TALKING IMAGES 47 – A NEW CAMERA

 

 

The Z 6 with the FTZ lens adapter and a 50mm Nikkor lens + hood.  Note how the adapter protrudes a little below the camera’s base – the adapter is threaded for use on a tripod.

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I MUST BE MAD!!! I MUST BE REALLY LOSING IT!!!!!!  I can’t believe that in my previous Talking Images post , I was wittering on about the differences of a few grams between the weights of two cameras and lenses!!!  Maybe I’m getting too old – not too far from 70 now – or maybe I’ve just been back in the UK – back from Africa! –  for far too long.   

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I mean, before you know it I’ll be frequenting garden centres, and labelling whole swathes of Highly Enjoyable Things in Life as “inappropriate” >>> and perhaps even watching BBC’s Eastenders soap… I mean, watch enough of that (a program which I have long considered a Crime Against Humanity) and I could start going around looking miserable and being unpleasant or even actually nasty to people, while incessantly muttering “Can I ‘ave a word?”.  The blood runs cold … as Edmund Blackadder would put it, for me, the Renaissance would just be something that happened to everybody else …

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On the right, the big, really good, solid handgrip.  Below the Nikon name, the viewfinder protruding far out beyond the camera’s back.  Not as many useful dials and buttons as on the top of the X-T2, but still very customisable and useful.

Anyway, thing is, I’ve had a lightbulb moment, one of those times when the heart takes over control from the head and, really for the excitement and intellectual challenge of it – the sheer feeling of uncharted territory – I’ve bought one of Nikon’s new, mirrorless, full frame cameras.

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Although late in doing so (Sony has already produced several), Nikon has just produced two full frame, mirrorless cameras; and other large camera manufacturers are following suit.  The Z 7 has a whopping 45.7 MP sensor, which really I don’t need – I mean, the D800’s 39 MP are more than I need – I know just how demanding such high MP models are on camera technique – they show up every little mistake in technique that I make!  So I’ve chosen the 24.5 MP and significantly cheaper Z 6.

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And yes, my MAIN reasons for this choice are excitement, fun, and a sense of going into the unknown a bit!  I’d been considering a Fujifilm X-T3, but then really thought a bit too much like the superb X-T2 that I already use, too comfortable and unexciting maybe >>> and so to the unknown!!!

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My rough and ready pictures of the Z 6, taken with the Olympus TG-5, are shown here: click onto each one and a larger version will open in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.  You can find many more polished pictures (incl the inevitable camera porn) on Google.

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The back of the beast.  The touchscreen tilts, and I’m a complete fan of the large and perfectly sited AF-ON button.  Below this button is a joystick for moving the focus point around, and for navigating menus.  And pressing the top of the joystick locks the exposure, i.e. it acts as a well placed AE lock >>> so just what I want, AF-ON and AE lock right under my right thumb.  DISP cycles through viewfinder options, but does not allow the histogram to be displayed alongside the virtual horizon, which is possible on the X-T2.

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THE Z 6: FIRST IMPRESSIONS

  • Well, first, the handling – the Z 6 is an ergonomic dream: it has a deep and very comfortable handgrip, and essential buttons fall very naturally under the fingers and thumb of my right hand.  This is to be expected from a company that has been making SLR’s and DSLR’s since 1959 – but I never quite trust camera manufacturers, even the best of whom have made some really poor choices in design and functionality before now.  And, also, in a bid to retain their legions of SLR/DSLR users, Nikon has produced the FTZ adapter that allows to use their existing F-mount Nikkor lenses on the new Z-mount of this camera – which means I won’t have to buy any new lenses!  (NB that only Nikkors with their own focusing motors will retain autofocus)  And I find that, since this new adapter protrudes a little downwards, it actually enhances the balance and feel of the camera when my lenses are mounted on it.  NB that this adapter should not be used with lenses weighing over 1300gm, it is not strong enough to support them.

  • There is a wonderfully large and bright electronic viewfinder (EVF), which allows me to see clearly right into the corners with my glasses on.  But this wonderful EVF is not as good as that in Fujifilm’s X-T2 in two ways: the live histogram and virtual horizon cannot be viewed simultaneously in the EVF;  and the virtual horizon, while useable, is simply not as easy to use as the X-T2’s superb example.  I had ruled out buying any camera without an EVF, sometime ago.

  • To help preserve battery power (see below), and also because I find it a good way of working, I have the Z 6’s EVF and rear screen set up as follows.  When the camera is switched on but my eye is not to the EVF, neither the EVF nor the rear screen is on.  When I bring my eye to the EVF, it automatically switches on, but the screen remains off.  The screen only switches on (a) when I’m reviewing images (NB that this function is NOT set to automatic; and that images can also be reviewed via the EVF); and (b) when I’m looking at the menus or the (very handy) i Menu.

  • Having used Nikon’s D700 and D800 DSLR’s for years, I’m a HUGE fan of back-button focusing: the shutter button thus takes no part at all in instigating focusing.  And the Z 6 has a huge AF-ON button sited in exactly the right place – how could I resist that???  The X-T2’s AF-L button is far less easily used and sited (although it can be moved), and that camera’s autofocus is just not up to that on the Z 6.  The X-T2 is excellent for subjects that are not moving too fast, it is compact and a joy to use, and it produces colours to die for – I’ll definitely keep using it.  But the Z 6 is significantly lighter and more compact than the D800, and it balances very well with the lens I’m married to, the 70-300 AF-S Nikkor.  Its quite probable that Nikon’s new Z-mount lenses will autofocus faster than F-mount lenses used with the FTZ adapter, but I’m impressed with the latter so far.

  • Also, I’m not getting any younger, and humping great lumps of photo gear around is becoming less “attractive”.  The Z 6 is lighter than the D800, and a little heavier than the X-T2, but I’m really quite shocked by the photo below – looking at the backs of these three cameras, the Z 6 is really not much larger than the X-T2, which I think really an achievement.

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Three excellent cameras.  On the left, Nikon’s D800 full frame DSLR – big, heavy, eminently capable and built like a tank, this camera really does the business.  In the middle, the Z 6, also full frame but a mirrorless camera, decidedly smaller and lighter than the D800 – and the electronic viewfinder takes away all of the guesswork of the D800’s optical viewfinder – you see exactly the image that you’re going to get.  And on the right the wonderful Fujifilm X-T2, an APS-C format mirrorless camera: this light and compact camera produces images and colours to die for, but its autofocus is not up with that of the Nikons – although that of the new X-T3 may be.  But the real stand out thing here for me is the Z 6’s size – certainly smaller than the similarly full frame D800, and almost the size of the APS-C format X-T2 – which to me is a real achievement. (the Z 6 seems to be sitting up, suspended a little just above the worktop surface – this is because the FTZ lens adapter protrudes down below the camera’s base a little)

 

  • Getting older and more crusty, I’m a great fan of paper – I hate reading large amounts of blurb on-screen, and I like to have something in my hand that I can scrawl on in bright red biro.  So I’m pleased and relieved to find a 247 page user’s manual included, and other Nikon resources online.  And I LOVE the understatement on page 1 of this manual: “Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the names and functions of camera controls and displays.”!!!  Well, I’m an old Nikon hand but it took me more than “a few minutes” >>> but then getting fully to grips with the camera, and availing myself of its myriad customisation possibilities, are two of the enjoyable, even exciting things I’ve been looking forwards to – for me, these aspects are part of what I’m paying for.

  • I think until the end of March, Nikon (via London Camera Exchange and probably other dealers) are doing a special deal: the Z 6, the FTZ adapter and a Sony 64 GB XQD card (the camera only takes XQD cards) for £1,999.99 .  We can’t afford to eat now, of course, so please send food and money parcels soonest.

  • Having a full frame sensor makes it easier to achieve shallow depths of focus, and also bokeh.  Also, of course, it provides greater freedom for cropping – but the files will take up more hard drive space!

  • And being a mirrorless camera, it eats batteries: Nikon estimates 310 shots per charge.  But if this becomes a problem, as with the X-T2 I’ll simply carry an extra battery.

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The three parts of the beast.  On the right the Z 6’s body, with its very protruding viewfinder.  Next left, and almost featureless but with a large white spot, the FTZ lens adapter.  Left again, the 50mm Nikkor lens and its hood.

  • The Z 6 has an (apparently) very useful touchscreen, something which is completely foreign to me.  However, I will try it – of course!  But I’m safe in the knowledge that it can be disabled.  This touchscreen tilts – most useful for someone who, now, finds getting down on his knees and getting back up again, not as easy as it used to be!!!  🙂

  • The Z 6 has a DX (= APS-C size) crop mode, which multiplies the focal lengths of lenses by 1.5 (e.g. my 70-300 telezoom becomes a 105-450).  This produces a useful 10.3 MP file – and I can change from full-frame to APS-C mode at the touch of a button.

  • I’m a huge fan of image stabilisation, as I can rarely be bothered using a tripod.  The Z 6 has in-body lens stabilisation (IBIS), and this works in concert with lenses which have their own image stabilisation built in (what Nikon calls VR), like my 70-300.  While I’m talking about this, it is important to reiterate the fact that all IBIS systems only really work for lenses up to about 300mm in focal length.

  • The Z 6 has an on-demand 4×4 viewfinder grid, which is helpful >>> but which would be so much more helpful compositionally if it were a 3×3 grid, i.e. for the “Rule” of Thirds.

  • Already I’m thinking about a plan for taking the Z 6 out onto the Somerset Levels.  Thus, the 70-300 zoom on the Z 6, which gives the potential for 70-450 if the APS-C format option is used;  and the X-T2 with the 10-24 zoom, which provides the full-frame equivalent of a useful 15-36 zoom.

So, hope this is useful / informative.  Comments / views??????? 🙂

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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for many types of subject, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

29 Responses to TALKING IMAGES 47 – A NEW CAMERA

  1. bluebrightly says:

    You did it! You bad boy! 🙂 I have to run out, but just wanted to try to catch up with you and say congrats, I do love your enthusiasm. It’s a good thing when one is pushing 70…..

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, bad boy is right!!! >>> and thank you for your congratulations. And enthusiasm, yes, I guess so >>> in my life, I have long believed that if something is worth doing, its worth doing flat out, i.e. with maximum and committed effort >>> though, with my years accumulating, I tend not to light up the afterburner as much as I used to! Still, into the unknown, let’s do it! I have one or two other projects on at present, but my Z 6 expertise is pressing steadily forward. A 🙂

      Like

      • bluebrightly says:

        I bet you’re having a great time. It’s like the (almost) perfect bridge for you, with your long and positive history with Nikon, and your more recent bonding with the XT-2. I hope the adapter is straightforward and doesn’t add too much weight or length. I look forward to hearing and seeing more….My current dilemma is how to drastically limit my lenses for an upcoming trip. I can’t take much baggage. I feel I can’t leave the OM-D EM-1 behind because it’s what I’m used to. Unfortunately the two good zooms are big. There are two nice primes that are small and light, but I think I’ll want a zoom too. Mostly city shooting this time. OK, I’m sure you’ll have an opinion! 😉

        Like

        • Adrian Lewis says:

          No, the adapter is fine; its light, and adds almost exactly an inch to the projection of any mounted lens. For what it makes possible, its physical impact is negligible.

          OK, yes, I’m going to have views on your gear for your forthcoming trip – LOL! you know me too well! 🙂 🙂 🙂

          First – yes, definitely, take the camera you’re used to – don’t go to strange places toting something strange!

          Second – take a zoom and 1 (or 2) primes. A prime with a large max aperture eg f1.8 for dark places, thin depths of field, portability etc. And so the choice is between a standard zoom, i.e. something like 24-80 on full frame, or a zoom reaching further out e.g to 200mm. Plus a spare battery, charger; memory cards. A 🙂

          Like

  2. Jane Lurie says:

    Hi Adrian, Great post! I can relate since I shot with a D800 and Nikons forever, then went mirrorless with the X-T2 so I am intrigued by your review of the Z6. I love the Fuji but miss certain features of the Nikon like the easy back button focus. I surely don’t miss hauling the Nikon gear around but at times I miss the lenses and full frame. Do your Nikon lenses make the kit heavy? My favorite Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 isn’t feather light like the Fujinon lenses. Thanks for your in-depth review.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Jane, I’m very glad you like this review – we are on somewhat similar roads! I also love the X-T2, and for scenarios where very rapid autofocus and back button focusing are not real necessities, its the camera! Just give me the X-T2 and put me amongst dreamy lands, and in city centres too – and that’s it! Many have commented upon the beautiful colours in its images.

      I’ve said in the post that part of my decision to buy the Z 6 is the “jump into the unknown”, and so I’m going to see what happens!!! I’m busy with other things at the moment and so my exploration will not be rapid, but I have a good feeling about it.

      I have the Z 6 + 70-300 and the X-T2 + 55-200 (both my favourite lenses) sitting here right beside me and, picking them both up, the Nikon is slightly the heavier of the two, but it is only slightly, there’s very little in it. And I find the Z 6 + 70-300 combination so well balanced in my left hand (as I do the X-T2).

      My AFS Nikkors are 50, 105 macro, 24-120, 16-36 and 70-300. NB that Nikkors without internal focusing motors won’t autofocus on the Z 6.

      So, I will see what the future brings – haha! >>> watch this space!!! A 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jane Lurie says:

        Couldn’t agree more about the Fuji. Love it for most circumstances. And those Fuji blues for landscapes… aaah.
        So, would my Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 work on the Nikon mirrorless? I think so.
        Thanks again!

        Like

        • Adrian Lewis says:

          Yes, via the FTZ adapter, which I bought bundled with a Z 6 and an XQD card, you can use your Nikon F mount 24-70 f2.8 on the Z 6 and Z 7. I’m using F-mount lenses on my Z 6.

          Bit Nikon are starting to produce Z-mount lenses which need no adapter. I might be swayed by a 70-300, but that’s not yet on their lens road map. However, Nikon have just put out 24-70 f4 and I think 24-70 f2.8 Z-mount lenses too. These will produce optimum performance on the Z 6. A 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Another thought, Jane. One of the really superb design features on the D800 is having the AF-ON and AE-L/AF-L buttons ideally sited under my right thumb, so that focus can be frozen (or live) and exposure can be frozen with a quick jab of the thumb – this has got me very quick pictures many times.

      Well, I’ve mentioned the excellent AF-ON button on the Z 6. And I’m able to instantaneously lock exposure by configuring the joystick, which is immediately below the AF-ON button – pushing the joystick as one would a button achieves this – there is a choice of exposure locking types as on earlier Nikons. Adrian 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jane Lurie says:

        I am struggling with the back-button focus on the Fuji– need to relocate it…maybe to the joystick or another button. I also feel challenged a bit with motion (like a squirmy granddaughter) I had many more keepers with my Nikon but I am happy with not lugging it around! Thanks for all your great info, Adrian. Much appreciated.

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        • Adrian Lewis says:

          Yes, you can move the X-T2’s AF-L button to the position of the AE-L button – in effect, you exchange what each button does with the other button – this makes the AF-L button much better sited. But even given this these Fuji buttons are a weak point, they’re too small and they do not protrude enough above the surface of the camera’s body – cf the much larger and more positive buttons on Nikons past and present. A 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats on a) new, well thought out gear, and b) embracing on coming ‘geezerhood’. I will watch close to see how you attack fast moving subjects.

    Being in the ‘geezer clan’ and still carrying the huge 600mm beasts for miles in the boonies the move to ‘light’ is always on my mind.

    Have fun, and remember food is always optional in photography.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      My goodness, Ted, you use a 600mm lens, that must be weighty indeed! I did have a 80-400 Nikkor zoom, but I’m not an out and out nature photographer like you, so my longest lens now is the 70-300 Nikkor, which is much lighter, and which extends to 105-450 in DX format. When I first bought the 70-300 it was a bit of a revelation, as it materialised that I often “see” pictures at 300mm ie x6, so I’m looking forward to using the 70-300 on the Z 6.

      Using the APS-C X-T2’s 55-200 is also excellent – that equates to about 85-300, which I also find very useful.

      Haha, geezerhood! Absolutely right – and it was the lighter weight plus compactness of the X-T2 + the 55-200 that set me off on long walks around Bristol, photographing the morning rush hour. I could never get into carrying heavy gear around again, its too much of a burden, and that’s why, although the Z 6 is light, I’m still going to pair it with a good Optech strap, which will lessen the (apparent) load even more.

      Food optional??? Are you one of these radical thinkers??? Now The FATman is really in uncharted territory!!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • We shoot with 100-400 and 150-600. A bit of a load considering we also use Canon 7D2 (all heavy) but that’s the gear made for what we do. Also why I had back surgery…or is it the 70+ thing LOL

        Have fun and keep posting for us on the ‘other side of the pond’.

        Like

        • Adrian Lewis says:

          Wow, Ted, you’re stronger than me then – I travel as light as possible, especially if I’m on foot, its a camera and one lens. Yes, the 70+ thing inevitably creeps in – I’m 70 next year.

          And yes, I will keep posting – I hope you’ll enjoy my stuff! Adrian 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  4. paula graham says:

    Well, you cannot take it with you, so go mad now while you can..I look forward to the pics.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Absolutely good advice, my friend, you can’t take it with you. I have to get a decent Optech strap – the one that comes with the Z 6 is not as good – and then get outdoors with the beast – I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

      Like

  5. Sherry Felix says:

    How is the speed on the Z6? I hear mirror less are slow and not good for moving wildlife like birds.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Hello Sherry – well, this is not my first foray into mirrorless – that came awhile back with a Fujifilm X-T1, followed by an X-T2. The X-T2 was a certain improvement over the X-T1; it is a simply wonderful camera, light, compact and producing colours to die for – and although the speed of the autofocus is not quite up there with my Nikon DSLRs, I have used it for both moving people and wildlife. The X-T2 has now been superseded by the X-T3, which is supposed to have improved autofocus.

      I’m still getting used to the Z 6 and have yet to use it outdoors, but it appears to have snappier autofocus than the X-T2. It snaps into focus very quickly and, using back button focusing, I’m very enthusiastic about its large AF-ON button. Whether the Z 6’s autofocus will be right up there with my D800’s I’ll have to wait to see – watch this space! But I’m philosophical – if the Z 6 is not quite up there with the D800 I’ll use the latter on the few situations really high speed is needed, eg birds taking flight. But meanwhile, I do think the Z 6 is going to be superior to the X-T2 autofocuswise. Adrian 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Very good way to get mad! Congratz with your new camera, my friend. I have always loved the D700, as you know. But the waiting for a mirrorless, full frame Nikon, took too long, so I switched to SONY A7R2. I think you will have a lot of fun with the Z6. My experience is: the more pixels, the better the shots. I’ll drink a Duvel on your Z6 tonight! 🙂 Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Harrie, thank you very much! Yes, Nikon have taken a long time to get around to this, and Canon too, and in the interim I got into the Fujifilm X-T2, which apart from autofocus is a wonderful camera. However, now for a bit of fun (LOL! humour this old man, my friend!) – and I agree with you about the pixels. Enjoy that Duvel – and I have some lined up for this afternoon too! A 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you! Very informative. Last year I bought Canon gear. Cost a fortune so I’m still hungry and can’t send you food parcels. Isn’t there a soup kitchen in Bristol? 😉

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Soup kitchen??? LOL! that’s rather thin comfort, my RSA friend!!! Just at this moment was hoping for an enormous Full English, beset with devilled kidneys, eyes of newt, kedgeree and lots of marmalade!!! 😀 Glad this is informative; its something of a learning curve but then I hoped it would be. A 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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