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No culture or heritage in Nikon's Z series


Andrew Reid
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I have bought almost every Nikon camera in the last 5 years. I have at one time owned a Z7, D5, D500, D850, D750 and now I only have the Z6 (and D3X) remaining with the rest sold. If you look back into Nikon's camera range you will see an incredible culture and design ethos. The meaty controls and build quality of the D3, D5 and D850 with their professional looks and very good build quality. The film era makes Nikon the respected company it is today with cameras like the FM, Nikon S rangefinder, the NASA F4 which was onboard shuttle launches and today aboard the ISS with the Nikon D5.

But can you imagine NASA ever using a Nikon Z7?

New blog post:

https://www.eoshd.com/news/no-culture-or-heritage-in-nikons-z-series

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32 minutes ago, Andrew Reid said:

The Canon 1D X Mark III is so far in advance of the D6 especially for video users and in terms of processing speed, it’s as if Nikon just re-released the D5 and chose not to bother. In the full frame mirrorless market, the Canon EOS R5 again demonstrates that Nikon has nothing in the Z series that can touch it and nothing on the horizon either. Sony is the next big rival after Canon and again we see the same problem – Nikon are being out-specced and outsold.


Think you're being too harsh on Nikon. 

Remember there was nothing else for sub $2K that was promising as much as the Nikon Z6 did at launch:
FF 4K 10bit/raw output!!

That was groundbreaking for its time in a hybrid. Nikon was the first.  Of course since then the competition has moved forward themselves, such as the fantastic Panasonic S1H (but at a much higher price) or the Canon 1D X Mark III (at a waaaaaaaaaaay higher price. Or a GFX 100 for even waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more on top), plus also there are more cameras teasing us with the promise of what is just around the corner (the unreleased Sony a7Smk3 / Canon R6 / etc). 

But that is normal! Nobody stands still forever, and there is often this passing of the baton back and forth as to whoever is leading the race at a particular pin point in time. 

Although... when you think about the Nikon Z6 in terms of value for money, there still isn't a single other hybrid cameras that offers what the Z6 does (FF 4K raw output) for anywhere close to how little the Z6 costs! Maybe, when it comes to offering us enthusiasts affordable options, it is the likes of Sony/Panasonic/Canon who still need to play catch up with Nikon even now in 2020? All depends on what is important to the user. 

I agree, there is still a lot we'd all love to see in a Nikon Z series camera. (such as the 10bit/Anamorphic/6K/etc you mentioned, and others I'd add to that list like TC & Waveforms!) But let's not in the process forget what Nikon is doing right too. And if I was to buy a FF mirrorless camera today, it would be a close toss up between an S1 or a Z6 (probably go for the Z6, simply because I have greater faith in the Z Mount than L Mount, and because my Nikon lenses would work better on a Z6 than a S1)

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Whether it was down to Nikon themselves, Atomos, the patent lawyers or all three, the delay in getting the ProResRAW functionality from announcement to actually being deployed has really set them back with the Z series.

Then having to return the camera for a £200 hardware modification was adding insult to injury really.

If they could have released it at the time of the announcement, it would really have given the Z cameras a massive boost as there wouldn't have been anything out there at that time to compete with it but it just lost all momentum the longer it went on.

And of course by the time they finally did get it out, the world had moved on a bit and its just gone stale and it might be a long way back.

I obviously have a ton of Nikon gear stretching back over decades of using them so I should've been the person to buy a Z6 or a Z7 but I've never really been that close to getting the credit card out for one.

They don't need a complete change of direction but they could shake things up by diverging and making a small full frame cinema camera, particularly as the Z mount is very adaptable physically and electronically.

They won't do it of course.

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4 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

Whether it was down to Nikon themselves, Atomos, the patent lawyers or all three, the delay in getting the ProResRAW functionality from announcement to actually being deployed has really set them back with the Z series.

I agree, the huge delay did mean the Z6 squandered the majority of the lead it had over its competition. And least the good news is that the Nikon Z6s should have this enabled (and no need to be returned to the factory either!) from Day 1 of the camera launch. (and if it doesn't, that would be a major WTF!)
 

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I put up with shooting on the d5300 because I liked the image it produced. I think the way to feel happy about owning a z6 is to think of it as a full frame mirrorless 5600.  From that point of view it's a vast improvement.  (But yes, why they followed the amateur paradigm in these cameras and not the d8xx I dunno. I try not to get started thinking about their product decisions in the last 5 years.  I've got high blood pressure as it is). 

The image is lovely though. 

I see the incremental upgrade as a positive sign: this is Nikon reacting quickly to a quickly changing market. That's new. Previously they'd make you wait 4 years. 

A z6 with 4k 60? I'd love it.  (If they can work on the af a bit too that would be peachy).  

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Before I became a Fuji user, I was a Nikon guy.

When the Z6/7 was announced, I wobbled...but then righted myself after I read about the single card slot and no 4k 60p which I was already shooting in the XT3.

I nearly had another wobble this last Winter after handling one because though it is a bit plasticky, I do like the ergos and the looks.

But came to my senses again as it simply did not have the spec for me.

I am a fan of the lenses though and would have gone for the 20mm, the 35mm and 85mm f1.8's and never wanted for anything more.

I could have lived without the twin card slot safety net and if it had had 4k 60p, would have jumped on it.

I hope they do get back on track and produce something special soon.

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99.5% of people don't like a hefty heavy bulky camera. The public perception that a bigger camera take "pro" photos is already dying. And as someone who have seen many repair shops I assure you those attributes has nothing to do with "toughness" and durability. In fact in some cases Z6 internal components are more secured than D850. The only thing Zs needed was vertical grip which they gonna provide. Addressing dual slot also has no reason other than responding to internet hysteria.

But I agree with you about Z7 pricing. 

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52 minutes ago, Eric Calabros said:

99.5% of people don't like a hefty heavy bulky camera

Yep, I'm one of those 99.5% and one of the principal reasons I moved to the Fuji X cameras when they first came out...along with liking a challenge as it was back then.

It's the principle reason that put me off the Panny S1. With the lenses I'd use, it's too much chunk.

Nikon's Z's are barely bigger than Fuji XT3/4 or Sony A7iii other than grip. Those S lenses are also a pretty decent size & weight.

@Nikkor I wouldn't rather shoot with a cellphone over a 35mm camera, I just do because it's more convenient. I ALWAYS have my phone but have to choose to carry a camera. I've bought and sold too many compacts these last few years because I always end up using the phone.

Maybe that's the answer for Nikon, - make a pro camera phone?!

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Actually I made this a while back just to get an idea during lock down and my nearest camera shop that stocks anything like this is a near 5 hour round trip:

https://camerasize.com/compact/#800.408,772.408,795.786,814.815,ha,t

I can hold my XT3 in my hands and having fondled a Z6 last October already know how that compares in principal but the S1 at the shop was behind glass and the guy working there too busy so I could only look...but it's considerably larger and as I work with 3 cameras (albeit one being on a monopod), it would add to be quite something...something I moved to Fuji to get away from.

That's not a pop at the S1 by the way. I still like it and without Fuji would have been the strongest contender with the Z6.

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the first time i picked up a fuji x-t1 i was immediately taken back to the handling of my old Nikon F3 (still have and occasionaly use for B+W). size, durability and ease of use all combined in the perfect camera.  I loved the size of my OLY e-m5 but found the handling problematic. fuji are the goldilocks manufacturer at the moment although i am yet to handle an x-t4 and am a bit worried that the size is creeping up.

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1 hour ago, IronFilm said:

I agree, the huge delay did mean the Z6 squandered the majority of the lead it had over its competition. And least the good news is that the Nikon Z6s should have this enabled (and no need to be returned to the factory either!) from Day 1 of the camera launch. (and if it doesn't, that would be a major WTF!)

What do you suggest existing Z6 owners do?

Bearing in mind our cameras cost $2500 new and are now worth half!

Pony up the cash AGAIN for a few tiny improvements? Not going to happen!

The Z6S rumoured specs are insulting.

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IMHO you nailed it, @Andrew Reid - Nikon is going down the route of Olympus. Nobody is going to buy into the Z system except owners of Nikon SLR AF lenses, and that won't be enough to keep the company alive as a camera manufacturer. Nikon already makes more than 60% of its revenue with industrial and medical imaging. I wouldn't be surprised if they spin off the imaging division at some point, after which it will die sooner or later.

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2 hours ago, IronFilm said:

Think you're being too harsh on Nikon. 

Remember there was nothing else for sub $2K that was promising as much as the Nikon Z6 did at launch:
FF 4K 10bit/raw output!!

Promised at launch. Didn't deliver.

Z6 was not sub $2k at launch either. It was $2500.

I won't go easy on Nikon for teasing early adopters with ProRes RAW and then sitting on their hands for a whole year.

Besides ProRes RAW is a niche feature.

The real story here is the competition

S1 has internal 10bit V-LOG and same image quality as the $4000 S1H. This S1 costs same as Z6.

The Fuji cameras also have 10bit F-LOG, and a lot more besides! Plus they actually feel like high quality, well designed photographic tools!

Also the entry price for enthusiast full frame cameras is now around $2000.

And for that you can get a Sigma Fp with internal 4K RAW recording, external ProRes RAW recording (12bit) and BRAW, in an even smaller form factor.

The Z6 is a bit of an A7 III with a Nikon badge.

What is the unique selling point? 8bit, no LOG, no 60p?

It's not a bad camera by any means... For 2018.

But now the market has moved on, Nikon's response is... incremental at best.

EOS R5, EOS R6, Sony A7S II successor, Fuji X-T4 with 10bit 4K/60p, rumoured Fuji X-H2 and Panasonic GH6, hefty pro video S1H and wonderfully creative Sigma Fp are all myriad reasons not to bother with a Nikon Z6 re-released with a letter S!

So I don't think I am being too harsh.

If Nikon want my money from now on they'll have to think outside the box.

Quote

That was groundbreaking for its time in a hybrid.

Nikon was the first.

How so? If we are talking HDMI ProRes RAW they were not actually first because they didn't ship it first.

I could announce I am the first camera nerd on the moon.

But never actually go.

Does that make me a groundbreaking astronaut, or a bit of a dickhead?!

Quote

 Of course since then the competition has moved forward themselves, such as the fantastic Panasonic S1H (but at a much higher price) or the Canon 1D X Mark III (at a waaaaaaaaaaay higher price. Or a GFX 100 for even waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more on top), plus also there are more cameras teasing us with the promise of what is just around the corner (the unreleased Sony a7Smk3 / Canon R6 / etc).

Expensive pro cameras are exactly the kind of tools Nikon should be making.

The 1D X Mark III destroys the D6.

The GFX 100 is a peerless technological marvel.

The R6 and what Sony do next will both be better than the Z6 or rumoured Z6S for video.

The R6 might even be the same price.

Quote

Although... when you think about the Nikon Z6 in terms of value for money, there still isn't a single other hybrid cameras that offers what the Z6 does (FF 4K raw output) for anywhere close to how little the Z6 costs!

The Sigma Fp has FF 4K ProRes RAW.

The main thing however for most people is the internal recording.

Here the Z6 offers 8bit and no LOG!

Panasonic S1 destroys it in this regard.

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Nikon is way better than the recent Sony offerings. However the Z6 was also introducing a new mount. I feel like most Nikon shooters are just sticking with the old DSLRs which have superior IQ and AF for stills. It wasn’t compelling enough for a new shooters to pick them over Sony or Canon Panasonic. 

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48 minutes ago, Andrew Reid said:

What do you suggest existing Z6 owners do?

Bearing in mind our cameras cost $2500 new and are now worth half!

Perhaps you're letting your personal history with a Z6 cloud your judgement of being objective with Nikon in general. 

This is like the Sony F35/F3 owners being pissed at Sony because of the drop in value/irrelevancy of their cameras, but that shouldn't be allowed to change the fact that the F35/F3 still are uniquely interesting and worthwhile cameras to check out even in 2020. Now that their price matches their value. 

Ditto myself with the Sound Devices 833 which I pre-ordered, definitely some of Sound Devices actions since then towards 833 owners I've been less than happy about to put it mildly.  

But all this stuff is in the past, and it would be unfair to be overly harshly judging their products currently priced in the market or their future products on what is now history.  

With how the Nikon Z6 is currently on eBay, I don't think there are any cheaper FF Mirrorless hybrids I'd choose over it.

Canon EOS RP? Nope!
Sony a7mk2? Nope!
Sony a7mk3? Yeah ok, you could manage to find that one for just marginally less than a Z6 body.  But would I pick it? Nope!
Sigma FP? Again, only barely scrapes into the category of "cheaper than a Z6", however calling it a proper hybrid I feel is a real stretch. 

I'd say my point remains (at least from my perspective I'm looking from):
"Don't think there are any cheaper FF Mirrorless hybrids on eBay I'd choose over a Nikon Z6. "

Now of course we could perhaps look up, and stretch the budget, for around a couple of hundred more than a secondhand Z6 you could get a Panasonic S1. 

It is fairly close, but I'm still going to have to give the edge to the Z6. 

Now, if you got the SFU2 upgrade for the S1 to unlock 10bit, then hell yes, the Panasonic S1 steals the lead! But now you're talking about a $400 difference in price between what a Z6 currently goes for on eBay vs an upgraded Panasonic S1. Am afraid that does push them into two different price categories such that you can't quite fairly compare them head to head. 

13 minutes ago, thebrothersthre3 said:

Nikon is way better than the recent Sony offerings. However the Z6 was also introducing a new mount.

Yes, exactly. Nikon Z6 was (half of) the first ever cameras for the new Nikon Z Mount system, before we rush to judge them, let them mature a little. 

It is a good thing Nikon is doing a quick refresh to respond to customer feedback, rather than letting them languish on a more typical four year cycle. 

And it will get really interesting in a couple more years time when they launch a proper 2nd Generation of Z Mount cameras. 

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I honestly think more people would have gone for the Z6 if Nlog was available internally. Even if it was 8-bit.

At this point I'm really looking at switching to Sony still cameras. Probably the new A7s sometime in the fall. Unless the Z6 v2 absolutely blows me away there are too many strikes against the Z system. Including it's abysmal support from 3rd party lens manufacturers and no cinema line to move up to and use native glass on. 

I love my Nikon z6 to death, especially for photo work. But I'm not making money off photography, I need to commit to a system that can handle all my needs for video. Also people in the industry shoot on Sony and Canon, no one I work with uses Nikon. Which is a big deal for a second camera operator on these shoots.

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I suppose you raise a good general point about design language. Most of the modern cameras from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic perhaps feel a bit out of place in 2020 due to how refined smartphones are. From the leatherette plastic to the menus... they really do have a legacy feel to them. It's like driving a mid-2000s Ford Focus.

The Leica SL2 is beautiful as an object. Fuji cameras are really nice but maybe rely a bit too heavily on retro charm.

I guess cost is the big factor... if the EOS R5 is already going to be over £4k it could be pretty expensive to add a 5" touchscreen?

I'd love to see it done though.

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2 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

What do you suggest existing Z6 owners do?

Bearing in mind our cameras cost $2500 new and are now worth half!

Pony up the cash AGAIN for a few tiny improvements? Not going to happen!

The Z6S rumoured specs are insulting.

This is exactly what sony has been doing the last 5 years. Why are you bashing nikon for an established business model? 

 

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