Why switch to "Z" system?

I have been using Nikon DSLR's for 20 years. My current gear includes D850, D750, & D750 (IR converted), cameras. What would I gain (or lose) by changing to the new NIKON mirror less cameras . I DO know that they are lighter. However, I never did like an electronic view finder and have had a few NIKON low end DX cameras that had them. So, please tell me why I should or should not switch. Another reason I am typing this is because NIKON rumors is SATURATED with "Z" discussions and not much about the DSLR cameras any more. Please enlighten me!
Gordon
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Comments

  • SymphoticSymphotic Posts: 623Member
    Switch for the size, stay for the glass.
    Jack Roberts
    "Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought"--Albert Szent-Gyorgy
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,997Member
    edited September 11
    Unless there is something wrong with the gear you have now, there is no reason whatsoever to switch. You don't get better AF (it's actually worse for subject tracking), or more megapixels than what you have now. Seems kind of pointless for a generation or two when Nikon finally gets all the bugs worked out and has better sensors and A/D conversion.

    The forum is full of talk beacuse they Z stuff is the latest and greatest gear on a spec sheet. Beyond that they are nothing special. The next generation will hopefully offer something worth while for current high end DSLR users.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,984Member
    PB_PM said:

    Unless there is something wrong with the gear you have now, there is no reason whatsoever to switch. You don't get better AF (it's actually worse for subject tracking), or more megapixels than what you have now. Seems kind of pointless for a generation or two when Nikon finally gets all the bugs worked out and has better sensors and A/D conversion.

    PB_PM, I generally agree with you, though regarding AF, even if you are right, I would consider this article that Thom just released:

    http://www.sansmirror.com/newsviews/2019-mirrorless-camera/july-september-2019-mirrorl/a-nikon-mirrorless-safari.html

    And while there is nothing in Thom's article that suggests why you should switch now, I think that the article neutralizes most concerns that someone might have for switching. Also, Thom's "test" was performed in a scenario, wildlife, where people might have the most hesitation about switching.

    However, if you are chasing resolution, then there is a reason to switch now. The new Z lenses are significantly better than DSLR lenses and Sony lenses. I think that part of this is just Nikon (and Canon) designing better lenses in anticipation of higher resolution sensors. However, I think that Nikon and Canon's new mount makes it easier to design lenses compared to the smaller mount sizes (old Nikon, old Canon and current Sony).
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,997Member
    edited September 11
    I come at this from the avenue of value for the money spent, and right now someone with a D850 and D750 would gain nothing from switching.

    Thom is a good writer, who I respect, but I also keep in mind that he makes his money from affiliate links to camera sellers. He doesn't make money if people don't buy cameras with those links.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,984Member
    PB_PM said:

    I come at this from the avenue of value for the money spent, and right now someone with a D850 and D750 would gain nothing from switching.

    Thom is a good writer, who I respect, but I also keep in mind that he makes his money from affiliate links to camera sellers. He doesn't make money if people don't buy cameras with those links.

    Let's use the 50mm 1.8S on a Z7 as an example. The 50mm 1.8S is superior, using resolution as a measuring stick, to any lens that can mount on an F-mount camera except maybe the Otus. If you want that resolution at 50mm, you cannot get it without a Z camera unless you spend a lot of money on an Otus. You can't say that nothing is gained from switching.

    However, you can say that the gain "may" not be worthwhile for many users, keeping in mind that many users will have different values from your own (so what you think may not apply to them). I will even agree that "most" users will fall into this category. Even for myself, I have not decided to discard my f-mount collection any time soon in favour of z-mount lenses. While I have a high gear budget it is not infinite. And if I lost my ability to work tomorrow (but still take pictures) I imagine that I might never buy into the Z-mount and would make my F-mount collection last for the rest of my life. I am sure that my pictures would be just fine - I am sure that Spraynpray just chocked...…...
  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 1,116Member
    edited September 11
    Generally speaking I agree that there isn’t a big reason to switch now. Unless you do video. For video the Z’s are clearly better.

    I have never used a D850 or a D750. Here’s my experience comparing with a D7200:

    AF: for static subjects Z6 is noticeably better, at least as far as accuracy wise. Speedwise it may be a tad slower. If you use the low light AF option in can focus very well in extremely low light conditions. Downside is that the low light AF is definitely much slower.

    (Nearly) full frame focus point coverage is great. Although D7200 had pretty decent coverage, like most better DX cameras.

    I do like not having to worry about AF fine tuning.

    For moving subjects (kids soccer, in my case) I don’t see a lot of difference as far as overall hit rate. Z6 has more incidents where the focus misses are way out, when D7200 it would be at least close and maybe the image would still be usable for social media type stuff if you aren’t too picky. I never used the tracking mode on the D7200. On Z6 it isn’t useable for fast action, which I do think is a disappointment in a $2k camera.

    Other benefits:

    IBIS is great. I am not particularly good at handholding and was able to hold the Sigma ART 14-24 at pretty long shutter speeds - certainly longer than I would have been able to on DSLR. Using IBIS + a longer VR lens it almost feels like the camera is physically glued to a spot, which could be a good or bad thing.

    It sounds silly but for me no longer needing to mess with a viewfinder blind is really nice. Not a big issue with D850 though.

    I like being able to do image review in the viewfinder. In bright light the rear screen can be very hard to see. Also I really need glasses for closer viewing and can’t see the rear screen quite well enough to gauge sharpness.

    EVF in general is great for darker high contrast scenes. I used to have to “paint” the edge of the scene with a flashlight to check framing because it was just too dark to see for sure in the OVF. With EVF I can easily see the entire image, although it does get noisy in low light.

    With the kit lens you do get a really high performing rig in a relatively small and light package. Really great for travel.

    Downsides:

    Battery life is certainly not as good. I haven’t really had a problem with it, but you want to make sure you keep a spare handy.

    I do miss a couple of the physical controls on the D7200. Mostly the frame rate selection dial. I found the Exposure Compensation button location on D7200 to be a little more convenient.

    (OP would of course have more downsides especially related to AF since he is using better cameras than what I used)

    That’s all I can think of right now. I’ll update if anything else comes to mind.
    Post edited by mhedges on
  • BVSBVS Posts: 413Member

    However, I never did like an electronic view finder and have had a few NIKON low end DX cameras that had them.

    The viewfinder in the Z 6/7 is nothing like the crappy EVFs of yesteryear. There's really no comparison. There's no screen door effect, good colors and excellent contrast. At times I almost can't tell the difference between the EVF and reality. If I look close at fine detail I can see a bit of pixelation, but overall it's very good. Once they switch to using the latest 5.76 million dot EVFs (Z 6/7 is 3.5 million dot) I bet I won't even see that anymore.

    I'd check it out in person if you haven't. Turning the EVF brightness down (I think mine's at -4) also gives it a more natural appearance. The white balance can also be tweaked to taste.

    D7100, 85 1.8G, 50 1.8G, 35 1.8G DX, Tokina 12-28 F4, 18-140, 55-200 VR DX
  • SymphoticSymphotic Posts: 623Member
    I have just spent the day doing a video and photo survey of an underwater pipeline. We documented the topside activity (on deck and in a darkened room) with a z7 and a 24-70/2.8s. We did both stills and handheld video.
    Today, once again, I have found it is easier to work with the Z7 than the D850 due to the smaller size and ergonomics.
    The viewfinder works, the battery lasts all day, the autofocus is fire and forget, and the portability is excellent. The dynamic range (a big part of photography at sea) is amazing.
    And the Z and lens are weather resistant.
    The 24-70/2.8s is splendid: much nicer to use than the F-mount version.
    My experience differs from others here: I don’t work in a studio (the oceans are my studio), I don’t have brides who need a second card slot, and I take industrial photos, not highly photoshopped works of art. But I think my experience is applicable to recreational and adventure photographers as well.
    If you can afford it, don’t switch, add the Z system. If you can’t afford it, wait a year and make do with what you have until the price drops.
    Finally, my client was very impressed with the hardware we came to the job with, including my Z, and he has a Sony A7iii. He did not bring it out to sea.
    Jack Roberts
    "Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought"--Albert Szent-Gyorgy
  • BVSBVS Posts: 413Member
    edited September 12

    I have been using Nikon DSLR's for 20 years. My current gear includes D850, D750, & D750 (IR converted), cameras. What would I gain (or lose) by changing to the new NIKON mirror less cameras . I DO know that they are lighter. However, I never did like an electronic view finder and have had a few NIKON low end DX cameras that had them. So, please tell me why I should or should not switch. Another reason I am typing this is because NIKON rumors is SATURATED with "Z" discussions and not much about the DSLR cameras any more. Please enlighten me!
    Gordon

    This is off the top of my head. I'm sure I've forgotten some things:

    What you gain
    • Top notch video AF with smooth transitions (especially with Z lenses).
    • Excellent 4K video, particularly with Z6 which does oversampling.
    • 10bit N-Log, and future 12bit ProRes RAW (when paired with Atomos recorder)
    • All Z lenses are silent and most have minimal focus breathing.
    • IBIS - All your lenses, including adapted F mount ones, are stabilized so you can shoot at slower shutter speeds without needing tripod (if you want).
    • FTZ - All your F mount lenses can be used on the Z cameras, and they'll probably be more accurate than on your F bodies.
    • Eye AF - Proper face and eye detect, not the somewhat sketchy implementation in the DSLRs.
    • 90% AF point coverage.
    • 12fps (Z6) and 9fps (Z7) without needing an expensive grip, battery, and charger.
    • AF Joystick (vs D750).
    • Focus Peaking and electronic zoom in viewfinder/screen makes manual shooting and macro much easier.
    • EFCS in all shooting modes, and you can just leave it on all the time.
    • Silent all electronic shooting mode. Just watch out for the rolling shutter.
    • Quiet mechanical shutter, particularly with EFCS on.
    • Smaller and lighter body.
    • Z lenses that are noticeably sharper than their F mount equivalents, and sharp wide open.
    • S line Z lenses (all the ones release so far) are weather sealed, have nano coat (or better), and electronic apertures (like E lenses).
    • WYSIWYG viewfinder and screen.
    • Everything that you can do on the screen you can also do in the viewfinder, including menus.
    • U1/U2/U3 modes, plus separate Stills and Video modes, for a total of 6 customizable modes.
    What you lose
    • Single card slot.
    • No grip (yet).
    • Less battery life (vs DSLR), but still capable.
    • A big beefy body (if you like that).
    • Fewer custom buttons. However, the Z cams compensate with a customizable i menu, and customizable buttons/rings on the lenses.
    • Not as capable as DSLRs for fast action due to EVF lag.
    • Fewer Dynamic AF area modes.
    • No 3D tracking mode. There's a similar mode but it's cumbersome to use.
    • No AF-ON + AF Area Mode customization option.
    • AF assist beam on flashes don't work with Z cameras.
    • No illuminated buttons.
    • Any screw drive F mount lenses you have will be manual focus only.
    • Some 3rd party F mount lenses (particularly Tamron ones) have compatibility problems. Tamron has been working to fix as many as possible though.
    Post edited by BVS on
    D7100, 85 1.8G, 50 1.8G, 35 1.8G DX, Tokina 12-28 F4, 18-140, 55-200 VR DX
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,997Member
    edited September 12
    You also gain:
    Faster shutter speeds 1/4000s D750, vs 1/8000s Z6

    You also lose
    * lighting sync cable support (Z7 vs D850), which means some external lighting kits won't function
    * faster flash sync speeds, since the cameras are limited to 1/200's (D850 1/250's)
    * low light auto focus -2.5ev for Z7 vs. -4ev for the D850
    * Much smaller RAW buffer (Z6/Z7 vs D850)

    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,984Member
    PB_PM said:

    You also gain:
    Faster shutter speeds 1/4000s D750, vs 1/8000s Z6

    You also lose
    * lighting sync cable support (Z7 vs D850), which means some external lighting kits won't function
    * faster flash sync speeds, since the cameras are limited to 1/200's (D850 1/250's)
    * low light auto focus -2.5ev for Z7 vs. -4ev for the D850
    * Much smaller RAW buffer (Z6/Z7 vs D850)

    I would expect or at least hope the buffer will not be an issue when the Z7 is upgraded to CFExpress, while the D850 is limited by the SD Card. We will see what the upgrade does to the buffer capacity.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,997Member
    edited September 12
    Faster card speeds are not a factor, when talking about the buffer itself (19 Z7 vs 51 D850). How fast the buffer can clear is something else entirely.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • retreadretread Posts: 516Member
    If you take the SD card out of the D850 it should speed up wrighting only to the faster card.
  • BVSBVS Posts: 413Member
    PB_PM said:

    You also gain:
    Faster shutter speeds 1/4000s D750, vs 1/8000s Z6

    You also lose
    * lighting sync cable support (Z7 vs D850), which means some external lighting kits won't function
    * faster flash sync speeds, since the cameras are limited to 1/200's (D850 1/250's)
    * low light auto focus -2.5ev for Z7 vs. -4ev for the D850
    * Much smaller RAW buffer (Z6/Z7 vs D850)

    The Z6 buffer actually gets around 35 frames before filling (14bit RAW@9fps or 12bit RAW@12fps), and will still manage 5-6 fps even when full, which isn't too bad and is better than the D750. Less than the D850 though.

    Z6 is also -3.5ev vs. -3ev on D750.

    https://imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-z6/nikon-z6A6.HTM

    https://imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d750/nikon-d750A6.HTM
    D7100, 85 1.8G, 50 1.8G, 35 1.8G DX, Tokina 12-28 F4, 18-140, 55-200 VR DX
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,984Member
    PB_PM said:

    Faster card speeds are not a factor, when talking about the buffer itself (19 Z7 vs 51 D850). How fast the buffer can clear is something else entirely.

    If the card is fast enough, buffer capacity is irrelevant. I expect that buffer capacities will be 1 or 2 pictures in five years, but we will never be able to fill it.

    I was being lazy when I wrote my original comment and just knew that someone would bring that up. But my patience for typing on my iPhone is very limited.

  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,984Member
    retread said:

    If you take the SD card out of the D850 it should speed up wrighting only to the faster card.

    Yes, but I fear losing images more.
  • retreadretread Posts: 516Member

    retread said:

    If you take the SD card out of the D850 it should speed up wrighting only to the faster card.

    Yes, but I fear losing images more.
    I agree, I shoot backup to the second card.
  • tc88tc88 Posts: 333Member


    If the card is fast enough, buffer capacity is irrelevant.

    On the other hand, if the buffer capacity is large enough, card speed is irrelevant. :smile:
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,984Member
    edited September 13
    Yes TC88, but then everyone who buys the camera has to pay the extra cost of the large buffer. With cards, that is left up to the consumer. I know that cards are expensive now, but as with all technology, the cost is coming down. A graph of $/GB for SD cards since they came out would clearly demonstrate that. If cheap and slow (fast but slow compared to what will be available) is what you want, you will be able to get it.

    And I find it odd that with the Z only a year old, people are complaining about the price. Early never goes with cheap. It is odd that early adopters are complying about price.

    And what about offloading that slow card to your hard drive etc?
    Post edited by WestEndFoto on
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,997Member
    edited September 13


    If the card is fast enough, buffer capacity is irrelevant. I expect that buffer capacities will be 1 or 2 pictures in five years, but we will never be able to fill it.

    tc88 said:


    On the other hand, if the buffer capacity is large enough, card speed is irrelevant. :smile:

    Both are equally important for contentious high speed shooting, the idea that one works well without the other is a little misguided. Sure you could just have a massive buffer, but the camera would have to be bigger, but it all has to go to the card in the end. Make it too small and you have a problem, since all the photos have to pass through the buffer before going to the card, so if the buffer isn't big enough to hold all the shots you are taking, the camera will stop taking photos, regardless of how fast the card can write the photos. Not a big deal for a 20-24MP camera, but for a say, 80+ MP camera, with 120MB+ RAW files, that's another story. Once the files get bigger, even the high end 1500MB/s cards will choke.

    On the other hand, if the card isn't fast enough a big buffer could still fill up. If you only have a card that can write 60MB/s, with a camera putting out 120MB files, you could easily clog the buffer and lose the ability to keep shooting, assuming high speed, continuous shooting over even just a full minute. While it's not a common thing, since even in fast action there are dull moments, it still happens. I for one hit the wall a good number of times when shoot sports with fast cameras, with fast cards, all be it back when 8FPS was considered high, a 20 frame buffer was huge, and a 60MB/s CF cards were top of the line. :D
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,058Member
    edited September 13
    PB_PM said:

    I come at this from the avenue of value for the money spent, and right now someone with a D850 and D750 would gain nothing from switching.

    Thom is a good writer, who I respect, but I also keep in mind that he makes his money from affiliate links to camera sellers. He doesn't make money if people don't buy cameras with those links.

    That's a fair assessment. I take photos for my own enjoyment, and don't make a dime from photography so if I were to switch to Z mount, it'd be a fairly steep investment. Plus, it's not a 1:1 trade, I'd be going from DX to FX and they're still missing a 105 macro.

    For any home hobbyists, I don't think it's worth trading up yet if you have a DSLR from the last 4-5 years and a big collection of lenses. Your cameras don't magically stop working if Nikon produces a new camera.
    Post edited by NSXTypeR on
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 1,116Member
    BVS said:


    The Z6 buffer actually gets around 35 frames before filling (14bit RAW@9fps or 12bit RAW@12fps), and will still manage 5-6 fps even when full, which isn't too bad and is better than the D750. Less than the D850 though.

    Z6 is also -3.5ev vs. -3ev on D750.

    https://imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-z6/nikon-z6A6.HTM

    https://imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d750/nikon-d750A6.HTM

    Yep. In practice it's pretty hard to overrun the buffer on Z6. It clears so fast that you only have to stop shooting for a very small amount of time between bursts for it to catch up. I think I have only filled it once. And as said even full you get a decent frame rate.

    Buffer on Z7 is a little skimpy though, expecially given the price of the camera. It should at least give performance similar to Z6, IMO.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,984Member
    PB_PM said:

    I come at this from the avenue of value for the money spent, and right now someone with a D850 and D750 would gain nothing from switching.

    Thom is a good writer, who I respect, but I also keep in mind that he makes his money from affiliate links to camera sellers. He doesn't make money if people don't buy cameras with those links.

    I have chewed on this as it has bothered me. Basically you are saying, "Don't trust Thom because the article lowers a "barrier" or "objection" if you like to buying into the Z system and Thom will make money from that. Therefore, his article is misleading you into buying more gear.

    If that is true, then how do you explain articles like this:

    http://dslrbodies.com/newsviews/nikon-2019-news/september-2019-nikon-canon/do-we-need-a-d6.html

    Or other articles where he come right out and discourages people from upgrading?

    I am sure that Thom is somehow motivated to make money, but I find it difficult to detect such a bias in any particular article and if the bias you suggest exists, then why is he writing all of those other articles?
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,997Member
    I’m not saying you shouldn’t take Thom seriously I’m just saying take what he, or any other sponsored writer says with a grain of salt. Meaning, does what he write lineup with camera writers in the larger community? IMO, his comments about AF do not lineup with the great pool of writing out there. Many other writers comment, such as, but not exclusively, photography life authors, well know and respected reviewers like the former Camera store TV guys (now with Dpreview), about the poor AF compared to equivalent DSLRs and other mirrorless offerings. For one Thom never mentioned how many shots he had to take to get “better” shots than the D850 user he mentioned, nor what lenses they were using.

    While there is no doubt in my mind that the Z cameras are great at focusing on stationary subjects, likely better than a DSLR, it is clear from every single review writer, and video maker, I’ve seen that AF-C is still far behind a DSLR. Thom doesn’t mention which focus modes he used, making his comments, hard to judge fairly.

    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,984Member
    PB_PM said:

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t take Thom seriously I’m just saying take what he, or any other sponsored writer says with a grain of salt. Meaning, does what he write lineup with camera writers in the larger community? IMO, his comments about AF do not lineup with the great pool of writing out there. Many other writers comment, such as, but not exclusively, photography life authors, well know and respected reviewers like the former Camera store TV guys (now with Dpreview), about the poor AF compared to equivalent DSLRs and other mirrorless offerings. For one Thom never mentioned how many shots he had to take to get “better” shots than the D850 user he mentioned, nor what lenses they were using.

    While there is no doubt in my mind that the Z cameras are great at focusing on stationary subjects, likely better than a DSLR, it is clear from every single review writer, and video maker, I’ve seen that AF-C is still far behind a DSLR. Thom doesn’t mention which focus modes he used, making his comments, hard to judge fairly.

    OK, that is fair and I have noticed that too. I just don't think it can be attributed to his desire to "make money". Thom is not a sponsored writer and his links to retailers don't make him a sponsor. Thom has spoke to this before. Is he a liar? It is impossible for me and likely anyone to categorically dismiss that, but it doesn't ring true.

    It would be a good article for him to write about, why he is different. One thing about Thom - he shoots the crap out of something before he seriously writes about it. It could be that he has it figured out. It may be that the writers you are comparing him to did not undertake that learning curve. If this is the case, I wonder if we can figure it out without having to buy the user guide.
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