Exec confirms existence of another Nikon mirrorless camera system

It’s official: The Nikon 1 line isn’t going to be the imaging giant’s only foray into the mirrorless market — and now the company is hinting that new mirrorless line will be full frame. A statement from the company has confirmed initial rumors in July, while a September interview suggests that upcoming camera will sport a full frame sensor.

In an interview with the Japanese newspaper Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Nikon president Kazuo Ushida hinted at a high-end mirrorless camera in the company’s future, initiating a new round of Nikon mirrorless rumors. Interviews translated from Japanese publications have been stretched and misconstrued before — but Nikon released a statement confirming what the translation suggested in July.

“While details are confidential, we can say that we are currently developing new mirrorless products that build upon Nikon’s strengths, and offer the performance prospective customers expect, including the ultimate optics performance, image-processing technologies, strength and durability, and operation,” a Nikon spokesperson told Digital Photography Review.

In the interview, translated via Google, Ushida says, “With generations grew up on smartphones I will give out a ‘Nikonashii’ mirrorless camera that made a difference to other companies in terms of performance. I want to overwhelm the performance of the lens by utilizing industrial lens technology, but also need playfulness.” Nikonashii apparently means, Nikon-ish, or a camera that continues in Nikon’s traditions in a way that other manufacturers cannot compete with.

The passing mention in the interview leaves much up to the imagination. Does the smartphone reference mean the camera will cater to smartphone-like portability and simplicity? Or does the reference simply mean the camera is going to cater to younger generations? Will the “industrial lens technology” mean a separate lens line, or finally a camera company that decides to make a mirrorless body compatible with existing DSLR lenses?

Nikon’s official statement doesn’t clarify much, but it does confirm that a mirrorless line is currently in development. While the Nikon 1 line allowed the company to make a jump to mirrorless, the smaller one-inch sensors were aimed more at consumers than professionals — Nikon hasn’t confirmed nor denied the fate of the 1 series, but a lack of updates suggests the series is falling by the wayside in favor of the uopcoming camera.

Now, a new interview with Nikon’s product research and development manager Tetsuro Goto is shedding more light on the upcoming camera. In an interview first published in Chinese, Goto said, “If Nikon will go mirrorless, it must be full frame.” A full-frame camera would suggest that the upcoming camera will be more geared toward pros and serious enthusiasts — full-frame sensors offer a higher level of image quality but tend to create a higher price tag to go with it. Olympus and Panasonnic’s mirrorless cameras use a Micro Four Thirds sensor, Fujifilm and Canon use APS-C and Sony’s a7 and a9 series sport full frame sensors.

Late last year, Nikon announced a companywide restructuring plan, saying the company would refine its focus to high-end cameras and lenses in order to remain profitable in the smartphone era. Since then, the company has canceled a line of DL compacts after a delay and created a separate division to focus on lens technology. The company’s new focus certainly suggests that the camera would be more high-end than the Nikon 1 series.

Update: Added details from the interview with Goto, which suggests the sensor size of the upcoming camera will be full frame.