Nikon Z7 field report by Stian Klo

This is by no means an in-depth tech analysis of the Nikon Z7. It’s rather a field report of sorts after having used it extensively for the last 4 months. A big thank you to Vegar Berg at Nikon Nordic and Kjetil Schjølberg at Stjørdal Foto for the support.

– The Z7 (and Z6) has the largest full-frame mirrorless mount on the market with a diameter of 55mm. It boasts a massive 47.7MP FX-Format BSI CMOS Censor, EXPEED 6, 493 AF points, 9 fps (12-bit NEF/JPG) and 8 fps for 14-bit NEF.

– I found the image quality to be pretty much identical as the D850. The dynamic range and sharpness is flawless and everything you would expect from a Nikon camera. The built-in 5-axis image stabilization technology allows you to shoot handheld with a lot slower shutter speeds. I did a quick test on a static subject, as was able to get away with 1/8th of a second. Native ISO 64-25600 means the files are a joy to work with.

– The new FTZ adapter weighs only 135 grams and I couldn’t find any signs of it causing reduced AF speed, but then again I’m not a wildlife/action photographer. I tested the FTZ adapter with everything from the 14-24mm f/2.8, 35mm f1.4, 24-70mm f/2.8 VR, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 85mm f/1.4G, 200-500mm f/5.6 to the new 180-400mm f/4 and it worked perfectly.

– Nikon are known for great weather sealing, and the Z7 is no exception with it’s magnesium alloy body. I’ve tested it thoroughly over the last couple of months, both in Norway, Dolomites and Finland. In the Finnish Lapland region, the temperature dropped all the way down to -35 degrees celsius (and surprisingly humid) and everyone’s camera gear started to freeze. The Z7 didn’t mind the cold though, as it kept on shooting without any noticeable hiccups. Very impressive.

– It’s build and grip feels very ergonomic. It feels like a solid Nikon camera as it naturally rests in my hand and even though it’s quite small in physical appearance compared to the D850, there’s enough space between the buttons and it’s easy to navigate without accidentally hitting other buttons. Big bonus for the new 3690k-dot OLED display screen at the top, and the 3.2”, 2100k-dot LCD touchscreen which also has a tilting mechanism.

– A lot of people have voiced their concern about XQD card slot and the fact that it’s limited to only one card. For my line of work and the way my tours and projects are set up, it’s not a problem at all as I always bring a laptop and external harddrives to transfer files for backup. That being said, those of you who shoot weddings and big time-lapse projects – I understand that it might cause concern for you in terms of backup/safety and limited space. A 64gb XQD card, if you shoot 14-bit NEF, will store approximately 650 images.

– The menu system is identical compared to the D850, so the transition to the Z7 will be seemless. All the known functions like i.e. focus stacking, 8/4K timelapse, focus peaking etc are all there.

– Big plus for being able to use the same batteries as in both the D810 and D850.

– When it comes to battery life, Nikon promised 3-400 images pr charge. I did a timelapse test in Italy in silent shutter mode, and to my surprise it only used 50% battery capturing approximately 1200 images. For regular use though, especially since I use the liveview a lot – I found that I could get away with about 5-600 images depending on the temperature and your monitor brightness settings.

– If you’re not used to an electronic viewfinder, the first couple of days with it might feel unusual for many. I’ve had cameras with electronic viewfinders before, so the Z7 felt natural for me. After a couple of days, I’m confident most people will embrace it.

– Speaking of video, here are some tech specs. I haven’t done much video testing with it since I primarily do still photography. Format is MPEG-4 and H.264/H.265.

– 3840×2160 (4K UHD) – 30fps, 25fps, 24fps.
– Full HD 1080p, 120fps (Slow-Mo)
– Internal 8-bit video MPEG-4/MOV
– N-Log and 10-Bit HDMI out (only available externally)
– 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) timelapse

Summary and conclusion

In nearly every scenario, the Z7 has performed incredibly well. It feels like a Nikon camera, and has quickly become my go to camera for most shoots. While it’s not a great deal lighter than the D850, it’s physically smaller and thus taking up less space in my bag. The image quality is excellent, the AF very responsive and accurate, and the in-body 5-axis image stabilization opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Obviously the selection of Z-Mount lenses is limited for the time being, which is to be expected with a brand new system. I primarily used the new Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S zoom lens throughout my tests, and it’s a great travel every-day type lens since it’s lightweight (around 500gram) and tack sharp. New lenses like the just-announced Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S wide angle, and firmware updates like the new Eye-AF feature are constantly being announced, and I’m very excited to see what the future holds.

Is the Z7 the perfect camera? Of course not, there’s no such thing as perfect. I experienced a few small issues with it, all unproblematic but just every so slightly annoying out in the field. Auto-bracketing is not available in manual mode, and there are limitations with the USB C port, mainly that it’s actually not possible to charge the battery whilst shooting. Lastly, I also experienced a glitch in the way it the way it prioritizes the viewfinder or monitor when shooting in the cold climate in Finland. I had to manually specify my preference in the menu under “Limit Monitor Mode Selection”, and even then it acted up at times. All of the above-mentioned issues are most likely able to be corrected with official firmware updates, so I’m not very worried at all.

Nikon Z7. Definitely, a mainstay in my bag from now on.

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