Before I dive into my opinion, here’s a little background, so that readers can understand how I’ve arrived at these forthcoming opinions on the Nikon Z cameras: I shoot a wide variety of different subjects, from landscape photography to weddings and portraits. I’ve also photographed competitive/team sports, extreme sports, theater/stage performances, commercial, architectural, product, and wildlife photography. I’ve probably also forgotten a few more.
Simply put, it is clear that certain photographers should find the Z6 and Z7 to be a perfect dream, while others may find them completely inadequate and unacceptable.
Let’s break it down into what are undoubtedly the two main categories of shooters regarding the Nikon Z cameras: If you don’t demand very much from your autofocus or general shooting speed, (landscapes, and many other “slower” or more casual types of photography) …then both the Z6 and Z7 present very tempting new opportunities that were not possible with the D750 or D850. In-body stabilization can truly expand your creative possibilities, of course, while the inherent WYSIWYG of an EVF can certainly make your life easier, even if it’s just a bell/whistle. And let’s not forget the 4K video quality and features have been improved!
Is it good news all-around for these types of shooters? No, if the battery life ratings are to be believed. As a travel/landscape and timelapse photographer, I can go all day (and well into the night) on a single D750 battery. So unless the image quality of the Z6/Z7 is better than the D750/D850, (I always wait for real-world tests before making that call) …you’re really still compromising on perks. Personally, especially as a “slow” landscape photographer, I was hoping to make zero compromises with a mirrorless system.
[Related: Framing The Nikon Z To Their Competition]
If you DO demand very flagship-grade autofocus performance, then it’s definitely worse news: at the very least, you should be waiting to see how a fair number of very experienced photographers have drawn conclusions after lengthy in-the-field use. Based on the specs alone, it’s the prudent thing to do, for any photographer who relies on autofocus to nail wedding ceremony/reception shots in dimly lit conditions, or a professional sports game, etc.
Last but not least, the single XQD card slot. While a horrible shock at first, especially as a full-time wedding photographer, I suppose this could be a manageable drawback even for working pros. Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, XQD card readers or stand-alone backup devices are either rare or nonexistent. And there is no way on earth I’ll ever go home from a wedding without a backup copy of wedding photos, preferably a copy that is going home separately with my 2nd shooter.
I heard a rumor that Nikon could offer to swap the XQD slot for two SD slots, but I suspect that’s just wild wishful thinking. As was my eagerness to be an early adopter, for once. I may eventually own a Z6 or Z7, but I won’t be putting my name on any pre-order lists like I thought I might be.
Follow his wilderness nightscape adventures on Instagram: instagram.com/astrolandscapes