Nikon's D6 flagship sports DSLR could arrive in time for the 2020 Olympics

Nikon D5
The current Nikon D5 | Image credit: Nikon
(Image credit: Nikon)

Nikon may be axing some of its DSLRs but, if the rumor mills are to be believed, not all of them. One of the new models we can look forward to is a potential replacement for the three-year old Nikon D5.

We’ve been hearing whispers of the Nikon D6 for a while now, but nothing concrete. Yet, Nikon Rumors is suggesting that prototypes are already being tested so that the camera can be launched in early 2020.

If the D6 truly is a replacement for the D5, that timing would make sense, as the Japanese camera maker would be keen to offer sports photographers brand new kit to use at the 2020 Olympics to be held on Nikon’s home turf of Tokyo.

Let’s talk specs

According to Nikon Rumors, the D6 will feature a 24MP full-frame sensor, taking the resolution up a notch from the D5’s megapixel count of 20.8. 

Although the D5 can shoot 4K video, it does so at up to 30fps and, at launch, could only capture a maximum of three minutes per video. A firmware update later upped that to a max of 30 minutes per shoot. However, the D6 is rumored to be able to capture 4K at up to 60fps, but there is no word yet on whether there will be restrictions on the length of each video.

The D6 could also boast built-in sensor stabilization – which would be a welcome surprise – with longer manual exposure times of up to 120 seconds.

A second batch of specs unearthed by Nikon Rumors suggests the D6 will boast dual CFExpress/XQD memory card slots (like its predecessor), an electronic viewfinder with a possible magnification of 0.78x and 100% frame coverage, a 3.2 million dot rear LCD display (up from the D5’s 2.36 million dot screen) and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity.

With the possibility of new Expeed dual image processors for the D6, Nikon could improve the upcoming camera’s autofocus performance and silent shooting modes. With the addition of a 14fps burst speed, it could outperform the current D5 sports flagship in any arena.

The Z version

It’s important to keep in mind that everything about the Nikon D6 is still speculation, so there may be a possibility that a mirrorless version may surface instead of a DSLR. In a recent interview with a Japanese business newspaper, Nikon president Toshikazu Umatate mentioned that a mirrorless camera in line with the D5 was being developed.

There is also the exciting possibility that we may actually see both, a D6 DSLR and a top-end Z series mirrorless version as well. The latter would compete with the Sony Alpha A9 which is currently the only full-frame mirrorless snapper targeted solely at sports and event photographers. 

And while that might seem like a long shot, Nikon has confirmed new Z series cameras will be joining its mirrorless line-up this year. So we'll just have to wait and see how this all pans out.