My Z6' & Z7' AF optimisation setup...

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My Z6' & Z7' AF optimisation setup...

Postby Stany Buyle » Thu 19 Sep 2019 19:17

My Z6' & Z7' AF optimisation setup...

From the moment I picked up the Z a first time I felt that is the camera system for me. At that moment I was shooting with D810, D500, D850 & D4. After a couple of months with Z I sold my D850 & D4 because for what I do, Z is simply much better.

Reasons for my preference to the ML system are:
  • The possibility of total silent shooting(while looking through the viewfinder) which is very important when I'm taking pictures on professional billiard tournaments. Players simply hate the loud click of DSLRs and some organisations even forbit the use of DSLRs. People who are involved in wedding-, classic music- or theatre photography, -just to mention some of the various photographic situations where silence is required-, appreciate that same advantage ML offers over DSLR.
  • No mirror slap means less vibration for macro shooting.
  • WYSWYG in the viewfinder (D8 set to "ON"): No more disappointments of over- or under exposed pictures... Excellent for perfectly exposed moonshots, helpful when you want to take a picture of a bird in dark shadow on a very sunny day, and more...
  • ML' AF is more precise. While taking stills, everything simply looks sharper than what I got with my former dslrs.
  • Back- and front focusing issues because of imperfect secondary mirror alignment do not exist anymore while using ML.
  • ML offers a MUCH bigger AF field coverage than classic DSLRs. Even very expensive DSLRs like D5 have that tiny AF point coverage. The old focus and recompose trick automatically makes AF less precise because you move and the angle gets a little different. Up to that focus and recompose takes time.
  • Because of the MUCH bigger AF field coverage ML offers vs the DSLR's tiny AF coverage, the advantage of ML is enormous when you use auto AF for BIF or action photography.
  • Magnification in viewfinder. Again a plus for macro shooting
  • Full coverage of the viewfinder when you use a DX lens
  • The incredible, versatile, compact, well built, sharp, super fast & close focusing 24/70 F4 S, the most attractive 24-70 I ever had...
  • 9 fps at 45Mp on my Z7 while only 7 fps with a D850(without grip) and Z6 even does 11 fps...
  • Nikon ML is incomparable much better for video than its dslr counterparts (D850-D5-...).
  • ML cameras are smaller, lighter, more compact and more discrete...
  • Weight: My Z7 & Z6 together weigh less than my D850 with battery grip alone…
  • ….

What I would like in a next Z: a D500 alike sized body, with as much dedicated- and illuminated push buttons and a PUFlash (fill flash and flash commander).
For my Z7 replacement 100 Mp would be welcome.

Then we come to the main advantage a pro DSLR like D5, D850 and D500 have over Nikon Z6 & Nikon Z7: AF locking speed in challenging AF situations and fast action.
During my very first hours with a pre production Z7 I could use a little more than a year ago, I was not overly enthusiastic about the Z'AF for BIF and action, but this impression changed quickly after I got my own Z6 and a couple of weeks later my own Z7. One reason was probably the final firmware, but another reason and probably the main reason, my personal camera setup.
In challenging AF situations or high speed action my D850, -and my D500 even more-, lock AF faster than my Z7 or Z6 do. Period.
Reasons for this are next to the dslr' AF system itself a separate processor for AF in D5, D850 and D500 whereas the Z system has to cover the whole operating process with 1 processing unit. This might change in future ML development and is already available in the Sony A9 (on today by far the fastest auto focusing FF ML camera)

But...
... I have excellent results with both of my Z cams for BIF, insects-in-flight and action photography:

...and these good results are due to my camera setup:

:idea: Let me start with what is TMHO the key to a fast auto focusing Z: A3. :arrow: Set A3 (focus tracking with lock on) to "1" (quick).
When I get a new camera, just like with all my former DSLRs, first thing I do is personalise my user settings. In my case I set A3 to "1" (quick) and after getting my Z6 I did the same...
While I felt immediately that my Z6 was significantly faster focusing than the Z7' pre release I tested, I first thought Z6 has a faster AF than Z7. Now I know that Nikon sets A3 standard to "3", which might be THE reason why several early reviewers and adopters experienced the Z' AF as mediocre.
I experienced (by accident) that my Z7 with A3 set to level "5" turns into a very slow and sometimes hunting AF, in ALL AF modes.
The (negative) influence on the overall Z'AF behaviour while increasing the A3 level is very different than the influence the A3 setting has on a DSLR. As a matter of fact and as I wrote already, the whole AF' use with ML is different than how you managed with DSLR.

While Z has to do all calculations (AF included) with 1 processing unit, I optimised both of my Z cameras by switching off every potential computing power consuming feature that have no influence on my final images.

  • :!: Shoot NEF (no NEF + jpeg) and NEF recording 12 BIT and UNCOMPRESSED
  • diffraction compensation OFF
  • auto distortion control OFF
  • vignet control OFF
  • high iso NR OFF
  • long exposure NR OFF
  • Active D-lighting OFF
  • AF-C priority selection set to RELEASE. It simply makes AF faster.
  • auto AREA af face/eye detection OFF
  • If 9 fps (or 11 with Z6 isn't required I prefer the number of frames/sec set to 5 for reasons of buffer and this more with Z7 than with Z6 I will change that as soon I have my CF express card. ( :arrow: Make Z7' AF faster while lowering fps..). I expect CF express to make the overall Z' performance faster.


Two settings that consume processing power which I prefer to let on:
  • D8 (apply settings to live view) ON-even though this might slow down the camera operation I prefer it "on", as I want to see what I'm doing and as I want to see what I will get, one of the basic advantaged ML has over dslr…
  • D11 ON- I want to keep seeing what I'm shooting while being in continues mode

I hope this might help for other users.

Kindest regards,

Stany

related topic :arrow: Z7' AF settings - link to the Nikon' Z7-autofocus-guide
related topic :arrow: There exist two versions of Z7 & Z6 cameras
related topic :arrow: Nikon Z7 hands on review and field test
related topic :arrow: Nikon Z tutorials by Nikon
related topic :arrow: The F mount adapter quality will be the key part…

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Some action pictures with Z(and links to the related topics):

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Stany Buyle
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Re: My Z6' & Z7' AF optimisation setup...

Postby Stany Buyle » Fri 20 Sep 2019 08:07

Also in relation to Z'AF: Shooting with a clean sensor is more important with ML than it is with dslr (according to my contact @ N).
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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Stany Buyle
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Z7' AF in practice with my recommended settings...

Postby Stany Buyle » Fri 27 Sep 2019 19:24

Here below an example how I enjoy the fantastic Z'AF every day:
One of my dogs running at high speed towards me... One out of 5 shots, all perfectly in focus.
The scene with AF point how you see it in Nikon View:
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and a 100% crop of the original, converted to jpeg in Nikon capture:

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Re: My Z6' & Z7' AF optimisation setup...

Postby Stany Buyle » Sun 10 Nov 2019 16:25

:arrow: related topic :arrow: Capturing insects in flight never has been easier...

With Z7 & 24-70mm F4, handhold. Vivid setting, NR low. From NEF to jpeg in Capture NX-D. PS5 only for ©. No further post processing.

The original scene how you see it in Nikon View with AF point indication:
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A 100% crop of the above:
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BTW, the 24-70 F4 S is the best, sharpest and most convenient 24-70 I've ever used, comparison including my 24-70 F2.8 that I had on my D800...
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Dragonflies in flight with Nikon Z7...

Postby Stany Buyle » Fri 15 Nov 2019 10:13

While I was busy taken pictures of my dogs in action, a dragonfly showed up above me.
Z7 with my 70-300 P kept focus perfectly for 6 images

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The scene of one of the shots...
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And a crop resized to 1000px widest side
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Thanks for looking and kindest regards,
Stany

related topic :arrow: I love the AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR on my Z7
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More dragonflies in flight with Nikon Z7...

Postby Stany Buyle » Fri 15 Nov 2019 10:13

In the parc next door (Parc de la Aa) dragonflies enjoy the perhaps latest warm & sunny days this year.

In total 118 images with Z7 & 70-300P of which approx 110 perfectly in focus.

Some of the images, all heavely cropped. All taken at iso 3200-iso 8000, which explains the noise.
No post processing. converted with Nikon View NX-D

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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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