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Canon EOS R, Shooting it Today

See my Canon EOS R wishlist. (if not yet live, use this link to Canon EOS R system).

PLEASE pre-order using my links—thanks!

The Canon mirrorless system is here. Well, not the whole system since the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L is not due till December, and I did not snag a Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L (backordered). I do have the Canon EOS R and the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L and the Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, so I can shoot a few Zeiss DSLR lenses on it also.

I’ll be shooting the Canon EOS R today (and the Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S, which also arrived) up at Rock Creek. It’s due to turn bitterly cold by Sunday night, so after that I’ll be forced down from 10-11000 feet to lower elevations.

I like the Canon EOS R; nice camera but holy cow is it complex in terms of buttons bars and dials. I’ll be writing up how I configured it, but it’s clear the possibilities are many and varied and I’d say it’s not as straightforward as the Canon 1Ds R, subsituting complexity for button layout—and I am not a fan of a lopsided all-right-side layout as is all too common these days (excepting the Menu button).

The Canon EVF seems just as sharp as the Nikon Z7 EVF, but to my eye the Nikon Z7 has all EVFs beat for its pleasant color and shadow rendition (a friendof mine, a Sony A7R II owner, immediately was wowed by the Nikon Z7 EVF)

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Configuring the Nikon Z7 (updated)

See my Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Sony mirrorless wishlist and and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

A few days ago I posted a custom settings file for the Nikon Z7. I’ve made some changes stemming from what seemed the best way to get at various things in the  i  menu, My Menu, specific buttons.

One thing Nikon did wrong I think, is to force a full  i  menu. I’d rather declutter whenever possible. The settings file can be downloaded in my review of the Nikon Z7:

Downloadable Settings File for Nikon Z7

I don’t necessarily recommend loading this revised settings, because presumably those who did have already tailored it to their needs.

See also

I’ve documented all the settings and custom settings that I change/use (and why) on the Nikon Z7. Some of the settings are critical and some are just useful behaviors.

Nikon Z7 Configuration: Setup Menu

Nikon Z7 Configuration: Custom Settings Menus

Nikon Z7 Configuration: Custom Settings Menus

Custom controls for the Nikon Z7

Nikon Z7 Long Exposures: ISO 400 vs ISO 64 (Trail Through Huge Aspen)

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

This page looks at whether shooting a much shorter exposure at ISO 400 can produce better/worse/comparable results to shooting a much longer exposure at ISO 64. Long exposure noise reduction was enabled for both.

Nikon Z7: Long Exposure: ISO 400 at 30 Seconds vs ISO 64 at 272 Seconds

Includes actual pixels crops and up to full resolution images.

These Quaking Aspen trees are the largest I have seen in the Eastern Sierra. Special soil conditions submerge the creek below the creekbed by mid-summer, making these aspen save from beavers.

Huge quaking aspen on Lundy Canyon Trail
f11 @ 30.0 sec IBIS=off, ISO 400; 2018-10-10 18:37:28
[location “Lundy Canyon Trail, huge aspen grove”, altitude 8500 ft / 2591 m, 37°F / 2°C, LACA corrected, diffraction mitigating sharpening]
NIKON Z7 + Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 24mm

[low-res image for bot]

Nikon Z7: Examples, Handheld with IBIS, Very Slow Shutter: Lundy Canyon (Various)

See my Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Sony mirrorless wishlist and and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

This page collects examples at very low shutter speeds, as low as 1/3 second, all shot handheld with IBIS with 3 different lenses. Most were a success the first (and only) try, though some took more than one try—a mix of astounding (4 successes at 1/4 sec) and disappointing (5 failures at 1/3 second). Notes are included.

The idea is showing that using optimal handheld technique along with IBIS greatly expands the shooting envelope and given the dearth of native lenses, using the Nikon FTZ lens adapter is going to be common, particularly (for me at least) with Zeiss DSLR lenses.

Nikon Z7: Examples, Handheld with IBIS, Very Slow Shutter: Lundy Canyon

Impressive results. Includes images up to full camera resolution along with shooting notes.

Orange Scrub Aspen
f4 @ 1/4 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 400; 2018-10-10 18:31:38
[location “Lundy Canyon Trail, scrub aspen grove”, altitude 8500 ft / 2591 m, 37°F / 2°C, LACA corrected]
NIKON Z7 + Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 47mm

[low-res image for bot]
White Scrub Aspen along trail
f4 @ 0.3 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 400; 2018-10-10 18:32:49
[location “Lundy Canyon Trail, scrub aspen grove”, altitude 8500 ft / 2591 m, 37°F / 2°C, LACA corrected]
NIKON Z7 + Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 24mm

[low-res image for bot]

Nikon Z7 Has a Serious Behavioral Problem: Buttons go Unresponsive, Screen Blinks and Blinks

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

I take back my “Kudos to Nikon for shipping the product tested, not foisting testing on users” praise—this is ridiculous.

Buttons and screen go whacko

This one is much more serious as there seems to be no workaround other than waiting and hoping. Even pulling the battery did not work. Symptoms includes:

  • A recalcitrant Menu button which goes unresponsive. Press it 3/4/5/10 times and nothing happens.
  • 10 to 20 seconds later, the menus appear! Then the screen blinks off and back on, and repeats. I think this is once per Menu button press but maybe not, because the display kept blinking. Or, maybe I just pressed Menu more times than I thought.
  • Other rear buttons also go unresponsive so it may be a general issue. But since I press Menu a lot, I would thus tend to see the issue that way.

I’ve found no solution to this issue other than waiting a minute or two. It seems to go away on its own, but when and why I have not determined. Since the symptoms returned even after pulling and reinserting the battery, there is a major Loose Screw in the Nikon Z7.

EVF/rear display switch fails

For a period of about 10 minutes, I could not get the auto-switch feature to work (switching between the EVF and the rear LCD). I worked around this by manually using one or the other with the button on the left side of the EVF hump. Possibly this was a bit of condensation inside the EVF area (condensed water vapor from perspiration from carrying the camera near my body perhaps). Still, my Sony A7R III has never had such an issue.

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Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Aperture Series at 24mm: Snowstorm Meltwater Pond View to Mt Conness Eastern Ridge

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

The series assesses performance of the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S at 24mm on a far distance scene but unlike Summit View at Dusk Over Upper Conness Lake, it includes an excellent near-to-far foreground to assess sharpness taking account of field curvature and focus shift and actual lens performance. Unfortunately, it concurs with the findings in that series, but also yields an important finding as to the cause.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Aperture Series at 24mm: Snowstorm Meltwater View to Mt Conness Eastern Ridge

A 3rd series at 24mm confirms the results with the other two:

Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Aperture Series at 24mm: Snowstorm Meltwater Pond

Both include actual pixels crops and up to full resolution images from f/4 through f/11.

Below, these small ponds are dry by July or so unless rain or snow fill them. The meltwater from a snowstorm 3 days prior had filled all the ponds in this area.

Rainstorm Pond View to Mt Conness Eastern Ridge
f4 @ 1/125 sec IBIS=off, ISO 64; 2018-10-05 18:02:45
[location “Just east of Upper Conness Lake”, altitude 10750 ft / 3277 m, 45°F / 7°C, LACA corrected, "Ponds freshly filled with meltwater from recent snow"]
NIKON Z7 + Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 24mm

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Nikon Z7: Examples, Handheld with IBIS, Very Slow Shutter: Lundy Canyon (Zeiss Otus 28/1.4)

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

This page collects examples at very low shutter speeds, as low as 1/3 second, all shot handheld with IBIS. Most were a success the first (and only) try some took more than one try; notes are included. The idea here is showing that using optimal handheld technique along with IBIS greatly expands the shooting envelope. It was very dim late dusk.

All examples were shot with the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon. The Zeiss Otus 28/1.4 APO is a very large and heavy lens. Mounted on the Nikon Z7 with the Nikon FTZ lens adapter, the 'rig' needs to be support by the lens and adapter. The mass probably works in its favor for slow shutter speeds, but it is a little awkward to hold, and that works against it.

Nikon Z7: Examples, Handheld with IBIS, Very Slow Shutter: Lundy Canyon
(also in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR lenses)

Includes a best-practices discussion. All images up to full camera resolution.

Below, numerous freak rock slides wiped out big chunks of aspen in Lundy Canyon, sometime in the winter of 2017/2018. Thick layers of large rocks with mud made a slurry that wiped out and buried things; this slide is one of the larger ones, the next image is one of the smaller! Having visited Lundy Canyon for 20 years, I’ve never seen anything remotely similar in scope and sheer destructive power. What was excellent topsoil (for this altitude) is now jumbled rocks. This rockslide (one of many) actually made it to the creek and dammed it, raising the water level about two feet.

Survivors of massive rockslide
f2 @ 1/13 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 200; 2018-10-09 18:38:26
[location “Lundy Canyon”, altitude 8100 ft / 2469 m, 50°F / 10°C, LACA corrected]
NIKON Z7 + Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon

[low-res image for bot]
Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Nikon Z7 Autofocus Accuracy: Pinpoint AF vs Magnified Live View Reference Frame

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

NOTE: there is no internet where I am shooting for the next few days. It is tedious and troublesome, but I am making an effort most days to descent for internet service once per day, but there may be exceptions. Please be patient when subscribing.

My review of the Nikon Z7 is in full swing, though I’m spending a lot more time evaluating/publishing than enjoying the gorgeous fall season and weather.

This page evaluates the consistency of Nikon Z7 Pinpoint AF autofocus at f/4 using the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S, comparing it against a reference image focused at f/4 in 100% magnified Live View. All of the conventional autofocus frames were off, and with varying focusing precision.

Discussion includes what to do about the errors that are shown and best practices for this type of shooting.

Nikon Z7: Autofocus Accuracy: Pinpoint AF vs Magnified Live View Reference

Includes a best-practices discussion.

Below, numerous freak rock slides wiped out big chunks of aspen in Lundy Canyon, sometime in the winter of 2017/2018. Thick layers of large rocks with mud made a slurry that wiped out and buried things; this slide is one of the larger ones, the next image is one of the smaller! Having visited Lundy Canyon for 20 years, I’ve never seen anything remotely similar in scope and sheer destructive power. What was excellent topsoil (for this altitude) is now jumbled rocks.

Sole survivor of major rockslide
f4 @ 1/20 sec IBIS=off, ISO 64; 2018-10-09 17:18:54
[location “Lundy Canyon”, altitude 8100 ft / 2469 m, 45°F / 7°C, LACA corrected]
NIKON Z7 + Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 34mm

[low-res image for bot]
Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Nikon Z7: Thin 1.1mm Sensor Cover Glass Gives Promise of using M-Mount Lenses with Good Performance

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

The Kolarivision teardown of the Nikon Z7 finds that the sensor cover glass is only 1.1mm thick, which is much thinner than the 2mm on most cameras:

Another unique aspect: the cover glass of the Z7’s sensor is about half a thick as the Sony’s, coming in at 1.1mm. This means the Nikon will have better performance with adapted lenses right out of the box. However, with our ultra-thin conversion measuring down to 0.2mm, the camera will still benefit a great deal from a modification service if you’re a Leica lens (or other legacy glass) enthusiast.

The thinner glass means that the MTF (micro contrast and astigmatism in particular) degradation will be much less than on the Sony A7R III, suggesting that M-mount lenses (Leica M and Zeiss ZM) may perform reasonably well. Though a high refractive index cover glass cannot be ruled out AFAIK.

See ray angle and Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 MTF on Mirrorless Cameras for a full aperture set of MTF graphs for the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon. It would be wonderful if the ZM 35/1.4 and my Leica M lenses worked well on the Z7 (assuming an adapter materializes).

Depiction of ray paths through sensor cover glass
Through-focus MTF for Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon, without sensor cover glass vs 2.5mm cover glass

Nikon Z7: Image Sharpness vs Zone of Focus, Autofocus Error and Mitigation

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

My review of the Nikon Z7 is in full swing, though I’m spending a lot more time evaluating/publishing than enjoying the gorgeous fall season and weather.

This page shows just how wildly inaccurate the placement of the zone of focus can be with the Nikon Z7 (and other systems!). Placement of the zone of focus has major implications for total sharpness and visual impact, yet autofocus can easily choose a sub-optimal choice of focus which displaces/biases the zone forward or rearward even as the chosen point is fully sharp. This has implications for total sharpness and visual impact.

Nikon Z7: Autofocus Accuracy: Zone of Focus Error, Example and Mitigation

Includes a discussion of how to manage the issue. In terms of reliably making more sharper images on any camera, this page alone is worth the price of admission, since these days understanding such issues is required for excellent technical execution. See also Making Sharp Images.

Sharp image (IBIS ON), with focus biased to the foreground
f4 @ 1/15 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 64; 2018-10-08 17:21:32
[location “Lundy Canyon trail near trailhead”, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, 55°F / 12°C, LACA corrected]
NIKON Z7 + Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 42mm

[low-res image for bot]

Nikon Z7: Shooting Handheld with and Without IBIS

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

My review of the Nikon Z7 is in full swing, though I’m spending a lot more time evaluating/publishing than enjoying the gorgeous fall season and weather.

This page shows pairs of images shot at low shutter speeds with IBIS (Vibration Reduction) on versus off. IBIS is critical for slow lenses like the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 because it allows greater handheld flexibility when the light is relatively dim, e.g., near dawn or dusk.

This page also shows that IBIS is highly effective with Zeiss wide angle lenses, like the Zeiss Milvus 25mm f/1.4.

Nikon Z7: Handheld A/B Comparison With/Without IBIS (Vibration Reduction)

With full-res images and crops (four examples).

Below, a blurred image shot without IBIS at 1/15 second.

Blurred image (IBIS OFF)
f4 @ 1/15 sec handheld IBIS=off, ISO 64; 2018-10-08 17:20:47
[location “Lundy Canyon trail near trailhead”, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, 55°F / 12°C, LACA corrected]
NIKON Z7 + Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 42mm

[low-res image for bot]

Below, Numerous freak rock slides wiped out big chunks of aspen in Lundy Canyon, sometime in the winter of 2017/2018. Thick layers of large rocks with mud made a slurry that wiped out and buried things; this slide is one of the larger ones, the next image is one of the smaller! Having visited Lundy Canyon for 20 years, I’ve never seen anything remotely similar in scope and sheer destructive power. What was good topsoil (for this altitude) is now jumbled rocks.

Sharp image (IBIS ON)
f11 @ 1/15 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 64; 2018-10-08 17:35:51
[location “Lundy Canyon Trail”, altitude 8100 ft / 2469 m, 45°F / 7°C, diffraction mitigating sharpening]
NIKON Z7 + Zeiss Milvus 25mm f/1.4

[low-res image for bot]
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Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Examples Using IBIS, Conness Lakes Area

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

The series takes a first stab at seeing how effective Nikon’s version of IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) is shooting handheld with optimal technique. It is ad-hoc and gave me a feel for what IBIS can do in the Nikon Z7, a more definitive test comes later.

In my review of the Nikon Z7 system:

Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Examples, Handheld: Mt Conness Basin East

Includes a variety of images all up to up to full camera resolution.

Bleached wood
f11 @ 1/13 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 64; 2018-10-05 17:37:51
[location “Just pass lower Conness Lakes”, altitude 10480 ft / 3194 m, 40°F / 4°C, diffraction mitigating sharpening]
NIKON Z7 + Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 53mm

[low-res image for bot]
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Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 Examples on Nikon Z7: Mt Conness Basin East

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

These examples with the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 were taken in the Mt Conness drainage (east) of the Eastern Sierra late in the season. Indeed, the meadow below was blanketed by snow from a very cold storm just two days later—temperatures about 25°F colder!

In diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses*:

Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 Examples: Mt Conness Basin East (Nikon Z7)

Includes a variety of full resolution images. The sensor quality of the Nikon Z7 and the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 are 'golden'—an ideal example of both optical and physical excellence in spite of the Nikon FTZ lens adapter being interposed.

I am concluding that Zeiss Milvus and Zeiss Otus lenses have a great new lease on life given the paucity of lenses available for the Nikon Z7, and the disappointing performance at the wide end of the Nikon NIKKOR S 24-70mm f/4 S, which means the zoom ain’t for me. While I do not like the awkwardness of the largest of these lenses, they work great, and the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 is a terrific choice on the Nikon Z7.

The Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 was used on the Nikon Z7 via the Nikon FTZ lens adapter. The EVF on the Nikon Z7 is a joy to use for manual focus lenses. The Milvus 18/2.8 balances nicely on the Nikon Z7. It is relatively small and lightweight, unlike its faster f/1.4 siblings, so it never feels like a burden.

* Lens reviews always go into their native publication.

Conness Lakes meadow
f11 @ 1/200 sec, ISO 64; 2018-10-05 15:28:45
[location “Conness Lakes”, altitude 10400 ft / 3170 m, 55°F / 12°C, diffraction mitigating sharpening]
NIKON Z7 + Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8

[low-res image for bot]
Outflow creek from Conness Lake #2
f11 @ 1/80 sec handheld IBIS=off, ISO 64; 2018-10-05 16:07:04
[location “Outflow from Conness Lake 2”, altitude 10580 ft / 3225 m, 55°F / 12°C, diffraction mitigating sharpening]
NIKON Z7 + Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8

[low-res image for bot]
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Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Aperture Series at 30mm: Trail Along Lower Conness Lake

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

The series assesses performance of the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S at 30mm on a near-to-far scene. The middle of the range seems to be the best part of its performance.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Aperture Series @ 30mm: Trail Along Lower Conness Lake

Includes up to full resolution images from f/4 through f/11.

Trail along lower Conness Lake
f6.3 @ 1.0 sec IBIS=on, ISO 64; 2018-10-05 18:48:29
[location “Lower Conness Lake”, altitude 10400 ft / 3170 m, LACA corrected]
NIKON Z7 + Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 30mm equiv (30.5mm)

[low-res image for bot]

Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Aperture Series at 40mm: Backlit Orange Dead Pine

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

The series assesses near-far performance of the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S at 40mm. It affords a good sense of the quality and depth of field achieved at 40mm as well as field curvature and focus shift.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Aperture Series @ 40mm: Backlit Orange Dead Pine

Includes up to full resolution images from f/4 through f/11.

Backlit pine near Conness creek
f9 @ 1/125 sec IBIS=off, ISO 64; 2018-10-05 14:38:40
[location “Trail to Conness waterfall”, altitude 10200 ft / 3109 m, 55°F / 12°C, LACA corrected, diffraction mitigating sharpening]
NIKON Z7 + Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 40mm

[low-res image for bot]
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Nikon Z7 Review in Progress in the Mountains

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

My review of the Nikon Z7 is underway—I just came down from the mountains to get a cell signal and post a bunch of stuff—see previous posts. My apologies to subscribers who had a delayed response.

Not everything with the Nikon Z7 is ideal (I’ll be detailing a few things), but it is as close to perfect as any mirrorless camera I’ve ever used. Kudos to Nikon for releasing a “v1” camera and kicking some serious butt. The Sony A7R III feels crummy compared to the Z7; I know which one I want to use; the thing just works right and fits right and Nikon has preserved the feel of the D850 within the limits of the new body size. An 'A' to Nikon, would be 'A+' if, alas, the Z7 had not omitted Eye AF.

Below, yesterday’s snowstorm surely whited-out this area—glad I saw it 2 days ago! It is very cold today, got down to 24°F last night at 10000 ft near Saddlebag Lake.

Color (quaking aspen) is turning at the 7000' level.

All is well except one thing: some loser POS didn’t like how I parked (WTF?), so he vandalized my driver’s side window with a Sharpie. I don’t know how to remove the vandalism—definitely does not rub off with water or not. Makes me want a concealed carry permit.

More to come...

I’m heading back up and may be off the internet for a few days again. For bandwidth reasons, I am deleting all large emails so please do not send me image files or similar.

Lloyd selfie near Upper Conness Lake
f11 @ 1/20 sec, ISO 64; 2018-10-05 17:34:53
[location “Cliff above lower Connness Lakes”, altitude 10400 ft / 3170 m, 38°F / 3°C]
NIKON Z7 + Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 24mm

[low-res image for bot]

Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Aperture Series at 24mm: Summit View at Dusk Over Upper Conness Lake

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

The series assesses performance of the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S at 24mm on a far distance scene.

A bonus is that it is an extremely high contrast scene in which raw conversion used aggressive contrast control to tame the bright sky and dark shadows, which put the Nikon Z7 image quality to the test.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Aperture Series at 24mm: Summit View at Dusk Over Upper Conness Lake

Includes actual pixels crops and up to full resolution images from f/4 through f/8.

I have many more series coming, covering the focal length range. As yet I do not have the Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S or the Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S but I hope to obtain them soon.

Upper Conness Lake with view to summit of Mt Conness
f8 @ 1/125 sec, ISO 64; 2018-10-05 17:54:36
[location “Upper Conness Lake”, altitude 10700 ft / 3261 m, 45°F / 7°C, LACA corrected]
NIKON Z7 + Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 24mm

[low-res image for bot]
Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Configuring the Nikon Z7

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

I’ve been through everything on the Nikon Z7 and arrived at a configuration/customization that I like for my landscape work. The settings file can be downloaded in my review of the Nikon Z7:

Downloadable Settings File for Nikon Z7

I’ve documented all the settings and custom settings that I change/use (and why) on the Nikon Z7. Some of the settings are critical and some are just useful behaviors.

Nikon Z7 Configuration: Setup Menu

Nikon Z7 Configuration: Custom Settings Menus

Nikon Z7 Configuration: Custom Settings Menus

Custom controls for the Nikon Z7
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Using F-Mount Lenses on the Nikon Z7 with Nikon FTZ lens adapter

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

I’m pleased to confirm that all of my Zeiss Milvus and Zeiss Otus lenses work perfectly on the Nikon Z7 + Nikon FTZ lens adapter, though with some EXIF glitches.

Nikon FTZ Lens Adapter with non-Nikon Lenses

And that’s good because so far I am less than delighted with the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S. Small and light make for delight when hiking, but the tradeoff in image quality is too great; see Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Aperture Series at 24mm: Summit View at Dusk Over Upper Conness Lake.

When shooting on a tripod, attach a Really Right Stuff camera plate to the Nikon FTZ lens adapter (as well as an L-bracket for the camera itself). Since custom plates were not available early on, I used the Really Right Stuff B6-E generic plate for both the camera and FTZ adapter. Really Right Stuff should have custom plates soon.

Nikon FTZ lens adapter

Nikon Z7: RAW vs JPEG

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

The more things change, the more things stay the same—I’ve never been happy shooting Nikon JPEGs, but I thought I’d give it a fresh look with the Nikon Z8.

This page looks at out-of-camera JPEG versus an optimally processed raw file, using two distinctly different examples:

Nikon Z7: RAW vs Camera JPEG

Includes actual pixels crops and up to full resolution images.

East ridge of Mt Conness
f5.6 @ 1/640 sec, ISO 64; 2018-10-05 16:40:58
[location “Upper Conness Lake”, altitude 10600 ft / 3231 m, 48°F / 8°C]
NIKON Z7 + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon

[low-res image for bot]
Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Nikon Z7 and Astrophotography, versus Nikon D850

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

Following noise evaluation for an outdoor scene, here are two pages evaluating noise with the Nikon Z7, witih one of them compared to the Nikon D850.

Nikon Z7: Astrophotography at ISO 180 Without Long Exposure Noise Reduction

Nikon Z7: Astrophotography vs Nikon D850 with/without Long Exposure Noise Reduction

Includes actual pixels crops and up to full resolution images.

Starry Sky near Saddlebag Lake
f2.8 @ 30.0 sec, ISO 180; 2018-10-04 22:47:34
[location “Saddlebag Lake”, altitude 9950 ft / 3033 m, 34°F / 1°C, LENR=off]
NIKON Z7 + Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon

[low-res image for bot]
Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Testing the Nikon Z7 for Pattern Noise in Typical Landscape Scenario

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

The Sony A9 has horrific pattern noise, which is pathetic for a 24-megapixel camera; see Two Examples of Pattern/Banding Noise at ISO 100 (Pine Creek Skyline, Mt Tom). Hence my concern over pattern noise in the Nikon Z7, because it has many PDAF pixels on its sensor.

Dynamic range means the usable range of black to white tones. Noise can reduce dynamic range, so a key performance metric of any camera is noise. To my knowledge, none of the noise rating take any notice of pattern noise, making noise ratings potentially quite misleading, because pattern noise is far more difficult to deal with.

For my outdoor work, it is critically important that there be no pattern noise in images because often the shadows must be boosted considerably (equivalent to up to ~4 stop push) and/or a black and white conversion with pattern noise in one (or more) channels where pattern noise destroys the potential of the image. In general, I often need a lot of post processing headroom for outdoor images, but particularly black and white images, so image quality must be high in all three color channels.

I chose the scene below as representative as a typical high dynamic range outdoor scene. A key point is that blue sky can be quite dark, which yields a grossly underexposed red channel. If there is pattern noise, it is likely to show up in blue sky, as the human eye (brain) readily picks up horizontal or vertical patterns (striping/banding).

Nikon Z7: Looking for Pattern Noise (Conness Drainage)

RawDigger histograms are included to show the actual exposure recorded by the sensor.

Conness drainage (east) looking towards Mt Conness
f8 @ 1/500 sec, ISO 64; 2018-10-05 15:13:56
[location “Mt Conness drainage east”, altitude 10500 ft / 3200 m, 55°F / 12°C]
NIKON Z7 + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon

[low-res image for bot]
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Testing the Nikon Z7 and Nikon NIKKOR S 24-70mm f/4 S in the Eastern Sierra

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

Gorgeous fall weather in the Eastern Sierra—as I write this in my Sprinter van, hard pellets of snow are pelting the roof at around 10,000 feet / 3048m elevation. It promises a winter wonderland tomorrow.

I’d rather be out there in the storm hiking around and inhaling the wondrously fresh cool air, but I need to prepare at least a few pages for publication, including assessing whether the Nikon Z7 has any serious issues.

So far I love the Nikon Z7 and will take it any day over the Sony A7R III—a real camera at last (speaking in terms of ergonomics/haptics). The Nikon Z7 EVF is if not the best, as good as the very best out there—loving it. The Nikon Z7 does have some shortcomings, but it’s classic Nikon usability—excellent.

Rock Creek
f11 @ 1/20 sec, ISO 64; 2018-10-05 17:34:53
[location “Cliff above lower Connness Lakes”, altitude 10400 ft / 3170 m, 38°F / 3°C]
NIKON Z7 + Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 24mm

[low-res image for bot]

Reader Comment: Panasonic S1R with L-Mount Might be the Holy Grail for Leica M Lenses

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

I’ll have the Nikon Z7 system for review tomorrow October 4th, whereupon I leave for the Eastern Sierra. I will be publishing my findings starting this weekend.

Roy P writes:

I’m beginning to think the new Panasonic S1R could very well be the best option for people (like myself) who enjoy shooting with M-mount lenses. It’s what Leica should have put out 3-4 years ago in a native M mount, instead of continuing to flog the RF dead horse, and coming out with ridiculous limited editions. Later, when Sigma comes out with a Foveon camera, that could be a nice additional body for landscape photography with a tripod. A Sigma L camera + Panasonic camera + M-to-L adapter all combined will probably cost about the same a Leica SL, and probably less than a Leica M10 + grip + goofy EVF.

The Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon is quite terrible at f/1.4 on Sony mirrorless. Right at the center of the frame is OK, but it starts falling off quite rapidly. Even the Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH gets very soft at the edges. The Leica 50mm f/2 APO is much better wide open, but still not tack sharp along the edges.

I've been keeping these lenses figuring one day Leica will be forced to offer a non-RF mirrorless M camera. That might never happen, and I don't want to buy the SL, even with a high res sensor - I hate the camera controls, not to mention the absurd price. So the Panasonic S1R could be my ticket to get better mileage out of my hugely downsized set of M lenses.

Depiction of ray paths through sensor cover glass

DIGLLOYD: performance losses on Sony mirrorless with Leica M lenses are HUGE with most lenses through f/4, with f/5.6 still degraded even with 50mm lensess. Arguing otherwise is a a hallucination problem.

In Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: MTF on Mirrorless Cameras, the entire aperture series from f/1.4 through f/16 is shown and compared to performance on Leica M; the MTF losses are extreme both for conventional MTF and through-focus MTF (both are shown, courtesy of measured results by Carl Zeiss).

As to the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH being better, maybe: my A/B tests with a modified (Kolarivision) Sony A7R with Leica M lenses show that performance on Sony mirrorless of the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH is impaired even through f/5.6.

For those who are OK with modifying their cameras and/or using special filters to mitigate the ray angle issues, see Rangefinder Wide Angle Lenses On A7 Cameras: Problems And Solutions by Philip Reeve.

L-mount to the rescue of Leica M lenses?

The Leica SL performance with Leica M lenses is nearly as good as on Leica M bodies, so assuming that the L-mount consortium sticks to the same sensor cover glass thickness as the Leica SL, then the holy grail has arrived: performance of Leica M lenses on at least three different camera bodies (Panasonic S1R, Leica SL, Sigma TBD).

Put plainly, the Panasonic S1R might possibly be the ultimate Leica M10 killer.

Note that my longstanding carefully considered policy for lens performance evaluations: lenses go into their “native” publication regardless of camera platform, with few exceptions unless compelling reasons exist.

Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Reader Comments: Nikon Z7 Focusing and IBIS vs Sony Mirrorless

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

I’ll have the Nikon Z7 system for review tomorrow October 4th, whereupon I leave for the Eastern Sierra. I will be publishing my findings starting this weekend.

James K writes:

Once you see the effect of the EYE AF there is no going back. This is a MUST HAVE feature if you photograph people. I shot a few portrait tests with my 50mm f/1.4 FE this afternoon. Scary sharp and perfectly eye focused. I have gained a new appreciation of the Sony system.

DIGLLOYD: so sad to see no Eye AF with the Nikon Z7. Wide open at 85mm and f/1.4 I’ve seen a 99% hit rate.

Lefteris Kwrites:

Two things that made me return the Z7 today:

a) It can track a person slowly moving from side to side – hit rate only 60%. When the person moves towards me, hit rate is only 20%, sometimes zero (lens at 60mm, distance from the other person from 7 meters - 4 meters - 7 meters when moving side to side, and from 7 meters to 2 meters when moving toward me). I switched to face-tracking, which works only with full sensor coverage, and although the little square tracked the face, it misfocused in almost all pics (from 7 meters coming towards me up to 2 meters, slowly walking, always at the center of the frame, viewfinder center part on her face at all times).

b) The IBIS performance is rather weak, giving me a max of “satisfactory” 2.5 stops, and only when I used front-curtain e-shutter. I usually get equal or better performance on the Nikon D850 with a stabilized lens and mechanical shutter.

c) I didn’t notice any banding outdoors when pushing shadows 100% in dark areas, but I didn’t test extensively with such a purpose in mind either. All I wanted was a stabilized D850 as companion camera, but the Z7 looks like an incomplete product. If I wanted a slow camera, I’d get a GFX.

DIGLLOYD: even setting aside these issues (I can neither confirm nor refute them as yet), the lack of Eye AF as in Sony mirrorless is a gaping hole in what the Nikon Z7 should have done.

As for sharpness at low shutter speeds, image stabilization including IBIS is a good feature that often delivers less than promised and on Sony, IBIS destroys image sharpness on a tripod—a horrible 'gotcha' that has destroyed my work more than once.

Proper shooting technique goes a long way to making sharp images; see How to Hold a Camera Steady (Mass Coupling) in How To Banish Blur Whether Handheld or Tripod.

Terrence M writes:

Rent before you buy!

When the Nikon Z7 arrives I would like see in your review your opinion on the camera for portraits especially compared to the Sony A7R III.

One thing I noticed playing with the Z7 in a camera store you don’t have to focus and recompose like a DSLR since the AF points cover most of the frame.

DIGLLOYD: based on the incredibly high hit rate of Eye AF in Sony mirrorless, lack of Eye AF in the Nikon Z7 is a gaping hole that should put Sony mirrorless ahead in desirability for those who regularly shoot portraits.

More focus points is a plus, but it is a weak consolation prize that still requires focus-and-recompose; subjects don’t just sit frozen in place while the photographer is diddling the focus point to be precisely on the iris of the eye—that’s just not a viable shooting approach for high quality shot execution unless a person is unmoving. And it’s pretty easy to miss and have the camera focus on eyelashes or eyebrows or nose hairs.

Here in late 2018, lack of Eye AF is a BAD JOKE—IMO, lack of Eye AF unacceptable if the camera is to be used for portraits. Face tracking is a primitive feature useful for some things (I suppose), but not at all a substitute. I don’t care how good the camera is otherwise—hit rate with Eye AF on the Sony was at least 95% when I assessed it, versus something like 35% with the Nikon D850 (shooting at wide apertures, I’m not talking about shooting at f/11 here).

Rent before you buy?

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