Nikon Z7 Performance


Timing and Performance

Generally good performance for its class.

Startup/Play to Record

Power on
to first shot

~1.5 seconds

Time it takes for camera to turn on.

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.9 second

Time until first shot is captured.

About average startup time to first shot for a mirrorless, but much slower than most DSLRs. Switching from Play to Record and taking a shot was faster, but also slower than most DSLRs. The D850 for instance powered up and took a shot in about 0.2 second, and switched modes and took a shot in only about 0.1 second.

 

Shutter Response (Lag Time)
M-shutter / EFCS / E-shutter

Full Autofocus
Single Point
(Center) AF-S

0.215/0.207/0.156
second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture using optical viewfinder. All timing performed with the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S kit lens at ~50mm.

Manual focus

0.066/0.060/0.136
second

For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.065/0.059/0.134
second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

In terms of the Z7's ability to determine that it's properly focused when shooting the same target multiple times (with no change of focus setting between iteration, to remove the impact of lens AF speed), its speed was good but not exceptional. The Z7's full AF shutter lag measured 0.215 second with the mechanical shutter (default mode), 0.207 second with electronic first curtain shutter (EFCS) enabled and 0.156 second when using the all electronic shutter. By comparison, the D850 managed only 0.076 second with the mechanical shutter, and that includes flipping its mirror up out of the way.

Manual focus lag was 66 milliseconds with the mechanical shutter, 60 milliseconds with EFCS and interestingly, 0.136 second with the electronic shutter The D850 tested at 52 milliseconds.

When prefocused, shutter lag was very similar to manual focus lag at 65, 59 and 134 milliseconds respectively. The D850 managed 46 milliseconds.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance.

 

Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG
(Optimal quality)

0.48 second

Time per shot, averaged over a few frames (we no longer test for buffer depths in single-shot mode).

Single Shot mode
Lossless 14-bit RAW + L/F JPEG

0.46 second

Time per shot, averaged over a few frames (we no longer test for buffer depths in single-shot mode).

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous H Ext.
Large/Fine JPEG
(Optimal quality)

0.11 second
(9.0 fps);
26 frames total;
4.8 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 26 shot buffer, then slowed to an average of 0.25s or 4.0 fps when the buffer was full.

Continuous H Ext.
12-bit RAW (Lossless compressed)

0.11 second
(9.0 fps);
23 frames total;
5.3 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 23 shot buffer, then slowed to an average of 0.25s or 4.0 fps when the buffer was full.

Continuous H Ext.
12-bit RAW (Lossless) + L/F JPEG

0.11 second
(9.0 fps);
20 frames total;
6.4 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shot buffer, then slowed to an average of 0.34s or 3.0 fps when the buffer was full with a lot of variation.

Continuous H Ext.
14-bit RAW (Lossless compressed)

0.13 second
(8.0 fps);
19 frames total;
4.6 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 26 shot buffer, then slowed to an average of 0.29s or 3.4 fps when the buffer was full with a lot of variation.

Continuous H Ext.
14-bit RAW (Lossless) + L/F JPEG

0.13 second
(8.0 fps);
17 frames total;
5.9 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 17 shot buffer, then slowed to an average of 0.37s or 2.7 fps when the buffer was full with a lot of variation.

Flash recycling

N/A

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer depths and clearing times measured with a Lexar Pro 2933x XQD 2.0 400MB/s flash card except where otherwise noted. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slower cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times were quite good at under 0.5 second for both best quality JPEG and RAW+JPEG frames. (Note that we no longer test single-shot mode with just RAW files, as the results are usually somewhere in between JPEG and RAW+JPEG.)

We tested the Z7's fastest Continuous H Extended burst mode and performance matched Nikon's specification of 9 frames per second for JPEG and 12-bit NEF files, and 8 frames per second with 14-bit NEF files. Continuous H mode is rated at 5.5 fps or 5 fps with 14-bit NEFs, and the Continuous L rate is programmable from 1-5 fps. When using the all-electronic shutter (Silent mode), the maximum frame rates are a little slower, toping out at 8 fps in Continuous H Extended for JPEGs or 12-bit NEFs and 6.5 fps with 14-bit NEFs, while Continuous H and L modes top out at 4 and 3.5 fps respectively.

Buffer depth when shooting JPEGs was decent, at 26 frames, one more than Nikon's 25 frame spec. Note that Nikon says it doesn't matter what the size or quality is for JPEGs -- the buffer depth remains at about 25. When shooting losslessly compressed 12-bit NEF files, the buffer depth was 23 frames in our tests, falling to 20 frames when shooting RAW+JPEG. As mentioned previously, shooting 14-bit NEFs reduced the maximum frame rate to 8 frames per second, and also reduced RAW and RAW+JPEG buffer depths to 19 and 17 frames respectively.

Buffer-full rates averaged from 4 fps to about 2.7 fps depending on the file type, but cycle times can vary a lot when the buffer is full, oscillating between full speed and cycle times as long as almost a second.

Buffer clearing was pretty fast with our Lexar Pro 2933x XQD 2.0 card, even with the large file sizes the Z7 generates. We measured clearing times ranging from only 4.6 to 6.4 seconds depending on the file type.

To see how buffer depths and clearing times varied with RAW file type, we also tested Compressed (lossy) and Uncompressed NEFs, at 12 and 14 bits:

Full resolution NEF
bit depth &
compression
Burst
rate
(fps)
Buffer
capacity
(frames)
Clearing
time
(sec)
Buffer-full
rate
(fps)
12-bit Compressed
9.0
22
5.1
~3.7
12-bit Lossless
9.0
23
5.3
~4.0
12-bit Uncompressed
9.0
22
7.6
~3.5
14-bit Compressed
8.0
18
3.9
~3.5
14-bit Lossless
8.0
19
4.6
~3.4
14-bit Uncompressed
8.0
19
7.4
~2.7
Note: Buffer depths and clearing times measured with a Lexar Pro 2933x XQD 2.0 400MB/s flash card.

As you can see, shooting in 12-bit mode not only increased the frame rate but also buffer depth, though clearing times were also a bit higher. And as expected, clearing times improved as compression was increased.


Bottom line, the Z7's performance in the lab was generally good for its type. Startup and play to record times were about average for a mirrorless, but sluggish compared to most DSLRs. Autofocus speeds were good as was shutter lag, but again not as fast as most prosumer DSLRs. Cycle times and the fastest burst rate were quite good for its class and resolution, however buffer depths, while decent, weren't anything to write home about. Buffer clearing times were pretty fast, though, thanks to the use of a fast XQD card.

Battery

Battery Life

Mediocre CIPA-rated battery life.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Still Capture
(CIPA standard, EVF)
330
Still Capture
(CIPA standard, LCD Monitor)
400

The Z7 uses a custom EN-EL15b rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and dedicated charger, though in-camera charging via USB is also supported. Older EN-EL15a and EL-EL15 batteries can also be used, but battery life is lower and they can't be recharged in-camera.

The CIPA-rated 330 shots per charge using the EVF and 400 shots with the LCD are below average for a mirrorless camera, and keep in mind the Z7 doesn't have a built-in flash which reduces CIPA battery life when present (it's fired for 50% of shots in the CIPA battery-life test). We recommend getting a second battery for your Z7.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of on fully-charged battery, based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

 



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