Nikon Canada held a launch event for its new Z series cameras this past Wednesday, September 5 in Toronto, ON. What is the Z series camera and why, after existing as a company for 100 years, did Nikon feel the need to reinvent themselves now?
What the Z?
A mirrorless camera is exactly that: it doesn’t contain a mirror. Mirrorless cameras also don’t have an optical viewfinder, instead utilizing an LCD screen or electronic viewfinder (EVF). DSLR cameras contain an internal mirror. The purpose of the mirror is to reflect the image back to the optical viewfinder through which the photographer will view the subject. For more detailed information on what a mirrorless camera is, click here.
The reason for Nikon’s move into the mirrorless market is simple: provide a product with increased versatility and capabilities that consumers are looking for now and into the future. The mandate: maintain the reliability and functionality Nikon is known for. The company is not abandoning its DSLR platform in pursuit of the mirrorless market. Nikon’s foray into the new and now is an expansion of the brand’s already hefty product catalogue. The Z series cameras are basically a smaller, faster version of the F series line, where the Z6 is a mirrorless version of the D750 and the Z7 “mirrors” the D850.
You Tell Me That It’s Evolution…
Nikon isn’t starting a revolution here. Mirrorless technology already exists in the full-frame camera market – pioneered by leaders in the video camera industry: Sony and Panasonic. However, Nikon is well known as the photographer’s camera. The brand has long been favoured by professional photographers and photo enthusiasts alike. With the reputation Nikon has for producing trusted cameras and superior lenses, their move into the mirrorless market will no doubt create another tool for the professional photographer’s belt. With the FTZ adapter, photographers can use their existing range of F mount DSLR lenses with the Z series models. Even with the many features on a DSLR, photographers would definitely have situations where a mirrorless camera like the Z6 or Z7 would be an asset.
Three Benefits of Choosing a Mirrorless Camera
1) a lighter, more compact body – good for situations when the weight of a DSLR would be too cumbersome. Think outdoor activities like hiking or skiing.
2) better video capabilities – DSLRs can shoot video, but not with the same finesse as their mirrorless counterparts.
3) silent shooting – this is especially great for situations where constant shutter noise would be distracting, like in wedding photography.
The Other VR
On this site, when we refer to “VR”, we’re typically discussing virtual reality. However, in camera-speak, VR = vibration reduction, and is essential to creating good, clean video output. The bonus is that this high tech image stabilization system is installed into both the Z6 and Z7 models.
From Photography to Cinematography
As with many industries, the environment of photography is changing in terms of what people want to see. Remember, photography is an art form. The tools of the trade are no doubt very technical and have allowed artists in the field to experiment beyond still photos into things like cinematic-quality video. The only downside to a mirrorless camera with high-end video function is short battery life. The battery issue is definitely not Nikon specific and may or may not be a problem depending on the user.
At the Nikon Canada Z Series launch event in Toronto, Brand Ambassador Kristian Bogner discussed the fact that as a professional photographer, he is competing with cinematographers shooting video with a Red Camera. He can achieve cinematic quality video at 120 fps, using his Nikon.
This video will provide a value/price perspective on the capabilities of Nikon’s Z series vs. true cinematic cameras.
Hit Or Miss?
As with most consumer products, choice of brand and model often comes down to personal preference and more often than not – brand loyalty. The main comment among career-long Nikon users is that the new Z series models “feel like a Nikon”. The weight of the camera, while lighter than a DSLR, feels substantial. The controls are in roughly the same configuration as Nikon’s other cameras and so is the touch screen menu. The quality of the output from the Z6 and Z7 will be what a Nikon user is accustomed to. Cameras don’t make photographers. It is the skill of the person behind the lens and his or her knowledge about the equipment that will produce amazing results.