Unannounced Nikon mirrorless camera gets leaked in new patent images

The current Nikon Z6 (Image credit: Nikon)

We’ve been hearing about a potential new Nikon mirrorless cameras joining the Z6 and Z7 full-frame line for a while now, including an entry-level option that could potentially be called the Z3 (alternatively dubbed the Z1).

There could be an element of truth to these rumors as Japanese website Design Watch has unearthed a patent registration for a new Nikon snapper that could potentially be that budget offering.

The front face of what could be the rumored Nikon Z3

The front face of what could be the rumored Nikon Z3 (Image credit: Design Watch)

From the leaked images, the camera appears to be an APS-C Z-mount snapper that doesn’t have a viewfinder.

This ties in with Nikon Rumors’ original prediction of the Z3 being “an entry-level DX camera with fixed LCD screen, 24 or 26MP sensor, one microSD card slot only [and] probably no EVF.” While it’s unclear whether the LCD display is fixed or not, the design looks similar to the now five-year-old Sony Alpha A5100.

The lack of a viewfinder has some speculating that it could become available as an add-on that could be slotted into the hot shoe visible in the drawings of the top plate of the camera.

The rear of the unannounced Nikon snapper

The rear of the unannounced Nikon snapper (Image credit: Design Watch)

Its place in the world

How Nikon plans to market this possible new camera will be interesting: while the first duo in the Z series line competes directly with Canon’s new EOS R and EOS RP, a new Z-mount camera without an EVF will put it in direct competition with the likes of the Canon EOS M6.

That would also mean Nikon will have to commit to making four different lines of lenses – for APS-C DSLRs (DX lenses), another for full-frame DSLRs (FX lenses), a third for full-frame mirrorless cameras (Z-mount lenses) and the last for the APS-C mirrorless cameras. 

(Image credit: Design Watch)

We have no idea whether Nikon plans to develop Z-mount lenses for crop sensor snappers but there have been whispers that three DX lenses could be incoming in 2020.

While patent filings don’t always indicate a new product will definitely be launched, we can’t help but wonder how well the rumors and this new revelation coincide. And if this comes to pass, it might be able to help Nikon gain some customers after its recent slump in sales.

Sharmishta Sarkar
Managing Editor (APAC)

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing camera kits or the latest in e-paper tablets, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She's also the Australian Managing Editor of Digital Camera World and, if that wasn't enough, she contributes to T3 and Tom's Guide, while also working on two of Future's photography print magazines Down Under.