Nikon Z6 and Z7 mirrorless cameras announced

There is no secret that this blog support Nikon and F-mount lenses, but as Nikon announced last Thursday their entry into mirrorless, I would like to give a brief coverage of the new Nikon Z cameras and their new Z-mount as well. In my Nikon prediction for 2018 post, I actually mentioned that Nikon would release a mirrorless camera towards the end of this year.

Last months the rumor mill has been running hot of all the leaks and prediction of how the new mirrorless cameras from Nikon would look like and what would be the specs. From the photos provided by Nikon it looks like the grip is among the best in the mirrorless world, wide and deep. Looks like it will be perfect fit for the right hand to grip around the body. A couple of other things is that there are no buttons at the left side of the screen and that the view finder is quite big even though it has no built-in flash. Last thing that is also quite obvious is the larger Z-mount on the front.


The biggest differnce between the Z6 and the Z7 is the sensor and things related to that, means the Z6 has a 24 Mpx sensor with 273 focus points and 12 fps extended, while the Z7 has a 45 Mpx sensor with 493 focus points and 9 fps extended. The focus points will cover 90% of the frame and is controlled by the new Expeed 6. Native ISO for the Z6 is 100, while it is 64 for the Z7.


The 3.2-inch tilty screen in the rear, similar as the D750 and D500, has a resolution of 2.1 million dots, means its somewhat close to the D5 and D850. The Electronic view finder has a half inch OLED with a resolution of 3.690 million dots, making it one of the better in the market. The menu layout is still the old style, but with touch screen it is easier to navigate than just using buttons. A huge plus is that they have a top screen with some essential information.


One interesting thing is that it uses the same battery as the “semipro” cameras, the EN-EL15b, and that it should be compatible with the EN-EL 15 and EN-EL 15a, that’s a great plus not going for the smaller EN-EL 14a from the D3000 and D5000 series in such a small camera. The CIPA numbers for the EN-EL15b is 330 shots, or about 85 minutes of video per charge, while early report says more than 1000 shots in real life situation (CIPA numbers are normally very conservative). With the new battery in camera, it can also be charged by USB in addition to the traditional charger.

Talking about video, both cameras are able to record 4K and Full HD, and Nikon’s original N-Log color profile can also be used with 10-bit HDMI output. The N-Log setting utilizes extensive color depth and twelve-stop dynamic range.


Nikon’s Vibration Reduction is this time built-in the camera and have a CIPA effectiveness equal 5 stops. An F-mount to Z-mount adapter, FTZ, is sold separately allowing almost all produced Nikkor or third party F-mount lens to work with the new Z-cameras. Older lenses will obviously have some restricted functionality when it comes to auto-focus among other things. And as the adapter doesn’t have any glass, it should make the best use of any lens attached, without being afraid of any optically degradation.


Lenses available at launch of the cameras will be the 24-70mm f/4, 35mm f/1.8 and a 50mm f/1.8. Next year we will see a 58mm f/0.95 Noct (manual focus), 20mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.8,  24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 and a 14-30mm f/4. In 2020 we will be able to get a 50mm f/1.2, 24mm f/1.8, 14-24mm f/2.8 and three yet announced lenses, while in 2021 eight unannounced lenses will be released. All specified lenses will be in the new S-line, according to Nikon their top of the line lenses for the Z-mount.


And last but not least, both cameras and lenses should be weather sealed on the same level as the fabulous D850!

Early criticism is so loud that you might think that Nikon has announced something completely flawed and broken even before it is launched. Battery life is one of the items that get criticism, but everybody that are able to look beyond the specs know that CIPA numbers are extremely conservative and as mentioned, early reports says more that 1000 shots with a pre-production model. Honestly I was half expecting it to have a new battery or even the EN-EL14a battery from the entry level DSLR’s. “Pre production” models that where available at the announcement even shocks some, but it may only mean that it doesn’t have the final firmware or known issues in the firmware, or some other last minute adjustments somewhere else. Only 4K 30 fps is also something that is “not good enough” for some that like to dig up things to complain about. That the 24-70mm lens is “only f/4” and that the primes are “only f/1.8” is also something that according to some makes the whole system to be crippled and not suitable for serious shooters yet. And at last the huge earthshaking mistake done by Nikon; only one memory card slot! By many this means the final nail in the coffin and a testament that either the Z6 or the Z7 is suitable for “pros”.


Lets get a little deeper into the “only one memory card slot” issue. Dual card slots has been around now for more than a decade, the first Nikon was the D3 back in 2007. Then it was dual CF-card slots and made a lot of sense as you could have it set up in various ways and they didn’t slow down the writing as the writing speed was equal for both slots. As time went by also SD-cards got decent read and write speed and ultimately replaced one (or both) of the CF-card slots in many cameras. Still though, in many cases the SD-card slot had a slower write speed than the CF-card slot and by this slowed down the writing process and ultimately took longer time to empty the buffer. We have also seen dual SD-card slots with same write speed in some “medium level” cameras, while the higher end cameras has switched to XQD cards, either two XQD-cards or one XQD- and one SD-card.



Ok, so what I’m I up to with all this? Well, it take some time to get to the point, so bear with me. The achilles heel of CF-cards was the bent pin in the slot socket. If you were very careful, you might be able to bend it back up once before it broke. The SD-cards are smaller and thinner, and many of them broke in different manners. The lock may fall of making it simply lock for read and write. Could be repaired temporally but not permanently. The casing may also brake making the card unreliable and needed replacement. The XQD-cards are somewhat something in between SD- and CF-cards, making them a good size to handle and reports indicate that the are much more reliable and almost failure free compared to the other mentioned cards. So, finally to the point, one XQD-card is more reliable than two SD- or CF-cards or a mix between them, meaning just one card slot in the Z6 and Z7 to be just fine and not something that should keep you away from buying any of them. The bottom line is that there is just as big chance that you get some other type of malfunction with the camera as having a card failure with the “only one” XQD-card.


So, the ultimate question, will I buy any of them? Nope, not likely. Why? I’m happily satisfied with the aging D750. The Z6 and Z7 are first generation of mirrorless from Nikon, and expect second generating to be “much” better without any increase in price. I have a nice and good performing collection of F-mount lenses, and even though there is the FTZ adapter, I think I would prefer the native Z-mount lenses together with the Z-cameras. If my next camera will be the replacement of any of the Z6 or Z7, or the replacement of the D750 is yet to be decided.


Will I recommend any of them then? Go for it, go for any of them if they fits your needs. I’m pretty sure both of them are amazing tools in the right hands, and reports suggests that the image quality surpasses the ones from the D850. Personally I think that Nikon has made some good and sound choices with their mirrorless entry.

All photos borrowed from the official Nikon website.

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