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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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]