Nikon Introduces Mirrorless Z System

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ShunCheung, Aug 23, 2018.

  1. Do you think MILC would replace DSLR? If the answer is yes then eventually the Z will replace the D.
  2. Do Nikon users need another camera system? F will not be abandoned in favor of Z.
  3. As far as I've understood:
    - With Z-lenses, the in-body stabilizer works on 5 axis;
    - With F-lenses on the FTZ-adapter, the in-body stabilizer works on 3 axis, and the VR of the lens can cover the other 2 (so yielding a total system that should be equal or near equal efficient).

    Personally I am not yet vastly interested in a mirrorless system, though from an ergonomic point of view I get the impression the Z-cameras would fit me/my hands better than the Sony bodies. I like it that Nikon has tried to stay close to the button layout of the DSLRs; it's proven working and eases transition. But the one concern I have at this point is whether there will be adapters for lenses of other systems as well - to me personally, that would be by far the biggest argument in favour of a mirrorless over a DSLR. Just simple manual focus adapters, as they exist plenty for Sony E, Fuji X and m4/3rds, would be fine.

    Otherwise, I still fail to see why so many people seem to think there can be only one system in the future, and only one winner. DSLRs do not need to go away; sure they may become a niche market, but this constant argument that DSLRs will go away is so short-sighted to me. There is no consumer advantage in having less choice, and so far the market shows that niche products can co-exist and even be profitable enough; you can still buy a rangefinder, medium format and film today and multiple companies active in those niche markets are posting healthy results. So, let's hope we keep choice rather than having to pick one winner, whether we'd like or not.
  4. Just like film can coexist with digital but if one wins it tends to be almost the only one. Just like Leica still makes rangefinder. They don't completely go away but to most people they don't exist.
  5. If you put in a VR lens via the adapter, the body provides roll compensation and the lens compensates for its usual two axis, so you get a total of 3 axis of compensation, a little better than using a VR lens without in-body compensation but it doesn't "add up" on the same axis.
  6. In many fields there are multiple technologies in use. For example electricity and heat are produced using varying approaches and there is no one approach that has gotten close to being dominant, despite there being obvious differences in pollution produced. Similarly, there is no one food which is consumed by humans and liked by everyone. I think of DSLRs and mirrorless in the same way: different tools for different people and purposes.
  7. Playing catch up...

    Ooh, LoCA, my pet topic, came up. I believe the manual for the 135 DC actually said "don't rely on autofocus with DC set away from 0". That was certainly my experience with it.

    To be clear, my understanding is that the Z7 can autofocus at 9fps (and the Z6 at 12fps), but you can't see what it's autofocussing on because the subset of the readout doesn't go to the viewfinder. That is, the AF points still read out quickly and separately, but pulling the full information off the chip for the frame rate stops a partial update being pulled out for viewfinder update and metering purposes. That kind of suggests that the camera can't repurpose the full frame data (reducing the viewfinder and metering rate to "just" 9fps and lagging a bit) and has to have a separate sub-resolution readout.

    There are a few things that seem nice. 10-bit log video (although why they can't stick to HLG or PQ rather than inventing their own...), the configurable AF size (I was trying to focus on distant landscapes through various trees over the last couple of weeks, and PDAF refused not to track the foreground), the apparently not stupid version of Snapbridge (oh you actually want to talk to a computer), obviously having PDOS for video. I'm glad there's the "don't try to use picture controls" option for the finder. Controls on the right are good, although they look a little squished. Nikon still have a "finger on the shutter while you change the dial" philosophy, and they still forgot it when it came to ISO and exposure compensation.

    The smaller buffer and lack of viewfinder at 9 (or even 7) FPS loses me, though. I'm not very happy about the lack of 1/250s sync. Rumours of the AF mode being a bit fiddly to set are alarming. That the battery grip doesn't look to include controls (unless there are connections for them inside the battery compartment) isn't all that appealing. I'm in no rush to switch to mirrorless; Z7 mk II (or Z8) might tempt me more, which is just as well since I'm paying for my D850 by installments. It's no worse than the D850, but I was disappointed to see you still need a dongle to trigger an SB-5000.

    In other news, they've followed Sony in the "very good, but how much?" 50mm f/1.8 line. The sample images in the brochure 35mm show a bit of cat's eye vignetting for the 35mm, which is a bit disappointing all things considered. I have no understanding why the 50mm f/0.95 ended up manual focus (contrast detect only, yes, but manual?) The lack of LoCA is nice to see. The "S line" nomenclature is a bit awkward - at least, I keep reading the 24-70 f/4 S as 24-70 f/4.5. Plus the international issues with pronouncing the letter "Z". I'll be interested to see how the lenses hold up after more testing, but it's not entirely clear to me how badly the F mount compromises things, even if I can see that extending the rear element farther to the sides of the sensor could have merits.

    The lens adaptor... well, I guess that's what we expected. At least it has an EE post switch. I guess it runs in stop-down mode if you start using the aperture ring, hence the limits on the digital rangefinder when you do that. The tripod foot on the lens adaptor seems like a mixed blessing. The limitations encouraged me to check whether there's an AF-D lens with VR; the original 80-400 is one, but were there any others?

    Still, these cameras seem to be aimed at enthusiasts (the D750 and D8x0 crowd). Which makes me a little gobsmacked at just how many pages in the brochure are dedicated to in-camera picture controls. My number one objection to the "the viewfinder shows what your image will look like" argument is that I never know what it'll look like until I'm done processing; I certainly don't have time to fiddle in the field before each shot, so such a preview is largely useless to me (with the arguable exception, I admit, that running my Coolpix A in monochrome is mildly helpful, even if I reconvert the raws manually). I kind of assume most (not all) people going for this kind of system aren't going to be put off the idea of using a computer, and are less likely to care about the JPEG output.

    I'd hoped to have it done by now, but none of this has stopped me from doing a camera feature survey. I'll finish writing stuff up soon; much is still relevant both to the Z cameras and to any other DSLRs.

    So, the Z7 is kind of a D840 (gains a few features, loses a few). The Z6 is more clearly a step up from the D750, which was an old body anyway. I suspect the question is whether it's going to be the only D750 successor or whether Nikon might squeeze out another dSLR in that segment. More interesting will be to see what happens to the D5 for Tokyo 2020, and the DX "feeder bodies" in the next few months.
  8. believe the manual for the 135 DC actually said "don't rely on autofocus with DC set away from 0".

    I don't have the manual at hand but I believe the correct process is to first adjust DC, then focus (either auto or manual). Adjusting the DC ring changes the focus.

    you can't see what it's autofocussing on

    True, I would think the idea in this case is that one would use some kind of automated subject recognition and tracking when shooting at full fps rate of the camera. But I suspect most people will see these as 5.5 fps cameras. Which is just fine I think. Shooting blind or worse, with a delayed slideshow is definitely not my cup of tea.

    the apparently not stupid version of Snapbridge (oh you actually want to talk to a computer)

    Well the mobile phone application is Snapbridge, the talk to a computer part is just wi-fi. Nikon seem to have realized that Snapbridge isn't very good and people want a real wi-fi back thank you very much.

    I was disappointed to see you still need a dongle to trigger an SB-5000.

    You can buy a Phase One camera that will solve the problem (talking to Profoto flashes). :D But at least I'm happy that the same dongle works with DSLRs and Z mirrorless. At least Nikon didn't invent yet another incompatible proprietary flash interface.

    in the brochure 35mm show a bit of cat's eye vignetting for the 35mm,

    I looked at the images in the brochure and got the opposite impression and I was happy that there was so little cat's eye effect in the 35mm prime images.

    I have no understanding why the 50mm f/0.95 ended up manual focus

    Well, optical quality perhaps, it's hard to make a really good lens if you have to have light weight moving elements inside, and tolerances for their wobble. For mirrorless the focus group needs to be light weight, and for a high quality 58/0.95 I'm guessing they didn't want to make any compromises in that area. However, there will be an autofocus 50/1.2 so that is something to consider. Likely the estimated 6000€ price of the 58/0.95 is too much for most of us, anyway.

    I've got this feeling that the manual focus with really long throw of the 58/0.95 could be targeted for video as well as stills. The accelerated manual focus of the regular, autofocus primes doesn't seem a very good idea. But a normal manual focus with very long throw and ridiculously large aperture could find some users in filmmaking. They have the budget for it, and maybe they will like the video features of this camera.

    Plus the international issues with pronouncing the letter "Z".

    To see; that's so logical for a camera and lens system at least in English.

    I guess it runs in stop-down mode if you start using the aperture ring,

    I'm not exactly sure but I believe it is possible to compose wide open (lens set to min aperture, camera holds aperture open) and let the camera stop down and confirm/adjust the metering by reading off the sensor just before taking the exposure, so I don't see why it would have to be wide open for composing, unless Nikon simply wanted that (if there is focus shift stopped down focusing may be more accurate at least if there is enough light). It is possible the camera won't let the shutter fire if the lens is not at the minimum aperture.

    I suspect the question is whether it's going to be the only D750 successor or whether Nikon might squeeze out another dSLR in that segment.

    I would think they keep updating both, it should be fairly straightforward to swap the sensor and include full sensor readout 4K and proper live view and video focusing, which could potentially make people happy (those who like dual pixel on Canon DSLRs for video and LV AF), same with D850 update. I think there is enough reason to do that but then I may not be the majority. There are apparently people who want an EVF, to my puzzlement.
  9. Boy it seems like Nikon doesn't have a chance. If you don't buy a Z in 6 months I can write off the Zet as a failure. But I think they did listen to you in making the camera does stop down metering.
  10. :)

    Good point, both - I assume the metering system is fast enough to cope with being activated after stopping down, but I suppose there's no reason why it shouldn't. I'm clearly still thinking in SLR terms.

    I'd like to see these cameras, but in their current form, there would need to be more before I felt they improved over what I already have with a gripped D850. (Thom Hogan appears to agree.) That may be a very clever bit of positioning to avoid annoying all the people who just bought a D850 - it certainly didn't completely obsolete it. YMMV, especially if you shoot video or need silence. I'll be interested to see some proper tests of the system, in their time. While Nikon still haven't fixed everything I've grumbled about (and many things I haven't), the system seems like a moderately solid introduction.

    Incidentally, the CIPA numbers for battery life still confuse me. The D850 and Df do particularly well because the tests require firing a flash (which neither camera has), and this eats battery. There's also a lot more chimping than would be common on a dSLR. The main reason I'm struggling with battery on my D850 is that I keep churning through a lot of frames trying to capture wildlife, which I wouldn't have managed on my D810. Given that the Z bodies must have been running at least the EVF screen anyway, I'm not sure why the test would have underestimated so badly. More testing would tell me a lot - one advantage I expect for a dSLR is battery, and I'll pay attention if this isn't the case.
  11. I suppose it’s possible the CIPA test was run in a with really early firmware and doesn't reflect reality. Hopefully Nikon get this sorted out.

    One thing that I'm happy about is that Nikon seem to have caught up with video AF now in the Z cameras. Rishi Sanyal of dpreview said in a video that the [Z6/Z7] video AF is probably the strongest they've seen in a mirrorless camera. I believe that the lack of usable AF during video recording in their DSLRs has been one of the main reasons why Nikon have lost market share in recent years, so hopefully this sorts it out. I would like to see similar LV and video AF improvements in the DSLRs as well, in the next generations.
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I understand the manual focus ring on the Z-mount lenses can be programmed to perform other functions. If one only uses AF, there is no need to use that ring for focusing purposes. Might as well take advantage of it to perform other functions.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  13. When it's a control ring. It sends it movement to the camera and the camera can then be programmed to change something. Just anything. For now as Nikon said it's can change aperture or exposure compensation as well as focusing.
  14. Oh, I thought it was a separate ring, not the focus ring. I wasn't looking closely. Nice idea, and for bigger glass much more practical than a front ring on the body.

    While I've resorted to manual focus a few times recently when the AF system has refused to look at a small subject, I'm usually AF-only, and meant to check which of my lenses support custom A13 (disable manual focus). I'm hoping the new 70-200 is one, because I keep nudging the ring while holding the lens, especially with the foot removed.
  15. - Sony have already been there and done that!
    The kit lens on my a6000 swaps its ring function from zoom to focus when switched to MF mode. Also, in that mode touching the ring automatically switches on EVF magnification.

    Quite an ergonomic arrangement.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
  16. One other thought I meant to chime in:

    I use two card slots in my D8x0 bodies very rarely for backup, and mostly because I can stick JPEGs on the SD card and stuff them in a laptop without needing a card reader. That'll obviously be a problem when/if I switch to a newer MacBook, without an integrated reader, but SD readers are still cheaper and smaller than the XQD reader.

    That would be a minor black mark for me with the Z bodies having a single slot. But they also have a version of Snapbridge which actually acknowledges that people might like to copy data to a PC (something I can only do with my D8x0 bodies if I put a slow Eye-Fi card in there). Assuming XQD failures are rare, this means I might actually not care, and would actually find it easier to transfer JPEGs around wirelessly. Although I still wish it was just a web server interface like the overpriced dedicated connector.

    Also, as someone who travels with cameras, the integrated battery charging is nice to have. I still don't have an imminent need for one, but kudos to Nikon for actually getting some things right, for me.
  17. One thing I am disappointed is that Nikon didn't have the aperture ring on the Z lenses. But then I am no MILC guy so they shouldn't please me. I do like the new command dial and also Nikon didn't put the EC there. Also as I have said before the big knob on the side of the viewfinder is the diopter adjustment and I like the big one like that. I wonder how you change metering mode though.
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I assume you can program the ring on Z lenses to control the aperture, instead of controlling focusing, but it won't have the aperture markings f4, f5.6 ....

    But at least IMO, focusing ring is very 20th century. I haven't used them much since my F5 in 1997.

    Sorry, major typo on my part, I meant to say the aperture ring is very 20th century, the not focusing ring. The fingers are not typing what the brain really thinks. :(
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
  19. Well without a dedicated aperture ring which has the f/stop marking there is no way to include an A position. With an A position on the lens and an A position on the camera shutter speed dial you don't need the PSAM dial. It's similar to what Fuji does but then Fuji doesn't make all of their lenses with the aperture ring either.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2018

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