Nikon Z7 Review: A High-End Mirrorless Camera with Impressive Performance

Nikon’s Z series kicks things off with a fine start. It may not be the cheapest or the prettiest model out there, but it is still an inspiring debut model in the Z lineup. Boasting a great handling, a stellar EVF, superb video and picture quality, sealed with the cherished support for F-mount optics, the maker hit all the right spots.

But has Nikon exceeded all expectations or falls short in some aspects? Let’s read everything in today’s Nikon Z7 Review.

Nikon Z7 Review

Nikon Z7

Sensor: 45.7MP full-frame CMOS | Weight: 675 grams | Lens mount: Nikon Z mount | Battery life: 330 shots | Screen: 3.2-inch tilt angle touchscreen. 2,100,000 dots | Connectivity: WiFi and Bluetooth | Burst shooting: 9 fps | Video: 4K | Autofocus: Hybrid autofocus, with 493-point phase detection

The feedback from the photographer’s community has been overwhelmingly positive to Nikon Z7. But why is it so? Ahead, you will understand the hype behind the outstanding camera.

Construction

On the outside, the camera is quite similar to its mirrorless rival, aka Sony A7 lineup. But it’s completely the opposite of Nikon D850, which shares its DSLR technology. The smaller size has its upsides and downsides. On the bright side, it makes the Z7 more portable and lightweight. Unfortunately, it can unbalance the handling when users opt for bigger lenses.

However, this isn’t an issue with the Nikon Z7 because of its great grip. The compact Z-mount 24-70mm f/4 was ideally designed to fit the body. Even if you go for the bulky pro DSLR lenses, the camera is still balanced. The introduction of its dedicated battery grip further boosts the handling with large lenses.

Nikon fans should note that it has a standard mode dial instead of a simple mode button. Plus, the drive mode is chosen through a button instead of a control dial. The small body doesn’t offer much space for external controls, but there’s still space at the back for an autofocus button and a focus point lever. The 4-way navigation pad is stiff and small, but the camera handles impressively.

Viewfinder

Although many photographers prefer an optical viewfinder, Nikon has worked hard to create a flawless EVF. There is zero granularity due to the sharp resolution of 3.69 million dots. The digital nature is only visible if you rapidly move the camera and view some blurring or “lag”, and Z7 isn’t vulnerable to any of these.

Viewfinder lag is absent during static photography. Similar to other EVFs, it comes with a distracting stop-frame in persistent shooting frame rates instead of the fluid appearance of OVF. This won’t hinder you from shooting, but will require a learning curve.

Nikon Z7 Camera

The fluorine coating and aspherical elements further boosts the viewfinder quality. Rear touchscreen display is impressive too owing to the 2.1 million pixel resolution. You can capture low-angle video and image easily with the help of the tilting mechanism. However, this mechanism is only helpful horizontally and it lacks a sideways pivot too.

Downsides

Touch control can be utilized to choose the focus point with one click. It’s helpful to tap the screen to capture when the camera is away from your eyes. But this touch command can unfortunately tweak settings by mistake too.

Another letdown is that when the rear screen is flipped upwards to shoot low-angle and utilize your finger to establish the focus point, the eye sensor of the EVF gets activated. This makes the camera change the display to the viewfinder.

However, you can resolve this by manually switching between the screen and viewfinder. The OLED status panel at the top is a major improvement. It’s not big, but the reversed white-on-black text is visible.

Performance

One downside of mirrorless cameras over DSLRs is how sluggish they are while powering up. The pause between switching on the camera and all functions waking up is minimal in Z7. And the reason is because the autofocus system is always ready for action and the EVF is active, which ensures no delay.

The default Matrix metering system is dependable and preserves highlights. As for the autofocus system, it is quiet and quick with the flexible wide frame coverage. However, this solid autofocus performance is primarily due to the new lenses, which are smooth, and perfect for videos as well. Nikon Z7 is the brand’s first full-frame mirrorless camera, but its superior design and polished body will make anyone think that it’s old.

Viewfinder & Lens

Its brilliant viewfinder comes with a 21mm eyepoint and 0.80× magnification. The view is wide yet comfortable. There’s a wealth of shooting and exposure information at the display’s bottom. The refresh rate isn’t too high, but after adding the epic resolution, everything is captured nicely. Users can review pictures and check focus easily after the capture. The screen responds to slight touches with minimal lag as you move around the subject to check focus.

Due to the addition of new-generation Z-mount lenses and 45.7 megapixel sensor, the image quality of Z7 is a huge highlight. This image sensor even surpasses the performance of Nikon D850. It’s the highest resolution full-frame camera in the market. Noise level is higher than the Sony Alpha 7R III rival, but this is a common aspect in Nikon cameras.

Burst Shooting

Burst shooting occurs at a decent frame rate of 9 fps, but it drops to 8 fps if you utilize the 14-bit RAW recording format. In the continuous mode, it goes to 5.5 fps. A disappointing detail in Z7 is the buffer depth. When you record at JPEG and RAW formats at high settings, the camera can only maintain 8 fps burst speed for 10 to 12 frames.

But 18 to 19 frames can be captured in 12-bit RAW format at 9 fps. To the camera’s credit, the Z7 doesn’t lock up or avoid the menus from being accessed as they’re delivered to the memory card.

Image Quality and Performance

Nikon assures potential users that they can employ the updated lenses with both autofocus and auto exposure. But heavier lenses, like 24-70mm cause an imbalance. Although the brand does not recommend third-party lenses, such as Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 and Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Art Lens.

Image Quality

Center-weighted or matrix metering patterns are available in Z7, with a predictable default option. Since the camera retains details, it means that images with brightness are usually underexposed. But this is resolved by either Active D-Lighting or exposure compensation. The former is laced with an Auto setting and 4 modes.

Dynamic range is also great. Low-ISO underexposed RAW files can be made usable by a scattering of noise. Although this is an extreme example, it’s possible to regain detail from darker areas.

The default color output is refreshing. Standard Picture Control works well to portray the scene as it is in real life. The following options are paired with 20 Creative Picture Controls, such as Denim, Sunday, and Bleached:

  • Auto
  • Vivid
  • Neutral
  • Flat
  • Landscape
  • Monochrome
  • Portrait

4K Video, VR, and AWB

The 4K footage is crisp, and the perks of employing both the electronic and sensor-based VR are visible when compared with footage shot. A small rolling shutter is available when recording at wide angle. This becomes more apparent at longer focal length. Slow Motion footage is devoid of obvious artefacts, but low and artificial light can propose noise.

Auto White Balance system is dependable, but the brand’s tendency to neutralize subtle tones can be obvious sometimes. Yes, it is possible to shift to any of the alternative auto white balance settings, but these are not practical in natural sunlight, as these are better suited for scenes illuminated with warmer sources. Its performance under mixed man-made lights is good, and consistent exposures do not deviate from each other.

The sensor-based VR system is also solid, but the benefit is based on the distance from the subject and focal length. However, the majority of images shot shows that the system delivers an incredible 2-3-stop. Zoomed in pictures are still crisp at 1/10sec at 70mm end, which is 3 stops slower. For distant subjects, it is possible to achieve impressive sharpness at low shutter speed, such as 0.5 seconds. But 1/4sec is a better option.

Pros
  • Excellent EVF.
  • Amazing handling.
  • Sensor-based VR is great.
  • Impressive MP/fps balance.
  • Effective dynamic range.
  • Extremely responsive.
  • Plays good with third-party lenses.
  • Noise suppression in high-ISO pictures.
Cons
  • Expensive lenses.
  • Lens range is incomplete.
  • Single and expensive XQD/CFexpress card.
  • Comparatively shallow buffer depth.
  • Only UHD 4K, no DCI 4K.
  • AWB can be natural in sunlight.

Final Verdict

Nikon Z7 was among the first cameras to challenge Sony in the realm of full-frame mirrorless bodies. While there have been countless impressive models from Panasonic, Canon, and even Nikon, this Nikon Z7 Review shows that it is a formidable rival and a superb mirrorless model.

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