2018-08-23

First look at Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless Z6 and Z7 cameras


After weeks of building up hype with a series of teaser videos, Nikon have finally announced details of their brand new full-frame mirrorless camera bodies and lenses. The Z series launches with two camera bodies: the high resolution 45MP Nikon Z7, and the Nikon Z6 - a 25MP, 12FPS speed machine.

We were at Nikon’s launch event, and bring you the first look at the incredible Z series. Believe us - you should be excited!

The Nikon Z7 with 24/70mm f/4 lens. Note - we don't recommend you hold your camera like this while shooting, we just wanted you to be able to see the top of the camera! 





Nikon Announce Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera And Lenses System

Nikon have announced:

Nikon Z7 camera (45.7MP)
Nikon Z6 camera (24.5MP)
Nikon S Line 24-70mm f/4 lens
Nikon S Line 35mm f/1.8 lens
Nikon S Line 50mm f/1.8 lens
Nikon FTZ Mount Adaptor

First to hit the market is the Nikon Z7, the 24-70mm f/4 lens, the 35mm f/1.8 lens and the FTZ mount adapter, all expected to be available in September.

This will be followed by the Z6 and the 50mm f/1.8 prime lens in late November. You can pre-order any of these items now to ensure you have some of the first available stock.

Knowing that demand will be great, Nikon have also announced a timeline of future S Line lenses to be released during 2019 and 2020.


So what’s new?

Nikon’s new full-frame mirrorless cameras offer high image quality in a small and lightweight body.

They both share many of the same traits (and are virtually identical to look at): super fast autofocus, high dynamic range, great low light capacity, 4K video and a new eXpeed 6 processing engine that ensures they are lightning fast. Both the Z6 & Z7 have been designed from the bottom up with fast lenses in mind - so sharp, bright images can be achieved in even the most challenging conditions.

We’ll look at how the Nikon Z6 & Z7 are different shortly (& how they compare to the Sony a7III and a7RIII), but to understand why these cameras are so revolutionary we need to talk about the new mount…


The Z Mount - why have Nikon introduced it?

Nikon have used their F mount since the Nikon F was introduced to us in 1959, and loyal users have built up large collections of lenses with this mount. So, why got to the significant effort of changing the mount?

Simply put, it’s so that the new lenses can be created to be as bright and sharp as possible. The lens now sits a mere 16mm away from the sensor, whereas the F mount is 46mm. Combine this with a physically wider mount (55mm) and Nikon say they have removed any restriction from reaching optical perfection.

With a 58mm f/0.95 lens in the pipeline for early 2019, and no scheduled S Line lenses going below f/4, you can see they mean business in terms of letting as much light hit the sensor as possible.

The lucky photographers who helped Nikon test and develop the lenses claim that their new f/1.8 lenses offer performance more akin to f/1.4 thanks to the mount. We’ll be sure to test this claim more thoroughly when we review the Z7 in depth, but from our initial time with the camera and lenses we would not rule this claim out!

Nikon Z7's Z mount compared to the D850's F Mount
Nikon Z7 Z mount compared to the D850's F Mount

The new Z Mount will allow lenses with f/0.95 aperture to be developed


How do they handle?

Nikon are very much aware that their users value the ‘second nature’ feel that is achieved by an intuitive menu system and fantastic ergonomics.

From the deep grip, through to the textured finish, solid control dials and weather/dust-proof magnesium alloy body, both cameras are a dream to hold and use. Few cameras feel so instantly comfortable to use, while the button layout is considered and the menus will be recognisable to existing Nikon users.

Let’s give a special shout-out here to not only the screen, but the electronic eye view (EVF).

The Nikon EVF is 3.6M dots with 100% coverage. But forget the numbers - the lag on it is virtually non-existent when either panning or buffering. You can customise the display controls within the viewfinders - a real big hitter with the pros we talked to.

The screen is nice and large, with no real surprises. What does make it special is the ability to select a focus point and take a shot at the same time - we honestly were expecting some lag, and each time we were blown away with how responsive it was.

This soon become a favourite way to shoot - the options of shooting from the waist, with the shutter on silent, make this camera a tantalising prospect for street, wedding and event photography!


Nikon S series lenses

We’re running out of space, but let’s re-emphasis that Nikon are bringing out a f/0.95 version of their legendary 58mm ‘Noct’ lens, expected by early 2019. As mentioned, Nikon have announced a roadmap of S Line lenses due to be released - see the image below.

One really exciting point to note on the lenses is that Nikon have ‘rebranded’ the manual focus ring to a ‘lens control’ ring - so you can choose whether to use this for manual focus, exposure compensation or as an aperture ring!

Nikon roadmap of future lens releases




Are the Nikon Z6 and Z7 compatible with existing Nikon accessories?

Yes - for a new range Nikon have focused on making their cameras backwards compatbile, barring technological restrictions. For instance, the Nikon EN-EL15b battery has been developed for the Z6/ Z7, but you can use the existing Nikon EN-EL15a. The difference being the new battery supports USB charging. It is expected that most DSLR accessories will be compatible, including flashguns.  

What else are we excited about?

  • Professional video capacity - 4K, UHD at 120p, with N log 
  • Phase detect autofocus points right up to the frame - smooth focus pulls and tracking right to the edge of the frame
  • Stunning dynamic range in backlit situations, with incredible detail and no noise in the shadows - this is incredibly hard to achieve normally!
  • Low light performance - during testing, autofocus still worked when shooting through a 10-stop ND filter in a basement!
  • In body 5-axis stabilisation - during testing, a 1-second exposure showed no visible blur!
Nikon Z6 compared to the D850
Nikon Z7 compared to the D850

When can I try the Nikon Z series cameras and S Line lenses?

The good news is that Bruno, our very knowledgeable and enthusiastic product expert from Nikon (who features our video), will be in our London store on the 7th September, and our Burgess Hill store on the 8th September.

He’ll have the Z7 and some of the lenses on him, so come down and experience the small but powerful Z series for yourself, before they even hit the market!

Re-live the build up - our blog includes all of the teaser videos and the story of their release