The Z7 convinced me how good Sony is…

There has been a lot of hype about the Nikon Z series. Image quality is great. Focus speed isn’t usable for our photography. Even flowers blowing in the wind are problematic. . Landscapes and stills are a strength. But if it moves.. well don’t expect to track it well. And yes we’ve updated and will still update. It’s just how it is. Most Nikon fans are hesitant to acknowledge this and the fans just blame poor technique but the reality is that even close shots of flowers blowing in the wind are a challenge for this camera. We averaged less than a 32% hit rate with the Z7. With the D850 closer to 90% in the same conditions.

Sunflowers M1X Olympus
Sunflowers Olympus M1X
Flowers Nikon Z7
Sunflowers / Flowers Z7
Flowers Nikon Z7
Flowers Z7 Tripod Shot

We’ve used the Z7 for 5000+ clicks but until some improvements come along it is reserved for landscape and studio work. Although it hunted in a product tent. That’s right. We were shooting items for display on the web and the focus was hunting on a tripod in fixed conditions.

In contrast the Sony focusing with mirrorless is amazing. And now with the new firmware for the Sony A9 and the a7r3 the tracking is phenomenal. Birds, planes, cars, boats, goodness… The A9 tracks beautifully. Its amazing. And the hit rate is in a different class. The update to the A7r3 is also sensational.

Additionally Sony have improved the quality of JPEG out of camera to within a smidgen of perfect on the majority of occasions.

With Nikon our recommendation is the D850. Sure it isn’t mirrorless but the focus and tracking are excellent and the image quality it on the top podium. In DSLR terms the D850 is right there.

Remember. If it isn’t in focus well…what was the auto focus there for?

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Another Look At Fairy Wrens

Fast Moving Birds Are A Challenge

For an amazing experience that is sometimes frustrating try shooting fast-moving birds. The Blue Fairy Wren appears to live in a state of nervous agitation moving at considerable speed. Perhaps it’s just that they’re concerned about predators. After all, blue doesn’t really blend in well with green and some of these blue fairy wrens have a cobalt blue colour that is simply staggering. When you show pictures of the Blue Fairy Wren, especially the splendid version, people often stop and ask if the colours are real. Surely a bird couldn’t be that blue. But this is real and they are an absolute delight when you see them. They just don’t stand still for photographers.

One Split Second And They Are GONE!

Lenscraft Photography
Fairy Wren

Long Lenses Are a Must!

We had come across a few sites where the Wren seemed to live and we decided that we would give this a go. For the purpose of taking these photographs we were using both the Nikon 28 to 300 lens and the Canon 100 to 400. On paper and in reviews these lenses appear to be poles apart however the reality is that in situations like this you cannot tell the difference. Both lenses were paired with bodies that have freakishly good autofocus which was absolutely essential. Obviously the Nikon locked on like a homing missile which is a characteristic of the Nikon DSLR cameras. but I would have to say in fairness that the Canon was also remarkable and certainly up to the task.

Blue Fairy Wren Lenscraft Photography MFT
Blue Fairy Wren in Wild Western Australia

The Blue Fairy Wren Looks Unreal

Blue Fairy Wrens are an amazing bird but they move quickly. The splendid fairy wren (Malurus splendens) is a bird in the Australasian bird family, Maluridae. It also known simply as the splendid wren or more colloquially in WA (Western Australia) as the blue wren. The splendid fairy wren is found across much of the Australian continent. The male in breeding plumage is a small, long-tailed bird of predominantly bright blue and black colouration. Non-breeding males, females and juveniles are predominantly grey-brown in colour; this gave the early impression that males were polygamous as all dull-coloured birds were taken for females. It comprises several similar all-blue and black subspecies that were originally considered separate species.

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Blue Fairy Wren Lenscraft Photography MFT

The birds move very quickly. They don’t pose for photographers as some birds do. Some birds seem to pose for longer moments and you can take your time. I’ve been able to take several minutes to compose and shoot some shots as the birds survey the surroundings. A lot of birds are very obliging. These birds in contrast don’t stand still for a moment. Well maybe just a very slight moment at times. For some of the shots we were at a tearooms in the forest near Margaret River enjoying some amazing scones along with English breakfast tea. We had heard that it was possible that we might see them but we weren’t expecting to get some of these images shown here. It was a real bonus and an absolute treat.

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Blue Fairy Wren Lenscraft Photography MFT

You have a split second to get the shot. You can’t wait for your camera to get there..

This is one of those features about photography that reviewers seem to miss. Whether you shoot professionally or in this sort of situation you have a split second to make a decision and get the shot. Your gear mustn’t get in the way. Sadly some gear takes way too long and is just not there when it comes to that split-second moment when you just have to get the shot. The autofocus needs to lock on quickly and you have to have made some decisions well in advance in regard to shutter speed and aperture that would be optimum. (Whether you work professionally or are shooting for fun there seems to be a moment when it is right to take the photograph. For example a bride smile is there and gone and can be replaced by a not so spontaneous smile if you keep asking for it. Better to catch it at the optimum moment. Your gear just has to work and you have to get on with the job.)

Blue Fairy Wren Lenscraft Photography MFT
Blue Fairy Wren Lenscraft MFT Photography Shot in Western Australia
Blue Fairy Wren Lenscraft Photography MFT
Blue Fairy Wren Western Australia

Thankfully the birds seem to establish a pattern

The Blue Fairy Wren is a bird on the move. And they like to loop in areas which makes it possible to predict their behavior slightly. Though having said that it’s still advisable to get a move on with the shot. We found three locations where they come and go and then staked them out. One was a dead loss. The other two were quite good. And overall I was delighted to add these shots to the collection. For those who want to try it out. The first location was Neil Hawkins Park. Take a walk and keep your eyes open and your camera ready. The second was just out of Margaret River in the forest heading south along Caves Road. For these shots I used a Canon DSLR and a Nikon DSLR on different occasions. One had twice the megapixels of the other. But there’s nothing to pick between them. There is an even mix of both in these images presented here. And of course they are all crops and therefore, even though they can be printed easily up to poster size they are essentially images of around five megapixels.

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-Blue Fairy Wren Lenscraft Photography MFT

Pre-Select both shutter speed and aperture and make the shutter speed fast.

The key to these was bright light and pre-selection of the aperture and shutter speed. I selected a 400th of a second as the speed I needed and hoped for enough light for f8 as the aperture. Some ended up as f5.6 due to less light but because of the speed the birds moved I wasn’t prepared to compromise the shutter speed. As it was they came out quite well. In fact we got a mix of images that I’m happy with and some are already in use.

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Blue Fairy Wren Lenscraft Photography MFT

The colours are always a problem with Blue Fairy Wrens. They never look real. And these days there are so many shots with false colours that people look sideways at you when you show these images. Can a bird really have cobalt blue colours like this? Yes! This is real.

Here behind the scenes in Lenscraft MFT we are totally focused on real photography and we are going to bring you a lot of shoots like this with insights into the sort of gear and thinking that went into taking these images.

In summary the minimum shutter speed that we use for images like this is 1/400 of a second. Optimum aperture is between F5 .6 and F8.

A few comments re Lenscraft Photography. When we comment on equipment in these pages the comments are based on use in the field. They are never based on a single use or just a couple of days using the equipment. We try the equipment with at least two disciplines in photography and determine how it performs from there. Lenscraft Photography is a website devoted to photography and sharing experiences with equipment. We are not affiliated with any manufacturer. We have used equipment professionally from Canon, Nikon, Ricoh, Minolta, Sony, Leica, Olympus, Hasselblad, Zeiss, Sigma, Pentax, Zenit, Bronica, Rollei & Kodak.

Some of these companies have been absorbed into others. Currently we regularly use equipment from Olympus, Nikon, Sony, & Hasselblad. [Plus lenses from Zeiss and Sigma]

Lenses Used For These Images

Nikon 28-300 Lens we often use
Canon 100-400L One of my favorite Canon Lenses


Lets tell camera manufacturers what we want

Let me ask you a question. Do you want to carry a heavy camera around with you or do you want something light and easy to use? Do you want to carry lots of lenses around or do you want smaller lenses that cover a large focal range so that the whole thing is easy and you can focus on taking photographs? It’s simple isn’t it. The camera that most of us carry with us everywhere is on our phone. Who wants to be bothered with a heavy camera? Only a small community.

We need small light cameras that give us professional results.

But there are smaller options available. The Micro 4/3 system isn’t getting anything like the coverage in the press that it should. And it should because it’s good and it’s small and the images are great. Let’s take a look.

Lenscraft Photography Olympus M4/3
Small light and amazing quality

We need to look at Micro Four Thirds

The Micro 4/3 system has been around since 2008 when it was first proposed by a consortium of Olympus and Panasonic. The idea was to achieve a range of mirror less cameras with an interchangeable lens system used by both brands. Thus you can take a lens from Panasonic and put it on an Olympus and you can take a lens from Olympus and put it on a Panasonic Micro 4/3 camera. The sensor size is relatively small in comparison to other cameras which are termed full frame. Full frame gives the impression that there is somehow a standard but in reality this is taken from 35mm. There are much larger sensors than full frame however most sensors that are used in photography are considerably smaller than the Micro 4/3 sensor. In reality then Micro 4/3 is actually a reasonable size in comparison to most sensors used in photography.

Lenscraft Photography
Olympus Is Leading This Charge To Small And Light But Professional Images

Most cameras used today use much smaller sensors than micro four thirds. Much smaller! They are in our phones.

Compared to most of the cameras in use today the Micro 4/3 camera has a larger and better sensor. So-called full frame cameras [ and medium format cameras for that matter] are often much more expensive and yield good results but at somewhat of a cost in terms of price and size and weight. You know that you’ve got a full frame in board if you carry it for very long. Personally I am used to carrying rigs but even then I prefer to travel lighter where possible.

The Micro 4/3 sensor and camera uses an electronic viewfinder. The electronic viewfinder has been an absolute revelation for photography and you will doubtless have seen in the news if you follow photography that cameras manufacturers are almost tripping over each other to release mirror less cameras that feature electronic viewfinder’s. 2018 has been a landmark year in this respect.

Lenscraft Photography
Olympus OMD E M1 mark 2

If it were about size why do we get given small cameras and then huge lenses?

It appears to be a somewhat confused market because on the one hand the manufacturers are producing smaller cameras while on the other hand they are producing larger and heavier lenses. When it comes to establishing a lightweight system that gives extremely high quality images then the Micro 4/3 system is an option that you have to take a look at. It is light, fast, produces high quality images and has some simply amazing lenses.

Light and fast. Its what the market wants!

It is true that in low-light situations, and we’re not talking about evening but rather much later into the evening, full frame sensors will have an edge because they will not produce as much noise. Any subjective comparison however of full frame sensors in low-light situations will show that while they do produce a relatively noise free image depending on how careful you are setting them up, they do produce a soft image. Whether this is desirable depends on your type of photography.

The Olympus OMD EM1 Mark 2 is simply amazing

The micro 4/3 answer to this has been to develop industry leading image stabilisation technology within the cameras. For example the Olympus OMD EM1 mk2 has unbelievable image stabilisation and, the company has just released a sports version which takes it even further. Image stabilisation allows you to shoot in lower light with low shutter speeds so that you do not need a high ISO setting for the image and therefore the sensor will not generate the noise that you are trying to avoid. It takes some work to get your head around this approach but once you get used to it you wonder why other companies haven’t really adopted it in the same way. Perhaps they are committed to a specific size of camera or a specific size of sensor. However, the public are voting with their feet when it comes to sensor size.

At a recent beauty spot I watched as people came to take photographs. Only one in 30 were interested in carrying a heavy camera. But most people were taking photographs using their mobile phone and the mobile phone was taking good pictures using a sensor considerably smaller than that found in the Micro 4/3 system. I believe that camera manufacturers are missing out on a major market because of concentrating on producing heavy cameras that produce good quality images but that simply do not find a market among a lot of people. People do want smaller and lighter cameras which is why they are very happy to use their mobile phone. People say that we are a photography society but when they do that they are referring to their phone. So any company that is able to produce smaller and lighter cameras that provide excellent image quality has clearly got a good handle on what the majority of people are looking for. And I would suggest that the majority of people are probably going to be extremely happy with a micro 4/3 camera. They are very very good indeed.

lenscraft photography
Beauty Spot with amazing views and mobile phones dominated photography
Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography

Because there has to be a standard for lenses in terms of establishing a lens size, lenses are based around the 35mm image. Thus a lens may be termed a 50 mm lens or a 135mm lens and this directly relates to a 35mm sensor. If the sensor is smaller then the factor by which the sensor is smaller affects the actual focal length perceived when looking through the viewfinder. So for example when a 50 mm lens is placed on a micro 4/3 camera where the sensor is considerably smaller than the 50 mm lens gives the field of view of a 100 mm lens or exactly double. The 135mm would effectively be a 270 mm lens.

Micro Four Thirds Lenses are amazingly sharp

Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography

In the world of Micro 4/3 the lenses are designed to take advantage of this feature. This allows very small lenses to give an incredible range of focal lengths and interestingly remarkable depth of field and remarkable sharpness of image. In my experience I have never produced images as sharp straight out of the camera as those that I have taken using the Olympus Pro series lenses on a micro 4/3 camera. So Olympus for example produce a 12 to 100 mm lens which in 35mm terms is a 24 to 200 mm lens. Can you imagine a company in 35mm land trying to produce a 24 to 200 mm lens and trying to make it of the same quality as the pro series that Olympus have produced? It would be ridiculously huge and incredibly expensive. Also Olympus have produced a 40 to 150 mm lens rated at F2 .8 which provides the equivalent focal length of an 80 to 300 mm lens at F2 .8. The nearest comparable lens in 35mm world is the 70 to 200 F2 .8 which has nowhere near the reach. And I would have to say in direct comparison of image quality the Olympus lens is simply amazing.

I always have at least two cameras with me and one of them is always micro 4/3. I’ve yet to walk into any situation where the micro 4/3 camera couldn’t get the shot. And it’s light and easy to use. It has the benefit of excellent speed and quality while at the same time everything that I need is right there in my hand. The lenses, are simply amazing and they have a sharp definition and the contrast that I wish some of my other much more expensive lenses could achieve.

Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography

I had the idea that micro 4/3 was the poorer neighbour to the full frame camera. I guess that’s the way that it’s marketed. I tried going with larger and larger sensors and I have shot with some of the most esoteric glass on the market. In some situations I’d have to say that the image quality of the larger sensors leaves the Micro 4/3 sensor behind. But that area of image taking is very small and there were ways of working around it using the Micro 4/3 sensor. I just had to learn a different way of shooting. On a recent trip I took two full frame sensors and one Micro 4/3 and returned from the trip with 900 images taken on the Micro 4/3 system that were easily a match for everything that I’d taken in full frame. And if I’d been taking the full frame equivalent of some of these lenses I would have needed a trolley. I didn’t because micro 4/3 system has amazing lenses that are light and have beautiful character.

Olympus are filling a really important need and people are voting with their feet. We need small cameras or else a lot of them are left on the shelf at home.

Can you imagine a 35mm lens rated at 24-200mm with an F4 constant and with sharp crisp performance? It would be huge and expensive. It would be ideal but it just isn’t there. Yes there are some alternatives but these are quite soft. I’m referring to a lens with pro specs that is sharp and meets the demanding expectations of professionals. Yet Olympus have achieved this with an F4 lens rated at 12 mm to 100 mm. Remember that you double the figures. The 12 mm to 100 mm lens is in effect in 35mm terms a 24 to 200 mm lens. Not only did Olympus produce a lens of amazing optical quality in this focal length, but they also were able to build in image stabilisation. Olympus understand the value of putting image stabilisation into the camera body, but they can also double up by adding image stabilisation to the lens as well and get the two forms of image stabilisation to work together. Using this lens equipped on the Olympus camera we have managed to handhold images in low light at 1/8 of a second that have been perfectly sharp. Something simply not achievable in the handheld form using any other camera system.

One of the most amazing lenses in 35mm photography and that most camera companies like to produce is the 70 to 200 mm lens in F2 .8. Most wedding photographers want this lens equipped on their camera when they shoot a wedding. And I’ve certainly used it myself and achieved excellent results. However, Olympus have been able to produce a pro series lens rated at 40 mm to 150 mm. Now remember that this is doubled which makes it 80-300 mm. And this lens is an F2 .8. That’s right, it gives you the equivalent focal length of the professional lens as produced by the major camera manufacturers but gives you the extra 100 mm of reach while giving you the same optical brightness. What’s more, this lens is incredibly sharp. It can even be equipped with a 1.4 extender which gives it the equivalent focal length of 112 mm to 420 mm. So two lenses in one and interestingly with the optical extender, the lens becomes a constant f4. This makes it a considerably better lens than many of its competitors.

And just how good are the images from the Olympus cameras? They are so good that many wedding photographers have no difficulty whatsoever in using them regularly and we now use an Olympus digital camera, being the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark2 as our reference system for reference for focusing speed and image quality.

Bear in mind that it is a 20 megapixel camera. So its a good size. Don’t let megapixels confuse you. A 40 megapixel image is considerably larger than a 20 megapixel image. Megapixels relates to size of image and not image quality. A 50 megapixel image is not that much better than a 20 megapixel image. It is simply bigger. Once you understand that the megapixel information has been misapplied to quality as opposed to image size, suddenly you have to take a look at the photo industry again and realise that 20 megapixels is enough for anybody. We can easily print images from a 20 megapixel image in large format up to 2 m high, with no discernible difference in quality against larger megapixel images. 20 megapixel is plenty of area to work with. The Micro 4/3 system is well worth considering. And I would recommend that people take another look at it.

As we said in the outset. People are leaving heavy and large DSLR cameras and large heavy cameras per se at home. At one time people got caught up in the hype and bought lots of them, but it’s amazing how many of these cameras languish at home, having been retired from use in favour of the mobile phone. I would argue that if the cameras were smaller and lighter people would probably enjoy using them more. And you can easily put together a Micro 4/3 system which is very small indeed based around the 20 megapixel sensor. Take a look. There are lots of options available. In fact, Olympus make a 12 to 40 mm F2 .8 version of their pro lens, which has an equivalent focal length of 24 to 80 mm. Think about that. While the competitors are giving you a 24 to 70 mm focal length Olympus give you 24 to 80 mm and the lens is very, very sharp. One of the things you quickly learn using the Olympus system is that you don’t need to apply anything like the amount of sharpening to their images than you do with full frame or 35mm sensors.

The micro 4/3 system can easily meet the requirements of most photographers on the market for a camera today. Don’t fall for the full frame 35mm frame hype. Look closely. It may be what you need it, but I’d be surprised if you don’t find that the Micro 4/3 system is much more appropriate. Next time I go to a beauty spot I hope that more than one in 30 will be carrying a camera. Perhaps some will be carrying a small, lightweight camera and getting amazing results because they reinvestigated the world of the Micro 4/3 sensor.

Below I’ve included some full frame images. But most are from the Olympus. Micro four thirds. Look at the quality and you won’t see any step up or down.

Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
The Bridge. Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD EM 1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD EM 1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography

Should I Pack the Nikon Z7? How we worked with this camera and got some good results.

Z SERIES. Nikon are really serious

Let me say upfront that we are having a lot of fun with the Nikon Z7. But initially it was a real struggle. Something felt wrong.

Once we understood that this is a reliable camera and played to its strengths.. we began to enjoy it. It’s never going to be the sort of camera we would use at weddings where speed is required.

We have high standards and we want cameras to perform as reliable tools and not have to try to work around them. Let me explain what happened and how we got some amazing results in the end so that now it’s just a breeze.

Let me explain what happened and how we got some amazing results in the end so that now it’s just a breeze.

At last Nikon are really serious about this area

Love the size and design

Why did this question come up? Why would anyone hesitate to pack this camera? Especially as this particular camera is considered to be the latest and certainly a significant investment in camera technology.

Z7

We were heading to the south coast of Western Australia and I had decided to shoot primarily with cameras equipped with EVF. Electronic viewfinders are something that I immediately fell in love with following using the Sony A99. Camera technology has come a long way over the last few years and I had to select cameras for shooting in areas where I had taken photographs before to try to fill in some of the gaps that I always seem to come away with. Electronic viewfinders can play a role in helping you to see beyond what you can imagine when working with a standard optical viewfinder. We’ve done a number of shoots using just electronic viewfinder equipped cameras and had simply amazing results in terms of creativity because we been able to instantly see where we were heading with the picture and determine whether our methodology was good. It’s not all about doing stuff using programs in raw conversion and development stages. I know some people like to spend hours and hours working on various aspects of the images but I’m a photographer and I want to get their a lot faster than that. Not that I won’t spend time when I see something really special.

The landscape around Albany on the south coast is spectacular. So I was thinking of using a 24 to 70 mm lens and the obvious choice as the front runner in this field is the new Nikon S series that fits on the Z7. I could of course have used the standard Nikon 24 to 70 on the D850. But the Z7 was sitting there and the lens is beautiful.

Obvious choices had been made and then it came down to the choice between using the Nikon D850 or taking the new Z7 with me. And it wasn’t an easy choice.

Why the question arose

I absolutely love the layout and body on the Nikon Z7. The placement of buttons and just the whole feel of the camera is superb. The viewfinder is something else. It just gives you that big clear view of what you are looking at and for me is right up there in giving you a great experience when using a camera. I cannot stress how highly the viewfinder on this camera is special. It really gives you an excellent view and given that you’re working with a high megapixel camera I feel that this is the appropriate viewfinder and for me an ideal viewfinder for landscape photography where there is so much going on and so many aspects of the image that need to be weighed up. There are too many good things about the camera body to list here. Battery life is good and can easily give you well over a thousand images which is significantly higher than the rating might indicate. As a matter of record to substantiate that we did shooting over two days without recharging the battery and took nearly 1200 shots. At that point the battery was not completely flat but I did feel that I should recharge.

In fact, in almost every respect I regard the Z7 is one of the nicest cameras that I have used as far as full frame is concerned. It’s a slow and steady tool.

But that leaves the critical question. Focus. The camera hunts for focus. And it does it more than I find reasonable. Almost nailing critical focus isn’t an option. Critical focus has to be achieved and it has to be exactly where you as the photographer want it to be. The critical focus point is the area of the image that you personally select as the important point from which anything that is out of focus is out of focus by your choice and not the choice of the camera.

I even debated whether or not I would take one of the large Canon bodies with its superb optical viewfinder but decided that that would just be silly- surely we could get better focus from the Z7

The Z7 focus was simply off

The Z7 just couldn’t achieve critical focus. So we fine tuned the focus.

So what did we do? What I did was to take a day to spend time doing maintenance and taking a series of shoots using the Z7 and trying to get the focus doing what I wanted it to do. Initially I took a series of photographs in the garden trying to capture water droplets on the petals of flowers. What a frustrating experience that was initially. When you’re trying to do this critical focus is absolutely vital. Looking at the screen at the back of the camera I concluded that the images were good but when I looked at them on the large computer monitor they were out of focus. I’m talking about 90% of them.

I used the Olympus M1 mark 2 as the benchmark because it is easily the best focusing camera and the sharpest image producing camera that I have ever used. It had absolutely no difficulty in nailing the focus. The glare was really high and I know that that can cause problems. But when I realised how many of the images were out of focus with the Z7 I decided to go into the Z7 menu and adjust the micro-adjustment to see whether the lens was focusing properly. Now that was interesting. Taking larger images had resulted in hit and miss focusing but I had not really pushed the Z7 as acutely as I needed to in close focusing. This was revealing.

Thankfully Nikon have made the process of micro adjustment simple

Thankfully Nikon have made this very simple. I set up a measure with marks on it and opened the lens up to its base aperture of F4 and tried adjusting the focus. It was out considerably. I don’t know if you ever use this feature but I have done it previously on Canon cameras and it has made a lot of difference. I’ve tended to find in more recent times when you would think that the reverse would be the case was considerably improved technology, that micro-adjustment has become more and more necessary. I’ve noted for example that Sigma provide an actual tool to help you with the process but if the technology is built into the camera body it’s really beneficial.

The Nikon lens was considerably out of focus and needed a lot of adjustment

The Nikon lens was considerably out of focus and needed a lot of adjustment. I did two more photo shoots and adjusted slightly before I was satisfied. This time for reference I shot some images using the Nikon Z7 and then with the D850 and got similar results. The Z7 was starting to nail the focus nicely. It was still behind the focusing ability of the larger Nikon sibling but I decided that as far as the Z7 is concerned I had taken it to where it needs to be. I’ve yet to think of any way to get it to be more accurate.

After some significant adjustments we now had the Z7 focusing accurately.

I was still hesitant but committed to using the Z7

So we went on a trip and we were in the town of Albany on the south coast of Western Australia. I had the Olympus M1 mark 2 and a Sony A9 equipped with the 50 mm Mikaton speedmaster lens. The Nikon was bringing up the rear but it was the only camera equipped with the 24 to 70 mm lens and therefore the only camera that had the wide-angle capability. It was really difficult to overcome my distrust of the Nikon focus. But I put myself in a position where if I wanted to capture wide-angle shots with large skies and so forth I really had to pull it out. Actually I did bring an option for wide-angle but I felt that I really wanted to give the Nikon a run and prove to myself what it was or was not capable of.

Every time I pulled out the Nikon Z7 and the S 24-70mm lens it impressed me again with its amazing viewfinder and the comfort that has gone into its design. It may be a tortoise but it’s a friendly design. It really is a lovely camera. It just focuses slowly.

Every time I pulled out the Nikon it impressed me again with its amazing viewfinder and the comfort that has gone into its design. The placement of the buttons and the layout of the camera and really everything about the way the body is built just feels right. It really is a superb camera. But the proof of the pudding was going to be in the photographs. I shot in evening conditions with a sunset, in stormy conditions with miserable light but glare in the clouds and then on blue sky days where the combination of sea, cloud and blue sky makes Albany beautiful.

The Nikon hunted for focus so I slowed down and treated it like I was using a slower focusing medium format machine. And that is the right approach. There’s great image quality available but you work harder for it than with the D850..

At times this sunset seemed to be over there while we were over here
The flyer was a bonus. S Series 24-70 Z7 6400 ISO
Albany Waterfront

Well actually Albany is a very beautiful spot. taking a drive around the coast from Middleton Beach to the city of Albany itself is one of the highlights as you look out over the bay is with islands dotted in your view running out into the distance. It is rather special and obviously attracts a lot of people who like to use yachts and boats as well as the whale watching trips that have made the area famous. It is also famous for being one of the last sights that many of the soldiers who fought in the First World War saw as they were shipped from this area. There are some interesting features of the city which give you an opportunity to connect with this part of Albany’s history.

Albany is a very beautiful spot

Albany is a coastal city on the south coast of Western Australia. It has marvelous bays with islands, a working port and a great tourist focus.

Albany harbor. Nikon Z7 with 24-70
Albany harbor. Nikon Z7 with 24-70
Albany harbor. Nikon Z7 with 24-70
Albany. Nikon Z7 with 24-70
Albany has a rugged coastal entry
Night View of Brig Amity Nikon Z7 with 24-70 S lens

The Brig Amity is a replica of the original vessel which brought the first white settlers to Albany.

Albany Harbor Nikon Z7
Nikon Z7 Albany 24-70 S series
Nikon Z7 Albany Torndirrup National Park
Nikon Z7 Albany Torndirrup National Park
Nikon Z7 Albany Torndirrup National Park

The more I used it the more I liked it. I took around 20% of the photographs on this trip using the Z7. My hesitance to use the camera gradually began to fade as I adjusted to a working pattern which worked with the strengths of the camera while being cognizant of its weaknesses. Overall, it’s something we do with every camera that we work with because they all have strengths and weaknesses. And it was an enjoyable experience. Slow and steady can win the race.

Z7 Nikon 24-70 Z Series Lens ISO 200 F11 Focus Clear and Sharp
Z7 Nikon 24-70 Z Series Lens ISO 200 F11 Focus Clear and Sharp

We were getting great images but we still felt that it could be better. This is a remarkable tool and it gives you just what you need right where you need it to be. We began to realise that the pairing of lenses was going to be critical to really maximise the strengths of this camera.

Nikon Z7 Albany Torndirrup National Park
Nikon Z7 Albany Torndirrup National Park The Bridge
Nikon Z7 Albany Torndirrup National Park The Bridge
Nikon Z7 Albany Torndirrup National Park The Bridge

It did hunt at times and I did lose some images because they were out of focus. A quick analysis shows that a little over 4% of the images were out of focus. On occasion the images looked to be reasonably well in focus in the viewfinder but they simply weren’t. But I did find that the adjustment in focus using the micro adjustment made a lot of difference and that taking an extra second to compose the image and just to make sure that everything was okay was worth the effort. The image quality is obviously in the league with the Nikon D850 but you are carrying a smaller camera and that can be beneficial in terms of weight.

I don’t know that weight is really such an important issue and it’s obviously not the real issue as far as photographers are concerned because when you look at the weight of the lenses that people are equipping some of their mirror less cameras with they are so heavily overbalanced at the front and so completely out of balance as units that it makes the whole argument a nonsense.

Looking Out To Sea

I’m pleased with the images that I brought back from this photo shoot because they help me to see the way forward as far as image quality is concerned. I believe the Z7 is a beautiful camera. in addition to good camera technique though I believe that pairing this camera with the right lenses is one of the keys to really benefit from what it can do. I don’t know if anyone else has commented on this in any other blog because I prefer to gain experience hands-on but it really is important.

There’s a saying you horses for courses. I wouldn’t use it where speed was important or where moments count. But landscapes are a sure thing. The Z7 is a beautiful camera and gave me some excellent images on this trip which I’m including with this blog.

So I decided that I would try something. I decided to pair the camera with a Nikon lens that I find gives excellent contrast in its character.

I was beginning to believe that I’d possibly taken the Z7 as far as I could go and that the hunting was just something to live with. However I noted that in conditions of good contrast the camera performed better. So I decided that I would try something. I decided to pair the camera with a Nikon lens that I find gives excellent contrast in its character. The 28 to 300 mm zoom. And suddenly the hunting issue was seriously reduced. When you pair the camera with lenses that provide that extra degree of contrast it changes the character and removes the concern. I was shocked but I was very happy that I had done this exercise. It’s not something that is altogether unique as I have noticed it with other cameras. For example the Canon 24 to 105 series lens provides excellent contrast and on Canon bodies nails the focus noticeably better in comparison to a number of their range. But this was a really important exercise and I would recommend pairing the Z7 with lenses that really provide a higher degree of contrast.

I would recommend pairing the Z7 with lenses that really provide a higher degree of contrast

To illustrate the point I shot in morning light conditions back in my garden where I like to set up lenses and cameras according to the light conditions and test them out. Here are four images taken with the Z7 and paired with the 20 to 300 mm lens. There is absolutely no problem with detail and focus and they nailed the focus perfectly. What I wanted in focus was in focus on what I didn’t want in focus is nicely out of focus. No hunting and no problems. As long as the flowers aren’t blowing in a breeze it’s easy.

No hunting and no problems. The Z7 was a breeze to use.

Z7 28-300mm Lens ISO 1000 F5.6
Z7 28-300mm Lens ISO 1000 F5.6
Z7 28-300mm Lens ISO 1000 F8
Z7 28-300mm Lens ISO 640 F5.6. If these flowers were moving however it is hard work.. it shouldn’t be so hard. The D850 is quite different.

Suddenly the camera is easier to use.

This is genuinely a transformational experience for me. Suddenly the camera is easier to use in every sense where speed isn’t an issue. It’s just slow. Because of the higher contrast in this lens it doesn’t hunt the way that the camera does with brighter lenses. It goes from being a good tool but one that you tend to be a little slower when using because you want to be a little more careful about focus to a tool that you just have fun with. And interestingly the combination of in body stabilisation and the stabilisation in the lens as well works well. It’s something I’ve noticed in Olympus cameras that can give you an edge.

When you pair the camera with lenses that provide that extra degree of contrast it changes the character and removes the concern re nailing the focus. It gets there slowly.

Some learning curves in photography are longer than others. Sometimes you wonder whether they will be worth it in the end. I believe in this case that this learning curve has been well worth the effort and I’m happy to pass on our comments. The S series lenses are exceptional. But some of the older Nikon lenses are amazing. I’ve seen some very good images on Instagram taken with Z7 paired with some of the classic Nikon lenses. It will be interesting to see the results as other photographers try different pairings.

I have written elsewhere that 20 megapixels is enough for everybody and I still have that view. But there are times when cropping out from a large image and come in handy which is why I’ve always had a larger mega pixel camera in the armoury.

There are a lot of good things with the Z series cameras and I’m sure that down the track we will have a lot of fun. As already stated I think that electronic viewfinders are the future. I love working with them. There are a lot of good things coming from Nikon and there is no doubt that they are setting themselves apart from some of their competitors with their willingness to innovate and develop with a lot of thought to what photographers need.

I’m also incredibly impressed with the S series lenses that Nikon are releasing with this camera. The Nikon 24 to 70 S series F4 is beautiful and perfect for photography wide-open. Yes, I did have to go a little more slowly but we’re not talking about being really slow, rather just a little more cautious. Okay, I’m not backing this up with graphs and tests but I am backing it up with real-life experience and real-life results.

I’m having a blast with the Z7 equipped with the 28 to 300 mm lens. Simply easy and awesome. Just slow.

However, pairing the camera with different glass and finding combinations that really rock is well worth the effort. I’m having a blast with this camera equipped with the 28 to 300 mm lens. Simply easy and awesome. Interestingly I’ve seen a few photographers now that have tried this pairing with excellent results. Well worth trying if you are having similar questions with the focus hunting. Having said the above I’m pretty certain that Nikon will be working on a firmware update that will address the aforementioned concerns because we are never alone when we discover things like this. And I know that some websites have commented on this at length.

My next pairing is with the Sigma 50mm 1.4 which is incredibly sharp. I’ve set up the focus so we will see how it fairs.

Z7 Evening Light 24-70 ISO 3200

Critical focus is an essential part of photography and it would be nice to think that we could achieve it more consistently in the future as a result of firmware updates when using lenses that are brighter but don’t have the same degree of contrast.

In the meantime this is certainly not an Achilles heel that would stop me from using the camera professionally. I can think of similar challenges using the Canon 50 mm 1.2 on a Canon camera and using the 85 mm 1.2. You get amazing results but have to work a little bit more slowly and thoughtfully. But as I said when paired with the 20 to 300 mm lens I have absolutely no issue and it’s the same with the Sigma 50 mm 1.4 which has a high degree of contrast. It focuses quickly and accurately. In the real world hard-working photographers are very concerned about getting the result. We love talking about equipment and comparing equipment but at the end of the day we want results. The Z7 is getting us closer to the end result in camera. If you are prepared to work with it’s slow and steady approach..

Well worth the learning curve. And we are so happy that we packed the Z7!

Incidentally I think the XQD cards are awesome.

Slow and steady can be a good thing. And who knows what might improve as firmware updates come through.

A few comments re Lenscraft Photography. When we comment on equipment in these pages the comments are based on use in the field. They are never based on a single use or just a couple of days using the equipment. We try the equipment with at least two disciplines in photography and determine how it performs from there. Lenscraft Photography is a website devoted to photography and sharing experiences with equipment. We are not affiliated with any manufacturer. We have used equipment professionally from Canon, Nikon, Ricoh, Minolta, Sony, Leica, Olympus, Hasselblad, Zeiss, Sigma, Pentax, Zenit, Bronica, Rollei & Kodak.

Some of these companies have been absorbed into others. Currently we regularly use equipment from Olympus, Nikon, Sony, Canon & Hasselblad. [Plus lenses from Zeiss and Sigma]


Whale Ho!

Don’t ever pass up an opportunity to see whales at play.. And always pack a camera…

There are some magical things to do in Western Australia. Whale watching is an experience that will just blow you away.

The first time you see a whale is awesome

There are many places around Western Australia where you can go to do whale watching. Whales migrate up the coast from the Antarctic waters and then return down the coast. There are long seasons when it is easy to book a trip.

You get close

At one time, whaling was a huge industry in Australia as you will see if you visit Albany on the south coast. Now whales are welcomed and the people that go out in boats, go not to slaughter the mammals but to photograph them. And each year it is getting better and better. It’s an experience that we try to enjoy every year.

These days you can be surrounded

In recent times we’ve gone from seeing just one or two whales to seeing pods of whales all around us in every direction. On some occasions we’ve had over 20 whales at different points of the compass. This is an amazing result of the care that has been taken on this subject.

At one time there was just a small boat that headed out from Albany and you heard about it from the tourist bureau or word of mouth. We heard via word of mouth and went out the first time on a very small craft. It was also the start of an addiction to viewing the whales. Today you often see larger boats and you even get morning or afternoon tea served for you.

You can snap the whale tail going under on most trips.

The iconic tail shot still needs a zoom lens

The elusive photograph of course is to try to get the picture of a whale breaching and you have to go out quite often if you want to capture these photographs. Mostly whales like to swim through the water and blow. If you go on a whale watching tour you’re pretty much guaranteed to get an iconic tail shot. You do need to give your gear some thought.

The breaching shot is always a treat
The breaching shot is always a treat
The breaching shot is always a treat

You need a zoom lens

But what to use and what to take with you? It’s an important question. Some people go with 50 mm or 35mm lenses on their cameras and when they come back the whale occupies a little bit half of a smidge in the photograph. While mobile phones are good for photographing people the action shot in the ocean is usually the preserve of something bigger. Having said that whales do come quite close to the boats these days and it is possible to get some very interesting shots using a mobile but it definitely is at the bottom of the list as far as getting real whale images is concerned. This is a zoom lens territory 101. That is if you want something to show for the trip.

We’ve tried a few lens options

Phones are good for some things but….

Over the years we’ve tried a few different approaches. I’ve been whale watching with the Canon 24 to 105 mm lens but it wouldn’t be my recommendation. The 28 to 300 mm and the 100 to 400 mm lenses are much more viable. Probably my all-time favorite lens for shooting whales is the Olympus 40 to 150 mm pro series lens. But you get the picture. You want something long that you can adjust very quickly and you want a camera that locks the focus quickly. On the recent trip we took the Nikon 28 to 300 and it was well worth using because the Nikon focus is so good. As I minimum I suggest a zoom that reaches 2-300mm.

Focus can be a problem in glare conditions and when the colour of the whale can look similar to the ocean. The difficulty of glare on the water can confuse the focus of cameras so setting the shutter and autofocus to continuous is essential. This poses a difficulty with high megapixel cameras as the buffer fills earlier and you can miss the major shot while your buffer is clearing. I suggest buffer depth above 30 for whale shooting.

Action

The Whales come close

Another surprise when taking photos of whales is that they do come very close. They sense that its safe to swim up to, around and under the boats that you are in. So having a fixed telephoto isn’t ideal. You will find yourself adjusting your zoom quite a lot.

Coming right at you!
And they come to check you out as well

Humpback Whales and Southern Right Whales are an amazing sight.

Humpback Whales and Southern right whales are common around Australia. They swim up the coast both on the east and west. Southern Right Whales are a beautiful creature and are as curious about us as we are about them.

Sometimes the whales are on a definite trip and just swim past. But they are often playful and well worth the trip out. Don’t be surprised if you are affected by coming close to such amazing creatures. Some are overcome at the experience.

We recommend seeing the whales from Augusta & Albany. You can also go and see whales from Perth locations such as catching a boat from Hillaries Marina in Perth. We have found that smaller craft are often a better choice which is why we book from places like Augusta and Dunsborough/Busselton etc.

With Auto focus I find that most cameras struggle with reflections. This is common with all brands. I have found that Canon, Nikon & Olympus have performed well for me with misses well down. The Sony cameras that I have used with the exception of the A99 and A9 gave more misses in focus with glare.

The Humpback

What is a humpback whale? The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is the fifth largest of the great whales. Its scientific name comes from the Greek word mega meaning ‘great’ and pteron meaning ‘a wing’, because their large front flippers can reach a length of five metres, about one-third of their entire body length!

Why called Humpback?

They are named humpbacks because of the distinct ‘hump’ that shows as the whale arches its back when it dives.

What do they look like? Humpbacks are ‘rorquals’, whales which have distinctive throat grooves. They also have knobs on their heads known as ‘tubercles’, each of which has a long coarse hair growing from its centre which is believed to act as a sensor. They have very long flippers (more correctly known as ‘pectoral fins’) with knobs on the front edge, and a humped dorsal fin. They are blackish, with white undersides and sides. The underside of the tail fluke is usually white with black patterning, which is unique to each humpback, like a fingerprint, so can be used to identify individual whales!

Sizes

Males average 14.6 metres and females 15.2 metres long. The maximum length is 18 metres and a mature adult may weigh up to 45 tonnes. Humpback whales have a life expectancy of 45 to 50 years.

The Southern Right Whale

What is a southern right whale? Southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) are about the size of a bus. These marine mammals each weigh up to 80 tonnes and may reach 18 metres long. The first time we went out to see the whales we were shocked at their size. Although southern right whales are huge, bulky creatures, they are also agile and active animals, and their acrobatic antics can keep whale watchers amazed and entranced for hours. However, their commonest behaviour is lying around like logs at the surface.

Appearance

What do they look like? Southern right whales have horny growths called callosities on top of the head. Southern right whales harbour large quantities of parasites (small crustaceans known as whale lice), and it is possible that the callosities may serve to reduce the area of the body in which parasites can inhabit. The patterns formed by the callosities are different for each individual, which is useful for researchers collecting information on patterns of movement and behaviour, as they can easily tell which whale is which. The head of a southern right whale is large — up to a quarter of the total length of the body — and the lower jawline is distinctively bowed.

No Fin on the back.

There is no fin on the back. The flippers are broad, triangular and flat and the body colour ranges from blue-black to light brown. There are often white markings, usually on the belly. The twin blowholes produce a high, V-shaped blow.

Where do they live? Southern right whales live in the cooler latitudes of the southern hemisphere, where they were once abundant. Whale watching tours that encounter southern right whales operate from Albany and Esperance in winter. They can also be seen from the shore in places such as Ngari Capes Marine Park (between Busselton and Augusta) and Point Ann east of Bremer Bay in Fitzgerald River National Park. Sometimes during the winter months, people living in the Perth metropolitan area can view them from shore, especially in Marmion Marine Park.

What a marvellous experience and an opportunity not to be missed.

Taking a look right back at you
At play

Other considerations

Glare from the ocean intensifies light and sunscreen is a definite must. The cold wind can give you a chill. I use finger-less gloves and a beanie when I go shooting. Its good to get into position quickly and find a spot where you can wedge yourself in and hold on tight. The boats do move in the swell a lot as to find the whales the boat may head out further than you expect. Not always as the whales can come in close. However I have seen plenty of sick people looking green. Just a thought.

Why Nikon are spot on with the Z range. And where it misses.

Z7 STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA JACARANDA S LENS 24-70
Z7 STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA JACARANDA S LENS 24-70

The Nikon Z7 has been worth waiting for

People waited with growing impatience. What for? For Nikon to come up with a genuine contender in the mirror-less race. And then they did it. They announced the Z range. And suddenly they hit a goal. And apart from the fact that the learning curve has stymied some people the fact is that this is about as good as it gets in full frame high megapixel 35mm Photography. Not that any of the contenders has struck an outright killer blow on the competition as all the current pro cameras are pretty awesome. And all have things that people would change. But you can’t get past the results. They are  good.

Nikon have won a lot of friends with the cameras that they have released recently.

Personally I am one of those people that feel that Nikon have really hit the ground running remarkably well. In recent years they brought the Nikon D850 to the market and frankly it is head and shoulders the best DSLR camera that we have ever used. I agree with those reviewers that say that at present it is easily the best camera in that format available and in many ways in the 35mm field if you want to use a DSLR and your pockets are deep enough it would be the ideal choice. Having said that, size is a factor which is why people are looking at mirrorless.

Z7 Nikon Our Go To Full Frame Mirrorless Camera
Z7  Mirrorless That is Simply amazing

Its about making better lenses.

It’s not the format and size that has got our attention. We don’t mind using DSLR at all. In fact for some applications a DSLR is obviously needed. But mirrorless cameras have their advantages and it’s not simply size.

Both Canon and Nikon appear to see the value of making good lenses even better

What both Nikon and Canon have realized is that better lenses are possible. They chose to attack the problem of mirrorless from two sides. They looked at form and lenses. And that’s brilliant. Digital sensors have the ability to record remarkably fine detail. Sometimes the lenses are the limiting factor though not to the degree that might be argued… Changing the way that lenses are made so that they can be optically better and positioned in a better form on the camera body is a stroke of genius. It really shows that someone has been thinking about this issue carefully. Other companies have approached the issue of better lenses by using smaller sensors and they have achieved remarkable clarity from small sensors using the Micro 4/3 system which, you discount at your peril. It is actually quite amazing and people should stop and look at it. MFT or micro four thirds is a lot better than those that have a fixation on full frame might have you think. We’ll talk about that elsewhere.

NIKON-Z7-ISO-640-S-LENS-LENSCRAFT-MFT
S SERIES 24-70 LENSCRAFT MFT PHOTOGRAPHY

For now though, taking it from the Nikon Z series camera and using a remarkable full frame sensor, then the approach has been to design a completely different mount and make lenses that are remarkably good optically and provide an excellent basis for both still images and video.

Z7 STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA S LENS 24-70
Z7 STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA S LENS 24-70

Image stabilisation built into the camera is always preferable

Then too we are so impressed about the fact that Nikon decided to build the image stabilisation technology into the camera body which we always regard as the very best place to put it. There is no doubt that it is essential in photography and most photographers will tell you that they tend to shoot images at the lowest ISO rating that they can. So for example if you go through a professional catalogue you will probably find that most of the photographs are taken around 200 ISO or less where possible. That is certainly true of our catalogue. Image stabilisation often allows you to get a shot using a lower ISO rating and is therefore essential. However when stabilisation is built into a lens it increases its weight and makes it more complicated. When it is built into the camera body it means that every lens that you fit to that camera is automatically able to take advantage of the stabilisation. It is just fantastic. So for the first time we have a pairing of a high megapixel sensor with inbuilt stabilisation and now we are seeing some amazing lenses of a quality that we haven’t seen in this form before. For me it’s like carrying round a medium format camera that is remarkably small and has all the advantages of the 35mm format. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration but that’s what it feels like and it certainly gives results that are in that ilk. We’ve used a number of medium format cameras and we’ve never been able to achieve the sort of results using any of those cameras up to 50 megapixel that we can get from the Z7 when paired with their new S series lenses when we nail the shot. Rich full images with lots of room to work to bring out the shadows if needed.

Z7 STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA MARINA S LENS 24-70
Z7 STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA MARINA S LENS 24-70

So after trying the Z7 for while how do we feel? The converter for fitting Nikon lenses is good. A great idea well implemented. Adds size but we can understand the thinking behind it. If you have lots of native Nikon glass then the adapter provides an option. For me I’ll just use existing Nikon glass on the DSLR. Coming back to what’s really exciting though. It’s the NEW glass. The lenses are what it’s about. It’s always been important to use good lenses. And this is where Nikon have made amazing advances because the S series lenses are something else. The S series 24-70 is one of the best lenses of that focal range we have ever used. And we’ve used them all. From simple to esoteric. This one is so even and sharp that it takes the camera’s potential to a new level. I like the Z7 generally but I wasn’t feeling all that enamored with it when using the adapter. Don’t know why really but I didn’t feel that the focus when using the adapter with third party glass was exceptional and looking online there appears to be a few that had that experience.. however forget that.. now the S lenses give us something to get our teeth into. And I’m shocked at the improvements.

The quality of image is very good when the focus finds its point. Sadly it misses more times than I am comfortable with.  On a recent evening shoot we shot with two mirror-less cameras The Sony A9 and the Nikon Z7 and the results when compared were startling. In 309 images taken the Z7 focus missed almost 60 times whereas the Sony A9 missed focus just once in over 400 shots. In a further trial against the D850 we got similar results though the D850 missed none. In sunny conditions with glare it gets a lot better but it is a niggling worry. I guess it hunts more than i would like.

The Z7 is frankly close to being the most well-rounded mirror-less camera that I have used in full frame format. But it isn’t.  Its a great overall design and size. But until the focus is better it isn’t up to being in my kit unless shooting in bright conditions or shooting manually. I wish the focus were better but at the moment I am hoping for a firmware improvement. 

Hats off to Nikon for a job well on the way but not yet ready for 5 stars.

Other good things

The grip is superb

The metering is excellent

The weight is great

The EVF is clear and bright

The menu system is simple. [Why do people complain about these things…? Its not rocket science and easy to navigate.]

The ISO rating is great

The images are usable up to 6400 ISO for our purposes [We could easily go higher and get prints up to A3] but as noted we would always shoot below 1000 and mostly our average is 200 so its there but for most photographers it won’t matter that much.

Speaking to other photographers about full frame and the general opinion is that Nikon have really got it right. They were talking about the bodies. But when you add in the S lenses which are priced competitively then you have a system with legs that is already delivering excellent results.

We will add some images here soon.

Nikon S 24-70
Nikon 20-70 F4 S Lens. The best 24-70 mm lens we have ever used to date

Just one caveat with these comments. We have yet to try the Z6 but we understand that it is the same camera with a different 24.5 megapixel sensor. I’m firmly of the opinion that 20 megapixel or there about is plenty for any application up to poster size and beyond. Exposure technique remains much more important than the megapixel count of a sensor. Speed is also important and that is achievable with full frame with a lower megapixel sensor much more easily than with higher megapixels.

A few comments re Lenscraft Photography. When we comment on equipment in these pages the comments are based on use in the field. They are never based on a single use or just a couple of days using the equipment. We try the equipment with at least two disciplines in photography and determine how it performs from there. Lenscraft Photography is a website devoted to photography and sharing experiences with equipment. We are not affiliated with any manufacturer. We have used equipment professionally from Canon, Nikon, Ricoh, Minolta, Sony, Leica, Olympus, Hasselblad, Zeiss, Sigma, Pentax, Zenit, Bronica, Rollei & Kodak.

Some of these companies have been absorbed into others. Currently we regularly use equipment from Olympus, Nikon, Sony, & Hasselblad. [Plus lenses from Zeiss and Sigma]