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The Nikon Z 5 doubles down on SD card slots despite its entry-level price

After making a full-frame mirrorless camera for the pros, Nikon wants to bring the power of a larger sensor to the masses. The Nikon Z 5 is a new entry-level mirrorless camera that combines both simple, beginner-friendly features and more advanced options, all for a few hundred dollars less than the Z 6 and its DSLR counterpart, the D610.

While the Z 5 may be an entry-level option, the camera also takes feedback from the launch of the Z 6 and Z 7, including dual SD card slots. That makes the camera a hybrid blend of pared-down budget features and advanced options not part of the Z 6 and Z 7.

The Nikon Z 5 uses a 24.3-megapixel, full-frame sensor — about a megapixel less than the Z 6 — and the same processor as the more advanced model, the Expeed 6. Despite housing the same computing power, the Z 5 only shoots at up to 4.5 frames per second (fps) compared to the Z 6’s 12 fps.

Shutter speed wasn’t truncated to hit the lower price point, however, and it still reaches a maximum of 1/8000, which is needed for working with the brighter Z lenses in sunlight. Autofocus also remains similar to the 273-point system on the Z 6, covering 90 percent of the sensor. Human and animal eye autofocus is included. Like both the Z 6 and Z 7, the Z 5 is equipped with 5-axis image stabilization with Z-Mount lenses, and 3-axis stabilization with the FTZ adapter and an F-Mount DSLR lens.

Video also sees some notable differences compared to the Z 6 and Z 7. The Z 5 sports 4Kp30 video, but at a 1.7x crop — which means quality and frame of view will be similar to shooting with an APS-C sensor. The full width of the sensor is used for 1080p at 60 fps which is nice to see, however the Z 5 is also missing out on advanced features like 120 fps slow motion, ProRes, and N-Log.

A curious choice

Upon the launch of the Z 6 and Z 7, Nikon said dual slots were not included in order to keep the bodies compact with that built-in stabilization. The Z 5, however, manages to fit two UHS-II compatible SD card slots in the camera, a likely result of feedback from photographers on the earlier models. Putting dual SD card slots in a slower camera that’s not made for the pros is a bit of an odd move — the Z 5 shoots fewer, smaller files that are less likely to cause an overflow, and it isn’t made for the audience that considers the ability to create backups in-camera a must-have.

But the Z 5 proves that two cards can indeed fit into the small body, and suggests updates to the Z 6 and Z 7 could also sport the feature. That said, it is still unclear if that same size body could house dual slots with compatibility for the XQD card type, a much higher-performing card that likely contributes to the Z 6 and Z 7’s ability to achieve a faster burst.

Despite the two card slots, the Z 5 is the same size and weight as its big siblings. The secondary LCD at the top is missing — unsurprising considering entry-level Nikon DSLRs don’t have one either — and the mode dial has moved to the right side of the body for one-handed mode switches. The Z 5 is also only partially made from magnesium alloy, and while weather-sealed, it isn’t as protected as the pricier options. The Z 5 houses a 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen and a 3.2 million dot EVF.

Not just for photographers

Nikon says the Z 5 is for all creatives — not necessarily specifically photographers — and includes a few simple features made for vloggers and influencers. The Z 5 has a handful of expanded post-processing effects possible in-camera, including more multiple exposure options and an interval timer mode that assembles a time-lapse in-camera while simultaneously saving the individual images. A focus shift mode for focus stacking techniques is also included but requires post-processing outside the camera. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are both included for wireless transfers to a smart device and remote shooting.

The Z 5 uses a new battery that offers at least 470 shots per charge with the monitor and 390 with the viewfinder. Unlike the Z 6 and Z 7, the Z 5 can also recharge through USB while still shooting (another much-requested feature left out of the more expensive cameras), and is also compatible with Nikon’s mirrorless battery grip.

Along with the Z 5, Nikon also announced two new teleconverters, the TC-1.4x and TC-2.0x, that are compatible with the Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens. Nikon says the teleconverters work with a “minimal decrease” in autofocus accuracy and speed. The teleconverters don’t affect the lens’ minimum focusing distance, allowing the lens to get in even closer. As with all teleconverters, there’s some light lost — one stop with the 1.4x and two stops with the 2.0x. The teleconverters are also weather-sealed.

The Nikon Z 5 and new teleconverters will be available at the end of August, along with the previously delayed Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8. The Z 5 will retail for $1,399 for the body only, $200 less than the current price of the company’s entry-level full-frame DSLR, the aging D610. The camera will also be available in a kit for $1,699 that includes a new compact 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens, or for $2,199 with the 24-200mm kit lens.

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