Nikon Z7 First Impressions Review

The Nikon Z7 is the company's first full-frame mirrorless camera: a 46MP, 4K-capable machine built around a variant of the D850's BSI CMOS chip, but with the addition of on-sensor phase detection. It's designed to offer an experience familiar to existing Nikon DSLR shooters in a smaller, lighter camera. The Z7 is based around the all-new Nikon Z-mount but an adapter is available for use with existing Nikkor F-mount lenses.

The build quality is great and the interface is responsive, while JPEG images show pleasing color and good detail. From our initial impressions of image quality it also seems that the camera balances noise and detail retention well as light levels drop.

We have a few reservations regarding the autofocus interface (though its accuracy seems quite good), but overall, the Z7 we used felt very polished. This is all the more impressive given that the Z7 is Nikon's first entrant in the full-frame mirrorless space and the company is clearly aiming it at the higher-end of the market.

Key features:

  • 45.7MP BSI-CMOS sensor with on-sensor phase detection
  • In-body 5-axis stabilization (rated to 5EV)
  • 493 PDAF points with 90% horizontal and vertical coverage
  • ISO 64-25,600 (expandable to 102,400)
  • Up to 9 fps shooting (JPEG and 12-bit Raw)
  • 3.69M-dot OLED viewfinder
  • 2.1M-dot tilting touch LCD
  • OLED top plate display
  • Single XQD card slot
  • UHD 4K capture up to 30p
  • 10-bit 4:2:2 N-Log output over HDMI
  • Up to 100Mbps H.264 8-bit internal video capture
  • SnapBridge Wi-Fi system with Bluetooth, including to-PC transfer
Pre-production sample JPEG.
ISO 64 | 1/500 sec | F7.1 | Shot using the the Nikon Z 24-70mm F4 S lens at 51mm
Photo by Wenmei Hill

We see the Z7 as not only a 'D850 without a mirror', but also (perhaps more) 'a D850 with a more consistent stills/video experience and greatly improved video AF.' And straight out of the gate, that makes it a pretty well-rounded do-everything camera.

Three 'Z-mount' lenses will be available initially: a 35mm F1.8, a 50mm F1.8 and a 24-70mm F4. Nikon has also announced it is developing a 58mm F0.95 'Noct' lens and has published a roadmap to show how it plans to expand the system. A battery grip will also be available at some point, but a release date hasn't yet been set.

Three Nikkor S (for 'silver') lenses will be available for the Z-mount initially: a 50mm F1.8, a 24-70mm F4 and a 35mm F1.8

Nikon has also released an F-to-Z mount adapter (formally known as the FTZ adapter) that will allow the use of F-mount lenses on the new cameras. This has a mechanical aperture lever built in, allowing full use of AF-S and AF-I lenses. Older AF-D lenses will offer auto exposure and AI lenses will have full metering. There's no aperture tab for use with 'AI' or older lenses, though.

What's new and how it compares

The Z7 isn't just a D850 without a mirror: we look at the key additions and what the Z7 offers...

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Body and handling

How the Z7 feels in the hand may be crucial to its acceptance. We have a look at the camera and the control points it offers.

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Operation and controls

The Z7's user interface will be very familiar to existing Nikon shooters. Up to a point, that is.

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Z7 Autofocus behavior

The Z7 offers impressive autofocus performance, but there's some adjustments to be made.

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Nikon has done a lot to enhance the Z7's video, even if that's not immediately obvious from the specs.

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Dynamic range

The Z7's image quality is very similar to that of the D850. But they differ in terms of dynamic range.

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Thoughts so far

What does the Z7 say about Nikon's direction, who its trying to appeal to and what does it mean for F-mount users?

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Sample gallery

We've had time with a pre-production Nikon Z7 in the field, and have preliminary JPEG images that look quite impressive.

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