And so it begins…
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (read avoiding social media) you are probably aware that Nikon just announced not one, but two full-frame mirrorless cameras called the Nikon Z7 45.7MP 9FPS* and Z6 24.5MP, 12 FPS*.
Disclaimer: This is not a proper review yet, rather a post based on my initial thoughts.
I’m not gonna bore you with the specs, those are all over the internet by now, but I do want to share a few first impressions.
1) Form factor
I’m so glad Nikon went with a size and grip that will hopefully make holding the camera more comfortable than my A7iii. I love the design of the camera (both Z7 & Z6 use the same body design). Buttons are nicely spaced and large enough to comfortably feel and press without guesswork
2) Auto Focus
From what I’ve seen in the initial previews, AF performs reasonably fast and accurate in both stills and video with the omission of one quite important feature. There is no Eye AF. Come on Nikon what happened? Sony has it, Fuji has it, but you left it out? Or was their engineering not on par? Is it a deal breaker for this camera? Short answer is, no. However once you are used to it you will love using it. My Sony A7iii has it and I would not want to go back. There is face detection, but it remains to be seen how it would perform.
Nikon has always been a stellar performer with the auto focus and I have no doubt the Z7/6 will do just as good.
3) Focus Peaking
Yay! At last we can take full advantage of exotic manual lenses and use focus peaking to help us achieve sharp focus.
Speaking as the owner of two D750 cameras I am confident that ISO performance will be excellent. Nikon in my opinion are experts in high ISO performance. The shadow recovery of my 4 years old D750 is better than that of my brand new A7iii.
5) EVF Viewfinder
If you’ve tried those early EVF by Fuji or Sony you might still be having nightmares, but things have come along way and the EVF in these Nikons will be fantastic! High resolution EVF which will allow Nikon shooters to get their exposure and focus right in camera without the need for chimping. I though I would hate the EVF of my Sony A7iii but the “what you see is what you get” has won me over. The good news is that the EVF on the Z7/6 will be even better with higher resolution display
6) Silent Shutter
Yet another first for Nikon in a full-frame mirrorless camera. It’s one of those things which you don’t miss it till you try it. The ability to be completely silent and unnoticed in a quiet setting such as a wedging ceremony is amazing! The proof of the pudding will be in how good Nikon has managed to control rolling shutter and banding from flickering lights
7) Five Axis In Body Image Stabilisation
Oh yes! At last… all the new S line of lenses will take full advantage of IBIS, and even the older lenses will make use of it albeit to a lesser extent via the new Nikon F-Mount to Z-Mount adapter (more on that soon).
So many people were hoping that Nikon would retain the F-Mount, but to be honest I was not holding any hope for that. The mount is decades old and in order to take full advantage of the mirrorless design they had to redesign it. And I’m glad they did. The new mount is HUGE! Which will allow Nikon to introduce some very exciting new glass such as the upcoming 50mm f/0.95 lens. Some are even speculating that the mount is being future proofed to be used in a medium format camera.
9) F-Mount to Z-Mount Adapter
Smart move by Nikon to offer this. It will allow over 300 Nikon lenses to be used on the Z7/6 from day one with full auto focus. According to Nikon there will be no loss in AF performance. If that is the case, for $100 it’s a no brainer as it will help many people transition gradually.
10) The Elephant In The Room – Single XQD Card Slot!
What on earth Nikon? Why would you release two amazing cameras and cripple them with only ONE memory card slot. Never mind that XQD is still a niche format, it’s fast but very expensive, never mind that hardly any companies make the cards and you should have possibly gone with a SD card slot instead, but one slot? Unbelievable Nikon!
And please don’t tell me that in the film days people used one film roll per camera, and don’t tell me how pros used to shoot on the D700 with a single card, or how people used to shoot single card on the early A7. That was then. Today in 2018 when there’s bunch of other cameras offering it. It’s inexplicable. Unless…
Unless you are trying to continue pushing people to buy your D850, D5, D860, D6 cameras. Nikon is simply not ready to jump with both feet into the mirrorless market and will try to hold back (for now) in order for them not to cannibalise their own line up of high end bodies. I mean the D850 is still back ordered. It’s that popular.
Another factor is the limited lens line up. Yes there is a roadmap with more lenses to come, but it looks like it won’t be before 2020 that we will have a more comprehensive trinity of lenses.
Why the single XQD card slot? It was a business decision. Was it a mistake or a brilliant move. Only time will tell. For those who already switched to Sony, there’s nothing here that will entice them back. For those who are still shooting Nikon and were holding out, well it’s an amazing camera which might keep them satisfied for now until the Nikon Z7/6 version 2 comes out to much fanfare. Nikon will proudly announce that they now have dual card slots and world peace is restored, but by then it might just be too late. The Sony and Fuji trains are several stops ahead in this race.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
UPDATE 25 August 2018: Oh dear! All is not well with the Nikon Z7 & Z6. Watch my friends Tony & Chelsea Northrup share their first hand experience https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUii9dTwPkw&t=637s