Z7 - My First Few Images and some AF thoughts

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I've been playing with the Z7 for about a week now and thought I would offer some results. Not much in the way of subject matter (and certainly no images that are otherwise post-worthy), but nevertheless, a potentially interesting bit of info for those considering this camera. All images are uncropped JPGs with absolutely zero adjustments. I haven't played with the NEFs in post yet.

The first three are just some opportunity shots, in which there are no surprises - AF performance is fine, and the Nikkor Z 24-70 f4 seems to be an outstanding lens. The most prominent initial thought: The AF is SO accurate and SO silent as to be somewhat disconcerting. I found myself manually defocusing just to give myself a second chance to pay better attention to the EVF to see the intended AF target come into focus with AF activation (which it always did). Secondly, the IBIS is excellent (#2 is handheld).

1. Leave Me Alone, Dad
First Few Z7_20190223_14055348_DSC_0947.JPG
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2. South Elgin Waterfall
First Few Z7_20190224_15091344_DSC_0964.JPG
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3. New Development
First Few Z7_20190224_15581403_DSC_0973.JPG
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Next, I tried to find some animals with a non-VR 300mm f/2.8 and a TC-14. Keeper rate was somewhat low (56% in acceptably sharp focus). Possibly bad technique on my part, but the AF kept grabbing background targets.

4. Solo Deer (acceptably sharp)
First Few Z7_20190226_16103752_DSC_1004.JPG
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5. Deer Looking Back (AF locked on tree in background)
First Few Z7_20190226_16113463_DSC_1027.JPG
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Finally, I tried the 70-200 f/2.8G VR2 indoors. This was a fairly busy indoor practice session, about a dozen skaters on the ice with maybe five coaches. Initial thoughts: EVF blackout is a pretty significant distraction; AF performance is generally good, yielding 357 usable images out of 422 frames (an 85% keeper rate), but when it misses, I would get a solid sequence of unusability. Sometimes, the AF would recover and acquire focus if I momentarily lift off the shutter release and re-engage, but that technique is not useful while a skater is in the air. The AF is more easily fooled by a busy background than by a foreground intrusion. High ISO performance is fair but not stellar, so overall, my initial reaction is that the Z7 will probably not be the ideal tool for indoor sports.

6 and 7. AF did fine maintaining lock on the intended subject with foreground clutter

First Few Z7_20190227_07065242_DSC_1086.JPG
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First Few Z7_20190227_07065769_DSC_1088.JPG
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8. Ice Dancing was easily managed by the AF
First Few Z7_20190227_07132993_DSC_1177.JPG
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9 and 10. Jumping was the most challenging for the AF, particularly when the wall served as an easy background target.
First Few Z7_20190227_07282466_DSC_1380.JPG
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First Few Z7_20190227_07282486_DSC_1381.JPG
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So my very preliminary thoughts on the Z7:

A. It's going to be great for portraits and landscapes
B. It probably will be a decent wildlife body, particularly for handholding longer glass
C. It is so-so for action, although it may be much better with good lighting and/or outdoors

More to follow, but in the meantime, please chime in with your thoughts.
 
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What focus mode were you using for the deer and ice skating? I assume you have several choices....?
My question as well. Also what High ISO system are you comparing it to? I assume the Z6 is better but I also assume it is on a par with the D850 which is no slouch.

I've actually been very impressed with the jpegs coming out of the Z7 as well.
 
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@acnomad , what drove you to pick up the Z7 instead of the Z6? Do you do a lot of landscapes?

Even though I shoot a lot of landscapes, I still went with the Z6 because of the cost, better ISO performance, and better video specs.

I definitely agree with you on the EVF blackout though. It's definitely noticeable and distracting. The AF performance is still very good, but I can't rattle off a long burst like I can with the D500, because the blackout makes it harder to follow the subject.

I did have good success shooting my nephew's ice hockey game with the Z6 though, using the 70-200 VR II. The results were there, it was just a bit odd using it compared to my D500. I tend to switch back and forth between H and H+, using Dynamic AF.
 
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What focus mode were you using for the deer and ice skating? I assume you have several choices....?

AF-C Single point BBF for the deer. Probably would have done better with pinpoint at that distance, but I forgot that option existed.

Tried Auto area with tracking with so-so results. Dynamic area was a bit better, but that gave the camera the option to grab a point on the boards.

My question as well. Also what High ISO system are you comparing it to? I assume the Z6 is better but I also assume it is on a par with the D850 which is no slouch.

I've actually been very impressed with the jpegs coming out of the Z7 as well.

Yes, the Z7 is certainly no ISO slouch, and I suspect it is on par with the D850 (but I don’t have one of those). I can say that the files are not as clean as the D750 to my eye.
 
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@acnomad , what drove you to pick up the Z7 instead of the Z6? Do you do a lot of landscapes?

Even though I shoot a lot of landscapes, I still went with the Z6 because of the cost, better ISO performance, and better video specs.

I definitely agree with you on the EVF blackout though. It's definitely noticeable and distracting. The AF performance is still very good, but I can't rattle off a long burst like I can with the D500, because the blackout makes it harder to follow the subject.

I did have good success shooting my nephew's ice hockey game with the Z6 though, using the 70-200 VR II. The results were there, it was just a bit odd using it compared to my D500. I tend to switch back and forth between H and H+, using Dynamic AF.
Right after buying the Z6 on the $200 promo deal, I stumbled across this right-priced Z7, so I have both at the moment. My bias is that the Z6 will be best all-around for many of the same reasons as you.

But since I have this unplanned chance to do so, I’ll put both bodies through their paces for a month or so, maybe longer.
 
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@acnomad , what drove you to pick up the Z7 instead of the Z6? Do you do a lot of landscapes?

Even though I shoot a lot of landscapes, I still went with the Z6 because of the cost, better ISO performance, and better video specs.

This is where I'm at with my thinking. I'm primarily a landscape shooter, with some other stuff mixed in... I just sold my D800, I have boiled my choices down to replacing it with a D850 (and keeping all my F mount lenses) or selling a couple of F mount lenses and committing to a Z6/24-70/14-30. Other advantages of the Z6 for me are size and IBIS, still running the mental calculations if those are enough to offset the loss of resolution compared to the D850 (although... HUGE files!). Probably about 75-25 in favor of the Z6 kit at the moment.
 
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Right after buying the Z6 on the $200 promo deal, I stumbled across this right-priced Z7, so I have both at the moment. My bias is that the Z6 will be best all-around for many of the same reasons as you.

But since I have this unplanned chance to do so, I’ll put both bodies through their paces for a month or so, maybe longer.
Ah OK. Literally, the only improvement with the Z7 is the sensor for still imaging, at the expense of video performance. That $1,400 premium you pay for the Z7 isn't worth it IMO.

The deer images you posted is a tough shot, as the deer are an extremely small portion of the image. For the figure skating, I would personally use Dynamic AF.

There's a lot of speculation that the Z6 has better AF performance. It would be interesting to get some first-hand evaluation of that since you have both cameras. S-AF in low light, C-AF performance, etc.

I'm extremely pleased with the Z6, with the exception of the EVF blackout. Other than that, I find it to be an extremely impressive feature, especially C-AF with Dynamic AF given how dogged the camera was in the initial reports. I've simply found that to not be the case.
 
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FYI, here are my results shooting ice hockey with the Z6. All shot with H or H+, C-AF with blocked shot response set to "1", and Dynamic AF.

There's a lot of speculation that the Z6 has better AF performance. It would be interesting to get some first-hand evaluation of that since you have both cameras. S-AF in low light, C-AF performance, etc.
Ian,
Your hockey set from two weeks ago was one of the key drivers in my purchase of the Z6. It started me down the path of taking some of the reviews critical of the Z6 AF with a grain of salt. I'll be trying my hand at the ice arena with the Z6 soon, and hope to find out if it is definitively more capable than the Z7 in that environment.
 
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Other advantages of the Z6 for me are size and IBIS, still running the mental calculations if those are enough to offset the loss of resolution compared to the D850 (although... HUGE files!). Probably about 75-25 in favor of the Z6 kit at the moment.
These "this or that" decisions are truly confounding. Just FYI, I recently joined NPS (it's free if you qualify) and they have a good equipment consignment program where you get one or two free equipment rentals per year, depending on your membership level. I haven't actually used it yet, but asked a few questions via the NPS support system and I believe you can get a bunch of gear to evaluate as a single consignment. I was all set to get a loaner kit consisting of a Z7, 24-70, FTZ two weeks ago then I bought a Z6 kit and stumbled across a right-priced used Z7.
 
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I just got back from shooting day one of the arnold sports festival. Used the Z6 and Z35/1.8s to shoot boxing. Dynamic area AF and used the rear lcd a lot. Keeper rate was extremely high.

As with most things, you have to learn what works best. The AF systems for the Z cameras are a bit different than you think, but are more capable than early reviewers give it credit.

It does struggle in lower light sometimes where a DSLR wouldn't, but it can work quite well.
 
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These "this or that" decisions are truly confounding. Just FYI, I recently joined NPS (it's free if you qualify) and they have a good equipment consignment program where you get one or two free equipment rentals per year, depending on your membership level. I haven't actually used it yet, but asked a few questions via the NPS support system and I believe you can get a bunch of gear to evaluate as a single consignment. I was all set to get a loaner kit consisting of a Z7, 24-70, FTZ two weeks ago then I bought a Z6 kit and stumbled across a right-priced used Z7.

Some people are able to purchase new cameras in relatively short order, without obsessing over every detail and potential benefit/liability, and then happily use their new purchase without a second thought.

I am not one of those people.

Anyway, apologies for the derail, I am enjoying the reports from people who have managed to actually purchase one of these cameras. :)
 
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Do anyone know if the z6 has an aa filter againt moire and the z7 doesent?

If so does not that make the z7 a tad sharper or have i misunderstod something?

Regards
Daniel
Yes, the Z6 has an AA (optical low-pass) filter and the Z7 does not. I haven’t examined my NEFs from either body yet to report on any difference in sharpness.
 
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Andy, I look forward to your continued testing/report of the Z6/7. Regarding focusing, I would say to try:

For AF-S:
  • mostly single point, sometimes wide-area small (if the subject is big enough in the frame)
For AF-C:
  • mostly Dynamic AF, or the auto-area AF with face detect

At least speaking about the Z6, the camera is definitely capable with its AF settings. You just need to learn what works and what doesn't. Using the above focusing modes, I've been pleased with the AF performance.
 
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