I watched the masterful Nikon teaser campaign. I’ve read a lot of announcement material. I’ve been amazed at the interest on the ‘net. And I see utility for my own photography. So, for those who are wondering – whether you prodded me or not – I’m announcing that I will be testing at least the following:
- Z6 body
- Z7 body
- F-to-Z adapter
Why not go all the way and test the zoom? I’m just not a fan of middle-range zooms, apart from the Fuji 32-64/4.
When? As soon as I can gain access to the gear. Probably October for the Z7 and November for the Z6.
What do I think of the cameras based on what I’ve read?
If the adapter for F-mount lenses works well, they are both credible, and will serve Nikon well in what I think is their main objective – to stem the tide of customers moving from F-mount to Sony MILCs. For the cameras to be a corporate success, the F-to-Z adapter will have to offer something close to the user experience of F-mount lenses on the D850. If the F-mount glass doesn’t work well on the Zx cameras, then the relative paucity of native lenses will make the Zx look unattractive to current Nikon DSLR shooters, and they will decide that they’re better off biting the bullet, selling their G and E Nikkors, keeping the others, and jumping ship to Sony.
The Z7 and Z6 are designed to have mass appeal. I don’t think that the target customer for either of these cameras is the working pro, even though some pros with plunk down their cash. They’re aimed at the serious amateur, and even at the not-so-serious shooter (case in point: the inclusion of a full-auto mode). If these cameras are a success, there will be a serious competitor to the a9 that has D5-class ruggedness, and probably a 60-80 MP camera for the segment of the full frame market that values image quality above all else.
I think of the Z7 as a MILC D850, and expect the sensors to be very similar, except for the on-sensor PDAF on the Z7 (I’ll be checking for PDAF striping). The Z6 looks to be aimed straight at the a7III (with the exception of the battery life and the single slot, which are more like the a7II). I don’t know what that sensor is going to look like, but I’m guessing it will have the Aptina conversion gain switching tech that the a7III employs.
The big news is the wide throat on the mount. Flexibility for lens designers can’t be a bad thing, but how much of a good thing the throat is will depend on what native lenses become available. The only lens that looks like it really needs it is the 50/0.95, but that manual-focus beast is clearly a halo product and not anything that’s going to ship in volume. I am looking forward to testing the 50/1.8 and 35/1.8 to see how good they are and how much of that goodness can be attributed to the mount.
There are lots of details, and I’ll jump in with my thoughts on some of them.
Single card slot. a tempest in a teapot. Sure, it’ll keep wedding photographers from signing on, but that’s not the market Nikon’s aiming for.
No PC connector. Same as above. Only an issue to a studio pro, and not much of one, at that, now that smart controllers are becoming the strobe standard.
EFCS off by default. A mistake, and an invitation to shutter shock. I’ll be testing to see how bad the shutter shock is.
EFCS turns off at 1/2000. A good thing, and something that Sony should have done.
Locking the IBIS when it’s turned off (and supposedly when the camera is turned off). Smart move, Nikon. It saves some power, is one less thing to worry about with the camera on a tripod, and makes the sensor easier to clean.
CIPA battery life half of the a7RIII. I think that was an unwise choice, unless they’re expecting a lot of people to go for the accessory grip, and if that’s the case, why isn’t it part of the initial offering.
Top status panel. Whoopee!
PASM mode dial. Thumbs down. I like the D5/D850 style buttons better, and I’d rather have a D5-style shutter mode dial.
1/200 synch speed. A little disappointing, but no biggie.
i-Menu. Don’t feel bad, Sony; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
AF/MF switch moves to lenses. A good idea if they all have it.
Programmable ring on the lenses. Another good idea. Why not go all the way and have a Batis-style programmable display for f-stops, distance, exposure compensation and the like?
Small buffer. A bit of a pain, but remember, this is not the pro camera.
Man möge mich bitte nicht falsch verstehen, ich wünsche Nikon mit ihrem neuen Mirrorless FF System den größtmöglichen Erfolg und ich hoffe, Nikon wird noch lange, große Erfolge feiern. Schon allein deswegen, weil ich lange Jahre mit Nikon gearbeitet habe und von der Qualität und dem Handling begeistert war. Nur kam eine Zeit, wo ich mir die Frage stellte, Können sie nicht oder Wollen sie nicht. Dazu gibt Mirrorless Rumors eine nette Samlung von Statements von Nikon Managern über den Lauf der Zeit. Schade nur, denn selbst Leica hat in dieser Zeit mit Mirrorless gutes Geld verdient und alle die anderen, allen voran Sony! Also ich wünsche Nikon mit ihrem neuem Kamerasystem, den besten Erfolg und viele gute Verkaufszahlen. Allerdings bin ich anderswo und sehr zufrieden gelandet.
Please do not misunderstand me, I wish Nikon the greatest possible success with their new Mirrorless FF system, and I hope Nikon will celebrate great success for a long time. If only because I worked with Nikon for many years and was impressed by the quality and handling. Only there came a time when I asked myself the question Can they not or do not want them. In addition, Mirrorless Rumors gives a nice collection of statements from Nikon managers over the course of time. Too bad, because even Leica has earned good money with Mirrorless and all the others, especially Sony! So I wish Nikon with their new camera system, the best success and many good sales figures. However, I landed elsewhere and very satisfied.
Tom Hardin says
Mr. K, that is great news that you will be testing the new Z system. I have never been completely happy with my Sony a7xx bodies but now am comfortable shooting some things with them. I am not sure that I now want to give up my lens collection for Sony but could easily give up the UI 🙂
I very much look forward to your views.
Jim, please test the self heating.
Edward Wrobel says
Would you reconsider reviewing 24-70? Excellent travel lens, if it is comparable in quality to Fuji 32-64.
Your reviews are priceless
Thanks for the kind words. If somebody I respect says the Z-mount 24-70 is as good as the Fuji 32-64, I will review it. But my expectations are not at that level.
Edward Wrobel says
have the Z 24-70/4 (being the only one available and of interest to me so far); construction is sturdy but mostly plastic (with some sticktion to the action), but the same applies to my trusty [24-120/4] and that hasn’t let me down yet. There are two remarkable things about this lens: firstly, the collapsed size is tiny: it’s the same size as the primes, or say an 85/1.8. The second thing is it’s neutrality: it isn’t crazy sharp like an Otus, but it isn’t soft, either; microcontrast is middle to high; macrocontrast is middle to high, and it’s slightly better stopped down (peaking somewhere between f5.6 and f8). It definitely matches the resolution of the sensor. But what’s amazing is its consistency across the focal range, focal distance and across the frame, even into the extreme corners. Remember: this isn’t a prime; it’s a collapsing compact wide-to-portrait zoom, with very short back flange distance.
This is the first time I’ve seen this kind of behaviour in a zoom: normally there’s an obvious resolution peak in the middle, with the edges only catching up a couple of stops down. Furthermore, chromatic aberration (both longitudinal and lateral) and flare are almost zero. You really have to get something very bright in the frame at wide to see even slight ghosts. This is solid evidence of the performance improvements that come from a larger mount, larger exit pupil (32mm!) and higher telecentricity. On top of that, focus is completely silent and nearly instant, and you have the benefit of a very short 30cm minimum distance from the focal plane at all focal lengths. There is some degredation in resolution close up, but it was never designed to be a macro. Bokeh is smooth and highlights are circular, with little evidence of onion rings, hot edges or corner cat-eyeing.
Would you reconsider Jim?
OK. Turns out the fastest way for me to get a Z7 is to get it with the zoom, so that’s what I’m doing.
Edward Wrobel says
I ordered mine already and it will be my #1 travel camera.
Sylvain G. says
I’ve been reading that the Nikon Z will perform AF using the actual capture aperture settings, up to f/5.6. Some people seem to regret that decision while others appreciate as it will lead to more accurate results. Not sure whether it’s a common practice on current cameras (I’ve owned mostly mFT cameras and DSLR before). But less light entering, boosting signal while focusing, etc ,…
Any opinion on this or idea of adverse effects this could bring?
Looking forward to your excellent analysis.