The Nikon Z 50: Is This Camera a Mistake?

Among all of the major manufacturers currently operating in the photography industry, Nikon seems not to be in the strongest position. The battle for the number one position seems to be taking place between Canon and Sony, with Nikon destined for third place. Is Nikon falling behind because it's been making all the wrong decisions? 

When Nikon first released their full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Z 6 and Z 7, many people criticized them for only including a single card slot. People also criticized the price point of the Z 7, especially considering the fact that it cost more than the beloved D850. A recent video by Tony and Chelsea Northrup discusses how and why the latest release from Nikon, the Z 50, was a huge mistake. Although I'm not entirely convinced by Northrup's argument in this particular case, he does, however, make some very good and interesting points. One of the points he makes is about how Nikon made this incredibly huge lens mount, and now, it's going to be used for a relatively small APS-C sized sensor. In all fairness, it's a little silly seeing that massive Hippo yawn of an opening on such a tiny body. Even still, I don't personally think Nikon made a huge mistake in this case, especially considering some of the mistakes they've already made, like not taking mirrorless seriously early enough. The main reason I don't think this is a huge mistake is that I believe Nikon does need to have a cheaper APS-C camera to compete with cameras like the Sony a6600. Having said that, maybe Nikon has jumped the gun and should have developed their Z mount before starting a whole new format for their mirrorless system. 

What do you think, has Nikon made a huge mistake or is this exactly what they should be doing? Check out the video linked above.

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29 Comments

Marcus Joyce's picture

I've not watched the video but he's probably right. Having a convoluted model lineup is silly. Why not make a d750 mirrorless? That's like sub $1000?

Matt Williams's picture

What would be better? A different mount for APS-C? Cool, yeah, that worked out real well with the Canon M series and their super awesome lens lineup.

The *width* of the mount itself doesn't make much of a difference in size. The FF Z lenses are all pretty much uniformly the same - whereas a lot of Sony lenses are fat and then shrink at the mount. The ultimate space required to store either is the same. And the kit 16-50 that Nikon is releasing looks pretty darn compact when collapsed.

This is to say nothing of the actual *advantages* a larger throat provides, like better telecentricity. There's a reason pretty much all of the Z lenses thus far have ranged from very good (35/1.8) to incredible (50/1.8, 24-70/2.8, 24-70/4), particularly across the entire frame.

If you want a dedicated APS-C camera with a smaller mount and stellar lineup, get a Fuji. Otherwise, I'd rather have a slightly bigger body if it means it can use the same lenses as FF models.

Edit, addendum: this isn't to say there aren't legitimate criticisms of these cameras. Chief among them are the lack of a second card slot (SD would have fit - though this doesn't personally bother me) and no true vertical grip. Their new "grip" (should be called a battery pack) is atrociously expensive and has no vertical controls.

Rob Mitchell's picture

Armchair camera manufacturers telling the real manufacturers how to do it, great.
Don’t like, don’t buy. Why waste time analysing it?

Tony and Chelsea are the most silly commentators there are. I rather read Ken Rockwell. Yet they’re successful because they provide “rational reasons” for their emotional oonal arguments and they’re nonsense most of the time. But people want to think they make decisions purely based on rational thought. So they diss a maker for havin a 2 mm (or what is it?) bigger opening than another - yet when it was the other way around it was a big advantage to Canon mounts.

They should take their Million followers and pack up.

Rob Mitchell's picture

I don't know or follow the people who made the video. In fact, I hardly waste any time watching videos posted here anymore. If the text accompaniment justifies a watch, I will, I prefer to read an article than listen so someone blurt out their opinion to camera. The headline here and video title says enough to me about the people who made the video. Obviously they want to be controversial to gain views to gain ad money and to get a load of comments.

The last time I watched them was around the time the Z Mount was launched as well as Canon R. I was trying to make up my mind whether to stick with Nikon. They came up with the most bs points about why Nikon failed - yet when Canon launched their R system which is in no way more enticing they were all over it because it had a flippy screen ... and wait for it ... because Canon invited them to the launch event and they thought it was neat. It was so transparent it was disgusting. In any case I switched away from Nikon not for any of the reasons T&C or most others mentioned but because I was tired of people promising Mirrorless will make the system lighter when lenses just became larger and more expensive... so I went Fuji X and also may go GFX for Fineart work.

I basically got tired of 35 mm being stuck in both worlds and not delivering any of it.

But within 35mm world, while Sony is kong, Nikon is actually the one that shows a bit of promise ... so when T&C come out and complain about a lack of Flippy Screens I just go LOL

Giulio Roman's picture

I saw another video of Tony recently, where he speaks about the fact that FX lenses are not designed to be mounted on APSC bodies because there are some disadvantages and he basically discourages this practice except for wildlife. In this video he only said that "you get less sharper pictures".

In the other video, he said that another disadvantage was that an FX F/1.8 lens mounted on APSC becomes "less 1.8" because - he said - "you also have to multiply the max aperture by [the crop ratio]", not only the focal length. I did some research but wasn't able to find anything about this topic. I'm curious if someone of you could please point me to some documentation.

Moreover, based on my not-so-scientific practical testing, I'm unable to see any changes in the depth of field by using my Tamron 150-600mm lens on my D3300 camera, compared to my Z6 using the same settings. I only see the crop. Finally, the pictures seems to me equally sharp on both cameras.

So, do someone know where I can read more about the change in the depth of field by using FX lenses on APSC bodies?

Thanks in advance
Cheers

Stuart Carver's picture

Read this as ‘I’m here to start the equivalence argument’, please proceed.

Giulio Roman's picture

Hi, sorry I am not native english. Can you explain please?

Stuart Carver's picture

Yes, I would say it’s best to just avoid this topic on the internet as all it does is cause arguments.

But simply the aperture is the same regardless of sensor size.. the only thing that changes is your depth of field, full frame will blur the background more when shooting in the same conditions with both formats.

Focal length is the same, it doesn’t change on either sensor, what does change is the field of view, full frame will give you more of an image at the same focal length, so on APS-C you would need to use a wider angle lens to get the same image.

When it comes to sharpness he is talking crap.

Don’t let T&C talk bs into your brain. It’s just click bait. That’s how they make money. They’re also pretty basic in terms of their “photography skills” if you ask me. What you did is the only viable approach: get a basic idea via research and then test it yourself. Print if need be.

Patrick Herlihy's picture

I'm supposed to buy an adapter too on top of this camera? No thanks- I'd rather use my Nikon lenses on the D850. I'm going to purchase the Fuji X-T30 as I believe it's a better overall value than the Z 50.

> incredibly huge lens mount, and now, it's going to be used for a relatively small APS-C sized sensor.

I haven't watched the video, but the diameter of Nikon's Z-mount is pretty much the same as Canon's EF/EF-S mount. And that has been working pretty well for both fullframe and APS-C ?...

I wish Canon would do the same with their R-mount (which also have same diameter as their EF/EF-S mount)...

Thomas H's picture

Of course! Nikon merely matched in size Canon's EF (and RF) mount. Of course the Z50 is a great camera, replacement for D7500 if you want to go entirely toward Z mount.
Every Zoo has a sign: "Please do not feed the animals". Usman, please stay off Northrups. And while on it, stay off every smashing-and-bashing style of YouTube channel.

One could argue Nikon always was in third place or at least for a long time before the Z Mount was released. The Z mount got nothing to do with it and if anything provides an interesting path to the future.

Despite that some point in his video is right (like upward tilting screen). I totally disagree with his mount argument. I have an APS-C DSLR Canon camera, and all my prime lenses are EF (Full frame) lenses as there are not many available specially for EFS (Crop). When I change to MILC it would not be Canon as I see the EF-M will be limited. I think Nikon did the right thing as Sony did with lens compatibility between their APS-C and Full-frame mount.

Let me guess ... no flippy screen? Tony and Chelsea have way too much influence for what their opinion is worth. There is no problem with an upward tilting screen. It’s rubbish. The last time I saw their reviews is when they complained that a camera didn’t have a flip screen and therefore dismissed it. Ridiculous

Tony well he is a paid reviewer even afrer sony having so many draw backs how can they say its better than Nikon these were the guys who used to say Nikon is good but Canon is better now when u like sony why the hell u dont like nikon after all both use the same sensor
Z 50 will be definitely a game changer for Nikon and a tight slap on faces of Reviewers like TONY

This camera is the next step for Nikon to fully adept MILC and slowly decrease dSLR efforts. It's for consumers now easier to step into the Z mount. Can't see how this is a mistake from Nikon.

Harold Crossman's picture

I agree. I'm not a pro, but I've sold many prints and images. I've been shooting with "pro-sumer" Nikons for years: D7000, then D7200 and now D7500. I shoot inside and out in all weather. In studios and in bars. I print sizes up to 17x22. I don't baby the cameras, but I do keep my glass clean. I'm happy. My subjects are happy. My customers are happy. In a couple of years when lens makers fill in the blanks, I just might buy a Z 50...and I'll probably be happy. Isn't that why we take pictures instead of shovel ditches?

Scott Evanoff's picture

It’s really hard understanding him cause he’s so damn cute to watch. He’s got some great points. Not a fan of the fact they didn’t put IS in camera. Good review :)-

Northrup is a photographer and not an engineer like me who has designed stuff (navigation system with camera for satellite) for this area. In technical therms Northrup is mostly wrong. Sorry for that, he doesn't know what he is writing. For Nikon it was huge step forward to design a hyprid focus system that works.... Still, the camera is a flop because it can't compete....A second Sd-card or an internal memory with 64Gb would be game changer, or an including Ibis system.... And to pay for an additional lensemount, for 260USD makes the camera to a flop.

It's a great little camera i think. I don't see any problem having the same mount as the FF siblings. Nikon's S line FF lenses are proven sharp edge to edge so this means uaing it in an APS-C censor won't have any problem too since APS-C only uses the best part of the lens which is the middle part just like DSLR.

The Z 50 has an upgrade path unlike Canon's M mount mirrorless and just like the SONY A6xxx they will enjoy the FF lensess available.

I believe in the long run Nikon will have the best chance of surviving the mirrorless system since their first offering is already at par with Sony while Canon might do good also but just like SONY the development of their video capabilities will hinder their growth since both of them have highend video camera to protect on the otherhand Nikon can go all out for their video capabilities.

Sony is already showing signs of slowing on their mirrorless delopment or they might have peaked already judging on the A7m4 and A9II specs. Both only have new processor, A7m4 added pixels but the rest are just improvements/refinements of their existing problems and added new features which already exists in DSRL's.

With regards to the Northrups, i don't buy their B.S. they have been proven wrong time and time again. They lost their touch in making unbiased review. They couldn't make any video without getting paid by triangle space. They do only clickbait videos now and have become a platform for online selling. Their Z50 clickbait video is just a salty rant for not receiving a review unit unlike Fro and DPreview who i think the only 2 reviewers from North America that receive their review unit.

Andrew Almeida's picture

Funniest thing are people who seem to always have the right answers on how to run a camera company but can't decide on what toilet paper to buy. Nikon will have other products to come with the features you demand. Their mirrorless range is just beginning. RELAX PEOPLE.

Rob Mitchell's picture

And if they don't. Buy another brand.
Life can be so simple really.

No Nikon didn't make a mistake. In mirrorless, small bodies and larger lenses are very normal now.

The only way a z50 could be considered a mistake is if Nikon could have made a full frame version at the same price point.

I think it is fair to say that most people who buy a camera will stick with that particular brand/system for a significant amount of time. The average person may never upgrade their camera until it breaks, so you are potentially losing out on a significant amount of money by not having an apsc version.

Sony also has the benefit of having only one mount, which means Nikon needs to siphon customers away from Sony in the early stages because switching away from Sony is going to be a huge cost for most people who will already own the Sony lens.

I would also say the Z50 didn't cost a lot in the research and development stage either, as id guess it is going to reuse many of the components that Nikon already has, with exception of the sensor. This pretty much means there isnt a real loss for making the camera. I also figure their analytics department already reseaeched and determined that most purchasers never really buy anything more than the two kit lenses so it isnt going to be that big of an issue early in the game and they need the camera.

Basically, there is no reason they should not have made an apsc camera as it isnt really draining resources and they need to get some of the market share with those buying their first mirrorless camera or risk losing those customers to canon, sony, and fuji perhaps for life.

Julian McIntosh's picture

I quite like what Nikon has done with this camera! I think the Z 50 is perfect for beginners (like myself) who focus on travel and street photography (and videography) and are looking to upgrade and get into the Mirrorless game from D3000 or D5000 series.

It's pointless for me to get a D7500 or D500 at the same price range as Z 6 and Z 7. The Z 50 is a great affordable option, and I already have APSC Nikon lenses.

I of course see why this camera is not for everyone, no dual card slot and no IBIS, but I can live without those for now. I definitely wouldn't label this camera as a mistake.

Tony makes numerous technical errors in this video, so most of his conclusions are wrong. One is that using an F mount will make the camera smaller. F mount optics require large mount to sensor distance. His statement that Nikon could remove the mirror box is untrue. The mirror goes but the box remains. That is a lot of empty space behind the lens. Add IBIS and the camera becomes a box.