First Impressions of Using the Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Camera
Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera with FTZ adapter and Nikon 14-24 mm F2.8G AF-S IF-ED zoom lens. It's a large lump of glass to attach to the FTZ adapter but despite appearances it still handles well.
For the past five years my Nikon D800 and Nikon D300s cameras have served me well but the time had come to take advantage of improvements in asa speeds, low light capabilities, image quality, focussing and 4k video available on current models.
Having decided way back in 1997, when I first went freelance, to go with Nikon I wasn’t about to make a change now having way too much of an investment in Nikon glass to justify changing. And why would I, having been perfectly happy with Nikon for such a long time. So the question for me was what Nikon camera to buy?
The D800 is still a great workhorse and produces amazing results but my second camera the D300s really needed updating. With one eye on keeping costs at a sensible level whilst still getting the quality I require as a pro photographer the obvious choice was a D850 but do I really need the huge file size that it produces? My D800 produces huge files which more often than not I need to reduce in size significantly before delivering to my clients. I toyed with the idea of the D500, a pro camera with a 2/3 sensor like my D300s but I really like the full frame of the D800 and wanted to move away from using two cameras alongside one another that had different size sensors. I looked at the D750 which seemed to offer everything I wanted at a really affordable price but it was still old technology and didn't shoot 4k video.
I don’t shoot much press stuff now and no sport so what about Nikon’s new mirrorless offerings? I liked the sound of the small body, quiet shutter and high asa capabilities which would be ideal for the event and conference side of my business. The Z7 produces huge files, something I don’t really need so the Z6 seemed the better bet. ( Although I subsequently discovered that I need not have been concerned about the file size as on both the Z6 and Z7 it is possible to set the size of the RAW file to either small, medium or large. ) Either camera would be a huge change for me having used SLR’s professionally for nearly 44 years and DSLR’s for nearly twenty years of that.
The mirrorless bodies had the added attraction of being small especially when used with their native lenses something that would be useful when travelling. Being able to use existing lenses with the use of the FTZ adapter was a huge bonus but I was a little concerned about how the camera would balance with a large DSLR lens on the front especially with the added extension of the adapter. The Z series cameras also offered all the latest technology such as image stabilisation, 4k video, touch screen, wifi, bluetooth and silent mode.
Having weighed up all my options I decided on the Nikon Z6 and with the money I saved on not purchasing the Z7 camera I treated myself to a 14-24 mm F2.8 lens.
I’ve been using the Z6 for a little over a week now and thought I would share my experiences together with some of the images I’ve taken with it.
Dawn Bowden AM speaking at Afon Taf High School, Merthyr where she awarded a team from the school with the Institution of Civil Engineers Wales Trophy. 2000 asa. 1/160th sec @ f4.5. Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 lens at 160mm. No flash just ambient light.
It’s size is the first thing that strikes you. It’s a lot smaller and lighter than the D800 that I’m used too. With the 24-70 F4 kit lens on the front though it does feel great. The camera is solid and well made as one would expect from Nikon. All the buttons and menus are familiar but not, if you know what I mean. Everything is there but subtly different so one does find oneself a little at sea at times or thrown by something not quite being where you expect it to be or doing what you expect. More of a feeling than anything specific and I’m sure something I will get used to over time.
The next striking thing is how quiet it is. Just in it’s normal mode with no return mirror to crash about in the body it’s so quiet. Definitely a bonus for shooting in conferences or similar events. I’ve not tried the silent mode in anger yet so can’t comment on the results in that mode but the camera really does shoot silently. You only know you’ve taken a picture by the slight dimming of the viewfinder after the shot is taken. Having had experience of shooting production stills on film and TV sets I'm sure the Z6 would be ideal for these situations.
Tim Stone newly appointed Managing Director of Redrow Homes South Wales. 400 asa. 1/200th sec @ f5. Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 lens at 98mm. Lit with two Nikon SB800 speed light flash units, one into a silvered umbrella and one bounced off wall/ceiling.
My current lenses all perform well with the FTZ adapter. The camera does feel a little front heavy though but as I always take the weight of the lens with my left hand it’s not too much of an issue and something again I’m sure I will get used to.
My right thumb is having a little trouble locating the second sub selector joystick on the back of the camera. Muscle memory I’m sure will soon overcome this minor issue.
I like the rear screen and the fact that it switches automatically to the viewfinder as you place your eye to the camera.
Launch of the new virtual reality suite at Ford's Bridgend Engine Plant. 1000 asa 1/30th sec @ f5 with a touch of fill flash. Nikon 24-70 mm f2.8 lens at 24mm.
I have had to switch off the rear screen touch sensitive shutter release. It took a while to realise why the camera and flash was firing and blinding anyone I was chatting with. Just the briefest of touches on the screen resulted in the shutter firing.
I’ve been using the camera in manual mode with single shot autofocus so far. I like the way the screen adjusts as you adjust speed and aperture settings making it easy to see when things are correctly exposed. Autofocus works well and is quick although I did have one issue where it shunted about in a low light situation but I suspect that was down to me not not exerting enough pressure with my finger on the shutter release to maintain focus. I've not quite found the halfway spot yet to keep the camera in focus.
The camera goes into standby mode if there is no activity for 30 seconds to save the battery, which is fine but it does seem to take a while to start back up when you depress the shutter button. That second or so can seem like ages when you are in the middle of a shoot. I believe I can lengthen the time that camera stays awake but that will have an adverse effect on the battery life.
James Davies speaking at the MADE launch event held recently at Ford's Bridgend Engine Plant. 2000 asa. 1/160th sec at f3.5. Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 lens at 135mm. No flash just ambient light.
The quality of the images produced so far is staggering, particularly at high asa settings. 2000 asa looks like 200 asa on the D800. I’ve not pushed it any further than this yet but can’t wait to give it a go.
The XQD card is quick and I’ve had no issues with the camera struggling to save bursts and downloading from the card onto a computer using a Sony XQD USB adapter is also very fast.
The file sizes the camera produces are not as big as the D800 but are still bigger than anything I might need for my pr, corporate or editorial work.
Andrew Walker speaking at the MADE launch event held recently at Ford's Bridgend Engine Plant. This shot was a tryout for my new Nikon 14-24 mm F2.8 lens too. 2000 asa. 1/160th sec at f4.5. Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 lens at 14mm. No flash just ambient light.
I’m still getting used to this camera but all things at the moment point to me having made the right choice for me and I still have the option of using my trusty D800 when the extra file size is needed or just as a second camera. I’m looking forward to pushing the camera to it’s limits in some really low light and also to trying it’s video capabilities. I’m also confident given it’s autofocus performance and high speed continuous shooting capabilities that it will lend itself to press work too.
All in all, a great little camera with a lot packed in to a small package.
Below are a couple of additional photographs taken purely as test shots.
This swan on Roath Park Lake, Cardiff was taken with a 300 mm f2.8 lens along with a 1.7x converter giving me a focal length of 510mm and was taken at 1/1000 sec at f7.1 at 400 asa. AF Focussing was continuous and dynamic. The lens was supported by a monopod and despite being attached to the camera by the FTZ adapter it felt balanced. I know from experience that the lens/converter combo is as sharp as a tack and the Z6 has recorded the fine detail and subtle tones in the white feathers brilliantly. The AF focussing locked on to the subject quickly and precisely.
This shot of Penarth Pier was taken with the 24-70mm F4 S kit lens attached to the Z6 at 1/320 sec at F11, 100 asa. It was bright and the sun was trying hard to break through the mist that hung over The Bristol Channel resulting in pastel tones which the camera has recorded faithfully. The tonal range throughout the image is amazing from the white highlights on the pier to the dark shadows beneath the structure.
Keywords: Business, Camera, camera test, Cardiff, Commercial Photographer, Corporate Photographer, digital photography, Editorial Photographer, Event Photographer, Event Photography, Flash photography, Lifestyle photography, Location photography, Marketing Photographer, Mediaphotos, Nikon, Nikon Z6, Photo Shoot, Photography, PR Photographer, PR photography, Press Photographer, Press Photography, professional photography, Roger Donovan, Wales, Z6
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