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    Initial Impressions of Nikonís Z7 Mirrorless Camera
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    Senior Member Michael Erlewine's Avatar
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    My Nikon Z7 arrived and a hefty little thing it is. No, it is not as large as my D850, but it is heavy enough with a lens on it. Of course, the first thing I discovered is that there are no L-Plates that fit the Z7 yet available. There are many for preorder, but when I called Really Right Stuff and ordered one, it seemed from talking with them that they have not yet even figured out how they are going to approach the FTZ adapter in relation to L-plates. So, for now I have to use a large and heavy (giant) L-Plate adapter from Novoflex for portrait mode. Either that or swing my Arca-Swiss Cube geared-head 90 degrees, which is a real pain and hardly worth doing..

    In fact, it dawned on me that if the only reason I am getting a mirrorless Nikon is to save space and weight, the savings are not that great. As mentioned, the Z7 is still a weighty thing. So, whatís left? For me, there is the new mount and the promise of faster lenses wide open, which I would like a lot. But that is down the road.

    As for the FTZ adapter, it seems great. In fact, once attached, the camera feels like any DSLR all over again, so tightly does it fit in. I also look forward to mounting the Z7 on my view camera with a Z7 bayonet and gaining a little added focus range there. I have mounts for that on order.

    As for the EVF, yes! It does feel like an OVF or at least I am not conscious of it being electronic as I have been with other mirrorless cameras I have owned (Sony, Hasselblad, GFX, etc.). It is really nice AND YOU CAN MAGNIFY IT! As for the rear LCD? Itís about what I am used to with the D850, so no problem there.

    My pocketbook groaned when I played with the 24-70 f/4 lens because it is obvious that it fits the camera like a glove and if the new mount ups the APO-quotient for native lenses to come, I can see myself wanting a few more of these natural Z7 lenses IF they are ever produced. Perhaps itís time for me to off-load some of my many legacy F-mount lenses! We will see how many APO-quality native lenses for the Z7 appear.

    As for menus and buttons, well, whatís new? Every camera-iteration has some of that and while the Z7 is a lot like my D850, itís different too. The little OLED (or whatever it is) on the top of the camera is very handy and easy to READ.

    I can see that I will probably do a lot more point-and-shoot with the Z7, since it is so ďhandy.Ē As many have said, this is not simply a replacement for the D850, but something in itself. I imagine a smaller kit to travel with that contains the native 24-70 Z7 lens, the FTZ adapter and one or two legacy F-mount lenses. And since the video in the Z7 is a step-up, I can see using it (with an XLR-add-on) and ported to my Atomos Shogun Inferno as 10-bit 4K 4:2:2 FF video (and log gamma modes too!) to do interviews or whatever. I wonít have to carry a larger dedicated video camera, etc. like my Sony FS-5, etc.

    I have yet to see for myself (or hear from others) if anything else about the Z7 is problematical, especially if the image quality is as good as the D850 and if the banding-issue that some document affects my work. My guess is that it wonít.

    [LATER: Having shot a bunch, for my work, I donít see any problems with shadows and blacks. Perhaps for astronomy work, there are considerations, but for my work, not that I can tell so far.]

    So, I am just getting familiar with the Z7. Next for me, is to try a lot of non-native lenses via the adapter and see if everything is equal.

    UPDATE: on the Nikon Z7 for my particular use.

    I like the Nikon Z7, but like all things, using it for a while brings with it some realizations, which I want to comment on here.

    I have the Nikon Z7, the FTZ adapter, and the 24-70 f/4 native lens. Please note that the kind of work that I do (close-up, focus stacking) requires a lot of precision and great lenses.

    Using the Nikon Z7 with its own 24-70 f/4 lens is fine for general snapshots and perhaps even for some more semi-serious work. However, I find, while the 24-70 is sharp-ish, it is not sharp like the lenses I am used to (Otus, APO, etc.). I am sure it was not intended to be that sharp. It seems well-enough corrected IMO, but the sharpness is not quite what I require. It is a little weak in that area, IMO. This, of course, is disappointing, but I pretty-much knew this coming in. Of course, I hoped for a miracle. LOL.

    On the other hand, using the FTZ adapter I have access to many APO lenses that I have collected over the years, including the set of Otus lenses plus the Otus-like 135 Zeiss that presaged the series. They work great on the Z7 as they always did!

    I am hurting for lack of a proper L-Bracket and have had to use the Arca C1 Cube for vertical/profile shots, which means leaning it 90-degrees from horizontal, which works but is not what I like to use. So, I might as well use my D850 for which I have a great RSS L-Bracket.

    [Note: I have since found an L-Bracket that works that is available now.]

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    This L-Bracket will work with the FTZ adapter. If you want the vertical element to fit closely to the left side of the camera, you may want to cut off the very far end of one of the stainless steel rods, which is easy to do and then it fits snug. The tip of this rod stops the 1/4-20 screw from going to the far edge so that we can cope with the FTZ adapter. Inexpensive too, relatively ($89).

    Things I especially like about the Z7 are the EVF, which I find myself using more and more. With the D810 and D850, I never used the OVF (not ever), preferring to work on the back-LCD in LiveView. But the Z7 EVF is really amazing and you can magnify it, which of course the older OVF cameras could not do. I am using it much of the time, especially outdoors and with landscape shots. To me this is a HUGE feature.

    So, I am keeping the Nikon Z7. However, and this is a big ďhowever,Ē unless Nikon releases APO/Otus level lenses for the Nikon Z7, I will be using the Z7 with the FTZ adapter for most of my work, which makes it essentially a mirrorless DSLR, which is OK too.

    For family photos, casual walk-around work, and perhaps for semi-serious work, I could use the Z7 with the native 24-70 f/4 lens. But, when I ask myself, I might just as well use the better lenses I have any time I do serious photography. They are just so much better.

    You get the idea. The Z7 for not-so-sharp work with native lenses, but I do use the Z7 + FTZ adapter for my regular work. And, to repeat, if I am mounting the huge Zeiss Otus lenses, I might just as well use the Nikon D850 for the added support. And so it goes.

    However, I find that I will definitely be using the Z7 on my view camera, the Cambo Actus-Mini. It is perfect there and when I get a Z7-Bayonet for the Actus (on order), I will be able to get even more focus range from my exotic lenses, which I very much need.

    In summary, I love the Z7, but without the FTZ adapter I am limited in what I can do with it. As Otus-level lenses come along native to the Z7, this should be much different. I would love an APO lens for this mirrorless camera, especially a macro!
    Michael Erlewine
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    Hi

    I have some questions, but maybe your use is different.

    Video..

    Rollng shutter - is it bad?

    How many button clicks to..
    engage DX crop
    engage HFR
    (assuming default video is 4k, 24/5 p)

    AF - does it 'just work'

    Im looking for a runaround video body, probably 24-105 (I dont own) 70-200f4 (I do own) and 50 1.8 (mine is focus drive version)

    24-105 and (or not) DX crop would give 24-150 or so which is basically enough for simple shot lists.

    How is it to hold for video - here having the EVF is/should be 'huge' (vs a true DSLR) in that one can stabilise against ones face

    S


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    #3
    Senior Member Michael Erlewine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by morgan_moore View Post
    Hi

    I have some questions, but maybe your use is different.

    Video..

    Rollng shutter - is it bad?

    How many button clicks to..
    engage DX crop
    engage HFR
    (assuming default video is 4k, 24/5 p)

    AF - does it 'just work'

    Im looking for a runaround video body, probably 24-105 (I dont own) 70-200f4 (I do own) and 50 1.8 (mine is focus drive version)

    How is it to hold for video - here having the EVF is/should be 'huge' (vs a true DSLR) in that one can stabilise against ones face

    S
    well, as mentioned I am just gearing up for video with the Z7, which is why I am on this forum, so I'm afraid I can't be of much help yet.

    Rolling shutter. Yes, there is some, of course, but less so if you don't engage the Silent option, which takes more time to read the sensor.

    AF seems to work quite well, but since I always use manual focus, I am not the one to ask. Same with DX crop, etc.

    For any non-native lenses (like the Nikon 70-200,) we need the FTZ adapter, which by the way is very well done. It essentially turns the Z7 into a mirrorless DSLR.

    The manuals for the Z7 are online to download. The reference manual is very useful, IMO.

    AS mentioned, I am a still photographer as far as the Nikon cameras are concerned and am just getting around to video on the Z7. Do read the video specs and you will see, at least if you port the 10-bit signal, this could be a really useful B camera or, as I plan to use it, a compact camera to do interviews.

    As for holding the Z7, it is small (heavy-ish), solic, and handles well, IMO. The EVF (with magnify) is wonderful.
    Last edited by Michael Erlewine; 10-10-2018 at 11:57 PM.
    Michael Erlewine
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    I would see it in two modes..

    1) as a compact RnG setup.. probably just the FTZ and 24-120, flipping for DX mode to get more reach.

    2) in my studio with a recorder doing still life on my motion slider (which would rely on AF)

    I dont know if you have any modern nikkor zooms like the 24-120 AFSg, but I hate them as I cant reach the MF ring.. Im wondering if they feel better with the FTZ adapter which would move the ring further from the body.

    Interested to hear all experiences.

    Stills wise I have D3 and D600 and mainly use 20-35 (old) 50 1.4 (old) and 70-200/4 (modern)

    I dont do video at all on my D600 or D3. I found the D600 super soft and ridden with jello. (I have Fs7 for video but hate lugging it about on mobile jobs)

    --

    Also can you switch quickly from stills to video.

    Asuuming 100ISO, 50th F4 forvideo and 400ISO 200th F4 for stills for example.


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    #5
    Senior Member Michael Erlewine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by morgan_moore View Post
    I would see it in two modes..

    1) as a compact RnG setup.. probably just the FTZ and 24-105, flipping for DX mode to get more reach.

    2) in my studio with a recorder doing still life on my motion slider (which would rely on AF)

    I dont know if you have any modern nikkor zooms like the 24-105, but I hate them as I cant reach the MF ring.. Im wondering if they feel better with the FTZ adapter which would move the ring further from the body.

    Interested to hear all experiences.

    Stills wise I have D3 and D600 and mainly use 20-35 (old) 50 1.4 (old) and 70-200/4 (modern)

    I dont do video at all on my D600 or D3. I found the D600 super soft and ridden with jello. (I have Fs7 for video but hate lugging it about on mobile jobs)

    --

    Also can you switch quickly from stills to video.

    Asuuming 100ISO, 50th F4 forvideo and 400ISO 200th F4 for stills for example.

    I had a Sony Fs 700 with raw upgrade and an Odyssey 7Q, but sold that and bought a FS5. The FS7 was a little too large for what I want to do... as far as moving around, etc. I have had almost all the Nikon DSLRs all the way back to the Nikon D1X, and before.

    I have a great many lenses in Nikon F-Mount. I have about zero zooms. I am all prime. I do have two zooms, the 70-200 FL version VR and the recent zoom fisheye, but they are the exceptions. I have a lot of non-nikkor exotic lenses for view cameras, etc. I have most of the Edelkrone stuff for studio work.

    I love the auto ND filter on the SF5!

    I mostly hang out on the still forums as a close-up, macro photographer that does a lot of focus stacking.

    The Nikon S-24-70 lens is a pretty nice zoom. It is not super sharp, but if I were running around doing some video, it might well be a very convenient choice, IMO. I love it, but I am into sharpness and APO. The S-24-79 is pretty well corrected, however.
    Last edited by Michael Erlewine; 10-11-2018 at 12:17 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by morgan_moore View Post
    I would see it in two modes..

    1) as a compact RnG setup.. probably just the FTZ and 24-120, flipping for DX mode to get more reach.

    2) in my studio with a recorder doing still life on my motion slider (which would rely on AF).

    I dont know if you have any modern nikkor zooms like the 24-120 AFSg, but I hate them as I cant reach the MF ring.. Im wondering if they feel better with the FTZ adapter which would move the ring further from the body.

    Interested to hear all experiences.

    Stills wise I have D3 and D600 and mainly use 20-35 (old) 50 1.4 (old) and 70-200/4 (modern)

    I dont do video at all on my D600 or D3. I found the D600 super soft and ridden with jello. (I have Fs7 for video but hate lugging it about on mobile jobs)

    --

    Also can you switch quickly from stills to video.

    Asuuming 100ISO, 50th F4 forvideo and 400ISO 200th F4 for stills for example.
    This is a comment from the EOS HD forum regarding fast switching from video to stills mode:

    "Yup you can set separate settings for photo/video and switch between the two. Love that feature and like you hated the switching on the Sony. Even better the switch for it is by the AF-on button so it's fast access to switch"


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    One thing I'd love to know is about the battery life.

    I recall the original spec's upon release claimed the battery life for live view/video was something appalling like 20 minutes - but reports from pre-production testers said it wasn't that bad and that those published specs were possibly incorrect.

    Have you done any tests on the battery life of the Z7 when used only for video?
    VIDEO PRODUCER ON THE NSW NORTH COAST, AUSTRALIA
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