Nikon Z6 and Z7 – A Wildlife Photographer’s Initial Perspective

WOW – I’ve been getting a ton of e-mail asking me about the all new Nikon Z6 and Z7 mirrorless cameras for wildlife photography. Well, after spending the last couple of days looking over the specs, brochures, and hands-on reviews from the people lucky enough to get their hands on a pre-release model, I have some thoughts to share. 

And they aren’t good, at least not for wildlife photographers. However, I’m gonna tell you what I think anyway!

 

As one additional note, Nikon may have never intended this camera for use in action or wildlife scenarios. I know the video is a bit negative on some of the shortcomings, but I also know that most everyone who reads this blog depends on the information to be accurate and honest, even if it’s not what they want to hear. 

PS – If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll REALLY like my e-books, Secrets To Stunning Wildlife Photography and Secrets To The Nikon Autofocus System. They’re filled with hundreds of pages of information just like this. Check ’em out – click here (hey, it’s free to look 🙂 )

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78 Comments on "Nikon Z6 and Z7 – A Wildlife Photographer’s Initial Perspective"

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Vern Rogers
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I am disappointed! Never expected you to form opinions and publish them based on what you have read! I have always looked to you for info based on use and experience. Too many have prejudged the Z cameras based on heresay and preproduction models. I am not saying the Z cameras are wildlife cameras, though I have been reading reviews by pro wildlife photographers, but neither should you say they aren’t without using them. I have your excellent Autofocus book and benefitted because it comes from lots of time spent in use and research. Hopefully, you will give the Z… Read more »
Sophie Sarah
Guest

I am surprised at the breadth and depth of your conclusions about cameras you have not seen or touched. And those who have touched & used them have emphasized that the cameras they used were pre-production units. A rush to judgement?

Paul Barcewicz
Guest

This video, in German (!), seems to show excellent autofocus following mountain bikers. Anybody out there speak German? Please tell me what the guys says. Seems happy…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=t-nGejFGlO8

Bart
Guest
I am following this photographer, Stephan Wiesner. He got a Z7 on loan from Nikon Germany, and for what I can see seems to be quite impressed by it. He is still finishing his final review, as he took the camera also into the Swiss mountains to capture/film some acro yoga with it. As far as I can see the images and video looks very good. Also the battery life is much better then officially announced, and he is quite impressed by the image quality of the viewfinder as well as the pop up screen (espescially in bright sunlight). Waiting… Read more »
Thomas Bancroft
Guest

Thanks for the connection to Stephan Wisener. I liked what he had to say. It seems the buffer and batteries are not an issue for anyone that has actually used the camera. It also sounds like the focus tracking is as good as the Nikon d850. Sounds like an amazing camera. I had the chance to hold one at a Nikon event and it felt good, responsive, quick, and outstanding. I’ve ordered one to complement my Nikon d810. Ourstanding.

Michael Irvin
Guest
Nikon Is well aware of what it takes to produce an excellent action/wildlife camera. Witness the D5, D850, and D500. Not to mention their past bodies. It seems obvious that the Z7, and Z6 were not intended to fill that roll. just like the D800, and D810 they had a different target audience in mind. I’m using a D850, and D500 now. I’m considering a Z7 for a landscape camera. I use mostly PCE lens for landscape (19, 24, 45, and 85). It would be nice to have the in camera VR when I use them handheld. As it is… Read more »
John House
Guest

You can talk about all the bigger camera’s all you want on which is better for wildlife, but I stick with my Nikon 7200 shooting in RAW and get all my pictures to pop, then I print them out on my Canon-Pro 100 printer on 13×19 size paper.

Anthony
Guest
Personally I think the Nikon Z7 should be at least $600 cheaper then D850. I think easy fix for Nikon for the one XQD slot is to bring out A power grip with a XQD slot that would be an easy fix for that situation For everything else I don’t know maybe Nikon should recall there cameras they got out And refurbish them to higher standards just my thoughts. I think this is an embarrassing situation for Nikon to be in It looks like they have built a camera with better ergonomics then Sony But that it’s far is it… Read more »
Anthony
Guest
Z6 & Z7 are overpriced there is only one card slot and apparently the autofocus is not up to snuff. Fact that there is no expensive penta prison and it’s being replace buy A EVF That should be a savings for the consumer but there’s not all I see is a higher profit margin for Nikon. I would have no problem buying accessory power grip if it had a XQD slot and head other functions with it What I understand is that Nikon has no intention of this but only a battery with no functions basically a brick. Looks like… Read more »
Terry
Guest
Correct me if I am wrong… The Z6/Z7 does not appear to have any contacts to connect a grip to. It has also been reported that the battery compartment does not have any special pins (other than power) in it that the batter pack could connect to. This all but confirms that the battery pack is just that and nothing more. With no controls in the battery pack this means that for those who want vertical grip controls a Z series model aimed at sports and fast action wildlife it will have to be a body with integrated grip. Based… Read more »
FPD Cotterill
Guest
Steve, you make it very clear you have decided the Z7 is not suited for your ACTION aspects of wildlife photography QED. Wildlife photography is so much more. Worse, how can the Northrup youtube post qualify as a hands-on review? it is clear there are no reviews YET outside of these few Nikon Ambassadors who have used pre-production cameras and lenses for 2 weeks at most. And as you say, it is up to independent reviewers to get out responsible reviews. This will be weeks after release to get at a reliable understanding . Further, anyone can dismiss feedback from… Read more »
Antonio
Guest

I believe the AF “Subject Tracking” that you described works the same way as in the Nikon1 J5. You need to click “ok” to start tracking and then click again to stop. It takes a bit of getting use to but after a while it becomes second nature and it works well. Evidently with the processor power of the Z cameras it will most likely work better than on the tiny J5.

Keith
Guest

You just saved me a bunch of $ time & headaches.

Raphael Kopan
Guest

Hi Steve,
I moved from Sony to Nikon for the VR, and Nikon mirrorless had to surpass the A7-A9 ecosystem to be viable. They did not… right now, the Sony A9 is far better for wildlife than the Z cameras, and Flickr has lots of A9 shooters with the new 100-400 dedicated zoom doing as well as I am on the D500/200-500. I will be waiting for the Z9

Snowy Smith Photography
Guest
Snowy Smith Photography

Hi Steve,
NIKON Z6 AND Z7 – A Motor Racing PHOTOGRAPHER.
Extremely poor Hit-Rate.
Have a look at hit-rate of Chris running toward the camera with an adapted 70-200 F2.8 ED VR lens mounted via a FTZ adapter:
https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikon-z7-first-impressions-review/5

A person running at 5 KPH.
Extremely poor Hit-Rate.
Imagine a Racing Car at 200 KPH ????????????????
I need HIGH Speed follow focus.
I also use the Nikon 70-200 F2.8 ED VR lens EXCELLENT LENS.
Regards
Snowy Smith
South Africa.

Jeff Logan
Guest
Thanks for the honest and up front video. I’m confused over the Nikon fans all of a sudden being ok with a low battery life, the need to increase camera life via a grip, one card slot, and for now only 3 lenses. Sure, you can use the adaptor, IF it works as advertised. And the excuses as being pre production are annoying. When Sony released the A7Riii and A7iii they too were pre production models and had no AF issues, no buffer issues, no battery issues. And the Sony release parties were more challenging than Nikons. Tony and Chelsea’s… Read more »
Bill Klipp
Guest
While I generally like you work, message and teaching style, I’m wondering if you should have waited till you had a hands on experience before making a review as some of your thoughts / conclusions seem factually incorrect. While you were clear in disclosing your remarks are based on pre-production specs, I still feel for a such a new technology basing a review on specs can be pretty misleading. For example there seem to be are praises for auto focus, pin point focus, light gathering and resolution along with view finder quality ergonomics etc, from many who have had hands… Read more »
Snowy Smith Photography
Guest
Snowy Smith Photography

Hi Steve,
Thank You for the excellent Review.
I am a Motor Racing Photographer.
I need HIGH Speed follow focus.
I must be able to see the Cars and Bikes in every frame.
These cameras are absolutely useless for Motor Racing.
My cars and Bikes can be doing up to 200KPH.
I have used Nikon my whole life.
Maybe Mirrorless OK for underwater photography.
For Mountain Landscape Photography I use PENTAX 6×7 cameras and lenses.
Regards
Snowy Smith
South Africa.

Tom
Guest
Hey Steve nice to see a review focusing on a certain subject style (wild life) when it seems all the reviews I have seen are for “general” photography. I think Sony created this “phase” of mirror less cameras and they did a great job, there is nothing wrong with this type camera and for someone just getting into DSLR type cameras or up grading from “point and shoot” they are great tools especially if you have just 1 or 2 lenses. Seems like subconsciously everyone is thinking WEIGHT so lets look at that aspect. Converting grams to ounces Z7 20.6… Read more »
Jørn
Guest
Excellent video. I really like the analysis, in particular how you have chosen to focus on what can be evaluated by looking at the specs and been cautious about any conclusions that requires real world testing. I am not very surprised that you aren’t too impressed so far, this has never been a professional camera to me, nevertheless a wildlife camera. I think Nikon are very well aware of the fact that they can’t make the best mirrorless camera in the world on first attempt and have aimed this at high level enthusiasts. That makes much sense for the Z6,… Read more »
Jerry
Guest

I am surprised at the breadth and depth of your conclusions about cameras you have not seen or touched. And those who have touched & used them have emphasized that the cameras they used were pre-production units. A rush to judgement?

Georg
Guest
Thank you Steve for the useful remarks. I photograph birds using the d500. This is the almost perfect camera to me with some exceptions. Loud shutter sound the birds dont like and fly away. Second, I wish better low light performance because I often use 1/1000 shutter speed and hope to get good results, let say at ISO 6400. It seems Z6 and Z7 will solve my first issue. The second one we dont know yet. There are many disadvantages as you mentioned. I will not buy Z6 or Z7 at the moment. Question. Are they going to replace the… Read more »
Alan Roberts
Guest
Thanks for your comments, I agree. I use both a D810 based system as well as an Olympus E-M1 Mk2 based system and, apart from MP, my E-M1ii, for about $1,400 less, blows the Z7 out of the water in terms of specs and performance, eg. 10-12 actual fps with C-AF with the mechanical shutter and up to 18fps with C-AF using the electronic shutter with no appreciable EVF lag. Oly has been in the mirrorless game for years now and has solved many of the problems Nikon is dealing with now. I so wanted this mirrorless Nikon to be… Read more »
Shanti LFE
Guest

Thanks Steve..also the EVF is not comfortable when looking for hours at birds, too much eye strain for me. Any chance you review the 500 PF? very tempting..if a lot sharper than my 200-500

Ziggy
Guest

EVFs aren’t all created equal. Look at the G9’s – 120 fps refresh rate, 100% coverage and high magnification.

Bill Klipp
Guest

The Z series EVF is supposed to blow the others away. Experience of course will be the judge.

Mukesh Patel
Guest
Thanks Steve, Appreciate the honest review of preview here. I have been shooting wildlife with Nikon D850, D500, 600 FLE, 300 PF and Sony A9+ 100-400 GM lens. My next lens is 400mm 2.8 and I was holding off to purchase it because wait for the Nikon Mirrorless, given the my experience with Sony A9, I am sure that future is mirrorless and all major camera company will eventually changeover to MILC. Just for the quick background, I have been using Nikon for 40+ years now and Sony for 2 years so I am the person follows the latest technology… Read more »
Carl
Guest
Thanks, Steve, for a well thought out critique of the Z series. While I would consider these for video work (over a Sony) because I have lots of compatible Nikkor glass, I specifically upgraded to the D850 from my D800E for the vastly improved AF system (which I understand better thanks to your book). I saw the DPreview video with the runner, but watched it on an iPad. I will now go back to the video on my Mac to carefully look at each frame. Also in that video and others I’ve watched in the last couple of days, it… Read more »
Gary Haigh
Guest

Nice review of sorts Steve, I for one am sticking with my D500 for the forseeable future.
Like you though, I hope that Nikon eventually bring out a mirrorless system that will ultimately see the demise of the DSLR.
The big question is however……..when will this be and at what cost. The Z6/Z7 are very costly “Enthusiast” camera’s.
I’m guessing that when Nikon do bring out a Pro Mirrorless camera the price tag will be at least $2000 dollars more than the Nikon D5.

Bob
Guest

Given where Nikon is with photo technology I’m sure they know how to solve all of the limitations that you point out. Nikon probably is starting the marketing process of enticing the buyers with an upgrade every two or three years like they have with all of their camera series and have an excuse to charge more with each new addition. Outside of the electronic view finder what is different in technology of all the other parameters then what is in the DSLRs? I will keep my D850.

Bruce
Guest
Bought a Olympus E-M1 in 2015 to have a mirrorless camera with internal 5-axis stabilization and to take advantage of its MFT f/2.8 zoom lenses. The 40-150mm f/2.8 MFT (FX 80-300mm f/2.8) weighs only . The Olympus 300mm f/4 (FX 600mm f/4) weighs only 3.25 lbs and costs $2500 versus my Nikon 600mm f/4 at over 8 lbs and costing over $12,000. Where mirrorless should provide benefits is with continuous autofocus while shooting video and that is what should be evaluated and compared to the Sony Alpha a7 III, Fujifilm X-T2, and Panasonic DG-GH5S. This is also where there should… Read more »
Janet Cook
Guest

Thanks for the honest review. I am sticking with my D850 and D500. Love them both. Also the weight savings is not that much in the bodies–I think I figured it at about 8 ounces. Please correct me there if I am wrong.

Charles Horton
Guest
Thanks Steve, I watched the B&H live review (replay) and the three pros, none were wildlife photographers, all seemed to like the camera. They seemed to think the AF system worked great but mostly they were shooting portrait, landscape and a little “easy” action (a runner parallel to camera). All the photos looked great of course. Low light shots also looked very good and a a few brief videos too. The sports pro photographer said he would/could use the cameras in his work but not how(?). The wedding and concert event photographers were excited and loved their brief time shooting… Read more »
Jerry Cahill
Guest

Thanks Steve. Lets hope the unknowns are better. I am not going to buy the first camera out of the gate and I will wait to see how it does in the field. Since I rely on my D500 for wildlife, I am merely looking for a landscape upgrade to my D610. Sounds like the Z7 is still in the running. But so is the A7

Mike Dougherty
Guest

Your opinion on the Z7 not being a wildlife (or even sports) body were spot on. I’ll continue to use my D850 for those types of shooting. I had planned to use the Z7 with a 17-35 for landscape only. However, I learned from you video that the Z7 may also be invaluable for shooting closeups with long telephoto zoom lenses since focus and lens calibration is no longer an issue. Yippee.

Clark Johnson
Guest

Thank, Steve. Straight talk as always.

I may be wrong about this, but since you need to use an adapter with your current lenses, the front-to-back distance should be close to what we have now with our DSLR, not any significant amount smaller?

Keep up the good work.

Bob Quarles
Guest

Good critique Steve! Thanks for doing this. I almost pulled the trigger with all the hype but backed out. Hope to take one of your seminars soon.

Scott Hallenberg
Guest
I appreciate your in depth look, specifically the AF capability as it applies to wildlife photography. I personally will wait for the Gen 2 of the Z7 since I’m pretty happy for the moment. I really hope a lot the buffering and AF can be improved via firmware updates, which will be huge. What I’m most intrigued about with the Z series is the Z mount. The wider mount will eventually lead to the production of much faster glass. I’ve heard an f/0.95 i58mm is already in development made possible by this mount, and I’ve heard that the new native… Read more »
Deborah Albert
Guest

What about Panasonic G9? Same problems?

Deborah Albert
Guest

How do you feel about Panasonic G9? Same problems?

Joe Schmitt
Guest

Well thought out and honest summary. I always appreciate your candidness..
Thanks again.

Daniel Zdonczyk
Guest

Very valid points from an independent thinking reviewer . I am intrigued and excited about the in-camera VR , I could use that feature in a couple of telephoto lenses I have.

Barney
Guest

It is refreshing to hear some straight talk about the Z7 for once. The concerns you raised are likely those shared by many of us and for me the discussion on AF was most informative. That is something I hadn’t yet thought in-depth about. Here is hoping that the firmware released with the production model addresses these and we all are pleasantly surprised by improvements over the pre-released software. I’m sticking with my D850 and D500 for now.

Howard
Guest

Sweet summary on these Steve.

Joseph Smith
Guest

Hi Steve, Thanks for your video on the Z 6 and Z 7. Based on all that I have read I agree completely with your conclusions at this moment. Right before I got your email, I had just emailed my Nikon retailer to take my name of the pre order list as the buffer, AF and frames per second specs made both cameras unsuited for my needs. I will stick with my D 500 and D 810.

Richard Cohen
Guest

Thanks Steve. Nice to hear your views on this from a wildlife perspective. I wasn’t planning on moving mirrorless for a couple of years or so, maybe by that time nikon will have a real pro body with af performance/buffer/fps that is at least up to the standards we have today.

Larry Brain
Guest
To me it’s a lot to do about nothing , I shoot landscapes , and wildlife locally . I am currently working with a D810 I got 2 years ago Christmas time I own older lenses Like a 300 mm F4 ,pin drive lens I have had for 12 years , just sold my d7100 . This past Christmas I bought a 14 mm -24mm f2.8 Nikkor for astro work . Being 66 years old I supplement my income with sales of Images I print on a 44 ” Canon printer a IPF8300 for myself and a handfull of friends… Read more »