Home News Nikon Z: An impressive entry into the full-frame mirrorless world

Nikon Z: An impressive entry into the full-frame mirrorless world

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  A visitor to the open day tries out the new Z7 and f/4 24-70 zoom
A visitor to the open day tries out the new Z7 and f/4 24-70 zoom

The mirrorless market just got a whole lot more interesting. But we all know that. Sony and Leica have been joined by Canon and Nikon and competition is about to become white hot.

This afternoon I paid a visit to Chiswick Camera Centre where Bruno from Nikon was showing off a pre-production Z7 (and yes, he and the rest of Nikon Europe are calling it the Nikon Zed 7 and not the Nykon Zee 7.

  Nikon UK’s Bruno impresses another Chiswick Camera Centre regular. Nikon’s HQ is just down the road from CCC in Kingston-upon-Thames, so this is a home run for Bruno
Nikon UK’s Bruno impresses another Chiswick Camera Centre regular. Nikon’s HQ is just down the road from CCC in Kingston-upon-Thames, so this is a home run for Bruno

I was more impressed than I had imagined. William Fagan had his preview a few weeks ago and commented on the build quality which, he said, was almost up to Leica standards. I can now agree that the Nikons have a really quality feel about them.

The ergonomics (from a very brief play) are outstanding and controls are sensible and well thought out. I tried the f/4 24-70mm short zoom and, without getting into action, it looks the part and complements the Z7 as carry round camera.

The Z7 I tried edges past the Sony in build quality. The little rubber doors for the connections are more substantial and this is always a good indicator. Milan has been criticised for including just one card slot. But, as Bruno explained, this is the new technology. The much thicker QXD card is more like a mini SSD in form and offers speeds up to 400ms and greater reliability than normal SD cards. It’s expensive and insists on a new card reader, so more cost. But it could be the future. In the short term, though, if you get caught out without a card in your camera it could lead to a difficult quest.

The Z6 is identical to the 45.7MP Z7 in all but sender density. The cheaper model makes do with 24MP, just like the Sony A7 and Leica SL. It’s enough, and I prefer the advantages that come with the lower density — not to mention the smaller file size. If I were in the market, a Z6 with the 24-70 would be a good starter kit at around £2,800.

  The Z7 is a well-built, ergonomically astute and good-looking piece of kit. Here with the 35mm f/1.8 prime. The Z6 is identical but has a 24MP sensor instead of the 7’s 46MP
The Z7 is a well-built, ergonomically astute and good-looking piece of kit. Here with the 35mm f/1.8 prime. The Z6 is identical but has a 24MP sensor instead of the 7’s 46MP

The Nikon Z6 is definitely a camera that will tempt Sony users and, if I had to make the choice, I would be tempted to the Nikon, if only in feel, ergonomics and harmonious build. Nikon has done a good job and deserves to succeed.

What is clear is that Sony won’t sit still and there will be some leapfrogging of technology in the near future. I’ve not mentioned Canon, but the lack of IBIS would worry me. At the moment I think it is Sony v Canon in the ring.

Images in this article by Mike Evans with the Sony RX100 VI

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11 COMMENTS

  1. I considered the Zed 6 before I got my used Df, and decided to sit out this generation of mirrorless cameras and see how they develop out. This is based on the normal experience of this allowing the camera range to develop out any weird nuances that turn up when the units are out in the wild.

    The early images shown do look decent though.

    Of course by then I might have decided to keep going with the Df and save up the differnce for an M. 🙂

    Dave

    • I have a very large number of Leica lenses but I would not be remotely interested to trying them on a Z6/7. My experience is that lenses work best on the systems for which they were designed or which were designed for them. Digital has heightened this effect with sensor design issues. I have one Zeiss lens with a Nikon F mount which worked very well on the Z7 via the FTZ adapter with full focus peaking. The Nikon demonstrator was very taken with this lens. My advice to anyone buying a Z camera is to use Z lenses or F mount lenses via the adapter. I could be wrong, but I cannot see the Z functioning as a mini Leica SL with M lenses. I have never been interested in the SL because of its size, but a lot of Leica users have been very pleased with what the SL produces with an M lens and adapter.

      William

    • From what I’ve been led to believe, the Nikons don’t have the same thick sensor cover as that employed by Sony — which seems to be the cause of many problems. Of course, we will have to wait for a Z-M adapter but I don’t suppose that will be long in coming. If this is so, I could well see many owners of M lenses (who can’t put up with the weight of the SL or the cropped sensor of the CL) looking to Nikon. There’s another factor at play, too — the possibility of a smaller full-frame mirrorless camera from Leica.

  2. My dealer thought that I would like the Df because I have a few film Nikons, but as soon as I took it into my hands, I just said ‘too big’. The Zs, 6 and 7 are, however, a very nice size and are very solidly built, just like a Leica. Picking one up could lead to temptation. I’m still thinking about a 7 and may just sell my D800e which I rarely use. I had it lined up to do a copying job on my old slide collection. I have yet to decide what I will do. As I still have a number of older Nikon lenses I would need the FTZ adapter, but only two of them would autofocus with the adapter.

    I did not look at the electronic side of the Zs and Sony could offer a tea making function on its next model and it would mean nothing to me. With digital cameras I just want a picture taking tool that is easy to handle and use with full exposure control. The most fun I have had with cameras in the past couple of weeks has been with cameras from 1940 (my father’s Baldina which is now restored) and 1926 (my oldest Leica). No digital camera could give the same degree of ‘involvement’.

    Finally as regards the two card slot nonsense, Cartier Bresson never needed to have two rolls of film in his camera at the same time. If he needed a second type of film or to carry on shooting after finishing a roll he just carried a second camera, although I have rarely seen photos of him with two cameras. My M10 only has one card slot too.

    William

    • I think the 2 card slots are meant for people who use these cameras for video work. I suppose sport and fashion machine-gun type photographers will like them too, but that is really not my cup of tea.

  3. Baltimore-based (no, not the Irish Baltimore) Under "Armour" is worn by Bruno in just another example of British cultural imperialism.

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