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Comments on Nikon Z7 Features

Get Nikon Z at B&H Photo.

Overall, the Nikon Z7 looks to be a better Sony A7R III in a number of ways. From what I can tell, the Nikon Z7 will offer a superior shooting experience in terms of ergonomics and haptics (eye, hands, button placement, etc).

The viewfinder looks far superior to the Sony A7R III and button placement is classic Nikon—best on the market today bar none. What Ming Thein and I dislike about the Sony A7R III seems to be banished in the Nikon Z7.

A future Sony A7R IV could easily match the Nikon Z7 in features, but perhaps not in haptics as Sony seems clueless on the ergonomics and haptics front. Still, while the Z7 looks like a very nice improvement over the Sony A7R III, clearly Nikon’s hyperbole is just marketing noise.

Nikon Z7 with Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S, top view

Feature set

There is nothing “reinvented” in the Nikon Z7 that I see, which is not to say it is inferior to the Sony A7R III—on the whole it looks a lot better (excepting the absence of Eye AF).

Useful software features that I’d like to see are absent and the “focus shift” (focus stepping) feature of the D850 is also found in the Nikon Z7. But I am sad to see that a true raw histogram or auto-ETTR or contrast-detect peaking by sound are all absent. And I was hoping to see 8K or at least 6K video support.

Will Nikon open up the Z mount to Zeiss and others? If not, the Nikon Z system loses me on the merits—I do not want to be tied to Nikon lenses only.

  • The Nikon Z7 offers a superior rear LCD with much higher resolution and superior viewfinder magnification along with a superior OLED EVF. Excellent.
  • Top display is a high-grade OLED display—Sony lacks a display entirely. This is a very nice plus.
  • Weight is identical to the Sony A7R III.
  • Similar built-in vibration reduction.
  • Similar video capabilities.
  • Much reduced battery life versus the Nikon D850, with a shooting life of 330 frames for the Nikon Z7. Presumably this is because of the constant use of Live View for shooting. Battery life thus declines to levels similar to Sony.

Initial lens lineup

I am not a fan of lens adapters, no matter how well made—at the least there are two more surfaces to go non-parallel. Awkward, bulky and heavy on a svelte camera body ≠ winning idea. Still, it is a huge win for Nikon DSLR users to have a solidly built lens adapter for F-mount.

There are no 'interesting' lenses for the Nikon Z7 yet—a boring lens lineup at best. I’ll take that back on the condition that Nikon’s claims of optical prowess with the 50/1.8 and 35/1.8 and 24-70/4 are true and with what seems to be the delightful promise of the Nikkor Z 58m f/0.95 S Noct. The marketing description (ahem) for the lenses sounds promising and is more fact-oriented than the camera marketing. If it all holds up, *then* the Z system starts to look highly appealing.

  • Lens selection is grossly inferior to the Sony A7R III, and will remain so unless Nikon opens up the lens mount to 3rd parties. it could take years for a full range of native lenses to appear. The Nikon FTZ lens adapter looks very well made, but is a transitional hassle, not a feature per se. It doesn’t count in terms of system for DSLR lenses are large and bulky and mostly not designed from the ground up for mirrorless—sub optimal.
  • Nikon will be able to deliver f/0.95 lenses due to the large diameter lens mount; this is likely not possible with Sony FE mount.
  • Nikon’s very short flange focal distance of 16mm is even shorter than the 18mm of Sony. This is a good thing because it means that Zeiss (for example) could adapt all its Zeiss Loxia and Zeiss Batis lenses to Nikon Z by adding 2mm of spacing to the rear of the lens.

What’s NOT there

Disappointing:

  • Seemingly no Eye AF. In my view, lack of Eye AF means the Nikon Z7 is inferior to a Sony A7R III for portrait shooting. OTOH, maybe Nikon’s “face detect” is really Eye AF? Hard to say without trying.
  • No pixel shift support, which is startling, given the Pentax K-1, Sony A7R III, Olympus cameras.
  • No groundbreaking quality and usability features mentioned that I can find, like a true raw histogram or auto-ETTR or contrast-detect peaking by sound or *anything* new and cool that would save me time and reduce error. It is very disappointing to see a failure to innovate on the software front, for that’s all that is required to implement such features.

I don’t want a face, I want a sharp iris of the eye for portraiture. Tracking a face is useless for portraits—sharp ears or nose hairs with blurred eyes is a losing proposition.

NEW SUBJECT TRACKING Follow a face in the crowd. Whether shooting eye-level with the EVF or in Live View with the LCD, Auto Area AF smoothly tracks your subject's face—even when it’s one among many. The system pays attention to the upper body, too, maintaining focus position when your subject briefly turns away from the camera or moves out of view.

  Nikon Z7 Sony A7R III
Resolution 45 megapixels @ 8256 X 5504
(same as D850)
42 megapixels @ 7952 X 5304
Sensor size: 35.9 X 23.9mm 35.9 X 24mm
File format: 12 or 14 bit lossless compressed and other choices 14-bit uncompressed or lossy compressed
Memory card: XQD, 1 card slot SDXC, 2 card slots
Viewfinder: 1.27-cm/0.5-in. approx. 3690k-dot (Quad VGA) OLED
100% coverage, 0.8X, 21mm eyepoint, -4 to +2 diopter, auto-switching
3690k-dot TFT LCD, 100% coverage, 0.78X magnification
Rear LCD display: 3.2-inch, 2.1M dots, tilting touch-sensitive LCD, 170° viewing angle 3.0 inch, 1.44M dots, TFT LCD tilting
Top display OLED NONE
Eye AF: NO YES
Native lens support: very poor selection, but Nikon F-mount lenses with adapter extensive lens support of many brands
Weight: 585g without battery + 78 g battery = 663g with battery 657 grams with battery
Video capabilities: 4K (3840 x 2160) full-frame or crop area in 30p, 25p, or 24p up to 29:59 4K full-frame (3840 x 2160) 30p, 25p, 24p up to 29 min
Time lapse: 8K time lapse NO
Focus stepping a la Nikon D850: NO, seemingly NO
Image stabilization: Built-In 5-Axis Vibration Reduction 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
Pixel shift: NO YES
Nikon Z7, top view
Nikon Z7, rear view

Nikon Z7 Overview

Nikon has taken the next step in their imaging journey with the Z7 Mirrorless Camera, dubbed "The Perfectionist," and the revolutionary Z System. This high-resolution FX-format camera introduces the Z Mount, a large diameter design with a short 16mm flange distance that allows Nikon to create compact, yet powerful cameras and develop more advanced optics. The Z7 is among the first in the series, and brings with it a 45.7MP BSI CMOS sensor and EXPEED 6 Image Processing Engine, delivering outstanding image quality and speed with a native sensitivity range of ISO 64-25600.

On the sensor you will find an advanced phase-detect autofocus system using 493 points covering 90% of the image area and the sensor features 5-axis Vibration Reduction technology for stabilized photos and video regardless of the lens used. This advanced hybrid AF system will also benefit video. The Z7 features UHD 4K recording at up to 30p and can use the N-Log gamma profile along with the camera's 10-bit HDMI output to create cinema-quality video. The camera's high-resolution sensor also permits the use of an 8K Time-Lapse mode.

Nikon Z7 with Nikon FTZ lens adapter

As with many mirrorless systems, the Z Series boasts a much more compact form factor than its DSLR counterparts. The Z7 is no exception with its slimmed down design and lighter build, though it maintains the weather sealing and ergonomics for which Nikon is known. The camera features multiple displays and screens for ease of use, including a 0.80x 3.6m-dot EVF with NIKKOR optics and a Fluorine coating, ensuring clear viewing. The rear of the camera is equipped with a 3.2" 2.1m-dot tilting touchscreen LCD while the top offers a dot-matrix OLED for quickly checking settings. For storage, the Z7 has a single XQD card slot that is compatible with CFexpress for faster speeds in the future. Additionally, the body is equipped with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Nikon Z System

Introducing the Z mount, Nikon's full-frame mirrorless system promises to deliver class-leading image quality and optics in a compact form factor. The Z mount itself makes much of this possible with a 17% larger inner diameter than the F mount, enabling the use of more advanced optics and lens designs, including ultra-fast f/0.95 options. For minimizing camera and lens size, the Z mount features a 65% shorter flange distance, measuring just 16mm, which allows for dramatically slimmed down body designs. The larger mount also supports faster and larger-volume communications between the body and lens to improve overall performance throughout the system.

45.7MP FX-Format BSI CMOS Sensor and EXPEED 6 Processor

A 45.7MP BSI CMOS sensor is used for high-resolution shooting, impressive low-light quality, and fast readout speeds to benefit continuous shooting, movies, and time-lapse recording. The back-illuminated design of the sensor affords noticeably cleaner high-sensitivity output for reduced noise when working at high ISO values, up to a native ISO 25600, as well as vivid and smooth quality at sensitivities as low as ISO 64. The sensor's design also omits the conventional optical low-pass filter in order to achieve the greatest sharpness and resolution from the sensor. Benefitting the sensor is the apt EXPEED 6 image processor, which affords a wealth of speed throughout the camera system, including the ability to shoot continuously at 9 fps in raw.

Nikon Z7 with Nikon FTZ lens adapter

4K UHD Video Recording and 8K Time-Lapse

Utilizing the sensor and processor attributes for more than just still imagery, the Z7 is also a more-than-capable multimedia camera. Video recording is possible at UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) using either the full-frame area or a DX crop area in 30p, 25p, or 24p frame rates. Full HD 1080p video recording is also supported at up to 120p for slow motion playback, and video files can be saved to the in-camera memory cards or as an uncompressed file to an optional external recorder via HDMI out.

Advanced video functionalities have been added with the Z7. This includes the N-Log gamma for capturing flat-looking footage that maximizes dynamic range. Other additions are the ability to output high-quality 10-bit data over HDMI and an Electronic VR function for smooth handheld shooting. Focus Peaking can be used to benefit manual focus control and a Zebra Stripes option is also available to help detect over-exposed areas within the frame. Audio recording can be handled using the built-in stereo microphone or an optional external mic can be added via the 3.5mm stereo jack for greater control over quality, and live monitoring is possible via the headphone jack.

The Z7 also blends both still and video capabilities with the ability to produce 8K time-lapses using the Interval Timer Mode or in-camera 4K time-lapse movies, with the ability to record up to 9999 exposures for either method. This system also makes use of a silent interval timer, which produces no shutter noise, does not contribute to wear on the shutter mechanism, and is energy efficient to maximize battery life.

493-Point Phase-Detect AF System

Located on the sensor is an array of 493 phase-detect autofocus points covering 90% of the image area both vertically and horizontally. This provides fast and accurate focusing for both stills and video and with a wide coverage area, subject tracking will work out to near the edges of the frame. Hybrid AF is available for video, which will automatically switch between phase- and contrast-detect systems to provide smooth focus during shooting. Additionally, the latest NIKKOR Z lenses are optimized for silent operation.

Body Design

  • Built-in to the body is a 5-axis sensor-shift Vibration Reduction mechanism for up to 5 stops of stabilization regardless of the lens used. This system also works with adapted lenses when using the optional FTZ Adapter where 3-axis stabilization is used.
  • A large 3.2" 2.1m-dot LCD screen is available for bright, clear, and vivid image playback and live view shooting. The screen has a tilting design to benefit working from both high and low angles, and it is also a touchscreen for more intuitive operation, navigation, and settings control.
  • A 3.6m-dot electronic finder is present for comfortable eye-level viewing. It has a high 0.80x magnification and uses NIKKOR optics to guarantee a sharp, clear image. The finder also has a Fluorine coating for easier cleaning.
  • The top panel of the Z7 is configured with a dot-matrix OLED. This low-energy display provides quick access to important camera settings.
  • Configured with one XQD memory card slot, the camera will be able to quickly save images. The slot is compatible with CFexpress, enabling support for future media.
  • A robust magnesium-alloy chassis is both dust- and weather-resistant to benefit working in harsh climates and inclement conditions.
  • The ergonomic grip and overall form factor is shaped to benefit handling for extended periods of time and is further accentuated by an anti-slip material and a joystick for seamless settings and focus point selection.
  • Built-in SnapBridge connectivity to enable seamless transfer of low-resolution imagery as well as remote shooting capabilities. BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) and Wi-Fi enables communication between the camera and a smart device and, additionally, the mobile device can remotely trigger the shutter and display a live view image from the camera to enable working from a distance.
  • Included EN-EL15b rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides approximately 330 shots per charge, and in-camera charging is supported. This camera is also compatible with EN-EL15 and EN-EL15a batteries, however do not support in-camera charging.
Nikon Z7 with Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S and articulating rear LCD
Nikon Z7 with Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S and articulating rear LCD
Nikon Z7, rear view

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