Nikon India today announced the launch of their full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Z6 and the Z7 in India. This marks the closure of the debate of whether mirrorless cameras would ever be a viable option for serious professionals. With both Nikon and Canon making the plunge into the full-frame mirrorless segment, things finally seem to be getting a lot better for those interested in small things that pack a big punch. We spent quite a bit of time with the two cameras and the two lenses the cameras will launch with and before we share our first impressions, here are some basics
Nikon Z7 and Nikon Z6 Specs
The Nikon Z7 and Nikon Z6 both sport full-frame sensors with 45- and 25-megapixel resolutions respectively. For a full specification rundown, you can have a look at the sheet below.
Build and Design
The Nikon Z6 and Z7 are a very interesting duo. They look and feel like mirrorless cameras from all angles, except one; the grip. The grip on both the cameras is almost identical and looks like something Nikon tore off from one of their smaller entry-level DSLRs. This works though, given that the nice, deep contour allows for a more natural grip. This is something even Sony ended up refining on their third-generation mirrorless cameras. The back offers a whole host of buttons, most notable of which is a joystick to move the AF points around. The 3-inch display at the back is a touchscreen and seemed to work just fine during the time I used it.
The top of the camera will appear very familiar to anyone who has used a Nikon DSLR regularly. In case you’re not one of those people, then you should know that on top, the Z6 and Z7 offer an LCD display to show all the camera settings along with the remainder of space in the memory card and the battery life. There’s also the shutter button with a rounded power switch, beside which lives a dedicated record button. The placement seems very convenient, everything said and done. Lastly, Nikon has also added two customizable Fn buttons right next to the right side of the lens mount. These buttons can be configured to perform a whole host of actions from within the menu.
One final note on the build and design of the Z series that works well for the duo is the weather sealing. Nikon used the phrase “splash and dust resistant” several times during the presentation. They didn’t say “weather sealed” and neither did they claim any IP rating, but knowing that the camera is splash resistant is definitely a good thing.
Nikon had been very adamant about not allowing any camera samples to be taken off the cameras as both the Z6 and the Z7 were production models. However, after much persuasion, the company allowed us to walk away with a few images. Do note that the images below are from production samples and are not indicative of final image quality. Also, all the images were shot on a Z7. The under attached images have been resized for web, but you can see the full resolution samples in our Flickr Gallery where we have more samples than the ones shown below.
Nikon Z7 ISO8000 (Image from Pre-Production model, not indicative of final performance)
Nikon Z7 ISO 25,600 image (Image from Pre-Production model, not indicative of final performance)
We purposely shot the images at a rather high ISO value (ISO8000 and above) to see if the high-resolution sensor would show signs of weakness. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. Photos shot at ISO 8000 look pristine, completely noise free and rich in detail. Even the one image in the sample set shot at ISO 25600 looks clean and required no noise reduction in Lightroom. If these are the results of a firmware that’s not yet final, we can’t wait to see what Nikon’s final product will be able to achieve.
At the Nikon event, I learned a few interesting things about the two cameras. First, there is a lot of complaints about the single card slot. The XQD card is a far more abuse-resistant card in comparison to the SD card, and putting two of those in the camera would have significantly thrown off the price. Bottom line is, a single XQD card slot is all you get. Take it or leave it. Second, I asked if Nikon would develop any specific accessories for the Nikon Z system. I was told that Nikon will approach accessories as a more universal entity, meaning, that they should be compatible across the range of Nikon products. That’s why all existing Nikon Speedlights will work on the Z series natively. Also, the Z6 and Z7, even though sporting new batteries, can also use the same EN-EL18 battery used by the D850.
The Nikon Z7 will go on sale in India from September 27, while the Nikon Z6 will go on sale from November. Below is a chart showing all the prices of the various kits and individual components. Additionally, I also learned that those buying the Z7 will also get a 128GB XQD card bundled in the box while the Z6 buyer will get a 32GB card and a card reader bundled. Pretty good deal if you ask me.
Using an entirely new camera system from Nikon didn’t really feel all that new. In fact, it felt like using a very familiar high-end Nikon DSLR, just in a very compact form factor. The lenses, the 24-70 and the 35mm operate at par with Nikon’s premium lenses, that is, they focus fast and deliver sharp images. The Nikon Z6 and the Z7 feel almost identical to use and hold, but their performance does vary slightly due to the use of different sensors. Nikon’s duo feels like a promising entrant into the full frame mirrorless game, but whether they can dethrone Sony from the top spot remains to be seen.