My Z6 thread (+ D750 Comparison)

Started Nov 25, 2018 | Discussions thread
OP beatboxa Veteran Member • Posts: 8,177
Part 4: Body, Controls & Handling / Ergonomics

This one will be a bit longer and is obviously highly subjective.
So it may be more emotional.

Build Quality:

The Z6 feels solid. The D750 is ok, but not great. Mine has not worn well over the years of abuse.

On the Z6, I am starting to notice a tiny bit of wear near the Fn1 & Fn2 buttons. I'll probably put some tape or Plasti-dip there.

But other than this, I've already used it in pouring rain, had a bit of food spilled on it, and had an impact while running (that slightly cracked the screen protector, but not the screen), before I had my base plate. Works flawlessly, and still looks like brand new!

This thing is build like an amphibious tank.


So I pick up my Z6. And it's pretty much the right size. I've heard a lot about how it's too small, but I don't think so...

Because one permanent fixture I always use on my cameras is a tripod plate. I can't be bothered taking them on and off every time I alternate between tripod and handheld. I want to spend time shooting, not preparing to shoot.

Initially, the Z6 + FTZ was horrible. The plate I was using would have to be removed to add an FTZ (since the bottom of the FTZ protrudes beyond the bottom of the camera; and it also couldn't be attached to the FTZ, since the FTZ must be rotated into place (and the plate would be blocked by the camera body.

But we've now got form-fitted plates. I went Smallrig. Adds some much needed pinky-friendly height to the grip, and keeps the camera permanently ready for a tripod. I can also permanently keep a plate on the FTZ without interfering as well--and it now sits the same height as the bottom of the Smallrig.

But further, when I walk around shooting, my camera is an extension of my hand. But accidents happen, and fingers can get tired after a few hours. Spider Pro hand strap, looped into the Smallrig base plate.

Sometimes, I also use shoulder straps--again a pain to attach and detach. Peak Design has this one solved.

So in its permanent configuration, the Z6 grip is now better than my D750's grip (since I didn't have a D750 form-fitted base plate).

And this setup fits flush with the ground (if I simply tuck the hand strap into the smallrig base notch), for when I use a ledge rather than tripod.

What is this feeling?

I think it's called love.


Definitely a Nikon. Overall, good. Definitely takes a little getting used to from a D750.

First, I'll start with how I shoot. I generally use manual mode, Auto-ISO, and EC / metering to control the ISO. I also change white balance & picture controls to determine optimal exposure in landscapes. And I often change AF modes & points.

Here's my general control layout.

  • Fn1 = 200% Magnify. I magnify all the time, and this is an easy button for me to access, even while manual focusing because my fingers are already there.
    The OK button (default) is not comfortable. I do not plan on using the OK button while I shoot.
  • Fn2 = Autofocus modes. I did this because I can easily use my ring finger to hold this, while rotating either the front or rear dial with my index or thumb.
  • Movie Record = Metering mode. I wanted this to be AF mode, but it's not as comfortable to push this button while rotating the front dial as well. Metering has only 1 dial (rear / thumb), so it works here.

So now:

  • My top buttons + index finger are related to exposure & brightness (metering mode, ISO, EC)
  • My front buttons + thumb are related to focus.
  • The (rear) AF-On & joystick are comfortable & useable.
    The i button is borderline at best. Useable, but not comfortable.
    The OK button is not used during shooting. It's too much of a thumb stretch.

Here's a quick summary of frequent observations:

  • Focus distance resets to infinity when the camera is turned off with Z lenses.
    But not with FTZ lenses (though I don't know about AF-P).
    Annoying. I wish focus distance just maintained.
  • Some things annoying reset when the camera goes to sleep or turns off. Drive mode, parts of U1, U2, U3, etc.
  • Touch screen exists. And I always forget. I'm still using the D-Pad.
  • Would have preferred a fully articulated screen rather than a limited-angle tilty screen. But it's fine.
  • Fn1 & Fn2 useful and well placed. Why no pinky button, like the D750...?
  • I miss the dedicated AF/MF button on the camera body to change AF mode. So, I have Fn2 and I also have this in my "i-menu" (which is a thing that exists). It's ok.
  • Overall, I like the i-menu, though I'd prefer a few more buttons. When I shoot landscapes, I frequently change picture controls, white balance, etc. to help me determine a good exposure. i-menu works great here.
  • AF Tracking is a big fail. I already said I won't use OK while shooting. Why doesn't it let me customize more? I'd be ok with having my joystick initiate tracking (or better yet, just track while I hold the AF-On); but this "OK to track" is not customizable. Therefore, it is not useable. And ironically, Nikon doesn't recommend it in a single scenario in their Z6/Z7 AF guide.
  • my drive mode dial!?! And if it's now a menu item, why not save it to U1, U2, U3?

And now, a digressive rant:

  • A follow up: Why is it that when I press the dial mode button (said with contempt), and then I intuitively press "right" on my D-pad, nothing happens!?!
    Oh yeah, I have to use the thumb and finger dials. Gets me every time.
  • This dial vs. d-pad is a thing, likely from the i-menu.
    In the i-menu, D-pad moves items, and the dials change the values for that item.
    Or, you can press OK to dig into the item....
  • ...But when you do drill into an item, it lets you use the D-Pad.... why doesn't it let me do this for the drive mode button!?!
  • To be clear, D-pad works for release mode from the i-menu.
    D-pad does not work for release mode from the release mode button.

Ok, back on track:

  • EXIF doesn't capture distance on FTZ lenses.  There are new EXIF fields, but not all seem used completely.
  • My custom buttons change in video, which is good. But why can't I customize them in the same way I've customized them for photo? Example, I can't set magnify to Fn1 in video mode.
  • Focus peaking is good. Zebras are good. Using Horshack's hack, I really like the implementation: zebras always on; peaking while manually focusing & holding AF-On.
  • Scroll across the bottom to scroll through tons of images!?! Nice.
  • Display switch is good, except it doesn't allow "framing grid" / guidelines. This requires going into the menu, and it has only one option of splitting the screen into 16ths (fourths on each axis).
    Ever hear of the rule of thirds? Or allow custom spaced lines?
  • EVF vs. LCD switch is brilliant. MUCH better than my Fuji's switch.
    "Prioritize viewfinder" (use EVF for photography, but then either for playback or menus), is such a breath of fresh air. I hate how my Fuji doesn't do this.
  • Speaking of that, I picked up my Fuji to take that image above. Wow. I never realized how tiny the EVF on it is. I've been spoiled by my Z6 EVF.

All of that was general layout. I do recognize that sometimes, there is just too much stuff to change. U1, U2, U3 to the rescue! These are great, with a few small exceptions (like drive mode).  I have U3 set up for "fast" performance / sports / wildlife / action.

Overall, controls & usability are good, but not without a few quirks.

We'll see if Nikon believes in real firmware updates to correct some of these.

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