Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless is remarkably accomplished for a first-generation product, says Andy Westlake, and one of the best cameras the firm has ever made
Nikon Z7 Review: Verdict
From the moment Nikon announced its intention to make full-frame mirrorless, the question was whether it could build the right camera to tempt its existing user-base to dip a toe into these exciting new waters. Indeed after its ill-fated 1 System, DL-series compacts and KeyMission action cameras, the firm simply couldn’t afford to get this one wrong. Thankfully though it’s delivered an absolutely stunning camera that feels like a thoroughbred Nikon, but which just happens to use an electronic, rather than optical, viewfinder.
Compared to the similarly-specified D850, the Z7 feels much leaner and more stripped-back. Nikon hasn’t obsessed about making the camera excessively small, and as a result the body feels very comfortable in your hand and not too fiddly to operate. It looks and works just like a high-end Nikon should, and even the most diehard of DSLR fans will surely be tempted to pick one up just to give it a try. Those who do will find they can get just as good results as from the company’s best-ever DSLR, but in a smaller and lighter package. Crucially, they’ll also discover the significant benefits of in-body stabilisation and that superb viewfinder.
But how does the Z 7 measure up to its full-frame mirrorless peers? I’m a big fan of Sony’s superb A7R III, but on balance I think the Z 7 is even better in many respects, thanks to its superb handling. There are areas where the Sony is still ahead, most obviously its superior continuous autofocus and tracking, along with the inclusion of two memory card slots. But not every photographer needs these features, and the Z 7 delivers image quality that’s every bit as good at the A7R III while being distinctly more pleasant to use.
Indeed the Z 7 gives the impression that Nikon hasn’t held anything back in a bid to protect its DSLRs, and instead has produced the best mirrorless camera it believes it can make right now, that will handle more-or-less like a mini-D850. This sets it apart from Canon’s EOS R, which feels more like a design experiment that’s trying to be different for the sake of it. Naturally the Z 7 has its own foibles and irritations, but overall it gets considerably more right than it does wrong. Indeed for applications where its few specific weaknesses are unimportant, I think that on balance, it’s the best camera on the market right now, either mirrorless or DSLR.