Nikon Z7 Image Quality Comparison

Below are 100% crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing the Nikon Z7's JPEG image quality to its DSLR sibling's, the Nikon D850, which uses a similar sensor of the same resolution. We also compare the Z7 to Canon's new full-frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R and also to the 5DS R, Canon's highest resolution DSLR. To round out the comparisons, we've included the new Fuji GFX 50R medium format mirrorless, and arguably the Z7's closest competitor, the Sony A7R III. Remember, you can always use our Comparometer to compare the Z7 to any camera we've tested.

NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved: click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Nikon Z7, Nikon D850, Canon EOS R, Canon 5DS R, Fuji 50R and Sony A7R III -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Nikon Z7 to any camera we've ever tested!

Nikon Z7 vs Nikon D850 at Base ISO

Nikon Z7 at ISO 64
Nikon D850 at ISO 64

Here we compare base ISO of the Z7 to its DSLR sibling, the D850. As expected, resolving power appears identical given the same pixel count, but the Z7 image has higher contrast, darker blacks and more saturated reds. Overall color balance is slightly warmer and more reddish from the Z7 here as well. The Z7 appears a bit sharper than the D850, however that's due to the different lenses used (the Z 50mm f/1.8 S vs AF-S 60mm f/2.8G Macro). The D850 yielded better contrast in our tricky red-leaf swatch, though that pattern has likely faded just a bit since the D850 was shot. Overall, the two siblings display very similar image quality at base ISO, though with some tweaks to contrast, saturation and color.

Nikon Z7 vs Canon EOS R at Base ISO

Nikon Z7 at ISO 64
Canon EOS R at ISO 100

Here we compare the Z7 to the EOS R, Canon's only full-frame mirrorless camera as of this writing. It's easy to see the 45-megapixel Z7 easily out-resolves the 30-megapixel EOS R, as expected. Not only is the resolution higher and thus the image larger and more detailed, but the Z7 doesn't have an anti-aliasing filter like the EOS R has (which introduces some very slight blurring in an attempt to reduce moiré and other aliasing artifacts). The lack of an AA filter coupled with more aggressive processing yields a sharper, crisper image from the Z7, though ironically we can still see aliasing artifacts in the fabrics and elsewhere from both cameras. The Z7's image is also more contrasty and vibrant, giving it more "pop" than the EOS R's, while colors are warmer if less technically accurate. Noise levels are very low from both cameras here at base ISO, but luminance noise does appear a little higher from the Z7 in flatter areas, so it'll be interesting to see how they compare at higher ISOs.

Nikon Z7 vs Canon 5DS R at Base ISO

Nikon Z7 at ISO 64
Canon 5DS R at ISO 100

The 50-megapixel 5DS R is a DSLR and doesn't really compete with the Nikon on performance or size, but it does on price and resolving power. The main reason we decided to include it is as a comparison between Nikon and Canon's highest resolution ILCs. As you can see, this time it's the Canon that out-resolves the Nikon with its higher resolution and AA-filterless sensor, but not by much. Both images are very sharp, but the Nikon's is more contrasty and vibrant, however the Canon's colors are more true to life. Noise levels are roughly similar except in the deep shadows where the Canon is a bit noisier. Again, it'll be interesting to see how these compare at higher ISOs.

Nikon Z7 vs Fujifilm GFX 50R at Base ISO

Nikon Z7 at ISO 64
Fujifilm GFX 50R at ISO 100

Here's another somewhat unusual comparison, this time against the "medium format" 51-megapixel GFX Fuji 50R. The 50R is about $1000 less expensive than the 50S, but is still about $1000 more than the Z7. Still, we thought it would be interesting to compare to. Above, we can see the 50R easily out resolves the Z7, but because we frame this shot vertically and the 50R has a 4:3 aspect ratio versus the Z7's 3:2 ratio, the 50R has an "unfair" advantage. Both cameras capture 8256 pixels horizontally, however the 50R's vertical resolution is 6192 versus the Z7's 5504 pixels, spread over roughly the same "height" in the scene. This gives the 50R a larger resolution advantage than relative total pixel counts would imply if framed with the same diagonal field of view. Still, we think it's a useful reference, showing some fine detail that the Z7 did not capture.

Nikon Z7 vs Sony A7R III at Base ISO

Nikon Z7 at ISO 64
Sony A7R III at ISO 100

The 45-megapixel Nikon Z7 and 42-megapixel Sony A7R III rivals battle it out at base ISO here. Although the Z7 has slightly higher resolution on paper, both produce very detailed, crisp images, however the Sony image appears to retain slightly finer detail while displaying fewer sharpening halos due to its more sophisticated processing. Both cameras lack an AA filter and show moiré patterns in our tricky red-leaf swatch, but contrast in the fabric is noticeably higher from the Sony. Both produce good color, however the Nikon image is warmer with more saturated reds and blues.

Nikon Z7 vs Nikon D850 at ISO 1600

Nikon Z7 at ISO 1600
Nikon D850 at ISO 1600

As expected, pretty similar results here at ISO 1600 between the two Nikon siblings, however the Z7 continues to push reds a little more while the D850 does noticeably better in the red-leaf swatch. Interestingly, while noise levels look very similar, the Z7's noise "grain" appears a little coarser and more uneven than the D850's in flatter areas.

Nikon Z7 vs Canon EOS R at ISO 1600

Nikon Z7 at ISO 1600
Canon EOS R at ISO 1600

Here at ISO 1600, the Z7 continues to produce a crisper, more detailed image with brighter, warmer colors and higher contrast. Luminance noise is however higher from the Nikon, though that's no surprise given the smaller photosites coupled with more aggressive sharpening. The Canon again does better with contrast in the red-leaf swatch, while the leaf pattern in the Nikon image is more broken up by individual thread segment remnants. Interestingly, moiré patterns continue to be more obvious from the Canon here, but that would change depending on the subject and distance.

Nikon Z7 vs Canon 5DS R at ISO 1600

Nikon Z7 at ISO 1600
Canon 5DS R at ISO 1600

The 5DS R continues to capture more detail than the Z7 here at ISO 1600, however noise in flatter areas is higher. The Nikon image continues to be more vibrant and contrasty overall, even though the Canon does noticeably better with contrast in the red-leaf swatch.

Nikon Z7 vs Fujifilm GFX 50R at ISO 1600

Nikon Z7 at ISO 1600
Fujifilm GFX 50R at ISO 1600

Again, like we saw at base ISO, there really no contest here with the medium format 4:3 50R capturing significantly more detail with lower noise levels than the Z7.

Nikon Z7 vs Sony A7R III at ISO 1600

Nikon Z7 at ISO 1600
Sony A7R III at ISO 1600

The Z7 image is a little softer than the A7R III's with fine detail that appears slightly smeared in comparison, yet it contains more obvious sharpening halos around high-contrast edges. Luma noise appears a little lower from the Sony in flatter areas, but the Nikon's noise pattern looks a little more natural, chroma noise in the shadows is lower, and there's no black "peppered" effect in the red-leaf fabric. Colors continue to be warmer and more vibrant from the Nikon. Still, the Sony holds onto more detail in the mosaic and red-leaf swatch, making it the overall victor here.

Nikon Z7 vs Nikon D850 at ISO 3200

Nikon Z7 at ISO 3200
Nikon D850 at ISO 3200

Once again, very similar image quality here between the two Nikon siblings, however again contrast is a little higher, red is more pumped, and luminance noise grain is a little coarser from the Z7. And again, the D850 did a little better with contrast in our red-leaf swatch, though both cameras struggled to hang onto fine detail there.

Nikon Z7 vs Canon EOS R at ISO 3200

Nikon Z7 at ISO 3200
Canon EOS R at ISO 3200

The Z7 continues to produce a crisper, more detailed and more vibrant image here at ISO 3200 than the EOS R, however luminance noise appears to be stronger with a less consistent grain pattern in flatter areas. The EOS R however shows fewer noise reduction artifacts overall, and manages to eke out a better representation of our troublesome red-leaf swatch.

Nikon Z7 vs Canon 5DS R at ISO 3200

Nikon Z7 at ISO 3200
Canon 5DS R at ISO 3200

Here at ISO 3200, the 5DS R really begins to struggle with high luminance noise levels, which combined with strong noise reduction interferes with fine detail and takes away much of its resolution advantage. While the Canon's luma noise is quite high, its "grain" pattern is much more consistent and film-like than the Nikon's.

Nikon Z7 vs Fujifilm GFX 50R at ISO 3200

Nikon Z7 at ISO 3200
Fujifilm GFX 50R at ISO 3200

As expected, there's really no contest here at ISO 3200 either, with the 50R easily besting the Z7 with much more detail, lower noise and fewer noise reduction artifacts.

Nikon Z7 vs Sony A7R III at ISO 3200

Nikon Z7 at ISO 3200
Sony A7R III at ISO 3200

The Z7 image is again a little softer and less detailed here at ISO 3200, but like we saw at ISO 1600, the Nikon's luma noise "grain" looks a little more random and natural, chroma noise is lower and colors are more punchy than from the Sony. Overall, though, we'd say the A7R III still comes out ahead here again.

Nikon Z7 vs. Nikon D850, Canon EOS R, Canon 5DS R, Fujifilm GFX 50R, Sony A7R III

Nikon
Z7
ISO 64
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Nikon
D850
ISO 64
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
EOS R
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
5DS R
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Fujifilm
GFX 50R
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A7R III
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing the camera in different ways, so we like to look at it too. Here, we can see the Z7's deeper blacks and also its red push compared to the D850, but otherwise performance is very similar. Contrast from the Z7 appears to be the highest of the group. The Sony A7R III produced slightly lower contrast, but as mentioned previously, its more advanced sharpening leaves less obvious halos. The two Canons trail the pack in terms of contrast, however detail is obviously better from the higher resolution 5DS R, while worse from the lower resolution EOS R, as expected.

 

Nikon Z7 Print Quality Analysis

Excellent 30 x 40 inch prints at ISO 32-800; a nice 24 x 36 at ISO 3200; a good 11 x 14 at ISO 12,800.

ISO 32/64/100/200/400 produces excellent prints at 30 x 40 inches and higher, as large as you like until you run out of resolution! There is incredible detail present, wonderful three-dimensionality and rich color representation abounding. Simply stunning prints at base and the lower ISOs from the Z7.

ISO 800 also yields an exceptional 30 x 40 inch print, almost as good in quality as the lower ISOs. Even the 36 x 48 inch prints here are fine for wall display purposes, as this camera doesn't produce common, ordinary ISO 800 prints!

ISO 1600 prints are also quite good at 30 x 40 inches, which is really pushing the bounds for most full-frame cameras. The Z7 handles it with aplomb, as there is a wealth of fine detail at this size with virtually no noise evident in the print, and very little softening as yet occurring in the red channel.

ISO 3200 delivers a 30 x 40 inch print that amazingly almost passes our good seal, and that would have been a first for a full-frame camera! They certainly will work for less critical applications or casual wall display purposes, but for more critical printing we can safely give our seal of approval to the 24 x 36 inch prints here, which are quite good in most respects.

ISO 6400 produces a 16 x 20 inch print that is quite good for such a relatively lofty ISO. This is where the benefit of a quality full-frame camera really begins to shine, as most crop-sensor (APS-C/MFT) cameras can't come close at ISO 6400. There is mild noise in flatter areas of our test target, and some mild softening present in the red channel, but still a very nice print overall at this size. And for your ultra-critical printing purposes, the 13 x 19's tighten up even more.

ISO 12,800 yields a 13 x 19 inch print that almost passes our good grade, and that would be yet another first for a full-frame camera at this sensitivity. The 11 x 14 inch prints here are quite good, with only typical minor issues associated with such a high ISO and mild traces of noise in a few areas, but noise is still well-controlled.

ISO 25,600 allows you to almost shoot in the dark and still deliver a good 8 x 10 inch print, and that is really saying something. There is still good color representation and plenty of fine detail, and that's simply not something we're accustomed to seeing at ISO 25,600!

ISO 51,200 tends to bring even the best of full-frame cameras down to mere mortal status, and the Z7 is no exception. The 5 x 7 inch prints here just barely pass our good seal, but there is some minor scorching going on with the colors, and mild traces of noise. For the most part, the camera is meant to be used at ISO 25,600 and below, unless a 5 x 7 inch print is all you'll need.

ISO 102,400 comes oh-so-close to producing a usable 4 x 6 inch print, but it just barely misses the mark. It's not a bad print for casual use, but there's just not enough fine detail nor full colors to make our good seal.

Well done, Nikon Z7! Your printing prowess is superb and your walls will love you for it. From extended low ISOs all the way to ISO 6400 the prints are outstanding, and even at the lofty ISOs of 12,800 and 25,600 you can achieve good prints at reasonable sizes. Indeed, these prints are a shining example of why we named the Nikon Z7 our 2018 Professional Camera of the Year!

 



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