In my previous two articles “How YouTube welcomed the ‘Mirrorless Reinvented’ – part 1 and part 2”, I showed how the YouTube community greeted the new Nikon Z cameras – what were the major praises and complains about the two cameras. In this follow-up article, I will share with you my own thoughts about this release, the ten features I like most, and the ten things I don’t like about the Nikon Z.
First, let me start with the single, most important statement the YouTube’rs make in the videos, posted in my previous two articles. I shared 18 videos from the top photography channels and all 18 pointed one thing as the most disappointing feature of Nikon Z cameras – that it has only ONE CAMERA CARD SLOT!
10 Nikon Z features I like the most:
- 5-axis IBIS
- Top lcd
- Viewfinder resolution
- PDAF covering 90% of the screen
- The big mount (probably bringing better IBIS and faster lenses)
- 120fps in Full HD
- 4:2:2 10 bit external recording
Few commentaries about the top features. I like the overall ergonomics of the Nikon Z cameras – the deeper grip, the size, the positioning of the joystick, the top screen, etc. I like that the AF-ON button is placed exactly on top of the joystick. Although I think (haven’t played with the camera yet) that the top rear dial is too far off to the right, and will not be very convenient for constant use, I think that the combo AF-ON and joystick are perfectly positioned. On my A7RIII the AF-ON button is placed too far left, and sometimes when I reach my finger to search for it I accidentally hit the movie record button. I understand Sony’s logic to move AF-ON to the left because their top dial is right on top, and the thumb finger needs space to operate with it. But when I have a chance to get Nikon Z in my hands I will decide which of the two suits better for my needs, and which one needs the bigger compromise – the Nikon’s top rear button being positioned too far to the right, or the Sony’s AF-ON button positioned too far to the left.
Speaking about the joystick, if Nikon Z cameras have the same joystick from D850 (and it looks so) then I definitely give my preferences to the A7RIII. It is more comfortable to rotate, and it is faster and more responsive. Not sure yet if Nikon’s can center the AF point when you press it.
Another thing that makes me wonder about how Nikon targets the Z6 and Z7 is the Auto mode – especially on Nikon Z7. Auto mode? And you say this is a professional camera? Show me this Auto mode on any of the D3, D4, D5 cameras, or D500, D700 and D800 series? To me the fact Nikon decided to have full “Auto” mode in both cameras speaks that they are not positioned to be for the professionals, not even for the semi-professionals. In that regard they are at D600 and D7500 level – aimed at serious enthusiasts.
10 Nikon Z features I dislike the most:
- One memory card slot
- Tilting screen, and not fully articulated
- Battery life
- Ergonomics (that’s right – see the points below)
- Buttons not backlit as D500 and D850
- FZ adapter not fully compatible with D-lenses
- No 4k 60p
- Buffer size – only 17 images
- No eye AF
- Rear dial position – like exposure compensation and not aperture/shutter speed dial
- Cluttered 4 buttons at the bottom right
- Lack of buttons on the left side
- Battery grip not being able to use as vertical grip and shoot vertically
- The fps speed if you want continues AF and exposure between the shots
I know, I know – they are 15, not 10, features in this list but they are all important, and I don’t want to leave anything aside. And… there is no reason to comment these – you can find all things already said and written. Instead I will swing your attention in another direction – towards the feeling, the passion, the inspiration and the empowerment we photographers feel, dream, breath, and live with.
The New and the Old
Looking at all the new announced cameras and lenses, it makes me thinking – did Nikon do it backwards? Even the name of the new system suggest that – Z. Compare that with Sony A(lpha). I know it is just a game of words but that also has its semantics, and smart companies use very carefully the wording to “brainwash” our minds. Let’s take for example the two Sony campaigns on their Alpha Universe site: “BE ALPHA!” and “ALPHA FEMALE”. What these two phrases inspire in you? To go forward, to be ahead, to be first, to win, to enjoy the world, to unleash your creativity, and freely express your ideas..? According to Sony “you are powerful beyond measure” and “universe is here for the makers, the doers, the people who dream in colors. You bring your curiosity and ideas, we’ll provide the knowledge, the inspiration, and the state-of-the-art imaging tech to help you make dreams reality.”
And what exactly Nikon Z tells you? Think for a second… If you, like me, have trouble to figure out what that possibly means, according to Nikon this should be “a system inspired by our past but designed for tomorrow” and “decades of refining camera design, at your fingertips.” No need to even comment – you can make your own conclusions.
After being Nikon user for over 20 years, and spending many thousands of dollars for Nikon equipment, I still have sentimental feelings about the brand because of what it meant to me all these years, how it inspired me, and how I felt proud that “I AM NIKON”. I don’t know about you, but I need to feel inspired – not by the gear itself, but the images, taken with it, the techniques, the imagination of the photographers, etc. It is not very hard to pass a strong message which empowers and pushes people to be creative. I remember years ago on NikonUsa website, just browsing to explore the images taken with the pro lenses were making me to “WOW”. Somehow I knew that I love this brand – not for the gear itself, but because it was used to create such inspiring art. I knew I can rely on Nikon – not just for the gear itself, but because I would be covered for any needs I may have, and any idea I had in mind.
The power of a nice image, nice video, nice song, nice message… where went all this, Nikon? Look at the site now – mediocre images, boring videos, almost lack of messages, well… we have “the mirrorless reinvented”. Sadly, Nikon Z does not reinvent anything. Look for example the 4 images on the Nikon Z page. Above the images it says:
And here are the images:
Did you feel the innovation? The huge performance?
The Future and the Past
Let’s talk about the five teaser videos for Nikon Z. The first one, named “Travel of light” was really good, followed by “Body”, “Mount”, and “Lens” which went a bit downwards but still not too bad. The fifth, last one, was so mediocre, that even Nikon felt ashamed of it and took it down. Don’t believe me? Let’s play a game… Find the fifth teaser video on any of the Nikon video channels and post the link to it in the comments below? Having troubles to find it? I do. It’s taken down from all Nikon sites, and all Nikon YouTube channels – Usa, Asia, Europe, Canada, Australia, etc… If you at least remember it’s name – please – share it in the comments below. Also, I’m curious to hear what’s your opinion of why Nikon took it down?
Now, let’s get back in time – 8 years ago – September, 2010. Please spend a minute and watch the promotional video for the Coolpix P7000 with Bob Krist.
Did you feel the magic? Listening the National Geographic photographer Bob Krist to talk about “Visual Epiphany”, light, composition and sense of moment… and you just want to be there, to take these shots, to feel the moment, to create! Even with that small point and shoot camera.
Now let’s jump few years later – September, 2012. Florian Schulz and his brother, Salomon Schulz, presenting the D600 in their video, called “Chasing the light”. Take a minute and watch the video first:
I don’t know about you, but I was already packing my baggage, ready to travel with my camera and lenses. It’s what I call INSPIRATION!
Now, look online for a similar video for the new Nikon Z cameras. Come on, try harder, look for it… Did you find anything, besides something like “Discovering the Nikon Z Series” videos (example below). I won’t recommend you to waste your time, but scroll through it:
Ok, tell me – how inspired did you feel? Only phrases like “the camera is so great”, “it is so amazing”, it is…, it is…, it is… I’ll tell you what it is – boring! Nothing but the mirrorless reinvented – there is no passion, no emotion, no inspiration! At least for me. You tell me what do you feel about it? Back to Bob Krist – after 30 years shooting for National Geographic with Nikon, please tell me how we got from here:
And most importantly, Why?
I felt “betrayed” at first, when he switched to Sony. I now know better why he did it. Do you?