Featured image shot with the Nikon Z7 | 8,000 ISO | f4 | 0.5s
While driving home from celebrating my daughter’s birthday over dinner this past Sunday, one of her friends noticed a brilliant pattern of colors exploding in the night sky.
That was the moment when my brain screamed: “Where’s my camera?!”. After calmly driving down the streets of our neighborhood and finally reaching our driveway, I ran into the house to grab a camera. I have three to choose from: the Nikon D5, D850, or the new Nikon Z7. Having already played with the new Z7 for a week or so and experiencing how amazing the image stabilization is, I quickly made my choice. With the 20-70 f4 lens attached, I was out the door shooting all handheld.
Initially, I considered shooting video but knew that I would screw it up—I rarely shoot video and I knew the spectacle wouldn’t last much longer, so I went with what I knew. I immediately dialed the ISO up to 8,000 and started firing off frames as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket raced through the sky. I was pleased that the Z7 was grabbing focus just as I would have expected my D5 or D850 to do. As the light show was beginning to die down, I grabbed my Sigma 85 1.4 Art Series and continued shooting, keeping my eyes fixed onto the camera as I followed the light all the way to the horizon and out of sight. When I did drop the camera, I was amazed at how much light the Z7 was able to make out despite the sky having dimmed so rapidly.
Although I don’t consider the images I captured to be the most spectacular, this spontaneous moment proved to me that the Z7 has now risen as a strong contender.
To give you a little background, I have a Sony A7Rm2, A7m2, A7r, and a large collection of glass. Needless to say, I love Sony gear—I really do (except for how it focuses in low, soft light). I mostly use my Sony gear for my personal work of abstracts and fine art, while the D5 and D850 perform as my workhorses for my wedding work. Despite the fact that I think the Sony gear is some of the finest our industry has ever seen, it just doesn’t compete with the functionality of my big Nikon gear.
So as a full-time professional photographer for 25+ years who loves different types of gear, this “experiment” left me extremely impressed with the Z7. It really is one of the big boys. It “feels Nikon”, the lenses go on the same way, the lens release button is on the same side, and of course, I can use all of my current Nikon glass—A huge plus! All in all, it’s not that the Z7 is necessarily hands-down better than the Sony. It’s just different. But in my hands, the hands of a 25+ year Nikon shooter, it makes all the difference.
I’ll simply end by saying that there is often a lot of chatter about how Nikon missed the mark, could have done better… blah blah blah. In the case of the Z7, I think they designed exactly what they meant to—An amazing companion (rather than a replacement) to the D5 and D850.