Convincing myself I'm happy with the Z system

Joined
Jan 22, 2019
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Andy
After nine months of ownership, I just sent my Z6 in for replacement of a clunky power on/off switch. I briefly toyed with the idea of renting a Sony to try out during the repair, but decided instead to get a loaner Z6 from NPS. I remain tempted by the Sony system, but am not ready to switch, so there's no reason to start using and liking a Sony body too much right now. Here are some of my semi-coherent thoughts on the matter, for your consideration and comment.
  1. The Z6, and for a short time, the Z7, have been a joy to use. The body feels good in hand. The buttons and dials are exactly where they should be. Everything feels solid, even with the imperfect solution of an FTZ adapter between body and lens. Even after long shoots in the driving rain, the weather sealing inspires confidence.
  2. The AF is good, and my learning of its use improves with time. It is certainly not as good as the AF on my D500, particularly for action. And based on numerous opinions of others that I can't seem to refrain from reading and watching, it falls short of Canon and Sony mirrorless in some ways.
  3. The SOOC files from Nikons, both DSLRs and mirrorless, look better to me than the ones I have seen from the Sony. There is something more natural about the colors in the Nikon files. Yes, I know this is easily modified in post, but it is valuable to me to have a baseline image that more closely matches my taste in color rendition. This allows me to proceed directly to the retouching work that is more interesting to me.
  4. The 24-70 f/4 S lens is the best lens I have ever purchased as part of a kit. Period. Although I have not yet used any other S lenses, the universal consensus makes me confident they'll be excellent if or when I start purchasing them. Not buying any other native mount lenses has been a symptom of my lack of commitment to going all-in with the system. The lack of f/1.4 S series glass is acceptable to me.
  5. Adapting old manual focus glass to the Z6 is just delightful. Although I used to do all my lens adapting in micro 4/3, I am reaching for the Z6 for pretty much all of my adapted lens work now. When more effective focal length or closer working distance is desired, my old E-M1 stands ready. But, for adapting lenses on a FF mirrorless body, I can think of no advantage that Sony has over Nikon (and Canon has no IBIS, a clear disadvantage).
  6. Adapting AF-S lenses is not perfect, but much more than acceptable. And I certainly have a lot of F-mount glass that I really like.
  7. Would I like better AF for sports and better eye-AF for portraits? Of course. Would I like the box to turn green when focus has been achieved in AF-C? Definitely. Can these sorts of things be improved with firmware or will they be addressed in the Mark II? I'm willing to wait and see.
  8. Do I think Nikon will survive as a camera and lens manufacturer in spite of a significant trend downward in market share? Certainly long enough to have the answers to #7, and even if they should they fail in improving, Nikon would survive beyond that point for at least a few more years.
  9. As I sifted through the settings of my own Z6 to set up the loaner the way I like, it occurred to me how much time it would take to learn a new menu philosophy after years of getting used to the Nikon way.
  10. I don't shoot much video, but it is nice knowing that the Z6 is a good tool for it.
So, for the next week or two, I'm shooting with a loaner Z6, and look forward to getting mine back to use for some time to come. There, I talked myself into it!
 
Joined
Jun 13, 2019
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Maurie Hill
Having been a Nikon snapper for 50 years, I’m a bit biased; but I did venture into the Sony world with a Nex7 a few years ago when I needed an ultralight kit for a particular project. What a diabolical menu structure! A total disaster! I have their 24-70 and the new 70-300, but I most commonly use it with a Voigt 35/1.4 MZ which certainly is a small package. Problem is when I need to make a menu change, I can waste half an hour! Maybe the kids today understand Japanese thinking better than a guy well north of 70!
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2017
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Central Ohio
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Andrew
Andy,

I did this same train of thought on the regular a while back. What I realized is that no matter how many times I tried to find something smaller, lighter, faster, better than Nikon....I never really could get all of them to match the performance that I needed.

I've had a ton of systems. I tried out Sony and just don't like it for the same reasons that I don't like Panasonic. They are an electronics company first and a camera maker second. Where as Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, Pentax are all camera companies first and use electronics in their devices.

Nikon has just always felt right. From the menus to the feel, all the way to the ability to post process. Sure, Nikon has had their share of gaffs with oily shutters and aperture blades, bad shutters and such....but just about everyone in the game has.

In my own head, as good as the Nikon Z6 is with adapted lenses, I'm seriously considering selling the Df I have and using all my manual focus lenses on the Z6. The only thing that is stopping me from doing that right now is an FTZ adapter with an aperture follower tab on it. If I can convince myself that I can live without that then the Df - a much as I love that camera - may very well go up on the auction block. Perhaps find some additional Fuji gear or use that money to go toward more native Z mount glass. Some of the lenses on the new roadmap could be very interesting.

The other thing that pulls me more toward the Z6 is just how well it worked for me on the Bourbon Trail trip I took recently. I basically had the Z6 and the 24-70/4S in use for 95% of the shots I took. I did use the 35/1.8S for a few shots, but the new Z cameras are damn versatile.

Honestly, though - I am more interested in experiences and using what I have than new stuff. That is hard for me because I am a tech junkie and I love using the latest and greatest.
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2005
Messages
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Winter Haven, florida
Andy, I agree the nikon files right out of the nikon camera do look better than the a7riv to my eyes as well. What I have found is the sony files seem a little more malleable. I can manipulate colors and shadows a little more on my sony files than the nikons. At the end, I can not tell the colors apart. The sony files can be sharpened up a little more, but that does not always look natural.
I find capture one and dxo handle the sony files better than lightroom, at least on baseline settings before manipulation.
Still a big learning curve.
Gary
 
Joined
Mar 4, 2005
Messages
15,116
Location
Los Angeles, USA
Sorry to burst your bubble Andy, but in order to gain the fast AF on the Sony side, you'll have to purchase an A9/A9II and buy expensive GM lenses. My lowly D750 still does C-AF better than any of these mid-level mirrorless bodies! The A7 series and Z cameras are about the same when it comes to AF tracking. Sony raws are a tad sharper than Z raws, but Nikon raws have easier SOOC colors. Sony's are a bit better for manual focus glass due to the more intuitive IBIS settings and faster refresh in magnify view. Nikon has a slight advantage with M-mount primes due to the thinner sensor stack, but the Z6 somewhat negates that advantage with a stronger AA filter. It seems like almost all of the Z lenses are excellent. Sony's budget lenses are rather poor, but their extensive third party offerings make up for their weaker budget options. Sony has excellent native telephoto lenses right now, but they're all really expensive. I can pick up a used 300mm f/4 PF VR cheaper than a Sony 100-400mm GM and I'd rather own the Nikon prime. Sony's eye-AF is rock solid and perfect for portrait work, but Nikon's CLS lighting system runs circles around Sony's hack flash system.

I run both systems because I'd lose some advantages going to one system. I've tried to minimize overlap between my Sony and Nikon kits and have slowly reverted to running only native glass on each kit. Nikon is for my event and action work, Sony for travel and portrait. It's not entirely clear cut and it really depends on your shooting needs!

Though it really bugs me that Nikon is now in this catch-up position when it comes to mirrorless and much of these problems were caused by poor corporate decisions. For example like making a handicapped Nikon 1 system or releasing the Df and not including at least the 51-point AF system or making the Z bodies and omitting the vertical shutter in the grip! Nikon seems a bit bipolar when it comes to decision making. They make equally brilliant and amazing products, while making odd and completely boneheaded decisions.
 
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Two days in with using my new Sony A7R IV and the three lenses I bought and I am absolutely thrilled and blown away with the results I'm already seeing even as I haven't yet done any specific customization and all that, just did the basic setup so I could start using the camera. The first time I was confronted with the infamous Sony menu was back a few years ago with the NEX-7, but after having set up several RX100s and an RX10 since then, I feel pretty comfortable with the menu now. That said, maybe in the next few days I can stop playing with the new lenses long enough to set up the custom functions and the "My Menu" listing so that I'll be able to more quickly access a particular feature or function. LOL!

For me, the decision to make the switch to Sony was really all about the lenses and the availability of the particular kind of lenses (especially macro) that I wanted and prefer. Nikon just doesn't offer that (yet) with its Z series of mirrorless cameras. I'm sure that probably in a couple of years they will, but, hey, that's a long time off and at age 74 I really don't want to wait around! I wanted something that I could use NOW and I wanted native lenses, no mucking around with an adapter. I know many people are perfectly happy with the FTZ and being able to use their existing Nikon lenses. That just did not feel as though it would work well for me. That's just me -- we all have our own interests and preferences in what gear we use and what we like to shoot, etc.

Nick mentions wintertime GAS..... For me, this is weird to have just bought new gear as winter is about to arrive..... In years past I have usually bought a new lens or a new camera body in the spring, or for a specific occasion that happened to be around that time of year..... Hm.....actually, now that I think about it, when the D300 and D3 came out, though, that was a late autumn/early wintertime purchase, if I recall correctly..... I remember going to Conowingo Dam in Maryland with one or both of the new cameras and my 300mm f/2.8 then and managing to capture a few really nice photos of an immature juvie eagle as he was perched in a tree literally just above my head, munching away on his freshly-caught lunch!

My days of doing that kind of shooting are past, no longer have the Wimberley gimbal or the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 lens, but I do still enjoy capturing shots of the local geese, ducks and the occasional GBH who hang around our little lake here. Yesterday I spent playing with my two new macro lenses. Today it was the 135mm f/1.8's turn. It has been a dreary, grey and cold day here, not a good time to go out wandering around with the new lens, but I looked out the sliding glass door and saw that there were a bunch of geese on the lake doing their thing, and thought "time to do a little shooting!" I went out on my deck, several feet above the lake, and the geese were at a distance but obligingly moved a little closer, swimming towards me in the hopes that I was going to be throwing some treats to them. I shot some images with the lens wide-open at f/1.8 and also at I think f/4, f/5.6 and f/8, then came back into the house as it was COLD out there! In post-processing I looked at what I'd captured, nothing exciting, but thought that, hey, this would be a really good test of that camera's 61 MP and the lens' own resolving power, so selected what would otherwise be a boring image of a goose and cropped the heck out of that image -- I mean, serious, major cropping! -- just to see what I would get. This -- wildlife shooting -- isn't really why I bought this particular lens and obviously I'll be using it in other situations, too, for which it is more suited, but this was just an experiment and definitely does not meet up to the standards set by many of our bird photographers here. We're talking a 135mm lens here, not a long lens! I was rather pleasantly surprised at the results after that severe cropping, nonetheless..... IMO the Sony A7R IV and the 135mm f/1.8 make a killer combination. However, now I'm already starting to lust after an actual native long lens, too, to put on this camera!

Goose on a Grey Day.jpeg
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Joined
Nov 14, 2005
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Winter Haven, florida
In these discussions about gear I think we sometimes forget that at least for most of us, this is just a hobby and or passion. This is about making art, telling a story, capturing a gesture. The gear does not make the art. I look at this like my golfer friends that change clubs every year, and putters every month. It never changes their handicaps. Sometimes we just need a change. I have seen terrific art made with everything from the phase one to a holga. Yup, I moved at least part of the system from nikon to sony. I did it because of weight and with some vision issues found the sony viewfinder and focus worked better for my workflow. After 4months I am very happy. Is my art better? I wish it was, but it isn’t. It is still my work. There are little things I notice different in the images, no one else will notice. The power is in the image. One of my favorite saying is from Jay Maisel. I don’t care about the pixels, I care about the picture.
Gary
 

Butlerkid

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In these discussions about gear I think we sometimes forget that at least for most of us, this is just a hobby and or passion. This is about making art, telling a story, capturing a gesture. The gear does not make the art. I look at this like my golfer friends that change clubs every year, and putters every month. It never changes their handicaps. Sometimes we just need a change. I have seen terrific art made with everything from the phase one to a holga. Yup, I moved at least part of the system from nikon to sony. I did it because of weight and with some vision issues found the sony viewfinder and focus worked better for my workflow. After 4months I am very happy. Is my art better? I wish it was, but it isn’t. It is still my work. There are little things I notice different in the images, no one else will notice. The power is in the image. One of my favorite saying is from Jay Maisel. I don’t care about the pixels, I care about the picture.
Gary
Well said. Gear are only tools. It is what we produce with them that counts.
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2005
Messages
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Winter Haven, florida
I guess what I am trying to say is, if anyone reading this thinks they will make better images by switching to xyz system, that is rarely true. It will only be true if you really know what you are doing, and have a very specific need or group of needs. The switch will not make you a better artist. Changing systems will not make your images win accolades. If your present images are weak, they are not likely to get better with a different name on the camera. Spend the same money studying art, traveling, taking workshops. Then your images may get stronger.
Gary
 
I absolutely agree! The gear only provides the mechanism through which one can then express his or her creativity or his or her desire to meticulously document situations, his or her desire to photograph other people or particular events, capture scenes which have for whatever reason snagged their attention and interest.....

I've seen stunning images with smartphone cameras and stunning images with DSLRs, SLRS and mirrorless cameras, and I've also seen some real duds that makes me wonder why the photographer even bothered, much less shared them publicly, until I realize that for him or her there has been some satisfaction and pleasure in getting the shot, regardless of its quality and regardless of the camera/lens which served as the instrument to capture the scene or the person or the subject of interest. Each type of device is going to offer its own unique benefits, and there is that, too. I don't think anyone expects to be able to shoot a wedding or go on an African safari with an iPhone and bring home really terrific results. On the other hand, maybe while running an errand someone spots an interesting potential subject and the only camera with him or her is a smartphone.....so why not whip out that smartphone and fire off a couple of shots?

It's not so much the name brand on the gear that is important as it is the particular choices that brand may offer to someone and it is also that individual's personal desires, interests, needs and, yes, budget, which will also determine what gear with which they shoot. Skill level and ability to really take advantage of whatever gear they have is indeed another whole aspect of this overall picture, too.....and that is truly a key factor in all of this. Magical thinking that goes along the lines of "if I buy "X" camera or "Y" lens I'll be able to produce seriously amazing prize-winning images" really just doesn't work, but sadly, yes, there are those who still haven't grasped that reality.....
 

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