According to Sigma they are studying the Z mount and have not yet decided (NR February 2020). For Sigma it is a business decision to be made based on how well their lenses work on the Z mount, how well they can compete and how much they want to do Z mount lenses compared to everything else they are doing.
My guess is that Sigma have decided to wait and see. Another possibility is that they have discussed the matter with Nikon and have postponed the decision based on legal, technical or economical issues raised during these discussions. Or, Sigma Z mount lenses are actually about to be released.
A fourth possibility is that there is no problem for Sigma to make lenses for the Z mount but there is a problem with the RF mount, and that Sigma currently doesn't find it enough interesting to make lenses only for the Z mount.
What do you think about Z mount third party support from Sigma or other AF capable lens makers?
I believe Tamron actually makes many of Nikons lenses including some for Z mount so that could complicate them coming out with their own Z lenses.
Now from my understanding which could be wrong, Tamron does have a license to use the Nikon mount before Z mount comes out. Depending on the writing, it may already have the license to do so. Also Tamron may have supplied Nikon with some lens designs, or maybe Nikon paid for those to avoid patent issues, who knows.
My first lens was the Sigma 500/4.5 and I would never have bought a Nikon camera to go with it if Sigma did not support the F mount. Every Nikon thing I've bought is due to the fact that the F mount has had Sigma support.
I think Sony gave away the specs for the EF mount and it seems it has served them well.
I'm not saying it wouldn't/won't drive some people away from Nikon, but given the movements in the market that is just a general trend anyway.
The Z lenses have a great image quality, which is hard to match and at very competitive prices.
New firmware gives new possibilities in the Z system, Third parties will have to be able to respond with lens firmware, which is expensive.
The challenge is that simply adapting those lenses to the new Nikon and Canon mirrorless mounts will not take advantage of the new mount specifications which enable fewer trade offs (Read: Cheaper to make and/or smaller.) Third party competitors will be at a disadvantage and to neutralize this disadvantage, they will need two optical formulas. One for Sony and one for Nikon/Canon. Or three if they want to exploit the differences between Nikon and Sony. And they can't design for Nikon/Canon and simply shorten the lens like then can just lengthen the lens if they go the other way.
And Nikon with their compact "non-S" primes and "non-s" lenses in general is signalling that they are not going to leave the lower end for third party manufacturers to fill.
So even if Nikon does not employ an encryption technology and/or legally challenge anyone who makes a Z-mount lens without Nikon's blessing, things are not easy anymore for the third party lens manufacturers.
There is a lot of speculation on the internet about whether Sony, Nikon or Canon are going to survive the transition to mirrorless. What is more interesting is whether Sigma, Tamron, Tokina or all the third party manufacturers that depend on Canon and Nikon's autofocus system are going to survive the transition to mirrorless. If they don't, this will leave the big three in a stronger position.
Now the end result will be better for Sony users though. The third party will concentrate on the E-mount because of market share and license. There will be more choices and a bigger ecosystem to keep the prices somewhat honest.
The bigger question is, "Is it good for Sony?" It remains to be seen if Sony will continue to make money in the declining market. If profit is low or disappears, is it good for Sony users if Sony reduces R&D?
Which isn’t terrible. Sure, they won’t have all the advantage of the Z mount (or RF to a slightly lesser extent) but they will still at least be designed for mirrorless not DSLR and I think that’s fine. Let’s face it - the folks who want 3p are primarily looking for lower prices and generally are willing to sacrifice a little performance. If they want the best then first party is the choice.
The question of if the third party lensmakers survive is very interesting. I think the days are ending where they can just reverse engineer. They will likely need to be officially condoned at some point.
@retread they can’t port true Z mount designs over to other systems, because Z has the shortest flange distance. Z is the universal acceptor. Sony is the universal donor.
I also wonder if Nikon and Canon ever discussed making a mount together. I think such a mount would have been very attractive to third parties.
Why are accessories different from lenses?
To answer your question I think of two reasons why a common mount would attract customers:
1. The more companies that support the mount the more future proof it is.
2. The more companies that support the mount the more options there are.
On the other hand, if Nikon can manage to make the Z mount popular by themselves there is of course a possible upside.
This is a consideration in the strategy of my employer, which I am the CFO of. We are a large business with well over a billion dollars of enterprise value. We are property developers. Many property developers hire general contractors (GC) to construct their projects but we have our own in house GC. Our internal GC in Vancouver would be one of the ten largest in Vancouver and our Toronto GC would be a top twenty in Toronto, but we don't advertise that. Same with our asset management business. We could hire a property management firm to manage our assets, but we do it in house. That business if independent would be one of the ten largest in the city.
So yes, we are grappling with our core competencies, (Asset Management and Property Development) but the accessories (Property Management and Construction GC) are constantly under the microscope to ensure that they actually add value. An example of an accessory that we used to do but let the third parties handle is condo sales. The cost to replicate what they provide, while affordable to us, actually subtracts value.
The only issue? Nikon's bean counters are incapable modeling scenario (b) because it's not simple arithmetic, and Nikon's managers don't have the business sense either. So as a company, they take the easy way out which is (a).
Now I appreciate that Nikon makes mistakes and I am confident enough about some of them to say that. But competent people make mistakes. I experience that with my own staff and colleagues. Sometimes those mistakes are expensive. Whether someone makes a mistake or not is not a measure of their competence. What is a measure of their incompetent is whether people assess that there is a risk of a mistake and fully consider mitigating strategies and implement them where appropriate.
I don't doubt Nikon management's competency in balancing the books, reducing the costs, or squeezing the last few dollars out of its customers. What I'm saying is that they lack the capability in making visionary decisions that's not simple bean counting. They also have made stupid unforced errors.
Now that could be a bigger issue in the future as the prices of first party stuff seems to be sky rocketing, pushing many people out of the market. From a consumer perspective I agree with you 100%, it would be great if third party lenses has native support. I don’t see it happening though, they’ve never done it before, so the precedent is set.
In Nikon’s case they have said in recent years that the target is up market, which means maybe they just don’t care about marketshare, as long as they fill the niche that they want to fill. What our wants and desires are as consumers could be one thing, while the companies goal could be something else entirely. We may not like that goal and have to look elsewhere, and if so whatever, Nikon is not the god of cameras.
PB_PM: In the world of bird watchers there was quite a few who bought a Tamron 150-600 and a Canon or Nikon crop camera when the Tamron lens came out. I know for sure that Nikon would have lost more than 2-3 customers if the lens was not available for the F mount. I would also like to add that we don't have to be talking about third parties, for example the three companies in the L mount alliance have made a business deal that I think makes them all first(/native) parties.
In the music business Spotify entered the rapidly diminishing record market and came up with an idea that offered something new to the customer, access to almost all recordings at a reasonable price. I think Nikon and Canon had the chance to come up with something similar that would have attracted new customers and would have created trouble for Sony. I also think that Nikon still have the chance to open up the Z mount, preferably with some kind of licensing, and maybe they will do it if sales are less than expected.
I think it is perfectly good and natural that we have different views on this, but I think we can agree that sometimes it is good to join forces with other companies (making 50% more than 100%), and that sometimes it is not. I also think my view is affected by me using mostly Sigma lenses and that there are no long prime lenses even on the roadmap for the Z mount. I simpy won't/can't choose the Z mount when the lenses I need are missing.