Full review: The 2018 Nikon Z7 and Z 24-70/4

_PF05981 copy

Executive summary: the last bastions of mirrors have both joined the brave new world. Nikon’s effort feels like a D850 and an E-M1.2 met in a bar and had an illegitimate child. Yes, it’s expensive; yes, for the most part, it performs pretty much how you’d expect. It doesn’t feel like a first effort except for a couple of relatively minor things (as it shouldn’t given how long Nikon took to release it) – if anything, they should be commended for releasing it when ready rather than as soon as possible. And yes, I bought one.

I’ve now had a couple of days to do shoot my production/ retail Z7, 24-70/4 and FTZ adaptor, and my thoughts follow. More images to come as I have time to shoot with the camera; I rushed this out in the middle of a family vacation – the first one since before I started photography professionally.

Updated 23/10/18 after extended battery testing.

Updated 28/10/18 after long distance testing of the 24-70.

Advance disclaimers and warnings: This is going to be a very long read; at least two cups of coffee, or four or five espressos. It may well be the longest review I’ve written to date. I bought the camera at retail on release day with my own money, and have no incentive to say anything but what I really think. I won’t be posting full size samples because it’s pretty much a D850 image-quality-wise, and for the usual copyright reasons and inability of the internet to respect intellectual property. ACR now supports the Z7, so observations on image quality refer to RAW performance. Please don’t ask me to test various combinations of lenses or compare it to other cameras I don’t own etc. as these are pretty much infinite and I have limited time and resources available. I didn’t review the D850 because I was under contract with Hasselblad and didn’t have time, but I’m pretty darn familiar with it, having shot over 30,000 frames with mine. With that, let’s move on.

_PF05985 copy

From the point they could have released FF mirrorless, they took a very long time – nearly five years, by my estimates. Nikon is a conservative company, and in the meantime have released a lot of very good DSLRs – the D850 is probably the best all-round DSLR I’ve used, with no major flaws that come to mind – and abandoned the 1 System. (I suspect of the reasons we haven’t seen larger format mirrorless from them earlier was the poor performance of the 1 System – which was as much a lack of clarity of concept as a marketing failure.) The Z7 basically takes a D850, updates a few things and shoves them inside a new, smaller body with slightly fewer control points. It’s not groundbreaking and continues a lot of existing design and ergonomic paradigms (such as a lens-coaxial viewfinder position instead of an ergonomically more comfortable corner one), but like the D850: it doesn’t get much wrong, either.

_PF05999 copy

Let’s clear the spec sheet first: new Z mount, 36x24mm, 47MP with 493 PDAF focus points on sensor; 9fps maximum with mechanical shutter; 5fps with electronic front curtain up to 1/2000s, about the same with full electronic shutter with no speed limit. Flash sync is slightly slower tha the D850 at 1/200s, but with FP sync support available. RAW files in steps from 12 bit compressed to 14 bit uncompressed; UHD video at 24/25/30p and 144mbps, or 1080P up to 120fps and uncompressed 10 bit 4:2:2 output over HDMI. It is not the same sensor as the D850 (that lacks PDAF), but a derivative. It has sensor cleaning too, and adds custom U1-2-3 modes to the top left mode dial – something users of Nikon’s pro cameras have long envied from their consumer brethren. On top of this, there’s wireless connectivity via Bluetooth and wifi; this allows full remote control from the SnapBridge app, or better yet: a sort of rudimentary wireless tethering function where images are automatically sent to a computer after capture, providing you use Nikon’s unintuitive Wireless Utility software. It won’t do FTP, but this is better than nothing for now. All in all, this is an impressive spec sheet – in something that’s got noticeably less internal volume than a D850 even after subtracting mirror and pentaprism.

_PF05992 copy

Nikon claims the new body has the same construction quality and weather sealing as the D850; it feels similarly solid and dense in hand. Doors, ports and buttons are gasketed. We have a new, wide-diameter, ultra short flange mount to enable much faster lenses, easy adaptation and higher image quality: a wider throat means a larger exit pupil and better telecentricity, and more compact lens designs since a rear correction group isn’t required. There’s also a sealed FTZ adaptor that delivers full functionality with existing lenses – and a tripod mount, for better balance. It works as advertised, but perhaps there was a missed opportunity to include additional controls or filters like Canon (probably patented).

_PF05989 copy

It’s a small camera: think E-M1.2, or Pen-F with grip, which is amazing considering the sensor is four times larger and it retains IBIS. The grip is much larger than most other mirrorless cameras, but still not tall enough for your pinky finger – an L bracket/extension would probably solve that. (The promised future battery grip just brings you back to DSLR size and bulk, though it isn’t clear where it communicates with the camera, as there are no extra terminals on the bottom a la D850 or in the battery compartment).

I am very appreciative it uses the same EN-EL15 battery type as most of the recent Nikon DSLRs; however there is a new ‘b’ variant that has slightly higher capacity and has circuitry to support USB-C charging (the camera now has a new port, too). This is a good thing for Mac users as you no longer require a separate card reader or charger; just do it with your existing power adaptor. Note however that this cable does NOT transfer data – I learned that the hard way on location and had to transfer images over wifi for this review, which was not fast at all.

_Z700162 copy

On the controversial subject of cards – the change was inevitable as SD cards are reaching speed limits, and we’re now at the threshold where other form factors are cheaper for high capacity and fast (an equivalent size XQD is much cheaper than SD UHS II, and UHS II isn’t even as fast). XQD makes sense for Nikon since they’ve been including these slots already for a few years now, and early adopters are likely to have the cards. I don’t, but appreciate that I can share them with my D850 and they aren’t as expensive as CFAST. They’re extremely fast (you almost never notice buffer clearing, and file access is instant) and clearly more robust than SD cards. Dual slots would have been nice, but a) I don’t mind the reduction in body size from it and b) I almost never use the second slot anyway except as storage for a spare card. Buy a larger card or use your pocket.

_Z701016 copy

The UI has mostly been ported over from the D850/D5/D500 etc., but with the inevitable (and maddening) small changes. If you’ve used a Nikon DSLR in the last decade, you’ll be right at home. It’s a mature, if lengthy, menu system that is starting to need an overhaul in organization, and especially in the way shortcuts are handled such as the various ‘i’ ‘disp’ ‘info’ buttons. Whilst you could ignore them on previous DSLRs because there are hard controls and information elsewhere, you now can’t because there are fewer hard buttons and additional controls are required for EVF behaviour and information overlays. Configuration of the ‘i’ button and ‘my menu’ are something you’ll want to take your time over, except what can be assigned to the various menus and buttons and shortcuts isn’t universal or as consistent. I’m glad they kept the top panel status display (now a variable brightness OLED) because you don’t need the power hungry rear LCD running all the time just to check your settings.

_Z700962 copy

It seems the CIPA battery test numbers are misleading, or run the camera under unrealistic scenarios: merely 330 shots. I suspect like all mirrorless cameras, actual battery life in use is related closely to sensor-on-time. Switching off between shots and enabling all of the LCD-off features undoubtedly extends life massively. Regardless – in my part of the world at least – the Z7 included a USB-C AC adaptor/charger in the box. Shot like I would do my D850 (power off between short periods of spaced single shots), I see something like 600-800+ frames on a full charge. This is pretty much all-day for me; a single spare is likely enough for a day, ignoring the fact that you can handily top off power over USB-C when it’s in your bag. Unfortunately one of the other changes is that we have lost the battery status menu – five segments is all you get, without percentages or battery condition. (10/1/19: As several people have pointed out, it’s still there I stand corrected. Somehow I managed to miss this menu item until now.) It’s also worth noting the camera doesn’t get hot, or even warm in normal use. I suspect this also has a positive effect on image quality since we don’t have a hot sensor.

23/10/18 update: After a few cycles on the batteries, it seems that I’m now seeing more like 1200-1400 shots per charge. By comparison, shooting the same way with my D850 yields about 2000, a PEN-F about 600-700, and the A7RII about 150. Hasselblad longevity is not comparable as I leave those cameras on all the time due to startup time. In short: whatever Nikon have done to optimise battery life on the Z7, it’s phenomenal.

_Z700916 copy

Fortunately, the Z7 has the option to turn both LCD and EVF off unless you raise the camera to your eye (at which point the EVF and sensor turn on): this is smart, because it extends battery life considerably. Whilst it doesn’t power on and give you a finder image as fast as a D850 (which is of course instant) – it’s impressive for a live view only camera, and one if not the fastest I’ve used. It also doesn’t take varying amounts of time to start depending on what state the camera is in (ahem, Sony). The EVF itself is equally impressive: a 3.8m dot OLED panel with 80% magnification and 100% coverage; compare this with the already excellent D850 at 75% magnification. It’s also the first EVF on which I can comfortably see the entire display with my glasses on. Pixels are invisible and dynamic range of the panel is excellent, with subtle but dynamic brightness changes that really do make this the closest thing to an optical finder so far. It’s probably helped by being an OLED panel (offering deeper blacks than conventional LCD) and still has further temperature/tint/brightness manual adjustments to fine tune to taste.

_Z700572 copy

There’s a couple of flies in the ointment, though. If you enable post-shot review, the camera seems to go through a clunky series of operations in which the EVF blacks out then shows the image then blacks out again before returning to live view – I can understand the video fees switching and the sensor having power cycled, but it’s probably the only part of operation that isn’t fluid. Disable it and the camera is instantly ready for the next shot. There is also no way to set live exposure clipping warnings; which is a big deal because one of the key strengths of mirrorless is the ability to control exposure precisely and really get all of the performance possible out of the sensor. Instead, you either have to guess or lose a corner of the frame to the live histogram. At least there are no other intrusions into the composition apart from that.

In a massive personal disappointment, the protect key is also gone – zipping through a sequence zoomed in and hitting protect then delete all was a very effective curation method I’m now going to miss (and have to be careful to alter my behaviour with the D850 too, to avoid an accident). There’s no easy selection and manipulation of multiple images, either. And when you have something selected off a button with the rear LCD disabled, it goes to minimum brightness – immensely irritating in bright light outdoors as you can’t see the screen and must use the EVF. Why they can’t mirror the information in the status OLED or match screen brightness to the normal setting is beyond me. I’m also convinced the cluster of three buttons under your thumb is in the wrong order: your thumb naturally falls over DISP/still/video; this should swap positions with the joystick since that would be used more frequently and is programmable. The current joystick position isn’t always comfortable.

_Z700932 copy

And then, there’s the AF. As others have reported, AF behaviour itself is good: the camera is very fast, accurate, and doesn’t seem to hunt much under any light conditions except the very lowest. It has a much larger field of coverage than any other Nikon, and decent tracking ability (though I think the D850 is still better). It doesn’t get fooled into false positives on clipped or backlit subjects; if anything, treat it like a true PDAF system: it likes point sources to lock on to, unlike a CDAF system that gets confused (it actually doesn’t seem like there’s any CDAF behaviour in the Z7 at all).

The bad is the interface: the Z7 not only lacks the sensible point grouping options of the D850 (offering only wide, wider and everything), and there’s no old-style 3D continuous AF auto-tracking mode that engages by half pressing the shutter. Now you need to select the subject before tracking begins, and moving to the subject itself is slow – even when limited to selecting every alternate AF point. This seems like a step backwards, even if having nearly complete frame-coverage of phase detect AF points, eye/face detection and touch to focus is light years ahead. Oh, and we’ve also lost the dedicated magic focus mode toggle/button: you have to sacrifice another function button for that.

_Z700532 copy

I’m complaining unnecessarily, though. The reality is that the Z7 focuses as quickly and accurately with no hunting, but sports shooters may find actual configuration and selection clunky. The rest of us can adapt easily, and there’s no difference in behaviour with legacy lenses: they focus as fast as on a D850, but with higher accuracy (and oddly, AF tuning options). In a nutshell, behaviour of the AF system itself is very confidence-inspiring, and results back it up.

Next we move on to IBIS: Nikon has long been a staunch supporter of in-lens VR, which is more effective for longer lenses (where it started) as it compensates for shake with angular displacement of an lens group to bend light back to center, rather than lateral displacement of the sensor plane to ‘catch’ it. It’s less effective for wide angles as there’s only so much you can bend before you hit the physical exit pupil of the lens and run out of coverage. Thus their inclusion of IBIS is somewhat surprising (Canon chose to exclude it on the EOS R). We are told that it works in five axes with Z lenses, three axes with adapted lenses* (similar to VR), and five axes with VR lenses (the sensor the axes the lens can’t).

*Separating stabilization out from the lens isn’t a bad thing: the sensor is only a single optical component that requires alignment, and this can be tuned electronically if there are five axes of motion. With a lens, adding another optical element in the middle that’s not easy to center and planarise dramatically increases the risk of optical degradation.

_Z700281 copy

It also works with manual lenses, and takes the focal length setting (required to compute the correction amount) from the manual lens setting in the setup menu. Like all IBIS systems, it’s subject to the laws and limits of physics: a larger, heavier sensor with higher resolution has to move further, faster and in smaller, more precise increments than a smaller, lower resolution one. This requires more power; and unless everything else increases in size too, FF IBIS is always going to be less effective than M4/3. My testing suggests 3 stops, perhaps 4 for wider lenses, is about what you can reasonably expect; it feels about as effective as Sony’s system, but not as good as Olympus. The system is most effective paired with electronic front curtain shutter mode, which is now always-available. I wouldn’t use full electronic shutter due to readout time and apparent bit depth limitations (further testing required), and I’ve seen evidence of shutter shock interactions at certain speeds using the full mechanical shutter and IBIS – further testing here is required. I’m also expecting at some point we’ll see a version of the mechanism that also provides pixel shift high resolution options, even if they tend to be only deployable under a very narrow operating envelope in practice.

_Z700268 copy

On to image quality. I have the least to say here because it’s the most familiar/ known part of the camera: for all intents and purposes, this has the same performance envelope as the D850. It has the typical characteristics of the latest generation of sensor: very good dynamic range of around 15 stops providing you get exposure correct, but some color shifts in the lower midtones and shadows if you find yourself needing to push in post (but oddly, minimal noise penalty, suggesting ISO-invariance). Note that color response is typically Nikon, i.e. not that accurate; and way behind Hasselblad-neutral. Early testing suggests this is not quite the same as the D850, either. It has a partially exponential tonal response curve – the default rendering is towards darker midtones, which must be lifted in post. (D-lighting still creates ugly haloes; avoid it.) Noise remains very well controlled, with perhaps some slight improvements (1/2 stop or so) on the D850; I wouldn’t hesitate to use ISO 6400 or even 12800. Pixel level ‘bite’ is also on par: in other words, excellent if you have critical focus and critical lenses, but falls off quickly if you don’t.

A note on the purported banding: I haven’t seen it in my testing, but that’s not to say it doesn’t exist if you push the image 5 stops (why on earth would you do that rather than properly exposing in the first place? This kind of testing boggles the mind because they are not scenarios encountered in actual photography). In practice: if you get exposure right and don’t do silly things in post, dynamic range is as much as you need and comparable to the D850.

_Z700177 copy

Unfortunately, Nikon’s JPEG engine still lags behind leader Olympus. However, it seems to product much finer sharpening and gradations now, and is better than previous iterations (including the D850). There are also new clarity and midrange sharpening settings – though all Nikons still lack the PEN F’s HSL bias wheel and every Olympus’ shadow/mid/highlight tone curve adjustments. I was hoping that SOOC JPEGs would be good enough to replace the PEN F for casual scrapbook photography, alas B&W remains a challenge: the shadows are too crushed, the midtones lack detail and the highlights appear to be clipping. Perhaps more experimentation is required. I did however manage to find a pleasing setting for color, based off the Portrait preset.

On video quality: I don’t have the expertise to comment extensively, but despite the number of options given for video (finally, separate control assignments and picture control settings!) I’m surprised it isn’t better, to be honest. There’s enough rolling shutter that you need to be careful (again, a la D850). No log gamma modes unless you record over HDMI, but the Flat picture control comes close enough (and can be flattened even more). The stabilizer is useful for working handheld, as is the waist level flip LCD, but it’s not as effective as an E-M1.2 – you’ll still need a gimbal where you wouldn’t with the Olympus.

_Z700232 copy

Three lenses on the new mount were launched with the camera – a Swiss Army knife collapsing 24-70/4, a 35/1.8 and a 50/1.8. All are sealed and have new completely silent stepless motors optimized for both stills and video, and fly-by-wire focusing; the lens rings are also reprogrammable to other functions. Focusing feel is decent, but there’s still a bit of lag in fine movements – I don’t think any camera company has gotten this right yet. Oddly, they feel more like Sigma Art primes in construction and finish than traditional gold ring Nikkors. They also delivered a whole marketing spiel about why f1.8 is the new f1.4 and how they’re no longer economy lenses (i.e.: charge us more for less) – but sarcasm aside, I have said for a long time that moderate speed primes are really the best tradeoff between size and performance.

However, you will eventually want native lenses to make the most of the new system (5 axis, size, weight, optics at the edges) but in the meantime there are plenty of F mount options to fill the gap. Ergonomics are imbalanced of course, but at least continuity and coverage are there, and operation isn’t clunky: AF-S, VR etc. lenses work as you are used to. I appreciate how it minimizes cost of entry (like the battery choice) without but still offers access to the full system. Arguably, the Z7 might well be the best adapted lens platform yet: large sensor, stabilization, peaking, excellent viewfinder, one touch 100% magnification and any combination of the above. Yes, Sony offers this too, but ergonomics and UI/UX aren’t as good. Leica isn’t even close, though this may change with the Panasonic S1R. The Otuses are so easy to use (if very imbalanced).

_Z700157 copy

I have the Z 24-70/4 (being the only one available and of interest to me so far); construction is sturdy but mostly plastic (with some sticktion to the action), but the same applies to my trusty [24-120/4] and that hasn’t let me down yet. There are two remarkable things about this lens: firstly, the collapsed size is tiny: it’s the same size as the primes, or say an 85/1.8. The second thing is it’s neutrality: it isn’t crazy sharp like an Otus, but it isn’t soft, either; microcontrast is middling; macrocontrast is middle to high, and it’s slightly better stopped down (peaking somewhere between f5.6 and f8). It definitely matches the resolution of the sensor. But what’s amazing is its consistency across the focal range, most focal distances and across the frame, even into the extreme corners. Remember: this isn’t a prime; it’s a collapsing compact wide-to-portrait zoom, with very short back flange distance.

This is the first time I’ve seen this kind of behaviour in a zoom: normally there’s an obvious resolution peak in the middle, with the edges only catching up a couple of stops down. Furthermore, chromatic aberration (both longitudinal and lateral) and flare are almost zero. You really have to get something very bright in the frame at wide to see even slight ghosts. This is solid evidence of the performance improvements that come from a larger mount, larger exit pupil (32mm!) and higher telecentricity. On top of that, focus is completely silent and nearly instant, and you have the benefit of a very short 30cm minimum distance from the focal plane at all focal lengths. There is some degredation in resolution close up, but it was never designed to be a macro. Bokeh is smooth and highlights are circular, with little evidence of onion rings, hot edges or corner cat-eyeing.

28/10/18 update: It seems that at very long distances (>100m subject distance) there is some field curvature that causes corners to render soft. Oddly, it isn’t very visible on near subjects even if planar – which is why I didn’t notice it until this point. It does go away with stopping down and appears to be somewhat recoverable with sharpening. Unfortunately this is a significant point against what is an otherwise really impressive lens.

_PF05987 copy

On an absolute scale, what we have here is not revolution but thorough evolution – much as the D3 was in its day. And as the D3, this represents a massive quantum leap of innovation for conservative Nikon; though the Z7 isn’t the second coming of sliced Jesus there are enough solid improvements over the D850, and not too many compromises (some of which are firmware-fixable). For a first try, it’s remarkable effort. Put another way: I don’t care what the fanboys say, but we’re now on the third generation of Sony A7 (fourth, if you count the A9) and they still don’t operate as smoothly.

If you’re not bothered by the D850’s size and weight, don’t need stabilization in all lenses, don’t shoot video, don’t use a lot of manual focus – then you can skip this generation*. But if any of those things apply to you for any meaningful portion of the time, you’re likely to find the Z7 is a worthwhile addition. Just remember that there are some differences in control paradigm, with heavier reliance on customizable menus and far fewer customizable buttons. Don’t get me wrong, though: Nikon has managed something impressive: a mirrorless device retaining all of the advantages of mirrorless, but still feeling and operating with the immediacy of a good DSLR. MT

My ACR profiles and custom JPEG Picture Controls for this camera (and the D850) are available here.

The Nikon Z7 in various combination bundles is available here from B&H or Amazon. As usual, referral purchases cost you nothing extra but do help to support the costs of running this site.


Ultraprints from this series are available on request here


Visit the Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including workshop videos, and the individual Email School of Photography. You can also support the site by purchasing from B&H and Amazon – thanks!

We are also on Facebook and there is a curated reader Flickr pool.

Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved


  1. Arthur Yeo says:

    Thank you, Ming, for a thorough review. It was a pleasure reading it; and yes, with coffee.

    Now, turning to Bokeh, I seem to see an unusual behavior which I have never seen in my D850 or Leica M10. When the image is set to PictureCtrl that has low contrast (read: Flat, Portrait), the bokeh is marvelous. But, if it is set to high contrast ones (read: Landscape, Vivid), the bokeh is not at all desirable.

    Have you or anyone else seen this?

    • Not seen this myself as I use portrait as the base for all color profiles – but I wonder if there’s some micro contrast enhancement that’s inadvertently making things worse. I just tried to replicate the behavior but other than a big difference in shadow contrast, bokeh looks much the same – I now wonder if there are some lens corrections being turned on/off. Which lens did you encounter this with?

  2. “A note on the purported banding: I haven’t seen it in my testing, but that’s not to say it doesn’t exist if you push the image 5 stops (why on earth would you do that rather than properly exposing in the first place? ”

    The use of ISO invariance for astrophotography. Yes…the banding is a big issue…

  3. Hi Ming, is there a review for the FZ6? Due to price I am considering this camera over the FZ7.
    I already have the D850 and am not sure I should be trying to already trade in for an FZ7.
    The FZ6 would then be a second camera for me. I’m primarily a fine art photographer and my second love is street
    Photography which sometimes blends with the fineart and long exposures or extreme lighting.
    Bearing this in mind, I would really appreciate any thoughts, ideas, opinions you might have for me.
    Thank you very much!

  4. Hi Ming,

    Thanks so much for the article, your work and thought process really inspires me.
    Would like to ask if while tethering to Capture One, or Lightroom even, is the large LCD usable on the camera to help compose shots?

    • If you could compose that way untethered, nothing changes…

      • Tommy Shih says:

        Actually, as far as I know, Nikon DSLR’s deactivate the back LCD when the camera is tethered to C1 or Lightroom. At least that’s been the case for the D800, D750, and D850 in my experience. I’m guessing that’s why Nicholas is asking. Nicholas, if you are using C1 you can do live view within the software. I do that for flat lays when it isn’t convenient or impossible to see through the viewfinder.

        • Alternative: use the built in wireless tethering to send the file to LR, and your LCD keeps working. Tilting LCDs help with the flatly stuff.

          • Tommy Shih says:

            Wireless tethering is likely a viable alternative for some people, but there are a couple possible issues. What is the transfer speed for wireless tethering? When shooting fashion catalog in studio, the main point of tethering is so that my clients can view the results in near real time so they can quickly make adjustments to the wardrobe. Tethering wired with Capture One allows for this because it is really fast, even with 14-bit uncompressed files. I haven’t used built-in wireless tethering in the past because they were always slower than even 3rd party solutions like the CamRanger,which works for architectural photography or other subjects that don’t require fast transfer speeds. The other possible issue is whether having the wireless tethering constantly active saps battery life too quickly–I don’t know if it’s a problem, but I can see the possibility.

            Re: flat lay and tilt screen. Workable, but not always a great solution as the camera often needs to be directly above the center of the scene and is hard to reach. The set up makes it difficult to reach the controls and adjust focus. Capture One allows you to do all of that in live view, so it works better for me at least. Also, and I can check this when my Z7 arrives next week, does the LCD tilt down enough to view it well when it’s head height or higher? I heard it wasn’t the full 90 degree tilt the D850 has.

            • It’s fast enough for JPEGs; I don’t think they’re going to be reviewing raw files in real time on a shoot that’s that quick, but similarly if the pace is a bit more relaxed, then you’ll have time to send the raw files over too. Personally – seen too many accidents and near misses with cable to the point of making me paranoid…

              “does the LCD tilt down enough to view it well when it’s head height or higher? I heard it wasn’t the full 90 degree tilt the D850 has.”
              Correct, it’s limited to about 40deg.

  5. Thanks for this. I’m on wine, not coffee, so I’ve skimmed rather than read in detail. With respect to this comment:

    “Unfortunately, Nikon’s JPEG engine still lags behind leader Olympus.”

    Likewise, I’ve been trying Sony and Olympus together over the last week. I found Sony’s in camera sharpening impressive, but lacking in every other way (the O part of DRO isn’t very O, for example). I don’t think I’ve read any thoughts from you regarding Fuji’s much lauded JPEG engine? Anyway, I digress by mentioning Fuji… My experiments got me thinking about trust. Sure, the Sony raw files can be pretty amazing, but I can trust my Olympus bodies to produce usable JPEG output, with minimal effort and fairly accurate colours. With the Sony, I must shoot raw and work out a few things for myself (including white balance, because Sony’s AWB also lags behind Olympus).

    • Nikon’s new sharpening (with what appears to be multi-radius settings) appears to be much better; the default sharpening is finer, and you have a sort of mid-radius clarity setting. It’s better than Olympus in this regard, but Olympus has an adjustable curve.

      Fuji: yes and no. I find their color far from accurate/natural/neutral; skies especially are very cyanotic instead of pastel blue. But what they get out of the JPEGs relative to RAW headroom is impressive; I don’t know if that says more about the JPEG engine’s capabilities or less about the RAW file…


    I’m seriously considering a Z7, but read several articles and saw numerous pictures of the rubber grip material either wearing away or getting deep impressions from the photographer’s fingernails. I mean, I’ve never seen this issue on a D750 or D8XX.

    Has Nikon identified this as QC issue and will it be addressed? I’m not going to fork up $4k on a camera where the rubber on the grip disintegrates in a short period of time.

    • One of the biggest problems of the internet is isolated cases or exceptions blowing up into terminal issues, justified or not. I can only state that with the Z6/7 we have here, neither has shown any grip wear beyond what you’d see on a D850 of the same age – i.e. none. The D750 has different grip material to the D8xx.

      “Has Nikon identified this as QC issue and will it be addressed? I’m not going to fork up $4k on a camera where the rubber on the grip disintegrates in a short period of time.”
      I suggest you contact Nikon directly if you want an answer from them…

      • Thanks Ming. Much appreciated!

      • Robert Asami says:

        Speaking of isolated cases, this is the first camera I’ve had one of the pegs on the battery door break on; inconvenient timing at the head of a two-week long trip. Thankfully I managed to find some superglue and repurposed gaffer tape to keep it intact. Funny since it never opened up again after inserting the battery the first time now that it can charge in-body….

  7. Hello Ming
    Many thanks for this review. Refreshing after the often hysterical critic on rather smallish points on the net otherwise.

    My eyesight is not so good as it used to be and therefore up to now I use OVF. You seem to be quite content with EVF on Z7. Somewhere on internet (Maybe on DPR? 😉 ) I read that the Z7-EVF has problems with darker subjects/conditions. I do mostly landscapes and on early mornings/evenings or in dark woods this could be a problem for me, or so I thought. Just for orientation: with D8xx everything is fine. What did you experience in this matter?

    As you stated, this is rather a longish read with dense information. I came back a couple of times to search specific points. Please, do not take this wrong, but could you please – in the future with long reads – help the structure with titles or bold type? Sorry for being selfish, maybe others would like it too.

    • EVF works fine for me so far. I haven’t had issues except trying to focus on stars at night with the kit zoom, but then again those are really edge conditions beyond design intention.

      As for section headings – my writing style doesn’t work with section breaks. It’s not that kind of ‘tick the boxes’ review…

      • Thank you. Glad to hear about EVF, was afraid to hear about no “tick boxes” 😉
        Further I am afraid that the camera begins to interest me. Should the viewer suit me, the advantage of less weight begins to weigh 😉
        Have to try it. Maybe the second generation

  8. Pravin Mirchandani says:

    The reason for the AF tuning on the Z7 is for wildlife or other photographers who want to dial in front-focus when shooting., That way the foreground in front of bambi is kept sharp assuming you have enough DOF to keep bambi sharp too. As explained by a Nikon rep to Brad Hill.

    • Surely this would be controlled by picking the right AF point and thus focal plane…? I would imagine if anything they’d want back focus to cover the eyes in case AF picks up a nose first. No idea if face detection works on animals…

      • Pravin Mirchandani says:

        But as you said somewhere yourself, who wants to choose a focus point, hold the focus and re-compose the shot. I’m guessing (the explanation did not come from me but from a Nikon rep) that many wildlife shooters want the whole or most of the front of the animal in focus plus the foreground so very shallow depth-of-field is not what’s required. I’m pretty sure face detection would not work but maybe eye-AF would – but that’s speculation on my part.

  9. I see DPR banned a person who called them on their click bait Nikon user trolling 5 things article. Honestly I think they are being ran by kids there. No class no honest photography discussions. Better off just going elsewhere for good reviews really.

    • That was probably me. Not sure why such big emphasis on AF AF AF AF when other things like exposure zebras are missing; oh wait, they prefer to underexpose and push five stops. 🙂

      I have to say, it’s honestly nice not to have to care about these things…but their actions speak volumes about their immaturity, insecurity and general limits of ability. Make of that what you will…

    • They have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to banning anyone who criticizes them. Yet people who curse, insult, make sexist comments, blatantly instigate….totally fine. I wish I kept all of the outright vicious attacks they leveled at me years ago only to delete them upon more careful consideration. Barney, Rishi, Jeff, Carey would all come to a comment or forum and bully only to suspend those who calmly engaged with them and delete the proof of their unprofessionalism.

  10. Johnny Brickstone says:

    So…are you trying to be a Nikon Ambassador now?😂

  11. I just handled the z6 and z7 at photoplusexpo – so much more ergonomic than the Sony A7 series – the evf and rear lcd are gorgeous, and af with afs lenses are great. The only things I’d miss are access to the Sony Zeiss batis and loxia lenses – I guess I’d have to go with milvus? Curious how the z sensor behaves with rangefinder wides. Also, any tips on replicating the Sony eye af?0

    • I suspect once Nikon fills out the system you won’t kiss them that much – remember at this point Sony has four years on them. And they still don’t have a compact zoom with anywhere near the same quality as the 24-70, which is possibly one of the most impressive lenses I’ve ever used, period.
      Eye af? I’m a Luddite who still moves around a single point myself. Oddly enough though I don’t seem to miss any shots…

    • I’m a Milvus user (21/35/50 &135) on a D850 and D4S they are great lens you won’t regret buying them, weight can be an issue sometimes if they are all you your bag for a walk around. I’m considering selling the D4s and getting a Z6.

  12. Dpreview continues to report how bad is the autofocus, what do you think about it?

    • I have long lost respect for DPR. That site long ago degraded into clickbait and a home for trolls, not to mention relying on paid advertising from various camera companies to survive. Frankly, I question their objectivity. I’ve been using the camera without issues for paid client work for the last two weeks and don’t have any issues with it – perhaps they should actually use the camera for real photography and not test shots of hipsters with beards on bicycles. The bottom line is you can make the photos you want with it; the camera doesn’t hold you back. So you have to ask yourself – a) are they really photographers or equipment fetishists, and b) with every single thing they post, what is the motivation to generate a zillion posts with controversial titles other than trying to drive traffic and advertising revenue?

      • Ming,
        There are times I wonder if I’m the only one who sees a situation in a certain way, but having my thoughts confirmed by a photographer I respect makes me realize that I am not, in fact, taking crazy pills.
        For years I tried to tell DPR forum members and staff that the trolling, clickbait, subjectivity, and general lack of integrity and good faith arguments was dramatically degrading the quality of the site. The staff comes into the comments sections and forums when they really shouldn’t and then stay far longer than is necessary, essentially throwing their weight around and turning into bullies. And if you try to help them with some honesty, no matter how gently stated, they almost immediately issue a full, permanent ban.
        What I’m saying is DPR is fostering, feeding, cultivating a culture of trolling and drama, and the only thing I can figure is that it must be for the sole purpose of creating clicks. Their journalistic objectivity has eroded to the point of being laughable to even imply it might still exist, and their gear fetishism has served only to completely disconnect them from the art the gear is meant to enable.
        It’s sad to see them become the architects of their own demise. They could try to create a more civil and objective environment, but instead they use misapplied “rules” to allow trolls to ramble while anyone questioning the motives of the staff or the effect editorial decisions have on their reputation are quarantined, suspended, or outright removed.
        I tried to tell them that they make it impossible for me to discuss any of their content with those new to photography because the culture is so toxic and content so incredibly skewed. They didn’t react well. As such, I can only hope that they are slowly abandoned, forcing them to value their roots and rebuilding on a solid foundation of integrity before they are entirely destroyed. And if they do defile themselves into non-existence then good riddance.

        • I think the simple reality is that as soon as things become 100% commercially driven, then the slide is inevitable. Yes, we all need to make a living, but it’s the same dilemma I faced as a magazine editor the better part of 10 years ago: your advertisers are expecting glowing reviews and higher circulation, but they also cannot accept that integrity is required to sustain that kind of reader loyalty (and circulation). The minute that gets compromised, then you lose audience, and in turn advertisers – making it a bad commercial proposition in the long run. Photography has split into camera collectors and photographers – the latter are making pictures and enjoying the freedom to create new things with the most capable gear we’ve ever had – the rest are complaining. I say move on…

          • I have finally decided I can’t help DPR staff find their way and abandoned that hope. And considering the constant frustration anyone faces when trying to protect new photographers from gear worship I have also completely given up on that as well. I won’t claim to be a great photographer, but I will say that many of those familiar with technique and technical aspects of photography have been driven away and I cringe at some of the inaccurate and misleading advice left behind.
            Now I plan on buying an R and spending my time learning it rather than wasting time trying to save DPR from itself. I look forward to my first new camera in many years. Thank you very much for your effort to present a new camera as the tool it is rather than a spec sheet or magical solution to one’s photographic woes.

            • All cameras are tools. The difference is not all of the users are 😉

              • You speak the truth. It does seem like a disproportionate number of camera users are tools though. It is a field that is rather rarefied, but there’s no reason for people to act quite so impressed with themselves. It’s especially funny when a self-proclaimed expert uses basic terminology incorrectly. But I digress…

                I’m considering creating a record of my own observations on the Canon R when I purchase it and start the learning process. Any recommendations on what level of features would be most useful here on WordPress? I’m not going to migrate any commercial interests, just want a good place to write things down and share.

                • I use the minimum subscription that provides hosting, takes away the uninvited ads and allows for a full custom domain; the other stuff isn’t really necessary.

                  As for the EOS R, try before you buy. You may find it to not really offer much if anything over a 6D.

                  • Thanks for the advice on the subscription. Agree that those are all important features.

                    As for the R and 6D, the 6D has always been a bit too much of a FF Rebel for my taste. It offered me very little over the 7D line, but it was never meant to be a performance camera. My dilemma right now is the R versus a 7DIII: to wait or not to wait. The R gives me a smaller body, the 5DIV sensor (+), and excellent new controls with new features on top. I’m not a dynamic range worshipper, but the 6DII regressing in that area just drove home its Rebel status. That’s fine for some, but it’s one strike too many for me. The RF control ring and touch bar also sound fantastic. I love the 5DIV sensor and putting it in a smaller, cheaper package is very appealing.

                    • And then the gap between the 80D (or 77D?) and 6DII is shrinking even further to make things more confusing…

                    • Ming,
                      For me the gap between the 80D/77D as well as all the Rebel cameras is immaterial. I abandoned the XXD line as soon as Canon introduced the 7D. I remember vividly the desire to replace my 30D and wishing for an amazing new 60D. Instead Canon split the line in two and blew me away with the 7D while taking the XXD down a couple of notches with the release of the 60D. The 7D became my primary camera for personal use. I looked high and low for reasons to justify the money for a FF personal/travel camera, but the 7D was just too good. Now the R puts excellent FF at a reasonable level, especially with a tweaked 5DIV sensor on-board. The jump in resolution, DR, and features at that price finally makes it impossible for me to delay the decision any longer.
                      I’ve never found a camera system that managed so successfully to get out of my way than Canon. Nikon is fine, Sony is terrible, and anything smaller than APS-C holds no interest for me (except in my pocket cameras). As such, the R checks all of the boxes.

        • Dave Luttmann says:

          I have pointed out the problems with trolling for years. People with multiple user IDs posting anything that contradicts others just to get a reaction. When it is pointed out to the Mods or Admin…it goes ignored. If you warn others in threads, you’ll be banned for a week…but the troll will remain. If you post the correct information to correct someone, the webexperts will come out in force . The reviews are fine by me…but the forums are a complete waste of time

          • Pretty much. Even then with reviews – the technical testing remains comprehensive, but their attempt to assess the qualitative parts tends to be increasingly biased towards finding flaws they can sensationalize to stir the trolls into a frenzy and drive traffic…the big picture is no longer presented objectively and frankly their opinion of the camera as a photographic tool is meaningless – look at the kind of sample images produced; the opinion is only as valid as the people producing that kind of work. But what do I know, perhaps this is actually representative of their intended market; I know this kind of audience tends to be highly self-selecting.

            • They have nearly abandoned any qualitative variables and concentrate both disproportionately and unfairly on specs or data points from tests. I say disproportionate because there is almost no mention of non-technical variables and when their is any mention it is minimized or buried. And I say unfairly because rhetoric that reinforces the trolls by employing their rhetoric appears intentional. It may be a chicken-and-egg scenario, but they do nothing to avoid inflaming the conspiracy theorists and tend to shut down those who do speak against the rabid, drooling dogs.
              They put Rishi, a “scientist” with expertise in biology, in charge of their testing despite his complete lack of education in his new professional responsibility, and then all you get is someone who believes his opinion is sacrosanct with the power to completely shut down those who disagree with his conclusions. Barney is equally uninterested in hearing how his editorial choices fan the flames and run off anyone with a balanced, sober opinion. They fall all over themselves to publicize Sony and Nikon “innovation” (their interviews are fawning, softball, and border on sycophancy) while displaying open hostility and disrespect towards Canon execs.
              Anyway, I’m on the verge of saying that the entire website is a waste of time. They can’t be trusted to be objective any longer.

              • The qualitative testing/ commentary is there, but the comments are not based on real use – they’re based on armchair observation and staged tests. Anything is then amplified and sensationalised by the readership, and sometimes the camera companies get the wrong side and focus on the wrong thing which in turn makes the hardware worse. They’re also patently unimaginative and have copied my post topics on many occasions, and worse, oversimplifying and dumbing down the content to the extent of missing the original point entirely.

                I thought they were only Sony sycophants – there’s criticism everywhere for everybody else…

                • I should have said that historically they’ve fallen all over themselves to praise Sony and Nikon, but you’re correct that over the last couple of years their fawning seems almost entirely concentrated on Sony. And why shouldn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I do own Sony products, enjoy them, and find them to be very usable. However, a camera isn’t judged by the same criteria as a television, game console, or audio equipment. You have to hold a camera and it has to have a very efficient, intuitive flow. This is where Sony falls flat on its face.
                  As for real use, I’m not sure what you expect hipsters to shoot besides other hipsters. 🙂 Seriously, their photo galleries almost always look like the king of the hipster’s facebook page. Carey is one of the few people whose galleries I actually enjoy. Rishi’s looks like he chose his compositions out of a catalogue….with maybe three pages. And Jeff formerly of DCResource, that poor guy. He used to produce some useful hands-on observations about cameras. Now he’s fallen down the testing/specs/graphs rabbit hole of evaluation cameras.
                  Their readership does amplify any tiny difference revealed by tests, but Rishi has turned their testing routine into a farce. If you have to push a shot six stops to find a weakness and then ride that horse until it falls over, then you’d better take a tent for the long trek up your own butt. The name of the site is “Digital Photography Review” but there is almost no photographic discussion of the camera.
                  Anyway, my point is they may have sacrificed their integrity for commercialism, but they’ve also sacrificed their photography for sensationalism. They create idiotic criteria for measuring a camera and then act like it means something.
                  You should go into their comments section and say “Read the original article at this link….”. I’m not surprised that these journalists have no imagination of their own. Graphs and hipsters are all that’s left of their photography.

                  • The six stop push is something I really don’t understand. Unless you really, really mess up so badly or happen to see a once in a lifetime shot that requires completely different settings to what you currently have and doesn’t allow time to change, under what situations could you possibly need to do this?

                    In all media, sensationalism sells much better than rationalism or moderation – when was the last time you saw a newspaper that seemed reasonable?

                    • And the really sad thing is that they’d probably drive more traffic to the site if they were both painfully thorough AND balanced. This is photography, after all, and their only hope is creating a haven for photographers. They would both create new photographers and a community where photographers could go to calmly discuss their art. Instead they ignore trolls and bully anyone honest about the direction the site is going. How amazing would it be if the staff and mods applied rules evenly, fairly, and wrote balanced articles without clickbait trash headlines and even worse clickbait trash ideas and conclusions? They have the expertise, the history, the labor force, and still some of their former reputation under Phil.
                      I’m not sure if you noticed, but Barney took issue with your opinion. https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/61855955
                      He destroyed the culture of objective reporting, true journalism, and useful opinions on photographic gear, but don’t worry, he promises to put all those policies back in place. I assume that’s what he means by “Yes, I promise we are” in response to his own question “Could we improve them further?” By the way, people who make a habit of asking a question just so they can then answer it must suffer from narcissistic personality disorder or some other mental malfunction.

                    • I think we’ve reached the end of this discussion – I’m in the nice position of not having to give two small hoots about what DPR, their readership, or any camera company thinks of me. I do not rely on any of those parties for anything, and it’s liberating. That a comment buried deep in this post triggers that much vitriol on DPR says volumes, I think…

                    • It’s unfortunate that despite that post being beneath an editor to post in the first place, anyone who disagreed would almost instantly receive a permanent ban. Anyway, thanks again for your contribution. There needs to be more content like yours. Perhaps I can help those looking at the R find a balanced, fair source of real user experience one day soon. Peace!

                    • As I said. It says volumes about their staff, their professionalism and their integrity. One just has to ask what the possible reason behind that reaction could be other than coming a bit too close to painful truths or emperor’s new clothes…

      • What a great reply!

        • I’ve long been frustrated with the photo gear fetishists at DPR and I’ve enjoyed reading this thread. Does anyone have a recommendation for a photography forum where I might find a more congenial and mature community of actual photographers?

          • We try to be decent in the comments section here – if not, I think most are quickly shown the door by the regulars. Welcome!

          • Fred Miranda is much more mature than dpr. Also many of the threads on Nikongear hold an impressive repository of feedbacks and unmatched experience. But IMHO it’s dawdled over the past few months

            • The trouble with any forum is that it requires a critical mass of people to maintain the discussion; eventually with any mature forum (I can think of a lot in other disciplines like watches, audio etc) they tend to fragment as the members tend to be confident enough in their opinions/knowledge and not feel the need to invest the time…

  13. John Prosper says:

    It would be sweet to see Nikon release a 850-esque DX body. That would help lessen the need/desire to obtain some big glass optics while still enjoying premium sharpness and dynamic range.

    • It already exists – the D500…

      • John Prosper says:

        Thanks for the quick reply. I will have to study the D500. As I get older the advantage of employing the DX format for “cheating” to gain longer focal lengths is beginning to seem like such a blessing.

        • Actually, you get the best of both with the D850 – DX crop is the same resolution/ frame rate as the D500…not that much larger, either.

          • Also, the benefit of DX crop on Nikon FF cameras (D600 included) is the low noise; there is a huge difference in quality between my d7100 and my d600 in crop mode, really the best of both worlds.
            Thanks Ming for a very helpful review.
            It is increasingly hard to parse out the reviews on this camera; so many reviewers appear to be in Canon’s pocket on this one.
            From my view, the ER is not in the same category; I am sure the pictures are good, but it is 400 more than the Z6, but has a huge crop factor for video, and the infamous single slot, an SD slot at that.

            • Yes and no – a D600 in DX crop has much less resolution than a native DX camera, and downsizing the DX camera may well get you to the same point. For something like a D850 vs D500 (both 20MP in DX) which has the same native pixel size, then I think it’s much closer.

              Reviews: the usual comments about actual use and how they obtained the camera apply, etc. I’m now at about 6000 frames with my Z7 and just finished the second assignment with it, and my overall opinion hasn’t really changed (other than battery life being even better than initially expected – this effectively replaces my D850.

              • John Paro says:

                My observations on the d600 in crop mode were based only on my experience using a 70-300 DX AF-P tele; identical shots from the D600 vs the D7100 using that lens had much less noise than the D7100.
                Your experience with the Z7 is very interesting; I have been wanting the D850 for some time, but the Z7 (or for my purposes, the Z6) would get me what I want: Nikon quality photos, with stabilized full readout 4K video.

  14. Just a small remark (and I did read some but not all comments …). You were complaining about the brightness of the back LCD monitor when using the “i”-Button or changing a setting when a button is pressed. If you change the setting in “Setup Menu/Information Display” to the setting “B – “Dark on light”, the brightness then is notably better. I did raise this btw to Nikon Support and the agent told me he will escalate this. It may however turn out this is intentionally designed like this (night and day display … not switching automatically, though).

    • Already using that – still not exactly visible in bright sunshine, sadly. I’m not sure why they don’t use the top display, either – the OLED is really bright and should easily be customisable.

  15. I would be very interested to know how the camera performs in long exposures in the range of 4/5 minutes without LENR. Thank you, Giulio

    • I would recommend using the LENR. Mine doesn’t have hot spots, but the amount of overall noise definitely increases. It isn’t like a Hasselblad (no LENR required no matter what the exposure duration), sadly…

  16. Hi Ming,

    Thanks so much for your review! Very nsughtful as I have recently been thinking about the Z series as a new system investment in co inaction with my m43 and OLY e-m1.2. I am quite surprised (in a positive way) with the inferences you’ve put in compared with the OLY camera and would appreciate your views regarding the following.

    1. Would you say the Z series will provide better absolute video quality compared to em1.2? I am looking for an upgrade in that department especially in the slow motion front – btw I suspect the OLY em1.2 had recent upgrades in that segment with 0.4 slow motion based on 60/50fps footage. Still would rather have 120/240 fps and complete it on computer.

    2. Could you compare the af mechanisms between the z7 and the em1.2? At times I am frustrated with the OLY when taking sports photography with the subject coming towards me – long jump / sprints. Any et u the em1.2 much appreciated as well!

    3. I was pleasantly surprised of your statement that sooc jpegs of OLY are the best. What are your normal in camera settings for the em1.2? My shots seem to always be underexposed but maybe that’s because my camera had a recent circuit board replacement and the default exposure was reset.

    My workplace is in the market for a mirror less for video recording and I am thinking whether to get the Sony a7iii (dislike Sony as they overheat in my hands) the gh5/5s or wait for the z6. Any views you would send my way?

    Thanks in advance for your respnoses!

    • 1. Not straightforward. The E-M1.2 has both a higher bitrate and is much easier to use handheld because the stabiliser is more effective; however, you can get full 4:2:2 10bit N-log video out if you use an external recorder on the Z7, in which case it would be better. If you want a dedicated video solution you’re probably best off looking at a Blackmagic or similar dedicated video camera, not an adapted stills one.

      2. Not sure what “et u the em1.2” means, but AF seems comparable. I’ve not done extensive tracking tests nor do I shoot that kind of subject matter, so I think others may be able to give more accurate comments…

      3. I use the PEN F for M4/3 stills, which has settings the E-M1.2 does not – so that won’t help you.

      • Ming,

        Thanks for the response. I was referring to setup for the em1.2 but as you say you don’t set up for sports much so no biggie.

        Noted on the em1.2 / pen f difference.

        I’ll wait for future z6 reviews on the web out there (I know you won’t be investing in one from your comments) before deciding my next move.

        Have a great week!

      • Do you like using the Pen F for stills better than say an APS-C camera? Is it more fun than say a Fuji X100F, Fuji X-E3, Fuji X-T20, Ricoh GR, or Sony A6000 series?

        • Actually, yes – I find that APSC is a bit of no-mans-land; it might be the way the lenses render. I prefer to go a bit smaller to M4/3 or a bit larger to FF. The GR is an exception to this, but I haven’t shot with one in three years now – my opinions may well be different now in light of more recent experiences…

          As for the other cameras you mentioned – they are all control-compromised and/or have poor ergonomic comfort, and that is a much bigger limitation on photographic enjoyment than anything else.

          • My absolute favorite camera is the Ricoh GR. No EVF though. These days I like an EVF and a tilt screen. I’ve always preferred smaller cameras for everyday carrying. It’s why I use the Ricoh, Fuji X-T10, Sony RX100V and in the past the A6000, and NEX series. I don’t like Sony much. I am actually thinking of selling the RX100V. I find ARW files annoying and ugly. The size of the camera is actually too small and slippery for me. The only thing I like about Sony is the NEX and A6000 were a joy to hold with one hand. The Fuji X series had that nice retro thing going, but I never warmed up to the Xtrans sensor. I think they should dump that gimmick. I shot with all of the Sigma DP Merrill series and always was comparing the awesome files from those to all of the other mish-mashes of cameras I had. The Sigma DP Merrells were sold, except for the DP1M I am using, but I actually want to replace it all with just one system. It’s why I was checking out the new Nikon Z series. But I read so much about how Nikon dropped the ball. You’re saying they didn’t do that; that the product is actually quite good. I respect your opinion over Diaper Reviews. I only go to you, and a few other reliable people to tell me about the new gear and if it is worth using. I have also looked at great length at the micro 4/3rds system, because I like how I can get the micro contrast files, almost like Merrell. The Olympus/Panasonic series has so many lovely lenses. My only reason for not jumping on an OM series or Pen F is because I wonder if micro 4/3rds is a dinosaur. Like I said, I prefer smaller cameras so mirrorless is a win for me. (Stenosis in the neck and back, you see.) Anyhow, I would love your take on this. Is Micro 4/3rds enough for photographers? Or is the chase for FF just a “bigger is better” mentality and not a viable reason to upgrade in size? I have an old 15-inch MacBook Pro and also am trying not to buy a camera that will kill my Mac with obnoxiously large files.

            Thanks in advance for your answers.

            • I’ve come to realise I like and eye level finder (good EVF, OVF) for one reason beyond stability: the ability to isolate the rest of the world from your mind at the moment of composition so you can concentrate purely on composition. A waist level LCD is useful for some situations (and your back), and of course a larger LCD is easier to be aware of the details on, but somehow…there are often too many distractions.

              Diaper Reviews, haha! 😛

              M4/3 comes in small enough sizes to be uncomfortable (GM1, 5 etc) and large enough to make no sense (G9) and a whole bunch of control paradigms, so there’s probably one that works for you. That said, once you start venturing into pro body territory – and assuming you don’t need very fast or very long lenses – the smaller mirrorless FF stuff doesn’t have much of a size/weight penalty. That said, all the early promises of ‘smaller, lighter’ seem to have been conveniently forgotten by both manufacturers and forum fanboys…

  17. Hi Ming,
    In your review, when discussing JPEGS, you note; “I did however manage to find a pleasing setting for color, based off the Portrait preset.” Might you provide us with those setting? And, do you use the Portrait preset just for portraits or all situations?

    • I use the portrait preset for everything. Still adjusting, but approximately:
      Sharpening +7
      Mid sharpening +2
      Clarity +1
      Contrast -1
      Brightness +1
      Saturation -1

      • Thank you Ming; I like it. I have worked very hard on the settings for Standard. I find it very natural; you may want to try and may like or not:
        Sharpening +5
        Mid sharpening +5
        Clarity +1
        Contrast -2
        Brightness +0 (tho I prefer +1 in some situations)
        Saturation 0

        • Thanks – I prefer the slight warmth boost of portrait; helps with skin tones…

          • I totally agree with your statement about skin tones and the portrait picture control but feel, subjectively, that the Standard Picture Control works better on landscapes and in street shooting. Horse for courses…

            Thank you so much for your dedication and willingness to share your knowledge. I feel that I now have 2 Picture Controls to work with.

      • Hi Ming,

        I’ve been using your Portrait setting a lot especially when shooting people and it is excellent. I thought the others might want to hear from someone that has been experimenting with your jpeg settings. I find that boosting the saturation to +1 when shooting other than people works beautifully.

        Once again, would really appreciate it if you would either sell your profile or provide it as a freebie with a contribution, once ready.

        Best, Edwin

        • Not personally a fan of high saturation hence I leave it where it is even for non-human subjects. The real world doesn’t tend to leave such an intense impression and it’s too far from faithful otherwise.

          The profile settings were already given and the ones you are using…there isn’t anything to sell. If you mean raw profile for ACR, I’m still tuning it.

          • I meant boosting the saturation by 1 to 0 (tis still boosting but not alot!). And yes, talking about the ACR profile. Again, thx for all

            • It’s normally oversaturated already – look closely at what happens to the red channel with very bright situations; it clips a lot sooner than you’d expect. Reducing saturation helps combat this.

          • Any progress with fine tuning the raw profile for ACR?

            • Yes and no – I’ve been working through PP of a large shoot for a client with specific color/look requirements and that’s been tuned, but not had time for a general profile, sorry.

              • Hi again Ming,

                The more I use your Portrait JPEG profile, the more I like it. It is natural and a great starting point for me to finalize photos with a bit of tinkering. I have had a few white balances that were off and though it took a bit of work to correct in the jpegs I did it.

                That is a long-winded way of saying that if I had a great starting raw ACR profile, it would be easier for me when a white balance issue arises.

                No pressure and thx for all, Ed

  18. Quick and easy question: I am looking for the best camera to go with my Otus lenses (mostly for the 55mm and 85mm). I am mostly shooting portraits in low light wide open. Because of the sensor stabilization system (or lack of) I did not go for the D850 and aiming for the latest Sony Alpha cameras. Would the Z7 top these two choices or there would be another better option? Thank you.

    • I’d suggest a mirrorless MF but you need stabilization. The Z7 operates as you’d expect of a Nikon, so yes, this is probably your best option. My own initial trials of this combo are very positive.

      • I hope you didn’t had to answer this question a thousand times before, but how big is in your opinion the difference in terms of IQ in general between “small“ medium format (GFX, X1D) and high end full frame format cameras (Z7,D850) paired with the best lenses available?

  19. Hi Mong, i am not a expert photo grapher.but i am using a NiKon Camera which gives amazing photo.Though i am new but i feel happy to photography at the free time.

    One think, your detailed & amazing review. I have a question, in medium budget which Nikon model will be best?

  20. Brian Billman says:

    Two quick question that I haven’t seen explicitly answered.. for manual focus lenses with the adapter, if you have the lens info entered in, is the aperture a photo was taken at embedded in its exif? For example, if you enter in 55mm f/1.4 as the manual focus lens, and you take a photo at f/4, is f/4 saved anywhere in the resulting file? I know there is no AI tab on the adapter, but perhaps the camera calculates the effective aperture? I had read about a different lever on the inside of the mount within the adapter, but I think that was only for keeping the aperture open vs stopped down?

    Second question, with manual focus adapter lenses, are they stopped down at all times (thus you see actual DOF before image is taken), or just when the shutter is pressed?

    Thanks so much, your words (and photos) are much appreciated!

    • MF lens aperture: no, the camera has no way to know what the shooting aperture was. The lever on the inside is to stop down the aperture on electronic D and G lenses; you have to use the aperture ring on the lens for AI types.

      MF: stopped down at all times.

    • John Van Atta says:

      I have a chipped F mount Voigtlander 180/4, and I see different behavior. The shooting aperture is recorded in EXIF, and it is kept wide open until the shot is taken. When the camera is off, it is stopped down heavily, just like the 24-70. Rather oddly, the aperture blades don’t appear to activate until f6.3; so there’s a large jump between f4 and the next stop down.

      Perhaps chipping changes the behavior? I only have the single F mount lens so I can’t cross-compare.

      I also noticed the 24-70 is stopped down slightly at f4 at all focal lengths, fairly significantly at 24mm. Which means sunstars wide open. 😦 I know some people like them but I group them in the unwanted aberration category. I dearly hope the 50mm doesn’t have them too.

  21. I’m was an early and enthusiastic adopter of micro four thirds, but with the new developments of full frame mirrorless, I have a feeling that the M43 standard may soon be seen in the same light as the point and shoot cameras and I wonder if the future of M43 is possibly in danger. Do you think that this new Nikon system as well as the Canon and Leica full frame are a serious set back for the future of micro four thirds, or are the platforms different enough so that all can thrive?

    • They’re different enough – the size of the sensors is so different that the solutions are hugely different in weight especially when viewed as a system in totality. There’s no cheating optics!

      • I had the same thoughts as that, though lately with Olympus’ drive for large aperture lenses, I’ve wondered if they are not being careless with what I feel is the most fundamental selling advantage of their system. I’m more concerned with mind-share and perception becoming a problem, though I should have stated that much more clearly. I’ve got three systems currently; M4/3, Fuji and Nikon. Over the last six years I’ve slowly been divesting myself of my Nikon gear because my passion for photography has ebbed and whereas years ago I considered quality of the image and the gear paramount, I slowly found size a persuasive factor. What I have found in through my three system indulgence, however, is that ergonomic consistency is something I under estimated as a pleasure. Now I want to simplify, for the most part so the gestalt stops shifting and the camera can disappear. But each is such its own treasure – I’m constantly on the fence, for over a year now.

        Your review here has galvanized me. Well at least pushed me in that direction. In Nikon keeping so much of the old inside of the new, I now know that I plan to buy into Nikon again, via either the D850 or the D500. Your positive experience and what I feel may be your new confidence with Nikon’s direction has given me new confidence. It’s never a bad idea to sit out the first generation or two of a new system while they are smoothed out, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve never found that patience before, mind you, and thats how I’ve wound up with getting all my camera wishes fulfilled on the one hand, and winding up with camera dyslexia enough to be missing something fundamental at the same. time.

        If the Nikon zooms are as good as this first one, in exactly that way you’ve described, then I shall perhaps go forward with three or four new zooms eventually when I transition to the Z system in time. I’ll reacquire Nikon’s tilt shift lenses, add my micro lenses and make Nikon my choice in sort of the same way that a medium format can be for those with deeper bank accounts and stronger backs, and then stick to Micro four thirds tiny, medium aperture primes only for maximum system contrast and clarity. I value Fuji too much to sell it off for pennies on the dollar but have no room for it, and the wife is too much aware of how many camera bags lie in the closets. My eighteen year old daughter, living in her first grab at independence in another State here in the US will put that Fuji system to fine use.

        Much thanks for your detailed and insightful review Mr. Thein. By the second reading, your words had straightened out new horizons for me. What a (internet) world we live in. I wonder if in the future, this period will be thought of as the renaissance it is, or will our usual nature keep us stuck at the glass, one fifth from full, oh mercy me, stage?

        Thanks again for the great read.

        • I think if the sensor sizes are too close together, decisions become blurred because load out configurations can overlap; but if you run say FF and M4/3, this is much less likely to happen because of overall system weight and differences in rendering. The same is true of say FF and 44×33 vs 54×40.

          I never lost confidence in Nikon for a reliable, solid product; more a question of whether they had the imagination and resources to make something competitive with the mirrorless wave – and they have, even in the first product. The D850 is a supremely competent camera with no major flaws; but it’s probably also the beginning of the end of a generation in the same way the F6 was.

          We will likely view this period as a transition before the Next Big Thing in UI and viewing experience; not sure what that is yet, but the reasons this particular move from optical to electronic finders is significant are a) size; b) impact on optics, both native with larger exit pupils and options for adaptation; and lastly – the feeling like we’re still using a camera. It’s familiar, in a way that the other FF EVF cameras have not yet been.

  22. Hi Ming,

    When looking through the viewfinder to take a photo, I notice that what I see in the viewfinder is not what I ultimately get as a photo. My photos are underexposed by .2-.4. Tis not a big deal as I can correct fairly easily in ACR but it is weird. I have lowered the viewfinder brightness setting to -4 and now it is close. Did you notice that also? Do you have any ideas about how to see what you ultimately get?

    • It’s a difference between the JPEG settings and ACR’s recoverable latitude, not so much the finder – but the finder can be adjusted to compensate (or adjust your jpeg settings – even if shooting the raw the previews are generated off these settings).

  23. Hi Ming, Wish You well in all your enterprises, and thanks for all the info that you share with the community . Hope Hasselblad will not fall back to soon into the rebadging adventures from a couple of years ago . ps you may have to update your twitter profile regarding Hasselblad . Best from Brussels Pierre

  24. Thank you very much for the article. If you have time, please correct: „samller“ and this was confusing for me btw. : „(the sensor the axes the lens can’t)“?

    • Thanks, fixed.

      The sensor moves in the axes the lens VR cannot.

      • It looks like you forgot to save your change. 🙂

        Excellent review, thanks. I’ve just returned from enjoying a weekend with my Z7 in Roatan, but I think my Zeiss 2/25 ZF.2 spent more time on the body than the 24-70 S. Focus highlighting is beautiful with the Zeiss, and seems similar with my Voigtlander 125/2.5, though I’ve only tried a few label shots in the kitchen with less than ideal lighting.

  25. Tuco Ramirez says:

    Nice review, but your style is getting a bit dated — like early Top Gear vs the later episodes with May & Hammond. Here’s a new form and context to consider:

    My wife and I were sunbathing on the beach when I dazedly awoke from a nap to a voice moving closer; “Oh yea! Firm and round!”, “Long and lean!”, “Gettin’ me some SoCal booty!”, and “Look at the poon on this beach!” Then, “Oh! Hard grandma booty” was just above us and I opened my eyes to a GH5 with the 12-60mm f-2.8-f-4 kit lens and Rode mic — the subject of this review. The GH5’s operator in black baggies, black wife-beater and black flat-brim trucker cap was vlogging my wife’s bottom to the internet and signaled with a shaka that a camera test should begin.

    My left-right combination provided several physical tests of the GH-5, so let’s begin with camera build.

    Durability: I was impressed that the GH-5/12-60mm combo continued to function during the shoot, capturing sharp images and sounds as it was swung and bumped around the operator’s body. The external Rode mic did crack at the mount when the he collapsed, face down, on the camera but for $149, it seems durable enough for everyday use. I thought the 3.5 mic cable might sheer off, but it held and the mic continued working, even with the cracked base.

    Weather sealing worked better than expected — sand, which was mashed into every crevice of the camera, did not get into the body or lens internals. Bravo! Of course, weather sealing could not keep out salt water, which did intrude when the operator was dragged by the sturdy Panasonic neck strap into the sea. Water-Resistant is not Water-Proof.

    Screen: I didn’t mean to flip the articulating 1.62mp screen around into selfie mode with my foot, but it does highlight how easily the screen comes around. It’s quite durable, too.

    Auto Focus: While the camera was only momentarily steady, I was impressed with how often the camera picked me up in the frame and quickly focused. PDAF is very useful in this type of running / action photography.

    Image stabilization: The GH-5 handled smaller shocks to the operator admirably. However, greater swings of his body (>1m) were too much for the IBIS and some fuzziness was introduced by camera shake. There are limits to IBIS and VR.

    Sound quality: While it remained on the camera, the Rode mic was a definite improvement over the in-body microphone. The ‘dead cat’ cover reduced the heavy breathing and scuffling sounds quite a bit.

    So, there you have it; the contemporary camera review. It’s all here: 4k/mic ports/selfie screen. See you on youtube.


    • Would that be a Sanyo or Toshiba ….

    • stanislaw zolczynski says:

      Tuco I do think your review is a bit outdated too. What about this.
      While me and me wife was relaxing in Cancun on the sundrenched beach, some nasty malandros showed up with clear intent to do us in. I wiped up my GH5 with Rhode mic on it and voila, they bet it thinking it`s some unknown weapon that could level them flat.
      Weather sealing worked just fine as I crawled toward them dogging the waves and vendedores de helado, shielding my bonita from their nasty looks. Even as my hands were a bit shaky and sweaty, the in board stabilisation worked a charm and PDAF picked every bad guy sharp and clean. I didn`t have time to flip LCD screen in selfie mood with my foot which was actually in my mouth, as some of curanderos wiped up santa muertas to fix me stay. Neverless I relied on my Farao IBIS bird and VRRRRR laser optics to get them all. I was particulary impressed with durability of GH-5 as I cracked the skull of several coños and their conchas. All in all, just forget Niki Z and stay with trusty Panaboy. He`ll get you through any pixeled cinch.

    • You bring a new meaning to the phrase ‘angry photographer’ (I am only assuming you are a photographer of course)… Not only trying to highlight a contemporary review style, but also highlighting a modern and contemporary approach to dealing with issues in life, essentially with violence, I personally don’t seem to enjoy such commentary; call me weird, but…

      You see, I respect and love my wife, and would most definitely feel somewhat insulted given any sort of verbal statement regarding her posterior, but while a nice knee to the nuts might have come in as a last resort, a well-timed witty remark to the GH5 owner, or even letting my well-capable wife take care of the situation herself with a likely even more witty and belittling remark, would have been a rather more interesting move, that I am sure would have raised the applause of any onlookers… Guess that ‘getting a set of balls’ in an intellectual world can mean far more than throwing a punch. I guess I am not very modern.

      I believe I prefer Ming’s review. Just my rather biased opinion of course…

    • What a weird comment. It has no place here.
      It reads as crass disrespect for all the harhwork the owner of this blog shares so amicably.
      Worse, the poor attempts at trying to be clever reek of an infantile narcissism (and worse) that unfortunately characterizes the flood of trite piffle (and worse) polluting the internet, youtube channels especially.

    • I am now dumber for having read even a tiny part of your comment.

  26. Benjamin Hines says:

    Great review, very detailed, and beautiful shots. This gives me some things to really think about. Ming, since you have used it hands-on somewhat extensively, a couple of questions and a little background.

    I am looking at getting a Z6 as opposed to a Z7 as a second camera to use in conjunction with my D7500 for a wedding shoot. At first, I was considering getting a Sony A7 III (*GASP*) but since I have six Nikon lenses, and so use to Nikon for years, I think the Z6 would be a better choice cost wise and staying in one system, what is your take on that?

    The Z6 has 293 phase AF points as opposed to the A7 III 693, I wonder how much of a “real use” difference is that? From your review, even though that is a Z7 the focusing seems to be fast and pretty sharp.

    Cost wise it’s about the same between the two, Z6 with 24-70mm f4 with an adapter as opposed to the A7 III with a 28-75mm 2.8 Tamron lens. The advantage to the Nikon is being able to use all my lenses, XQD (CFExpress) in the future. The drawback is only having one slot as opposed to the 2 slots on the A7 III. Question is, shooting weddings, cars, personal shoots, the Z6 should be fine for pro work correct? (I’m not real heavy into what is considered “pro” work just yet).

    • Sony v Nikon: you answered your own question.
      AF: number of points has never been more important than effectiveness of those points. At the moment there’s simply no data.
      Pro work: we were doing high profile, high dollar work with much inferior equipment and one card slot. It’s the operator, not the hardware. And film only ever had one slot. 😉

      • Benjamin Hines says:

        Ming, great response, thanks! I had really been on the fence deciding to get an a7 III or the Z6 and this helped to think it through a little more. Z6 is being pre-ordered. I’m staying in the Nikon system, having two systems would be cumbersome I think.

        • It makes even more sense if you already have some Nikon gear – cheaper, familiar etc.

        • The only fence I was on once I pre-ordered my Z6 was what to do with my Df when it eventually arrived. I was kicked off whatever fence was left when a week later my camera shop called to tell me my Z7 was ready to pick up. Who knows if the call was really in error, but the fact remained that someone had just cancelled their Z7 order and I was the fortunate son. (As long as my wife remains at least 5 stops from knowing…)

  27. “If you’re not bothered by the D850’s size and weight” To me the D850 is very small. But my perspective is tainted by my previous ride, a Phase One XF, IQ180 and the 40-80mm zoom. I am so glad I dumped it for the D850. The only thing the Phase was better at was resolution; in every other regard it’s much worse

    • It’s all relative. I agree any FF is a breath of fresh air compared to MF weight, but there’s just no way to cheat physics – if you want a larger sensor it’s also going to need larger lenses.

  28. I have no interest in the new Nikon, just wanted to say your pictures were beautiful. Nice eye!

  29. John Prosper says:

    Hello Ming

    Theoretically, can the Z7 be adapted to use µ4:3 lenses, assuming adapters become available? As interesting as the µ4:3 camera bodies are, it would be super sweet to mate a 75/1.8 or 60/2.8 macro to a body with the resolution of Z7—assuming the body does not out-resolve the lens.

    Please note: I have been wrapped up with personal/business issues for several months now and, subsequently, have not been following any news regarding the new Nikon mirrorless bodies. I also have not checked about any flange incompatibility issues.

    • Theoretically, yes, as M4/3 is 19.25mm and Nikon Z is 16mm. However: there’s no point as none of the M4/3 lenses cover anything greater than the m4/3 image circle. At best you’d get maybe a usable 18mm square, which is about 17-18MP worth. M4/3 cameras have higher pixel densities than the larger formats.

  30. Thanks to your review, I purchased the Nikon Z7, 24-70 lens, and the F-Mount adapter. I’m still using the basics from your III tutorial. If you do come out with a list of Z7 preferred settings or a preset like the ones that came with the III tutorial, please let us know. And if there is something beyond the III tutorial, I am ALSO interested. It is wonderful to have you commenting on Nikon and related gear again!

    • Working on the profile – this is not a fast process as it has to be trialled under a wide range of conditions…

      Nothing beyond III – that’s still the most comprehensive/flexible/fast workflow (short of JPEG) I can create. 🙂

    • Michael, I eagerly look forward to reading anything you will/have publish/ed on your experience with a Voigtlander 125 on your new Z7. 🙂

  31. Hi there Ming, not sure if you got this first time I sent… A nice, balanced, concise and well-humoured review. Thank you for spending the time. I also think it is marvelous the way you answer almost every single comment; exceptional in this day and age.

    In the hope that you might also be able to answer my reply as well, I have just a small query for you that might need a minute or so of of testing.

    Briefly, I generally shoot in single-shot drive-mode; I like to choose my moments. With my Nikon DSLRs and my Fuji’s I can use back-button or manual focus, and when I see the moment to capture, just fire with a single shutter button actuation, and then, if my subject blinked, moved, or I notice a change in expression, or some change I wish to capture, I can ‘immediately’ fire another 2nd or 3rd single-shot, as often and when I want. The cameras respond immediately. The Sony A7iii on the other hand has a small delay before a second or third shot can be fired; it is is noticeable and I do miss shots. In technical terms, the Nikon DSLRs and Fujis in single-shot-mode can be fired at less than 0,3s per shot, and the Sony at about 0.6s,

    While I do have a more thorough test, the quickest way I have found of testing the response time ‘approximately’ is to manually focus on a subject (taking AF out of the equation) and in single-shot-mode, fire the shutter button as many times as I can within five seconds, thereby working out a rough average per second. Are you able to do this with your Z7 and let me know what you get per second?

    Many thanks in advance… Cass.

    • Thanks!

      To your question – turn off the auto-review and it’s pretty much instant to the next shot, as fast as the camera can handle it (9fps). I also work this way too…

      • Thanks Ming, appreciate it. Sounds like that is at least one thing solved for me.

        The only other thing then will be to check out this tracking thing. It seems with the Z series we have a rather cumbersome button-pressing experience to initiate tracking, as in press OK to activate tracking, position cross-hairs over target, press OK or AF-ON to start tracking the subject, then press OK to stop tracking. The more common way we all know of just ‘positioning AF point on a target and holding AF-ON for C-AF, then release when done’ was so much easier and ‘definitive’ in my mind. Perhaps an early firmware update from Nikon may address this…?

        • I’m hoping so too, though I found that maybe a shift in usage method solves it – instead of using tracking I used C-AF all-area and got good results without having to do the OK lock on, so maybe not all hope is lost. In any case, even with 3D tracking on the DSLRs you still had to position the AF point over the subject and half press; now you do it and press OK but don’t have to hold the shutter down halfway.

  32. A nice surprise this… the family vacation I mean. 😉

    The Z7 seems promising. I will be curious as you spend more time with the camera to learn how you get along with some specific adapted lenses –
    1. Your Leica 50mm Summilux-M f/1.4 ASPH. You enjoyed this on the X1D. How about the Z7?
    2. Your various Nikkor PC lenses.
    3. Any of your long Nikkor lenses. 300/4 PF?

    • Unsurprisingly, it’s not turning out to be much of a vacation – more like working off a laptop with a different view.

      1. I don’t have an adaptor yet…but this is in the plan
      2. Works the same as with the D850, but now handholdable: both because there’s IBIS and because you’ve got LV focusing at the actual focus plane with movements (optically impossible to focus with an SLR finder and movements).
      3. I don’t own any, actually. I have a Voigtlander 180/4 APO and a Sigma 100-400 C.

  33. Nothing said here entices me in the least to leave the Sony A7Riii with my various GM lenses and excellent adaptation of other lenses. By the way, I am a long-time Nikon shooter and currently have the D810 and D850s.

    • (that comment above is a different JJ from me 🙂 )
      personally I find it interesting that both this and the A7Riii have overlapping feature sets but neither is entirely complete. I also bought a Sony but I find it has some annoying foibles, nothing to make me tempted to switch immediately to Nikon, but more competition can only be a good thing! I also look forward to the Panasonic full frame cameras, I personally think they’ve solved a lot of the UI / UX issues that others haven’t, not sure if Nikon is there yet… How does the touchscreen focus selection on the Z7 compare to Panasonic’s, foe example? (Sony’s is still sub-par).
      If you’re still collaborating with Hasselblad, I’ll be interested to see how their mirrorless range continues to evolve!

      • Not been a big fan of Panasonic UI/UX in their M4/3 stuff, so I’m not holding my breath on the larger cameras. Bigger (pun intended) problem: they’re much too large; DSLR sized! There goes one advantage of mirrorless. Nikon has touch AF selection with LV on rear LCD only, no touchpad in the finder. Not sure the reason for this omission as the D5500 etc. have it; it would be very useful as the joystick is not in a great location and slightly stiff, so selection isn’t as fast as it could be. Hopefully it’s resolvable in FW…

        All that said – having owned the Sony cameras too, I think the Nikon is far closer in getting it right from a camera standpoint (and close in the feature set) than Sony has gotten after four attempts. I’m quite happy shooting with this, and I find myself wanting to shoot with it, which isn’t the same as I could say for any of the A7 series cameras I’ve bought (and lost a pile of money on disposing).

        • “There goes one advantage of mirrorless”. Small size as an “advantage of mirrorless” is a misnomer born out of a need for marketing departments to differentiate their mirrorless gear (Sony, Oly, Fuji etc.) from the DSLR back in the early days of mirrorless. At one point, it was fun and interesting to think you could fit a full frame camera in your cargo pant pocket. But let’s face it, a proper camera, mirrorless or otherwise needs to be minimum size so that the body doesn’t get swallowed up by the lenses (yes I’m talking to you Sony), creating an uncomfortable if not awkward shooting experience without a battery grip. You can find evidence of this in almost every new generation of mirrorless camera which is coming with bigger bodies and bigger grips. I don’t care what anyone says; shooting for more than a few minutes without a proper grip is painful, especially with the newer mirrorless lenses, which seem to be getting larger, not smaller. The Z7 IMO, fits the “minimum” requirement for camera body size, the new L-Mount is perfect. Make’em bigger I say! –so that they are comfortable to hold and shoot with for extended periods with today’s glass which is HUGE. There are so many advantages that come with shooting mirrorless over DSLR, being tiny isn’t one of them in fact it’s a disadvantage IMO 😉

          • I agree there’s too small, and there’s good design making it as small as it can be without being compromising ergonomically. I agree the Sonys are a bit small; the Fujis and Panasonics are probably too big; the X1D is a very good example of just how much sensor you can stuff in the body and keep it both small and ergonomically excellent. The Z7 is on the smaller but acceptable (at least to those of us with smaller hands) side. Then we come back to the balance question: if the glass is huge, you need the grip to match. Not necessarily the body depth (again, X1D) But I think the current size of the Z lenses (24-70, 35, 50, except the Noct) is bang on. Sony G Master lenses on a body with a poorly shaped (note: not size; there are bodies with small grips like the GR, or Pen F with front grip that are narrow but comfortable) grip is a disaster.

            • Personally I think there’s no such thing as too small, any more than too rich or too thin 🙂
              The X1D seems a perfect size for the sensor and the range of lenses available, but I always felt that the GM5 was perfect for the MFT sensor and the range of small zooms / primes available there. Full frame cameras, on the other hand, have always seemed on the large side to me. That’s one reason I want the Panasonic FF range to take off, hopefully they’ll be enough sales to justify a minimalist FF body similar to the GM5, that I can fit to a couple of primes and a small zoom (something like the new Nikon 24-70).
              The Sony mk 3 is also fine for me (not as amazingly wonderful as the fanboys say, true, but comfortable for a day’s shooting), but I managed 2,000 photos with a Sigma dp1 Quattro, so maybe I just have adaptable hands 🙂

              • The GM5 is perhaps *too* small for extended shooting – I found it honestly too fiddly using existing control paradigms because they require more buttons and dials than the camera has. The GR is (was?) a good example of getting the reductionism right as it has very few control points but not a lack of control; thus the small body doesn’t feel cramped and you don’t feel like you’re missing something.

                I don’t see the Panasonic FF ever being small because the mount itself is enormous! I wouldn’t rule out a smaller Z thought – think D750 to D850 size relationship…not sure if this is a good thing or not though.

          • So you find it reasonable for camera systems with a sensor half the size of FF, smaller lenses and no mirror box to be almost as large as a FF DSLR?

  34. Ming,

    I always appreciate your viewpoint. My main interest in the mirror less cameras is to get perfect focus out of the lenses especially wide open. The workhorse 1dx mk ii is pretty good after being mated to the L primes at CPS. But the size of the focusing points are too big to hit it perfectly all the time. I love the Nikon D3xs and 4 back in the day along with the d800 but ran into the same issues.

    I had hopes of the Leica M 240 and newer to be a good solution with the add on EVF. It unfortunately it is not really clear or easy to operate and has mixed results along with the annoying evf blackout like the x1d. The SL has a much better evf screen but seems much too heavy… along with their rediculously large and heavy and slow lens options. It’s not like Leica is the dependable go-to solution for pro work anyway as you stated.

    So I will look forward to Sony pushing the other manufacturers to release Pro series mirrorless without leaving out features or being slow on the AF. I have. Ever used M lenses with adapters but I may also need to consider this when sharp wide open optics are needed without the dependability issues.

    Interesting times. Thank you for your insights.


    • You get a comparable EVF and LCD to the SL in the Z7 without the bulk or weird ergonomics (that grip has never been, and will never be comfortable). I don’t consider AF slow by any means – it hasn’t made me miss any shots yet. Fully agreed on actual usable envelope of the lenses: no point having something incredibly good but not easy to achieve consistent performance with (e.g. the Otuses). It’s much better on the Z7, though I don’t know how much carrying I want to do of that weight of hardware. MF implementation is excellent, though: choices of peaking sensitivity that’s automatically activated with non-electronic lenses; IBIS linked to FL input into the manual lens configuration menu (which remembers many lenses) and in turn inputs the data into the EXIF. Zoom to whatever magnification level you wish can be assigned to any button. There’s no solution for manual zooms, but I’m not aware of any other camera that’s come up with one, either.

  35. scott devitte says:

    I have been on the fence about a FF or MF personal camera. I want something small. I don’t care for the Sonys and the M10 is ridiculous $$$. I have almost put down on the Hassy, but was waiting to see the new Fuji MF. I shoot with RED 8K FF Cine professionally and use a GX85 for personal photos because of the size, small lenses, and, I can use all my cine glass on it, mainly EF mount- cine and auto, PL and, a lot of which is M mount, because RED has an M mount capability, but the Panny is limited on the wide end in its usefulness of that great glass. The Canon R is not the Canon a lot of us are waiting for, so this Z7 is going to be my first ever Nikon for adapting all my glass, and, because of Ibis, haptics, sensor size and 8k time lapse. Besides an M and EF dumb mount, I hope somebody comes up with a smart EF adapter so that I can focus the right way.

    • The new Fuji looks enormous – comparison photos have it larger than the GFX, which is itself larger than the X1D. The GX85 has ergonomic and haptic shortcomings – I swapped mine for a PEN F and don’t regret it at all. Not much point in adapting lenses to that one as the main advantage is in the compactness of the M4/3 options, IMHO. Which leaves us with the Z7 as probably the best choice for you as you’ve concluded…

      • scott devitte says:

        If I hadn’t decided to get the Z7, I would swap gx85 to Pen F too, maybe I still will. You mentioned the 28 1.4 Leica. Have you tried it or any other M’s on the Z7? By the way. I have been shooting with the 3.5 Heliar 50mm M on the RED Vista Vision. it covers the full frame and at $500 on a gazillion $$ camera it is stunning.

        • 28/1.4: no, not tried it. Seemed like an interesting option for speed/size/resolution until I saw the price…I also don’t have an adaptor yet.

          • Scott Devitte says:

            A small prayer or two has been answered for me by Sigma. A new fast 40mm FF. Available as all manual T1.5 cine and f1.4 Nikon or Canon. And!!! For you and the rest of us 28mm lovers a 28 T1.5/F1.4! It will be much larger of course than the Leica but 1/6 the cost.

  36. ” It’s not groundbreaking and continues a lot of existing design and ergonomic paradigms (such as a lens-coaxial viewfinder position instead of an ergonomically more comfortable corner one)”

    Spoken like a right eye shooter 😉

    The design you favor is an absolute nightmare for those with right eye issues or those who are very much “left eyed” About 30% of the population is absolutely useless with their right eye – I happen to be one of them despite being right handed.

  37. Steve Teare says:

    Thank you for a thorough, insightful and helpful review. One typo: duplicate of ‘microcontrast is middle to high’

  38. Hey, Ming, that was an unexpected treat; I had a short time with the Z7 myself and must say that I generally felt quite the same way about it – which makes the Z6 my likeliest next camera purchase (I’m still not in need of high resolution files). Thanks for your insights and precise observations – it was a pleasure to read your review, as always. I also find it very impressive and important that you have kept an open and inquisitive mind in spite of your role at Hasselblad (or maybe even because of it?).

    For me, it’s especially valuable to read about the qualities of the 24-70mm f/4 Z – a lens that should solve a number of issues for me anyhow (small, sufficiently light, weather sealed) but will be worth a lot more if it’s a good performer. And I will add a FTZ adapter – I used it briefly with two of my Sigma Art lenses (the 35mm and the 24-105mm zoom) and found that it worked flawlessly; extremely encouraging!

    I’m in no hurry to add a new camera to my kit – but I’m looking forward to doing so when everything’s ready and shipping. It was very helpful to have you chime in at this point in time – now I’m confident I’m about to make the right choice (part of which is letting go of APS-C completely, btw. – the Z6 just isn’t that much bigger than the D5500 …). In the meantime, I keep enjoying your Photoessays and hope that we can meet again at some point in time.

    • You can’t make a good product without knowing what the competition is doing – especially what they’re getting right that you’re not. 😉

      Still extremely impressed by the 24-70/4. I hope for a similar compact tele option, but without exotic PF-type optics it’s unlikely we’ll see any meaningful reduction in size over the existing F mount versions.

      I actually liked the D5xxx series a lot – the size is perfect, ergonomics excellent and pretty complete. Always wanted something similar but more solidly built and fully featured; the Z7 feels quite close actually.

  39. For the same reasons you needed to inform your readers about joining Hasselblad, I think you should be clear on your current position: Are you working for Hasselblad or not?

    • No, and I’ll explain why in the next post.

      • Steve Gombosi says:

        That’s their loss.

        • I wish luck to the new owners.

          • Steve Gombosi says:

            I’d much rather have a working photographer deciding their strategy than the sort of rocket scientist who came up with the Lunar.

            • I think it was a marketing person…

              • Steve Gombosi says:

                Sorry, American slang used sarcastically. It was *obviously* a marketing person who came up with that. That whole “luxury brand” hype was pretty revolting, especially to those of us who had been using Hasselblads as *imaging tools* for decades. Given the amount I’ve sunk into X1D hardware recently, I hope we don’t see a repeat. But this is not the place or time for a rant about past missteps.

                Great review and much appreciated!

                • Oh, I fully agree with you. Those were NOT Hasselblads (or arguably, even serious cameras).

                  Half the problem I think is that the whole concept of luxury is messed up now: it used to mean choice and quality. Now it’s conspicuous ostentation for the sake of social signalling, which isn’t the same thing. A V-series ‘Blad was luxurious because it was the best you could get; it happened to be instantly recognisable. It wasn’t luxurious because it used nice materials first over functionality. In the same vein, a Z7 would be the luxurious choice if a D3500 does the job just fine, too. I may be one of the few people who thinks that way, though.

  40. Ming,

    We certainly appreciate the intelligence and professional viewpoint you bring to your reviews.

    Thank you for your insights.

    So i have 3 questins if you will indulge me.

    1. Do you have an opinion of the z7’s diffraction mitigation software and it’s effectiveness?
    2. Do you have a workflow process which modifies nef files to improve color accuracy output closer to say Hasselblad specs (i apologize if you addressed this in other reviews and i missed it).
    3. Many years ago you compared the Leica S2 to Nikon’s D8.. Series. I think you felt at that time that there was not much difference in the comparative image quality other than color, taking into account use of zeiss glass for the nikon. From your current vantage point, on image quality alone assuming comparable MPs, should one harbor feelings of inferiority when using the z7/d850 with best glass vs say the x1d or fuji’s offerings? Do you have expectations that the just announced leica s3 will outclass the competition from an image quality standpoint?

    I’d say that was 4 questions. Sorry.


    • 1. It’s very subtle. My guess is that like Pentax, it’s a combination of some calculations proportional to aperture and then a sharpening algorithm to somewhat counteract it. I still don’t think it’ll beat TS lenses.

      2. Yes, that would be Workflow III – there are profiles for all cameras (including Hasselblad) that bring you to a neutral starting point for raw files, maximise recovery and leave you with something optimised for maximum processing latitude. I haven’t had time to make a profile for the Z7 yet, but it’s on the list of things to do (and I need more files under certain conditions to tweak it).

      3. Under optimal conditions, it’s pretty close. The larger sensors have better dynamic range, more natural tonal response and greater processing latitude. In the case of the Hasselblad, I know it also has better color calibration. At higher ISOs, the D850 and Z7 may have slightly lower noise, but less dynamic range. However, you’ve got more fast lens options so under those situations it ay well be advantage to the smaller format. There are of course other considerations like ergonomics, AF, UI etc. Frankly I’ve never felt inferior because of my camera choices; I use what I need to get the images I want. Inferiority would come if you have the tools but not the skill…

      4. No clue or interest in the Leica, sorry. My experience with their products and local management/service has not lead me to want anything more to do with them. I’ve yet to have one that didn’t develop some sort of major problem after not that much use – even the Q, even the rebadged Panasonics.

  41. This is a more technical question, if you know. I know there is a difference between Electronic Front Curtain Shutter in LiveView and Silent Mode.

    Silent Mode is said to have some disadvantages in Live View (proneness to banding, etc.). Since in my work I need to have a pristine focus as possible, but I also like the Silent Mode, perhaps you could explain the difference and what the liabilities of Silent View are in LiveView for close-pu work like focus stacking.

    • Mechanical shutter: exposure starts with the shutter, ends with the shutter. Sensor is reading out for the whole time the shutter is open (and starts slightly before and ends slightly after).

      EFC: starts exposure by switching on the sensor readout with shutter already open, but ends it with the mechanical shutter. You have a 1/2000s speed limit and can use flashes (to the same 1/200 limit as the normal shutter). It seems to have slightly less lag than mechanical shutter because the shutter itself doesn’t have to cycle to go from LV to exposure mode. It also has less vibration as there’s nothing moving during the exposure: only at the end.

      Silent mode: fully electronic shutter, the mechanical shutter does not move at all. Sensor readout is switched on and off to determine exposure. I believe (trying to clarify) there is a bit depth limitation and/or rolling shutter limitation in this mode due to the readout speed of the sensor. Flash sync is unreliable because it’s not a global shutter.

      None of these affect focusing.

  42. Tanks for the superb review as usual!

    I can see myself getting the 2nd generation Z6 with the 24-70 + FTZ and keep my F-mount f/1.4 primes and 70-200 f/4. Hope Nikon will come up with a pancake lens for the Z soon.

  43. Thanks for your insights. One thing that bothers me immensely though:
    I know I can tether via WiFi but this way too slow for studio work, when clients or the agency are watching the monitor and awaiting the images. Is there any way to tether via cable to LR or C1? Anything? If not I might end up giving my (now very beloved) Z7 back because it wouldnt be of any use for my daily studio work.

  44. I bought Z7 with FTZ adapter only. I actually like Nikkor 24-120/4 very much and have tried it on Z7. The AF performance isn’t on par with the lens mounted on D850. However, at least to my eye, with the same lens mounted, the pixels aren’t as strained as those of D850. Technically both cameras share the same CMOS. Wondering if this is just my illumination.

  45. Hi Ming,
    I was interested in your comments about the bokeh of the 24-70mm zoom; the photo’s that Rishi (DpReview) took at the launch event showed what was probably the worst case of highlight-bokeh onion-ring I’ve ever seen in a lens! Also, the 35mm prime had obvious longitudinal chromatic aberration. Like Rishi, I was surprised to see this with all the marketing blurb about superior optics.

    • It’s starting to seem like there are sample variation and prototype issues in play: I don’t see onion rings or coma on my lens, but my friend’s lens has abysmal micro contrast and what appears to be some coma or haze. I would also be very hesitant drawing conclusions on non-final hardware. Sadly DPR tends to sensationalise quite a bit these days…

      • Sounds like it could be sample variation: Tony Northrup also had a copy which had poor micro contrast. I’m not sure that highlight-bokeh onion-rings would be that affected by sample variation though: Photoreview published their review today, and their findings seem to support Rishi’s – ‘we found some outlining around bright background highlights, even at the widest aperture and they became more intrusive as the lens was stopped down’

        • The onion rings are caused by irregular grinding of the aspherical surfaces; this is definitely something that could change by batch…

          • Yes, the level of inaccuracies that cause onion ring bokeh are so minute, that even machine tolerances could affect it I spose. It seems Sony is still the only company to have mastered aspheric elements that don’t cause any onion-ring bokeh.

            • It might also have to do with a) the gluing and assembly and b) the profile of the aspheric; stranger profiles will of course have tighter tolerance requirements…

              • Yes. I’d be interested if you could do a full review of your sample of the 24-70mm. I’m not so concerned about the onion ring problem now that I have read Lloyd Chambers disappointing findings about the lenses focus shift and field curvature problems! Thanks.

                • I’m not the same kind of exhaustively comprehensive tester as Lloyd: I use the stuff in the field and report back if there are notable issues, which mine doesn’t seem to have. At least I’ve not found anything objectionable in over 5000 frames, be it onion rings, focus shift or field curvature. This is not to say said issues do not exist, but I don’t consider them major enough to be a problem in practical use.

                • 28/10/18 update: It seems that at very long distances (>100m subject distance) there is some field curvature that causes corners to render soft. Oddly, it isn’t very visible on near subjects even if planar – which is why I didn’t notice it until this point. It does go away with stopping down and appears to be somewhat recoverable with sharpening. Unfortunately this is a significant point against what is an otherwise really impressive lens. Thanks for bringing this to my attention; I’ve now amended the review accordingly.

  46. Hi Ming
    Thanks for the effort you put into writing these articles I appreciate it even though I am not in the market for such a camera. I do note a bit of a recurring mood in the comments, and that is a kind of “thank god they did not stuff it up”, as if there was an expectation of disappointment. Maybe I am reading too much between the lines.

    The one item that did interest me is the lens review, it gives me some hope that camera companies may be able to offer the mid and lower end of the market something worthwhile if they ever pay any attention to that section of the market again.

    That leads me into a somewhat off topic comment, so please indulge me. From where I stand it seems that most of the advances in photo gear/technology for the last decade have been trickle up. Live view composition and pre chimping, electronic viewfinders and the more efficient/advanced sensor tech including phase detection AF have all originated at the bottom end of the camera market (and been developed with profits from these cameras). What will the current entry level cameras (phone units) bring to the future of mid and high end cameras, and how are the current phone cam profits going to fund future development? Currently phone cameras are creating a lot of profit to social media companies with the associate information that sells advertising, Facetagram and co are in the business of big data, and definitely not after high quality images, sorry but good IQ is not good data for them. The mega hype of the last few weeks for only high end cameras is leaving me with the feeling that the lower and middle of the camera market is being ignored, and if that is the case then will the whole industry implode by self-inflicted market marginalisation? Sorry I would like to have a positive note to finish but am at a bit of a loss.
    Regards Noel

    • Disappointment is perhaps too strong: I was afraid they’d make small but critical mistakes given it was a first try, and the other companies all took several attempts to get it right. Sometimes there’s either not enough thinking or too much overthinking that goes into a new product for a conservative company.

      The lens as a standalone doesn’t seem to be cheap, though – and any sort of tight quality control on a zoom to prevent decentering etc. is definitely complex. Only if volume increases dramatically can this be brought down to economical levels.

      Trickle up: that’s because there’s volume, therefore money and therefore R&D spend required/available to compete for the big numbers. It’s no surprise – I’d actually be surprised if things worked the other way around given how small the high end market is (and shirking). The low end has gone to the phones; to put things in context: camera quality is now a deciding factor for consumers, and we’re talking seriously expensive devices here. An iPhone XS Max is comparable in price to a D750 kit here – or smaller format mirrorless and several good lenses. It’s not all bad though, as there are still a lot of ex-phone camera photography converts that land up moving up in ‘seriousness’. So that market will be there for a while to come. We may see a repricing as volumes drop (hard to tell if the current repricing is driven by that or just the usual shareholder pressure) but no matter how niche – the internet has a home and source for it. It’s true of far more esoteric hobbies than photography.

      One closing thought: there’s naturally more noise around the high end stuff because a) it’s clickbait b) manufacturers are going to spend more effort and money promoting their higher margin products and c) there’s not a lot to say about low end devices…my suspicion is there would not exist so many iterations of Digital Rebel and D3000, A5000 etc. if there wasn’t a market for it. 😉

      • Thanks for the reply Ming.
        Further comments in response.
        Re A), Clickbait, quite a lot of it is negative “The real Truth why XXXXXX is an utter failure” may get views and ad revenue for the tubers and bloggers, but will it sell high end? Not sure this is where any publicity is good publicity idiom works, if it ever did, for anything worth spending money on.
        B) Higher profit per unit yes, but more profit overall? They cannot afford to lose/ignore the broadest section of the market. They are heading towards few eggs in one very small basket at the moment I hope this is not a trend. I hope the middle is not now a niche.
        C) Car manufactures do not have any problem having heaps to say about their base or mid models, in fact if the base model is not well regarded/promoted no one is going to look at the higher profit margin tricked up models and options. Lots of minor iterations with neglected lens ecosystems is one way to say to your customers that you do not take lower and mid sections of the market seriously.

        In most industries the broad middle is where there is the most diversity, and the niches at the middle can be bigger markets than the high end sectors (unless you are in a non-technical market like fashion but that is well beyond my cargo shorts and polo shirt loving comprehension ). I hope the latest announcements are not representative of the only market focus for the future.
        Thanks again Noel

        • A) It certainly won’t. I don’t think bloggers and tubers care; it’s short term gain through ad revenue. The only way you’re going to shift more high end complex products is through education, which is a lot of work for both supplier and consumer.
          B) Hard to say, to be honest. There are spurring ‘islands of economy’ where the math works at all price points.
          C) I think the difference lies in that a consumer level camera purchase is just that: a sort of transient piece of consumer electronics. Those looking at cheap cars want to be sure because it still remains a significant portion of their income.

          No clue about fashion either, much the same wardrobe here! 🙂

  47. Hello Ming. The thumb rest of the Z7 happens to be the card door as well. Isn’t it a concern for durability of the door? Thanks.

  48. Terry Breedlove says:

    Fantastic review. I will own the Z7 it will be my landscape camera and sit next to my Pen F travel camera. For me a perfect two camera kit.

  49. A good review, and no real surprises. I expected the 24-70 to be better than my main full frame lens (a Sony 24-70 f4) and everything I’ve seen and read strongly suggests the Nikon doesn’t disappoint.

    Are the new cameras from Nikon and Canon (and upcoming from Panasonic and Sigma) enough to have users crying intro their beer and planning costly switches? I think not. I’m an Olympus/Sony user, but what if I was buying my first full frame camera today? Probably the EOS R. From an end user perspective, I think Canon has the nicer long game. But I’m happy enough with Olympus and Sony.

    • Other than some diehard troll fanboys, probably not. I like to think the camera companies know the overall markets are shrinking as quick gains get fewer and consumers get bored/ impatient at now themselves being the limiting factor in image making, translating into new systems that are reverse compatible with existing ones to minimise cost of adoption. Instead of crying we now have the option to dip our toes into the benefits without too much financial shock. Personally I see a place for both M4/3 and FF – they’re each different enough in format size to offer advantages the other can’t; APSC and M4/3 or APSC and FF makes less sense as these are too close. You really need to go up at least two sensor sizes to have tangible gains, I think.

  50. I thoroughly enjoyed the review, especially the technical information and slight cuts of humor. I only just started reading you blog, but I can already tell I will be reading it more already. The only thing I have to ask about is telecentricity. I tried to look it up, but I didn’t learn much. Maybe it is a part of optical engineering that cannot be explained in simplistic terms, but I’m trying to figure it out because the science of photography is just as important to me as the art. So far as I can tell, Telecentricity has to do with the shape of coating of the actual optics, with relation to the lens mount opening as you mentioned in your article as well as the exit pupils (the back of the lens?) and light waves. I would appreciate it if you could lead me in the right direction on this topic. Thank you!

    • Thanks. Telecentricity is the parallelism with which the light rays exit the back of the lens. If they diverge (i.e. have to spread out at a sharp angle from orthogonal to go from a small exit pupil to a large sensor, or any exit pupil smaller than the sensor over a short distance) that’s non-telecentric. If they don’t, it is. Wide mounts allow large exit pupils, and mirrorless negates the need for a rear correction group to re-collimate the outgoing light from wide angle lenses (historically necessary to extend the back focus distance to allow depth for the mirror).

  51. Luc de Schepper says:

    Good review Ming thanks! About the 24-70mm f4 lens. Your description of it’s qualities reminds me of the excellent Olympus 12-40mm f2.8. Did you happen to use that one on M43 and do you think the Nikkor is in the same league?

    • Thanks. Yes, I owned the 12-40 but honestly didn’t like it that much. Decently sharp, but clear improvements on stopping down and the out of focus area rendering was harsh and had a lot of double lines etc. that often distracted. This 24-70 is much, much better – honestly, if I got performance like this from a prime I’d be very happy, let alone a wide to portrait zoom. There are very few lenses where you choose aperture based on DOF required without having to think about resolving power or where in the frame you’re putting the subject; this is one of them.

  52. 2x the “sliced Jesus” remark is precious. Thanks for the most thoughtful and useful review yet.

    I just hope Nikon iterates the bodies quickly without price point crippling. Come 2020 we’ll have some wonderful options. Hopefully with a few pancake lenses to make this even easier to bring along.

    Also heartened to see the Zeiss prototype with the Android operating system, hope that gains momentum.

    • Given this is the first attempt, I think they’re off to a very strong start. I’d be more concerned if it felt like an obvious step backwards in use – but it simply doesn’t.

      Agreed, pancake lenses would be nice, but I suspect they’ll be going down the ‘performance compact lens’ route first to flesh out the lineup quickly, then doubling back to fill in the gaps. Personally, I’d like a compact 70-200, too…not another f2.8 monster.

      • I think The X1D and GFX have a more interesting lens line up simply because the are a niche, and no one expects 2.8 zooms and the like. Glad to hear that MF is well implemented, perhaps smaller manual lenses could be use well.

        • That, and medium format: an f2.8 zoom is going to be unfeasibly huge and expensive. Remember not only do we need a longer real focal length (and thus aperture) for equivalent field of view, but also much wider field coverage at the image plane, too: that’s more glass all round. Also, there isn’t room in the lineup for an ‘economy’ option: if you’re paying for MF you’re already not wanting to take shortcuts.

  53. Sure seems like a nice camera. I have no plans to go FF anytime soon though, but I’m glad there are more options out there to keep competition healthy. I will save my money for the GRiii when ever that may come out. IBIS and 24mpx and if they get everything else right like they did with the 2013 model, then they get my money.

    • The change in rear control points/ ergonomics concerns me, to be honest – I had functions assigned to all of the available slots, so removing a couple of those can’t be good…

      • Yeah me too, but I’m hoping they make good use of the touch screen in combination with the rear controls buttons. If they pull it off and the current wide angle converter fits, then it’s a home run!

        • i hope so too, but anything on screen is going to take away area from the composition image or distract by overlay – this is not great either. The main strength of the Z7 is that the EVF view is one of the few cameras that does not do this, but still manages to convey all info.

  54. Glad you managed a bit of vacation, though it sounds like a bit of a working vacation.

    Completely agree with you about manual focus. That was actually the first thing I really wanted to test on a pre-production model. Since I’m not an early adopter, I’m waiting to make a decision in 2019. However, it would be great to have less weight in my carry-on luggage.

    • More like working from a different location. At least the view is nice and the internet is fast, I suppose (though I really am starting to hate the MacBook pro keyboard, and my trackpad sometimes doesn’t click – thanks, Apple).

      It’s not the luggage weight for me so much as the actual carry weight in practice. I’ve developed an art to sneaking these things on board the plane (40kg once, without being stopped!) but sadly there is no shortcut when you actually have to carry them in the field. And I’ve sort of reached the point where anything more than about 1kg on a non-photography trip gets annoying (a lot more of those these days, too).

      • Absolutely, working weight is another issue. Nearly anything can go on a tripod, but handheld imaging for several hours is a different matter. I’ve really liked the performance of the big Nikons, but my left shoulder doesn’t like it at all. I have five titanium rods in my left shoulder, a repair after a big wave surfing accident. I’ve found that in a few hours, I have quite a bit of left arm pain. I’ve been trying a monopod, though I think a lighter camera with good ergonomics would be a better solution.

        • I like the handling of the big bodies, too – Nikon single digit and Hassy H. In a studio or fixed location, they’re fantastic. But when you’re shooting documentary style or exploring, they’re not. In the former situation I often walk 10km or more a day over 12 hours with 20kg of hardware including said tripod…this is not very pleasant.

  55. Jose Salvador says:

    ” though the Z7 isn’t the second coming of sliced Jesus ”
    I can’t help but notice the cheap and sarcastic attempt to be funny at the expense of others’ religious persuasions. I’ve been following your blogs and reviews for quite some time and you used to be a classy – sad to see that’s changed.

    • You misread my intent, and I’m sorry if you’re insulted. It’s a sarcastic comment at the forum fanboys who go into some sort of illogical fervour every time a new camera is released. Sensible people however tend to be less insecure (and certainly don’t hang their personality on a camera). It has nothing to do with religion, it’s a literary reference to anticipation (‘the second coming’) and ‘the best thing since sliced bread’.

    • The full quote from Karl Marx translates as: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”.

  56. I was surprised as well. I love your non-gear articles, but the reviews always provide a unique amount of insight which is very educational. Thank you!

    > But what’s amazing is its consistency across the focal range, focal distance and across the frame, even into the extreme corners.

    What about the Zuiko 12-200/4 and 12-40/2.8 (I thought they were pretty consistent as well), or you’re referring to the 35mm lenses specifically?

    • To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to write this, but in a way we have come full circle: I also really launched this site with a review of another significant product close to release, the D800… 🙂

      12-100 and 12-40: not even close. The 24-70’s consistency is phenomenal even for a prime, let alone a wide to short tele zoom, and one that has to have a much larger image circle than M4/3.

  57. That was a long interesting read ! I don’t read camera reviews at all, they are all over the web but yours are insightful and contextualize the gear you’re reviewing with what’s happening in the industry… and of course they are also a break from the traditional photo articles, so please keep them coming.

    Why do you think camera companies are still attached to the way they make menus ? Sophisticated cameras doesn’t necessarily mean overly complicated menus… here comes the new Zeiss full frame… Isn’t it the new iPhone ?

    Also, what do you think of the new L-mount alliance ? What Leica will be gaining from making its mount open ?

    If you could do a writeup about the state of the photo industry/Photokina, it’ll be the best !!!!

    Thank you

    • Thanks. I review if a) I buy, because I don’t get loaners; b) if I buy it already says I think there’s something useful/interesting there (and the reverse is also true, of course). 😉

      Menus: it’s easier just to reuse the existing ones, I suppose. That and these things are engineer driven rather than photographer driven; I’m glad we at least get a couple of customisable ones for the functions we use often, and that almost everything is on those menus. Without that I suspect modern cameras would be really quite clunky and slow to operate.

      L mount: it makes the most sense for Sigma, I think. They get to sell more lenses with minimal investment as existing designs can be recycled (look at what they do for Sony E). It’s much less development than Panasonic, and as for Leica: they’re continuing to be Leica and just collect the brand premiums and royalties without really having to do much at all…they may even sell some lenses to Panasonic users looking to move up. Given that both companies OEM for Leica they’re unlikely to cannibalise the each other’s market, either.

      • > Given that both companies OEM for Leica

        Do you mean Sigma has already been manufacturing or developing something for Leica? Can you tell what it was? I thought Leica always makes their lenses by itself.

        • I’m not allowed to say. Leica has had a lot of manufacturing partnerships in the past – it’s no secret for example that the M4/3 branded lenses are made by Panasonic; the T lenses I believe are also OEMed. Even the Q…

  58. With the Nikon D850, I have set it so that if I press the button in the center of the Multi-selector, I can magnify the LiveView image for precise focusing. Is this or a similar feature available in the Z7? I hope so.

  59. Terrific thoughts and review. I feel I owe you a consulting fee. I’ve ordered a Z6 which I’m looking forward to receiving. I ordered and have already received the 35 1.8 (it will sit in a closet for the time being). I’ll order a Leica M to Z adapter when one becomes available.

    The 35 1.8 lens is a little larger and maybe a little heavier than I expected. But I don’t think so much so that it will throw the ergonomics of the camera lens combo off.

    I tried the Leica SL for my M lenses but never liked that somewhat heavy combination. I’m optimistic the Z6 along with some M glass will feel better in hand.

    Based on your reading go the specs and now experience with the Z7, do you feel that apart from the few differences between the Z6 and Z7 (principally pixel count and auto focus points) that overall performance should be roughly the same?

    • Ming,

      I too wonder whether you think/know that apart from the megapixel issues and the few other differences, whether the image quality of the two cameras will be equivalent?

      • Impossible to say, they are totally different sensors. Analogy: the D750 is bit cleaner at high ISOs than the D810 was, but the D810 still has higher dynamic range and better color despite having smaller pixels. We’ll just have to wait and see, sorry. I don’t personally intend to get one though as it doesn’t do anything (for me) the Z7 doesn’t already, and I’d have to buy one to test it.

    • Haha, thanks – just use on of my referral links. 🙂

      You might find the 35/1.8 to be a surprising lens, if the 24-70 is anything to go by. The 24-70 is larger still when extended/in use position and balances just fine. It’s a moderate sized camera, but an extremely dense one – you expect D5500 weight, but then get 75% of a D850.

      I think ergonomics of this with M lenses are going to be superb – will find out soon enough when my Novoflex adaptors arrive.

      Z6 vs Z7: principle differences are actually in video readout/frame coverage and the sensor itself. Not clear if this is going to be a video-optimised or high-ISO stills optimised sensor – we’ll just have to wait and see, I’m afraid. Personally as I do not plan to shoot video with this (the E-M1.2s are still unbeatable for handheld work because of the stabilizer) I don’t think I’ll be looking at the Z7.

  60. Thank you very much for putting out your assessment. I too have learnt a great deal from your reviews and blog, and appreciate your time spent sharing expertise et al!
    The that is the elephant in room is the intriguing matter of the new lens-mount embodied in this inaugural FX MILC from Nikon. This is where Nikon has cracked the glacier in breaking out of their legendary conservatism. And it is clear the innovation was preceded by years of planning…. In its implications for what might follow, the Z mount has catalysed no end of commentary on forums etc. Yes we have the Lens RoadMap put out by Nikon but it is the future of the F-Nikkor stable that raises poignant questions…
    Then we see Canon’s plunge into FX MILC. And most recently there’s the emerging alliance anchored on the L Mount… Fascinating times. It seems 2018 will go down in history as a pivotal year in the evolution of photography.

    Returning to the Z& – how do you rate the silent shutter performance WRT to other MILCs? Anything new?

    Please don’t feel you have to respond to our comments as you are busy vacating. It is high time you Enjoyed your holiday 🙂 🙂 Well earned!

    • So long as there is back compatibility with F mount, I don’t see the new mount as being a problem. Longer lenses don’t gain much from a short flange, either quality or size-wise – so we are likely to continue seeing development. And the rest of the lineup is pretty much mature and complete anyway. What I can say for sure is that we should expect a whole load more consumer zooms if Nikon’s history is anything to go by…18-60, anybody? 😛

      Silent shutter: not much (if any) visible roll, but DR appears slightly limited – not sure if this is a readout limitation or bit depth. I’m preferring EFC personally.

  61. Thank you for the review. You mention that electronic shutter has bit depth limitations. Can you elaborate on that as I could not find anything in Nikon’s documentation?

    • This is my hypothesis – full electronic seems to be display slight highlight clipping, but I can’t confirm if this is a bit depth limitation or a readout one (effectively it’s the same thing in practice, anyway). Further testing required, and I’m clarifying with Nikon…

  62. Ming,

    I’m very glad to see another thoughtful Ming camera review. Honestly, your blog wasn’t the same over the past 18 months or so when it was devoid of your reviews of non Hasselblad products (and there haven’t been many new Hasselblad products).

    I had preordered a Z7 but canceled it (mostly because I’m already satisfied/saturated with my current gear – I shoot multiple systems), but your review makes me want to give it another look. I had previously 2 X1D (black version) along with all 4 (at that time) XCD lenses. While the X1D is a gorgeous camera, I could never feel comfortable shooting that camera outdoors in bright conditions (I shoot fashion) – it was hard to see in the EVF, the camera was slow, and the shutter sound was awful. Several times I just wanted to throw away the gear while on set. I thought of swapping the entire system for the H system because the ergonomics seem far better, but in the end decided I preferred the advantages of mirrorless technology. When Profoto released its remote for Fuji, thereby enabling HSS on the GFX, I sold all my Hasselblad gear and switched over to the GFX. While not a beautiful camera by any means, it is such a comfortable camera to use, especially with the tiltable adapter so that one’s face isn’t pressed against the camera. On the GFX I use the eye autofoucus feature for my beauty and fashion work, which works wonderfully. Such a better shooting experience than with the X1D, that it helps close the gap between intent and execution, for me.

    I hope to see more of your reviews going forward.


    • No reviews because I just hadn’t bought anything (and I have to buy pretty much everything I review, which makes this uneconomical unless I have a need or deep personal curiosity – remember, this site is free and without advertising). Actually, the fact that I choose not to review (and therefore buy) something should say just as much about my opinion as if I do.
      I don’t blame your switch, but as far as desirable to use – the Fujis leave me cold, and not for want of trying (I’ve owned several). The Nikons still aren’t great, but this is one of the better ones so far.

      • I thought you had written you wouldn’t review gear from other companies while employed with Hasselblad as it may be perceived as a conflict of interest?

        At any rate, I am a long time 25 year Nikon user and 10 year user of Leica. Those were the only two companies who cameras I had really ever owned/used until my foray with the X1D and now the GFX. I sold 2 of my 3 D850 bodies in anticipation of the release of the Z series cameras. But once I started using the GFX I feel that will become my primary system for some time.

        • Your first statement isn’t a problem if the products are not competing, or I no longer work for Hasselblad…

          The D850 is an incredibly competent camera – just not a very emotionally involving one (both the GFX and X1D are better, IMHO). I can’t figure out why this is, and why the Z7 scores slightly better on this front.

  63. David Newberger says:

    “or use a lot of manual focus – then you can skip this generation”
    Are you saying, for using manual focus lenses, this is not the best camera? Why? Maybe I am misreading the sentences meaning.

    Manual focus with EVFs and magnification and in some situations peaking, for my aging eyes, is a gift from the crazy gods.


    • No, I’m saying if you *don’t* need those things, then skip. It is a very good camera for manual focus (perhaps even one of the best). 🙂

      • Geoff Byers says:

        I think that you have written that particular sentence the wrong way. Maybe an edit? I had to reread it a couple of times to understand what you meant.

        • Geoff Byers says:

          It would be clearer if you wrote: “If you’re not bothered by the D850’s size and weight, or don’t need stabilization for lenses without it, or don’t shoot video, or don’t use a lot of manual focus – then you can skip this generation. “

          • I agree, the original text in the article is very confusing due to omitted words. The natural interpretation is “or (if you do) need stabilization for lenses without it – then you can skip this generation”. This would, of course, be the opposite of what you intended to say. As Geoff points out, you actually mean “or (don’t) need stabilization for lenses without it”.

            Since this is an excellent review, which is going to be read my many people, it is probably worth changing the wording of this important concluding sentence.

  64. Kitty Murray says:

    Thank you Ming. Just want you to know how much I appreciate your time and effort… expressing your thoughts and sharing your expertise.

  65. Jerry Fisher says:

    I really enjoy your reviews. Thanks so much.
    Though “technical” , you have always brought your experiences in to real world scenarios and every day usage parameters.

    I am waiting for the Z6 but am now convinced the Z platform/24-70 f4 is the “real deal” and more than good enough for me as a lighter weigh/smaller platform for travel. I would never give up my D750 and was not looking for a “better” body as a mirrorless compliment, but, it looks like I am getting both in the Z.

    Thanks again for painting a real picture of the Z platform vs. the nonsense we have endured from the web know nothing at all talking heads.

    • Thanks. The Z6 makes sense for video or a lower budget. But other than that – 9fps is plenty…

      I suspect the internet noise is down to there not being anything but prototype cameras for people to try, and only briefly; things definitely change in production (and there are differences between the prototypes I tried at the launch event and my own).

  66. Thomas Walter says:

    Thank you – great review!!! Very useful!

    Just one point: “Note however that this cable (USB-C) does NOT transfer data” that’s not true according to the manual (and wouldn’t make sense since USB-C is a very versatile protocol)

    • The Apple cable doesn’t. I thought it would – only to assume wrong and find myself having to transfer images over WiFi. I also remember reading this independently in a MacBook Pro review a little while back…

      • Funny. For me, USB cable from my Z7 transferred raws fast to my iMac both via the image capture app and Lightroom import.

        But I was unable to get the WiFi connection to fully pair in infrastructure mode. Camera and Mac were seeing each other, but camera refused to present an authentication code when it was supposed to. Was using Wireless Transmitter Utility… and camera was confirmed connected to my WiFi network.

        Also used usb cable to transfer raws to iPad Pro via camera roll to Lightroom and Adobe cloud. Also Bluetooth via SnapBridge to iPhone paired easily and works marginally ok for GPS.

        • I wonder if it’s because I have a first generation cable/ MacBook Pro – some further digging reveals these were changed at some point. Wifi worked fine for me – use point to point, and make sure you have the right version of the wireless transmitter, as it didn’t work for me at first either. USB-Lightning sounds like an interesting option actually – wifi transfer for me was faster to the phone than to the laptop, though, so perhaps it isn’t needed.

  67. stanislaw zolczynski says:

    Will you do a short follow-up on differences between Z7 and Z6, cons and pros?

    • No plans to – I’d have to buy a Z6 for that, and I don’t personally see the point of having both. The Z6 seems to be the choice for video priority or lower budgets; the AF system means it isn’t really a D5 replacement.

  68. First of all, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate reading an excellent camera review again here at MT … thank you! …it’s been a while, I assume you’re no longer with Hasselblad? This is the first review on the photographic internet that has me even remotely interested in the Z. That said; this generation of Z will not be on my short list. Whereas Sony has been listening and continuously adding features that make Alphas a little more appealing to pros and enthusiasts, Nikon it seems, decided to leave off some VERY important (to me) and desirable D850 DNA stands e.g. AF point grouping, protect key, easy image manipulation, dual card slots and a PROTECT KEY … WTF! What the Z should have been is a mirrorless version of the D850 (to the extent physically possible) so that picking up either and would be almost an indistinguishable experience expect for size and weight and EVF. Nope, not Nikon, they seemed intent on dumbing down mirrorless thereby making the Z less appealing to many. There are many myself included that would not consider a single card slot body for paying gigs. I don’t care how reliable cards are these days and statistics be damned, it’ll be me that has a card fail with no back up … F*** that! The Alphas are a bigger grip away, some raw file tweaking and weather sealing from becoming the “near perfect” mirrorless camera IMHO. All that said; again fantastic review Ming and great shots! Welcome back to the party!! 😉

    • Perhaps it’s my reverse point of view: to get the most out of the high resolution bodies, I find you have to use single AF because continuous will always jump a little; and I want to be 100% sure where to focus, so single point/ pinpoint and AF-S work just fine for me. Even the D850’s AF-C tracking isn’t infallible; sometimes it’s just off enough to be visible/annoying.

      Protect key: it’s on the ‘i’ menu again in playback, and it remembers your last choice as the first selection. So it’s still there, but as a two button operation.

      I personally have no problems using this for paying jobs (and wouldn’t have spent the money if that wasn’t the case); it’s close enough for me (and arguably, if it were too close it might not make the most of the strengths of mirrorless…)

      • To each his own 😉 I will look forward to the 2nd generation of Z thanks to your review.

        • Bryce Steiner says:

          Nikon made a mistake when not including the 2nd card slot. The second card slot isn’t there for when everything works. Just like “I don’t need an airbag. I’ve never had an accident.” The E-m1 Mark 2 has dual slots and it’s smaller than this camera. I’ve had too many card failures not to have an extra card slot and an extra camera with me. You just never know and clients do not put up with “you having to go back home”, or even worse, “Sorry, all the pictures I took were lost when the card died.”

          • Agree … the fact is both Canon and Nikon worked very hard and labored to produce a full frame mirrorless camera that was good but not too good, so as to mitigate the cannibalization of their DSLR line. The new FF Pan-Leica-Siggy and Sony’s answer to this full frame mirrorless season will force Canikon to come with the kitchen sink for the next generation lest they be laughed out of the room.

            • I sincerely hope that’s not the case – one of the reasons the Sony cameras are not intuitive as cameras is precisely because of that kitchen sink…more is not always better.

              • Well Sony only threw the kitchen sink at the A7 Mark III, every other Alpha came with incremental (and painfully so) improvements. It was not until the A7 III that we got a camera that was fully baked, so to speak, and at a fair price. I wonder if their spies new what was coming from Canikon and thus finally produced the most well rounded Alpha to date 😉

      • Derrick Pang says:

        Ming thanks for the informative review. I also echo your view about S-AF. C-Af seems to miss more than S-af. And I am talking about Sony PDaf system. But once we start using pin point S-Af, Panasonic cdaf system gives me the most reliable result. Though there are of course many occasions that cdaf trumps s-af.

        • I have a feeling it’s because while we have more focus pixels, the signal strength isn’t as good somehow as with the dedicated AF sensor and its larger focus pixels; maybe they need to be grouped for better accuracy. It isn’t the lens drive speed anymore; can’t be anyway since we are comparing the same lenses in this case (Nikon G on D850 vs Nikon G, FTZ on Z7).

          • Jack Pearson says:

            Maybe the processor is too slow to handle phase detection in continuous mode with the larger number of pixels on the image sensor. A slow processor would also explain the relatively low frame rate with 14-bit and AE.

            • PDAF only uses information from the PDAF sites, not all pixels. More likely is that in tracking mode you need enough duration to gather information to make accurate predictions – instantaneous observations do not really help wth long term extrapolation as much as longer observation. Pixel count does affect processing time for larger (i.e. 14 bit) files though.

              • Agree regarding photo sites. But how come Sony can handle high frame rate AF with AE in a mirrorless camera and Nikon can’t?

                • Probably for similar/related reasons to Sony not being able to handle high frame rates and maintain image quality/ bit rate, or get their ergonomics and menus right despite having one iteration every year…every company has their strengths/ weaknesses/ blindnesses…

  69. Thank god for a “Ming camera review” , boy have I missed these. 😀
    It seems(its actually pretty obvious) Nikon has opted for size. They put alot of effort in presenting the f1.8 primes. I hope they are as good as the marketing says. Surprised to hear about the quality of the zoom. Its really small , and frankly its pretty much all one might need. This lens could be a good idea for a fixed lens camera (or a 28-50 f2.8 – Zeiss I hope you are reading this).
    Hasselblad has us spoiled with color and transition/fall off/tonality. I’m not sure if smaller formats will catch up.
    Lots of new products (still no dedicated EVF solution for M lenses -_-). New Zeiss is 35mm , thats a bummer I would have thrown cash at it if it was 28mm other wise a very interesting camera.
    Maybe a Zeiss/Hasselblad collaboration ?!
    It was a crazy month and alot of new products thats why my train of thoughts may not seem not that much like a train 😀

    • The zoom isn’t that small once extended; the size benefits are for storage and balance. But still, better than one that does not! I don’t think you could put this in a fixed lens camera though, it’s still much too large.

      The M lens EVF solution is a Z7 and Novoflex adaptor – at least I plan for it to be for me 😉

      Zeiss/Hasselblad: it was one of the first things I tried to make work after joining. Sadly no dice.

      • Thank you for the effort. Your work at Hasselblad is very much appreciated.

      • So the first two things you tried to make work were

        1) Hasselblad / Zeiss collaboration
        2) 6×6 digital back

        I think I can see where you were going with these 😀

        Great shame if you are no longer working with HB.

        • Not in the direction you’d think, but that only makes it a bigger pity I think…

          • Wonder if we’ll ever find out.

            Btw, have you noticed that the Nikon Zeee has a AF Microadjustment setting?

            It does indeed work with all lenses and fine tunes the AF. Only issue is that it shouldn’t even be needed since this is a mirrorless camera and the manual is exactly the same for that function as their D850. Could it be that Nikon forgot to remove the function from their menu?

            • The AF micro adjust option was mentioned in both the review ad discussed in an earlier comment. The hypothesis is that it’s to provide adjustment if there’s sensor nonplanarity that could affect PDAF effectiveness, but only an average compensation across the sensor since there’s no L-R bias, and it wouldn’t really tilt the focal plane anyway.

              • Must’ve missed that part.

                My guess is that Nikon may have actually forgotten to remove that from the menu 😛

                • Nope, I was hoping there were other things they’d forgotten to remove from the menu, but no dice. It’s definitely deliberately there…

                  • In other news, I just remembered the last time you could buy a Zeiss lens with a Hasselblad body, the HV. It even has the name V in the name and sensor is made by Sony.

                    A friend asked Nikon about the microadjustment thingie, Nikon simply said “it’s for PDAF”.

                    • That was a 100% sony rebrand: even the lens was just marketing under license. The last *real* Zeiss for Hasselblad was the ZV reissue line for the V series.

                  • Small update: Changing the AFMA on Sigma ART lenses via the Sigma USB Dock does not change anything for the Zee. It’ll ignore whatever Sigma has coded in and will grab AF just fine. Unless you mess it up with the AFMA on the menu. Then it’ll be messed up for any lens, be it Nikon, Sigma, native or adapted.

        • Steve Gombosi says:

          That would have been good news indeed.

  70. Avirup Dutt says:

    Hi Ming,
    Fantastic review. Particularly love the way you compare sensor colour characteristics. Looks like gen 2 of this will have caught up with d5 autofocus levels for sport.
    On an unrelated note are you still with Hasselblad?


  71. Ian McCurrach says:

    I have really enjoyed your review of the Z7 and it’s associated zoom based on direct experience and purchase. I have awaited substantial reviews of this quality , enlightened by masterfully crafted images, after my frustration with endless offerings on the web falling far short of the mark.
    I thoroughly enjoyed and was enlightened by your review of the BMW M2 also !
    Enjoy your well earned family holiday with your young child.
    A further donation is on its way.

    • Thank you! Perhaps it’s because few have had enough time with the camera? As I understand it isn’t shipping in all locations yet. (Or perhaps I’ve used and reviewed a lot of hardware in the past, plus I’m very familiar with the Nikons in particular…)

  72. Curtis Polk says:

    ” isn’t the second coming of sliced Jesus” – great line

  73. I’ll specifically go out to get a coffee and read this !

  74. I was out and about in Tokyo yesterday and made a point of seeing what everyone was carrying, camera-wise : a quick answer would be “Sony”. Tons of them. All over the place. Mainly the A series full frames (A7/S/R etc). Be interesting to see if Nikon (and indeed Canon) can make a dent in that. I wonder if their relatively late entry into the mirrorless market will see them playing catchup for a long period, or if they’ll hit the ground running? From your review it certainly sounds like they’ve done a good job on the camera itself. Now it’s down to their marketing teams and the notoriously fickle Japanese consumers.

    On a tangential topic, I presume Hasselblad don’t have any objection to one of their top employees reviewing a “competitor”‘s (although Nikon aren’t in the MF game at all, as far as I know) camera, even one which you bought yourself? As I have very little knowledge of how the camera industry works, I’d imagined that there’d be all this secrecy and whispered talk of “conflicts of interest”, nondisclosure agreements and secret handshakes 🙂

    • Sony made inroads into the early adopters with the first generation; some of the pros with the second, more with the third, and deep into video with the S models; the consumer market with the price drops on the normal A7 and the promise of FF/better/smaller. I suspect a lot of consumers don’t know any better, and a lot of pros are still frustrated – hopefully the Z7 and EOS R at least push Sony to improve the camera part, and Sony the spec of the others. As Iv’e said before, competition is good for everybody.

      Your tangential topic: no company operates in a vacuum. And knowledge of what other industry peers are doing well and can be applied to your own products (or not well and avoided) is extremely valuable. The head-in-the-sand mentality is what makes product uncompetitive and have obvious flaws. Come to think of it, I should put the Z7 on my next expense claim… 😛

    • Edmund Hawe says:

      Interesting. Japan has a relatively large camera enthusiast market with retirees who made the bulk of their wealth during Japan’s bubble period. I rarely see these people with anything other than a Canon or Nikon. Canon 5D most often, with matching 24-70 L lenses. I live in Osaka, but don’t frequent Tokyo so much, I wonder if these people you saw were tourists, as recent tourist numbers are through the roof. Perhaps I just don’t notice the Sonys as their a bit more inconspicuous.

      • There’s a slow shift, but I agree – for the most part the domestic market still seems to favour DSLRs for the older generation. The younger generation is all mirrorless – split between Olympus and Fuji; less so Sony. I wonder if this is a reflection on the camera’s cosmetics, too.

        • Edward, Ming… current 5.5 year resident in Tokyo (and a further 3 years back in 2004~06) here …. so observationally I’ve noticed.

          Older retirees tend to be Nikon DSLR users, rather than Canon DSLR. The slighter younger retirees tend to be more evenly split between Canon and Nikon DSLR.
          Plus, there is quite a significant number of retirees using Nikon/Canon/Leica/Hassy/… etc film cameras.
          There is also a smaller segment of them who’ve decided to downsize… and they all seem to be Olympus M4/3 cameras. Hardly ever see them using Fuji, Sony or Panasonic.

          The youngsters (30 or less) who decide to use cameras rather than their smartphone all seem to be Fuji, Olympus, with the odd smattering of Sony/Nikon thrown in. So, yeah, Ming, would agree with your assessment on the younger generation. I definitely think it’s the aesthetics of the camera’s that helps.

          30~50 year olds now seem to be an equal mix of Fuji, Canon, Nikon and Sony. Lens adapting folk, spending money on Leica, Zeiss etc are pretty much Sony only (there’s a few Fuji folk… including me for now, but you can’t count me as I’m not one of the natives 😉 )

          I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stills shooter here use Panasonic M4/3… it’s Olympus all the way…..

          As for the Chinese tourist masses …. they’re all rocking Sony A7(R) ! (and Leica’s ) 😀

          Ohhh, great review by the way.

          • Thanks for sharing your observations, Gavin. Until the Z7, the Sony platform was the best for adaptation. As for Chinese tourists…there was a long time they didn’t go to Japan at all; I guess they got over the cultural history and now want a piece of the hardware, too. But then again the mainlanders have always bought based on spec and price, and Sony hits both of those marks hard. Intangibles are less important for them…not just in cameras.

            • L. Ron Hubbard says:

              Chinese tourists form a veritable stampede into Japan. Dont think for a moment that Chinese people follow their government’s dictates. They are independent thinkers. I lived in China for 6+ years and flew to Japan several times per year to get away at times. The cost to fly to Kyoto or Tokyo was always well above industry average. $600 or more for a 2 hour flight! Always fully booked well in advance. Impossible to book during Chinese holidays as prices would exceed $1000 a ticket for that same 2 hour flight. Chinese people LOVE going to Japan. Further, once in Kyoto I’m often surrounded by Mandarin speakers. My 1-2 week getaway from China was often less than successful, as China followed me into Japan.

  75. Geoff Byers says:

    What a delight. Thanks for your nicely written piece. Thoughts re the 24-770 S lens were particularly interesting. It appears that Nikon’s claims for the new Z mount lenses aren’t all marketing puffery.

  76. I’m glad to see you reviewing Nikon products again, since I tried and for various reasons no longer use the X1D, GFX, Pentax K1, etc. The D850 is just about perfect IMO, but the shorter flange on the Z7 beckons to me and I have one on order. I still use a lot of the so-called Nikon exotics like the APO El Nikkor 105, the Nikkor “O” CRT, and so on.

    If I read you right, the Z7’s IQ and micro-contrast is equivalent to the D850, correct? Is this true for ISO 64 (which is what I use most) as well?

    If you can, I would appreciate a few words about how I might approach the eventual shorter flange adapters that will be coming that might give me more focus range for the manual exotics. I don’t care much about infinity focus, as I shoot close-up most all the time. Any thoughts on how to use this new mount for close-up and macro would be very much appreciated.

    • There were limitations on both my time and employment (and still the former), but this was interesting enough to warrant some thoughts – that, and I was tired of typing the same thing to dozens of people.

      The Z7’s IQ is for all intents and purposes as good as the D850 or better at all ranges as far as I can see (especially for JPEG).

      You just need more extension for macro – i.e. a longer flange than required to hit infinity. It’s unlikely there will be dedicated adaptors for this, so you’ll just have to use the Z-to-mount adaptor and then the mount native extension tubes. Novoflex has a lot of adaptors on the way, so I think you should be well covered. I’ve got M and C/Y on the way myself.

      • Greetings! I was looking for Sony A7 III and the upcoming Voigtlander 110/2.5 Macro APO but since the launch of Nikon Z-series, I’m hesitating… As a camera, Z-series feels more intriguing than the A7 series, but I’m still fascinated by that specific macro lens. I wonder if there’s any hope for Voigtlander releasing that lens for Z-mount as well…

  77. Alex Carnes says:

    Nice review, as usual! I must say I’m still puzzled as to why I don’t feel inclined to rush out and buy this camera. It’s probably because the image quality isn’t significantly better than the D850’s, so perhaps when they release a new version with an improved sensor I’ll get my hand in my pocket. That said, I’ve been shooting the D810 a lot recently, while my D850 is back at Nikon for repair and I have to say, the difference in image quality between those two is quite small. The D850’s better, but the difference doesn’t blow me away. I wonder just how much better 35mm image quality is going to get in the foreseeable future, without some major technological development…

    As you say though, that’s an impressive first FF mirrorless from Nikon. I’m most interested, however, in the new Panasonic camera… if Sigma can convert my existing Art lenses to L mount, and make some amazing new glass for the camera (have you seen that new 28/1.4 btw? I’m ordering one as soon as they become available!!) then that might tempt me away from Nikon.

    • You’ve just confirmed my last paragraph: ultimate IQ isn’t going to be the reason to buy this; it’s more an expansion of the shooting envelope so you can get more quality, more of the time. D810 vs D850 is much the same: you need to do everything just that little bit better/tighter (e.g. focus, shake) to see the difference. If conditions don’t allow for that, then improvements are limited to operational things like AF and ergonomics. Ultimately I think there’s actually a practical and similar limit to all formats handheld once light starts to require anything above base ISO – to be the subject of a better explained post in the future…

      Sigma/Leica/Panasonic: that body is NOT small. And Sigma tends to maximise its R&D spend by offering the same optics in every mount, so I think you’ll likely be able to get a lot of that glass for Nikon (F or Z), too. The 28 looks interesting but large; like Nikon’s own 28 it balances well on the D850 but not so much on the Z7. I’m more interested in adapting my GR 28/2.8 LTM to the Z7, or the Leica 28/1.4 ASPH M because of size.

      What happened to the D850?

      • Alex Carnes says:

        Indeed. I REALLY like the idea of not having to calibrate all those Sigma lenses though. It’s great that you CAN calibrate them, but it’s a real pain. As I’ve said before though, when I need critical focus I tend to be in live view, on a tripod, and focusing manually anyway, so still wonder how much I’d gain by switching to the Z7. Just slightly more accurate focus when shooting hand held I suppose, but it’d be a chuffin expensive way of achieving that!

        W.r.t. the Panasonic, it needs to be big if Sigma are making the lenses…! Speaking of 28mm lenses, the new Ricoh GR looks like a must as well. I got annoyed with mine filling with dust all the time so sold it and now really miss it.

        The D850 has a dead pixel on the rear screen so I sent it back before the warranty expires in a few weeks. They usually give the camera a good clean and check too so sent it in even though the dead pixel is hardly the end of the world! Once you’ve noticed these things they can really irk though.

        • There doesn’t seem to be any need to calibrate any lenses on the Z7 (as you’d expect from mirrorless); but the option is still there nevertheless (I can’t figure out why, actually). That said: more accurate focus is a big thing at higher resolutions, because if you’re even slightly off with the focal plane – you might as well throw away the resolution advantage.

          Dead pixel: agreed, annoying. Not major though, fortunately. I can’t believe it’s been around a year already!

          • Hi Ming – The reason for AFMA on an MILC is to account for potential lens decentering or mount tilting, which can affect the balance/phase of light reaching the alternately-masked PDAF pixels.

            • That doesn’t make sense – since you can only set a global value, surely it would affect each side of the sensor differently, making it possibly worse left/right or top/bottom? Unless the aim is to correct the middle only and leave the outside, which also seems to not address the fundamental issue.

              • Decentered lenses and tilted mounts can affect the phase differential in different magnitudes across the sensor, but there is no mechanism in the AFMA implementation to address this (for either DSLRs or MILCs), so arriving at a value is a compromise. You can actually detect this by tuning the center AF point vs extreme left/right peripheral points and comparing the resulting AFMA values – any differential on an MILC would be attributed to lens decentering and/or tilted mounts. For DSLRs there are additional possible causes for this differential, including mirror/sub-mirror and PDAF misalignments. For example, on the D800 “Left AF” issue you originally discovered there is a very large AFMA differential between the left AF points and the center/right AF points.

  78. Ahhh, I’ve so missed these reviews.

  79. I feel like congratulations are in order for your first real vacation: Enjoy! (Also, thanks for the review!)

  80. Pierre Lagarde says:

    Thanks a lot for this excellent review, as always. One of my friend been to a recent presentation at my place and have nearly all the same thoughts as you about this new product.
    I’ve been also trying the EOS R two days ago and to me, Nikon and Canon are on a similar boat. Looks like those cameras are fast, smooth, easy to use and well balanced either way. Of course, we all know the sensor is probably going further on the Nikon, but still, they all are the first serious mirrorless gears to me, at last.
    Thanks again for this “non-fanboy” review ;). Keep up.

    • No problem. If the Canon is anything like the G1X3, it gains exposure zebras over the Nikon; not sure if that is worth the IBIS tradeoff. The lenses for that system are enormous though!

      • plevyadophy says:


        Any idea why the Canon lenses are enormous?

        Stabilisation in lenses?

        Lens mount throat not as wide as the Nikon so lense designers have pack in lots of glass to work magic to get a half decent image projected on to corners of sensor?

        A combination of the above?

        Sorry for what may appear silly questions, but I have not been keeping up with what’s going as I have pretty much given up on photography.



        • My guess is spec choice: Nikon went for overall balance (f4 zooms, f1.8 primes) vs Canon’s all-out (f2 zooms, f1.2 primes). Both make sense but are really aimed at different purposes. Their body looks smoother and more ergonomic, though – much like say a 5DIV vs a D850…

      • Pierre Lagarde says:

        Well, only “enormous” lenses are the 50 1.2 and the 28-70 F/2, which I would qualify as “lenses for the show” ;). It’s quite understandable for the 28-70 F/2, considering constant aperture for that kind of zoom on a FF system, but I agree I find it less standard and usual on the 50mm even if it is a F/1.2 lens. 950gr vs 580gr, are they serious? Sure, I’m not in their target for that one.

        At the contrary, though, the RF 24-105mm F/4 is lighter and smaller than its EF counterpart (and overall, it looks better, it’s the evolution they should have done for the EF version 2, to my sense).
        Same for the RF 35mm 1.8 vs 35mm F/2 though I haven’t touch it yet (only specs sheet tells). So only the two “special” lenses are some kind of big. The rest is smaller and lighter.
        Frankly, I don’t really care about IBIS. To me, it’s just one more source of possible failure for the camera. I think it’s really questionnable for camera durability. I was even quite disappointed Nikon added it to their Z in fact. I think they could have made better use of the investment in that system… but well, I don’t really know what can be added to their Z in fact :D. Maybe they should have made it cheaper then without IBIS ;).

        • Most size gains are for wide lenses – this due to retrofocal groups etc. not being needed. As for IBIS – is rather have it than not; I don’t think durability is such an issue given the only moving part is the sensor, which is magnetically suspended. Alignment is more likely to be an issue – but even then if there are multiple axes this could easily be calibrated with an interferometer.

          • Pierre Lagarde says:

            … or be uncalibrated by usage. Makes me think : where did I puit my interferometer ? 😀 Just kidding.
            We won’t agree on IBIS, I really think it’s better not to have.
            For the lenses, I don’t think anyway 28-70 F/2 and 50 F/1.2 represent good examples of “common” lenses.
            The demonstrators explained themselves it was really to send a signal that Canon was serious about this new lineup (not sure this strategy can be useful but, that’s what they said).
            The fact that the kit lens is lighter and smaller is far more significant to me, and I guess for most who would buy into a new system.
            I’m also more concerned about Canon building a smaller 50mm F/1.8 than Nikon, anyway. For me, having a bulky 415g 50mm F/1.8 (a known best seller in most lineups) is far worst than showing a 50mm F/1.2 that only few will be using.
            Same goes for the 35mm F/1.8. The one from Canon is smaller, lighter and cheaper. All this sounds really better to me.
            We will see. Anyway, I’m not ready to buy into neither of those new systems. I still far prefer OVF, and my next move will be for lenses, not camera… and it will be Nikon ones :D.

            • Canon: fair points. And a decent midrange zoom is more important/ useful than most people care to admit, I think. I’ll confess to having a strong preference for them myself – the 24-120/4 VR in F mount, the 35-90 for Hasselblad and the 12-60/2.8-4 Panasonic and 12-100/4 Olympus on M4/3. It makes even more sense when the overall remit of the system is meant to be smaller and lighter.

              ‘Regular’ SLR 50/1.8s are consumer lenses built to cost compromises; this also keeps size down when you reduce the number of corrective elements. I suspect that Nikon has built this as a high performance lens rather than an economy one; also, have you seen the new 50/1.4s released by other brands these days? Even the Sigma Art. They make the 55 Otus look moderate in size (and that was considered a behemoth). I think this is simply the new normal required for lenses that people are expecting will perform with the even higher resolution sensors they demand (and let’s not even talk about the shot discipline required to extract that performance).

              • Pierre Lagarde says:

                Agreed about midrange zooms, I also think Nikon got it right with its new very light 24-70 F/4.
                So let’s hope Nikon will make a consumer version of this 50mm 1.8, but it sounds strange though to have two different versions. Or maybe their signal is that Z lineup is mainly designed for pros. Some kind of ambivalence here.
                What’s funny, is that the combination of Nikon 50mm 1.8G + FTZ adapter is nearly 100gr lighter ;). So yes, you probably have the right explanation.
                A friend of mine went to the Z presentation (we shared the work, he’s been a Nikon user for much more a long time than me ;)) and told me that lenses + FTZ works also very well, at least as well as they do on SLRs. So it can be a good solution if you want something not too heavy and cheaper overall. Tough, I guess the quality of this new Z lens is superior to AF-S + FTZ adapter.
                I’ve tried myself the 50 1.8 STM with adapter on EOS-R and it’s as slow as it is on SLR (:D), and the results looks also equal as far as I have been able to evaluate.
                Anyway, thanks for the information about the Sigma art, missed it.

                • I’m expecting a big difference in quality between the 50/1.8 Z and the 1.8/1.4Gs – the latter are fairly conventional optical designs that only hit peak a couple of stops down; the 1.8Z is supposedly coma-free and sharp wide open…at least I’d hope so at the price. I don’t expect any different performance on existing lenses – there shouldn’t be, given the adaptor is simply a tube to attain the correct flange distance.


  1. […] series was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70/4 S, 50/1.8 S and my custom SOOC JPEG […]

  2. […] series was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70/4 S, 50/1.8 S and my custom SOOC JPEG […]

  3. […] series was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70/4 S, 50/1.8 S and my custom SOOC JPEG […]

  4. […] series was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70/4 S, 50/1.8 S and my custom SOOC JPEG […]

  5. […] series was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70/4 S, 50/1.8 S and my custom SOOC JPEG […]

  6. […] series was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70/4 S, 50/1.8 S and my custom SOOC JPEG […]

  7. […] series was shot with mostly a Nikon Z7, AF-S 70-200/4 VR and my color SOOC profile; there are a few other singles from other cameras I had […]

  8. […] series was shot with an Olympus Pen F, 12-60/2.8-4 and Nikon Z7, AF-S 70-200/4 VR and MT’s special sauce in-camera monochrome JPEG […]

  9. […] series was shot with a Nikon Z7, AF-S 70-200/4 VR and MT’s special sauce in-camera monochrome JPEG […]

  10. […] shot with a Nikon Z7/24-70 and D850/70-200/4, and post processed with The Monochrome Masterclass […]

  11. […] shot with a Nikon Z7 and 24-70, and post processed with The Monochrome Masterclass workflow. There are also one or two camera […]

  12. […] it fits in my arsenal. Think of it as an extended field test, and perhaps more important than the initial review that people seem to expect me to produce within hours of a camera’s announcement. Truth is, […]

  13. […] shot with a Nikon Z7 and 24-70, and post processed with Photoshop Workflow III. There are also a couple of camera JPEGs thrown in […]

  14. […] set was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70 S and processed with Photoshop Workflow III and the Monochrome […]

  15. […] Today’s thoughts on the Z6 should be thought of as an accompaniment to my Z7 review and are courtesy of the man behind the scenes and one of the partners in my watch venture, […]

  16. […] → Nikon Z7 review by Ming Thein: […]

Thoughts? Leave a comment here and I'll get back to you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: