What's it like to use?

The Nikon Z7 is a well-rounded camera and suited for both casual photography and professional work too. Based on our testings, real world usage and the camera's specifications, here are the pros and cons of using it for the following use-cases:


Travel

Edited to taste in Adobe Camera Raw.
ISO 64 | 1/160 sec | F1.8 | Shot with the Nikon Z 35mm F1.8 S
Photo by Carey Rose

For a full-frame camera, the Z7's small size makes it an attractive option for travel photographers keen on having top notch image quality. The collapsible S 24-70mm F4 offers a useful range and is a well-sized pairing for the Z7.

Pros:

  • Excellent stills and video quality
  • In-body stabilization for hand-held video
  • Ready-to-share JPEGs
  • Bluetooth-supported Wi-Fi for easy image sharing
  • USB charging
  • Well-built and weather-sealed

Cons:

  • Comparatively low battery life

[Back to top]


Video

The Nikon Z7 offers impressive video specifications, quality and features. Un-cropped 4K and in-body stabilization makes shooting high-quality, hand-held video painless. And an APS-C crop/Super 35 mode offers even higher-quality, oversampled video.

For more advanced shooters, Nikon's Flat Picture profile is easy to work with in post. And for those serious about color grading, 10-bit Log footage can be captured to an external recorder. Video autofocus, while not as reliable as Canons Dual Pixel CMOS AF, is useful in many situations.

Pros:

  • Oversampled 4K in DX crop mode is excellent
  • 4K in full-frame mode is also very good
  • 1080/120p for slow-motion video
  • Separate exposure settings for stills and video
  • Flat Picture Profile / 10-bit N-Log give flexibility
  • Good video AF
  • Focus peaking
  • Zebra warnings
  • Headphone and mic sockets

Cons:

  • No flip around screen for vlogging
  • Focus-by-wire lenses have no linear response: no fun for manual focus

[Back to top]


Family and moments

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 500 | 1/500 sec | F1.8 | Shot with the Nikon Z 35mm F1.8 S
Photo by Rishi Sanyal

The Z7 produces nice JPEGs with generally-pleasing skin tones. Face Detect can be useful in good light, but struggles with accuracy in low light, potentially causing missed shots in some social settings. Likewise, a limited buffer in burst mode might mean missing the perfect moment, such as your child blowing out candles on a birthday cake.

Pros:

  • Nice JPEGs with attractive skin tones
  • Bluetooth-supported Wi-Fi for easy image sharing
  • Face Detect is useful in good light with still subjects

Cons:

  • Face Detect struggles in low light or if subject is moving
  • Limited buffer might caused missed shots

[Back to top]


Lifestyle and People

Edited to taste in Adobe Camera Raw.
ISO 8000 | 1/80 sec | F1.8 | Shot with the Nikon Z 35mm F1.8 S

Though there are more portable options available, the Z7 is a good choice for casual social as well as more professional lifestyle photography. It offers excellent Raw and JPEG image quality, even in low light, with nice colors and skin tones. Low light autofocus is a bit hit or miss and Face Detect is not as reliable as we'd like, but it can be helpful if your friends are mostly sitting or standing still. Plus, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth makes sharing lifestyle or social photos painless.

Pros:

  • Relatively painless to carry around
  • Attractive and easy-to-share JPEGs
  • Malleable Raw files
  • Well-built and moisture-sealed (in case someone spills a drink)
  • Flip out screen for high and low angles of friends, food

Cons:

  • Face Detect can be unpredictable
  • Comparatively limited low light AF sensitivity may lead to hunting in dim scenarios
  • Screen does not flip for selfies

[Back to top]


Wedding and events

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 10000 | 1/500 sec | F2.8 | Shot with the Nikon Z 35mm F1.8 S

The Z7 is a solid choice for wedding and event photographers, thanks to its high resolution sensor and wide AF point coverage. It is also compatible with Nikon's current flash system, though sadly it can not fire an AF flash assist beam, limiting its use for low light event photography.

Pros:

  • High resolution sensor with good dynamic range
  • Silent shutter so as to not be heard
  • AF joystick to quickly respond to changing compositions
  • Compatible with Nikon's existing flash system
  • Vertical grip to expand battery life, improve ergonomics for portraits (coming soon)

Cons:

  • No dual card slot for instant backup
  • Can not fire AF flash assist to aid focusing in low light
  • AF Tracking is cumbersome to engage
  • E-shutter can result in banding under artificial light

[Back to top]


Portraits

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 2200 | 1/500 sec | F4 | Shot with the Nikon Z 24-70mm F4 S
Photo by Richard Butler

For portrait photography, the lack of an Eye AF-equivalent option means that Z7 users will need to trust Face Detect or use a focus point to lock focus on the eyes. We prefer the latter, but found even the smallest AF point can be too big. The Z7 has a Pinpoint AF mode, but it's only available in AF-S, it's slow to select and also slow to focus (it appears to use contrast-detection only).

Pros:

  • Nice-looking skin tones
  • Adapted portrait lenses focus quickly with no need to microadjust AF

Cons:

  • No Eye AF
  • Face Detect too imprecise to lock focus on eyes
  • Focus point in AF-C not always small enough for accurate focus on eye
  • Current lack of native 'S' portrait lenses

[Back to top]


Landscape

Edited to taste in Adobe Camera Raw.
ISO 64 | 1/250 sec | F5.6 | Shot with the Nikon Z 35mm F1.8 S

The Z7 offers excellent resolution and good dynamic range for landscape work. It's fairly light and compact for a full-frame camera, but is also built tough and weather-sealed. Battery life isn't great compared to similarly-priced DSLRs, but it should be enough to get you through a full day of shooting.

Pros:

  • Produces high resolution files with good dynamic range
  • Weather-sealed with a sturdy construction
  • Flip-out screen
  • Dials should be large enough to operate with gloves on

Cons:

  • There are cameras out there with better battery life
  • Slight risk of banding when heavily pushing shadows

[Back to top]


Sports

Edited to taste in ACR.
ISO 8000 | 1/1000 sec | F4 | 24mm shot with the Nikon Z 24-70mm F4 S

The Z7 is a capable sports camera for casual shooters, but not a great choice for those relying on getting the shots to pay their bills. Its biggest drawback is that the buffer kicks in within a few seconds in the camera's highest burst mode. Autofocus isn't as reliable either, particularly with the native lenses which can hunt with erratic subjects. Subject tracking can be useful for well-isolated subjects, but it's not as reliable as the tracking systems found in Nikon DSLRs or the Sony a7 III. It is also cumbersome enough to engage that we found ourselves never using it.

The camera can shoot at up to 9fps (JPEG and 12-bit Raw, AE locked) with no live feed and 5.5fps with a live feed. Unfortunately in 5.5fps mode the EVF refresh rate drops so significantly that following action is a real challenge.

Pros:

  • Adapted F-mount lenses focus with no noticeable disadvantage
  • AF joystick to quickly move points
  • Good AF-C performance with a single point, in good light

Cons:

  • No live feed in EVF/LCD at 9fps
  • Live feed at 5.5fps suffers from significant drop in EVF refresh rate making it a challenge to follow fast action
  • Very limited buffer kicks in after a few seconds at top burst rate
  • AF Tracking less reliable than Nikon DSLRs and competition
  • AF Tracking cumbersome to engage

[Back to top]


Candid and street

Edited to taste in Adobe Camera Raw.
ISO 180 | 1/125 sec | F1.8 | Shot with the Nikon Z 35mm F1.8 S
Photo by Carey Rose

The Nikon Z7 is on the large side for street photography, where subtlety and discretion are everything. But its tilting touchscreen make is easy to focus and shoot from the hip. And easy image sharing allows you to transfer files to subjects on the fly, if you so choose.

Pros:

  • Flip-out touchscreen for shooting from the hip
  • Silent shooting mode
  • Nice-looking, ready-to-post JPEGs
  • Wi-Fi for easy sharing with subjects

Cons:

  • Not the most discreet camera, size-wise

[Back to top]