Some Thoughts on The Nikon Z6
Today I got to spend some time with Nikon’s new Z mirrorless system at PhotoPlus. I’ve been pretty indifferent to the whole Nikon Z7 system as I’m more than happy with my D850. But it’s always great to play with new technology. After toying with it for an hour or so, here are my thoughts:
What I liked:
Build quality is great. It feels solid in the hand and I love the sound of the shutter. It feels like a tool and not a toy.
Lenses balance well. The new Z lenses are lightweight and from what I can tell, they’ll deliver solid image quality. Although the primes are bigger than I expected them to be.
Older Nikon lenses when used with the adapter focus fast and didn’t feel as imbalanced as I’d assumed before using them. I used the Z6 with the Nikon 105mm f/1.4E and it felt great. And that’s a behemoth of a lens. Even with the 70-200 f/2.8E it didn’t feel awkward and focused quickly and accurately.
Touch screen and touch to capture functions work very well. I was snapping away.
The viewfinder. Clean and clear. I found it pleasant to use and was very reminiscent of what I’m used to coming from DSLR.
Focusing speed. It is snappy!
What I didn’t like:
The single card slot. I know it’s an issue that’s been discussed ad nauseam but it’s just lazy on Nikon’s part.
No fully articulating screen. This would be a great option for vlogging. Seems like an oversight. Operating from behind the camera will probably be just fine, but it would have been quite a contender if the screen was fully articulating. There’d be no need for an external monitor. I spoke to one of the Nikon reps about it and he suggested I get at Atmos monitor. Pass.
Button layout, specifically the dials. I don’t think the dials are placed in an easy to find position. The front dial seems somewhat lower than what I’m used to on the D850 and other Nikon cameras. Also, the zoom in/zoom out buttons are placed in a weird position. You can probably customize the buttons but I didn’t get into that.
Overall, while I was impressed, I’m not fully convinced enough by the Z system at this point to add it into my fold. I gasped when I took a look at the specs and compared it to my Panasonic G9. I was thinking of getting rid of the G9 for a millisecond. But the G9 does several things better and has the features I like. Sure the Z6 will crush it in terms of image quality, but that’s about it in my opinion. It feels like a first generation system for sure, although a well made one. Price wise you’re looking at $2,000 for the Z6, $250 for the adapter to use your existing Nikon lenses, and say you want the 35mm f/1.8, then that’s another $850. That’s a $3100 investment in a new system. Doing any vlogging or recording YouTube videos, you may need get a monitor as well. Oh and your AF-D lenses won’t autofocus with the new adapter. So that’s a bummer.
When I compare it to my G9, it’s the better value. $1100 for the camera. $800 for a 12-35 f/2.8 Lens and I’d still have money for pizza. It also includes incredible image stabilization, 4K video recording modes, slow motion HD, dual card slots, weather sealing, and one of the most stunning EVF’s in the game. I’m good for the next few years I think.
When the second generation Z cameras come out, I’ll give it another look. By then I’ll probably shift all my cameras over to mirrorless. For now, the D850 and my G9 have nothing to worry about. Lastly, I also took a look at Panasonic’s new S1 and S1R full frame cameras. The design looks good. If Panasonic and Leica release lenses that rival my Nikons and the image quality is there plus the Panasonic color, I may make an entire system switch. Time will tell.