Nikon Z7 Review
|Full model name:||Nikon Z7|
(35.9mm x 23.9mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||64 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||32 - 102,400|
|Shutter:||1/8000 - 30 sec|
|Max Aperture:||4.0 (kit lens)|
5.3 x 4.0 x 2.7 in.
(134 x 101 x 68 mm)
includes batteries, kit lens
|Full specs:||Nikon Z7 specifications|
The Nikon Z7 is not only their first full-frame mirrorless camera, it is also one of the company's best cameras. Inside a sleek and compact mirrorless camera body, the high-res sensor delivers superb image quality, and its speedy processor delivers great all-around performance. Of course, there is room to grow and improve, and there aren't many native lenses for the Z7 yet, but Nikon's first full-frame mirrorless camera is an excellent one.Pros
Familiar design in a compact form; Rugged build quality; Gorgeous EVF; Excellent image quality; Good autofocus; In-body image stabilization; Good 4K video recording.Cons
Single card slot; Not as good at subject tracking as some Nikon DSLR cameras; Limited native lens selection (although adapter works well); Limited buffer depths.Price and availability
The Nikon Z7 released in September 2018 and the body sells for just under $3,400 USD. The Z7 is also available in a kit with the new 24-70mm f/4 S lens and/or Nikon FTZ adapter.Imaging Resource rating
4.5 out of 5.0
Nikon Z7 Review
08/24/2018: Gallery Images added
09/13/2018: Production unit First Shots posted
10/01/2018: Performance posted
10/16/2018: Field Test Part I posted
11/01/2018: Field Test Part II posted
01/10/2019: Image Quality Comparison and Print Quality Analysis posted
01/17/2019: Conclusion posted
Want to learn more about how the Nikon Z7 was designed and built?
Click here to read our deep-dive interview with
- Feel & Handling
- Exceptional Optics
- Advanced Imaging
- New Z Mount
- Built for Video
- Stunning Views
- Speed & Precision
Z series cameras embody the elegance, durability, handling and operation of award-winning Nikon DSLRs—just in a smaller package.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
A large, deep grip for balanced handling, even when using telephoto F-Mount NIKKOR lenses. Comfortable ergonomics, thoughtful button placement and an easy to use GUI.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
Intuitive touchscreen control for navigating menus, adjusting settings, reviewing shots, selecting focus and even taking photos and 4K UHD videos.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
Lighter than comparable DSLR camera bodies with a thinner, more compact footprint.Battle Ready
Built with the same rugged Magnesium Alloy material and weather-sealing as Nikon professional DSLRs.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
The Z 7 has a clear, simple menu system that’ll be familiar to existing Nikon DSLR shooters and easy to master for newcomers.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
Meet the first in a new generation of NIKKOR lenses. Designed around the new larger Z Mount and beautifully matched to Z series cameras, NIKKOR Z lenses embody the ultimate in image quality with near-silent operation—all in a smaller, lighter package.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
With the optional Mount Adapter FTZ, Z series cameras are fully compatible with over 90 F-Mount NIKKOR lenses, which retain all their sharpness, rendering power and functionality. Plus, they gain so much: smooth, fast Hybrid-AF*, silent shooting, in-camera VR and more. In total, approximately 360 F-Mount NIKKOR lenses can be used.**
*Full AF/AE supported when using FX or DX AF-S Type G/D/E, AF-P type G/E, AF-I type D and AF-S / AF-I Teleconverters
** For compatibility details with the new optional adapter, please visit nikonusa.com/mirrorlessMirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
EXPEED 6, the most advanced Nikon image processing yet, powers breathtaking image quality, liberating low-light performance and versatile video capabilities.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
Mirrorless design and an impossibly short flange distance—65% shorter—allows for smaller lenses, thinner bodies and new optical formulas, including lenses with a maximum aperture of f/0.95.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
Seamless compatibility with beloved F-Mount NIKKOR lenses*, Speedlights and other DSLR accessories as well as new NIKKOR Z lenses.
*For compatibility details with the new optional adapter, please visit nikonusa.com/mirrorlessMirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
A 5-axis optical VR system is built right into Z series cameras for up to 5 stops* of image stabilization when using NIKKOR Z lenses and up to 3-axis VR when using F-Mount NIKKOR lenses. Additional electronic VR (e-VR) can be combined during video capture.
*Based on CIPA Standards. This value is achieved when the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens is attached, with zoom set at the maximum telephoto position.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
The video advantages of mirrorless design—fast, accurate on-sensor Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF), in-camera VR and a brilliant Electronic Viewfinder—plus the most robust 4K UHD video feature set on any Nikon camera yet.
(Shown with Redrock Micro Shoulder Rig & Nikon ME-1 Microphone, sold separately)Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
Mirrorless design, on-sensor PDAF and whisper-quiet lenses let you shoot with complete stealth. Capture special moments without interrupting them.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
At 55mm, it’s the largest full-frame mount on any camera system†, allowing more of everything: more light capture, more data sharing between lens and camera and more image quality performance.
†As of August 23, 2018 * Compared to Nikon F mount **Illustrative purposes only. Not to scale.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
By seemingly breaking the laws of optics with just 16mm of flange distance, Nikon can now deliver smaller and lighter cameras and lens designs impossible in any other mirrorless system.
*Compared to Nikon F MountMirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
Full-frame 4K Ultra HD: Cinematic 16:9 4K UHD/30p video with the sharpness and dynamic range of Nikon’s full-frame image sensors.
8K Time Lapse*: With Z 7, shoot up to 9,999 full resolution stills with zero shutter vibration.
Hybrid AF for video: Silky smooth, near-silent AF with automatic switching between phase-detect and contrast-detect AF.
120 fps slow motion: Bend time with ultra-smooth 1080p slow motion sequences
*Requires interval timer settings and 3rd party software.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
10-bit HDMI output: Record uncompressed footage with 64x more color data* directly to an external capture device.
New Nikon N-log: Preserve maximum detail, dynamic range, shadows and highlights for more control and creativity in post-processing.
*Compared to 8-bit. Requires optional HDMI Connecting Cable.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
EVF Pure Viewing Experience: Absolutely stunning 3.6M-dot electronic viewfinder with Nikon optics, real-time previewing, a custom in-screen menu, minimal blackout during fast shooting. And it can be used during video recording.
3.2-inch Tilting Touchscreen: Compose with crystal clarity on a large, 2.1M dot display that tilts for easier high and low shots. Touch to focus and fire the shutter. Navigate menus, playback and more as if you were using a smartphone.
OLED Dot-Matrix Panel: Review key camera settings from the top of the camera on a low-power OLED screen, just like high-end Nikon DSLRs.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
Fast continuous shooting: Shoot up to 12 FPS with Z 6 and 9 FPS with Z 7 at full resolution in 12-bit RAW or JPEG without the need for an external battery pack.
Faster lens-to-camera communication: The Z Mount allows higher-speed, larger-volume communication between the lens and camera body for dramatic gains in AF adjustments and image processing—for today and the even faster cameras of tomorrow.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy: Z series cameras easily connect using Nikon SnapBridge* with compatible smart devices for remote shooting and transferring JPEG photos on the go.
Wire-free to your Mac or PC: Connect to a Mac or PC using Z series cameras’ built-in Wi-Fi for monitoring and transferring JPEG, RAW or video.
*Download requiredMirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
The Z 7 is compatible with the full Nikon DSLR system—Speedlights, remotes, wireless transmitters, external mics and more.Mirrorless Reinvented Learn more about the Nikon Z 7
Nikon Z7 Overview
by Mike Tomkins
Preview posted: 08/23/2018
Things have been looking up for Nikon lately. As the company rounded out its year-long celebration of its hundredth anniversary last year, its impressive D850 DSLR ruled the roost as winner not just in the DSLR category of our 2017 Camera of the Year awards, but also the overall victor. But while it has clearly managed something really special with the D850 DSLR, Nikon obviously couldn't neglect the burgeoning mirrorless market, which has continued to gain in popularity globally at the expense of DSLR sales. The potential of mirrorless has been made most obvious by the speed with which rival Sony's Alpha mirrorless camera line has gained in popularity and sales, even as Nikon has had to pull back from its own mirrorless offerings of days gone by due to lackluster sales.
Looking back at the 1-series and decade one of the mirrorless revolution
By coincidence, mirrorless cameras themselves were also celebrating an anniversary last year. It was a full decade since Olympus and Panasonic made waves in mid-2008 by announcing their Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera standard. Nikon responded some three years later in mid-2011, launching its own Nikon 1 mirrorless lineup. The 1-series cameras were groundbreaking in some respects, with the world's first hybrid autofocus system in an ILC thanks to on-chip phase detection pixels, and capable of almost legendary burst-shooting and video-capture performance. They also took good advantage of the size and weight advantages possible with mirrorless designs, being far sleeker and more compact than their DSLR brethren.
Where the Nikon 1-series stumbled, though, was in the very place which allowed most of these other advantages: The sensor used in Nikon's early mirrorless models, while still huge in comparison to the compact cameras which were then just reaching their sales peak, was nevertheless relatively tiny when compared even to the APS-C sensors typically used in DSLRs at the time. While that sensor size allowed the small cameras and lenses for which the 1-series was known, as well as their incredible performance and autofocus, it also translated to a noticeable reduction in image quality versus larger-sensored rivals. Nikon put its heart and soul into the 1-series, but it still faded into the history books, underappreciated and unloved by most.
The impressive Z7 and Z6 mark the start of Nikon's brand-new mirrorless strategy
Nikon has since gone back to the drawing board and reinvented its mirrorless strategy from the ground up. With the simultaneously-launched Nikon Z6 and Z7, the company aims to achieve the same success within the compact system camera market that it's managing in the DSLR market with cameras like the D850. In doing so, it has switched to a full-frame sensor size much like that used in many of Sony's popular Alpha-series mirrorless cameras, setting up a head-to-head battle with the electronics giant, as well as with Canon, who less than two weeks later also announced their first full-frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R.
[Ed. Note: For the sake of accuracy, we should note that the official naming for these new cameras is actually "Nikon Z 6" and "Nikon Z 7". However, we'll be referring to them as the Z6 and Z7 throughout this article, as the extra space makes things harder to read, but we can't really abbreviate to just 'Z' or '6'/'7' either.]
Key features of the Nikon Z7
We'll get down to all of the finer details in a moment, but right now we're sure you're itching to learn what the Nikon Z7 has to bring to the party. Let's quickly hit the high points:
Nikon's familiar DSLR ergonomics in a mirrorless form factor
Comprehensively dust/weather-sealed body (D850 class of protection)
45.7-megapixel, full-frame Nikon FX-format BSI CMOS image sensor with on-chip focus pixels
ISO 64 - 25,600, expandable to ISO 32 - 102,400
Up to nine fps full-res burst capture with continuous autofocus
Nikkor Z lens mount supports three S-Line lenses at launch and over a dozen by end of 2020
Supports Nikon F-mount lenses with Mount Adapter FTZ
Roomy and extremely high-res 3,690k-dot OLED electronic viewfinder with Nikkor optics
Generous 3.2-inch, 2,100k-dot tilting LCD touch-screen
Top-deck status OLED display
493-point autofocus system works as low as -4 EV (ISO 100, f/2.0 lens, AF-S mode)
Five-stop, five-axis in-camera vibration reduction for both Z-mount and all adapted F-mount lenses. Lens-based VR also supported.
Shutter speeds from 1/8,000 to 30 plus bulb; x-sync at 1/200
Full-width 4Kp30 and 1080p120 movie capture, timecode, 10-bit HDMI and Log color profile
Also shoots 8K timelapse movies in-camera
Built-in SnapBridge Bluetooth/Wi-Fi communications
SuperSpeed USB Type-C connector and Type-C Mini HDMI connector, plus accessory terminal and 3.5mm mic/headphone jacks
Supports existing DSLR accessories like Advanced Wireless Lighting, WT-7 series wireless transmitters and EN-EL15 series batteries. New EN-EL15b can recharge in-camera.
Dedicated, weather-sealed multi-power battery pack is in development
Available late September 2018 for US$3,400 body-only or US$4,000 with 24-70 f/4 lens
The Nikon Z6 and Z7 compared
And now that we've got the basics covered, let's see what differs between the Nikon Z7 and its simultaneously-announced, more-affordable sibling:
The Nikon Z7 has a 45.7-megapixel sensor; the Z6 is 24.5-megapixel. (Total pixel counts are 46.89 mpix for Z7, and 25.28 mpix for Z6.)
The Z7's sensor lacks an optical low-pass filter, while the lower-resolution Z6 has one.
The Z7 supports ISO 64 - 25,600 by default; the Z6 is ISO 100 - 51,200.
The Z7 can be expanded to ISO 32 - 102,400; the Z6 expands to 50 - 204,800.
The Z7 has 493 focus points; the Z6 has 273.
The Z7 shoots at 9 fps full-res; the Z6 can manage 12 fps. If you enable 14-bit raw, the Z7 falls to 8 fps, while the Z6 can still manage 9 fps. Both drop to 5.5 fps with full continuous AE/AF functionality when shooting 12-bit raw, but the Z7 drops to 5 fps with 14-bit raw.
The Z6 features a deeper buffer for longer bursts (35 versus 23 for 12-bit lossless NEFs).
The Z7 meters down to -3 EV and focuses down to -1 EV ordinarily, while the Z6 can meter to -4 EV and focus to -2 EV. (However, in Low-light AF mode, both cameras can focus down to -4 EV.)
While both models capture full-width 4K video at up to 30p, the Z6 features full-pixel readout, for better video quality. The Z7 subsamples.
The Z7 offers a 5:4 aspect ratio mode for stills, the Z6 does not.
The Z7 features slightly better battery life with the same battery pack, CIPA-rated at 330 shots per charge with the EVF or 400 shot with the LCD. The Z6 is rated at 310 or 380 shots respectively.
Curiously, the Z6 has more powerful Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios than does the Z7. (7.4 vs 7.0 dBm for 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, 12.2/9.2 vs. 12.1/9.1 dBm for 5GHz Wi-Fi, 1.9 vs 1.5 dBm for Bluetooth and 0.4 vs 0 dBm for Bluetooth LE.)
The Z7 costs US$3,400 body-only at launch; the Z6 is US$2,000.
The Z7 comes bundled with the EH-7P charging AC adapter to charge batteries in-camera; the Z6 doesn't include this accessory in the standard package.
Let's roll up our sleeves and talk details
But enough of the bullet points. As the Z6 and Z7 are new cameras, we've a lot more to discuss here than usual. Now that you have a sense for where the Z7 sits compared to its sibling, let's get right down to the specifics and see what you can expect from Nikon's flagship full-frame mirrorless camera.
The first thing you're going to notice on picking up the Z7 is that it's very obviously a high-end Nikon camera. For one thing, it's no shelf queen: the Z7's body is designed to the same level of strength, durability and dust / drip resistance as the D850. And although the number and placement of controls does of necessity vary a fair bit to accommodate a smaller mirrorless form factor, a lot of the individual controls will be immediately familiar to a photographer shooting that same camera.
A brand-new body that nevertheless feels like an old friend
The cluster of controls around the shutter button, for example, is identical to the D850 almost right down to the individual button placements. You'll also find twin control dials front and rear, plus on the rear, a joystick control and an eight-way directional pad with central OK button. And nearby, you'll also find AF-ON and 'i' buttons. Delete and Play buttons can be found top left of the rear deck where you'd expect, and they're even separated by a little ridge as in the D850.
Really, the biggest UI differences are that four of the buttons which would have lined the left of the LCD on the D850 have instead jumped to the bottom right of the rear deck, and there's a traditional Mode dial with central lock button on the top deck in place of the wedding cake-style release mode dial topped by buttons on the D850. Getting familiarized with the Z7's controls should not take Nikonians long at all.
A brand-new, very high-res sensor and EXPEED 6 processor
Let's return to the image sensor, next of all. As we said at the outset, it's a full-frame (or in Nikon parlance, FX-format) backside-illuminated CMOS chip with an effective resolution of 45.7 megapixels from a total count of 46.89 megapixels and it does not include an optical low-pass filter. The chip has dimensions of 35.9 x 23.9mm, and maximum image dimensions are 8,256 x 5,504 pixels. If using an APS-C sensor crop for a DX-format lens, the maximum image dimensions fall to 5,408 x 3,600 pixels, for an effective resolution of 19.5 megapixels.
As well as the ability to shoot a Dust Off reference photo to remove dust from your images using Nikon's Capture NX-D software, an image sensor cleaning function is included. (We don't have details on the specific dust reduction system being used, however.)
The sensor is paired to a latest-generation version of Nikon's in-house image processor, dubbed EXPEED 6 in this incarnation. Nikon says that this latest variant of EXPEED allows for crisper rendering of subjects and lower noise levels than did past versions. To help you make the most of the Z7's detail-gathering capabilities, EXPEED 6 also brings with it a new mid-range sharpening function that can be used alongside of the existing sharpening and clarity functions seen in other recent Nikon cameras.
A sensitivity range that's unusually generous at the bottom end, too
Together, the Nikon Z7's sensor and processor pairing allow a sensitivity range of ISO 64 to 25,600 equivalents, expandable to encompass everything from ISO 32 to 102,400 equivalents. That's a pretty broad range, and while we've certainly seen higher at the top end of the scale, it's at the bottom end where the Nikon Z7 really impresses. Not counting the D810 and D850, it's not often we see a camera which allows anything below ISO 100 by default.
And the top burst capture rate of nine frames per second with continuous autofocus at full resolution is pretty swift, too, especially when you bear in mind the Z7's high resolution of 45.7 megapixels. Do note that's with exposure locked from the first frame, however. Also, enabling 14-bit raw capture will strip a frame off the maximum rate, dropping it to 8 fps max. If you want exposure adjustments between frames, the maximum capture rate plunges to a more modest 5.5 frames per second at full resolution, or 5 fps with 14-bit raw capture. And if you need a lower burst rate, options from 1 to 5 fps are also available.
A brand-new lens mount brings big opportunities
The newly-developed, four-flanged Nikon Z lens bayonet mount absolutely dominates the front of the Z7 body. It's notable not just for the generous diameter of the mount, which has an inner diameter of some 2.2 inches (55 mm), but also for its minimal flange back distance of just 0.63 inches (16mm). That's actually a millimeter less than the much smaller Nikon 1-mount, two millimeters less than Sony's E-mount, and 3.25mm less than Olympus and Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds standard.
Nikon tells us that the combination of the generously-sized mount and shallow flange back will give it greater possibilities when it comes to lens development. And it's pretty clear that lens development is a key focus here. The official Nikkor Z Lens Roadmap at release shows the lineup started with just three optics (two primes and a zoom) in 2018, but six more are slated to follow in 2019, and another six the year after. Looking out to 2021 or perhaps later, there are a further eight optics scheduled.
All of Nikon's Nikkor Z S-Line lenses are said to have been designed to provide maximum sharpness when shooting wide open. They're also all equipped with weather-sealing, and to be conducive to use not just for stills, but also for video capture. We don't yet have specifics on what many of these lenses will be, however. Let's take a bit of a closer look at what we know thus far of what's to come.
Two primes and a zoom available at launch
Available alongside the Nikon Z7 at launch (or for the 50mm, a short month thereafter) are two primes and a zoom. The Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.8 S and Z 50mm f/1.8 S primes both feature a pair of ED glass lens elements. The 50mm pairs these with two aspheric elements, while the 35mm prime has three aspherics. Both lenses also use Nikon's Nano Crystal Coat coating to suppress flare and ghosting. The 50mm uses an STM stepping motor for quiet autofocus, while the 35mm prime has an unusual AF drive mechanism pairing two distinct AF drive units for performance and accuracy.
The Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S is the only zoom available at launch. It pairs Nikon's ghost- and flare-resistant Nano Crystal Coat coating with a fluorine coating on the front element to resist smudges and smears. Inside, it has one standard ED element, one aspherical ED element and three standard aspherics. It will focus to as close as 0.3 meters.
Nine more lenses announced in some form for 2019 and 2020
Of the remaining known lenses, there are five primes and four zooms. The ultra-wide Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S has just recently been announced and will be available in the spring of 2019. It's quite compact and light for its class, and Nikon says it's the world's first full-frame 14mm lens that can accept screw-in filters. Click on the link for full info.
We only have details beyond the name for one other optic, currently in development and also slated to arrive in 2019. This is the Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct, a manual focus-only optic which is planned as the fastest lens ever made by Nikon.
Positioned as the flagship S-Line lens, its name hearkens back to 1977's AI Noct-NIKKOR 58mm f/1.2 prime. The "Noct" moniker in both names is, according to Nikon, an abbreviation of "Nocturne", a musical piece intended for night or evening use. Staying true to that name, the original Noct lens was designed specifically with the intent of rendering sharp point light sources crisply against a dark background, such as you might want for night or astronomical photography. And it seems the goal is much the same for this new lens, with Nikon promising "superior detail and sharpness", "outstanding point-image reproduction capabilities" and "beautiful blur characteristics".
As for the other lenses, we can only tell you their focal lengths and apertures so far, as not even the full names are yet finalized. In order from widest to most telephoto, they are:
14-24mm f/2.8 S
20mm f/1.8 S
24mm f/1.8 S
24-70mm f/2.8 S
50mm f/1.2 S
70-200mm f/2.8 S
85mm f/1.8 S
Note that in Nikon's latest S lens roadmap, the planned release of the 24mm f/1.8 has been moved up to 2019 while the 20mm f/1.8 has been moved out to 2020 compared to the original roadmap.
Of course, you can mount F-mount lenses via an adapter, too
As you'd doubtless expect of a brand-new system with few first-party optics at launch (and likely a while before any third-party optics become available, too), the ability to mount existing glass is an important feature for the Nikon Z-series cameras. And they can do so very nicely indeed, courtesy of the Nikon Mount Adapter FTZ.
The name, pretty obviously, hints at the fact that this accessory will adapt F-mount lenses to a Z-mount bayonet, and no less than 90 of Nikon's existing lenses will work with the adapter without limitations. (Full AF/AE is supported when using FX or DX AF-S Type G/D/E, AF-P type G/E, AF-I type D lenses and AF-S/AF-I teleconverters.) About another 250 optics (AI type and later) will also be usable with some functional limitations.
Five-axis, five-stop Vibration Reduction (and even adapted lenses get three-axis correction)
As well as providing support for focus and aperture control, the Mount Adapter FTZ also supports the built-in vibration reduction of lenses supporting this feature. If your lens doesn't natively offer VR, the camera's own built-in VR system will still provide three-axis VR. And the in-body stabilization system will work alongside that in your lens, if such a system is available, adding support not just for pitch and yaw correction, but also for side-to-side roll correction.
As for dedicated Z-mount lenses, these will provide for five-axis correction, adding horizontal and vertical translational motion to the list of corrections on offer. The system is said to operate with a five-stop corrective strength in this scenario.
Fast, point-dense autofocus with 90% frame coverage
Autofocus was clearly a priority for Nikon in designing the Z7, and the result is a camera which can manage swift AF corrections between frames even when shooting at the maximum rate of nine frames per second. This is doubly impressive when one considers that the Z7 has a very generous 493 autofocus points on offer, covering a whopping 90% of the image frame both horizontally and vertically.
The system is a hybrid one, as has become increasingly common over the last few years, but with an interesting twist. Typically, hybrid AF systems use on-chip phase detect focus pixels to approximate the distance and direction required to achieve a focus lock. Then, on making that adjustment, they fine-tune the result with a little contrast-detection "hunting" to determine the exact point of focus. While we're told that Nikon's hybrid AF system can function in this manner, we understand that it's not actually a requirement. The Nikon Z7 instead can (and sometimes, will) lock focus exclusively using the phase-detection information, with no need to perform a contrast-detection AF cycle at the end.
A superbly detailed and roomy electronic viewfinder will help you forget your DSLR
Perhaps one of the most important parts of the mirrorless experience for new shooters transitioning from a DSLR is the viewfinder. SLR shooters looking for a camera in this class are used to seeing a large, bright, razor-sharp and lag-free rendition of the real world in all of its glory, projected straight through the lens and into their eyes. These aren't areas in which electronic viewfinders have traditionally had the best reputation, but technology has come a long way in recent years, and we're starting to see some electronic viewfinders appearing which really challenge the perceptions of days gone by.
The electronic viewfinder used in the Nikon Z7 is a beautiful example of this in action, and it gives just the right feeling when raised to your eye. Based around a 0.5-inch (1.27 cm) Organic LED panel and boasting 0.8x magnification, it's very roomy indeed. It also has an extremely high Quad VGA resolution, not to be confused with the much lower-res QVGA. It's equivalent in resolution to four VGA screens stacked in a two-by-two array, offering up a total of 1,280 x 960 pixels, for a total dot count of around 3,690k-dots.
The Z7's viewfinder has an eyepoint of 21mm from the eyepiece lens, which is about enough even for eyeglass wearers to be able to discern the entire frame without needing to move their eye around the viewfinder. Coverage is manufacturer-rated at 100% both horizontally and vertically. There's a built-in diopter adjustment control which will allow a -4 to +2 m-1 diopters of adjustment, should you prefer. And regardless of whether or not you're bespectacled, you'll find that the Z7 can automatically enable or disable the viewfinder to help save power or to let you switch back and forth between viewfinder and LCD monitor with a minimum of fuss.
The viewfinder provides an 11-step manual or automatic brightness control, and a color adjustment function is also available to fine-tune it to your tastes.
An unusually crisp, high-res tilting touch-screen LCD monitor, as well
Speaking of the LCD monitor, that on the Nikon Z7 is also an unusually nice one. It has a slightly more generous than average 3.2-inch diagonal, and an extremely high resolution of 2,100k-dots. Again, Nikon manufacturer-rates coverage at 100%, and the company also specifies an extremely wide 170-degree viewing angle, both horizontally and vertically. Touch functionality is similar to the D850's, including touch AF and touch shutter support.
Just as for the viewfinder, the LCD monitor provides an 11-step brightness control and a color adjustment function. There's no auto brightness control for the LCD, however. And if you want to shoot from the hip or over your head, you'll find the Z7's LCD tilting mechanism useful so long as you don't need to shoot in portrait format. (We don't have a precise figure for its articulation range, but it won't flip all the way forward for selfie shooting, although that's hardly a common use case for a camera in this price group.)
Oh, and you'll also find a handy little OLED info panel on the Z7's top deck, as you can see below.
All the exposure and creative options you'd expect
The Nikon Z7 is clearly a camera aimed at experienced photographers, be they pros or deep-pocketed enthusiasts, and all the creative options you'd expect to find are on offer here. The Z7 meters exposures using its main imaging sensor, and offers a choice of matrix, center-weighted, spot or highlight-weighted metering modes. The metering system has an unusually generous operating range of -3 to 17 EV, allowing metering even for starlit scenes, and +/-5 EV of exposure compensation is available in 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps, plus an exposure lock function.
Program modes on offer include the typical selection of Programmed Auto, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority or fully Manual modes, plus a fully Automatic mode. The Program mode includes a flexible program function that allows you to coax the aperture or shutter speed in your desired direction while still leaving overall control in the hands of the camera itself. Shutter speeds range from as little as 1/8,000 second to a maximum of 30 seconds under automatic control, while bulb and time exposure options are also available.
Oh, and there's a silent shooting mode which will let you go stealth and avoid distracting your subject or annoying bystanders by using the electronic shutter, an electronic front-curtain option, as well as an 8K interval time-lapse function, although the latter will require third-party software to process the results into a movie. The electronic shutter doesn't provide a higher shutter speed than 1/8,000, though, and the electronic front-curtain option limits top shutter speed to 1/2,000 as well as top ISO to 25,600.
Throw a little more light on your subject with an external strobe
Unsurprisingly for a camera in this class, there's no built-in flash strobe. Pros and enthusiasts alike tend to see these as an annoyance rather than a convenience, increasing the likelihood of a failure for little upside beyond the ability to drown your subject in harsh light for an unflattering, ghostly look.
External flash is where it's at for pros, and here the Nikon Z7 satisfies with an ISO 518 hot shoe with sync and data contacts plus a safety lock. Nikon's iTTL flash metering system is supported, and you'll be able to use the same Creative Lighting System accessories as for your other Nikon gear. Flash exposure compensation is available in a range of -3 to +1 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 EV increments, and both first and second-curtain sync is possible, with or without redeye reduction. Flash x-sync is available at 1/200 second or slower, and auto FP high-speed sync flash is also supported.
The Nikon Z7 isn't just a still shooter; it's designed for videos, too
Of course, even still cameras these days shoot video, and the Nikon Z7 is no slouch in this area. It can shoot full-width ultra high-def 4K footage at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second, and high-def 1080p footage at 120, 100, 60, 50, 30, 25 or 24 frames per second. And a 4-5x slow-motion effect is also possible by recording at 120 fps and then outputting at either 30, 25 or 24 fps.
The maximum clip length is 29 minutes and 59 seconds, an artificial limit we all know and "love" which is common in the industry thanks to European regulations, even for cameras sold outside the European market. Videos are recorded in MOV or MP4 formats using H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC compression with linear PCM AAC audio from either a built-in stereo mic or an external mic with attenuator option. Microphone sensitivity is adjustable in 20 steps, or automatic.
As well as recording in-camera, the Z7 provides a 10-bit HDMI output amenable to external recorders. There's also a Nikon Log (N-Log) setting which tries to better hold onto highlight and shadow detail for better color grading potential, as well as support for timecode. Further, you can smoothly adjust aperture and exposure compensation during capture using the control ring found on each Z-mount lens. And while pros are likely to shun this last feature, enthusiasts may also find the availability of electronic vibration in addition to the mechanical body / lens VR to be a handy feature, too.
Wired and wireless connectivity options aplenty
The Z7 includes plenty of up-to-date wired connectivity options, more so than most cameras at the moment. To start off with, there's a standard USB Type C connector which is compliant with the USB SuperSpeed (aka USB 3.1 Gen 1 or USB 3.0) standard, catering to your data transfer needs. There's also a Type C Mini HDMI connector for high-def video output, a pair of 3.5mm jacks catering to headphones and microphones, and an accessory port compatible with the likes of Nikon's MC-DC2 remote release cord. Plus, of course, the aforementioned flash hot shoe.
As well as its wired connectivity options, the Z7 also helps you to get your images onto your smartphone or tablet -- and from there, to the world -- with its built-in wireless communications setup. Dubbed SnapBridge, this pairs both Bluetooth / Bluetooth LE and 2.4 / 5GHz Wi-Fi connections to provide an always-on connection and quick pairing, but the ability to also transfer data at high speed and over longer distances as needed. Nikon rates the system for a working range of 32 feet (10 m) in line of sight. Obstacles between camera and smart device will obviously reduce this range.
The Nikon Z7 stores images and movies on XQD memory cards in a single slot. Far less well-known than the more common SD card format, while they typically cost a little bit more than an SD card of similar capacity, the fastest-performing XQD cards offer speeds well in excess of those available from even UHS-II SD cards can provide.
Images can be stored in either 12-bit or 14-bit .NEF raw formats, as RGB TIFFs, or as JPEG compressed images. Raw files can be lossily or losslessly compressed or stored without compression. You can also save lower-res medium or small raw files, although these have a fixed 12-bit depth and require lossless compression.
The Z7 draws its power from an EN-EL15b lithium ion rechargeable battery. It can also accept the earlier EN-EL15 and EN-EL15a types, but cannot charge these in-camera as it can with the newest packs, and may also yield lesser battery life. The Z7 is CIPA-rated for only 330 shots on a charge when using the EVF or 400 shots when using the LCD monitor, however hands-on experience out in the field indicates real-world battery life far exceeds these CIPA figures. We also know that Nikon is working on designing a multi-power battery pack which will accept two EN-EL15b battery packs, increasing battery life by some 80% in the process. Watch this space for more info once the pack is officially announced.
Nikon Z7 price and availability
Available in the US market since 27 September 2018, the Nikon Z7 is priced at US$3,400 or thereabouts, body only. A kit version including the Nikkor Z 24-70 f/4 S lens is priced in the vicinity of US$4,000.
• • •
Nikon Z7 Field Test Part I
Nikon steps into the full-frame mirrorless fray
Enter the Nikon Z7. Nikon has pulled out all the stops with this camera. It features a 45.7-megapixel sensor, like the excellent Nikon D850 DSLR camera, nearly 500 phase-detect autofocus points, fast continuous shooting, 4K/30p video recording and much more. In nearly every measure, it's a professional-grade camera. Let's look at how the Nikon Z7 performs in the field and see if Nikon has started its new full-frame camera system off on the right foot.
Nikon Z7 Field Test Part II
A flexible and versatile full-frame mirrorless camera with few flaws
In my first Nikon Z7 Field Test, I evaluated the camera's design and handling, JPEG image quality and discussed autofocus and performance. In this Field Test, I will be looking closer at the camera's features, discuss video quality and look closer at the Z7's raw files before giving my last word on the Nikon Z7.
The Nikon Z7 features 5-axis in-body image stabilization. Nikon states that the system delivers up to 5 stops of vibration reduction. Nothing about my experience contradicts Nikon's claims. In my own use, the system seemed capable of not only delivering sharper handheld images, but also -- and perhaps even more importantly -- it did an excellent job of stabilizing the live view image in the viewfinder and on the display. Overall, the IBIS system works well and is an excellent inclusion.
Nikon Z7 Image Quality Comparison
See how the Z7's IQ compares to other high-res ILCs
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 Print Quality Analysis
Find out how the Z7 performs on actual paper
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!
Nikon Z7 Conclusion
Bringing a lot of what we love about the D850 into a mirrorless body
The end result of extended research, development and engineering at Nikon headquarters is a full-frame mirrorless camera with a very impressive list of features and excellent overall performance, both in our lab and in the field. However, while the Z7 is no doubt a very impressive first step for Nikon, like every camera and especially the first of its kind from a manufacturer, it's not without its flaws.
In the Box
The retail Nikon Z7 24-70mm f/4 kit contains the following items:
- Nikon Z7 camera body
- Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens
- LC-7B 72mm front lens cap
- LF-N1 rear lens cap
- HB-85 lens hood
- CL-C1 lens case
- EN-EL15b lithium-ion battery
- MH-25A battery charger
- EH-7P AC adapter
- BF-N1 body cap
- DK-29 finder eyepiece
- BS-S1 accessory shoe cover
- UC-E24 USB cable
- HDMI/USB cable clip
- AN-DC19 camera strap
- Warranty cards
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