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My Z7 impressions

Discussion in 'Nikon Z Mirrorless Forum' started by andreasb, Oct 7, 2018.

  1. Yesterday I went to see the Z7 at a dealership in Vancouver, BC where Nikon had two reps showing them. I was also hoping to get to try the 500 PF but due to there only being one demo ex in the country of Canada that was not to be. BTW Kerrisdale cameras in the Kerrisdale location yesterday the 6th Oct. had 2 kits on the shelf for sale if anyone is interested, plus FTZ adapters and the 35mm F1.8 as well. I spent about 1/2 hour with it and couldn't try all things. The Nikon rep was very friendly, open, knowledgeable and quite enthusiastic over the Z7.

    My quick impressions
    Build, feel and ergonomics
    . It feels very good and solid in my hands, and I have big hands, all buttons where easily reachable, the function buttons close to the lens in the right side felt good to me, but the Nikon rep had smaller hands and had a little harder reaching them. Buttons are large enough and have a nice distinct feel to them. Everything feels very solid and professional, I had not problems getting around at all as an old Nikon user, but I had to look before I pushed the buttons or turned a dial to know which one, easy to get used to for me. He showed me where one customized buttons looks a lot like the D500, did not have time to really delve into that. Af-on buttons felt very natural. Balance with the 24-70, 35mm F1.8Z and my old 24-120mm was excellent felt very natural. The body didn't feel to small in my large hands felt right, was light but very solid and well balanced.

    EVF, screen and responsiveness. I have to admit it is really good, much better then anything I have tried before, good resolution and very good color and quite good at nuances. This is probably the biggest concern I have and I think I can get used to it, its not an optical viewfinder but it is very good. However all is not perfect. There is a blackout, clearly and when you move the camera around while shooting in low or high or extended frame rates, it does show that there is a bit of a staccato effect, However when you move the camera while panning without shooting it pans quite smoothly. Screen is excellent, responsiveness is great to touch and it is very well implemented, no issues.

    Shooting impressions. The camera is responsive but not fast in its reactions to my manipulations. When I use my D500 or D800e and change a dial, take a shot, turn it on etc it all happens immediately. On the Z7 there is a tiny delay at times, it is not unresponsive it is just not pro fast like a D500 or D5. Not sure how else to explain it. Not a big issue, just not as fast. There where a couple of times that the viewfinder was sort of hanging for a moment while clearing the buffer. looks like there is some room for improvement in a future firmware update, this could also have been me. I did feel it cleared the buffer a bit slowly for a XQD card, and buffer depth is not great, big miss by Nikon IMO. I asked the rep about Compact Express and he obviously didn't know how much better it would be when that is implemented, but IMO it should already now be quite a bit faster, like on my D500. Firmware update? Focus peaking worked great, im really impressed, the rep showed me one of his images of a spiders net, the he had manually focused with peaking and told me how impressed he was that the peaking picked up on the tiny net while he was focusing!

    AF is silent and smooth, and very precise and accurate. AF Speed with the 24-70 and the 35 F1.8 is about the same as my 24-120 F4G on the D800e, not stellar but not slow, will probably be faster with faster focusing lenses. No hunting was observed, not even with my 24-120mm and the adapter on. I could not test tracking in store. I suggest you read Thom Hogans Z7 blog on that subject

    Lenses. The S 24-70 seems very sharp edge to edge, feels very good & I like the locking click in transport position, easy to disengage. The 35mm F1.8 was super impressive really sharp, and focus was very pinpoint accurate, see image below of the lens at F1.8. This lens is really sharp wide open and really shows of how sharp the Z mount lenses are in the corners. Impressive! My 24-120mm worked like it does on my D800e did not feel different, but it is worth to note that it balanced very well with the FTZ adapter mounted on the camera but looked very long.

    I have a few full size images in the link for you to look at, I could just shoot in the store, so nothing noteworthy nikon_z7 by Andreas Berglund, note the 35mm edge to edge sharpness at F1.8 and also pinpoint af at 35mm F1.8, the Z mount delivers as promised here.

    My summary: Camera feels great AF is reasonably fast but not as responsive as my regular DSLR's, IQ is great with the Z lenses. EVF is very good much better than I thought it would be, it is however not as good as an optical but I didn't expect that, there is a blackout though. S lens corner to corner sharpness is amazing. The S 24-70 is very good, best kit lens I have seen. The S35mm F1.8 is a real winner! Now the real question to myself would I buy this instead of a D850? I have to ponder that one. For my long lenses the D500 is in reality my D850, already cropped with much better buffer and a very good AF, and better battery life (although indications are for a 1000 shot battery life from Thom Hogan and thats ok) for my landscape and macro shooting i feel either a D850 or a Z7 will do a very similar job, with an edge to the Z7 for landscapes. Travel? Would love a Z7 and the 24-70 plus a 35mm and then something longer like the 300pf with a TC14. But then again there is suddenly alot of money involved here, I'm going to think it over....
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
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  2. Thanks for taking the time to write this up. Why the edge to the Z7 for landscapes?
  3. Very nice summary Andreas...I'm in agreement with everything you said. The mirrorless experience is quite different from DSLRs and it takes some getting used to the "quirks" of the system but I was sufficiently impressed to pick up the Z7 kit and so far am thrilled with it. Its AF performance is significantly behind current Nikon DSLRs and Sony mirrorless offerings for things like tracking and low light performance so the D850 will remain my birding/wildlife camera but I'll use the Z7 for everything else. Its small size and high-performance S lenses should make it a perfect light-weight landscape kit. The 24-70S may be the best performing 24-70 f4 lens ever and certainly good enough for this amateur wannabe landscaper.
  4. Cslucas34


    Oct 8, 2018
    Just curious here, but did you know or are aware there is a setting for low light AF? That puts its specs in line with the D850 as far as EV range. When that’s enabled it seems to perform just as well... but if not, then yes it lacks in my opinion as well. Glad to meet another Z owner!
  5. Russ_


    Feb 20, 2011
    New Zealand
    How does that work please, any idea? And do you have to turn it off when in good light?
  6. Light weight, better edge to edge sharpness with native lenses, 45 MP, no mirror slap at slow shutter speeds, ISO 64 for moving water means no need for a neutral density filter for my type of shooting etc.

    Those are are my reasons for thinking its a good landscape alternative, maybe slightly better than the D850, but the D850 can of course do that as well....

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  7. Cslucas34


    Oct 8, 2018
    I don’t have my camera with me but if memory serves me correctly it’s in the menu with all the sub options (a1,a2,b1,b2, etc etc). It slows your focusing down so in normal lighting if it were me, then yes I would only turn it on when I needed AF in low light. Most of the time for my needs I am better suited to manual focus though.
  8. Yes there is (I don't recall the setting). I'm sure it works well enough for static subjects but the Z7 documentation (or help file) indicates that enabling it slows down the AF...exactly the opposite of what I need. I love the Z7 but it's no action camera...IMO the AF is two generations old in comparison to current DSLR's, and one generation behind Sony.
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  9. Thom Hogan has posted his impressions of the Z7 after a week or two of shooting on his Z6/Z7 blog. Much of what he says mirrors what Andréas has said.

    He compares the Z7 with a D850 for most types of photography, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each. He concludes that the D850 is still the best all-around camera but there are a few niches where he would prefer a Z7.

  10. Thanks for that link to Thom's new blog. While I'm not in the market for a Z camera, I like to catch up. One trick he mentions: Remember AF-S (the lens type)? | Sans Mirror | Thom Hogan
    also works on a D850, albeit only in LV mode, but helps speed things up.
  11. I also went to the look see in Vancouver, but at Broadway camera. Having already just rented the Sony A7Riii with a 55mm 1.8. and...having an unopened Z7 plus 24-70 (minus a back-ordered FTZ) in my hotel room.

    After trying the Nikon at the look see, I decided to open it to get a real test. Given I am firstly portrait. I decided the AF just wasn't good enough for me compared to the Sony. Having to use the low light AF mode (with an unpleasant green light shooting into peoples eyes) to even get a focused shot was just not tenable.

    When I got home and looked at all the pictures from both Cameras in Lightroom, I decided that the Sony is the better fit for me. Admittedly, I could only use the Sony for a very short time as it was a big birthday for me with all my family in attendance. My mandate was to test mainly Eye AF at 1.8mm and found it a revelation, so many shots in perfect eye focus, even side view, with hardly any effort.

    There is a whole lot to love about the Nikon though. Solid little body, great ergonomics and fantastic IQ with the 24-70.

    I will buy the A7Riii and probably the Commlite adapter with firstly the 55mm 1.8 which is a very very light combo, and cropped comes up to 85mm, so should be a lot of fun. Then if all goes well I will buy the 24-105 F4, both will be great for travel.

    I had really stopped taking photos for the last few years. I think this may get me back in. Bought too many heavy lenses, mainly primes, Everything just too cumbersome for travel.and it sucked the fun out of it for me.
  12. Thats the same position I put myself into. Not anymore though.
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  13. ^^^ This! I’m wrestling with this exact issue. The idea of having a smaller camera with a sensor equal to the D850 for hiking, travel and stuff hobbyists do is really tempting me. My hesitation is buying into version 1 of a new system.
  14. it would help a lot if Nikon would declare that they will be able to provide firmware updates so that we can get things fixed and enhancements to the product
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  15. I have been wrestling with this decision for several months now.....and in the interim back in July bought the Sony RX100 M6 for a pocketable/purse camera for travel and some occasions because I already had earlier versions and loved them......and along the way learned about the Sony RX10 M4, which is a "bridge" camera with a 24-600mm (equivalent) range, and after some research and handling of the camera I bought that as well. I have been having a lot of fun with that RX10! Sure, it has limitations, and prior to purchase and at first when using it that 1 inch sensor gave me real pause, but overall it has been quite surprising in the images it has helped me create.

    Several months ago, in the beginning of all this I knew that Nikon was going to be coming out with a mirrorless camera and I also was curious about the Sony A7 III. Neither was available -- Nikon not having released anything yet and the A7III being so very popular that it was not available at any local dealers or even nationwide/online dealers. I waited..... In the meantime I also continued reading and researching and I think the waiting has paid off, as eventually I have determined that the Sony A7RIII is really the FF mirrorless camera which will more suit my needs.......but there was still the promise of those two new Nikon mirrorless bodies on the horizon..... Now, in seeing what is actually on offer in terms of the new Nikon camera bodies and lenses and in reading reviews and user comments, I am still thinking that for me, the Sony A7RIII is going to be the way to go.
  16. Nikon CAN provide firmware updates. What we await is a decision to provide an actual update that addresses specific known issues.
  17. I was able to compare my A7III next to the Z7 last night at a bar! There were some odd things in ergonomics that I had to adjust to. The first thing is that Nikon opted to follow Sony's right sided button orientation, versus the two sided button orientation on Nikon DSLRs. I totally forgot about this from the last time I handled the camera. It somewhat threw me off, but it was a quick adjustment after I figured it out, though it may cause some muscle memory confusion especially if you're using a Z camera in conjunction with a DSLR. Also I found the Z directional pad to not be very tactile versus the the A7/R III dial/directional pad which protrudes from the body. This definitely is something they need to fix in a future iteration, because it feels so flat against the camera. If you like that chunky D-pad on a Nikon DSLR, you'll be disappointed with the Z D-pad.

    The main issue with the Z camera is the AF. It's not bad, but it lacks the precision you get with Sony bodies. I seriously hope Nikon software engineers are cranking away on a firmware update. This is one area where Sony nailed it with their 3rd gen bodies. Also I tested the Z7+35/1.8S vs the A7III adapted with the 35/1.4 Art, and the Sony was locking onto eyeballs all night long. In order for the Z body to focus in the same dim lighting, you have to switch to the large wide area focus, but then there's no indicator as to which AF point is being used. In a future FW update, Nikon should allow the user to display AF activation so you can see which point is being selected for focus within the box. That way when using wide are AF in dim light, you can at least gauge where focus will be.

    If you were to pick a mirrorless camera today, I think Sony wins the current mirrorless battle, but honestly the Nikon Z feels like it has quite a bit of potential especially once they crank out more lenses and release their 2nd generation bodies.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018
  18. Thanks, Jonathan. That's great information and I appreciate the side-by-side. I agree that Sony has the AF advantage and that has been talked about in most reviews. For me, I think I will hold and see if Nikon is committed to regular firmware updates to fix issues and add functionality where they can. I'm curious how much they can improve the AF through a firmware update before running up against hardware limitations.
  19. The actual Z auto focus isn't that slow, large wide area focus can actually lock-on adequately in low light and it wasn't far off from the A7III in overall focus acquisition and speed. What Nikon needs to do is "smarten" up the AF system so users have better precision focus.

    I'm going to say though, Nikon's given me enough with the Z to take pause and hold off mitigating fully to Sony or another mirrorless system. I can see myself holding off for the next Z camera or jump in once the prices have dropped and firmware has been ironed out.

    Also software can make a large improvement in AF. I jumped in with the Sony A7II at FW 2.0 and by the time it arrived at FW 4.0, the A7 II was a much faster focusing camera, perhaps 20-25% better (via improved AF speed, acquisition and focus precision). So using that as a metric to go by, we can perhaps see a similar improvement with the Z series within a 4 year lifespan.
  20. LOL, I committed to the Z by already ordering a spare battery and 2 64 gig memory cards. It was going to be the Z6, but now I wonder if I should just bite the bullet and go Z7.:banghead: :rolleyes: :banghead: 
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