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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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