Greg H writes:
Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the evolution of your review of the Z camera system. Although you have experienced some glitches with your Z7 that I have not, I recall your initial enthusiasm for using the Z7 body. Does that still hold? I enjoy the Z7 body a lot, and image quality SOOC in RAW is quite good for me. On some images taken with my Otus 28 and Milvus 18/25, I can prefer the Z7 image over the D850, but not really enough to matter. [Still waiting for PhaseOne to update CaptureOne for Z7 RAW files.]
I have been unimpressed with Nikon’s lens roadmap, but now, I am increasingly unimpressed with the lenses themselves. The Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S is adequate to me for being a walk-around lens. I have not tried the Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S, and after your review/images, I am not likely to. It is looking increasingly like the Nikon FTZ lens adapter will be permanently affixed to my Z, and that my Zeiss lenses will be my most likely traveling companions in this kit. I envision the Zeiss Milvus 135, and the 25 as the base kit, and then maybe one other depending on specific target shooting. But not the miniaturized version of a Nikon D850 kit I was hoping for. This doesn’t bode well, in my view, for long term success of these cameras, unless 3d party lenses pick up the slack.
Part of the frustration for me is that the Z6/7 seemed so promising due to Nikon’s commitment to a larger lens opening and short flange distance. And I think the body itself is quite a pleasure to use. No, it’s not the D850, but live EVF histogram and the smaller body size [and what should be more manageable lens sizes] could present some opportunities for the landscaper/backpacker. That’s my primary use case: compact body [essentially the same size and weight of the Lumix G9, but with the much better image quality], and with lenses that should be even better and more compact than the current lineup. Sadly, that latter part does not appear to be coming true from Nikon any time soon. The traveling landscaper, especially one who has to board airplanes, should be getting a better product out of Nikon. You said it well in your review of the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS: "This optical laziness seems to be all the rage these days.” Still, I have my fingers crossed for some Zeiss lenses native to the Z, but I am not holding my breath.
This is really unfortunate. I am not much of a fan of the ergonomics, menu, and EVF of the Sony A7Riii, though I know Sony could make a better body/menu/EVF if they just decided to, and maybe the will; maybe the A7RiV will be the camera I want. Conversely, though every Sony Artisan describes every Sony GM lens as “tack sharp,” I know that’s not exactly spot on correct. Overall, though, the Sony lenses, and the Zeiss Loxia/Batis line, may be good enough to make the switch tolerable. And a Sony/Zeiss backpack is an easier, more compact burden than the equivalent Nikon Z/FTZ/Zeiss backpack.
None of this is “bad.” It’s great to have choices. I just wish the array was not quite so disappointing.
DIGLLOYD: my enthusiasm for the Z7 camera body holds, mainly because of the EVF. I’d sum it up as “love the camera, disappointed in the lenses”. The Nikon Z system badly needs support from Zeiss in the form of Zeiss Loxia lenses at the least. Or an adapter suitable for Zeiss Loxia to Nikon Z—there is 4mm of flange focal distance to work with. It should not be hard at all, but I presume patents are involved.
Kevins S writes:
I’m developing a similar mindset to Greg H, that the Nikon Z7 and Zeiss Milvus/Zeiss Otus are the quality landscape workhorse combination for the foreseeable future, and Sony A7R III/iii w/Batis/Loxia/Sony fills the gap for what the Z7 doesn’t do so well (action, eye AF portraits, lightweight travel/hiking). Expensive to maintain two systems, but once invested in both Nikon and Sony lens ecosystems the Z7 plus A7R II /A7R III bodies are the incremental price of covering a wide range of applications well.
For me, the benefits of the Z7 – fantastic EVF, excellent focus peaking, natural ergonomics (buttons & menus), freedom from DSLR back focusing – make all F-mount lenses vastly more useable and enjoyable, both manual focus and auto focus. While I’m sure there will be Z mount cameras in the next 1-2 years that fully supersede the D850, the benefits of the Z7 today for ‘slow photography’ landscape work are just too great to wait for the uber-Z. By then, the trusty D800 will be a paperweight and there will be need of a second body.
I, too, would love to see compact Zeiss Z-mount (ZZ?) lenses, but don’t expect to see that anytime soon or before the eventual arrival of the uber-Z. Adapting E-mount lenses to Z-mount would be wonderful, of course … but I’d hate to be handed the job of developing E-to-Z physical and electronic adaptation in 4mm depth! Will definitely require some ingenuity – hope there is a quality outfit out there up to the challenge. Might be in Zeiss’s interest to take this on themselves, even if not in their traditional wheelhouse? Given they’ve reverse engineered the old F-mount interface (albeit w/o AF), how difficult could reverse engineering a modern Z-mount (with or w/o AF) be?
Certainly second the sentiment that it’s great to have all these choices. May we all live in interesting (photographic) times.
DIGLLOYD: the Zeiss Loxia are all manual including aperture control, so in theory if one can live without EXIF info, a simple physical extension would make the Loxia lenses work on Nikon Z. But again, it’s the patent thing I think, not a question of reverse engineering. I declined to be an expert witness in a pending lawsuit I’ll say no more about.