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Nikon Z6 - observations after nearly a year


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#1 ericbowles

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 08:08 AM

I've had the Z6 since it was released - November 2018.  Since then I've used it alongside a D850, and it's largely been my primary camera getting more than 90% of my images.  That's nearly 30,000 images on the Z6 covering all types of work.

 

The bottom line is it's a great camera, and I don't hesitate to use it for professional work.  I actually prefer it because of the EVF.  What you see through the EVF is the image you are recording.  Exposures are more accurate and you can view a level or histogram in the viewfinder.  I program the Fn1 so I can zoom to 50% or 100% and check focus - or review an image through the Viewfinder.  My menu changes are using the iMenu - accessed with a button and giving me easy reach for commonly used settings.  I use the EVF for menu changes. 

 

There has been a lot of talk about AF in the Z cameras.  For stills and slow moving subjects, AF is significantly better with the Z cameras.  The camera uses a combination of Phase Detect / Contrast Detect AF and delivers fast AF and improved accuracy.  I had been using my 70-200 lens on my Z6 for a while and was happy with the images.  Then I used it with my D850 and every image was backfocused by 4 inches.  After proper testing I sent the D850 and lens to Nikon for repair, and both needed adjustment and repair.  I had never noticed the problem because AF with the Z6 was perfect.

 

For fast moving subjects, the May 2019 firmware update was a huge advance.  Now we have excellent AF performance for fast moving subjects.  I've got more than 5000 images of birds in flight and more than 1000 images of horses going over jumps.  The AF performance is excellent.  Eye-focus and Face-Detect AF are both good tools if you need them.  I tend to want more control, but I'm comfortable that I can use these tools for events or fast moving children.  Right now I'd rate the Z6 AF slightly behind the D850, but well ahead of the D810 for fast moving subjects.  But the Z6 is far ahead of the D850 for static subjects.

 

The FTZ works seamlessly.  I get the same performance on the Z cameras that I get on my D850 with any AF-S lens.  If the lens is slow to focus on a D850, it's slow on my Z6.  But top lenses are fast.  The 70-200 f/2.8 and Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens are my favorites, but I've used most lenses with the Z6.  In some cases, performance is much better.  For example, The Nikon 200-500 and TC14E III teleconverter work very well on the Z6.  In good light you have better AF performance with some teleconverter combinations than you do on a D850.  

 

Here are a few images from the past few months.  The last image was taken with the 200-500 and 1.4 teleconverter.

Attached Files


Edited by ericbowles, 25 October 2019 - 08:11 AM.

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#2 Sailjunkie

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 11:01 AM

Thanks for the review, Eric.  :)


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#3 Herman

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 11:26 AM

Superb images and very interesting review... thank you, Eric.

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#4 Wheatsack

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 01:13 PM

Great images and review Eric.. my experience with the Z7 is much the same.. I am getting a much higher hit rate in AF accuracy ,on static objects, than any previous body, the only fails are easily my fault. I used my 200-500 with very successful results a couple of times... I have since traded it on a 300PF ( much lighter) which I plan to use on some sporting events this summer with the Z7s' improved AF when the opportunity arises.


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#5 Dennis

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 06:55 PM

Nice review, my findings as well for the Z6, although I havent shot 30k images. I havent played a lot with the Z7, yet.

Thanks, Dennis.

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#6 ericbowles

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 07:48 AM

Thanks, everyone.

 

I appreciate the kind words.  

 

The Z6 has definitely become my preferred choice.  Probably the toughest part of the transition right now is learning to use the Z6 and D850 side by side.  I get used to seeing the exposure as it will be produced through the EVF, and get lulled into the same approach for the D850 and forgetting to check exposure or compensation.

 

Recently I've been doing a lot more work with flash.  It's interesting because the EVF shows the image similar to the way it will be rendered with flash - but not really.  I find turning off the flash to set a good manual exposure through the EVF, then turning on flash for the image is more accurate.  Once set, it's not  problem and works well.


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#7 Art

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 12:35 PM

Exceptional Series, Eric!

Didn't Nikon just do another firmware update for eye recognition?  It may improve the performance and your experience even more.  Check out their website.

 

I found my experience with the Z6, although only limited to a weekend of use, to be exceptional. In fact, I found it to be almost as good as, if not as good as using a D5 from fast-moving objects. I find I would be very hard-pressed to say anything negative about the camera.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the review/images.


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#8 LightMeter

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 10:34 PM

Nice images Eric, especially the last one.


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#9 ericbowles

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 11:25 AM

The firmware has had several updates.  The 2.0 update did provide Eye-AF and improved Face Detect AF.  The catch is you need to be relatively close to the subject for it to focus on the eye - and you use it with Auto Area so you give up some control.  Still - it works very well for most people.  My main AF modes are Wide Small, Single, and Dynamic in that order.  I choose Wide Small as my "go-to" for most fast moving subjects and the results are pretty good.  

 

I had an experience with AF that changed my view.  I had been using the 70-200 f/2.8 VRII with the FTZ on the Z6 for dog photos - and had more than 1000 images.  All were fine.  I tried my D850 with teh same lens and ended up with 500 images that were backfocused by 4 inches - focus was perfectly on the ears for all 500 images.  It was okay for social media, but there was a problem.  Testing confirmed the issue with the lens and that it could not be resolved with fine tuning.  I sent the lens and camera for repair - and they camera back better than ever.  Apparently the Z cameras use a combination of Phase Detect AF and Contrast Detect for improved accuracy - enough of an improvement that it took a lens in need of repair and produced perfect images.

 

Overall I'm very pleased with the camera.  Here's one from this past weekend.

 

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Edited by ericbowles, 06 November 2019 - 11:26 AM.

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#10 Art

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 09:28 PM

That is a very nice capture.

 

Have you seen the Z50?  I got a glimpse last night at Nikon.  To be honest, I wasn't very impressed.  However, that is a different camera, appealing to a different market.  What underwhelmed me was it felt like a toy in my hands. Again, it is not being marketed to enthusiasts so for all I know, it is an awesome release.

 

The new battery grip is now a reality for the Z6.  It takes two grip batteries that can be hot-swapped.  That is nice. It does not have a grip button for portrait shooting.  That is very poor. However, it had a nice well-balanced feel.


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#11 ericbowles

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 04:18 PM

Hi Art

 

I have not handled a Z50 yet.  The only dealer in the area is KEH.  But I have seen a number of positive comments from both DSLR owners and Z camera owners who are adding a Z50 to their kit.  In general, the comments have been from enthusiasts who want to add an ultralite kit or light travel kit.  The comments from the early buyers are quite positive.

 

The Z50 provides a nice way for an enthusiast to stick their toe in the mirrorless market.  I think it closes off another avenue of defections since the weight is so similar to 4/3, and the system is very similar to a traditional Nikon interface.  For Z owners, it expands the ideas of light kits.

 

The Z50 is not for me - but it might be for my wife.  She currently has a V1 and uses it.  Her D7200 is only used once or twice a year.  I think the choice is whether she gets a Z6 and kit lens or a Z50 and kit lenses.


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#12 Art

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Posted 13 November 2019 - 11:10 AM

Black Friday is just around the corner.  May be a good time to make up your mind.

 

I suspect a new line of Z may be coming out.  Too many deals on these cameras at the moment, it seems like they are clearing the channel and making room for new announcements.

 

I am on the fence myself.

 

May spring for a Z6, I was really impressed with it, as I have stated.  In Canada, the price should drop to under $1900 and I just got a promotion couple that will reduce the price another $200. Getting harder to resist.


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