Guest review: the 2018 Nikon Z6

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MT: 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, Praneeth Rajsingh, who’s the one keeping me organised and pointing in the right direction these days. I tried to get him to buy the Z7, but he knows his sufficiency threshold…

Hello! While I’m usually involved behind the scenes, Ming thought it might be interesting to have me share my thoughts on the new Nikon Z6 – which I recently acquired. As an amateur photographer who only buys gear to meet his needs (and budget), my review will not be the comprehensive and in-depth coverage that MT excels at, but I hope some of you find it useful.

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While I’ve shot a wide variety of content in the past, these days I primarily shoot watches (I’m also involved in MT’s horological venture) and casually document daily life. I also carry my camera all the time – in my daybag or briefcase. This is partly to get myself to shoot more and because you never know when you’ll find a great setting for some watch-related content. Given these conditions, my primary requirements in a camera are a) a small footprint, b) a good JPEG engine, c) good in-camera stabilization or good high ISO performance and d) a compact(ish), Swiss-knife lens solution that could double up as a documentary lens and also focus fairly close-up (to shoot watches). Of course, other factors like high ISO performance, AF speed and accuracy, reliability, haptics etc. affect the final decision but I need a tool that can get the job done.

My previous solution was the Olympus E-M1 Mark II which definitely had a small footprint and a decent JPEG engine (though not as good as the PEN-F), but I didn’t have a single lens solution – the 12-100/4 was simply too bulky and expensive. While I did eventually find a lens that works, the Panasonic 12-60/2.8-4, it turned out to cost the same as trading in my Micro Four Thirds gear for the Nikon Z6. The Olympus’ IBIS, particularly as found in the E-M1.2, is exceptional and is unparalleled in my experience. I’ve been able to shoot smooth video handheld at 360mm effective focal length! In addition, the new 20MP sensor has much better high-ISO performance than the previous 16MP one and AF performance on the camera was never an issue.

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However, there were a few things that I didn’t like and annoyed me enough to keep looking at alternatives. Firstly, I’ve found that the red channel clips far too quickly and warm tones are rendered strangely. Not sure if this is an Olympus colour profile issue, a Micro Four Thirds sensor issue or a me issue but I spent way too much time on the HSL tool trying to make skin tones look natural. We are also lucky to enjoy some really fantastic sunsets at the office, but the Olympus never had enough dynamic range and often left me wanting more. While the high ISO performance is better than in the E-M5 Mark II, colour is only useable up to ISO3200 (6400 if you don’t have weird lighting, have fairly subdued colours and really really need to take the shot).

Ergonomically, the E-M1.2 didn’t work for me either. There were too many buttons, and they always seemed to be in the wrong position. The right-hand side D-ring for the camera strap also had a tendency to dig into your hand. Haptics are a personal preference and possibly heavily influenced by my exclusive use of Nikon bodies before this – but it was a constant itch that affected camera usage. I’m sure this will attract some criticism, but I’ve found that there is some correlation between how often I pick up a camera and how much I like it as a tactile object. It’s a luxury I can afford to indulge in as an amateur.

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After looking at MT’s experience with the Nikon Z7 and trying it out for myself, I bit the bullet and ordered the Z6 (the full kit with 24-70/4Z and FTZ converter), which I’ve been using for a couple weeks now. Unfortunately, there is still no ACR support (as of 5 December 2018) for the Z6’s RAW files, so all the images in this review were processed as JPEGs. Luckily, the Z6 has a great JPEG engine but I’ll get to that a bit later.

For those of you wondering why I didn’t get a Z7 instead: a) I didn’t need the increased resolution and b) I couldn’t justify the difference in cost.

Overall system footprint (body, lenses, batteries, cables and ancillaries) is smaller for the Z6 than it was for the EM1.2. This was my first surprise. Thanks to the ability to transfer files and charge the camera over USB-C, the fantastic battery life on the new EN-EL15b and downsizing to a single lens – I’ve saved a lot of room in my daybag/briefcase.

Note: This may not be the case depending on what lenses and other ancillaries you use. What isn’t subjective however, is that the dimensions of both camera bodies are nearly identical (134 x 91 x 67 mm for the E-M1.2 vs 134 x 101 x 68 mm for the Z6). I’m still quite surprised by this given that the Z6 has a FX sensor and in-camera stabilization.

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If you line the Z6 and Z7 next to each other, the only thing that gives away their individual identities is the little plaque to the bottom right of the lens mount. That tiny detail aside, the design and build quality are completely identical as far as I can tell. Therefore, for a more detailed overview of the construction quality, weather sealing and other ergonomic or physical attributes, allow me to direct you to MT’s Z7 review here.

Ergonomically, the camera works for me, and my only real complaint is with the placement of the exposure compensation button and the sensitivity of the AF joystick on the back. I would prefer to have the video recording and exposure compensation buttons swapped. While I don’t find the position of the joystick to be an issue, the centre button to function is very position/angle sensitive so I often end up moving AF point selection instead of returning it to centre. Admittedly, they’re small issues in the grand scheme of things and is an improvement over the Olympus. What I do miss from the Olympus is the ability to select AF points using the rear LCD. Given the sheer number of AF points available, the joystick or buttons are too slow and using only half the AF points (which the camera can be set up for) feels like leaving a lot on the table. I hope that Nikon implements this in a future firmware update.

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There is one small detail of the Z6 that stood out to me and I feel is worth pointing out. When turned off, the Z6 seems to lock the sensor in place, so that it doesn’t rattle and move freely. In my experience, both the Leica Q and Olympus E-M1.2 have this rattle and while I have no way to know for sure, I suspect that the lack of this might help with the longevity of the stabilization components.

Speaking of in-camera stabilization, I never expected the Z6 to match the Olympus in the numbers of stops of stabilization available. I don’t see how it’s possible when you have a bigger sensor in a similar sized package. In practice, this has proved to be correct. Though the advantage of the E-M1.2 is not as high as I had expected. I wonder if part of this has to do with pixel density – a 24MP FX sensor has much bigger pixels than a 20MP Micro Four Thirds sensor and more margin before shake is noticeable.

Where the Z6 does pull ahead of the E-M1.2 (or even the Z7 for that matter, it seems) is high ISO performance. I have no concerns shooting colour up to ISO25600, which is comfortably ahead of the Olympus’ ISO3200 limit. Once I factor in the gains in high ISO performance against the less effective stabilization, I’ve found that the Z6 has a larger shooting envelope than the E-M1.2.

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All of this brings us to the question of image quality. As mentioned earlier, ACR support for Z6 RAW files is still not available so I’ve been editing and using the JPEG files. The JPEG engine and ability to fine tune profiles is on par with my E-M1.2 (though not as good as the PEN-F). In a pinch, I find that I’m able to use SOOC JPEGs for both colour and monochrome but given the time, I still end up making local adjustments by dodge & burn or a small curve. Colour profile will be familiar to Nikon users, and I’m glad I don’t have to spend so much time messing about with the red channel anymore.

With proper initial setup and careful exposure, the JPEGs will get you most of the way there and cut down the amount of time spent in Photoshop (or Lightroom) significantly. All my JPEG’s are recorded in Nikon JPEG Fine * (star) setting which seems to have very little compression over the RAW files. This might explain the latitude I’ve had in editing the JPEGs and why I rarely find myself missing the RAW files.

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For those of you still reading, you’ll recall that in addition to a small form factor, good JPEG engine and stabilization or high ISO performance, I was also looking for a compact single lens solution. The 24-70/4Z is the ideal candidate – it covers most of the focal lengths I use for social documentary and the long end can focus close enough to shoot wristshots and other watch-related content. I no longer have to carry a dedicated macro lens and a couple of primes with me anymore.

Being limited to f4 may have been a hinder in the past, but with in-body stabilization plus the high-ISO performance of the Z6, I have yet to find myself in need of a faster lens. I do have other glass for the camera – specifically a modified Contax 85/2.8, the Voigtlander 180/4 APO, the Nikon 50/1.8G and the Nikon 105/2.8 Micro but these are used only when I’m shooting seriously and have need of them.

The 24-70/4Z is a good lens with minimal CA, well controlled flare, quiet and smooth bokeh. What impressed me most, was how compact the entire thing is and how ergonomically balanced and matched it is to the Z6. However, the lens does have two issues that I’ve noticed (both in mine and MT’s samples) – the first is distortion at the wide end, which is not entirely surprising and can be corrected once you know what to look for. The second is field curvature at long distances, which MT noted on his Z7 review. The second issue is something I would not have noticed for a long time if not for MT pointing it out and wanting to test my sample to check for sample variance.

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AF with the 24-70/4Z and 105/2.8 Micro (via FTZ adaptor) has been reasonably quick and accurate. I haven’t felt like the AF speed of the Z6 was ever a bottleneck, but most of my applications aren’t as sensitive or reliant on AF speed. Accuracy is great since the camera focuses on the sensor plane. I have a higher hit rate with the 50/1.8G (via adaptor) on the Z6 than I did on the D610 for example.

MF on legacy or exotic glass is also much better. The Z6 has the best EVF I’ve ever used and Nikon thankfully has included focus peaking (though they, frustratingly, left out highlight peaking). While manual focus is better than with traditional dSLRs, I still find that I have to focus rack to nail exposure – especially when using something like the 55 Otus or the 180/4 APO. When peaking sensitivity is set to High or Normal, the camera tends to give you false positives and when set to Low, it sometimes doesn’t peak even when in focus.

This is an added bonus and not one that I set out looking for in the first place, but the Z6 is better suited (than the E-M1.2) to adapt non-native glass – thanks to the slightly taller and deeper grip. I’m excited at the prospect of experimenting with some exotic, non-native glass. Based on the few lenses I’ve tested with MT so far, I would also recommend the Z6 over the Z7 if you intend to use a lot of older lenses; the 24.5MP sensor is more forgiving of optical flaws than the 45.7MP one.

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To try and wrap things up, what I found in the Z6 and enjoy is how well-rounded it is as a camera. I retain most of the advantages from the Olympus (smaller size, IBIS, EVF and focus peaking) and gain the advantage from the latest generation FX sensors (high ISO performance, dynamic range) in a familiar package (Nikon UI, button layout and colour profile). It seems that Nikon has been studying the competition and, while it may have been late to the playing field, it’s definitely not ill-equipped.

I can’t make a blanket recommendation on whether one should upgrade to the Z6 from a D750, D610, Olympus E-M5 Mark II or E-M1 Mark II (or any other camera). If your camera use and requirements are similar to mine, then it’s an easy yes. But if you have other considerations – I hope you find the information here useful in making a decision.

The Nikon Z6 in various combinations is available here from B&H or Amazon. As usual, referral purchases cost you nothing extra but do help support the costs of running the site.

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Images and content copyright Praneeth Rajsingh 2018 onwards. All rights reserved

Comments

  1. Hi Praneeth,
    This is one of the best reviews I read for the z6. Any chance to see an updated version with the raw files? firmware update?

    • Praneeth Rajsingh says:

      Thanks Robert – glad you found the review helpful! To be honest, I don’t think my usage of the camera justifies a separate article to cover the FW update, but I’ll include some thoughts below.

      RAW quality: Files are, as expected, very malleable. I never find myself wishing the files had more headroom during post processing, but I also never push my files beyond 2 stops in either direction. The E-M1.2 seemed to suffer from some brittleness – weird artefacts and noise – when you push the RAW files in post.

      FW Update: The only update which I’ve really made us of is Eye-AF. It works as advertised but I haven’t stress tested it as I still find myself shooting faster with S-AF and manual placement of the AF dot. I know MT was quite satisfied with the Eye-AF on his Z7 for casual and social situations where you want to work quickly and quietly.

  2. Hi Praneeth,

    This is a great review and I took pleasure reading it. Any chance to see an update on the raw quality?
    Thanks

    • Praneeth Rajsingh says:

      Thanks Fred!

      RAW quality: In my experience the files are very malleable and can be easily pushed up to 2 stops in either direction. They don’t have the brittleness of the E-M1.2 – where I seemed to get weird artefacts and noise when you start pushing the RAW files around. I haven’t experienced any of the banding that the Z6 took flak for but I also don’t push my files beyond 2 stops (and even that is a rare exception).

      I will say that the JPEG engine, especially with a custom profile (I use a modified version of Ming’s Z7 profile) is *very* good. I shoot RAW+JPEG these days and tend to use the SOOC JPEG files for my social documentary and casual photography work.

      • Thanks Praneeth! Using the orignal EM.1, and knowing its limitations, I must confess that the z6 is really an interesting system.

  3. Danny Hansen says:

    Hi Praneeth.
    The last picture with the artisan, is it jpeg sooc ? Taken with the 24-70f4 ? It is really good looking, the b/w almost looks like sephia.
    Thank you.
    Best Regards
    Danny

    • Praneeth Rajsingh says:

      Hi Danny – that picture was JPEG using the 24-70 but I did have one curve in PS to get the right contrast. However, with MT’s new Z7/Z6 profile, you can get the same result SOOC as well. Side note/trivia for the day: the subject of that picture is actually MT himself. 🙂

    • Robert Rowe says:

      Hi Praneeth-

      Your review and images are fascinating and wonderful. Combined with Ming’s Z7 review, this is the best practical Z system examination I have seen, with superb writing. Have you found that the AA filter on the Z6 noticeably degrades fine detail or overall sharpness, both in your product images and your general shooting? I’ve read that the AA filter is rather “strong” in the Z6. Like you, I do not really have a need for more pixels, and like the idea of more dynamic range and low-light latitude the Z6 offers vs. the Z7 for landscapes and cityscapes at twilight. I just would hate to lose much fine detail in the bargain. The Fuji X-H1 (similar res., no AA filter, with IBIS, a bit heavier?) is tempting as an alternative, but the Z6 I understand would offer one to two stops better low-light, high-ISO performance. I wonder if you looked into the Fuji X system as you migrated away from the Olympus, and if you did, what deterred you.

      Also, are you and Ming interested in the forthcoming Nikkor 14-30mm f4 S zoom lens? This looks like another amazing compact zoom for the Z system that would suit my amateur travel photography needs–I would love to hear your follow-up thoughts when you get some experience with it.

      I too would be delighted to see your by-line more frequently. Thanks again for your insights.

      Robert

      • Praneeth Rajsingh says:

        Hi Robert – glad you found the review useful and interesting to read.

        AA filter: my previous Nikon (the D610) had an AA filter, while the Olympus E-M1.2 did not. I don’t think a comparison between the Oly and the Z6 is useful as it’s hard to isolate just the effect of the AA filter. But compared to the D610, I don’t feel any worse off in terms of sharpness or fine detail. I’ve found that slightly more aggressive sharpening in post can offset any softness from the AA filter pretty well.

        Fuji: I personally don’t enjoy the Fuji haptics and didn’t like the early X-Trans sensors. I haven’t found a reason to give them a try in recent years either, so I can’t offer a useful comparison between the X-H1 and the Z6.

        14-30: It holds little appeal for my use – I tend to gravitate towards longer focal lengths (50mm or higher) so the 24-70 should be sufficient for my wide angle needs. Not sure if MT is considering it actually, but I suspect he would prefer a wide prime (20/1.8 or 28/1.8) instead or would use his 19-PCE via the FTZ.

        • I’m waiting for the fast wides for lower light documentary style work; I don’t tend to use very wide lenses much at all (especially not without perspective correction).

  4. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    What I am enjoying most about this – and it’s not just this post, this discussion, that I mean – is that the introduction of these Canon and Nikon mirrorless cams have impacted elsewhere.
    When the D850 was introduced, effectively only 15 months ago (when shipments first started), the price here was well over AUD$5,000. Like many of the comments here, I was as much impressed (or rather unimpressed) by what Nikon had NOT done, as I was by the new features. But still it was tantalising, because it did improve all sorts of things, and many happy early acquirers were deliriously happy with it. So I’ve kept thinking about it, while I went off and did other things.
    But now, all of a sudden, there are fantastic bargains to be had, and I’m very sorely tempted. I suspect that I could get one now, for around AUD$1,500 after cashbacks and trade-in. Hmmm. Of course it’s never quite that simple, because there are always other things – like the memory cards, the card holders, a new L-bracket, etc. – and XQD cards ain’t cheap!

    • The D850 is patently uninnovative and unexciting, I agree – yet I bought one at introduction. Why? Because it’s also probably the most complete and developed of any camera right now; it just works with no surprises or restrictions and does exactly what you expect/ask of it. This is surprisingly rare, and moreso with a high level of performance. In an uncertain situation (at least for now), I’ll still reach for the D850 if there’s the possibility of requiring AF tracking. At least they still give you two cards, and the second one isn’t CFAST 😉

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Read some comments recently on cards that make me think the future of XQD cards might be a bit uncertain – Sony make them, nobody else does, and Nikon is the only major user – on the D500, the D850 and whatever. CFAST is allegedly sneaking up on them – I wonder – and apparently a minor software upgrade to relevant cams will enable the use of CFAST cards (as well? – or instead? – who’s to know, until they do it!) Oh well both my Niks will need them if I buy the D850 – it’s making a lot of sense to do it – and I guess I deal with that by simply stocking up now, on XQD cards. A bit of stability and interchangeability with camera gear would not do any harm!

        • Praneeth Rajsingh says:

          It wouldn’t surprise me if in 5 years we end up with a bunch of XQD cards and no cameras that use them. Storage medium has been constantly evolving and while some last longer than other (SD and CF), they’re all bound to become obsolete sooner or later. The good news is that XQD isn’t as shockingly expensive as it used to be (and in Malaysia at least, both the Z6/Z7 come with a free XQD reader and 32GB XQD card included).

          My worry – in the long term is not the storage medium but file formats and support. Given how prevalent RAW files, even proprietary ones, are, I hope there’ll be conversion options should we ever move to newer file formats in the future.

          • I’ve got a bunch of CF cards that I don’t have a camera for now…

            File formats: so far, Adobe has never removed support for anything. But we save finished files as TIFF or JPEG anyway, and I can’t see those leaving us anytime soon…

            • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

              I take it you mean compact flash, Ming – I have a bunch of them too, for which I have no further use. Only fitted one of my cams, and it’s now been replaced by the later model. Mostly money down the drain – sigh!

        • CFAST has different pins: you need to have the physical hardware. On top of that, it’s a LOT more expensive than XQD for similar capacities and speeds – learned that the hard way with the H6D-100c, which needs CFAST and enormous ones to manage 250MB+ raw files…

          After a while you just land up with so many cards of each type it’s not really an issue. Or you just use the ubiquitous SD slot…

  5. I will not agree with most comments about EM1 II. I have A7 III and EM1 II now and I tend to prefer EM1 II mostly thanks to better ergonomy and with 12-100mm this couple just works. I sold my XT3 (for not having too many systems) 2 weeks ago. Before that I tried to decide which to get rid of and m43 was the winner.
    You probably haven’t tried 12-40mm f2.8 or 12-35mm f2.8 lenses either. They are quite tiny for what they are and can be used at f2.8 at all focal lengths which gives you 1 stop advantage (to balance the sensor performance difference to some extent).
    Anyway, what I mean is your comments about EM1 II and m43 system look slightly unfair.
    On the other hand, I am thinking to sell A7 III due to bad ergonomy and horrible menus. Z6 and 24-70mm will probably be my choice as FF system.

    • You won’t get any disagreements about the ergonomic shortcomings of the A7 here…

    • Praneeth Rajsingh says:

      As MT mentioned, you won’t get any disagreements with regards to the Sony A7 (and subsequent generations) from our end. I did evaluate the Sony along with the E-M1.2 and like yourself, chose the Olympus. However, for my needs and preferences, the Z6 just works better than the Olympus.

  6. Delightful read! Well written and interesting.

    I mainly use Nikon CX, DX, and FX cameras, but the only mirrorless I have are the Nikon 1 ones, but I suspect I will join the Z gang one day. My wife uses m43 (the newest is an E-M10 II) and uses mostly Panasonic lenses, plus the lovely 75 and the 12, and the 60 from Olympus, plus a couple from other sources. She also uses a Nikon 1 J5 with the fantastic 70-300 CX (just as me!).
    When there are more lenses to choose from, and maybe lenses from a third party, say Cosina, or Sigma, then it will be even more interesting!

    • Praneeth Rajsingh says:

      Thanks! I remember considering one of the Nikon 1’s as a potential body for birding. Adapted to an older MF 500/4, you get more reach that you know what to do with. But MF severely limits the kind of wildlife shots you can get and I never quite got along with the camera.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        That’s why I bought the Nikon D500, Praneeth. My 70-200 is a wild 105-300 on that beast – the camera is exactly “right”, to hold and use – and if I plug the SIGMA 150-600 into it, with a 1.4X teleconverter, the effective focal length is 1.26 metres! It’s staggering!
        Not for everyday use – although I have tried that, with the 70-200 on the D500 – that combo is OK hand held (for a while – LOL)

        • Praneeth Rajsingh says:

          I’m surprised you still have sufficiently quick AF with the Sigma 15-600 on a 1.4X TC. For a short while, I had the Tamron 150-600 and recall that the AF (on a D610) used to hunt quite a bit at the long end

          A preferred combo of mine when I used to photograph birds actively was a D7000 + Nikon 300/4. I’d assume that a similar combo is even better these days with the D500 and the smaller, lighter 300/4 PF (which also has VR!).

          • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

            I must have misled you a little, Praneeth – the Nikkor 70-200 (AKA105-300, on the D500) is fine for moving subjects. The SIGMA is more suited to stationary ones, although it does work with moving subjects – best done on a tripod, with a gimbal head, though.

  7. Jörg Burmeister says:

    Nice article!
    3 things refrain me from buying a Z.
    – Though it is now technically possible Nikon did not come out with even one single lens (like a 1.2/35 or a 1.1/50) which can motivate owners of an actual DSLR to buy a Z. So, as the owner has to wait for such lenses, there is no unique selling point – at the moment one cannot shoot pictures which look different compared to those taken with a D750.
    – It is quite disappointing that there is only one slot for a XQD card, which is uncommon and quite expensive. A second card slot is a must for many professionals.
    – CAF not yet on the level of a D850/D5

    Lat but not least: Voigtländer should build a 40mm f1.2 Nocton for the new mount…

    For sure Nikon will correct this with the next generation. So no need to hurry.
    Beyond that I agree that the Z6 ist impressive and, compared to the Z7 IMHO the much better buy!

    • It’s a new system. There’s full compatibility with an existing system while they fill out the line, but actually the 24-70 is a good enough reason – there’s no F equivalent to this. There’s also the forthcoming 58/0.95, but I think that’s completely impractical in size, weight and cost and rather defeats the point of the Z system. In the history of every new system it’s taken the manufacturer a while to complete the line, and they always start with the most popular/ easiest to sell lenses first – otherwise the majority will complain they didn’t make anything useful!

      Arguably unless you change format it’s pretty difficult to shoot pictures that look different to a D750 since there’s pretty much every lens you can ever want in F mount.

      Agreed on CAF for the Z7, though I have not tested the Z6 extensively and it’s using a different sensor – so the tracking performance may be different.

      I must be an amateur then, since I never use the second card slot… 🙂

      • Jörg Burmeister says:

        You are not a wedding photographer (lucky guy!).
        It is not about actually using a second card slot, it´s more about having one for redundant file saving. Those who ever lost a job by a card damage want to sleep better in futur. They would never again buy a camera with only one slot. A crying couple can be very convincing…

        Another fact surprised me with the Z lenses: The NIKKOR Z 50 mm 1:1,8 S is both, bulkier and heavier (more expensive as well) than a AF-S NIKKOR 50 mm 1:1,4G.

        • You get what you pay for – with memory cards and lenses. The 50/1.4 G isn’t that good (I find the 1.8G superior in a lot of ways) – and the Z 50 is much better than either. It’s a much more complex and highly corrected optical design than the double gauss 50/1.4 G…

        • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

          Only ever got caught with a bung card once, Jörg – and I was damn glad I had a dual card camera, even though the second slot was only JPEG and I was shooting RAW at the time. I’ve been avoiding single slot cams ever since! – “once bitten” is enough for an entire lifetime, twice is simply stupid.

      • Really good point re: 24-70 f4S. I traded my D800 with 24-70 2.8G for the Z6 with adaptor plus 24-70 f4S because a) I have the D850 for hi-res and anything paid and b) I wasn’t using the 24-70 2.8 for events enough to need 2.8, but more for travel where I prefer the smaller Z6 and 24-70 f4 and the benefits of in-body VR. If I had the extra cash, I would have gone with the Z7, so for me going Z was definitely influenced by the performance and benefits of the ‘kit lens’ and system as it is now

        • I think your pair makes sense though – comparing with Praneeth’s camera, the Z6 seems to have an extra stop or two over the Z7 in envelope between less sensitivity to motion due to lower resolution and the sensor itself. The D850 remains for resolution work. I needed a bit more of a matched pair or single body solution, so I went with the Z7.

          • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

            Am I to understand from that – ie trading in the D800 (which is remarkably similar tot he D810, in many ways) that the resolution of the D850 is much higher? Right now, I’m teetering – I have an opportunity for a limited period to pick up a new D850 from an authorised Nikon dealer, for far less than the normal list price, but I also have the D810 (which I’d trade in, to help defray the cost of the D850). Those who have the D850 seem to rave about it. I’d lose a small amount, in terms of dealing with low light/available light shots, but not much. I’d gain a tilt screen (which at my age is more use than I would have imagined, 10 or 20 years back). Your candid comments, about what else, Ming?

    • Martin Fritter says:

      Voightlander 40/1.2 is a very nice lens!

      And this is a very nice review or article. Informal. Excellent pictures.

  8. Well written and practical views.
    I love picture #4, but I still haven’t figured it out!!

    • Praneeth Rajsingh says:

      Thanks Harry!

      Picture #4 is a glass wall that’s reflecting the pool and trees behind me while also showing through the drop-off lobby and security guard on the other side. Lighting and arrangement of elements is critical for a shot like this – making it a very low yield exercise.

  9. Hi Praneeth

    Your photos and writing style are excellent and certainly are not out of place on MT’s excellent site. I would be happy to see more of your reviews in the future.

    A quick question – in terms of IQ, how do you rate the Panasonic 12-60 against the Nikon 24-70/4?

    Grateful for your thoughts.

    • Praneeth Rajsingh says:

      Thanks Adam! Based on my limited time testing the Panasonic 12-60, I’d say it’s a fantastic all rounder. If I still had the E-M1.2, I’d be using that as my single lens solution.

      And FWIW, it’s made it to MT’s recommended gear list as well. 😉

      • Thanks! If you are bored one day, it would be nice to see a collection of your shots with the EM-1ii on this blog. Just saying…

  10. Adobe has just added Z6 support to Lightroom Classic CC 8.1 and Photoshop CC 2019 20.0.1, FYI.

    • Praneeth Rajsingh says:

      Thanks, just downloaded the ACR update last night. Will update this review after I’ve had a chance to check out the RAW files as well.

  11. Hi Praneeth
    Nice to meet you, a nice team are you threesome (or more?). You are too modest, your essay and images are excellent.
    Myself, I took a long time to take the plunge and buy a mirrorless. Mostly because of the EVF. I tried – a couple of generations ago – I think it was an Olympus Pen 3 or something, but the viewer was nothing for me then. Also, I just wanted to stay with FF as long as I can carry it (MF is simply too expensive too).
    I liked your review; not too technical, but still factual and above all, from the point of view of a practicing photographer, not a geek longing for a feature, otherwise condemning the camera just to show off his “Knowledge”. Very nice, as ever on this site.
    Sadly (pun), your review comes too late; Unboxing of my Z7 took place this morning and well, yes, I must stop here and leave, have a lot to do / play with my Z7. 🙂
    Best regards, Robert

    • Praneeth Rajsingh says:

      Thanks Robert! I help out with some back of the house editorial and admin work now and then – happy to leave most of the content creation to MT and Robin.

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the review and congratulations on the new camera! Let me know how you get along with it. 🙂

      I haven’t been shooting long enough to say I actively resisted mirrorless in its early days, but I used to shoot a lot of wildlife (birds mostly) and even a camera like the original E-M1 didn’t have sufficiently fast AF or native lens choices. This coupled with poor high-ISO performance kept me off the mirrorless bandwagon until 2016. And now it looks like mirrorless is finally reaching maturity.

  12. Lovely images Praneeth. I also think you have done well reviewing this wonderful camera.

  13. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I’d stay away from giving people recommendations as to what they should buy, Praneeth – you’ll get drowned in a flood of opinions. Just give your views and any information you can add, and let them do their own research & make their own decisions! 🙂
    I must say I am impressed with the quality of the images. That’s a compliment directed at the photographer, not the cam! 🙂
    As to this vexed and difficult question of pixel counting, I’m with you – I have 4 cams, operating under all sorts of different pixel counts, and for what I use them for, they all provide perfectly acceptable prints. In another forum, I’ve made it perfectly plain that pixel counting is utter nonsense, given the quality of practically all modern cams, unless you actually print your photos – which 99% of the time no longer happens to photos, apparently (they live & die as digital images, viewed on screens ranging from a handful of pixels to perhaps16MP – the largest TV screen available only has about 30MP, it’s an 84 inch screen, and it’s not used for photography anyway).
    Focus peaking intrigues me – I wonder whether Canikon Sony et al can introduce it as a software upgrade across ALL their cameras? That might get the blood rushing a bit more!

    • Thanks Pete!

      Commercial applications aside, I can appreciate that some people derive personal enjoyment out of chasing the bleeding edge of IQ. Sort of like how most cars, under usual traffic and speed limits, will get you from A to B in the same time but some of us (myself included) enjoy having more performance on tap for the handful of occasions it can be used. The Z6 provides that happy balance where I can indulge the gear-head in me without breaking the bank and still enjoy photography.

      Focus peaking: I believe all mirrorless ILCs have them. I can at least confirm that this is the case for Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony. For traditional dSLRs, it may not always be possible (I believe it requires a sufficiently advanced CDAF system) and where possible, the ergonomics aren’t going to be great since you’ll be limited to live view which reduces hand held stability.

      • stanislaw zolczynski says:

        Does it have a normal focus comfirmation with manual lenses found on DSLR? Canon R has an interesting manual focusing aid, beside peaking. Two arrows pointing to focus patch which way to turn lens and a V sign above it indicating attainded focus when arms converge in one. Talking about manual lenses, interesting would be to know the performance of Leica and VC superwides on it. How strong is AA filtr on sharpness. Last thing. Pity Nikon didn`t follow Canon which has shutter capping sensor function, which comes handy in misty wind when changing lenses. Compact primes, especially wides with modest aperture please.

        • There’s a conformation dot with native Z lenses or F lenses via an adaptor, but not with third party non-electronic lenses. You do have peaking with adjustable sensitivity with all lenses, though.

          • I’ve found so far that only Nikon lenses will show the confirmation dot and turn the focus box green. Chipped lenses like Zeiss Milvus and the Dandelion chip in my 85MMJ don’t show either of those things, but I’ve also heard people claim certain ones do, so who knows? I have my movie record button mapped to 1:1 magnification so it’s easy to punch in and focus that way instead. The focal length and max aperture are also set in my non-CPU lens settings so the stabilizer knows what’s attached, and the non-CPU lens selection menu is mapped into my i menu.

            • Praneeth Rajsingh says:

              My experience has been the same Andre. No dice with the 85MMG or 55 Otus, but with peaking turned on, non-CPU lens info set correctly and a little care – MF is easier than on a D850 or D750.

              I believe you can set up U1 and U2 to correspond to certain non-CPU lens profiles, so if you tend to use a couple MF lenses regularly, that’s an option as well.

  14. While I don’t need this camera, as nice as it looks, I thought your review was very well written. It might be a cognitive bias on my part, but it strikes me that you even write a little bit like Ming does (and that’s intended as a compliment). If he ever gets bored of reviewing cameras, he can hand over that responsibility to you 🙂

    Nice pictures, too. The black and white portrait of the young lady is particularly enigmatic and the final picture is impressive too. Ming often talks about the black and white capabilities of cameras (i.e some, like the Ricoh GR, have excellent BW potential, others less so). Did you feel that there was anything special about the BW capability of this camera?

    • Thanks – appreciate the feedback and comments! While writing this review was fun, I can’t see myself doing this on a regular basis. It’s not a trivial undertaking to do it right and access to loaner gear is almost non-existent in this part of the world (as MT and Robin have mentioned several times as well).

      B&W capabilities: If you take some time to setup the JPEG profile on the camera, you can get some pretty good results SOOC. There isn’t a one profile-fits-all-solution though and you may need to continually tweak the profile and change colour filters depending on what you’re shooting. It works best under high contrast lighting (like the portrait of MT or the picture of the lounge).

      For RAW images intended for monochrome conversion in post, I think this beats the GR (with the 16MP sensor) simply because of how much more dynamic range and elasticity the files have. However, it’ll also need more careful conversion and fiddling with the HSL tool than the GR did. Hope that answers your question.

  15. As an E-M1.2 and Pen-F user the Z6 would be highly attractive but for the lack of fully articulated screen. The EOS R does so maybe that will become a possibility. And yes Voigtlander native lenses would be a winner too – the 17.5mm on the Olys is wonderful.

    • The articulating screen is a great example of how subjective haptics can be. While I have some photographer friends who swear by fully articulated screens, I’ve never used them enough for it to significantly affect my experience.

      It’s a good thing we still have a wide choice of cameras. 🙂

  16. Sensor rattle? That’s a new one… I’ve just given my E-M5ii a good shake – nothing. Then an even harder shake – maybe I can convince myself that I can detect a little movement – but not a rattle. Things that do rattle are some Lumix aperture blades on some Olympus cameras, and Sigma free-floating lens elements. But the sensor? Really? Maybe you need to cut down on the coffee ? 🙂 🙂

    • It was very prominent on the Leica Q, less so on my E-M1.2 (but definitely still present). I can’t say for certain if it was present on the E-M5.2. It’s one of those things that you don’t notice easily, but there’s no ignoring it once you do.

      It’s also a hypothesis on my part that this noise is from the IBIS but I don’t trust myself enough to teardown a camera and test said hypothesis. Logically, I couldn’t think of anything else that isn’t taped, soldered or held in place in some manner. I did notice my choice of words in the review made it seem more like fact than opinion, so it’s been amended now.

      Coffee: Consumption has remained about the same during my time with all 3 cameras, so I’m confident we can rule out that variable 😉

    • Olympus, Sony, Leica etc. don’t lock down IS elements or sensors when the camera is off. Nikon does. If you move a Q and look into the lens, you can see an element floating around like an eyeball moving…

  17. Thanks for the review and the great pictures which illustrate the benefits of the camera. I am not in the market for it right now, but am already excited about future models in the Z lineup.

  18. If 24-70mm has enough coverage, the single lens solution for Olympus would have been the 12-40mm f2.8. It’s a wonderful allrounder. Wouldn’t fix your other issues with Oly though. I’m keeping my eye on the Nikon if by chance Voigtländer starts making native lenses for it like they do for Sony.

    • I did look at the Olympus initially, but the Panasonic 12-60 has a similar minimal focusing distance, more reach and is priced the same. Of course, you lose the constant aperture but the extra reach would have been more useful to me (had I continued with Micro Four Thirds). I can work with 24-70 but, given a choice, prefer 24-120. In fact the 24-120/4 was my Swiss-knife solution back when I was shooting with a D610.

      Voigtländer: Would be good for the longevity of the Z-series if there were more native options.

Trackbacks

  1. […] series was shot with a Nikon Z6 and 24-70/4 S with available light in a single […]

  2. […] review: the 2018 Nikon Z6 (Ming Thein). Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S Sample Images (Photographyblog). Sony a7 III vs. Canon EOS R vs. Nikon Z6, […]

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