Digital Trends sought out Portland-based photographer Davis Hilton, a Nikon DSLR user, to test out the Nikon Z Series mirrorless cameras. Here’s Hilton’s take on the camera and its features.
As a wedding and portrait photographer, Hilton has certain demands from a camera that need to be met: the camera must perform well in low light, and it must be quick in capturing moments like the first kiss and the presentation of the ring, or a model’s fleeting gesture. Hilton was impressed at how well the Nikon Z 7 mirrorless camera performed on these fronts—in fact, he found its performance on par with his usual camera, a full-frame D810, with the added benefits of being lighter and quicker. Though he typically shoots with manual settings, he was particularly impressed by the Z 7’s auto ISO, which allowed him to respond seamlessly to changing light conditions. “The automatic capabilities are so easy, and this camera is so light,” he said, “that I figure anyone could probably pick it up and just start shooting right away.”
As a Nikon photographer, Hilton found picking up the mirrorless Z 7 to be a smooth transition, and it felt familiar in his hands. He was glad all his NIKKOR lenses are compatible via a converter—which is important for a photographer who has built up a trusted set of gear, which for Hilton includes 50mm and 24–70 lenses—but he found the Nikon Z 24–70 f/4 S lens designed for the Z Series to be “really crisp and sharp” and effective for plenty of shots. When shooting portraits and models, Hilton also looks for cameras that can produce large images, which the 45.7-megapixel Z 7 delivers with ease.
One feature of the Z 7 that Hilton found particularly helpful was the ability to live view a photo through the viewfinder, which let him see exactly how to adjust his shadows and highlights to get the right shot. With this ability, he was able to get beautiful images straight out of the camera, even before he edited them to achieve his unique style. He was also impressed by the elegance of the viewfinder’s auto-on function, which displays the live view right as he brought the camera to his eye.
As a user of Nikon’s full-frame D810, Hilton was impressed by the speed of the Z 7—performance he’d come to expect from a top-tier camera—and, in particular, its “insane” write speed of 400 mb/s. That’s the kind of performance a photographer expects from a workhorse, and is why Hilton would recommend the Nikon Z series to a wide range of photographers and videographers, from “serious” hobbyists to professionals who want something light, quick, and reliable. It’s the kind of camera he expects to always be ready and on hand to get the shot.