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.