Nikon Z7 hands on review and field test

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Nikon Z7 hands on review and field test

Postby Stany Buyle » Sun 9 Sep 2018 17:12

Last Friday I had the pleasure to handle the Nikon Z7 for a couple of hours, and it was a surprising positive experience.

During the approx 5 hours I had a Nikon Z7 with FTZ adapter and Z 24-70 f4 S lens to my disposal I drove to Warandeputten in Oostkamp(B) while hoping for the kingfisher' family presence. Unfortunately they were not at home... :(
There was a rather strong wind with very few dragonflies available for a session. Some birds but no herons or storks neither. :| :|
On top of that 1 lost an extra hour in traffic jam on the E40 highway. :oops: :cry:
All together I could really test the Nikon Z7 only for 1½ hour, which is largely insufficient for a full review, but enough for a hands on review in the field.

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  • Handling the Z7 feels very… Nikon, even though it's smaller and lighter than a comparable Nikon DSLR. Smaller and lighter doesn't mean less solid though. I see the Z7 body as a ML equivalent of a D750, but with a D850 sensor, which is great. I know many people who would love a D750 alike body with a 46Mp sensor inside…
    The Z6/Z7 have a very good-sized and comfortable handgrip. An upcoming supplementary battery grip might make feel the Z series even more pro.
    Less dedicated buttons than the DSLR pro cameras is only a problem in the first hour, a bit like going from D800/D810/D850 to D750...
    The joystick for moving the focus point is a very welcome heritage from D5/D850/D500 and tell it apart from a D750 body, and so is the AF-ON button.
    For my personal use, two important buttons are missing :| :| : The AF/MF switch with the AF-mode dial and the exposure mode button.
    You can assign this to the Fn buttons but I like to use the Fn buttons for other options…
    Probably something for the next generation.

  • The 1 memory card slot "problem" has been a hot topic on numerous fora. My take: Only a double XQD card slot would interest me because a combined XQD/SD card solution slows down my camera. In both my D850 & D500 I only use XQD most of the time but I understand that for wedding photographers and capturing of "once in a lifetime happenings" a second card slot is very important. Just imagine having to say to the a 2meter tall and 130 kg :evil: groom, "I'm sorry, I had a card failure..." :? :roll: :cry: :oops:
    Jokes aside, while a memory card theoretically can fail, the chances of a camera body failure are MUCH higher which turns it into an obligation for any serious wedding photographer to use at least two bodies…

  • The Nikon Z7 menu is nearly indistinguishable from nikon DSLR' menu system.

  • The EVF: The view you get through the Nikon Z7 EVF looks more "real" than what I've experienced with other mirrorless cameras, while providing very much detail and an impressive refresh rate.
    While shooting in AF-S mode you'll see a red/green square for the AF point which you can move over an extremely wide AF field coverage with (according to the brochure) 493 AF points. In AF-C mode you'll only see the red square.

  • Battery: I’ve been using my D850’ EN-EL15a battery for the approx. 420 pictures I made, with quite a bit of LCD viewing for both pictures and menu options, and at the end it still had some juice…
    Apparently the new EN-EL15b can be charged over USB.

  • Touchscreen LCD: Roughly the same opportunities as D850 but with a new, important i-button interaction to some important controls where there ain't a button for. A bummer for someone who expected a D500 or D850 style button layout.

  • IBIS: Very interesting in relation to old lenses but I had no time to test this…
    What I did experience though is that the already outstanding VR of both my 70-200 AF-S VR PF and even more the 200-500 AF-S VR become even better with IBIS.

  • ...

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related topic :arrow: Nikon Z tutorials by Nikon
related topic :arrow: Nikon Z event on YouTube
related topic :arrow: The F mount adapter quality will be the key part…
related topic :arrow: Pre-order your Z6, Z7 with 24-70 F4 + FTZ adapter at A&C

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Nikon Z7 hands on review- nikkor Z 24-70 F4S

Postby Stany Buyle » Mon 10 Sep 2018 14:07

The nikon Z 24-70 F4S lens is what I would like to have on my D850. I love it because it can go soo close to the subject. Canon has a similar 24-70 F4 with macro mode for up to 0.7x magnification in their lens range for years.
AF is fast, silent and smooth, and it can provide sharp images.

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And as I mentioned Z 24-70 F4S can go close...

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Close, silent and sharp...
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a 100% crop of the above image:
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Nikon Z7 hands on review- the FTZ-adapter

Postby Stany Buyle » Mon 10 Sep 2018 14:09

The FTZ-adapter....

Six weeks ago I wrote a topic that "The F mount adapter quality will be the key part…". TMHO the primary aspect that would turn Nikon mirrorless into a huge success or a failure.
Well, after testing a Z7 for a couple of hours with the 200-500 AF-S VR, the nikon 105 AF-S, a 20 mm F1.8, my 70-200 AF-S FL, some prehistoric nkkors like the 55 mm F2.8 micro and even with a BR-2a macro reverse ring with an old 28mm on it (*) , I can only confirm that the FTZ adapter and related tech is something to be proud about. It simply works flawless with all the lenses I used… :o Kudos to Nikon.

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(*) = Nikon Z7 with FTZ and a BR-2a macro reverse ring + reversed nikkor 28mm F2.8 E. (picture with my phone)


The FTZ-adapter + 200-500 AF-S VR
Among all lenses I tested on the Z7 with FTZ adapter, the 200-500 AF-S Vr impressed me the most.
It focuses and locks focus relative fast but it blew me away with images in the very close focus range, with an even significantly better VR performance than the extraordinary VR this lens natively already has.
Underneath 2 images taken HANDHELD, Manual mode, 1/1250 sec, F5.6 @ 500mm. Auto iso (iso 560 & iso 400)
The images haven't been sharpened in PP. Only converted from NEF in view NX-i with my preferred picture style for this kind of images.

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and a crop of the above image, resized to 1000px longest side: (click on the image to get the 100% crop)
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and a crop of the above image, resized to 1000px longest side: (click on the image to get the 100% crop)
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TMHO, the Nikon Z7 is amazing with FTZ & 200-500 at close distance...

The Z7+FTZ+200-500 AF-S VR f5.6 while used for long distance shots of static subjects performs about the same as it does on my 850

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and a crop of the above image, resized to 1000px longest side: (click on the image to get the 100% crop)
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On the nikon website you can find a PDF with Compatible F Mount Lenses: https://downloadcenter.nikonimglib.com/en/products/491/FTZ.html

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related topic :arrow: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR review
related topic :arrow: Nikon Z event on YouTube
related topic :arrow: The F mount adapter quality will be the key part…
related topic :arrow: Pre-order your Z6, Z7 with 24-70 F4 + FTZ adapter at A&C
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Nikon Z7 hands on review- the FTZ-adapter + AF-S lenses

Postby Stany Buyle » Mon 10 Sep 2018 14:10

The FTZ-adapter + 105 AF-S VR

Nikon Z7 with FTZ-adapter + 105 AF-S VR shows a normal behaviour in both AF speed and accuracy when the center AF points are used.

:idea: Underneath picture has been taken HANDHELD while using autofocus.

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and a 100% crop: (I have done numerous similar pictures MUCH sharper than this, but this has nothing to do with the camera.)
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Nikon Z7 hands on review- the FTZ + 105 AF-S VR + 2xTC

Postby Stany Buyle » Mon 10 Sep 2018 14:11

The Nikon Z7 combined with the + 105 AF-S VR + 2xTC seems to work very well.
Underneath you see an image taken HANDHELD and autofocus. Again, I have the strong impression that VR works better than with classic DSLRs. Also autofocus at F8 performed normal.(with center AF point)

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The exif of the original: Image

and a 100% crop:

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related topic :arrow: Nikon Z event on YouTube
related topic :arrow: The F mount adapter quality will be the key part…
related topic :arrow: Pre-order your Z6, Z7 with 24-70 F4 + FTZ adapter at A&C

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Nikon Z7 hands on review- the FTZ-adapter + manual lenses

Postby Stany Buyle » Mon 10 Sep 2018 14:12

Nikon engineers made the FTZ adapter so well that it even works with a BR-2a macro reverse ring + reversed lenses.
I did not have enough time to test and thus I don't know if IBIS has any influence with this setup.

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Nikon Z7 with FTZ and a BR-2a macro reverse ring + reversed nikkor 28mm F2.8 E. (picture with my phone)


An image with this setup, nothing special out of the fact that it proves that it works… And... that I have to clean that lens. :?

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related topic :arrow: A crying butterfly... With D850
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Shooting experience, Z7 compared to D850 and conclusion

Postby Stany Buyle » Mon 10 Sep 2018 14:12

After using Z7 in the field for about 1½ hour I will remember it as a very positive experience with the first model out of a new category of photographic tools by Nikon. The very "Nikon" feel and menu, silent shooting, impressive vibration free 9 fps, my best EVF experience until today and last but not least the perfect compatibility of all Nikon lenses trough a engineering masterpiece of a Fmount To Zmount adapter were the highlights, while the lack of some dedicated buttons, the start up lag, one card slot and a rather limited buffer were the less positive points.

While the start up lag is probably inherent to the mirrorless system, I could imagine that the lack of some dedicated buttons, one card slot and a rather limited buffer are decisions Nikon made to protect D850 sales for 2018/2019.
I expect a more pro version of the Z-series to be announced in about a year from now, available end 2019/early 2020.
While talking about a more "pro" version successor of the Nikon Z7, someone might think it would beat D850 on everything. If so, and explicit in relation to action, sports, BIF, insects in flight and wildlife photography, Z serie' AF has still to be improved a lot to become a D850 competitor or replacement.
TMHO, the D5 successor will be a DSLR...

For professional users I see Z6/Z7 more as a complementary camera than as a successor or replacement for DSLRs. Complementary because of silent shooting and professional video opportunities.
For new users who want a compact, silent camera system with very probably the best IQ in its class available today, Z7 is an excellent choice.


Nikon does things right.



Thanks for your attention and kindest regards,

Stany

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

related topic :arrow: Nikon Z event on YouTube
related topic :arrow: The F mount adapter quality will be the key part…
related topic :arrow: Pre-order your Z6, Z7 with 24-70 F4 + FTZ adapter at A&C

:idea: :arrow: You can support this website...
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Nikon Capture NX-D v1.5

Postby Stany Buyle » Fri 14 Sep 2018 08:06

  • Nikon just released what I would quote a very mature nikon raw converter and compatible with Z7 and Z6 NEFs.

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  • I exclusively use Nikon software for NEF conversion since day one despite the fact that I have PS and other software.

  • After conversion, I still use the old Capture NX2 for further PP.

    :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: Image

  • Adobe PS for © and text... ;)

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:idea: :arrow: You can support this website...
related topic :arrow: Nikon Z event on YouTube
related topic :arrow: The F mount adapter quality will be the key part…
related topic :arrow: Pre-order your Z6, Z7 with 24-70 F4 + FTZ adapter at A&C
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Nikon Z7 with 200-500 for Birds In Flight

Postby Stany Buyle » Wed 26 Sep 2018 07:40

I had the opportunity to use a Nikon Z7 for a couple of days more... :D :idea:
Unfortunately :( I forgot to adjust the date in the camera, which shows February 2nd, while the pictures have been taken on September 21st.

If I have to give one reason NOT to recommend a Z7 I would say "Action photography" or "Birds In flight". TMHO, all modern Nikon pro DSLR's are faster to achieve and lock focus on this, and MUCH better to keep focus locked on a moving subject.
In defense of the Z7 I could bring up that the 200-500 is a rather slow lens, both in AF speed as aperture …. which works very well on my D850, D500 and even my D800 though...
While trying to photograph BIF against a busy background, I had a very high percentage of misses... :(
TMHO, and compared to the class leading Nikons' AF in DSLR world, continuous autofocus on fast moving subjects still has a long way to go for Nikon Z. Probably native Z mount tele lenses will close this gap.

This doesn't mean you can't do BIF photography with a Z7 though.

Underneath an image with the Z7 & nikon 200-500 AF-S VR lens, cropped and resized to 1000 px
:!: Underneath image is without any post processing or sharpening. It have been converted straight from their original NEF files in Nikon View NX-i and © with PS5.

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Cropped from:Image Exif: Image

And a 100% crop from the original SOOC picture:
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the same 100% crop after a little sharpening in NX2:
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Nikon Z7 manuals online

Postby Stany Buyle » Wed 26 Sep 2018 15:55

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Z7 is a perfect tool for (handheld) macro photography

Postby Stany Buyle » Fri 28 Sep 2018 20:03

After several hundreds of pictures with a Z7 + macro lenses I find the Z7 the best Nikon camera I have ever used for macro photography.
Shooting in silent mode, and thus vibration free, while looking through the viewfinder is a significant advantage over mirror slap and shutter shock with a DSLR...
Upto that, the image stabilisation as a result of VR & ibis combined is phenomenal.
While Z7 has FP sync support I could use my SB-800 at the shutter speeds I wanted.

A dragonfly, captured handheld with the 105 AF-s + 2x TC combo & autofocus:

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and a 100% crop:
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Z6/Z7 give old manual (macro) lenses a revival...

Postby Stany Buyle » Fri 28 Sep 2018 20:36

More on macro with Nikon Zseries: Z6/Z7 give old manual (macro) lenses a revival...

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Because of the Z series IBIS they become stabilised when shooting handheld and focus peaking on screen...

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...ànd through the viewfinder makes focusing piece of cake...

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The NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f4 S... I LOVE it!

Postby Stany Buyle » Sat 29 Sep 2018 07:18

To me, the most seductive element in the Z series next to shooting in silent mode... is the 24-70 F4 lens.
Light, compact, silent and fast focusing while delivering top notch IQ is what this lens is and does. I love it.
Used on a high MP body likeZ7 it's a Swiss knife, a great travel combo, from landscape to limited tele due to the cropping possibilities a high resolution sensor provides, with a very attractive closest focusing distance as a bonus...

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and a crop of the above image:
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and a crop of the above image:
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kindest regards,

Stany
I like better one good shot in a day than 10 bad ones in a second...
http://www.nikonuser.info
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Re: Nikon Z7 hands on review and field test

Postby ritaB » Sun 14 Oct 2018 16:57

If you appreciate all the time we invest in this non-commercial website, you can support this website

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Nikon Z7 AF ...

Postby Stany Buyle » Wed 24 Oct 2018 17:35

After +1500 pictures with Z7 and D850 side by side, I agree 100% with Dpreview conclusions on Z7 AF:
From Dpreview Z7' AF evaluation:
Key takeaways:
-Subject tracking reliability lags behind Nikon's industry-leading 3D-Tracking, found in its DSLRs, and behind several of its mirrorless competitors.
-Single point AF-C performance is good at the camera's top burst, but the buffer slows down during burst shooting after only several seconds.
-AF-S performance is snappy and accurate in good light. Since focus is performed by the image sensor, you get critically sharper shots, for static subjects, than with DSLR.
-Low light AF sensitivity is 2-3 stops worse than the competition - this can cause hunting in dim lighting or when shooting back-lit subjects in AF-C.
-Face Detect - available in the Auto-Area mode - is reliable at tracking subjects that are still, but can be confused by movement. We prefer the reliability of Sony's Eye AF.
-Auto Area AF mode occasionally sticks to the background, the opposite of what we'd expect.
-In low light, when shooting in AF-C, set the camera to 'Release' priority instead of 'Focus' priority or be prepared to be frustrated by slow acquisition speeds. But note, doing so will mean fewer critically-sharp images.


:-( Compared to D850, D5 and last but lot least D500, Z7'AF for action, fast moving subjects, and moving subjects against a close background, is mediocre and even failing totally in really tricky AF situations.

Of course you can do some sports action with Z7 when coupled to fast modern lenses, but just imagine that those kind of easy AF-C targets like soccer action could not be captured with the newest mirrorless, professional (priced) camera body coupled with a fast, latest generation pro lens... That would be simply a shame. Several photographers captured tack sharp soccer and tennis action with a D1H, D2H, D2x and D3 as well, without blazing fast lenses and VR...


While testing extensively the Z7' AF capabilities in challenging AF situations as you can see here below, Z7 struggled badly in AF situations that seem piece of cake for my D500 or D850, even while using my "slow but fantastic" 200-500...
I tried for hours and days to capture (handheld & on tripod) all kind of birds, insects and subjects in challenging (difficult) AF situations with a Z7 & "slow" 200-500 AF-S, 300mm PF, 70-200 F2.8 FL and 105 macro and I did not get a reasonable number of keepers with Z7 (ZERO for dragonflies in flight), while with my D500, D850 & D5 it is piece of cake:

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In underneath situations my Z7 always locked on the non-moving subjects (plants etc.) in the background.
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Especially with a close background like underneath images, Z7 struggles badly:
(Underneath images are taken handheld with D500 & sigma 150-600 C. I was blown away with the % of keepers.)

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In numerous attempts to do something similar to underneath picture, Z7 focused on the fence...
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While trying to capture insects in flight with Z7, it simply failed, while this is piece of cake for any of my DSLRs since D3.
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I did succeed some "easy" BIF pictures with Z7 but also there the keepers rate as well as the time to lock focus are far below the results that I get my my DSLRs.
With Z7:
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:-( For locking focus on the near to full moon, the 200-500 mounted on the Z7 was hunting a lot...

One last thing I want to mention is that even though I consider the FTZ adapter as an engineering masterpiece, I expect native Z lenses to perform better, probably even much better than F lenses on that new mount. This statement based on the extraordinary performance (as well optical as AF behaviour) of the 24-70 F4 S.

:-| I hope Nikon can improve Z series AF-C performance :-O with a firmware update like Fuji succeeded.
I hope my Z6 will have already an AF-C improvement over Z7... I know they are working on this and I'm totally confident in what Nikon does.

Final word and conclusion on my AF' experience with Z7:
  • So, do I say Z7' AF-C is really bad? No, even though I find it is significantly inferior to what Sony succeeded in their ML line and it's far below Nikon's DSLR' AF-C standards for action photography and fast moving subjects.
  • On the other hand, the Z7' AF is soo much better than any nikon DSLR while used in live view or for video applications.
  • Focusing with manual lenses with focus peaking is simply fantastic.
  • Further more I expect improved AF-C performance with upcoming native Z lenses.

So I conclude Nikon Z' AF is different than Nikon DSLR' AF, right now made for other purposes and photographic applications while leaving a lot of work for Nikon' engineers to improve in relation to AF-C and AF tracking.

Thanks for your attention and kindest regards,
Stany
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