When the Nikon Z7 was announced I quickly put my pre-order in and began to anxiously await it’s arrival. Two days later, I canceled my pre-order and didn’t look back. You see, I had done the research and found that the size/weight difference wasn’t really worth the thousands of dollars it would cost to acquire the camera, a camera who’s image quality was arguably slightly less than the D850’s I was using. At the time, I own/owned two D850 bodies as well as a Leica M10 and an M10-P… Really, I couldn’t think of another camera body I would need for quite some time. In fact, I wrote as much, talking about how the mirrorless camera craze was simply a craze, there was very little reason to “upgrade” at this time.
Fast forward almost a year and I find myself shooting with the Nikon Z7 almost exclusively. I’ve tabled my M10 bodies and the D850’s are collecting dust as well. I simply don’t miss constraining myself to a 35mm lens with my Leica or lugging around two D850 bodies wherever I go. Now, I simply attach the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 S lens to my Zed 7 and head on my way. It’s quite liberating.
There are some things to really love about the camera and some things that could be improved on in future Z generations. Considering the D850 is pretty near perfect it’s hard not to find some shortcomings with any other camera, I believe the Z7 is one of the most scrutinized cameras I’ve seen in the past decade because of this comparison.
My formal review of the camera will cover all of the things that I love and hate about the Z7 but I’ll summarize here. I really love the size/weight of the camera and I really hate the sacrifice I make when it comes to autofocus. Don’t panic though, it’s not bad. Autofocus is pretty great really, it’s just not D850 great. I have not found myself in a situation where autofocus wouldn’t lock in low light and I shoot in some pretty crazy low light. The worst scenario I’ve found myself in is simply testing the camera in my office at night with only one small light on in my office. The camera hunted a bit in the darkest corner of my office but eventually locked, not really a real world scenario. In real world work, I’ve not found the Z7 to struggle at all as of yet… Even surprising me in some scenarios.
The camera’s image quality may be slightly different from the D850’s but it is indiscernible to me. I’ve found the image quality to be perfect so far. I’ve read about potential banding in the shadows when you try to pull 6+ stops out of a photo but I’ve been shooting for over a decade (including landscape astrophotography) and have never had to recover an image to that extreme. Perhaps there are photographers out there that need that type of dynamic range but honestly, they’d be better served with a medium format camera in my humble opinion.
The battery exceeded my expectations as well. I love that I can simply plug the camera into the wall and the battery will charge via USB-C. I can charge one battery in the camera and one in the wall charger that comes with the camera. One oversight here is that you can not operate the camera while the battery charges (while plugged into the wall). This is a disappointment if you’re the type that likes to shoot time lapses and operate your camera with a battery and a battery charger in the field. Perhaps this is something that can be upgraded in a firmware update sometime in the future?
At the end of the day, the Z7 has exceeded my expectations and has my full attention. I’ll be done with the D850 as soon as the 70-200mm f/2.8 S lens is available for the Z7. Until then, I’ll be shooting with the Z7 and M10-P almost exclusively, only bringing the D850 when I need the extra reach of the 70-200mm f/2.8 (that’s how much I hate the FTZ adapter, more on that in the actual review).
Unlike most of the camera reviews out there, I like to use a camera for more than a day or 7 before I write a full review. In fact, I’m currently using it on two large commissions (i.e. professionally) and will be able to give an unbiased assessment of the 7’s performance. Stay tuned to PhotolisticLife.com and follow me on Instagram (@PhotolisticLife) to stay up to date. Thanks for reading.