Some thoughts on Nikon’s Z7.

Inspiration, Nikon, Nikon Z7, Q&A, Teaching point

I’ve long avoided switching into mirrorless but I’m now photographing primarily with the Nikon Z7 (though I’ve kept the D500 for my baseball work).

The reluctance to go into mirrorless was consequent to a few things:

  1. EVFs.  I prefer optical viewfinders.
  2. Ergonomics (or lack thereof). The camera-as-computer feel of most of the mirrorless offerings seemed to get in the way of taking photos.
  3. Speed (also lacking).  Most of the early mirrorless cameras were very laggy in operation.

So what’s changed?

Well, I warmed up a little to EVFs after using the Fuji GFX earlier this year, and obviously mirrorless cameras have been progressively evolving with respect to both their ergonomics and speed.  Though what really won me over was Nikon entering the market with the Z6 and Z7.

For the first time, a mirrorless camera felt like I a real camera (to me).  Ergonomics — check.

And I don’t know the resolution or refresh rate of Nikon’s EVF, but in use it feels more natural than the others I’ve tried (including some of the “best in class”).  I still prefer the window of an optical rangefinder, but I have little to criticize in the Z7‘s EVF.

The Z mount has also been a positive and significant development.  It has freed up Nikon’s engineers to design truly outstanding lenses while balancing size and cost.  Win, win, win.

Lastly — and this has simply been a revelation to me — though the tracking ability of the AF has been much maligned (and is overblown), the precision and accuracy of focus on stationary subjects have been noticeably improved over DSLRs.  Whether using a single focus point or the “eye-tracking” function, critical focus on a person’s eyes at wide apertures is easily achieved.  Critical focus at wide apertures was one of the reasons I preferred rangefinders over DSLRs, but now mirrorless has improved upon even that.


I’m in.




17 thoughts on “Some thoughts on Nikon’s Z7.

  1. Well… after having my Z6 for a few days, I’m all in as well. Absolutely amazed with the autofocus performance and accuracy. The eye focus, with my 58mm 1.4 is a game changer. I’ll have two D750’s for sale very soon. Your confidence in the Z was the final straw for me. Thanks for opening up this world. It’s making photography really fun right now.

  2. I’ve been into mirrorless for a long while now. I share your general sentiment, although the details differ, and for different reasons. The main point I would make about this is that digital cameras must progress. Forcing them to stay in old paradigms is regressive.

    If one is buying a new system, without any legacy lenses, I would have no reason to recommend a DSLR. Before the A9, the DSLR had a very strong niche. But after that A9, forget it. There’s nothing left.

    I, and a few people, believe that 35mm SLRs will be in use long after their digital versions go out of style. We will see if I’m right.

    In any case, adapting really cheap manual focus lenses is kind of fun. 🙂

  3. Peter, your post is particularly interesting as I have been considering the Nikon Z6 since I held it in my hands not too long ago. Ergonomically and haptically it felt ‘right’, and the EVF and screen were excellent. The M9 is my favourite camera, and I’ve been working with a Canon 5D Mark II for years as my full frame autofocus solution.

    For some time, I’ve looked at the options for a stills-based full frame mirrorless camera, as opposed to a 50/50 photo/video camera. For the latter, I’d likely get a Panasonic S1H, but that seems a little large to tote around for hours at a time. The Nikon Z camera seem like a good option for a stills oriented camera. My only concern is the very expensive XQD cards it needs; I have a slew of very fast SD cards and am loathe to spend even more on cards I can only use in one camera. The alternatives, being the Canon EOS R and Sony A7 III, come with their own issues.

    1. I don’t know what XQD cards sell for these days, but they were really expensive a few years ago when I purchased them for my D500 and D850 (now sold). Having said that, I only use one card for my D500 and one for my Z7 — I don’t need anything more. I wish you well with whatever you decide.

  4. I finally bailed on Fuji. I liked the jpeg engine, but finally decided I had to have IBIS and found the Nikon grip ergonomics and focus peaking an improvement, so adopted the Z6 and 50/1.8 some time ago. The FTZ along with peaking and IBIS also allows legacy glass like my old 50/1.2 (the 1.8 has many virtues, but that 1.2 is unique wide open) and 28/2.8 manual focus lenses. So far so good. The gear is uber solid; I should be so good. 🙂

    1. Greg, it’s great to hear your experience too. It’s also interesting how many of our group here have gravitated towards the Z system, seemingly independently.

      I totally understand why you would want to have different “flavours” of 50mm lenses, as the rendering of each can be quite distinct.

      I hope the best for you and your family in 2020!

  5. I really like my Z6. I can’t find much fault in it – it feels good in hand, autofocus works great for me, IBIS is nice to have, the sensor blows away my Leica M-D’s, and it plays very well with my old Leica mount manual focus lenses. As a bonus, the Z lenses are spectacularly modern, and the older 58/1.4G lens has a look that I love, and I can digitize my film negatives with it! Win win!
    I still love shooting my film Leicas, and my newly acquired Plaubel W67, but the Nikon makes things so…easy. So…tempting.
    It’s so amazing to have so much photographic choice right now. Fun times.

    1. The Plaubel Makina is a camera I have been tempted by many times in the past, but never made the jump. Let me know how you get on with it Henry.

      Agree with you about the Z sensors, lenses… and your perspective vs. Leica.

      As I said above, I’m in.

  6. Peter,

    How is the battery life for you? I’m not sure what I am doing wrong, but I am blasting through a battery. Do you have any tips or tricks to extend?

    1. Battery life has been pretty good for me. For example, when I was in NYC one battery was more than enough to get me through the day. But I wasn’t rapid-fire shooting.

      I’ve also kept my monitor off, turned off image review unless I select the play button, and turned Airplane Mode “on” to turn off Wifi connectivity. I believe I also have Bluetooth off (if I don’t, I’ll be doing that too).

      1. Oooh. The dreaded Bluetooth and wifi! I will check and make sure mine are disabled. I definitely would not be able to make it through a day. I’m getting about 300 shots on a charge.

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