Nikon Z 30 Review
|Full model name:||Nikon Z 30|
(23.5mm x 15.7mm)
|Viewfinder:||No / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 51,200|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 204,800|
|Shutter:||1/4000 - 900 sec|
|Max Aperture:||3.5 (kit lens)|
5.0 x 2.9 x 2.3 in.
(128 x 74 x 60 mm)
|Full specs:||Nikon Z 30 specifications|
Nikon Z30 -- First Impressions
by Jeremy Gray | Preview posted: 07/29/2022
While Canon just recently announced its first APS-C cameras in the EOS R mirrorless system, Nikon has been heavily focused on its APS-C Z-series cameras for a few years now. Nikon released its debut APS-C Z camera, the Z50, in October 2019. Nikon followed up with the stylish, retro-inspired Z fc camera last summer. Now Nikon is targeting entry-level users and, in particular, vloggers and other video creators with its smallest and most affordable Z camera yet, the Nikon Z30.
Nikon's third APS-C camera is also Nikon's first to eschew a traditional electronic viewfinder, a move that helps keep the new camera smaller and less expensive. Otherwise, there are many similarities between the Z30 and its APS-C siblings, the Z50 and Z fc. Nikon has made some interesting design choices to make the Z30 a good choice for hybrid content creators, especially people who create video content alone. A big part of that usability is a flip-out selfie screen, front tally light and larger recording button.
|The Nikon Z30, shown here with the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm F3.5-6.3 VR lens, is a sleek, good-looking mirrorless camera.|
The Z30 isn't just for video creators, of course, it includes a lot of attractive photography features, especially considering its body only starting price of $709.95.
Nikon Z30 key features & specifications
- Nikon's smallest and lightest Z series camera
- 20.9MP APS-C image sensor
- Native ISO range is 100-51,200, expandable to 204,800
- Hybrid AF system with 209 AF points
- Tracking autofocus
- Eye-detect AF
- Flip-out selfie screen
- Front tally lamp to let you know when you're recording
- 125-minute continuous recording limit
- Built-in stereo mics, plus mic input
- HDMI output (micro HDMI)
- USB port for USB power delivery with compatible USB-C to USB-C cable
- 4K/30p video
- FHD/120p video
- Available as a body only for $710 and in three different kits ranging from $850 to $1,200.
Nikon Z30 design: Nikon's smallest and lightest Z series camera yet
While taste is subjective, we think the Z30 is a sleek camera with good design language for what it's worth. Its design is consistent with previous Z cameras, save for the simpler appearance and relatively flat top – thanks to the lack of an EVF.
|While similar in terms of width and depth to the Nikon Z50, the Nikon Z30 is much shorter thanks to the lack of an electronic viewfinder.|
Without an EVF, what does the back of the camera look like? A lot like the Z50 and Z fc, just without an eyecup. There is still a hot shoe for a flash or other accessories, like a shotgun mic, but without an EVF, the top of the camera is almost perfectly flat. Unlike some EVF-less cameras, you can't attach an optional EVF via the hot shoe, as Nikon doesn't make one. The camera's back includes many of the same buttons you'd expect on a Z series camera, such as a directional button selector, an "i" button to bring up the customizable on-screen menu of a dozen selected camera settings, a Menu button, a switch to go between stills and video modes, a burst mode button, playback and delete buttons and more. The zoom out button also doubles as a help button, which you can press when navigating menus to get more information about a highlighted setting. It's an in-camera guide to help beginners come to grips with different options and settings.
Much of the camera's back is taken up by the tilt/swivel touchscreen. Since the Z30 is compact, its display is a bit smaller at 3.0 inches, rather than 3.2 inches like other Z cameras. The display has approximately 1,040K dots. It's a small difference. You can flip the display out to the side and rotate it up and down or flip it all the way around to use it as a selfie screen. This should be especially helpful for video creators to see themselves while recording to ensure good framing. The front tally light lets you know when the camera is actively recording.
The top of the camera looks a lot like the Z50. The camera includes a full mode dial with P, S, A and M shooting modes, an Auto mode and three customizable user mode slots. Like many recent Nikon cameras, the Z30 includes a dedicated record button near the rear command dial, but it's slightly larger now. Near the shutter release, there are exposure compensation and ISO buttons. The camera includes a front command dial as well. The front of the Z30 also has a pair of Fn (function) buttons, which is an unusual, but welcome inclusion for an entry-level camera.
The Z30 has a single SD card slot, which is UHS-I and not UHS-II. That's not surprising given that the camera is entry-level, but a UHS-II slot would have been nice. As for ports, the Z30 has a USB-C port, a Type D (micro) HDMI connector, and a stereo mini-pin jack (3.5mm). You can charge the camera via USB, although it requires a certified USB PD USB-C to USB-C cable, which the camera doesn't include. In fact, the Z30 doesn't ship with a charger, either. It ships with a USB-C to USB-A cable, which you can use with various standard wall chargers to charge the camera's battery. The Z30 uses an EN-EL25 lithium-ion battery and promises about 330 shots or 75 minutes of recording (CIPA). You should expect better battery life than that in real-world use, based on our experience with CIPA ratings. The battery uses an EH-7P charger, which is available separately. As for wireless connectivity, the Z30 has Bluetooth (version 4.2) and Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n/a/ac).
We've mentioned that the Z30 is compact. The Z30 is Nikon's smallest and lightest Z series camera yet. Its dimensions (width x height x depth) are 128 x 73.5 x 59.5 millimeters (5.1 x 2.9 x 2.4 inches). The Z50's dimensions are 127 x 94 x 60 mm (5 x 3.7 x 2.4 in.). As you can see, the lack of an EVF does a lot to keep the new Z30 much shorter than the reasonably compact Z50 camera. The Z30 weighs approximately 405 grams (14.3 ounces) with its battery and an SD card. That's about 50g less than the Z50.
While we haven't gone hands-on yet, let's do a quick "subjective" look at the Z30. The Z30 lacking an electronic viewfinder is interesting. As a stills camera, the Z30 seems less user-friendly than the Z50 or Z fc. However, the lack of an EVF is likely not as big of an issue for video work. For most video recordings, you use the rear display anyways, and the ability to use it as a self-facing screen is excellent. Other than the lack of EVF, there's a lot to like about the controls on the Z30. There's no joystick for controlling the autofocus point, but you can use the touchscreen or directional pad. The two front function buttons are a great inclusion, and those could be useful for people using the camera for video with the selfie screen, too.
|Like the Z fc, and unlike the Z50, the Z30 has a fully articulating flip-out selfie display. This lets you see yourself when framing selfies or recording video of yourself.|
There's no doubt that the Z30 is a good-looking camera. The big question is, does it have enough for your specific use case? If you're doing entry-level video work, probably. The stereo mic and 3.5mm jack are nice for that. You can even use an external HDMI recorder if you want or attach a mic to the hot shoe. If you're looking to do a lot of still photography, the lack of an EVF could be a tough pill to swallow, even though it helps keep the camera smaller and cheaper.
Z30 photography features: 20.9MP sensor, 11 fps continuous shooting and hybrid autofocus
The Nikon Z30 uses the same 20.9-megapixel APS-C image sensor as the Nikon Z50 and Z fc. While the sensor may be getting a bit long in the tooth, it still delivers excellent image quality. The native ISO range is 100-51,200. The camera can extend up to ISO 204,800, which is very high. The Z30 includes Active D-Lighting to help control highlights and shadows when recording JPEG images. As for raw images, the camera records 12-bit and 14-bit raw files.
Although the camera is designed primarily for video, its photo specs are impressive. The camera records full-resolution images at up to 11 frames per second. Without UHS-II, buffer depths won't be vast or process swiftly, but you should still be able to photograph some action with the Z30.
Image quality and shooting speeds don't matter much if the autofocus system isn't up to the task. The Z30 uses a hybrid phase-detection/contrast-detection autofocus system rated down -4.5 EV when using low-light AF, meaning it should work well in challenging, dim conditions. The camera includes 209 focus points and numerous autofocus modes, including Auto-area AF and Wide-area AF, with automatic tracking for people and animals. The camera also has Eye-Detection AF.
To make it easier to give your photos the look and feel you desire, the Z30 includes Picture Control functions. Beyond an "automatic" mode, you can also choose from various Picture Control modes for portraits, landscapes and much more. You can also customize Picture Controls to dial in the settings you want.
While the Z30 is designed for beginners who have likely never had an interchangeable lens camera, there is room to grow with the camera. There are many automatic modes and features, but you can also use manual controls and settings, such as aperture-priority mode to control background defocus and shutter speed priority mode to photograph action or do long-exposure photography. Relative to the Nikon Z50, which is aimed at more advanced users, you're not missing out on much by way of photographic capabilities.
Z30 video features: 4K/30p video for content creators
Nikon is marketing the Z30 as their first interchangeable lens camera for content creators looking to improve the quality of their videos and, to a lesser extent, photos. We've already discussed the front-facing swivel touchscreen and the front tally light, but what about the actual video specs and performance?
The Nikon Z30 records 4K UHD video at up to 30 frames per second, which is sufficient for most YouTube applications. If you need more speed, you can record Full HD video up to 120p. Unlike the Z50 and Z fc, the Z30 can record continuously for more than two hours (up to at least 125 minutes for Full HD and up to 35 minutes for 4K UHD, given battery, temperature and storage media limits). Looking at Nikon's other current Z series cameras, only the $5,500 flagship full-frame Z9 can record continuously for 125 minutes.
Video is but one part of the equation -- audio matters too. The Z30 has built-in stereo mics, ensuring you can get high-quality audio without accessories. An optional wind muff attachment that fits on the hot shoe will improve audio quality if you're outside by protecting the stereo mics on top of the Z30 from direct wind. You can also attach a mic using the 3.5mm input.
If you want to push the camera to its lengthy recording limit, you will require additional power. You can trickle charge or power the camera via its USB-C port. You can also use the Z30 as a webcam, so it is aimed at streamers and work-from-home users who want better video quality than a built-in laptop camera or smartphone.
The Picture Controls we mentioned in the previous section also apply to video, as does Eye-Detection AF. Plus, you can dial in custom manual settings if you'd like. Not every autofocus mode is available for video, like Pinpoint AF, but most modes are available. When recording video, you can use AF-F, which is full-time autofocus, for tracking a moving subject.
What about lenses?
We normally wouldn't write much about lenses in a camera preview, but since the Z30 is designed for beginners who might not know about the Z system overall, we thought it'd be worth giving a brief overview.
|The Z30 is shown here with the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm F3.5-6.3 VR zoom lens. This kit lens offers a 24-75mm equivalent focal length range in full-frame terms.|
The Nikon Z30 has the same Z mount as every other Z series camera, meaning it can accept full-frame (FX) or APS-C (DX) lenses. Nikon's DX lenses are designed specifically for its APS-C cameras, so they're smaller and lighter. Nikon currently offers three Nikkor Z DX lenses: the Z DX 16-50mm F3.5-6.3 VR (in black and silver), DX 18-140mm F3.5-6.3 VR and DX 50-250mm F4.5-6.3 VR. You'll notice that each of these lenses includes VR. This is Vibration Reduction and stabilizes your photos and videos using lens-based image stabilization. The Z30 doesn't include in-body image stabilization, so using VR-equipped lenses is a good idea for handheld shooting. These three lenses cost $300, $600 and $350, respectively.
Pricing and availability
In addition to offering the Z30 as a body-only option for $710, Nikon is also selling the Z30 in three kits with lenses. The less expensive kit comes with a single lens, the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm F3.5-6.3 VR, for $850. The Z30 is also available with the 16-50mm lens plus the Nikkor Z DX 50-250mm F4.5-6.3 VR, offering total coverage from 16mm (24mm equivalent) to 250mm (375mm equiv.). This two-lens kit is $1,200. The third kit includes the Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm F3.5-6.3 VR lens for $1,150. The optional Wind Muff is $10. An optional Creator's Accessory Kit includes a specially-designed SmallRig Tripod Grip, Nikon ML-L7 Bluetooth remote control and Rode VideoMicro Microphone for $150.
All Nikon Z30 kits will begin shipping in mid-July. Stay tuned to Imaging Resource for a full hands-on review and sample images as soon as a review sample is available. Is the Nikon Z30 the next great entry-level mirrorless camera? We'll soon find out.
Buy the Nikon Z 30
$849.00 (18% more)
32.5 MP (36% more)
Also lacks viewfinder