case for other people of course.

      In terms of still photography, for those folks who prefer using zoom lenses, I can’t think of any other system that provides better focal length coverage with only three zoom lenses than the Nikon 1 system. The 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6, 10-100mm f/4-5.6 and CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 provide an equivalent field-of-view of 18mm to 810mm with these three easy-to-carry zooms costing about $2,250 CDN in total. People who prefer to shoot stills with prime lenses would likely be better served using a different system.

      In terms of the Nikon 1 32mm f/1.2 it really depends to what one compares that specific lens. I can’t think of any other prime lens made by any other manufacturer that provides an aperture of f/1.2 and an equivalent field-of-view of 85mm that is less money than the Nikon 1 32mm.

      As long as there are photographers there will be debates about whether image stabilization is better when built into a body or into specific lenses. All I care about is the effectiveness of image stabilization with the gear I use. Since I never shoot stills with prime lenses having in-body image stabilization is a non-issue for me with the Nikon 1 system. This could be an issue for other photographers. I find the VR in the three Nikon 1 zooms I use regularly (6.7-13, 10-100 non-PD and CX 70-300) is very good and I regularly shoot my Nikon 1 gear at quite slow shutter speeds. For example, I never hesitate shooting my CX 70-300 fully extended (efov 810mm) at 1/60 or even 1/30 when photographing still subject matter. As far as client work goes I’ll regularly shoot still images with any of my Nikon 1 zooms as slow as 1/30 and never even have to think about it. The VR is reliable and I know I’ll get my shot.

      Lots of folks seem to complain about noise when shooting with Nikon 1. That certainly can be an issue when shooting jpegs at higher ISOs but when shooting in RAW this isn’t much of an issue at all. I never hesitate to shoot my Nikon 1 gear using a camera setting of ISO-3200 as noise can be easily be dealt with in post.

      So, I do agree completely that the Nikon 1 system may not be the best choice for many people depending on their specific needs. It is, however, a very competent camera system that tends to be significantly underestimated by many people.

      Tom

  5. The Nikon 1 system is way underrated, I own two V1 body and lenses, great results and few regrets for my old clumsy and heavy DSLR cameras. Sure I want to buy again, but don’t know how good is selling now in the market. If in future no more N1 will comes out, I’ll see to premium APS-C fixed lenses cameras (Ricoh GR or Fuji X100) or to lighter mirrorless system of other brands.

  6. Should Nikon release a DX mirrorless, which would have to be compelling against the Fuji offerings at the very least, would that be the end of CX?

    1. Hi Mark,

      In some interviews done by Nikon executives last fall, they acknowledged that Nikon 1 buyers are quite different from photographers who use APS-C and full frame DSLRs…so my guess is that the CX format will continue.

      I know that I am in the minority shooting by with Nikon 1 exclusively. I have shot with all three of Nikon’s formats in the past. I started with APS-C. The I moved to a combination of APS-C and full frame. That transitioned to a combination of full frame and Nikon 1. About two years ago I made the decision to shoot with Nikon 1 exclusively and I haven’t regretted it for even a second. I have no interest in ever going back to APS-C or full frame cameras.

      Using Nikon 1 gear has reduced my onsite shooting time when doing client videos by at least 30%, and clients have not seen any different in quality compared to when I was shooting with a D800 and full frame glass. Nikon 1 isn’t the best choice for everyone of course, but for some people like me there is nothing else that meets my needs as well.

      Tom

  7. But the DL cameras were cancelled partly due to issues with the hardware development, do they really have two separate 1″ sensor camera development projects going on – I just don’t see it and I think the DL death killed the 1 series too (well, killed it more dead than it already was, which was a lot).

    1. Hi DrJon,

      I think if Nikon was going to walk away from CX sensor cameras they would have killed the Nikon 1 system at the same time that they nuked the DLs.

      Last fall a number of Nikon executives specifically commented on the good sales numbers that the J5 was achieving and stated that Nikon 1 would be continuing. If Nikon 1 was going to disappear I doubt that Nikon would have featured a J5 in its annual report.

      Whether the \Nikon 1 system survives beyond the next several years is anyone’s guess of course.

      Tom

  8. What Nikon will probably do, and what they should do, are not necessarily the same thing. These days, 1″ sensors are deemed to be suitable for fixed-lens compact cameras. I suspect that most ILC buyers want a camera with a bigger sensor than that, APS-C being an affordable sweet spot. I think Nikon should make something like the Canon M5, only better.

    1. Hi John,

      There are some of us who much prefer shooting with a CX-based interchangeable lens camera system and would not want to go back to APS-C or full frame. Folks who need more depth-of-field when shooting at more wide open apertures, like I do when shooting client videos, likely have more appreciation for what the Nikon 1 system brings to the table.

      Tom

  9. I hope Nikon continue to support the Nikon 1 system. It would also be great if they released a J6 and V3, though I’m currently very happy with what I have.

    The V3 is much better than I expected and I’m using it much more than the J5. The output from the V3 can be extremely nice even at quite high ISO.

    Generally I like the output from the Niko 1 cameras very much and even with a little noise there can be a nice “structure” in the images that are rarely seen from other camera brands. Some would call it film-like and I tend to agree.

    1. Hi Anders,

      I agree that Nikon 1 gear can produce very good images, especially if folks shoot in RAW. Many folks who have never shot with Nikon 1 seem to fixate on sensor size and as a result miss most of the potential of this camera system.

      Having used APS-C and full frame Nikon gear in the past I can say that the Nikon 1 system meets my needs the best out of the three sensor format. Even if Nikon introduced a mirrorless camera with a larger sensor I would have absolutely no interest in buying such a product.

      Every photographer has different needs of course and Nikon 1 may not be a good solution for other folks.

      Tom

  10. This is possible, but I see another possibility that I would think made the most sense financially. I agree with those people saying that Nikon needs to ride the wave to mirrorless systems as it is obvious from camera sales statistics that dslr sales are declining and lot of people are switching to mirrorless systems. And the Nikon 1 system is simply far from enough to satisfy most Nikon users who want to ride that wave.

    So what I would see as a good decision for Nikon was if they came out soon with Nikon 1 V4 and at the same time with a DX sensor mirrorless camera. In my mind they are more or less ready for that. They could just use the autofocus system from the (hopefully) new V4 for a new DX sensor mirrorless camera. Just like they are using the same autofocus system in D5 and D500 cameras. In the DX camera the autofocus system would not cover the whole sensor as it does in the V(4) cameras but this would be a good start and probably a very competitive one in the Aps-C censor mirrorless crowd. Many mirrorless cameras have been behind in autofocus speed and accuracy and if using the already proven autofocus system in a new camera model, Nikon would be ahead of many competitors right from the start, as the autofocus systems in Nikon 1 cameras are already quite good. And then they would be offering either a 24 megapixel sensor in that body or the 21 megapixel sensor they are using in the D500, either sensors very good and proven in other cameras. In my mind it seems very simple but who knows what they will do 😉

    1. Hi Jon,
      Thanks for adding to the discussion! One of the big issues for Nikon moving into mirrorless with a larger sensor product is the lenses they would offer with that product. Unless they could figure out a way for current DX and FX glass to work with a DX mirrorless camera they would need to develop another line-up of lenses.
      Tom

      1. I understand that issue and have thought about it. Mirrorless is also about smaller cameras when they do not need to put the mirror system in the camera body.

        I think they would have to design the mirrorless cameras with a shorter flange to sensor distance than the current F mount. But to not let lens availability block camera sales they would have to include an adapter with the camera to make it possible to use the current f mount lenses on them. That kind of adapter would be a simple thing technically, just an extension of the camera mount and contacts.

        Lot of people would love to get a mirrorless camera as an add on to the current Nikon system they already use. But if they can not get a Nikon mirrorless camera with larger sensor than CX they will turn away from Nikon completely sooner or later.

        I have a few Nikon cameras of all sensor sizes, J2, D3200 and D600 to name a few. And I also have a Sony A7r. And I already use all my Nikon f mount lenses on any of those cameras with proper adapter and good results. So this is possible without complication.

        And they need to avoid the limitations they have put on the Nikon 1 system, like when selling the electronic viewfinder separately.

        And I think it was a mistake for Nikon to ditch the DL camera line completely, they should have continued with the superzoom one, that kind of cameras are quite popular. The Nikon P900 is a good example of that, the DL24-500 was a first step to gear up to a bigger sensor superzoom and I think there is a bright future for that camera. The only big drawback in the P900 is the sensor, I have often wished it had the 41 megapixel sensor (and audio recording quality) in my smartphone, Nokia 1020, then it would be so much better camera. The trend in cameras is all about bigger sensors nowadays. Some of the best selling cameras now seem to be medium format cameras from Hasselblad and Fuji and people want CX or bigger sensor in small point and shoot cameras. The 1″ sensor bridge cameras (like the DL24-500) are popular as travel cameras and the more advanced users are moving upwards to Aps-c or full frame cameras.

        1. Hi Jon,

          I wrote an earlier article about the continued collapse of the fixed lens camera market and predicted that the DL Series would be cancelled last year due to market dynamics.

          Nikon has stated that they still intend to bring out a premium compact camera. My guess is that they are going to assess the fixed lens camera market further before proceeding. I think the DLs were cancelled as the fixed lens market became too small to support three new cameras from Nikon.

          What sensor format may be used in a potential Nikon premium compact camera is anyone’s guess at this point. I would probably cast my vote for an APS-C fixed lens camera, likely in 2018.

          Tom

  11. I hope they do come out with something CX that does what my DX and FX bodies do, just smaller. I really like my V2, but, feature- wise, it is lacking. I don’t care for the V3. The J5 might do, but it really doesn’t suit.

    Get the next CX cameras right Nikon!

    1. Hi George,
      We all have different camera equipment needs so it will be interesting to see where Nikon goes with their mirrorless product line. How many additional features that may be in future bodies is anyone’s guess.
      Tom

  12. Nikon’s latest financial shows profit was up, but sales declined almost 9%. If they do not come out with new and better models soon, they will have even worse sales in the future. Recent survey indicated mirrorless over took DSLR in sales and the trend is expected to continue. Nikon needs to move fast not only to compete but to survive.

    1. Hi Ming,
      Nikon’s strategy as announced last fall is to focus on profitability by focusing on higher value/margin products so the latest financials are likely part of that plan i.e. making more profit on a declining sales base. In terms of CIPA worldwide statistics, mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras made up about 27.2% of the total worldwide interchangeable lens market in 2016.
      Tom

      1. This is the reason why I’m not sure your prediction will come true. The V3 is already a US$1000+ product. Technically, a V3 kit is inferior to a Sony RX100V due to the lens difference alone. Nikon is trying to raise their GPM, but in the case of any V3 followup, I’d guess they’d have to lower it to stay price competitive. That was the problem with the DLs, too.

        The J5 is a bit of a different story given its current price. But as I noted, had the DLs actually appeared, the J5 would have had a similar problem against the DLs as the V3 does against the RX100V: lens inferiority (short of buying very expensive lenses, some of which don’t exist).

        Nikon has the classic duopolist problem, particularly the second party in the duopoly: at some point it has to protect its market share against any “new, realigned” market. That would be mirrorless in ILC. A high priced J6 and V4 aren’t going to do anything to help Nikon with that.

        Because Nikon had a 33% market share, they had parts and cost benefits over the #3 and higher players in the market. Sony at only 14% first tried the price low-ball approach to gain share, but that was not viable long term unless they grew their share considerably, which they did not. Having a low volume 1″ camera system doesn’t help with parts and cost benefits; just the opposite, actually.

        Nikon is currently down to 27% market share in ILC, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that drop lower in the near future given the collapse of low-end DX and nothing new in mirrorless. With Canon now firmly entrenched in mirrorless with the M5/M6 and growing its share, a Nikon 1 response isn’t going to move the bar back up to Nikon’s traditional ILC market share. Indeed, all it would do is push more folk to Canon/Sony (and Fujifilm). You really have to hold and shoot an M5 and a V3 side by side to see why that might be. Canon finally got it right. Or right enough.

        If Nikon does introduce any new Nikon 1 models—and I think they probably should as there are just enough Nikon 1 owners that would upgrade that it should be a simple decision—they need to be careful how and when they do it. Announcing more expensive Nikon 1 models prior to any DX mirrorless entry would not help them, at all. Indeed, it would tend to increase the flow outward that Nikon is already seeing. (When even I can measure it, it has to be hurting Nikon badly. We’re no longer talking low single digit migration from F-mount; it’s in the high single digits now and growing.)

        1. Hi Thom,
          Thanks for adding your perspectives to the discussion! We obviously have some differences in opinion, which is a healthy thing. We also had differing views on the DL Series. I never saw them as direct competitors with the Nikon 1 system at all. As fixed lens cameras I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Nikon cancelled them…and I suggested in one of my articles last year that it was very likely to happen.
          Tom

          1. It has been also suggested in the past taking Nikon’s public support of Nikon 1 in interviews at face value- when Nikon was very adamant in a manager interview just at the end of last year (December? Or was it even January this year? can’t remember the exact time) that the DL’s were *definitively* coming for sure- yet here we are.

            I think it’s important to see the data points from dealers and what is around. The Nikon 1 is at best a niche market. It could have been more but it isn’t.

            I guess doing a simple upgrade for the J5 since it should be pretty cheap to produce should get them some money while they buy themselves time with their final mirrorless non-1” sensor solution.

            How to approach a profitable 1 system at this point is tough. I have come to appreciate the 18.5mm and 32mm lenses as being very good, but they are competing against some rather good stuff out there too as a system.

            1. Hi Ricardo,

              I agree that there are lots of very good camera systems available today. We all need to choose the best solution for our individual needs. Nikon 1 won’t be the best choice for everyone…c’est la vie. Whether Nikon is able to market the Nikon 1 system’s strengths appropriately and broaden its market acceptance is yet to be seen. Apparently the system is having some success in Asia and Europe which are the two most important global markets for mirrorless cameras…especially Asia. Time…as always…will tell.

              Tom

  13. I also cast my vote for a J6 and V4 (probably counted as a zero vote by Nikon). At least I hope that Nikon does something soon for the Nikon 1 system. It has been quite a while since the last new Nikon body introduction. In comparison, Sony has been banging out new bodies continuously.

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