Nikon gives full frame mirrorless its due with the new Z7 and Z6

Nikon Z7 camera with 24-70mm lens
After celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2017, Nikon is starting a new chapter with the introduction of its Z-series cameras, the Z7 and Z6. The full-frame models represent Nikon’s big push into the mirrorless category, which has been hotly anticipated for some time.

The Z7 and Z6 are nearly identical cameras with full-frame sensors. The big difference is the resolution: the Z7 has a 45.7-megapixel back-illuminated sensor with the optical low-pass filter removed, while the Z6 has a 24.5-megapixel sensor with an OLPF — you could call it the Z7’s baby brother.

Another big thing that separates the two is price: the Z6 has a more consumer-friendly price of $2,000 (body only), putting it in competition with Sony’s A7 III, while the Z7 is priced at $3,400 (body only). The Z7 would be aimed at professionals, particularly existing Nikon owners looking to move into mirrorless.

The Z7 could be considered the mirrorless version of the highly lauded D850 DSLR. Both have a similar sensor, and share common features. The sensor, along with the newly introduced Expeed 6 image processor, is newly developed. The Z7 also has equal build quality and similar ergonomics to the D850 with weather sealing, but in a more compact body.

Not surprisingly, Nikon has also introduced a new lens mount, the Z-mount. Z-series cameras will support Nikon’s entire lineup of F-mount Nikkor DSLR lenses via an adapter, but the new Z-mount isn’t just about accommodating the smaller mirrorless form factor — it actually has a wider diameter, allowing for lenses with super fast f/0.95 apertures, something that simply isn’t possible on the F-mount. It also has a 16mm flange focal system, the shortest possible to make the camera compact without compromising performance.

Hiroyuki Ikegami, the corporate vice president and sector manager of Development Sector, Imaging Business Unit at Nikon Corporation, talks about the new Z lenses during their official launch on April 23, in Tokyo.
Hiroyuki Ikegami, the corporate vice president and sector manager of Development Sector, Imaging Business Unit at Nikon Corporation, talks about the new Z lenses during their official launch on April 23, in Tokyo. Les Shu/Digital Trends

During the official launch event in Tokyo, on August 23, Hiroyuki Ikegami, the corporate vice president and sector manager of Development Sector, Imaging Business Unit at Nikon Corporation, described the new lenses as the “embodiment of Nikon quality and brings value to the mirrorless market,” and said they demonstrate a very high level of performance. With the Z-series cameras, Ikegami said users benefit from a wide variety of lenses (including the F-mount lenses), high resolving power, and features for movie making.

What is more surprising is how serious Nikon has gotten about video on both Z cameras, which shoot 4K with full pixel readout and even offer the new N-Log logarithmic tone curve and 10-bit color for better dynamic range. The cameras are also Nikon’s first interchangeable lens models with built-in image stabilization.

The new mirrorless cameras aren’t signaling a complete shift away from DSLRs, however. Nikon says it will continue to advance both platforms, with new DSLRs and F-mount Nikkor lenses to come (one such product is the AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF VR). But the entry into mirrorless means Nikon finally believes the category has legs; it’s a crowded one that’s dominated by Sony, as well as Fujifilm, Olympus, and Panasonic, but Nikon does have a compelling product now. (Nikon had a previous mirrorless series, called the Nikon 1, that had some success with casual consumers, but the Z-series is a true effort at building a high-end mirrorless system.) It will be interesting to see where Nikon goes from here.

In addition to the Z cameras and the new lens, Nikon also announced a dot sight accessory designed to help with tracking moving subjects when using long telephoto lenses. It’s built with the new P1000 in mind, which has a staggering 125x zoom, but it will work on any camera with a standard hot shoe.

Read our review of the Z7.

This article was originally published on August 23. It was updated on November 14 to include the availability of the Z6.


Photography News: Taking a smartphone photo probably saved this guy’s life

A man was snapping a photo in Australia when the smartphone stopped an arrow shot at his face. In this week's photography news, see Canon's plans for a stabilized mirrorless, Hasselblad's newest accessories, Samyang's latest lens, and more.

The Xiaomi Mi 9 is the powerhouse smartphone 2019 has been waiting for

The Xiaomi Mi 9 is the brand's latest phone, and it's a real powerhouse. It comes with a Snapdragon 855 processor, a triple-lens camera, a new in-display fingerprint sensor, and a new design. Here's what you need to know.
Social Media

Twitter takes a cue from Instagram and Snapchat with new quick-swipe camera

Twitter is giving the "what's happening" treatment to photos and video by allowing users to access the in-app camera fast enough to catch and share the moment. The new Twitter camera is now accessible with a swipe.

Forget folding phones, the Insta360 EVO camera folds in half to shoot 360 video

The Insta360 EVO is a...flip camera? Unfolded, the Insta360 Evo shoots 3D in 180 degrees, folded, the new camera shoots in 360 degrees. The EVO launches with what are essentially a pair of 3D glasses for your phone, not your face, the…

Amid confusion, the Red Hydrogen team promises a pro in-device camera

Learning from the Red Hydrogen One, the company is gearing up for a pro-level device. In a forum post, Red's founder shares how the team is designing a Red Hydrogen with a pro-level in-device camera.

Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 is sharp enough to handle futuristic 90-megapixel cameras

Lens launches come with a lot of hype and marketing speak but a recent test confirmed some of the initial claims around the Sony FE 135 f/1.8. A rental company says that the Sony 135mm is the sharpest lens that it has ever tested.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Obsbot Tail camera uses A.I. to follow the action (or a pet) for you

Want to capture more epic action selfies, or see what your pet is doing while you're gone? The Obsbot Tail is a camera-gimbal combo that uses artificial intelligence to follow the action.

The Lensbaby Composer Pro II with Edge 35 mimics tilt-shift blur for less cash

Want to create a tilt-shift image on a budget? The new Lensbaby Composer II with Edge 35 mimics the look of a tilt-shift lens for under $500. The new Edge 35 optic is part of the Composer Pro II optics system.

Loupedeck Plus can now edit video, audio with Final Cut Pro

The list of Loupedeck Plus-compatible software is growing. The photo-editing console now works with Final Cut Pro and Adobe Audition for video and audio editing. The controls can be configured to be used on either platform.

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 

Paper designs digitize in real time using an Illustrator-connected paper tablet

Love graphic design, but prefer the feel of real paper? The new Moleskine Paper Tablet - Creative Cloud Connected syncs with Adobe Illustrator in real time, turning paper sketches into digital drawings.

Insta-checkout? New Instagram service lets you shop without leaving the platform

Shopping on Instagram no longer means leaving the platform to checkout in a web browser. Instagram checkout launched in beta today with a handful of retailers, allowing users to checkout without leaving the app.