While the Z6 III Is Here, a Z7 III is Far Less of a Certainty

Front view of a Nikon Z 7II mirrorless digital camera without a lens. The camera has a black body, a grip on the left, and various buttons and dials. The Nikon logo is visible at the top, and the Z 7II model name is on the bottom right corner.

Earlier this week, Nikon announced the Z6 III to considerable fanfare, and for good reason. It packs so many features into a $2,500 system that it manages to be a camera that is more than a compromise, even at that price. But the Z6 series has always been accompanied by the Z7 series yet this time, that wasn’t the case.

When Nikon first debuted the mirrorless Z-mount in 2018, it did so with the Z6 and Z7 cameras. Two years later, it followed up with a sequel to both with a simultaneous announcement of the Z6 II and Z7 II. But this year, breaking with that tradition, Nikon only announced the Z6 III with no mention of a Z7 series successor. That’s probably because the Z7 III is unlikely to ever arrive.

The signs all point to Nikon quietly letting the Z7 series fade into the sunset. With the Zf, Z5, Z6 III, Z8, and Z9 cameras on the market, there isn’t really a place for the Z7 III.

The Nikon Z5 fills in the low-end of the full-frame Z-mount line. The Zf goes higher end, but with a retro skin, so it stands mostly on its own. The Z6 III is clearly Nikon’s new enthusiast-level darling and thanks to its aggressive $2,500 asking price, it stands to take over the position the D750 did in Nikon’s DSLR line. The Z8 adds higher resolution and a faster sensor to that equation to be the camera that the D800 and D850 were in the DSLR era and the Z9 is, obviously, the flagship like the D5 was.

If Nikon were to release the Z7 III, it would awkwardly fit into this very streamlined camera lineup. It would have to be priced similarly or just a bit more than the Z6 in exchange for a higher resolution, but not so high or so performant as to compete directly with the Z8. As such, it would have to come in somewhere below the Z8, meaning worse performance somewhere. Given how much Nikon has packed into both the Zf and the Z6 III, intentionally hamstringing a camera just to force it to fit in its line doesn’t feel like a choice the company wants to make anymore.

Really, almost everything that a photographer would want in a Z7 III is already available in the Z8, so Nikon likely feels as though it has no reason to make the Z7 III since it would only confuse prospective buyers.

The only thing the Z7 III could bring to the table that the Z8 doesn’t is a mechanical shutter and while there are a few Nikon photographers who are desperate for the small dynamic range boost a physical shutter would bring, most aren’t losing any sleep over its absence in the Z8. Given that would be essentially the only differentiator between the two lines, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense for Nikon to muddle its camera offerings with a new Z7.

The only way I can see Nikon can release the Z7 III is to change what photographers have come to expect from it. The only camera really “missing” from Nikon’s lineup is a video-focused system like Canon’s R5C, Sony’s a7S, or Panasonic’s S5 IIX. Nikon surely has the sensors and the capability to make a great video-focused camera (and thanks to the acquisition of RED, everything it needs to make it successful), but doing so would be creating a system that doesn’t fit the Z7 name and lineage. It is more likely that if Nikon chooses to go this route — which I am certain it will within the next three years — it would carry a new name.

All this is to say that as beloved as the Z7 II is by many Nikon photographers, it’s unlikely to see a successor. Nikon’s camera line is almost complete and there isn’t a place in it for a camera that would essentially be a Z8 clone — or Z8 lite — with the main differentiator being a mechanical shutter. Besides, there isn’t anything wrong with the Z7 II — it’s still a great camera. If a mechanical shutter and high resolution are a must, it can deliver.