Photography News Issue 71

Long-term test

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WORDS AND IMAGES BY KINGSLEY SINGLETON

6 APPEAL PN’s Kingsley Singleton has been shooting with the Z 6 for tenmonths off and on, including trips into the Arctic

IMAGES In addition to the Z 6’s many positive mirrorless attributes, it also has a cracking build quality: tough magnesium-alloy and great weather sealing. In Svalbard’s uncompromising -30°C cold, the camera still delivered

are no contacts on the bottom of the camera to support full control. The single card slot initially bothered me, although I’ve not had any problems – nor heard of any. There are Wi-Fi backup workaround solutions to consider if the relative lack of security of a single card is the deal-breaker for you.

In-body image stabilisation made a big difference, too, especially in mounting non-VR FX lenses like my 85mm f/1.8G, using the FTZ adapter. It feels like a genuine upgrade. The lack of a vertical grip for the Z 6 still puts me off, as I’ve got used to shooting that way, and though a battery grip is still promised, there

I’ve now shot with it on and off for about ten months, most notably on a trip to Svalbard and the Lofoten Islands in March. On that shoot it proved excellent, and of course it was instantly familiar to use, with a very similar button layout to other modern Nikon bodies. That’s a good thing when you can only take your gloves off for 30 seconds at a time. This isn’t a scientific statement, but I’ve generally felt pictures straight out of the camera were better exposed than my D850 due, most likely, to the wysiwyg nature of the EVF, and the camera’s true and bright colours. I’m still not completely sold on EVFs, but Nikon’s is pretty special. Smooth and very clear, it’s probably the best I’ve used. That said, I don’t think it turns on quickly enough when you bring it up to your eye, and the tiny lag can be enough to break concentration. It also suffers from lag when shooting at a high frame rate. It doesn’t black out, but the image becomes staccato. This isn’t unusual,

and it’s really only Sony’s A9 that offers a completely uninterrupted view in such situations, but that has a stacked sensor and is significantly more expensive. The Z 6’s build quality has proved excellent, with a magnesium-alloy body and a good level of weather sealing. Case in point, even though the camera’s operating temperature is spec’d at 0-40°C, I managed to use it in Svalbard’s temperatures of -30°C. It got a bit groggy, but then so did I. The light weight was a real help, too. A recent firmware update brought new features to the Z 6’s AF, like Eye Detection as well as the original Face Detection mode, and that and its shooting speed certainly proved an upgrade on my D850. Though not perfect, in shooting moving subjects, I certainly get more hits. The AF area itself is much wider than a DSLR’s, covering 90% of the frame, so you can shift it right to the edge if required; I’ve found that and the EVF’s focus peaking highly useful for landscaping.

Circle – but has it warmed his heart?

AS A NIKON user enviously eyeing what Sony was up to with successive generations of excellent mirrorless cameras, the Z Series couldn’t come soon enough for me. And both cameras impressed. But while the Nikon Z 7 is a fantastic body, I never felt it had quite enough difference to prise the D850 out of my hands. Though some of the mirrorless benefits were obvious, its 45.7mp files were too similar to my DSLR’s. The Z 6, though, was always a more tempting proposition. The combination of lower res files, in- body IS, better noise performance, faster shooting and hybrid mirrorless AF advantages all made it attractive for me as an action camera, or a second body.

Verdict Nikon’s first generationmirrorless cameras have a hell of a lot going for them, and if you’re thinking of making the jump tomirrorless, the Z 6 is a highly capable performer. It’s also a lot more affordable than its big brother.Thoughmany of us have got used to huge resolutions, 24.5-megapixels is plenty for almost any sort of work, and it comes hand-in-hand with great ISO performance.TheAF is very good – not perfect, but better thanmy DSLR and, though I’m lamenting the lack of a grip, the Z 6 also handles well.

44 Photography News | Issue 71

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