Without a doubt, this year is going to be huge for both Canon and Nikon. With Nikon acknowledging itself being in a transitional period from DSLR to mirrorless (see Keiji Oishi’s DPReview interview) and aiming to release a total of 23 Z mount lenses by the end of 2021, it is clear that the Z system is going to be Nikon’s priority in the near future. Canon’s aggressive RF mount lens releases, as well as the announcement of the Canon EOS R5 are also indications of the company’s commitment to its new mirrorless system.
In fact, the release of Canon’s EOS R5 is going to push other manufacturers to try to match this offering. With in-body image stabilization (IBIS), continuous shooting speed of 12 FPS or 20 FPS using the electronic shutter, ability to shoot 8K video, dual CFexpress card slots, all tucked inside a beautifully designed camera with proven Canon ergonomics, this will be a hard camera to beat by other manufacturers. If Canon does it right, this will be the one camera that does it all – no need to go for separate dedicated video or high-megapixel camera bodies.
Nikon has already gone with two different cameras with its mirrorless system: a general-purpose Z6 with a 24 MP sensor, and a high-resolution Z7 with a 45 MP sensor. If the company continues this trend, we might see two different camera bodies released – one that will directly compete with the EOS R5 (something like a Nikon Z8), and one that will replace the Z6 (possibly released later in 2020, or perhaps even 2021).
When it comes to lenses, both manufacturers are focusing heavily on their mirrorless lenses. Canon has already pointed out that it will shift its development efforts towards RF-mount lenses. Nikon has already released the AF-S NIKKOR 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR this year and says that it will continue to support the Nikon F mount during its transition period, but realistically speaking, I doubt we will see any more F glass in the next few years. Nikon will most likely do the same as Canon in order to keep up, focusing on making more Z mount lenses.
Here is the full line-up of Nikon Z lenses at the moment:
- Nikon Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR
- Nikon Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR
- Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S
- Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 S
- Nikon Z 24mm f/1.8 S
- Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S
- Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S
- Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR
- Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S
- Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S
- Nikon Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct
- Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S
- Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8 S
That’s a total of 13 lenses. According to the Nikon Z roadmap, we will see 10 more Z mount lenses by the end of 2021. That’s obviously an ambitious plan, but as Nikon pushes towards faster and more capable autofocus in its Z mirrorless cameras, it will need to also put some effort towards making high-quality super-telephoto lenses before too long. It would be great to see Z mount versions of the 300mm f/4 PF and 500mm f/5.6 PF lenses before high-end super telephotos like the 600mm f/4.
Canon’s lens line-up is also shaping up very nicely. Compared to Nikon, Canon decided to focus on high-end mirrorless lenses first, so the lenses are quite a bit different in comparison:
- Canon RF 1.4x Extender
- Canon RF 2.0x Extender
- Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM
- Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM
- Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
- Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM
- Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM
- Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro
- Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM
- Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
- Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM
- Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM DS
- Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM
That’s also a total of 13 lenses released so far for the RF mount. Canon promised 6 more RF lenses later this year, which also follows a pretty aggressive release strategy. By the end of 2021, both manufacturers will have over 20 solid, future-proof lenses to choose from.
Sony is obviously far ahead of the game, with a total of 49 lenses to choose from (both E and FE), but if third party lenses are included, the total number of lenses exceeds 150 – a big number to compete against.
I seriously doubt Nikon and Canon will ever open up their mounts to third party manufacturers, but given their popularity, companies like Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, Zeiss and other newer players will most likely continue making lenses. Some might be even able to reverse-engineer the AF capabilities and start making autofocus lenses, similar to what they have done in the past.
Either way, despite Sony’s strong line-up at the moment, I doubt it will be able to expand its market share any further. With both Nikon and Canon thoroughly focused on their mirrorless systems and releasing killer cameras and lenses, it will be hard to persuade existing Nikon and Canon DSLR shooters to switch to a different brand. Especially considering Sony’s poor ergonomics and convoluted menu system, which the company continues to ignore for so many years…