Lens rentals blog

This feature is great if your existing lens or lenses didn’t already have optical VR, however, as a landscape photographer VR is already present in most of the lenses that might be used hand-held. The Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR and 24-120mm f/4 VR are two lenses that come to mind as top choices for shooting landscapes on-the-go. For all you portrait etc. photographers out there, both the 24-70 and 70-200 are stabilized now, too. Almost every Tamron lens has VC. But I digress.

I had high hopes for Nikon’s entry into the mirrorless realm. I guess what I expected was a camera that was almost identical to the Nikon D850, but just a little smaller.

While I must give Nikon credit for following in Sony’s footsteps with regard to making two different classes of cameras that are physically identical, there are a few issues I have with the actual control layout and UI.

Even more annoying is the fact that the dedicated buttons which are still present, have been moved around a bit. The very useful physical dial for Drive Mode has been eliminated, and I used that a LOT, for everything from landscapes to weddings. Instead, there’s just one button relegated the bottom-right of the camera, literally the exact opposite corner. It’s not easy to reach.

You simply can’t mount an ordinary tripod plate to both the camera body and the FTZ adapter at the same time. Even mounting one tripod plate might not work unless you get the right adapter that can slide fore/aft enough to allow the FTZ adapter to still mount. I had to dig up my most teeny-tiny Arca-Swiss plate to even be able to mount/unmount the FTZ adapter with the plate attached.

Next, the shutter blackout. Yes, its severity varies depending on which shooting settings you’re using, but here’s the bottom line for me: one of the reasons why I’m willing to switch from an OVF to an EVF is to be able to shoot at any FPS I want, with zero shutter blackout, and nothing but maybe a faint (faux) clicking sound to let me know that I’m actually clicking pictures.

For many serious shooters who would instead pounce on decisive moments than rely on good ‘ol spray-and-pray, this could be a strike against the Nikon Z7. Nikon, please try and make the FX mirrorless experience as similar as possible to a DSLR when appropriate, while implementing the new advantages to mirrorless that other makers like Sony are incorporating.

Most photographers will be just fine with a single XQD card slot. Personally, the only time I need dual card slots is when I’m shooting weddings. If I’m shooting any sort of action, timelapse, landscape, or just casually, I use a single card slot. And after literally 2+ million NEF files, I haven’t had more than one or two images go corrupt. (Knock on wood) USB Charging and Battery Life

Alas, the Nikon Z7, like the oldest Sony A7-series bodies, must be off to charge the battery via USB. Even then, it is painfully slow, even with a 2A USB battery. (And not every 2A port seems to work, by the way; for some reason one of my USB battery packs would only charge the EN-EL15b from a 1A port, which was almost pointless at about 5% per hour.)

But, allow me to stir the pot a little bit: in the real world, any dynamic range or high ISO noise differences will likely be hidden by most photographer’s inability to nail every single exposure to within 1/3 EV of “perfect”. In other words, If you upgrade cameras (let alone switch entire systems) for a mere 1/2 or 1/3rd EV of dynamic range or noise levels, but on average you miss your exposures by a whole 1-2 EVs, then the joke is on you!

Despite my few gripes with the Z7’s ergonomics and interface, I definitely give the nod to the Nikon Z7 for its overall build quality, ergonomics, and customizability. I’ve spent a lot of time customizing Sony’s physical buttons and quick menus, and while the mk3 generation bodies are leaps and bounds ahead of the mk2 and mk1 generations, I still think Nikon (And Canon, for that matter) ergonomics and customizability are preferable.

With that said, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the A7R III to anyone who is ready to shoot things like portraits or any other serious professional work for which both dual card slots and reliable AF are a must-have. Sony’s lens lineup is well-established, too. Truth be told, if you’ve already tried a Sony camera and don’t have any problems with the ergonomics, menus, and customizability, it’s pretty hard not to recommend the A7R3.

In case I have already made it totally obvious, the Nikon Z7 may be a dream camera for some, and a frustrating experience for others. So, who is it for, and who isn’t it for? Quite honestly, if you already own a Nikon D850 or even a Nikon D810, then to justify the Z7 you’ll really, really have to be putting the mirrorless advantages to good use- the IBIS, EVF, and portability had better be at the top of your “must-have” list. Also, you’ll have to be okay with switching batteries (and lens adapters) more often, and being very careful and strict with your memory card safety and workflow. I’m going to call the Nikon Z7 a “dream camera” for travel, landscape, and timelapse photographers, but that’s about it. For most other types of photography, the Nikon Z7 is certainly capable. However, it is not without caveats and some stiff competition in the Sony A7R III.

So, there you have it. I’m giving Nikon’s Z system a year or so to mature before I dive in. I might rent a Nikon Z7 or Nikon Z6 again for a certain special project or two in 2019, (there’s a lunar eclipse in January that I’d love to capture; I previously had a blast catching it on my D800e!) …however until I see more Z-mount lenses, and maybe even a 2nd generation body within the next 365 days, I’ll stick to my Nikon DSLRs.

I will say this, however. I was previously on the brink of jumping to a Sony A7RIII for the landscape photography that I like to shoot, and a Sony A7III for the weddings and portraits that are my day job. That ship seems to have sailed, at least for another year. Because a Nikon Z7 with a few button and menu tweaks, plus a 2nd card slot of course for the weddings, and I’m sold.

It’s not bad, it’s just a matter of habit that really annoyed me at first, especially when swapping lenses frequently. I suppose I could just get something like a RRS panning clamp, but that’s a whole $200+ for a tiny, tiny inconvenience that might be solved by a $25-50 plate sooner than later. If you look closely at one of the images in the review, you’ll see that I’ve already found a bi-directional plate which works, although it took me shaving off the plate’s lip with a hack saw in order to make it fit, and since it no longer has a lip, it will likely frequently come loose.

Again, I realize that these problems will likely all be soon solved by a plethora of new plate options, both pricey name-brand and generic. It’s just a noteworthy aspect of how smooth a photographer should expect the transition to be, if they for example have previously only owned one single generic plate, as may be the case with many aspiring landscape photographers since they seem to love spending tons of money on bodies and lenses, and yet incessantly ask me for tripod recommendations in the $100-200 range. (Don’t get me started on that!)

Regarding autofocus, I’ll try and clarify: I’ve shot with the D850, D810, D800e, D750, D700, D300, …and a few other Nikons. So, I actually know exactly what you’re talking about with regards to people expecting tools to just work right out of the box, even though they’re brand new and complex. I’ve learned to be very conscious of this when I try new gear, and go into it with an open mind. I work very hard to fully understand how a new AF system operates. For example, when I tried the EOS R, I immediately and absolutely fell in love with how you can move the AF points around the viewfinder by using the touchscreen instead of a joystick. In this new generation of AF systems that have hundreds and hundreds of AF points, I think a whole new approach to AF point control is going to be critical. Both Canon and Sony have adopted this, but not Nikon. Simply put, I do believe that Nikon has a ways to go before their mirrorless AF can match what Sony and Canon have, both in terms of implementation, and in accuracy/reliability.

Regarding the card slot debate: Firstly, I agree with you that the issue is beaten to death. I tried to make that clear in the review. There’s really only a couple select professional work environments where I think dual card slots are absolutely necessary, such as weddings, where the simplicity of dual card slots is indeed superior to any other option, or reportage, where it may very well be extremely preferable to have a wireless backup on a mobile device, for press/publication reasons. But yeah, as a wedding / portrait photographer, dual card slots are just so damn simple. It’s not a matter of being humble and learning things anew, it’s just a matter of ridiculous simplicity.

As I’ve said in many instances here and elsewhere, I honestly believe that Nikon and maybe even Canon would have decided to offer dual card slots, if they had seen the A7III coming. But these types of decisions are made a year or more in advance, and Sony was probably still on their 6th single-slot FF mirrorless camera, just about to release the A7RIII, let alone the A7III. I expect we’ll see dual slots in all future FF MILC bodies above $2K from now on, and maybe even in more bodies under $2K. In the meantime, this is just a regrettable “market placement” decision.