D800->Z7 or wait for next generation?

Started 5 months ago | Questions thread
OP Spare-time photog Junior Member • Posts: 38
The waiting is over...

First of all I want to thank you all for the valuable opinions, thoughts and experiences.
And of course I want to inform you about my decision and my first experiences with the camera, but be warned, there as a big wall of text coming.

Finally I bought the Z7.

After two short photo shoots and some testing here are my first impressions, take them with a grain of salt:

My main concern was the AF system, so I was quite nervous to browse my images after my first shoot (approx. 350 pictures):
Nearly all of them are tack sharp, some are not, but mainly I chose a bad AF point, i.e. the point covered also an area with more contrasty detail besides my subject, so the camera focused on the object behind my subject. But overall the result was much better than expected!
I was reliefed.

Then I made a small test in my dimly sunlit room. I continously decreased the brightness by lowering the sun-blind of the window and checked if the Z7 was still able to focus. After a while the camera was not more able to focus reliably. So I tried my D800 with the same lens and... the D800 was able to focus, although there was hunting, the results were quite good, more photos were in focus compared to the Z7.
So I grabbed the Z7 and tried the low light modus. This mode is very slooow, but it obtained tack sharp pictures. Besides using low light mode I noticed that using the 1:1 view in the EVF helps focusing in dark scenes, even without enabling low light focus.

After this first, not very scientific test and my first shoot I thought that the AF system is in general on par with my old D800, at least for the slow moving subjects I shoot (portrait, landscape, travel), with a slight disadvantage in dimly lit situations, when using the low light mode is not possible. According to the specs, the D800 can focus down to -2 or -3EV, the Z7 without low light mode only down to -1, so it seems that the specs are correct regarding low light.

Then came my second shoot, outdoor at sunset. Then the trouble begun:
There was one situation in which I wasn't almost able to get a tack sharp image at all: I was using my AF-S 85/1.8G lens, wide open at 1.8, the camera was in portrait orientation, I used AF-S, focus priority, single point, almost at the upper edge of the frame, direct over the eye. The model's body was turned away from my camera (nearly perpendicular to my camera). Shutter speed was 1/60, focal length 85mm, IBIS on, EFCS on, handheld. My first thought was that perhaps motion blur was introduced by me (although not possible, because the flash is so short, it should freeze my or her movement and beside that, with the very same settings I already got tack sharp images with a different composition, i.e. using inner AF points and a different framing of her). In addition a test shot revealed that the model without the flash firing was pitch black, so the model was only lit by my flash, no ambient light in the exposure, so I shot on a tripod with and without IBIS enabled. Again her eye was not sharp. At last I tried AF-S with pinpoint, but surprisingly without success. On location I thought, that perhaps my lens is the problem, because the more away from the center the more decreases the sharpness of the lens.
But afterwards I inspected the images and I discovered, that the the focal plane of the images varies. As her body was turned almost 90° to the focal plane, I could see the focal plane respectively the depth of field by looking at the texture of her coat. And it seems that sometimes the focal plane is more and sometimes less in front of her eye/nose.

So in my opinion clearly a sign for misfocussing. The images were shoot at sunset brightness level, it was not a backlit scene, the light level was high enough for the camera to focus without the AF assist lamp, I got every time a green confirmation box, so I am a little bit clueless at the moment, what causes this problem. I am wondering if it could be some user error on my side, but I can't see what I did wrong. As the pinpoint mode should exclusively use contrast detect AF, some kind of AFMA problem could also be ruled out.

Next time I will try the other AF modes like wide-area and to focus zoomed in to 100% which hopefully will work... or perhaps the next firmware update will solve that problem, too.

Thanks for reading, best regards.

PS: And before anyone asks, I ask for understanding that I do not want to post the pictures in a public forum. If someone is seriously interested in trying to investigate the reason for this issue with me, please feel free to send me a private message.


 Spare-time photog's gear list:Spare-time photog's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon Z7 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Nikon 85mm F1.8G
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