OK, I admit it! I was one of those photographers that was very skeptical about the whole mirrorless camera phenomenon. I have always had the big DSLR cameras and I thought to myself there is no way that a mirrorless can compete with the rigors of wildlife photography or the pounding a pro-grade DSLR needs to go through depending on the genre. Eating humble pie is never easy, but I admit that the new Nikon Z series seems to be up to the task.
I did not jump on the bandwagon initially, but rather waited to see what the reviews and real world reports of photographers I respected were. The results were all coming in positive and with glowing reports of the overall picture quality and ease of use. Knowing full well this is not going to be my primary body, but rather one for travel, landscapes and primarily the backup to the my Nikon D5. I want to take a look at some of the key features that persuaded my to purchase the Nikon Z6.
First was the construction. It has the same basic skeleton forged from magnesium and weather sealed as the Nikon D5. This was important to me as the camera is often in weather where it is damp or raining and the bodies need to hold up without fail. The fact that Nikon has the foresight to build their first mirrorless camera with these types of specs impressed me.
Next was the form factor. Although considerably lighter and thinner than my Nikon D5, it has a similar feel in my hand that I am used to and that is a welcome and comforting aspect of the handling the Nikon Z6. I like the deep grip and familiar user interface with minor subtleties from the Nikon D5 that allows me to navigate with quickness in the menus when adjustments are necessary. The other aspect that surprised me was how balanced it can feel even with super telephoto lenses attached on the FTZ adapter. I was surmising that this balance would be awkward and it was the contrary, very comfortable.
Touchscreen and Menu
One thing that the Nikon D5 does not have is articulating screens. The Nikon Z6 offered this along with the touch screen which is part of the Nikon D5 firmware as well. The added flexibility of the articulating screen gives me the option of seeing a very clear idea of the composition, even when the camera is ground or higher up where looking through the viewfinder is not an option.
This clear simple menu interface is familiar and true to the Nikon style of menus and was easy to navigate being familiar with this layout and user interface. This made for easy setup of the settings that I wanted for my style of photography. I found this to be intuitive and easy to navigate even when drilling down into the menus. The fact that the buttons carried over on the Nikon Z6 and are in the same positions helps with getting things set up fast. These features helped me make a decision to pull the trigger on the Nikon Z6, but the biggest selling point for me was the ability to use legacy glass with this camera.
What enables this is the FTZ adapter. This allows me to use all my existing glass, long and short, with the mirrorless system. Huge plus in my book! I did not want to, nor would I have, bought new lenses for this camera. Compliments to Nikon for being so forward thinking on this and making a simple product that allows compatibility between the iconic F-mount and the new Z-mount.
Here are the specifications highlights on the the Nikon Z6:
Sensor: 24.5 MP FX BSI Sensor, 5.9µ pixel size
Sensor Size: 35.9 × 23.9mm
Resolution: 6048 × 4024
Native ISO Sensitivity: 100-51,200
Boost ISO Sensitivity: 50 (LO) 102,400-204,800 (HI)
In-Body Image Stabilization: 5-Axis
RAW Formats: 24.5 MP (RAW), 13.7 MP (mRAW), 6.1 MP (sRAW)
Processor: EXPEED 6
Dust Reduction: Yes
Weather Sealing/Protection: Yes
Body Build: Full Magnesium Alloy
Shutter: 1/8000 – 30 seconds
Shutter Durability: 200,000 cycles, self-diagnostic shutter
Storage: 1× XQD slot
Viewfinder: 3.69 Million Dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
Viewfinder Coverage: 100%
Viewfinder Magnification: 0.8×
Speed: 12 FPS (only 12-bit RAW, no AE), 9 FPS (14-bit RAW, no AE), 5.5 FPS with AE
Built-in Flash: No
Autofocus System: Hybrid PDAF, 273 Focus Points
AF Sensitivity Range: -2 to +19 EV (-4 to +19 EV with low-light AF)
LCD Screen: Touch-enabled 3.2″ Tilting LCD with 2.1 Million Dots
Slow Motion HD Video: Yes
Movie Modes: 4K UHD @ 30 fps max
Movie Output: MOV, MP4
Movie Video Compression: H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding
HDMI Output: 10-bit 4:2:2 N-Log
Silent Photography Mode: Yes
Focus Stacking: Yes
In-Camera HDR Capability: Yes
Battery Type: EN-EN15b
Battery Life: 310 shots (CIPA)
USB Standard: Type-C 3.1
Weather Sealing: Yes
Weight: 585 g (Body Only)
134 × 100.5 × 67.5 mm (5.3 × 4.0 × 2.7″)
Price: $1,999.95 (At the time of the blog posting)
In summary, the Z6 and Z7 are Nikon’s first attempts at a full-frame mirrorless camera system. Although it took Nikon many years to finally come out with its own mirrorless system, it was definitely worth the wait for many Nikon photographers. Nikon got a lot of things right with its Nikon Z-series cameras: compact and lightweight design, superb handling and ergonomics, lag-free high-resolution electronic viewfinder, effective in-body image stabilization, solid build quality and weather sealing, wonderful image quality with class-leading dynamic range and high ISO performance, competitive video recording features and an intuitive user interface – all leading to a great overall experience for a Nikon shooter.
The Nikon Z system shows that Nikon is more than capable of bringing out solid products with highly competitive features to the market, paving the way into the future with a brand new Z mount. All things considered, the Nikon Z system is a remarkable achievement that really shows the hard work Nikon engineers put into it. mtc …
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