Words are known to tell stories but so do pictures. Ansel Adams famously quipped that ‘when words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.’ I still remember the lovable jab of joy when I first held in my hands an analog SLR in my retro years… and little did I know that in less than a decade there will be the word digital added to whatever I click. I carry my sturdy and dependable Nikon D5500 with me on all my travel and trek trips and am rather in love with all that it does for me. I was quite upset when a friend told me once that DSLRs are ugly beasts that are noisy, nosy, obvious, and heavy. Of course I disagreed and later convinced the fellow to go ahead and purchase one. He is a happy man now but would be happier once he knows about the new Z-series of mirrorless cameras that Nikon has now launched. He would instinctively know that unlocking the future with the power of light is now acceptably silent, far lighter, and comes with innovative technology that is future-ready in many ways. After all, as Annie Leibovitz remarked, ‘One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing. It doesn’t turn off and turn on. It’s on all the time.’
The moment I held the Nikon Z7 in my hands during the launch, I knew this would be one gadget that I must start yearning for… and yes, even saving for. But we’ll come to the fiscal part later. For now, it is the economics of technology that I wish to talk about. Both the Z7 and Z6 are FX format (full-frame) mirrorless cameras and come with a new larger in diameter mount, mount adapter, and a set of three Nikkor Z lenses (24-70mm f/4 S, 35mm f/1.8 S, and 50mm f/1.8 S).
This friend that I mentioned in the first paragraph is a fussy perfectionist and keeps emailing me questions about camera functionality and also about photography aesthetics and ethics. A few of the camera-related queries that he has had have included questions that have sometimes foxed me. So let me go on with this specs-based review by trying to answer each one by one.
Has the ISO range in DSLRs reached a dead-end?
No, my friend, because the Z7 has a 64-25600 range that can be expanded to 32 on the lower end and 102400 on the other. To add to this, the Z7 has a 45.7 mp sensor and a backside illuminated CMOS sensor with focal-plane phase-detection AF pixels. The Z6 has a 24.5 mp sensor and because it is priced much lower, has its ISO ranging from 100 to 51200 and can accommodate a 50-204800 as well. Phase detection AF is all about autofocus points that have been going up and getting more reliable over the years. What one needs to know is that F13 and above, focal-plane phase-detection cannot be used but gets active when an application lens is used. Mirrorless cameras have contrast detection and they work better.
Do focus points matter?
Yes, they do. There are 273 focus points in the Z6 and 493 in Z7. The optimized algorithm in the FX-format of both these mirrorless cameras senses and then uses the best option between focal-plane phase-detection AF and contrast-detection AF to get the right perspective so far as focus is concerned.
Are current viewfinders fine?
Well, viewfinders help in composing a picture and, in some cases, help in focusing on the real story. In an EVF or the electronic viewfinder, the optical system is no longer there because the OVF or the optical viewfinder has been replaced. This means that there is no longer a need for a complex mechanism of mirrors and prisms. The Z7 and Z6 have a nearly 3700-dot OLED panel with a 0.8 magnification, a 37.0 degree diagonal viewing angle, and a hundred percent frame coverage.
By the way, the EVF also displays the menu and ISO, AF-area mode, and picture control can be viewed and adjusted. The launch presentation also mentioned a fluorine coating to repel dust and dirt from the eye-piece region.
When will I be able to capture great videos on DSLRs?
Now is the time, I’d say because this range of mirrorless cameras not only has an Expeed 6 image processing engine that not just improves picture control sharpness but also have twenty options for creative picture control with level adjustments from 0 to 100 but also have the ability to enable you to shoot videos in 8K and even time-lapses. Both the Nikon Z7 and Z6 can capture 10-bit 4:2:2 3840×2160 pixels 4K video at 24, 25, and 30 fps.
The new Z-series mirrorless cameras from Nikon have a flange focal distance just 16mm and this is an advantage because a longer flange distance would mean more camera body material where structural integrity comes into play. Both these cameras have an in-body image stabilization which means a fair reduction in vibrations. Sound recording has obviously been looked into and the Nikon officials were rather upbeat about the output.
The three new lenses launched include the standard zoom Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S, the wide-angle prime Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.8 S, and the standard prime Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S. Their positives include a quiet operation, seamless exposure control, and adequate compensation for focus breathing which also means that they are fair game for video recording. The Z mount system that comes with these cameras can enable a range of ‘high-performance’ lenses, including Nikon’s fastest lens with f/0.95 aperture. These lenses have high resolving power and are built for video recording. The focusing ring is digital and not mechanical which minimizes shake.
The ergonomics of the cameras make operations easier.
There is no confusion in my mind that the Z-series of mirrorless cameras from Nikon is a good option for photography enthusiasts. The only thing the buyer needs to take care of is being mentally prepared to look at the price range.
Note: This post, I must admit, is based upon a cursory appraisal of the Z-series during the launch and I will be able to show you the results in varying conditions only if the camera is sent over for a few days for a photo-review.
The press release mentions these price options:
Price & Availability:
All the below products will be available for purchase across India starting 27th September, 2018:
Nikon Digital Camera Z7: INR 269,950
Nikon Digital Camera Z7 + NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F/4 S + Mount Adapter FTZ Kit: INR 326,950
Nikon Digital Camera Z7 + NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F/4 S Kit: INR 314,950
Nikon Digital Camera Z7 + Mount Adapter FTZ Kit: INR 281,950
NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F/4 S: INR 78,450
NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S : INR 66,950
Mount Adapter FTZ : INR 19,950
NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S: INR 50,950
All the below products will be available for purchase across India starting November, 2018:
Nikon Digital Camera Z6: INR 169,950
Nikon Digital Camera Z6 + NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F/4 S + Mount Adapter FTZ Kit: INR 226,950
Nikon Digital Camera Z6 + NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F/4 S: INR 214,950
Nikon Digital Camera Z6 + Z6 Mount Adapter FTZ Kit: INR 181,950
20 September 2018