Rodney Campbell's Blog

Nikon Z7 – One Month In

by on Jun.15, 2019, under Life, Photography

I’ve come from a D750 and recently (a bit over one month ago) purchased the Z7 + 24-70/4 + FTZ + 64GB XQD kit plus the 14-30/4 separately. I’m about one month into my Nikon Z mirrorless journey. So I thought I’d share some early thoughts and impressions of what I’ve found

I was considering the D850 – and it is very nice – but it’s so massive – way beyond what I want – I’m getting older and I’m just getting sick of lugging that heavy gear around (especially when travelling/on holidays)

I’ll be keeping my D750 as a backup body anyway when needed

My main use is landscape and nightscape (astro/light painting/etc) photography so for me some of the benefits of the Z series is very welcome. Not just the smaller and lighter typical landscape kit: D750 (or D850) + 24-70 + 16-35 (or 14-24)) vs Z7 + 24-70 + 14-30 – but the additional flow ons from this – I can use just my 100mm slot in filter system all the way down to 14mm with no vignetting (that’s massive for me)

One month later and I’ve only done a few shoots so far. I’m learning and discovering new things as I go. There are definitely what I’d call pluses and minuses. e.g. it’s a tiny thing but you can’t just raise the camera to the eye and look through the optical viewfinder to quickly check lens selection/focal length – without turning the camera on /or waking it up

But I’m finding a number of pluses

  • I can zoom in (up to 100 or 200%) to check focus/etc (both before and after the shot) in the viewfinder!! Also focus peaking with manual focus in the viewfinder (zoomed) rocks. I’m getting older so I have to wear glasses to see (focus my eyes) the rear LCD. However I don’t have to get them out and wear them when looking through the diopter adjusted viewfinder. I just have to remember to do this more often out in the field 🙂
  • Having focus points across pretty much the whole frame is awesome. I’m constantly setting up a great landscape composition on the tripod and finely adjusting things. Only to then discover I havn’t focused yet. With the D-SLR I often couldn’t get a focus point over something at the right distance. I’d then have to move the ballhead and get focus, lock it to manual and then recompose the shot again to shoot. No more with the Z – I just move the focus point to where it needs to be and voila
  • Using a viewfinder that auto brightens up when it’s dark (e.g. during astro twilight/twilight) is fantastic. Likewise seeing through heavy ND’s means I can compose/focus/etc with it on and don’t have to take the filter in and out like I used to
  • I no longer have to repeatedly block and unblock the viewfinder with the slide on cover (D600/D750). When I’m out shooting at night or with heavy ND’s during the day. This was probably the only reason I wanted a pro (D8XX) body vs the “consumer” FX (D6XX/D750). So I could get that viewfinder blind switch – now no longer necessary at all
  • Even tiny things like how the viewfinder extends back from the camera a bit. I shoot funny – left eyed. So on normal D-SLR’s my nose is smashed against the LCD and smudging it all the time – but not with the Z)

I admit the body height is just a tiny touch too short (for me). I don’t like pinky dangling at all – and I have pretty small hands. However I permanently leave a full arca L-bracket on every one of my cameras. So I just got the RRS L-Plate Set for Nikon Z – which has the bit that goes right across the bottom of the camera (including around the battery door where the hand grip is). This raises the height of the whole camera/grip by about 10mm and it has a nice sloped area to hold my pinky on – perfect. For those that don’t want to stomach the $185 USD price tag – there’s also a similar looking knock off copy one on ebay for less than $40 AUD

The physical ergonomics of the Z camera is actually extremely good (much more like holding and using my D750 – just lighter). The UX is also very good (for Nikon shooters it’s totally familiar). One of the reasons I’d never consider the current Sony A7’s (too small and no ergonomic grip or buttons at all)

Cost is definitely a factor – the Z bodies (especially the Z7 vs the Z6) is expensive. Personally I reckon the Z6 is about the right price (e.g. a direct D750 competitor/upgrade). The Z7 however in my mind has too much of a premium (the only real difference being the sensor itself – unlike the D850 to D750 comparison)

Likewise the current Z lens set feels like it has a premium – those lenses are all expensive. Yes they are typically outstanding and class leaders (even compared to their F-mount (or in fact any mount) counterparts)

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