Photography News 81 WEB

Big test

PERFORMANCE: NIKONZ24-50MMF/4-6.3 This lens sells for £439 and it’s the smallest, lightest full-frame zoom lens on the market. It has a retractable design around the size of a 50mm f/1.8 lens when folded, and you get a warning to remind you to set the lens to its working position. It’s a decent lens, giving good edge-to-edge sharpness at wide and mid apertures. There’s significant vignetting at 24mm and f/4 and needs stopping down to f/8 to get rid of it. Vignetting at other focal lengths is evident, too, strongest at 24mm. The Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 is a decent kit lens and worthwhile if you want to travel really light.

24mmF/4

24mmF/4

24mm F/8

24mm F/8

24mm F/16

24mm F/16

36mm F/5

36mm F/5

36mm F/8

36mm F/8

36mm F/16

36mm F/16

50mmF/6.3

50mmF/6.3

50mm F/11

50mm F/11

50mmF/22

50mmF/22

of 3.5EV rather than 5EV, but that is still a very useful feature. The 24-50mm f/4 kit lens is compact and lightweight. It collapses down with a twist of the zoom barrel to around the size of a typical 50mm f/1.8 standard lens. Lens size is very impressive, but it comes at a price, and a 50mm f/6.3 is nothing to write home about. A lock on the zoom barrel would have been nice, because I did find myself going past the 24mmmark and collapsing the lens by mistake, and you get a warning if you turn on the camera when the lens is collapsed. Lens performance was decent, being marginally superior at the 24mm end with better contrast and sharpness than the 50mm. The camera’s overall performance was consistently skilful. Autofocus, thanks to its 273-point hybrid phase/contrast detect AF points

SPECS

Final word

Verdict Full-frame mirrorless rivals like the Canon EOS RP – currently £1400 with a 24-105mm lens – make the Nikon Z 5 with the 24-50mm look expensive, despite its entry- level tag. That said, I think the Z 5's guide price will drift downwards after a few months in the shops, so deserves a close look by those with no system affiliations. For current Nikon DSLR users looking to go mirrorless, the Z 5 offers a very plausible proposition, but at current prices you could buy the Z 6. It’s two years older and takes expensive cards, but with the FTZ adapter costs £1649, so you would have a 4K-friendly, slightly higher-spec camera and the option of using existing lenses. The choices are many, and if you decide to take the Z 5 route, you’re not going to be disappointed, because it’s a capable camera. 23 /25 FEATURES Plenty to appeal to the stills photographer 23 /25 HANDLING Very good with good-sized and well-positioned controls and plenty of function options 24 /25 PERFORMANCE Fast, silent AF, good exposure system, IBIS effective and impressive image quality 23 /25 VALUE FOR MONEY Priced to tempt aspiring full-frame shooters 93 /100 OVERALL A capable camera that’s good to use and is interestingly priced

›   Construction 11 elements in ten groups. ›   Special elements Three ED glass, three aspherical ›   Coating Super integrated coating ›   Aperture range F/4-6.3, f/22-36 ›   Minimum focus 35cm ›   Weather resistant Yes ›   Filter size 52mm ›   Dimensions 73.5x51mm ›   Weight 195g

THE CAMERA’SOVERALL PERFORMANCE WAS CONSISTENTLY SKILFUL

covering most of the image area, was impressively fast, silent and accurate with minimal hunting. It’s sensitive, too, and there’s a low-light AF option that works down to -3EV at ISO 100. Face/eye detect worked respectably well, but the Z 5’s is not as sensitive or have that tenacious ability seen in other (more expensive) cameras when there’s a subject moving around the scene or if they turn their head away. AF performance was consistently good though and there’s a selection of AF areas that can be used, including pinpoint, single point, dynamic area AF and two wide area settings. Exposure was also consistently accurate. I shot mostly in aperture- priority AE and Matrix light measurement, which coped admirably with most scenes including when contrast levels were high and in strong backlighting. With the good exposure latitude of the Z 5’s Raws, there was the option of pulling in highlights and lightening shadows for good-looking shots. WC

PROS Lovely viewfinder, two SD slots, good battery life, handling, capable high ISO skills, audio in and out CONS 4K comes with a 1.7x crop

IMAGES A large, unlockable exposure mode dial dominates the top-plate’s right side, while the cluster of controls sitting atop the protruding handgrip is characteristically Nikon. Being able to switch the camera on as it’s being brought up to the eye with the right hand and having it ready to shoot in that time is very much a good thing

22 Photography News | Issue 81

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