Bob Nuttmann

Nikon Z7 After Two Months – User Impressions

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I have had a Nikon Z7 with a couple of ZS type lenses now for a couple of months.  This is a very high end digital camera in every way.  The two lenses purchased so far are the 24-70 f4 and the 50mm f1.8.  Both of these lenses are two of the very best lenses I have ever owned.  Picture quality and detail from both of these lenses and the camera body is remarkable.  For most of the time my crop sensor Nikon Z50 is more than enough needed for both stills and video.  There is no denying though that the full frame Z7 with over twice the pixel count of the Z50 does add detail and can add beauty to those times when you can see all this detail.  Like when you are using a detailed computer monitor or make a large print.

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In addition the Nikon Z7 gives just gorgeous color from either it’s raw files or jpegs.  Nikon files either raw or jpeg work wonderfully with Lightroom Classic or Lightroom.  The shots are remarkably “done” when you import them.  I usually add a little tweak here and there, but for the most part you do not have to.

The Nikon Z7 and Z50 share very similar operating systems.  Controls, menus, and features are not identical but very close.

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The Z7 with lens is about 3 times the cost of the Nikon Z50 and twice the weight.  Is it worth it?  The above photo was taken with a Z50.  If you look at this photo as is you will not see any difference in the Z7 vs the Z50.  If you want to be able to blow up this photo to make a large print of 24″ or larger then yes, you should use a Z7.  If you want to create art where you look at the file on a high end computer monitor than yes the Z7 is worth it.

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If you want to count the ridges on the hat band or see individual fibers of the hat then the Z7 with a good lens is a professional tool to use for that.

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The above two shots were taken with the Z50.  The top one with the 50-250mm Z50 lens and the bottom one with the Z7 50mm S lens.  You can see that the more expensive lens gives a sharper more detailed result.

Operation of the Z7 – I have been using the Nikon touch screen and menu system since I bought a D5500 in 2015.  It is very fast and easy to use.  When I shoot I usually start in P or A mode with auto ISO turned on.  If I am on a tripod I set ISO manually at the base number which is 64 on the Z7.  If I am on a tripod I tend to use M mode more.  I vary aperture based on the depth of field I want and by how much light I have.  When shooting action, sports, or kids I will either use M or S, most frequently M.  I use back button AF.

In general I find it simple to use single point AF when the subject is still.  Moving animals, kids, or sports and I use subject tracking or just set to full screen auto AF.  In general social photography full auto also works fine.  Sometimes I will play with a scene setting but not often.  With these new Nikons I have not so far played with the deep menu individual adjustments.  Mostly as there seems to be no reason to.  Nikon’s newest cameras tend to get the shots I want, how I want them with little to no adjustment.  This is similar to my iPhone 11Pro which is also remarkable in how close it gets without fuss.

I almost always just set to raw only at full 14 bit.  I shoot video in both HD and 4K 24.  4K files are much larger than HD and for the most part 4K is not needed.  But then I am really a photographer and not a videographer.  I mostly take clips and only sometimes edit my video.  Nikon’s system for switching between stills and video is fast and easy.  One small lever control and your done.

Above is a collage of some of the better shots I got with the Z7 on our latest trip.  I find the high quality viewfinder very useful when looking for the right colors shooting.  Optical viewfinders in many ways are quicker and easier but electronic ones make it easy to play with the camera until you see what you want to get in the viewfinder.  With a DSLR you have to rely on the back screen to do that.  The Nikon Z7 is an outstanding camera and likely one of the best you can buy at any price in 2020.  Not only is the body very comfortable to hold, but the controls and operating system is easy to use fast.  And Nikon has generated new lenses for this system that are some of the very best I have ever used.  Any questions post a comment.

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