Wildlife Photographer Spends Two Weeks in Antarctica to Test Capability of Nikon Z 7 and D5

Wildlife Photographer Spends Two Weeks in Antarctica to Test Capability of Nikon Z 7 and D5

A photographer has switched to the Nikon Z 7 and taken to Antarctica in order to test the new equipment’s capabilities in extreme weather. He discusses his findings exclusively with Fstoppers.

Florian Ledoux, a self-taught landscape and documentary photographer published by the likes of National Geographic, spent 15 days facing blizzards and snow in order to assess how well the new Nikon mirrorless would fare. No stranger to traveling, Ledoux has previously photographed in the French Navy, and this wasn’t his first project in the Arctic region either. A previous user of the D5 and D850 — both of which Ledoux praises for their precision and speed, respectively — he admits that the Z 7 really amplifies his video work. The D5 made the cut along with the Z 7. So, how did they get on?

“Down in Antarctica, I had to face really tough conditions with strong blizzards and temperatures around -15°C,” Ledoux recalls. “Despite this, I treated my Z 7 in the exact same way as my D5, leaving it on a tripod in really bad weather and getting it wet and full of snow.” The kit seemed to be humidity proof, with Ledoux noting that the batteries still lasted a full day despite the plummeting temperatures.

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1/100 sec, f/7.1, ISO 3200

Nikon Z 7, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1/200 sec, f/8, ISO 64

As a shooter of both photos and videos, Ledoux tells me the flexibility of being able to switch between the two was invaluable. In one notable example, he recalls the rare moment he was photographing a Skua bird stealing an egg from a penguin colony. Having been filming when the incident began to fold, he spontaneously decided to capture the action in the form of stills instead. “It was so spur of the moment and is still one of my favorite moments from the trip.”

Another perk was the weight of the camera itself. Needless to say, moving around in such conditions tests one’s character, so it’s of huge benefit to have lightweight equipment. Ledoux explains that having the option of using his existing NIKKOR lenses helped keep baggage to a minimum. Thanks to the Z 7’s FTZ adapter, he shot mainly using his AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens, a piece of gear he refers to as a “kitbag staple” of his. He notes that it was particularly beneficial for its sharpness, playing to its strengths when capturing landscape and wildlife photography.

Nikon Z 7, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1/1000 sec, f/18, ISO 400

Nikon Z 7, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1/250 sec, f/7.10, ISO 64

“Going to Antarctica was such an eye-opener for me. One of the main things I’ve learnt is that while the world is extremely fragile, with humans constantly adding to its fragility, nature can recover and thrive over time. If we all learn to change behaviors in a bid to prevent climate change, I believe our planet can recover, and that’s the message I want people to take away from this photography series.

Ledoux’s images are insightful. His aerial shots offer up interesting dimensions, while his portraits offer first-hand accounts of the trials and tribulations faced by animals living in this climate.

He’s adamant that this series can help bring the issue of climate change back to the forefront of his audience’s mind. He wants us to think about how we view the world and what we can do to protect it. So, with a firsthand account of the situation, what can he tell us? Most prominently, that the world is extremely fragile, and we as humans are only adding to its fragility. 

Nikon D5, AF NIKKOR 14mm f/2.8D ED, 1/320 sec, f/7.1, ISO 160

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1/500 sec, f/11, ISO 160

Next year, Ledoux will be heading to the North of Svalbard, along with wildlife photographer Grégory Pol, where they’ll document the threats of arctic wildlife, specifically polar bears, and how they’re facing climate change. He assures me he’ll be taking the Z 7 with him, and he hopes his images will make us think more about the world and the issues we’re currently faced with.

All images courtesy Florian Ledoux and used with permission. To see more of his work, visit his website.

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Julian Ray's picture

This is one of those articles that I wish was longer and went into more about the experience. Good to know that the Z7 can withstand as much as the D5. Having worked my D5s very hard since they came out the evidence seems to be mounting that a couple of Z7s are in my near future. Thanks Jack for sharing this story.

michael buehrle's picture

uuummmmmmmmm ? congratulations ?

Tom Reichner's picture

-15 degrees Celsius doesn't seem all that cold to me. I shoot in similar temperatures every winter here in the states.
I'm surprised it wasn't much colder there in Antartica.

Lane Shurtleff's picture

Exactly. -5 C is only 5 F. This article diidn't go into anything other than battery life. Gee, the 24-70 f2.8 is sharp. Ya don't say...?

David Nicholson's picture

"noting that the batteries still lasted a full day"; I was unaware that there were more than one battery in the Z cameras. That's been one of my issues: only one and short battery duration as the live view is always on. Correct me if I'm wrong! I have until Saturday to make up my mind on buying (the Z6).