Basic Specifications
Full model name: Nikon Z5
Resolution: 24.30 Megapixels
Sensor size: 35mm
(35.9mm x 23.9mm)
Kit Lens: n/a
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 51,200
Extended ISO: 50 - 102,400
Shutter: 1/8000 - 30 sec
Dimensions: 5.3 x 4.0 x 2.7 in.
(134 x 101 x 70 mm)
Weight: 23.8 oz (675 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 08/2020
Manufacturer: Nikon
Full specs: Nikon Z5 specifications
24.30
Megapixels
35mm
size sensor
image of Nikon Z5
Front side of Nikon Z5 digital camera Front side of Nikon Z5 digital camera Front side of Nikon Z5 digital camera Front side of Nikon Z5 digital camera  

Nikon Z5 Preview -- Now Shooting!

by Jeremy Gray
Preview posted: 07/21/2020

Updates:
09/21/2020: First Shots added
10/20/2020: Field Test & Gallery added

Click here to jump to our in-depth Nikon Z5 Product Overview.

 

Nikon Z5 Field Test

Does Nikon's most affordable full-frame mirrorless camera deliver high-end performance?

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 10/20/2020

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens at 50mm, f/8, 1/10s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The Nikon Z 5 is Nikon's third full-frame Z camera, and its first entry-level full-frame mirrorless model. In many ways, the Z 5, known hereafter as the 'Z5', shares several features with the Nikon Z6 series of cameras, including the newly announced Z6 II. However, in order to deliver the Z5 at its more consumer-friendly $1,400 body only price point, Nikon has made a few compromises. Do these compromises substantively impact the overall performance and user experience of the Z5 relative to its full-frame peers? Let's find out.

Nikon Z5 Key Features and Specs

  • Entry-level full-frame mirrorless Z camera
  • Affordable entry point to the Nikon Z system
  • 24.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS image sensor
  • Native ISO range of 100-51,200, expandable up to ISO 102,400
  • EXPEED 6 image processor
  • Shoots at up to 4.5 frames per second
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization promising up to 5 stops of image stabilization
  • Dual UHS-II SD card slots
  • Weather-sealed camera body constructed using magnesium alloy
  • 1,040K-dot 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen
  • 3.6M-dot Quad VGA electronic viewfinder
  • 4K/30p video recording (with crop)
  • 1080/60p video recording (full frame)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for Nikon SnapBridge compatibility
  • $1,400 USD MSRP for body only, also available in two kits
Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens at 200mm, f/6.3, 1/200s, ISO 2500.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Camera Body and Handling: Same great design without a top display

The Nikon Z5 is very similar in design, shape, and size to the Z6 and Z7 full-frame mirrorless cameras. However, there are some differences worth considering. For example, the Z5 doesn't include a top info display, something the Z6/Z7 series includes. I can't speak to how this omission changes the production cost of the Z5, but I can say that I prefer having a top display. That said, its omission is far from a dealbreaker.

On the other hand, the Z5 has something the original Z6 and Z7 cameras do not, dual card slots. Whereas the Z6/Z7 have a single XQD slot, the Z5 includes two UHS-II SD card slots. It is worth noting that the upcoming Z6 II and Z7 II cameras do include dual card slots. While SD cards don't offer the same high-level performance of XQD cards, many users will appreciate a second card slot and consider this is a worthwhile trade-off, especially when considering how prevalent and affordable SD cards are versus XQD/CFExpress cards.

Like the Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras, the Z5 is a stylish, compact mirrorless camera.

Like the Z6/Z7, the Z5 has a 3.2-inch rear tilting touchscreen. While functionally it's the same as the display on the Z6/Z7, the Z5's display has a lower resolution of 1.04M dots versus 2.1M dots. In real-world use, this difference isn't very noticeable, and the Z5's display is plenty sharp. The touchscreen functionality works well too and is integrated throughout the menus and when using the LCD over the electronic viewfinder. The display also works quite well in bright light.

The Z5's electronic viewfinder is excellent. It has 3.6M dots of resolution and uses OLED display technology, resulting in great color and contrast. The viewfinder is big, bright and sharp. I was a longtime proponent of the optical viewfinder experience offered by DSLR cameras, but Nikon's full-frame Z cameras, the Z5 included, deliver a fantastic shooting experience through the EVF.

The back of the Z5 looks identical to the Z6 and Z7, however, the Z5's 3.2-inch tilting display does have a lower resolution.

A relative advantage of a mirrorless camera system when compared to a DSLR system is that mirrorless cameras and lenses are generally more compact. The Z5 is basically the same size as the Z6/Z7 series, so the Z5 is quite a bit smaller than something like Nikon's D780 DSLR in every dimension, including with respect to the front grip. I really like the grip design of the Nikon D780 and other recent Nikon full-frame DSLR cameras, so in some ways, the smaller grip of the Z5 represents a downgrade in overall ergonomics. However, the Z5 manages to nail the "Nikon feel" despite its slimmer form factor. The Z5 feels good in my hand and even when using a large native Z lens, like the Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8, the Z5 feels balanced overall.

The top of the Z5 lacks the Z6/Z7's top information display. While this is unfortunate, the Z5 still offers excellent ergonomics and controls.

Some physical controls and buttons are casualties of the Z5's smaller body, but Nikon has done a really good job of preserving the most critical controls and streamlining the overall user experience of its Z cameras. The most important exposure controls are all within a short distance from the shutter release and there's a dedicated autofocus control sub selector joystick. The useful and touchscreen-oriented 'i' menu is also within quick one-button access.

Overall, the Z5's design and usability are relative strong points of the camera. Despite its lower price point, the Z5 is high-quality in many ways. The camera's controls are excellent, and it nails the overall Nikon feel even if it's quite a bit smaller than the Nikon DSLRs many photographers may be used to. It's familiar but different, and in some ways, better.

Image Quality: The Z5 produces high-quality images with great color

The Z5 has a 24.3MP CMOS image sensor, which is nearly the same megapixel count as the sensor found in the Z6. However, the Z6's 24.5MP sensor not only produces a very slightly larger image, but it is also a backside-illuminated CMOS sensor, promising strong low-light performance and high-end readout speeds. Although the Z5 doesn't get the latest and greatest 24MP sensor in Nikon's arsenal, it does deliver impressive image quality across a wide range of situations.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens at 200mm, f/2.8, 1/500s, ISO 5000.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

I've long been a fan of how Nikon cameras render color, and the Z5 produces pleasing colors straight out of the camera. While you can process images to taste when shooting raw files, it's always great when a camera produces good JPEG files with minimal tinkering. At default settings, the Z5's JPEG images look really nice. The colors and tones are vibrant without appearing unrealistic, and tonal gradations are smooth.

In terms of sharpness, the Z5 offers good resolving power, too. In both straight-from-the-camera JPEG files and processed raw files, the Z5 captures images with good detail, especially at low ISO.

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens at 45mm, f/7.1, 1/10s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

High ISO performance is pretty good with the Nikon Z5. The camera's noise reduction processing on JPEG files can be a bit heavy-handed, but it's not bad. There's always going to be trade-off when performing noise reduction, and it's typical for cameras to overdo it with in-camera noise reduction to make images as smooth and free from noise as possible. Personally, I prefer keeping detail in the file at the cost of having more noise.

The image below was captured at the Z5's highest native ISO setting, 51,200. As you can see in the crop from a raw file processed using Adobe Camera Raw default settings, the raw image is very noisy, as is to be expected. The JPEG image displays the heavy-handed noise reduction approach I mentioned, going so far as to remove some of the fainter stars from existence. Finally, the third crop shows heavy raw noise reduction, although it's not a bad result.

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens at 36mm, f/5.0, 5s, ISO 51,200.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Nikon Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens at 36mm, f/5.0, 5s, ISO 51,200.
100 percent crop from original JPEG image. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Nikon Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens at 36mm, f/5.0, 5s, ISO 51,200.
Raw image converted with Adobe Camera Raw default settings. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Nikon Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens at 36mm, f/5.0, 5s, ISO 51,200.
100 percent crop from raw image converted with Adobe Camera Raw default settings. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Nikon Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens at 36mm, f/5.0, 5s, ISO 51,200.
100 percent crop from raw image converted with Adobe Camera Raw, high noise reduction settings applied. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

When considering the flexibility of raw files and the dynamic range of the Z5, the camera performs quite well, especially given its price point. When shooting at lower ISO settings, the Z5's dynamic range impresses. During raw image processing, you can push shadow and highlight detail far without reducing the quality of the image file.

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens at 24mm, f/4, 10s, ISO 12,800.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Overall, the Nikon Z5's image quality is impressive. While it doesn't quite reach the excellent heights of the Z6 series in terms of high ISO performance, the Z5 certainly performs well. The camera captures pleasing JPEG images, and its raw images are plenty flexible during processing. The Z5 consistently captures images with good detail, color and tonal range.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 280mm, f/4, 1/500s, ISO 640.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Autofocus and Performance

Autofocus: Excellent 273-point phase-detect AF system

The Z5 features the same 273-point phase-detect autofocus system as the Z6 series. The autofocus points cover about 90 percent of the image area in both horizontal and vertical directions. It's a very good autofocus system and delivers fast, accurate and reliable autofocus in most situations.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 270mm, f/4, 1/400s, ISO 900.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The Z5's autofocus system includes a few tricks up its sleeve, including Eye Detect AF for both human and some non-human animal subjects, such as dogs and cats. Eye Detect AF is limited to the Auto Area AF mode, however. Of course, the camera does include numerous other AF area modes, including a single point AF mode in which you can control the AF point using a dedicated joystick while shooting.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 280mm, f/5, 1/640s, ISO 500.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

A strong point of the Z5's AF system in real-world use is the excellent coverage of the autofocus area. Not only does it help when composing images to not have to worry about whether you can cover your subject with the AF point, it also helps when tracking a moving subject through the frame.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 280mm, f/4, 1/400s, ISO 400.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Speaking of continuous autofocus, the Z5 does a good job with subject tracking, particularly in good light. In low light or particularly challenging situations, the camera can struggle a bit, but it performs well overall.

Performance: Z5 is quite a bit slower than the Z6 series

Although equipped with an EXPEED 6 image processor like the Z6, the Z5 offers significantly slower maximum shooting speeds. Whereas the Z6 shoots at a quick 12 frames per second with full AF/AE tracking, the Z5 tops out at just 4.5fps. This is a sizable reduction in shooting performance and one of the defining differences between the Z5 and Z6 as still photography cameras.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens at 110mm, f/7.1, 1/400s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

This is speculation, but I suspect the reason for this difference is twofold: The Z5's sensor likely offers slower readout speeds than the sensor found in the Z6 series, and the Z6 is built around its single XQD slot, which delivers better performance. There may be more to it, but the primary takeaway is that the Z5 is a much slower camera than both the Z6 and Z6 II.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 280mm, f/4, 1/500s, ISO 160.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The Z5 offers reliably solid performance. The continuous autofocus works well, and the Z5 has excellent in-body 5-axis image stabilization. Menu navigation and image playback is also quite snappy.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 250mm, f/4, 1/640s, ISO 280.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Video: 4K/30p video, with a catch

While many features are similar between the Z5 and the Z6, such as the approximate megapixel count and autofocus system, there are some stark differences when you compare the two cameras with respect to video.

Sure, the Z5 records 4K UHD video, like the Z6, but there's more than meets the eye there. The Z5 heavily crops its 4K video, whereas the Z6 produces high-quality, uncropped 4K video. In fact, the Z5 crops 4K video by 1.7x, which is significant and makes it difficult to record 4K video with a wide field of view. Further, the Z5 lacks the ability to record 1080/120p video, as well as output raw video and record 10-bit 4:2:2: N-Log over HDMI. These are all features the Z6 possesses.

Nikon Z5 4K Video #1
3840 x 2160 video at 29.97 frames per second. 24-50mm lens, f/11, 1/100s, ISO 130.
Download Original (230.4 MB .MOV File)

With that said, the Z5's 4K UHD video, cropped at 1.7x, looks decent, at least when shooting in good light. Low light performance is okay, but far from excellent. In the first sample below, the ISO was just over 100. In the second sample, the ISO was around 1000, but you can see significantly more grain in the video despite ISO 1000 not being a very high ISO setting these days. With respect to autofocus, AF performance is quite good when recording video, including the autofocus tracking capabilities.

Nikon Z5 4K Video #2
3840 x 2160 video at 29.97 frames per second. 24-50mm lens, f/4, 1/60s, ISO 130.
Download Original (214.8 MB .MOV File)
 
Nikon Z5 4K Video #3
3840 x 2160 video at 29.97 frames per second. 24-50mm lens, f/11, 1/60s, ISO 1000.
Download Original (239.8 MB .MOV File)

An area where the Z5 performs very well is with respect to 1080p video quality. Full HD video is uncropped, allowing for wide field-of-view video, and looks great. The Z5 records good Full HD video in low light as well. The first sample below was shot at ISO 12,800 and looks pretty good, all things considered. While 4K is important for marketing purposes, for many users, 1080p video is plenty. It remains unfortunate that the Z5 doesn't record at 120fps, so it can't record slow-motion video (it does do 1080 60p). But on the other hand, the Z5's in-body image stabilization works really well. When recording Full HD video with the Z5, there's a lot to like.

Nikon Z5 1080p Video #1
1920 x 1080 video at 59.94 frames per second. 24-50mm lens, f/5, 1/125s, ISO 12800.
Download Original (99.6 MB .MOV File)
 
Nikon Z5 1080p Video #2
1920 x 1080 video at 59.94 frames per second. 24-50mm lens, f/4, 1/125s, ISO 260.
Download Original (115.6 MB .MOV File)
 
Nikon Z5 1080p Video #3
1920 x 1080 video at 59.94 frames per second. 24-50mm lens, f/4, 1/125s, ISO 300.
Download Original (115.6 MB .MOV File)

Overall, the Z5 is a decent video camera, but it's not quite up to par with the multimedia powerhouse that is the Z6 series. Full HD video is a particular highlight for the Z5 because it looks good and offers a full-frame field of view.

Nikon Z5 4K Video #4
3840 x 2160 video at 29.97 frames per second. 24-50mm lens, f/11, 1/30s, ISO 500. Shot handheld.
Download Original (245.4 MB .MOV File)

Shooting Experience

Shooting modes and user experience

The Nikon Z5 has quite a few interesting features. The built-in HDR mode, for example, does a pretty good job, which you can seen in the sample image below using the HDR Auto setting.

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens at 27.5mm, f/11, 1/3s, ISO 100.
Shot using HDR Auto settings. Click for the full-size image.

User experience is a strong aspect of the Z5. I found the menus easy to navigate, and it's simple to adjust settings on the fly while shooting. You can even customize the dozen slots in the iMenu for stills and video separately, which is a nice touch. It's also easy to locate the desired stills and video settings in the camera's full menu system. The camera's built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity is also quite easy to use, and Nikon SnapBridge is a solid smartphone companion app.

The Z5 ships with Nikon's latest EN-EL15c lithium-ion battery. This allows the camera to be charged via its USB-C port (which is great), but it also is more efficient and offers more power than prior versions of the EN-EL15 battery -- which this camera is compatible with, by the way. Using the new battery, the Z5 is rated for between 390 and 470 shots, depending on whether you use the EVF (390) or monitor (470). In my experience, I suspect the battery life is a bit better than that in most use cases.

Using the new kit lens

The Z5 is available in two kits, one of which includes the new Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens. This is the shortest and lightest full-frame lens in the Nikon Z system and is one of two lenses, along with the new Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S, that I used with the Z5.

When not in use, the 24-50mm kit lens is very compact, as seen on the left. Even at its longest length, seen on the right, the lens remains quite small for a standard zoom lens.

The 24-50mm lens utilizes a retractable design, making it particularly compact when not in use, but it remains quite compact throughout its focal length range as well. It offers a bit less zoom than a more typical 24-70mm lens, such as the 24-70mm f/4 kit lens sold alongside the Z6 and Z7 series cameras, but the trade-off is a compact and lightweight design.

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens at 24mm, f/4, 13s, ISO 10000.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

While not the sharpest Z lens, the 24-50mm performs well given that it adds only about $300 to the cost of the Z5 body. It's not an expensive nor high-end lens, but it does its job well and is a nice starter lens for new Z camera owners.

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens at 50mm, f/8, 1/8s, ISO 125.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Nikon Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens at 50mm, f/8, 1/10s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Nikon Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens at 37mm, f/5.3, 1/500s, ISO 100.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Nikon Z5 Field Test Summary

Strong all-around performance makes the Z5 a great value

What I like most about the Nikon Z5

  • Great camera design
  • Impressive image quality
  • Reliable autofocus
Nikon Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens at 24mm, f/7.1, 1/25s, ISO 220.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

What I dislike about the Nikon Z5

  • Slow continuous shooting
  • 4K video comes with a heavy crop

The Nikon Z5 is a very good camera for the price. It's a versatile, well-rounded camera capable of delivering high-quality photos. In addition to the strong image quality, autofocus performance is great. While the Z5's continuous shooting speed and 4K video features leave something to be desired, on the whole, the Nikon Z5 delivers a very good shooting experience and is a fantastic entry point to Nikon's ever-growing Z system.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens at 135mm, f/8, 1/400s, ISO 400.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

 

• • •

 

Nikon Z5 Preview -- Product Overview

by Jeremy Gray

Nikon's most affordable full-frame Z camera yet offers an excellent entry point to the mirrorless Z system

After launching its mirrorless Z system with the Nikon Z6 and Z7 full-frame cameras back at the end of 2018, Nikon followed these enthusiast/pro-oriented cameras with the APS-C entry-level Nikon Z50 camera. Now, with the new Nikon Z5, there is now an entry-level full-frame camera in the Z camera lineup.

The Nikon Z5 shares a similar form factor as the Z6/Z7 cameras, albeit with a few changes. Inside the familiar camera design is a 24.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS image sensor and an EXPEED 6 image processor. Despite a similar imaging pipeline to the Nikon Z6, there are important differences we will outline in this preview. Without further ado, let's take a closer look at the Nikon Z5 to learn about its primary features and the type of performance it offers at Nikon's most affordable full-frame Z camera price point yet.

Nikon Z5 key features

  • Entry-level full-frame mirrorless Z camera
  • Affordable entry point to the Nikon Z system
  • 24.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS image sensor
  • Native ISO range of 100-51,200, expandable up to ISO 102,400
  • EXPEED 6 image processor
  • Shoots at up to 4.5 frames per second
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization promising up to 5 stops of stabilization
  • Dual UHS-II SD card slots
  • Weather-sealed camera body constructed using magnesium alloy
  • 1,040K dot 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen
  • 3.6M dot Quad VGA electronic viewfinder
  • 4K/30p video recording (with crop)
  • 1080/60p video recording (full frame)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for Nikon SnapBridge compatibility

Camera body and design

The Nikon Z5 shares a nearly identical design to the Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras, although with a couple of notable differences. The Z5 doesn't include a top information display like the Z6/7 cameras, instead opting for a mode dial in this location. Further, instead of offering an single XQD card slot, the Z5 includes a pair of UHS-II SD card slots. While SD doesn't offer quite the same level of performance as XQD/CFexpress, having a second card slot is likely a very worthwhile tradeoff for many users, as that is among the biggest issues users have with the Z6/Z7.

On the rear of the Z5, we find an identical control layout to the Z6/Z7 cameras. Above and to the left the 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen -- which has about a million fewer dots of resolution than the 2.1M dot display of identical size found on the Z6/Z7 -- there are playback and delete buttons. Above and to the right is a switch to toggle between stills and video modes, a display button, AF-ON button and a rear command dial. Moving down the right side of the tilting display, we find a control joystick, info button, directional pad with central OK button, zoom in, zoom out, menu and drive mode buttons. With respect to the electronic viewfinder, the Z5 includes a 3.6M dot Quad VGA EVF, which is the same resolution as the EVF on the Z6/Z7.

As mentioned earlier, the top of the Z5 lacks a display, but it otherwise includes the same functionality as the Z6/Z7. Surrounding the shutter release is the power switch. And near the shutter release are record, ISO and exposure compensation buttons, which places primary exposure-related controls within easy reach of your right index finger while capturing images. The mode dial includes standard P/A/S/M modes, plus a full Auto mode and three customized user modes.

The front of the camera is primarily filled by the wide Z mount and reasonably large front grip. In addition to the front command dial and lens release buttons, there are also a pair of function buttons, which can be user-assigned to perform a variety of tasks.

In terms of durability and construction, the Z5 is not built quite the same as the Z6/Z7. The Z5 is the same size as the Z6/Z7 cameras, and includes the same form factor overall, but the body is not made entirely using magnesium alloy as the Z6/Z7. Instead, only the front and top deck of the Z5 are magnesium alloy. With that said, the Z5 is still extensively sealed to keep out dust and moisture, including sealing around all moving parts and buttons. The use of different materials and using a lower-resolution rear display is certainly part of keeping the overall cost of the Z5 low compared to the Z6.

Nikon Z5 still image and video features

Nikon Z5 image sensor: 24 megapixel full-frame sensor promises impressive results

The Nikon Z5 utilizes a 24.3-megapixel full-frame image sensor. It is interesting to note that the Z6 includes a 24.5-megapixel sensor, so it is yet to be determined how the Z5's image quality and performance may differ when compared to the Z6. Further, Nikon has stated that the Z5's sensor is not backside-illuminated, like the sensor found in the Z6. The Z5 has a native ISO range of 100-51,200, same as the Z6, and can be expanded up to ISO 102,400. It should be noted that the Z6 can expand further to a Hi.2 ISO setting.

Autofocus and performance: Z5 offers a familiar and impressive autofocus system

The Nikon Z5 is equipped with a 273-point on-sensor phase detect autofocus system, same as the Nikon Z6. The autofocus points cover 90 percent of the image area in both the horizontal and vertical directions. Further, the Z5 includes the same autofocus modes and settings as the Z6/Z7 cameras, including human/animal eye AF and focus shift shooting.

Like its full-frame Z camera siblings, the Z5 is powered by a Nikon EXPEED 6 image processor. However, the Z5 will not offer the same level of speed and performance. The Nikon Z5 shoots at up to 4.5 frames per second, which is considerably slower than the 12fps shooting speeds of the Nikon Z6. Buffer depth information is not yet available.

In terms of battery life, the Z5 uses a new EN-EL15c battery. While new, it has the same form factor as existing EN-EL15 batteries, making the Z5 backwards compatible with prior generations of the battery. Using the EN-EL15c, which has increased capacity, the Z5 can record 470 shots using the LCD and 390 with the EVF.

The camera also includes USB-C Power Delivery, meaning it can both utilize in-camera charging and can also be powered by power banks using USB-C to USB-C cables. Nikon will sell an optional UC-E25 USB-C cable to facilitate the use of this feature. As the Z5 shares the same overall form factor as the Z6/Z7, the camera can also use Nikon's MB-N10 battery grip for improved ergonomics and extended battery life.

Additional shooting features: The Z5 has 5-axis in-body image stabilization

In addition to the expected shooting modes, the Z5 has some other tricks up its sleeve. For example, the new camera can capture timelapse video using JPEG and/or raw still images. When creating timelapse video, the Z5 can create the video in-camera, but you can also set the camera to save each individual image file so you can create a timelapse manually on your computer. The Z5 includes exposure smoothing functionality as well.

Further, the Z5 includes 20 Creative Picture Controls, all of which can be previewed in real-time via the EVF or LCD. This will allow you to reduce reliance on post-processing and instead create the images and looks you want right in the camera. There is also a Multiple Exposure mode, allowing the stacking of up to 10 images. In the retouch menu, there are darken and lighten overlay modes available.

For photographers who use flash, the Z5 is of course compatible with Nikon speedlights, including their iTTL functionality. It is unclear what the flash sync speed is on the Z5, but we expect it to be the same as the Z6, 1/200s. When not using flash, the maximum shutter speed on the Z5 is 1/8000s.

Like the Z6 and Z7 cameras, the Z5 includes in-body image stabilization. The 5-axis IBIS system delivers up to five stops of image stabilization while shooting and corrects for yaw, pitch, roll and movement along the X and Y axes. When using the FTZ adapter, which allows you to adapt F mount lenses to the new Z mount, the Z5 instead offers 3-axis stabilization, same as the Z6/Z7.

Speaking of the FTZ adapter, this is an important component of the Nikon Z system overall. The FTZ adapter allows you to use compatible Nikon F mount lenses. Full feature compatibility requires AF-S, although a guide to compatibility is available here. When using a compatible lens, you can shoot with full autofocus and metering support. In our experience, the FTZ adapter works well overall, and is critical for users with existing F mount lenses for a couple of primary reasons. Firstly, who wants to buy new lenses when they already have nice glass? Perhaps just as importantly, the Z lens lineup does not include the large variety of the F mount lineup, including super telephoto prime lenses. Nikon is continually working on expanding their Z lens lineup, but in order to fill in any gaps, the FTZ adapter is an important accessory.

In terms of connectivity, the Z5 is compatible with Nikon SnapBridge via built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This means that users can move images and videos between the camera and a compatible smartphone. SnapBridge also allows remote control of the camera. Using free Wireless Transmitter Utility software, photographers will also be able to wirelessly move images from their Z5 to their PC or Mac via a home network.

Video features: 4K-capable, but not quite a Nikon Z6

The Nikon Z5 is capable of recording 4K/30p video as well as 1080/60p video, but that doesn't mean that it is the same type of video camera as the Nikon Z6, which is one of, if not the best, Nikon camera for recording video. For starters, the Z5 does not record full frame 4K video, but records with a 1.7x crop factor. Full HD video, meanwhile, is captured using the full width of the sensor. In terms of video quality, the Z5 doesn't offer 10-bit video recording over HDMI nor 12-bit ProRes Raw recording, something that the Z6 includes. Further, the Z5 doesn't include N-Log or the same slow-motion video recording capabilities as the Z6.

With that said, the Z5 does include nice video features. When recording video, it can use up to 231 PDAF points, includes IBIS and electronic VR (which will further crop the video), Creative Picture Control, focus peaking and the camera can silently capture still images while shooting video.

Pricing and availability: The Z5 is Nikon's most affordable full-frame Z camera yet, plus it comes in a new kit option

The Nikon Z5 will be available as a body only option in late August for $1,399.95 USD. For comparison, the Z6 has a list price of $1,996.95, although it can now be found for just under $1,800. The Z5 will also be sold in two kits. The first kit features a new 24-50mm zoom lens, Nikon's shortest, lightest and most affordable standard zoom Z lens. This kit will launch with a suggested retail price of $1,699.95. The second kit will come with the Nikon 24-200mm zoom lens and sell for $2,199.95.

The price point of the Z5 positions the camera as an affordable transition option for Nikon DSLR owners. If you have existing full-frame F mount lenses and want to enter the world of mirrorless photography, the Z5 is the least expensive option. Similarly, for photographers who simply want to enter the Nikon mirrorless system without prior Nikon experience, the Z5 is yet another choice in addition to the feature-packed and more expensive Z6 camera and the higher-megapixel Z7.

 

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