Photography News 85 Web

Big test



There was a time when high- resolution sensors, with all those hard-working, heat-generating pixels crammed in cheek by jowl, went hand in hand with digital noise at higher ISOs. That is still the case, but the situation is not as cut and dried as it has been in the past and, for example, the Nikon Z 7II with its 45.7 effective megapixels is a very able performer in the ISO department. This set of shots was taken with the new Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens on the Z 7II, which was fixed to a Benro Rhino 34C tripod. The exposure for the ISO 100 shot was 1sec at f/8, and in-camera noise reduction was switched off. The 14-bit Raws were processed in Lightroom. At the lower speeds, the Z 7II delivers very clean shots rich with intricate detail, and the quality differences between ISO 100 and 800 shots are so minor you would have to put on your pixel-peeping goggles to see them. You get more dynamic range at the lower ISOs, so if dealing with high contrast is not important, I think I could happily use ISO 800 for general shooting without digital noise being any sort of issue.

Beyond ISO 800, there are signs of noise visible in even-toned shadows, but ISO 1600 still produces images of a high quality level and, of course, can be improved further with sympathetic processing. Colour noise starts appearing at ISO 3200, but images are still smooth and full of detail and stand critical examination very well. If the lighting was so poor that you needed to shoot at this speed for sharp shots, I think you’d be very happy with the results. Image quality continued to fall as we ascended the speed range, and by the time we got to the maximum native ISO 25,600, there was significant mottling in even-toned areas and colour noise was evident in the shadows. Quality drop-off continued at the expanded ISOs. All in all, the Z 7II showed impressive ISO skills.

IMAGES General handling of the Z 7II is very good and the deep handgrip makes it comfortable to carry it in the hand ready to shoot







they were not so noticeable in this setting. It was in the wider zone AF modes where the Z 7II showed off its superiority in speed and responsiveness. In face/eye detection the Z 7II performed well, though less reliably when the face/eye was smaller in the frame. Compared with some rivals AF tracking with a subject moving in front of the camera was perhaps not as sticky or as quick to reacquire when the subject turned away and turned back. The only time I noticed face/eye detect failing was shooting through a window – I had no choice – and the camera did not pick up on the subject at all. To see how efficiently the Z 7II handled the massive amounts of data generated during continuous shooting at 9fps (each file is around 60MB), which is the claimed shooting speed with 14-bit Raws, I performed tests with Lexar cards, a 2000x SD and a 1750MB/s CExpress B card, using one at a time.

the use of two Expeed 6 processors means image files are handledmore efficiently. The shooting rate is fast with less buffering, and autofocusing is faster andmore sensitive. Plus, there are more options, including face/eye detection for animals and humans. I did various tests using the face/ eye detection on the Z 7 and Z 7II, including using the same film excerpt on the TV. With the camera on a tripod in videomode and continuous AF I could see how fast the AF latched on to faces as scenes changed. I also did tests walking into andmoving around the scene and just turning away and back again. Finally, I just used the camera for stills largely in single point or pinpoint AF settings with a several Z lenses and Nikon F lenses via a FTZ adapter. The Z 7II’s AF is very good, fast and responsive. For stills in single AF point mode, the camera performed consistently well and reliably and if there were any benefits over the Z 7,

decide when the self-timer should or should not reset. One thing Nikon does deserves a pat on the back for is the monitor – when pulled out, it automatically turns off the eye sensor so it doesn’t switch to the EVF when your fingers are detected. There's still the option tomanually select monitor or EVF only. The monitor itself is tilt only, hence great for high-/low-level use when shooting horizontal format shots. It’s not so good for vertical shooting. There is a trend towards monitors that swivel out and can be set to point forward for vlogging, or just folded facing into the body. This type is very good for upright shooting, but has the disadvantage that it does not suit use with an L-grip. To be fair to the EVF, the image is crisp, highly detailed and performs well enough in terms of the viewing image it provides – it’s just that there are better around. Moving on to one of the big changes on the Z 7II compared with the Z 7,



IMAGES The Nikon Z 7II impressed with its high ISO performance, and critically good results for large prints can be had at ISO 3200 and ISO 6400. You can still get very acceptable results at ISO 12,800 if noise reduction is applied in post-processing


Issue 85 | Photography News 31

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