Nikon will stop developing new single lens reflex (SLR) cameras and focus exclusively on mirrorless models, according to a report from Nikkei. The news marks the end of an era and essentially confirms what most observers already expected, as the Japanese company hasn't released a new digital SLR (DSLR) camera since the D6 came out in June of 2020. While it reportedly won't design any more new models, Nikon will continue to produce and distribute existing DSLRs like the D6 and D3500 (above).
Nikon released its first single-lens reflex film camera, the Nikon F, back in 1959. It was one of the most advanced cameras of its time, thanks to features like a large bayonet mount, depth-of-field preview button, titanium focal-plane shutter, modular design and more. The company's first true professional digital SLR was the 2.7-megapixel D1, launched in 1999.
SLR cameras use a mirror and prism to give the user a direct optical view through the camera lens, with the mirror moving out of the way when the photo is taken. Mirrorless cameras, by contrast, take light directly from the lens to the sensor and give the user a view via an electronic viewfinder or rear display. Mirrorless cameras, as we discussed in our explainer and video below, allow for more compact bodies, advanced AI subject recognition, improved video features and more.
Apart from the not-so-popular Nikon 1 series, it arrived late to the mirrorless camera business compared to Sony and others with the launch of its Z mount system and the Z6 and Z7 models in 2018, with the APS-C Z50 model following the next year. Until recently, its high-end professional lineup consisted solely of DSLR models like the D6. However, that changed when Nikon launched the $5,500 Z9 with no mechanical shutter late last year with a combination of speed, power and video chops, to largely positive reviews.
Nikon stopped making compact cameras some time ago as that business was essentially devoured by smartphones. It also recently discontinued a large number of full-frame and APS-C DSLR lenses and camera bodies over the last year.
Overall camera sales have dropped dramatically in just five years, with interchangeable lens cameras (mirrorless and DSLR) falling from 11.67 million units sold in 2017 to 5.34 million by 2021. This has forced companies like Nikon to concentrate their efforts on the most profitable models. Nikon's imaging division now makes half its money from mirrorless models, with SLRs accounting for 30 percent.
Update 7/12/2022 9:57 AM ET: Update gave the following statement on its website: "There was a media article regarding Nikon's withdrawal of SLR development. This media article is only speculation and Nikon has made no announcement in this regards. Nikon is continuing the production, sales and service of digital SLR. Nikon appreciate your continuous support."