The Nikon Z is a courageous and necessary step for Nikon and, whereas it may not have gotten every thing proper first time, it reveals sufficient promise to encourage current customers to commit themselves to the system. Nonetheless, to ship the system’s full potential, Nikon must proceed being courageous.

A courageous new lens mount…

It could sound odd however I believe probably the most important factor in regards to the Nikon Z cameras is not that they are mirrorless: it is that they use a brand new lens mount. This will sound like the identical factor, however I believe it is informative to separate the 2 concepts.

A mirrorless design lets the physique be a bit smaller and permits a extra constant expertise between stills and video taking pictures, however that is not that radical. Getting rid of the prevailing limitations of your mount and trying to the longer term: that is an enormous step.

Nikon is an organization with an extended historical past and a proud 100 yr custom of constructing glorious merchandise. Whether or not it is the Nikon F, F3, FM, D3, D500 or D850, it is produced some genuinely very good cameras. After which, after all, there are the lenses: it is 59 years for the reason that firm launched the F-mount and the vast majority of these lenses can nonetheless be used, to varied extents, on its newest fashions.

Shifting to a brand new lens mount, even in case you do every thing you may to respect historical past by sustaining backwards compatibility, is a large step. Canon’s fame took a knock when it took the choice to desert its current FD lenses and transfer to the EF mount. It was an enormous transfer however one which’s been vindicated by how future-proof a big, all digital mount has confirmed to be. Sony, conversely, made the choice to squeeze a full body sensor into its E-mount, slightly than attempt to add a 3rd mount to its lineup.

Nikon confirmed a sequence of mockup lenses when it launched the 1 System, however the choice to spell-out its plans for the Z mount represents an uncommon diploma of candor for the corporate.

The transfer to mirrorless was, then, the proper likelihood to design a brand new lens mount and Nikon has clearly gone out of its strategy to make one thing versatile. In the event you requested a crew of engineers who’d spent their whole careers working with the restrictions of a narrow-throated, film-era mount to design one thing new, the huge, adaptable Z-mount might be what they’d give you.

And that is promising for the longer term: it supplies loads of scope for making a variety of lenses with out having to fret about sending gentle to the corners of the sensor at hard-to-capture indirect angles.

The Z mount in comparison with the F mount.

…a bit of shortsightedness?

However, whereas I commend Nikon for making a break with its previous, I fear a bit of that it is determined to not share the small print of this mount with third occasion makers.

It is comprehensible that, having offered 100 million lenses on your current mount, you would possibly really feel you do not want anybody else’s assist. Nonetheless, for photographers with none F-mount lenses, the preliminary lack of third-party assist (in phrases each of adaptors and native lenses) will appear like a weak level.

The size of Sony’s E mount might look considerably restrictive in comparison with the Nikon Z’s however even in case you assume solely when it comes to full body, it has a 4 and a half yr headstart and native assist from each Sigma and Tamron. This offers it an enormous benefit when it comes to native lens availability and one which it is prone to keep if Nikon will not let anybody else play in its sandpit.

Would not or not it’s higher to open up the mount and make the entire system look extra enticing to would-be consumers? In any case, you should not should artificially defend your personal lens gross sales in case you’re assured that yours are higher high quality or higher worth than these of third events.

…and a few alternatives missed

Past the lens mount, Nikon has struck an analogous stability of respecting historical past and seizing new alternatives: copying a lot of its widely-admired ergonomics and UI immediately throughout whereas additionally making a lot larger use of the touchscreen than would have made sense on a DSLR.

However the job’s not accomplished. In designing the Z 7, Nikon appears to have used a continuation of its stay view AF system (the one nobody makes use of), slightly than see the transfer to mirrorless as a possibility to re-think how AF can be managed, given a clean piece of paper.

Nikon has as an alternative opted for a clumsier system tailored from its stay view AF monitoring system. This requires you to press ‘OK’ or faucet on a topic earlier than it’s going to begin monitoring

Initially this can current a hurdle for Nikon DSLR customers transferring throughout however that in itself should not be the deal-breaking argument: these cameras want to draw new customers, too. The extra compelling argument for extra carefully mimicking its DSLRs’ through-the-viewfinder AF habits is that it is the finest within the business. And it needs to be: Nikon’s actually spent a long time refining it, to the purpose it is utilized by information, motion and sports activities journalists the world over.

Nikon’s 3D Monitoring system, the place you place an AF level and it tracks no matter was beneath that time once you provoke AF is sensible. Regardless of which system we have every come from, there’s consensus within the DPReview workplace that 3D Monitoring represents finest follow. There is a purpose why Sony’s mirrorless cameras appear to extra carefully copy its habits with each era (although if they might additionally be aware of Nikon’s system working with out the necessity for an infinite variety of AF space modes, that’d be good, too).

Sadly, Nikon has as an alternative opted for a clumsier system tailored from its stay view AF monitoring system. This requires you to press ‘OK’ or faucet on a topic earlier than it’s going to begin monitoring, slightly than merely monitoring primarily based in your pre-selected AF level. Worse nonetheless, it requires that you simply disengage monitoring (both by urgent ‘OK’ once more or by tapping onto a unique topic), slightly than merely reverting to your chosen level once you launch the shutter button.

This may not sound like a lot of an inconvenience, however it’s the distinction between with the ability to swap topics in-the-moment, slightly than having to cease taking pictures, make a change and begin once more. It is a lack of exactly the immediacy and ease that makes 3D Monitoring so good within the first place.

To be clear, I am not criticizing the AF algorithms themselves: we have not absolutely examined it but however the Z 7’s monitoring appears extremely sticky: my concern is solely in regards to the consumer interface

Act now, earlier than issues change into set in stone

As I say, Nikon’s through-the-viewfinder habits is so good that it could be price Nikon making an attempt to imitate it within the Z system’s interface. And sure, there will be the added bonus that it will be habits that current customers count on. However they should do it now, earlier than the brand new, much less refined habits turns into ossified as ‘the habits our current customers count on.’

So, having made a break with the previous to undertake a radical, future-proof lens mount, I name on Nikon to be courageous once more and redesign its AF habits. And possibly have a take into consideration whether or not third-party lenses are a menace or a profit.


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