Nikon Z7 vs Nikon D850

What happens when a devout Nikon D850 fan is let loose with the new full-frame mirrorless Nikon Z7? Our London School of Photography tutor Steve Marley got his hands on the Z7 and new 24-70mm f/4 wide angle zoom lens.

So how does the Nikon Z7 compare to using the Nikon D850? Steve wrote about his first time shooting with the Nikon Z7:

Picture of a vintage racing car, taken by Steve Marley using the Nikon Z7

Why I love my Nikon D850

When Nikon announced the Z7 I couldn’t wait to try one! As a Nikon D850 user I love that camera and its ability to help get the shot in any conditions. With super-fast Autofocus and an excellent 7fps frame rate boosted to 9fps with the battery grip and bigger battery, the D850 quickly replaced my existing D810 for general photography. After a short while, I realised it could replace my sports and action camera, the Nikon  D500.

The Advantages of an Electronic Eye Viewfinder

I also use a Panasonic/Olympus Micro 4/3 system for street photography, for when I don’t want to carry a heavy DSLR and lenses. That system gives me good quality in a compact package, and I particularly love being able to see the effect of settings and true depth of field through the viewfinder.

Depth of field through a DSLR optical viewfinder doesn’t show the full effect of wider apertures and of course doesn’t show the effect of exposure settings or compensation.

A good electronic viewfinder allows you to see both true depth of field and exposure so you can adjust in real time as you shoot. An early try of the Z7 confirmed that the superb 3.69m dot electronic viewfinder offered a fantastic view of the scene, with an accurate rendition of depth of field and exposure.

First thoughts - Nikon Z7 vs Nikon D850

Order placed, I duly received the Z7 with the 24-70mm f/4 S lens and lens adapter.

Comparing my D850 with 24-70mm f/2.8E Ed VR lens to the Z7 with 24-70mm f/4 S lens I made a massive saving in both size and weight – but are the results as good?

Taking photos with the Nikon Z7

Over the past week I have been shooting the Z7 alongside my D850 and on Sunday 7th October shot an entire air show with the Z7 plus the 24-70mm f/4 S lens, 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G AF-S VR ED lens and the 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens.

With stunning bright early morning light the ability to fine tune my exposure using exposure compensation was very useful – and I had configured the control ring on the 24-70 to act as exposure compensation so I could instantly fine tune. The ability to focus anywhere on the screen and not have to stay within the central wide area was a boon as well.

Nikon Z7 battery life

Having heard comment about the battery life to be expected I took a couple of spares with me but need not have worried. Shooting from about 9am to 12.30 I shot around 1200 images before the battery showed 8% left  - shooting Raw+Jpeg mainly single shot or short bursts and reviewing images regularly. I swapped to a fully charged battery for the start of the air display and at the end of the day had shot 1104 shots on this battery with 20% left so overall excellent performance for a mirrorless camera.

Shooting the flying action is a challenge for any camera but the ability to see how your images will come out while shooting through the viewfinder allows you to fine tune exposure and focussing settings as you go without having to stop and review images. I also found that performance was identical whether using the native S lens or the two Nikon tele-zooms via the adapter. I set the in body stabilisation to ‘sport’ mode which allows for smooth panning shots.

Steve's verdict on the Nikon Z7

I found the AF to be excellent and tried several different settings during the show and all worked really well. As with any new camera, time spent shooting helps to hone your technique and gets you to know what the best settings are for particular circumstances.

So, if you are thinking of going the Z7 route then my advice would be don’t hesitate!

Nikon have done a fantastic job with their first full-frame mirrorless camera and it seamlessly fits in to the Nikon system if you are an existing Nikon shooter.

For non-Nikon users the Z7 offers superb performance with stunning in body stabilisation and the 24-70mm f/4 S lens is a superb standard zoom.

Steve Marley

If you have any questions, add a comment below and we'll get back to you.

You may also like:

Nikon Z6 & Z7 launch event
Nikon Z6 vs Z7 - how are they different?

Feature - why switch to mirrorless?

See the full Nikon Z7 specification 


Francis said...

I find shooting airshows with a D810 there is a significant disadvantage in terms of fps compared to using a D500. Did you find the same disadvantage using the Z7 compared to the D850?

Ashley Luke Laurence said...

Hi Francis, thanks for your comment. Please see reply from Steve:

'I found the Z7 just as capable shooting this airshow as my D850 shooting at 9FPS – for me the extra pixels on the subject makes up for a 1fps drop compared to the D500 and the great advantage was being able to see the exposure in real time through the EVF.'

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