Autofocus
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Autofocus

The Z7 offers 493 PDAF points, which cover a total of 90% of the frame both horizontally and vertically. Outside of this area (and for added precision within it), contrast-detection autofocus comes into play. With F2 and faster lenses, the Z7's autofocus system is rated down to -3EV, provided that you're shooting wide open (more on that in a minute).

In briefings with DPReview, Nikon representatives have told us that autofocus performance should be broadly comparable to the D850. A direct comparison is impossible given that the Z7 is launching wth only three native lenses, but it's certainly true that with fast-aperture F mount lens attached via the FTZ adapter, autofocus response is impressive.

When it comes to keeping your subjects in focus, the Z7 offers highly effective face-detection, and very 'sticky' object tracking. It's a shame though that the vocabulary of the Z7's various AF modes is different to what we're used to in Nikon's DSLRs. The functionality of subject tracking is different too - unlike the 3D AF Tracking systems in Nikon's DSLRs, the Z7 doesn't provide as easy a method for initiating tracking on a subject, nor changing subjects to track. There's also no easy way to instantly activate any of the company's other AF modes with a single button press.

The Z7 does not offer an equivalent of the excellent Eye-AF modes that we've come to appreciate in Sony and Olympus ILCs

Sadly, the Z7 does not offer an equivalent of the excellent Eye-AF modes that we've come to appreciate in Sony and Olympus ILCs. And like Sony's a7-series and a9 cameras, the Z7 follows Nikon's old DSLR live view logic, by stopping down the lens to your shooting aperture (or F5.6 - whichever is wider) all the time. This has the advantage of always offering an accurate preview of depth of field during shooting (at least down to F5.6) but it also starves the camera's autofocus system of light.

While perhaps not a particularly common use-case, this means that if you're shooting stopped-down in dull conditions, you will see AF performance drop compared shooting wide-open. We're really hoping that this is fixed in firmware, to allow the Z7's autofocus system to take advantage of the maximum amount of light coming through the lens, before stopping down at the point of exposure. Compounding this issue is the lack of the red-grid autofocus assist when using the company's own on-camera flashes. The only option is a bright green LED on the front of the Z7 itself.