Nikon Z6 test:
Hello there! Well today I’m sharing a different kind of post – no weddings today just some travel photos and yes, a real life test of the new Nikon Z6 camera. As we haven’t seen a proper sun here in Northern Europe for 2 months or so, I took my family down to Cyprus for a quick injection of that vitamin D everyone talks about – not me, just as the camera is hitting the first shelves of shops, I’m going to share my impressions of the Nikon Z6, Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8S and Nikkor Z 24-70 f/4 S lenses.
First a little disclaimer – I’ve got very good relations with Nikon Nordic, but I’m not receiving any free stuff (apart from a Nikon Pro Magazine now and then), so here you’ll se my honest opinion/observations of the camera and experience while using it for a week. I haven’t read the manual and haven’t done any measurements – everything you’ll read here is my subjective opinion.To give you an idea about my camera experience here’s the list of cameras that I’ve used professionally since 2004 – Canon (yes) EOS 20d, EOS 5d, EOS 1ds MK II, EOS 1 ds MK III, then the Nikon D3 changed the game, so then I had Nikon D3, Nikon D3s, Nikon D4, Nikon D800e (experimenting) and couple of D850 that I’m using currently. So yes, Z6 is downsizing, literary.
The other thing – why Nikon Z6? Well, I’m interested in adding it to my work camera lineup due to it’s unique features and capabilities, like shooting in low light, silent shutter, small size, small file size
Here’s what I liked:
The size of the camera is the first thing you notice when you take the camera out of the box. It’s small but very solid. It’s not too light and not too heavy, feels very right. The build quality is very good as well, it feels very good.
All my F mount lenses worked seamlessly with FTZ adapter.
The built in image stabiliser is excellent. I like it. Takes some getting used to though. If combined with the stabiliser of a lens, say 70-200 2.8 VR II, I don’t know how many stops it stabilises in total, but it’s good.
The viewfinder – when shooting in very dark conditions combined with the high iso capabilities of the sensor gives you something “night vision” capabilities. In conditions where I could not see anything through the Optical viewfinder of a D850, the Nikon Z6 lifts the levels of the light and you can see more through the camera than with your eye. Tried it on a black cat test in a banana filed.
Low light focusing is very precise for non moving objects. There’s a slow focusing mode I found, but it does a stellar job. Finds and locks focus also on low contrast objects.
The continuous focusing – worked very well for me, tried on a very challenging swing test, see below.
Proper point and shoot – I’m saying it in a good way – just point and shoot, I usually have the camera on Aperture priority with auto ISO, I choose the subject and composition, the camera does the rest.
Here’s what I’m not a big fan of:
It takes few moments to wake it up after sleep – it kind of turns on, but needs a moment to adjust exposure and be ready to focus, not as snappy as D850
The shutter – I usually shoot with quite open apertures, so I often shoot with 1/8000s, but the mechanical shutter works until 1/2000, then you have to turn on the silent shutter which extends the range to 1/8000s. I hope this can be adjusted in the next firmware version, when I need the quicker shutter, it could change from normal to silent automatically. Now it can be done through the menu.
And you can’t leave it on silent all the time as well – for example, I shoot outside in the daylight, silent shutter on, then go indoors or shoot in the night and there’s some serious rolling shutter effect possible, depending on the light. So you have to switch between them all the time.
The focusing point is either too big or too small. When you have the normal focusing point on, it’s quite large, if you’re shooting a person with a sea in the background, you can easily miss the focus and have the background sharp instead of what I need. Yes, there is a PIN size focus point, but what the camera does is turns on more precise focusing then, so the focusing becomes slower. But more precise. I think this too can be “addressed”.
When you change lenses, it’s easy to get dust on the sensor. I’ve used my current D850 for a year now, never had an issue, had Z6 for a week, got plenty of dust on the sensor. yes, it’s easy to blow it off, but still, it’s there.
FTZ adapter has a tripod mount/thread on it – since the camera is small, I mostly hold it by the lens, so that thread feels uncomfortable in the hand.
The camera focuses with working aperture (what I noticed, haven’t read the manual). Not really an issue for me as I usually use lenses wide open, but it can become an issue if you stop down a wide-angle lens at say 8. So the autofocus sensor will think that everything is sharp, so the camera can miss critical sharpness.
Lenses are very sharp and well corrected. Is it good or bad? Depends on your taste. The 50mm feels too big and heavy to me. Yes, it’s very sharp, but I’d prefer simpler designs, lighter and cheaper. Like the Nikkor 50 1.4G, just for the Z mount. I really wish Nikon made an autofocus pancake lens, either 35 or 50 2.8. Interestingly the rear element of the 50mm Z lens seemed larger than the front one, must be something to do with the diameter of the mount, and how close the lens is to the sensor. So yes, I’d like to see a more simple design. The Z 24-70 f/4 S is the perfect travel lens due to its size and range. I wouldn’t use it for my work due to f/4 aperture, but the optical quality is good. Sharp in all focal lengths. Clinically sharp.
I do like the system, I do like the Nikon Z6 camera. Yes it’s different than what I’m used to. It’s a perfect travel camera and it also is the perfect camera for Instagrammers. Files come out already” cooked” and ready to use. Professionally I’m still very interested in this camera, the low light capabilities are the best i’ve seen, I can easily shoot ISO 25600 with less noise than my current d850. Also, focusing in the dark is outstanding. It also takes the same batteries that I already have for the d850. So yes – in general I do like the camera.
If you have any questions or comments regarding my experience, feel free to comment below, I’m sure there are things I’ve forgotten to tell about.
Yes, it’s not all about the camera. This was my first trip to Cyprus. I’ve traveled the world extensively and I didn’t have high expectations for my trip, but I was positively surprised about the diversity of Cyprus. Love the little towns inland and the Turkish part of Nicosia was out of this century. Love the diversity. Meet my wife Inese and daughter Olivia in the photos below.
Updated November 2020 – Nikon Z6 II
Yes, the Nikon Z6 II is out. Can’t wait to try it out and see how it handles, will share with you once I have it.