I will continue with reviews of the Z system, and today I thought I would look at the Z7. In simplest terms, the Z7 is a 45MP Z6. There are other differences for sure, but if you want the short answer, I think the Z7 is a terrific camera, and love having that familiar (D850) 45MP file to work with, crop down, and print large. Here are a few other key differences:
45MP sensor Z7, 24MP sensor Z6
Lowest expanded ISO range to ISO32 on Z7 versus ISO 50 on the Z6. ISO 32 really helps with using slower shutter speeds and darkening skies with outside portraits using flash.
Z7 has more autofocus points (493) than Z6 (273) with both having around 90 percent viewfinder coverage
9 FPS with Z7, 12 FPS with Z6
better video quality with Z6, downsampled from 4K
Z7 file quality. Quite honestly it is spectacular, especially when using a dedicated S lens for the Z mount. I have been shooting the Z7 with 24-70mm F2.8 S lens and the resolution is incredible…putting a S Z mount lens on the high res Z7 will produce image quality you have not seen before. I’ll do a separate review of the 24-70mm F2.8 S lens, but I’ll say right now this lens is sharper than any Nikon 24-70mm F2.8 I have ever used. Based on comparisons in the office, I think the Z7 and D850 produce very similar, incredible high resolution files. No worries here.
Ergonomics. Same camera as the Z6, with excellent ergonomics and weather proofing.
ISO Performance. The Z7 seems to be similar in ISO performance to the D850, and detailed results can be found at other reviews that support this. I have shot the Z7 at ISO1600 and the images look great…just a touch of noise reduction is all that is needed.
Autofocus. With the firmware update, both cameras improved on autofocus speed and low light autofocus acquisition…noticeably so. But similar to what I said in the Z6 review, the D850 still rules when it comes to the fastest autofocus. I have become so accustomed to using Group-Area Autofocus (Z cameras don’t have this mode…yet) for fast moving birds and wildlife I always grab my D850 for these situations.
EVF. I see a lot of the advantages of mirrorless related to the EVF, and the Z7 is similar to the Z6. Being able to change exposure comp by twisting a lens ring has become second nature to me, and very helpful. I like being able to toggle from the histogram display to the level display in the viewfinder when I am shooting. And using ND filters is simple since the viewfinder will brighten up to allow me to compose and focus while using the filter.
Z6 or Z7? If you want a faster frame rate with better high ISO performance, consider the 24MP Z6…you will save about $1400 compared to the Z7. However, if you want that incredible 45MP file you are familiar with using the D850, and love to photograph landscapes, portraits and ‘croppable wildlife’, consider the Z7. I use my Z6 on travel workshops and general photography. But I use my Z7 when I want high resolution files, especially for landscapes. Even though the frame rate is slower on the Z7, I like using this camera for wildlife as well since I often crop the shot since I can’t get close enough to my subject. But using longer lenses means using the adapter. This adapter works seamlessly, I really didn’t notice a difference. But I still like to attach lenses directly to my camera if I can…just one less piece of gear.
Mirrorless is here to stay, and much of the research and design in the camera industry is focused here. As I mentioned with the Z6, I really like using both systems for different types of shooting. The D850 goes with me on every assignment and workshop, and I have a Z6 or Z7 in my bag as well. I may use both on the same shoot, or just one system…it depends on the shooting.