Nikon Z7 - first impressions

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

  1. Since the camera has now been shown to the public and I am far from the only one that have checked it out first hand, I think the Z7 does deserve an early impressions thread.

    Swedish Nikon Pro retailer Kameradoktorn had an event this morning where you could look at the Z6 and Z7 and try them out for yourself. My main interest was the Z7 and how well it stacks up against the D850. Thus, I did not spend that much time with the Z6. With regards to build quality, both cameras gave the same quality feel. Much more D850 than D750. Both give a very solid impression. However, the small size and the claim that even a micro SD card would require too much space (see below) makes me wonder about how it will react to an impact. I felt the old metal vs. plastic debate from the 80s might be revived if one ding results in cracked PCBs.

    Please note that the following is by no by means a review. These loose comments are only my personal impressions after having checked out a pre-production sample in a store.

    The grip is on the small side but probably still large for a mirrorless camera. While my first impression was that it had a cluttered layout, I still could find most button intuitively. Having used cameras with large top LCDs since the 90s, I was surprised by the small display on the Z-series. It was still easy to see the information and it was very comfortable in dim light.

    The viewfinder is nice and easy to see. The diopter dial to the right of the EVF changes the image size (let us say it changes the eye point), which is very much appreciated for us who wear glasses. It was really easy to see the entire frame and the information below. While the viewfinder offers a nice image, I was not convinced for my photographic needs. It did lag, most apparent when panning and following slow passing cars outside the shop window. The spokes on the rims where all blurry and I for one would find that lag tiresome and less than ideal for birds in flight. I am less disturbed by the mirror blackout.

    Focus with the new 35/1.8 was accurate, but not as fast as I had hoped for. Even compared to the D800E, it felt slower, but I attribute that to the lens. The lens had the same plastic feel to as the consumer grade DX lenses. It seems weight is key here.

    According to Nikon there was simply no place for a second memory card. While I asked about the space requirements for even a micro SD card just for backup, I was informed that size would be adversely affected and that they therefore had opted for a single memory card. It will take CFExpress cards after a firmware update. When that is due, they could not say. Speaking of memory cards, they will not enter the business, but re-label existing cards as a way to push the format.

    VR worked very well and will probably help drive the prices up for older non-VR AF-S supertele lenses. If a VR lens is used, the IBIS and VR will work together.

    We were not allowed to examine photos other than on the camera displays, so I will not comment on image quality. However, the rear display seemed even better than that on the D850. It had excellent detail and colour accuracy, clearly better than the EVF. The sensor was said to be new as well, so not only is the Expeed processor new, we also have a new sensor. It will be interesting to see how it has been tuned and how it differs from the D850.

    The Nikon representative mentioned that they have received notice that a battery grip is in the works. It will hold two EN-EL15 batteries but there was no scheduled release date.

    The standard response to most software and feature related comments, apart from the single memory card slot, was that this is a pre-production sample and that several changes are already planned for the first firmware update.

    All-in-all, a promising start. It will be a contender and a strong first entry for Nikon. It will not be to everybody’s liking, but who says mirrorless is?

    Sorry for the poor photo.
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Heimbrandt, nice write up. This seems to be a nice camera, but both Sony and Nikon seem to make small size a priority. The Z7 looks small, but the mount is huge. I just don’t buy the argument that they can’t add an SD slot. If Nikon had the electronic contacts, they could put an SD slot in the vertical grip.
  3. I'm sure I've seen an underside view, but can't seem to find it now. Does it have the usual grip connector cluster.?
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Nikon USA has supplied me a lot of images of the new system. Here is the bottom of the D6 and D7. They are the same so that they can use the same add-on vertical grips.

    There doesn't seem to be a removable rubber gasket to protect electronic contacts on the under side. Therefore, this vertical grip maybe one of those that protrudes into the battery compartment. You need to remove that little battery compartment door before you attach the vertical grip, e.g. similar to the MB-D200 for the D200. Nikon has not used that kind of design for a while. Most modern vertical grips leave the original battery in place and just adds to the bottom of the camera without any part that sticks into the battery compartment.

    Nikon MB-D200:
    MB-D200 Multi-Power Battery Pack from Nikon

    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  5. Sure power can go up the battery tunnel, but, err, where do all the input/output comms go from the vert shutter button, AF-On, jog-pad etc?

    Looks like the underside of a D5000 series. No comms port. Also no official battery grip, just a horrid botch with little cables for power and shutter to USB cable-release socket
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    We are merely speculating, of course, but if the grip for the Z6/Z7 is designed like the MB-D200, communication would be like that too. The MB-D200 has its own shutter release and command dial. It holds two EN-EL3e batteries in the bottom. Two EN-EL15b would be a tight squeeze into the grip for Z.
  7. Oh, I get you, the grip's 'battery' insert has got comm. pins as-well as power connectors.

    I guess we should put a call out for someone to look up inside the battery housing....;)
  8. They sure as hell didn't do the body design in Italy.
  9. They gave you the picture of a prototype? No sticker on the bottom.
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    A prototype typically means the design is not yet finalized, and it maybe one of several alternatives for field trial before the design is finalized. Sometimes features are still missing.

    The demo models available today and their images are usually called "pre-production." They typically look and feel the same as the eventual products, but maybe the firmware will be further updated before things are finalized. Usually Nikon may allow people to play around with pre-production models but they don't let you keep any images captured. (Obviously DPReview is allowed to publish their impression of a test sample.)

    For example, these are the Z7 news images Nikon USA provides. There are separate images for the Z6 and the lenses, etc.

    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  11. The EVF refresh rate could simply be how that camera was configured.
    My Olympus E-M1 had a slow refresh rate resulting in lagging image in the EVF.
    But I made a change in the configuration menu to a faster refresh rate, and that fixed that problem.
  12. The new EN-EL15a can be charged in the camera with supported models. Considering when the battery is launched, I would assume the Z-series support this via their USB-C connectors. Thus, power banks might find their way into Nikon Z-series shooters' camera bags.
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I believe it is the new en-el15b. The a has been around for over a year. The D850 comes with an en-el15a.

    You can use any one of the three, but only the b can be recharged inside the camera.
  14. Yes, sorry I meant EN-EL15b.

    Still, I find it interesting that the EN-EL15b can be charged in the camera whereas the others cannot. I would have thought it depended on the camera rather than camera and the battery.

    Perhaps that is the new thing about the EN-EL15b, more circuitry to make people want to buy it.
  15. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I am only speculating, but the EN-EL15b may have extra contacts or something. Otherwise, as far as I know you can also use the EN-EL15 and EN-EL15a inside the Z6 and Z7, as well as use the EN-EL15b inside a D850, D500, D7200 .... You just have to use the external charger MH-25(a) to charge those batteries externally.

    I am going to a Z6/Z7 demo event in a few days. Not sure I can take the battery out to check. But I am sure we'll find production cameras, lenses, and batteries in another month or two. We'll learn the details.
  16. I am invited to a Z7 demo next Thursday but I don't know I have time to go or not. I am curious to see how the EVF perform. The EVF is all that matter to me.

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