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Equipment

Nikon Z7 Review | A Portable Landscape Photography Workhorse

For this camera review, I am going to unabashedly focus on the genres of photography for which the Nikon Z7 is best-suited. Because, honestly, most readers already know how the Z7 stacks up against its competition – at least on paper. Although my hobby is landscape, nightscape, and timelapse photography, my day job is wedding and portrait photography. Therefore I will attempt to briefly mention those types of photography (and more) when giving my overall assessment of the camera. Without any further ado, let’s take Nikon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera out for a spin!

Lensrentals was generous enough to send me a Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S to accompany the Nikon Z7 for review, during the first snowfall of the winter in Yosemite National Park. I shot photos, video, and timelapse of a beautiful snowstorm, in below-freezing temps most of the time. The Nikon Z7 was, overall, a very positive, promising experience.

Nikon Z7 Review

The Tunnel View Horde | Nikon Z7, Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S, 1/4 sec, f/4, ISO 3200

Nikon Z7 Review

 

Nikon Z7 Pros

Incredible Image Quality

On the one hand, the cat is already out of the bag: the Nikon Z7 has an image sensor that is based on the sensor of the Nikon D850 but with the addition of a new on-sensor autofocus system. (And yes, if you try, you can reveal faint, faint banding. More on that in a minute.)

On the other hand, the lack of a giant leap beyond the D850’s image quality is not a bad thing, because Nikon already had an excellent thing going. The D850 and the Nikon Z7 are image quality beasts. Out in the field, away from all the lab tests and ranking charts, the native base ISO of 64 makes the Nikon Z7 a natural choice for many types of photographers who work with those lowest ISOs.

Furthermore, at the higher ISOs many serious photographers commonly use, (to be conservative, let’s say ISO 3200 or 6400) …the Z7 also holds its own against the other high-megapixel competition, despite the added resolution.

Nikon Z7 Review & Rentals

Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24mm f/1.8 G | 15 sec, f/2, ISO 3200

100% Crop (Minor sharpening and noise reduction applied)

But, enough about comparisons and rankings. When you’re out on location, all that matters is that the images are jaw-droppingly detailed and highly dynamic. Case in point: with just four vertical frames, (including sufficient overlap) …you’re looking at 100+ megapixels with no AA filter. It’s truly impressive.

Nikon Z7, Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S, nine vertical frame panorama
F/10, 1/125 sec, ISO 64, hand-held

100% Crop (Fine-radius sharpening applied)

100% Crop (Fine-radius sharpening applied)

 

Now, a word on this shadow banding issue. It was a non-issue for me, no matter how hard I tried. I went absolutely bonkers (that’s a scientific unit of measure, it means “do horrible things to all the sliders in Lightroom”) with shadow recovery on quite a few images, and I only ever saw some faint horizontal lines buried deep in shadow areas that were already unacceptably noisy.

Essentially, here’s my in-the-field diagnosis: The banding lurks mainly at that threshold of shadow recovery acceptability, just before shadows turn to completely posterized, green/magenta mush. So if you ever find yourself in a situation where this banding is ruining your images, the real problem is that you were lazy and didn’t bracket another exposure. Unless you’re creating a timelapse and you need to capture an entire scene in a single click, don’t be lazy. Shoot another +2 or +3 EV exposure.

Nikon Z7, Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S, 1.6 sec, f/11, ISO 64

Of course, I bracketed this scene, just in case. However, a single NEF file got the job done.

100% Crop. That’s some impressive detail retention, for what was previously a near-black area.
The Nikon Z7 is sufficiently ISO invariant for almost any “torture test” you can think of.

 

Then again, to be fair and honest, Nikon’s shadow recovery has been roughly this jaw-dropping since the D750 and D810. If you’re considering the Nikon Z7 for its dynamic range alone, you’re missing the point of the Z system.

The only thing I hope Nikon keeps working on is high ISO dynamic range. To me, this is the final frontier of Bayer pattern, BSI, dual-gain CMOS sensors. (And, the one item which keeps me paying attention to what Sony and all other camera makers are up to.) Unfortunately, I doubt we’re going to get much better at counting individual photons, without a significant change in the core sensor technology.

Nikon Z7 Review

Nikon Z7, Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S, 30 sec, f/4, ISO 12800
Trust me; you don’t want to print this (underexposed) image too large.
At ISO 12800, on any camera, if you don’t nail your histogram, you’re doomed.

Class-leading Build Quality

I’ve been testing and reviewing full-frame mirrorless cameras since the original Sony A7 and A7R. This list now includes the Canon EOS R and the Sony mk3 generation 7-series.

Suffice it to say, the Nikon Z7 feels like a more professional-grade camera than anything else I’ve worked with in the full-frame mirrorless realm. It feels like a Nikon D850, but even more cutting-edge and nimble. If anything, it feels even more “sold” than a Nikon D850, which feels unnecessarily oversized to me at this point.

As the storm worsened, a little voice whispered in my ear… “Roger Cicala from Lensrentals.com says the Nikon Z7 is the most weather-sealed full-frame mirrorless camera body ever…”

Well, although I’m tempted to use the word “indestructible,” I won’t. Be nice to your $3,000 cameras, folks. I also shouldn’t exactly use the word “nimble”, because I do have a few nitpicks with the ergonomics and customizability of the camera, but for now let’s focus on the fact that the incredible durability, lightweight portability, and other features (IBIS!) give the photographer both confidence and peace of mind.

No matter how weather-sealed a camera is, if you’re going to record video or shoot timelapse, you might as well bag it up! At this point, it was snowing at a rate of multiple inches per hour.

Portability

Until now, in the Nikon realm, if you wanted a camera setup this lightweight and portable, then you would have to make a compromise in both durability and sensor resolution, which is of course extremely frustrating to landscape and travel photographers in particular. In other words, we’ve never seen Nikon D850 class durability, functions, and image quality, in a D750 or D7500-sized package.

The Nikon Z7, from head to toe, finally delivers that sturdy flagship feel, feature set, and image quality in a very portable package.

Without a lens attached, the Z7 is downright petite when it’s tucked into a camera bag. It’s no Olympus OM-D, of course, but it’s “tiny” as far as flagship-grade full-frame is concerned. If anything, I’d have been OK with an even bigger grip, if it meant a new battery type with even higher capacity. But I’m already dreaming of how portable the Nikon Z7 will be when paired with the yet-unreleased Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S.

Nikon Z7, Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S, 1/5 sec, f/14, ISO 64, hand-held

In-Body Stabilization (IBVR?)

This feature is great if your existing lens or lenses didn’t already have optical VR, however, as a landscape photographer VR is already present in most of the lenses that might be used hand-held. The Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR and 24-120mm f/4 VR are two lenses that come to mind as top choices for shooting landscapes on-the-go. For all you portrait etc. photographers out there, both the 24-70 and 70-200 are stabilized now, too. Almost every Tamron lens has VC. But I digress.

Instead of resurrecting this dead horse, let’s leave it at this: It’s better to have the feature than not have it. (I’m looking at you, Canon EOS R!)

Most people will indeed consider this a perk, whether or not they use it all the time. It may not be my own personal “main perk” of potentially switching to mirrorless, especially as a nightscape/timelapse photographer, but I’m glad it’s there, and I’m happy Nikon did a solid job implementing it.

Nikon Z7 Cons

Control & Performance Differences From D850

I had high hopes for Nikon’s entry into the mirrorless realm. I guess what I expected was a camera that was almost identical to the Nikon D850, but just a little smaller. While I must give Nikon credit for following in Sony’s footsteps with regard to making two different classes of cameras that are physically identical, there are a few issues I have with the actual control layout and UI.

It’s not just a matter of familiarity or personal preference, either. I truly believe that Nikon’s DSLR control layout and customization functions are superior in a few significant ways. First, the number of dedicated control buttons has been reduced. There’s no dedicated WB button, and no QUAL button, though I don’t miss the latter.

Even more annoying is the fact that the dedicated buttons which are still present, have been moved around a bit. The very useful physical dial for Drive Mode has been eliminated, and I used that a LOT, for everything from landscapes to weddings. Instead, there’s just one button relegated the bottom-right of the camera, literally the exact opposite corner. It’s not easy to reach.

At least I was able to customize exposure delay mode to one of the Fn buttons, and put the E-shutter in the quick menu that is accessible even while your eye is to the viewfinder. If only I could dial my Kelvin WB by merely holding down a single button and twirling a sub-command dial, like on most Nikon DSLRs.

The combination of re-arranged drive mode and AF mode controls make the camera much less effortless to use for more fast-paced things like portraits and weddings, let alone action sports or wildlife.
(And, while we’re on the topic of autofocus and action sports, indeed it has been well-reported that if autofocus tracking is critical to you, a Nikon D5 or even a Nikon D850/D500 is still going to be your go-to camera. If you’d like to stick with Nikon, that is.)

One thing that I found to be a surprising departure from Nikon’s habit of offering a helping hand when trying to understand various menu items, this message popped up quite a lot. It never explains what the restriction is, though, so you’re left to guess.

Nikon, we’ve had the little “question mark sub-button” for about a decade now; why couldn’t you have written a little bit more code to offer up in-camera explanations for what seems like a whole new level of unavailable options?

Collectively, these minor issues leave me feeling like, even for something as slow and methodical as landscape photography, some photographers will have a slightly more frustrating user experience with a Z7, depending on how familiar and comfortable they are with their Nikon DSLR.

The FTZ Adapter Minor Let-Down

My second main issue with the Nikon Z7’s ergonomics has to do with the mechanics of the FTZ adapter. The camera body and the adapter do not lend themselves to tripod foot/plate use, when frequently switching between native Z lenses and adapted F lenses.

You simply can’t mount an ordinary tripod plate to both the camera body and the FTZ adapter at the same time. Even mounting one tripod plate might not work unless you get the right adapter that can slide fore/aft enough to allow the FTZ adapter to still mount. I had to dig up my most teeny-tiny Arca-Swiss plate to even be able to mount/unmount the FTZ adapter with the plate attached.

What’s worse, the FTZ adapter lacks both an AF-D motor (though I expected this) and full AI-S lens compatibility. You can enter the lens’ focal length and max aperture in the menu just like with most Nikon DSLRs, but that’s where compatibility ends. The FTZ adapter doesn’t have the sensor tab which notices what aperture you’re setting.

I expected a secondary, aftermarket FTZ adapter to come out eventually, maybe even with an AF-D motor built into it, even though it would be expensive. I don’t even know if it’s possible, but I hope Nikon can add full aperture compatibility for AI-S and other manual focus Nikkors.

EVF Is A Respectable Start, But Not Superior

The electronic viewfinder is fantastic, and a respectable start for Nikon. However, dots and refresh rates aside, it’s just not as stunning as the Canon EOS R’s viewfinder, for example. I tried out the various brightness settings, in various lighting conditions, and the Nikon Z7’s EVF seems to have slightly less “pop” and clarity to it.

Next, the shutter blackout. Yes, its severity varies depending on which shooting settings you’re using, but here’s the bottom line for me: one of the reasons why I’m willing to switch from an OVF to an EVF is to be able to shoot at any FPS I want, with zero shutter blackout, and nothing but maybe a faint (faux) clicking sound to let me know that I’m actually clicking pictures.

For many serious shooters who would instead pounce on decisive moments than rely on good ‘ol spray-and-pray, this could be a strike against the Nikon Z7. Nikon, please try and make the FX mirrorless experience as similar as possible to a DSLR when appropriate, while implementing the new advantages to mirrorless that other makers like Sony are incorporating.

Nikon Z7 Review

Single XQD Memory Card Slot

No, I’m not going to sweep this one under the rug. But, let’s not beat the dead horse too much. Here’s my opinion- most people are blowing this issue way out of proportion. Sony was SIX full-frame mirrorless cameras deep into their FE lineup before they ditched the single, slow SD card slot.

Most photographers will be just fine with a single XQD card slot. Personally, the only time I need dual card slots is when I’m shooting weddings. If I’m shooting any sort of action, timelapse, landscape, or just casually, I use a single card slot. And after literally 2+ million NEF files, I haven’t had more than one or two images go corrupt. (Knock on wood)

USB Charging and Battery Life

This was something I was truly disappointed by. I expected Nikon to have figured out something as simple as operating a camera directly from USB power, and charging the battery while the camera is on.

Alas, the Nikon Z7, like the oldest Sony A7-series bodies, must be off to charge the battery via USB. Even then, it is painfully slow, even with a 2A USB battery. (And not every 2A port seems to work, by the way; for some reason one of my USB battery packs would only charge the EN-EL15b from a 1A port, which was almost pointless at about 5% per hour.)

Nevertheless, I gaff-taped my USB battery to my tripod leg and compulsively switched off the camera whenever I wasn’t shooting.

Nikon Z7, Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S | 6 sec, f/10, ISO 64

At the end of a very long day in freezing cold temperatures, with EN-EL and USB batteries all critically low, to be honest, I was missing the Nikon D850. Sure, if I use the Nikon D850 in live view all the time or record 4K video, battery consumption is about the same. But a lot of time is spent just casually wandering and snapping, which can be done through the optical viewfinder and barely consuming any battery power.

What’s more, Nikon is trying to crack down on third-party batteries, even generic dummy batteries, so my 12V LiPo battery with a custom voltage regulator, which essentially offers unlimited battery power for all-night timelapses and/or video shooting, …gave me the dreaded “this battery cannot be used in this camera” message. Thanks, Nikon.

Nikon Z7 Mirrrorless Review

The Unprotected Sensor

Thanks to Nikon’s downright enormous mount diameter, and extremely short flange distance, that sensor is just begging to get scratched, and it loves to collect dust. So far, Sony hasn’t gotten this right either, Only Canon’s EOS R is willing to put its shutter at risk to keep the sensor safer and cleaner.

A new shutter is usually a few hundred bucks. A new sensor and IBIS unit, well…

The Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S

Before we wrap things up, a quick word on what will likely be the very first lens that many photographers mount on their Nikon Z7: the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S.

Nikon 24mm f/1.8 G ED N, versus Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S

Yes, it’s impressively compact, lightweight, and weather sealed. Yes, it’s very sharp throughout most of the image frame, even wide open. However, I noticed two things that stopped me from absolutely raving about it:

First, I’m always skeptical of lenses that have a “baked-in” profile that I can’t turn off. What manner of vignetting and distortion sins is Nikon concealing, which Adobe refuses to let me see?

There’s definitely something weird going on. At the edges of the image, there’s some sort of color or tonal shift going on. Unfortunately, it’s evident when shooting high-key, white-on-white landscape images of snowy scenes. See the image set below:

Nikon Mirrorless Review

This might not be noticeable at all for shooters who don’t shoot such smooth-toned, near-white images. However, it was very prominent in this whole scene — good thing the scenes lent themselves to black & white so well.

I was at around f/11 too mind you, so I’m confused as to what could be causing the issue. If anybody wants to chime in and give their own account of this phenomenon, (or say that I’m an idiot because this is a common issue when shooting white subjects in below-freezing temperatures,) …please do let me know!

Nikon Z7 Landscape Review

The other point of contention I had was, I’m a little bummed that Nikon went for a collapsible, 24-70mm design in the first place. I’d rather have a Z 24-120mm f/4 S lens, even if it were the size of the 24-70mm f/4 in its un-collapsed state, or a bit larger.
By comparison, Canon’s RF 24-105mm f/4 is impressive at all apertures focal lengths, right to the extreme corners, making it well worth the extra 200 grams.

Versus the Nikon D850

So, let’s recap- where do we stand when comparing the Nikon Z7 against its big brother, the Nikon D850? The bottom line is that there is not an absolute, clear winner. It will depend on what you’re looking for in a camera, and where you’re willing to make compromises. Because, neither camera is genuinely perfect, despite both cameras being champions in their own right.

In short, the Nikon D850’s optical viewfinder, and off-sensor phase-detect autofocus may still be preferable to those who are still familiar with SLRs. The Nikon Z7, however, may be preferable to those who are willing to embrace the WYSIWYG of a decent quality EVF, despite the blackout and the autofocus that may struggle in poor light or fast action. Oh, and the IBIS. Oh, but the single XQD card slot.

All in all, however, I must again say that the D850 and Z7 together have me putting a hold on my envy of Sony’s offerings. Not so much when it comes to wedding and portrait photography, but certainly when it comes to landscape and timelapse photography, where durability and portability are essential.

Nikon Z7, Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4

Versus the Sony A7RIII

As impressive as the Nikon Z7 is, Sony’s A7R III is a tempting competitor. On paper, the 42 MP sensor is roughly equal, or slightly better, depending on your priorities. (In short, the Z7’s ISO 64 dynamic range is marginally better, but the A7R3’s high ISO noise (and dynamic range) are marginally better.)

But, allow me to stir the pot a little bit: in the real world, any dynamic range or high ISO noise differences will likely be hidden by most photographer’s inability to nail every single exposure to within 1/3 EV of “perfect”. In other words, If you upgrade cameras (let alone switch entire systems) for a mere 1/2 or 1/3rd EV of dynamic range or noise levels, but on average you miss your exposures by a whole 1-2 EVs, then the joke is on you!

Despite my few gripes with the Z7’s ergonomics and interface, I definitely give the nod to the Nikon Z7 for its overall build quality, ergonomics, and customizability. I’ve spent a lot of time customizing Sony’s physical buttons and quick menus, and while the mk3 generation bodies are leaps and bounds ahead of the mk2 and mk1 generations, I still think Nikon (And Canon, for that matter) ergonomics and customizability are preferable.

With that said, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the A7R III to anyone who is ready to shoot things like portraits or any other serious professional work for which both dual card slots and reliable AF are a must-have. Sony’s lens lineup is well-established, too. Truth be told, if you’ve already tried a Sony camera and don’t have any problems with the ergonomics, menus, and customizability, it’s pretty hard not to recommend the A7R3.

Nikon Z7, Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S, 1/8 sec, f/11, ISO 64

Who Should Buy The Nikon Z7

In case I have already made it totally obvious, the Nikon Z7 may be a dream camera for some, and a frustrating experience for others. So, who is it for, and who isn’t it for? Quite honestly, if you already own a Nikon D850 or even a Nikon D810, then to justify the Z7 you’ll really, really have to be putting the mirrorless advantages to good use- the IBIS, EVF, and portability had better be at the top of your “must-have” list. Also, you’ll have to be okay with switching batteries (and lens adapters) more often, and being very careful and strict with your memory card safety and workflow. I’m going to call the Nikon Z7 a “dream camera” for travel, landscape, and timelapse photographers, but that’s about it. For most other types of photography, the Nikon Z7 is certainly capable. However, it is not without caveats and some stiff competition in the Sony A7R III.

So, there you have it. I’m giving Nikon’s Z system a year or so to mature before I dive in. I might rent a Nikon Z7 or Nikon Z6 again for a certain special project or two in 2019, (there’s a lunar eclipse in January that I’d love to capture; I previously had a blast catching it on my D800e!) …however until I see more Z-mount lenses, and maybe even a 2nd generation body within the next 365 days, I’ll stick to my Nikon DSLRs.

Nikon Z7 Review Conclusion

So, as has been the case numerous times for me over the last 5+ years, I’m left with the same feelings regarding the “mirrorless vs. DSLR” debate: In order to gain the benefits such as in-body stabilization, great on-sensor autofocus, and a beautiful EVF, there are some quirks that must be put up with.

Personally? I’m going to give Nikon’s Z-system time to grow, before I jump on board. I’d like to be able to use nothing but native-mount lenses, and I’d like to see Nikon make a few tweaks to the physical ergonomics as well as the menus and customizations.

I will say this, however. I was previously on the brink of jumping to a Sony A7RIII for the landscape photography that I like to shoot, and a Sony A7III for the weddings and portraits that are my day job. That ship seems to have sailed, at least for another year. Because a Nikon Z7 with a few button and menu tweaks, plus a 2nd card slot of course for the weddings, and I’m sold.

Queue the comments about me being totally biased and/or downright wrong. Personally, if I had all the money in the world, I’d be that guy who owns (and uses) a camera from every single brand, from a Fuji GFX 50R, to an Olympus OM-D E-M1 II. I simply enjoy getting to know new cameras of any kind and going out to take pictures.

Author: Matthew Saville

My name is Matthew Saville and I am an astro-landscape and timelapse photographer based in Southern California. I have been exploring the American West with family and friends my whole life, and have been serious about wilderness adventures and astro-landscape photography since 2005.

Posted in Equipment
  • Hi @moremores:disqus,

    I did my best to speak to those other genres of photography for which the Z7 might be worse or better-suited for compared to landscape photography. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to take the camera to shoot /everything/ under the sun, and such a review would have been excessively long. In my experience, the best way to review a camera is within one or two overall genres at a time. For example, I’m no filmmaker either, so I can’t really speak expertly to a camera’s video capabilities, even though that is becoming an extremely important criteria for buyers these days.

    However, I’ll save you the trouble of hunting down a review of the Z7 that is “focused” more on action, from sports to weddings: This is probably NOT the right camera for you… :- Having said that, a $3K investment is a tough one to make without getting the camera in your hands and trying it out. So even if a D850 or a Sony is a better choice, I’d still recommend trying those out before buying.

  • MoreMoreS

    Lovely photographs. I believe there is a small typo: If anything, it feels even more “sold” than a Nikon D850 -> “solid”

    Honestly the review feels somewhat limited. It feels like you’re going to talk about it for landscape and really that’s it. Issues like EVF lag for action or AF speed, accuracy and modes are presented cursorily. I don’t shoot landscape so the review wasn’t so helpful and didn’t answer a lot of questions for me. I thought what you did you did fairly well, but it just felt somewhat limited as a review given the article’s length.

  • Thanks Peter! It was a beautiful day, and I’m utterly hooked on “snow on the valley floor” trips. I really hope I can visit Yosemite again for another winter storm next season!

  • In other news, John, that headless support setup looks like the most stiff tripod kit I’ve ever seen! Wow. (If only there was a form-fitted plate for the FTZ adapter, ehh?)

    How do you find the limitation of using just a leveling base, BTW? I’ve considered doing something like this for one of my bigger tripod setups for when I need extra stability to shoot super-telephoto focal lengths…

  • Peter Clayton

    Just a quick comment that I appreciated your shots of Yosemite so much that I shared most of them with my wife – and I’m sure that’s more a compliment to you than to the Z7!

  • Thanks, Roger, for taking a part a Z7 and giving me the confidence to go on this adventure and shoot these photos! 😉

  • Wow, accurate? Haha, that’s the one thing I was worried I’d get critical comments about. I’m thrilled that you think my testing was accurate.

  • I’m a DSLR die-hard, too. When I’m traveling, it’s great to be able to shoot misc photos by just raising the camera to my eye, and snapping a few photos here and there through the OVF without barely putting a dent in the battery. In fact I can look through the viewfinder without even turning the camera on, haha, and maybe 20-30% of the time, I raise the off camera to my eye, and decide, “nope, not a picture worth clicking!”

    Simply put, if I could have a Z7 with an optical viewfinder, as a landscape photographer I wouldn’t miss anything. (Of course, a very different story for many other things, WYSIWYG is absolutely amazing for things like professional portraiture!)

    Or, if the Z7 had been made with a totally redesigned battery, that lasted even longer than a D850, even if it weighed about as much as a D750 I’d still be all over it.

    I’ll settle for the Z7mk2 being able to operate directly off USB power. I can just gaff-tape a 20,000 mAh Anker battery to my tripod leg and go, haha!

  • It seems everybody’s sending me gear to review these days. What am I gonna do, say no? 😀 😛

    My EOS R review is on SLR Lounge, yes. It’s a great camera; the A7III has a bit of an advantage, indeed, but the realm of possibility with the RF mont, like the Z mount, is going to prove rather advantageous in the long run, I believe. Rumors are that Canon patented something nuts like a 14-21mm f/1.4, I forget what the exact specs were. But, yeah, it’s going to be an interesting next 1-2 years!

  • Interesting that you say this, just one day after Nikon announces what will likely turn out to be the most versatile landscape photography lens ever made, the 14-30mm f/4 Z/S.

    Simply put, I tried the D850, and I found that while it’s certainly a great landscape camera, it’s also big and heavy to the point of feeling outdated by the likes of the Z-series, and even a D750. For the landscape work I (and many, many others) do, weight and space is is a critical factor. I’d rather have a D850 in a D750 form factor. And a Z7 is even better. The issues with third-party lenses always pop up from time to time, that’s just a gamble we all take when we buy a Sigma/Tamron lens. And PCE lenses should work just fine on the Z7. If anything I’d rather have the balance of the 19 PCE on the FTZ adapter with a tripod foot. I tried the 19mm on the D850 actually, and that was one front-heavy beast.

  • Hey @photostreamus:disqus,

    What you “get” from Canon depends on what you need to shoot. If you ask me, the EOS R, and the RF system as a whole, is already better-suited for quite a few different things compared to either the Z7 or the Z6. Personally, I found the EOS R’s autofocus to be downright uncanny with the 50 1.2 RF, and for general portraiture and walk-around photograph, I’d absolutely go with that kit instead of this Nikon.

    Where the Z7 excels is, of course, it’s impressive durability, and the incredible image quality. Of course also the large mount is going to prove a huge advantage for the more exotic (and the more compact, apparently) lens options.

    The next Canon RF body is rumored to be their 5DsR sucessor, a landscape camera. And if they go on-chip ADC with that camera like they did with the 5D4, plus a bit more incremental progress, it could be a respectable if not superior choice for those folks who want high-megapixel sensors.

  • CameraCrazy

    your testing, while accurate, lacks wisdom and perspective. Your conclusions are very pedestrian at best

  • CameraCrazy

    Only a fool would buy the Z7 over the D850.

  • John Motzi

    Ha ha – Hi Kurt – yes we meet again! Wow it seems like only yesterday 🙂

  • Milda Thatch

    You will discover numerous work-from-home opportunities that already are in existence. And, in today’s marketplace, there are way more work opportunities via the internet, and this emerging trend is anticipated to prolong well into the future. Who would not want to work-from-home on a part-time basis and bring in 1000s of dollars a month? This is an offer huge numbers of people can’t or don’t resist. So,now Let me tell you a fantastic working at home job opportunity from which you may get between 5k dollars to 10k dollars every 30 days. Here is what i do > NICEST WORK!!!

  • Kurt Lawson

    Is this the John Motzi that to my knowledge is the only other photographer to capture the most incredible sunset I’ve ever seen at Badwater (way back in 2011). Here’s a photo that includes me in the picture. https://www.flickr.com/photos/10456349@N07/5379547878/in/dateposted/
    If so, hello!

  • hjwulff

    This problem on the M8 wasn’t the IR filtering issue (which was an insufficient IR blocking issue and led to other complaints) but an angle of incidence issue. On the later Leica bodies the microlenses over the photosites were improved and the effect was less pronounced. The effect is indeed related to vignetting, as the angle of incidence from the Leica lenses was often greater than usual, especially for wide angle lenses leading to colour shading and ‘vignetting’ problems. All of this is due to the exit pupil of the lens being quite close to the sensor plane.

    Telecentric lenses are of course the ideal solution to this problem, but that is just a non-starter for mirrorless cameras like Nikon which are trying to make the whole system more compact, or for that matter for Leica, which has to deal with a lot of legacy lenses as well as modern lenses which have to be small to be useable on a rangefinder.

    Nikon clearly hasn’t wrestled this issue to the ground. They needed a compact standard zoom, and trusted their software correction to deal with the problem, but it was just a bit much for the hardware and software to handle at this time.

    Leica has done a fair job on the M10 dealing with this issue, but no other manufacturers have dealt with it to any degree, either letting the exit pupil stay further from the sensor or trusting in software to deal with it even though you might easily lose 3-5 stops of dynamic range and noise in the corners.

    M43 is not affected quite to the same degree because the flange to sensor distance as a function of image size is much greater and therefore the angle of incidence is not as steep in worst cases, and because m43 lenses can be much larger in relation to the sensor size and still be described as ‘small’ or at least ‘reasonable’ while coming much closer to being telecentric.

  • @Lens Rentals staff
    Can someone please block spammers in Disqus?

    Solid review BTW. Hope to see a similar camera from Canon by 2025! 😉 (I’m a Canon user)

  • FWIW – it’s not often that I finish a real-world review and can honestly say “I just learned more in 5 minutes than I had any right to expect”. Extremely informative, even-handed review that left me feeling like I really understand the plus-minuses of the camera far better than I did before I started.

    Sure, I’m associated with LR and people may think I’m doing happy-happy joy-joy because it’s on our page. I’ve been associated with LR for a decade and this is the first time I’ve been a review fanboy. (Well, except for some of my stuff. I really like some of my stuff.) This was just so very well done, Matt.

    Roger

  • Trey Mortensen

    Thanks for the review Matt. I was surprised to see you on Lens Rentals. Are you still writing for SLR Lounge too? I know you’re a Nikon guy, but I was curious if you’ve done a write up for the EOS R? I have a loaner from CPS coming later this month and will put it against my old roommate’s a7iii to see what I think about it. Since you do so much night photography (what I love to do in the summers too), I’ve always loved your opinion.

  • Chik Sum

    As a long time DSLR die hard, I admit the latest MILC are all impressive and tempting, as the sudden exploded population of crazy good lenses from canon and nikon proof the future of optical design, but as you said in the review, the two unsolved drawbacks are keeping me away and hoping to replace my good old 5D3 with a 5D4 or probably if 5D5 ever release.

    1) battery life: yes, we can always buy and charge more batteries, but as someone mainly use it during travel, bringing a lot of batteries and charging multiple batteries everynight isn’t a good idea, I love the 5D3 where I can charge 2-4 batteries (using battery grip) so I can use the camera throughout a 10 days trip without any charging needed (in most cases only 2 is sufficient and the other 2 were just keep carrying in my camera bag)

    2) strange and always on lens profile: as a geek I prefer they just leave everything not digital corrected and give me true raw image. I know for MILC a lot of companies just bake that in even in raw coz they didn’t do much or any optical distortion correction relying on the software to fix that so they can minimize the fringing, vignetting and corner sharpness, but hell, sometimes I just wanted those “defects” as kind of effect. in DSLR they don’t as you can see that in the OVF, but if EVF quite some companies just go the lazy way. I would always prefer they build in the profile for each lens in their own raw converter and let us choose which to apply or not.

  • Having now tested the Sony mk3 gen 7-series, the Nikon Z7, and the Canon EOS R, I can indeed report that the EOS R seems to have the least dusty sensor, on average, after a lot of heavy use and lens-swapping. It really does make a difference, and I hope Nikon and Sony both take notes.

    Especially as a timelapse photographer, I can’t just clone out the dust specks, because the clone stamp usually leaves a telltale blip in the final timelapse, as if there’s a cloaked warbird or two just hovering there in the sky LOL.

    I am indeed a tall guy with big-ish hands. I like the Nikon grip, and I actually like the Canon EOS R grip a tiny bit more, and yes, I like the Sony grip a tiny bit less.

    However, small grips are still fine with me, as long as the body itself is well-balanced and has the controls laid out smartly. Unfortunately, NONE of the current full-frame mirrorless bodies does a truly perfect job of this, yet. Nikon is experiencing some growing pains with its redesigned ergonomics, when comparing the D850 to the Z7, but it’s not too bad. Canon almost completely redid their ergonomics from the 5D4/6D2 to the EOS R, and it’s got a couple huge game-changing perks, but it also has a few major drawbacks too. And Sony, well, just can’t seem to figure out how to best mix all their “C1, C2, C3” type buttons in with the dedicated function buttons that we traditionally expect.

    Either way, the A7R2 is still a great camera. The tiny battery is terrible for me as an outdoor / wilderness photographer, but the portability for general use is amazing, and I hope Sony continues to keep their bodies decently compact and lightweight, indeed.

  • soundbite1

    Thanks! Great review and gorgeous pics. After reading it, I went down to my local Best Buy to check out the Z7. I was relieved to find that my Sony A7rii simply feels far better for me to hold, thus saving me from wasting time trying to decide whether to consider changing systems.

    I’m happy that there are finally different camera body sizes and shapes to fit different people and different photographic needs. The photography field has been dominated by rather large Caucasian males who do seem to prefer the larger grips. I suspect that this will start to change now that professional quality cameras come in a variety of sizes. Personally, I’m grateful that Sony has chosen to keep the overall size and the grip small, and I hope they don’t change. I would love to see some mechanism to protect the sensor from dust. That’s a biggie. Does anyone know whether Canon’s approach solves the problem?

  • Thanks for the input, Andreas. One thing to note about the samples I shared is, I did have to turn the saturation up quite a bit (and generally over-process the images) in order to make the blue edges so prominent. They’re much less visible when shooting a blank white scene and using neutral processing, but they’re still noticeable.

    It must have something to do with the vignetting, and maybe the angle of incidence of light at the edges of the frame, although I’d be quite sad if that’s the case since there’s really no excuse for it with this massive new mount, in my opinion. So my suspicion is that it’s just a byproduct of the super-compact design of the optics; the built-in vignetting correction may still be working pretty hard even at f/11, I dunno.

  • Andreas Werle

    Nice Review thanks for that!

    Re the color-shift towards the edges of the picture. If i remember well, there was a similar problem in the early versions of the Leica M8, which was due to the weak IR-blocking qualities of the on sensor filter.

  • Yup, that’s the same tiny little RRS plate that I have! I actually shaved off the lip with a hack saw so that I could mount it in any direction on any body.

    I don’t know what it is about me, but I’m just stubborn about having my plates all be in the direction of the camera. I cringe when I see someone mounting a plate on a camera body in a fore-aft configuration, since it’s a huge compromise in flex-avoidance on certain bodies.

    Having said that, I suppose that it’s becoming the norm to flip the clamp 90 degrees to clamp onto a lens hotshoe, so I might as well concede that the FTZ adapter will need to have its plate oriented that way too. Still, no standard plate with a center-balanced screw slot will even allow the FTZ adapter to be mounted in the first place; you’ll need a plate such as the one you showed which allows the whole plate to slide aft just a bit. I’m sure custom Z7 plates will solve this problem, but as someone who frequently works with a lot of different cameras for short periods of time, I gave up on buying camera-specific plates years ago. Maybe the Z7 will change that. I’m especially excited to see how the 14-30 f/4 performs for landscapes; it will be amazing to be able to use ordinary filters at 14mm!

  • Why thank you, Clayton! I’m always nervous about achieving the right balance of geeky precision and real-world common sense. I’m really passionate about accurate testing, yet at the end of the day I always remind myself that real-world usage is what matters. Your comment means a lot!

  • John Motzi

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/206af4c430f836dad195e97da2b56d5797749f5199a1d9753bddda2ab1f32cba.jpg

    Adding a second image showing how they play together well on the tripod (yes i usually use a ball head but i just plunked it on the tripod plate for this pic 🙂 )

  • John Motzi

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a524815a8d4b19d78443e0719061dba17d3dc22ce185fd87405a621a3083df43.jpg

    Hi Matthew – Thanks for the great review! I don’t agree with all points (everyone is different), but still it’s a great review. i am using the Z7 & the D850 together for landscape and then the Z7 alone when walking around.

    My experience with the FTZ is different (better) than yours. I am using the RRS B6 plate om the FTZ Lens Adapter and the RRS B9 on the camera. It works well. I have no issue attaching the FTZ to the camera with those plates mounted on each.

    Whenever I use an F lens (or a lens adapted to F such as a Hasselblad 150) I use the adapter as the tripod mount to keep stress off the camera. I already had the B9 in my toolbox and RRS recommends the B6 for the FTZ so I bought one. Eventually I will get a bespoke RRS plate for the camera (probably just bottom plate since I’m mostly doing square) but I am waiting until they post a picture before I order. It’s nice that the FTZ is a little tall on the bottom so the two plates do not interfere on the tripod head. Not sure if that was Nikon attention to detail or a happy accident.

    JM

  • Clayton Taylor

    Now, THAT is a proper review – the good, bad, and just ok properties of the Z7, all delivered with perspective and grace. The Z7’s competition (the D850, the Sony a7 III-series cameras, and the Canon R) are also given plenty of opportunities for point-counterpoint. Most of all, this was FIELD shooting, and your comments about “nailing the exposure” and “don’t be lazy” are greatly appreciated. Oh, yes – some REALLY nice images, too!

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