Anyone shooting sports with a Z6?

Jul 3, 2007
Harrisburg PA, USA
If so, what has your experience been? I shoot high school sports, and use a D5 and D4s. I have a Z7 that I use strictly for portraits/team photos, although I freely admit I'm still very early in the learning curve with the Z7. I'm very comfortable shooting sports with the D5 and D4s. However, the current Nikon trade-in offer has me thinking about trading in my D4s (or maybe even my D850, which would result in a new Z6 and cash back to me). But then again, the D6 and a very interesting 120-300 f/2.8 are on the horizon. Any thoughts?
Jul 25, 2017
Pittsburgh, PA
Real Name
I don't regularly shoot sports, but I have historically used my D500 (what a beast when it comes to shooting sports!). Last year I took my Z6 along with me, and was very surprised by how well it did in terms of the AF abilities.

I still think it lags behind a camera like the D500 (or D5) in certain areas. The burst rate obviously isn't close. I find that panning with action while shooting is far easier with the D500. But overall, the Z6 was very capable. I don't think it's a replacement for a D5, and I still have two D500's as well.

As for your situation of Z7 vs D850, other than the WYSIWG benefit of the EVF, I'm not certain what other benefits the Z7 would have.
Jul 8, 2019
SF Bay Area, California, USA
The issue you will run into is with FAST sports and sports that require a fast follow up.
The EVF has a "tiny" lag between what you see in the EVF vs. the actual event. For fast sports (soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball/softball batting) it will/may be a difference from your D5/D500. I found that I had to anticipate the shot earlier with an EVF, than with an OVF.
Some people, like me seem to be more sensitive to this than others.
With advancing technology this should get better.

So, I would not give up the dSLR until you are comfortable with the mirrorless.
Nov 15, 2006
Upstate SC
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Shots like this were easy during swim season. The Z6 is a great body once you learn the proper settings to use for the particular subject you’re shooting.
Jul 8, 2019
SF Bay Area, California, USA
I would try to rent a Z-6, and try it out.

I did NOT like my experience shooting field sports (football/soccer) and gym (basketball/volleyball) with my Olympus EM1-mk1, specifically the EVF. But others did not have the issue that I had. So it is personal, shooting style, and YMMV.

I recently upgraded to the EM1-mk2, and as others have said, latest FW and configuration.
I am fine tuning the setup to be as fast sport friendly as possible.

Here are a few things to look for based on where I ran into issues:
  • EVF Refresh rate.
    • When I am trying to follow a running back making a break for the TD, it is really irritating to have the screen not refresh fast enough (in fast refresh) for me to easily track the player. The EVF "feels" like a jerky slow motion frame by frame display, when the player is running FAST and I am panning to follow.
    • It could simply be a matter of getting used to it. But my reference point is the real time OVF of my D7200.
  • EVF, last frame display.
    • I don't know how else to call this. This is the display of the last frame in a burst, and how long it remains in the EVF. This is important, because while that frame is displayed, the EVF is frozen, and I cannot see and thus track the action. So following the player and shooting a quick follow on shot is impossible.
      • It is a major PiA on the EM1-mk1 (so bad that to me it is fatal for fast sports). It is much less so on the mk2. No idea on other cameras.​
      • This is critical for my style of shooting. But some others don't have my problems, so obviously it does not affect their style of shooting.​
  • Battery run time.
    • Run time for mirrorless is short compared to a dSLR.
      • The lens may affect battery run time, one of my lenses is a power sucker.​
      • Battery run time on a mirrorless seems to be more related to 'power ON' time, than number of shots taken.​
    • This caught me by surprise when I went through three batteries while shooting three games in sequence; a softball game, then two lacrosse games.
      • One charge on my D7200 will easily last the entire weekend. So going through three batteries was dramatic. I thought something was wrong with the camera or lens.​
    • You need to determine what YOUR continuous ON, run time is, with your lenses.
      • Do you have a power sucking lens, like I do?​
    • Then be prepared with a spare battery or two.
      • Carrying a spare battery or two is now SOP with the mirrorless.​
    • Then plan your battery change so you don't go 'empty' in the middle of the game.
      • Change between games, during half time, etc.
      • Last year, the battery on my EM1-mk1 went to "empty" just before the tassle turn at the graduation. That was probably the WORST possible time to go empty, with no time to change batteries. Lesson learned.
  • Frame rate, buffer size and xfer to card.
    • Can the buffer handle the high frame rate, and can it clear it to the card fast enough that you won't slow down in the middle of a burst sequence.
      • If not, how many seconds can you shoot before you fill the buffer?
      • Maybe you have to lower the frame rate.
    • In e-shutter mode, high continuous, I can go up to 60 fps. That will generate a LOT of frames to clear to the card.
    • My D7200 shoots at 6 fps, so the 60 fps frame rate of the Olympus is NICE, but it has a cost and has to be managed. I am still working on this one.
BTW, I am on the field or court floor, so closer to the action than most parents. The relative motion is much faster the closer you are to the players.
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