Subscriber Jay M writes:
Hello Mr. Chambers, I continue appreciate your blog! I think I subscribe to all of them.
Originally I was tempted by the Sony system because of the Zeiss Batis lenses, however the new Nikon Z lenses look pretty good. Just curious about your thoughts on Nikon Z lenses vs Batis especially as it pertains to micro contrast.
DIGLLOYD: Pairing a Nikon Z7 II with a Nikon D850 is a fine choice, making the D850 DSLR lenses compatible with the Z7 via the Nikon FTZ adapter. On that basis, it might be said to be the best choice if (only if?) the primary goal is to be able to use a mirrorless camera with DSLR F-mount lenses.
With a very large collection of Nikon F-mount lenses (including nearly the entire Zeiss ZF.2 and Zeiss Otus lines), I do not yet own a Nikon mirrorless camera... that should tell you something.
OTOH, if the question involves the widest possible range of lenses with the best possible performance, then my recommendation is the Sony A7R IV (currently $500 off) because a goodly number of world-class lenses are available for Sony, but not available on any other mirrorless system, like the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM (which trounces the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 and Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8), and the Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar and Voigtlander 65mm f/2 Macro-APO-Lanthar, and a large number of Sigma lenses for Sony. The Nikon Z system (and Canon EOS R system) have only a fraction of the choices available on Sony.
If the question is about micro contrast, then that necessarily refers to the best possible lenses, hence I think the question is answered overwhelmingly in favor of the Sony A7R IV and its native-mount lenses by Sony and Sigma and Voigtlander. The best of the Nikon NIKKOR Z lenses are superb in overall image rendering and color correction, but most (nearly all) of them require distortion correction which is guaranteed to drop the micro contrast visibly (which my reviews demonstrate). Many of the Nikkor Z lenses have declining edge and corner performance (partly because of distortion correction), which narrows the lens selection considerably for the demanding photographer, for example for landscape shooting. Together with limited lense choices excluding 3rd parties, I deem this an unacceptable limitation for my shooting.
Overarching considerations for a camera system
Why invest in a 45 megapixel camera when a 60MP camera from Sony has been around for 15 months and will surely leap forward next year again? More pixels is not so much about resolution as about oversampling and the image quality improvements that brings. Also, Sony offers sibling cameras like the Sony A9 II, which are pretty darn awesome for uses like video or sports.
Finally, when moving for the first time to a mirrorless system, my view is that one should choose based on the primary usage pattern, not compatibility with the brand (lens adapters work, but IMO are too much of a hassle)—each to his own, but it’s a big investment, and Nikon is two years behind Sony on the camera front, and with about 1/10 the lens selection and no prospects of that improving much since Nikon has seen fit to de facto lock out other lens brands—hardly a long-term value proposition.