After years of speculating whether or not Nikon would truly make a sophisticated mirrorless digital camera, we lastly have the reply within the new full-frame Z7 and Z6. Whereas these aren’t Nikon’s first makes an attempt at a mirrorless digital camera (that was the Nikon 1 collection, which the corporate lately ended), they’re the primary critical entry into the area. For a lot of, significantly Nikon shooters, it’s been a very long time coming. Now Nikon customers have an expert mirrorless possibility with out defecting to Sony or Fujifilm.

In growing the Z-series, Nikon instructed Digital Tendencies that it had some issues it wanted to contemplate: the hundreds of thousands of Nikkor DSLR lenses already bought, the loyalty of its consumer base, and its model. The Z cameras needed to meet the identical standards as Nikon’s DSLRs — they needed to really feel like Nikons and be constructed like Nikons, the corporate instructed us — however in some methods, they even surpass them.

Maybe Nikon is solely dealing with the truth that mirrorless is a development section and DSLRs are usually not. DSLRs nonetheless account for 70 p.c of interchangeable lens cameras bought (versus 30 for mirrorless), however in response to some latest stats, the DSLR market is shrinking. It additionally alerts that one of many greatest DSLR makers is able to totally decide to mirrorless (Canon, very doubtless, gained’t be too far behind).

Nikon’s Z7 has been touted because the mirrorless equal of the extremely lauded D850 (one in all our favourite cameras, and definitely one of the crucial succesful cameras in the marketplace, DSLR or in any other case). So does it have the chops? Whereas we are able to’t touch upon efficiency proper now (the digital camera we checked out throughout a pre-briefing and official product launch in Tokyo is a pre-production pattern that we weren’t capable of shoot with), we are able to have a look at the specs, how the digital camera feels, and what’s in retailer for the longer term. Right here’s a first-look at Nikon’s thrilling new digital camera.

(This preview is predicated on our time spent with the Z7, however the Z6 is a really comparable digital camera. We famous the variations the place relevant.)

The specs

The Z7 and Z6 cameras are almost similar apart from the sensor and a small handful of options. Once more, the Z7 is the mirrorless counterpart to the D850. It’s constructed round an identical 45.7-megapixel, back-illuminated full-frame (Nikon FX format) sensor with no optical low-pass filter (OLPF), however the Z7’s is newly developed and particular to the mirrorless digital camera. The Z6, with its back-illuminated 24.5-megapixel FX sensor, is akin to the D750 DSLR — a extra reasonably priced entry into full-frame that might attraction to a wider viewers, however it’s no slouch. Additionally just like the D750, the Z6 retains the OLPF.

The Z7 and Z6 are Nikon’s first interchangeable lens cameras to have five-axis picture stabilization.

Each cameras introduce the brand new Expeed 6 picture processor, which, in response to Nikon, renders sharper pictures whereas decreasing noise. The cameras additionally introduce a mid-range sharpening device within the Image Management settings that allow you to enhance sharpness or softness. The Z7 and Z6 have an ISO vary of 64-25,600 and 100-51,200, respectively. Excessive-speed steady capturing is as much as 9 frames per second on the Z7 and 12 fps on the lower-resolution Z6.

The autofocus methods in each cameras cowl 90-percent of the sensor, utilizing 493 focal airplane phase-detection focus factors within the Z7 and 273 within the Z6; it’s a hybrid system that additionally makes use of distinction detection. With Z-mount lenses, Nikon says the AF methods in these two cameras present sooner, quieter, and extra correct focusing for each photographs and movies.

The Z7 and Z6 are additionally Nikon’s first interchangeable lens cameras to have five-axis picture stabilization (Vibration Discount, or VR, in Nikon phrases) constructed into the physique. Nikon says the stabilization permits for a shutter pace as much as 5 stops slower if used along with a VR lens.

Nikon Z7 Mirrorless Camera
Les Shu/Digital Tendencies

The digital OLED viewfinder in each cameras has a powerful 3,690k-dot decision and is quick and responsive, with full protection of the sensor. A fluorine coating helps forestall grime accumulating, and the EVF is designed for diminished chromatic aberration. Nikon says it’s corresponding to its optical viewfinders, however with the advantages of an EVF, reminiscent of info shows and dwell view.

At launch, the Z-series will help solely XQD reminiscence playing cards, a format that thus far solely Nikon has adopted in nonetheless cameras. Nevertheless, Nikon will launch help for CFexpress when that format is prepared. CFexpress playing cards use the identical kind issue as XQD, so a easy firmware replace is all that’s required to maneuver to the brand new media. For now, there aren’t many producers producing XQD playing cards, so this can be one disadvantage confronted by early adopters of the Z collection.

Different options embrace a silent shutter operate, interval timer for 8K time-lapse motion pictures (Z7 solely), prolonged low-light metering vary, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (SnapBridge), and help for DSLR equipment. A brand new Wi-Fi operate helps you to mechanically switch content material to a pc wirelessly (with Nikon software program put in).

The brand new Z-mount lets Nikon create higher lenses that it merely couldn’t with the F-mount.

The Z7 and Z6 use the brand new EN-EL 15b battery, however it might probably additionally use the EN-EL 15a battery that’s used within the D850 and different Nikon DSLRs. Nevertheless, Nikon didn’t give a battery ranking, however it could have fewer pictures than when utilized in a DSLR. Traditionally, the corporate’s DSLRs have had spectacular energy administration, however mirrorless cameras put a continuing pressure on their batteries as a consequence of dwell view shows, so battery life is prone to be a lot much less in Z6/Z7.

Nikon does say utilizing the older EN-EL 15 battery will yield fewer pictures per cost in comparison with the 15a or 15b. Nikon can also be growing the MB-N10 Multi-Energy Battery Pack that may maintain two 15b batteries and will probably be suitable with each Z cameras.

New Z-mount and S-Line lenses

For the Z-series, Nikon has developed a brand new, bigger lens mount known as the Z-mount, which has some benefits over the present F-mount that’s been used for many years within the firm’s DSLRs. The brand new Z-mount-compatible lens collection is named the S-Line.

Earlier than we discuss in regards to the Z-mount and S-Line lenses, the Z-series is suitable with all F-mount Nikkor lenses by way of the FTZ adapter (we assume it’ll additionally work with third-party F-mount lenses, however that hasn’t been confirmed). Whereas it isn’t as handy as utilizing a lens with a local mount, present Nikon customers will nonetheless have full use of their current lenses, together with the brand new, huge AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 E PF ED VR lens (see one in all our pictures with this lens hooked up to a Z7, by way of the FTZ adapter). And, as a result of the digital camera has built-in picture stabilization, a lot of these lenses may very well work higher on a Z digital camera for some conditions. Priced at $250, the FTZ adapter can also be climate sealed, giving it a premium high quality of high-end Nikkor lenses.

In keeping with Nikon, the corporate determined to pursue a brand new lens mount design as a result of the F-mount was limiting. The bigger diameter (55mm) of the Z-mount allowed Nikon to develop new lenses with apertures as quick as f/0.95 — a primary for Nikkor lenses. In actual fact, Nikon is growing such a lens proper now: the Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 S Nocht Lens. An homage to the AI Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 lens from 1977, this premium, manual-focus prime lens is the flagship of the S-Line. Nikon says the brand new Nocht lens will ship sharp pictures and delightful bokeh. Availability or pricing haven’t been revealed, however it’s on Nikon’s Z lens roadmap for 2019.

Nikon has 9 extra Z lenses on its roadmap for 2019-2021, together with a wide range of each zooms and primes.

At launch, there will probably be three S-Line lenses: the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/Four S ($1,000), Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.Eight S ($850), and a Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.Eight S ($600). The 24-70mm and 35mm lenses will probably be accessible on September 27, whereas the 50mm is scheduled for late October. All of the lenses are constructed to the identical Nikon requirements because the DSLR lenses, together with a Nano Crystal Coat layer to scale back ghosting and flaring. The 35mm and 50mm lenses have new motors that present quick autofocusing and quiet operation, with optical designs that additional scale back chromatic aberrations.

Nikon has 9 extra Z lenses on its roadmap for 2019-2021, together with the aforementioned Nocht lens together with a wide range of zooms and primes, like a 20mm f/1.8; 85mm f/1.8; 24-70mm f/2.8; 70-200mm f/2.8; 14-30mm f/4; 50mm f/1.2; 24mm f/1.8; and 14-24mm f/2.8. No different particulars have been introduced, apart from they are going to be a part of the S-Line.

Focusing on filmmakers

Nikon has been attracting video shooters for the reason that D500 and D5, however it has by no means supplied the total vary {of professional} video options discovered on many Sony and Panasonic cameras. 4K/30p is a given within the Z7 and Z6, however in addition they embrace 10-bit N-Log for wider dynamic vary and higher coloration — the primary time Nikon has supplied a logarithmic tone curve in its cameras. Nikon claims N-Log is nice for 12 stops of dynamic vary, which is kind of good for a video mode. Nevertheless, each 10-bit and N-Log are solely accessible when recording to an exterior system over HDMI.

Additionally spectacular is that 4K is recorded with full-pixel readout for sharper outcomes. Focus peaking and timecode are additionally supplied. These options are aimed toward extra superior {and professional} videographers, however it’s clear who Nikon thinks these cameras are additionally nice for. Maybe the one “downer” is lack for help for 4K/60p, like Panasonic’s GH5. Full HD could be recorded as much as 120 fps, nonetheless.

Feel and appear

Each the Z7 and Z6 have magnesium-alloy our bodies which might be climate sealed, with a strong building that’s equal to Nikon’s high-end DSLRs. They resemble their Nikon DSLR cousins, however have a extra squarish design and are rather more compact — roughly equal in dimension to a Nikon entry-level DSLR. While you choose one up, you’ll discover the burden; they might be smaller than high-end DSLRs, however not at all are they featherweights. Total, these are well-built machines able to sort out skilled assignments.

Photographers will respect the substantial grip, which could be very paying homage to DSLRs — there’s even the long-lasting crimson stripe that’s current on all Nikon DSLRs. It offers a sturdy maintain, which is one thing you gained’t discover on many mirrorless cameras with out including a grip accent. On the highest of the grip you’ll discover shutter button, on/off change, film file button, ISO button, and publicity compensation button — all simply accessibly along with your fingers whereas holding onto it. There’s a command dial on the entrance of the grip.

It’s comparatively minimalist on the highest of the primary digital camera physique. There’s a mode dial, digital viewfinder element, one other management dial, and a shiny, properly sized OLED show that clearly exhibits the capturing parameters. It is a element that many photographers love about their DSLRs, and it’s nice to see Nikon incorporate it into the Z-series. In actual fact, that is one thing you gained’t discover in most mirrorless cameras — even superior fashions, like Sony’s A9 and A7-series. Certain, some customers could moderately have one other settings dial, however we all know it is a function many photographers take pleasure in, and it’s clear Nikon sees this as vital.

In the US, the Nikon Z7 and Z6, physique solely, will promote for $3,400 and $2,000, respectively.

The rear format of buttons needs to be acquainted for any Nikon DSLR consumer. Nevertheless, the buttons have been rearranged to make room for the massive 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen show (2,100k-dot decision) — a primary for a Nikon interchangeable lens digital camera. As an alternative of a column of buttons alongside the left facet of the show, such as you would see with the D850, they’re all clustered to the suitable (two customizable operate buttons are on the entrance). The display screen tilts out to permit capturing at varied heights, however it doesn’t flip out utterly.

The Z-series retains Nikon’s menu system present in its high-end DSLRs — it’s one which’s pretty straightforward to navigate. Just like the small OLED show, Nikon clearly sees these cameras attraction to current Nikon customers, so it’s bringing over options that mentioned customers will discover acquainted. Nevertheless, it’s a digital camera that may be simply picked up by any skilled photographer.

On the left of the digital camera you’ll discover ports for headphone, microphone, USB (Kind C), HDMI, and distant. On the suitable is the XQD card slot — sure, it’s only a single slot, and this can be a slight disadvantage for some customers.

What about picture high quality and efficiency?

We haven’t had the possibility to shoot with both Z-series digital camera, however we will probably be utilizing one of many cameras shortly, so we’ll replace this part with further particulars, together with the way it feels to make use of one all day, in a wide range of environments. We anticipate the Z7 to ship high quality and efficiency on par, if not higher, than the D850, however we’ll reserve judgement. As well as, Nikon knowledgeable us that we’d be utilizing pre-production models, so even after we get an opportunity to strive a unit, we’d nonetheless reserve our closing verdicts for a full evaluation.

Digital camera pricing and availability

The Z7 will probably be accessible worldwide on September 27. In the US, the Z7 will promote for $3,400 physique solely, or $4,000 with the 24-70mm f/Four lens. The Z6 will come later, in November, for a really enticing body-only worth of $2,000, or $2,600 with the identical 24-70mm lens. The Z6 will certainly have extra mass-market attraction with that pricing, particularly anybody on the lookout for a full-frame mirrorless digital camera.

On paper, each cameras are spectacular, however we must wait and see if they’ll truly ship efficiency to again up the specs.

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