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: TBD
Manufacturer: Nikon
Full specs: Nikon Z5 specifications
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 -- First Impressions

by Jeremy Gray
Preview posted: 07/21/2020

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.