Video

The Z50 is a well-specified video camera that produces good-looking footage. It can shoot 4K UHD footage at up to 30p or 1080 video at up to 120p. There's a choice of color modes, including a Flat profile, but no Log option.

Key Takeaways:

  • Good, detailed 4K footage with well-controlled rolling shutter
  • Strong array of video tools and effective autofocus performance
  • Extensive ability to set stills and video mode up separately, allowing rapid switching between stills and video mode

Specifications

The Z50 offers a series of video tools including focus peaking and zebra warnings to help assess exposure. There's also a lot of control over the mic behavior, with the recording volume being adjustable, an optional wind-cut filter, attenuator and option to narrow the frequency response range to optimize for human speech.

The Z50 makes it easy to jump back and forth between stills and video shooting, not least by providing a dedicated, accessible switch for changing modes.

Perhaps the biggest bonus, though, is that most of the camera's settings can be defined separately for stills and video shooting and that you can jump from one to the other at the flick of a switch. The camera can shoot video in Program, Aperture Priority or Manual exposure mode. Only Manual mode lets you directly control the shutter speed and ISO setting, so is our preferred way of working.

When you engage video mode with the mode dial set to A or M, the camera maintains separate exposure values for video mode, meaning you don't have to scramble to and from more video-appropriate shutter speeds every time you engage video mode. By default, most other settings, such as white balance, color mode and i menu setup simply mimic what you've set up for stills shooting but can be configured separately for movie mode.

Autofocus

The camera's video AF interface is pleasantly consistent with the way things work in stills mode. You have the choice of Single point, Wide (S), Wide (L) and Auto area, with Face or Tracking mode accessible in the Auto area mode. Unlike stills mode, there are menu options: Custom Settings Menu | g3 and g4 that let you specify how quickly the camera will try to drive focus and how sensitive it is to monitoring changes in distance.

As in stills shooting, the AF tracking will occasionally lose its subject, but generally the video AF works pretty well, making it pretty easy to shoot clips with confidence.

Performance

Unlike the D500 and D7500, which use similar sensors, the Z50 is able to capture video using the full width of its sensor.

Looking at the footage, it appears to be resolving a fraction more than the 1:1 sampling of the D7500. It's not nearly as detailed as the X-T3's oversampled 4K video but the differences are small enough that you probably wouldn't see them in the real-world, unless compared side-by-side. There appears to be a greater risk of aliasing in fine patterns, though.

The rolling shutter rate of around 21ms is very good, so its effects shouldn't be too dramatic, unless you pan really quickly or a fast-moving subject with clear verticals passes nearby (bus or train doors and windows tend to highlight the issue). Overall this is a good performance from a camera with a well thought-through range of video options.