Nikon gets serious about mirrorless with new Z7 and Z6 cameras

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 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, 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.

Yes, there’s a lot to talk about. Read our preview of the Z7, where we offer some of our first hands-on impressions.

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.


Adobe Premiere Pro uses A.I. to streamline audio cleanup and other tedious tasks

Adobe Premiere Pro will soon be able to remove background noise and reverb in a few clicks. The upcoming feature was announced along with a slew of new features for Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition, and Character Animator.

Handy iOS 12 tips and tricks to master Apple's latest update

Apple's iOS 12 mobile operating system introduces a ton of new features, with more options to help boost productivity. But updating to it can be overwhelming, so we're here to make it easier with some iOS 12 tips and tricks.

When you're ready to shoot seriously, these are the best DSLRs you can buy

For many photographers the DSLR is the go-to camera. With large selection of lenses, great low-light performance, and battery endurance, these DSLRs deliver terrific image quality for stills and videos.

Photo FOMO: Recharge and stash lenses with this smartphone photo bag

Between lenses and extra batteries, smartphone photographers have lots of accessories too -- and could soon have a bag designed specifically for them. The bag isn't the only new accessory with wireless charging announced this week either.

The iPhone X is growing up. Meet the iPhone XS and XS Max

Apple's special event is over, and we were introduced to the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Here's everything we know about the 2018 iPhone trio, from their cameras to release dates.
Product Review

Sigma’s 105mm is the best portrait lens money can buy

The Sigma 105mm F1.4 DG HSM Art lens may be unwieldy to use, but for the effort, you’ll get what are possibly the best portrait images.

Sick of black? Ethnotek’s Raja camera bag lets you customize designs on a whim

Like to change your bag as often as you change your socks? The Ethnotek Raja is a camera backpack that has interchangeable "Threads" or front panels to change up the look while still stashing two DSLR bodies and multiple lenses.

Aurora HDR 2019 applies A.I. to achieve more natural high dynamic range images

HDR is easy to overdo and difficult to get just right -- but Skylum says the new artificial intelligence inside Aurora HDR 2019 helps create more natural HDR images. The update also brings the LUT mapping popular in video editing.
Social Media

Facebook expands fact-checking net to try to catch doctored photos and videos

Facebook is now fact-checking images and video along with articles, using third-party organizations. New A.I. helps flag potential fakes for human review, but user flags and comments still help recognize what content might not be accurate.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.

These are the best action cameras money can buy

Action cameras are great tools for capturing videos of your everyday activities, whether it's a birthday party or the steepest slope you've ever descended on your snowboard. These are the best money can buy.

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses - something no phone…

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Self-balancing skates, tiny tripods, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!