With Nikon’s shiny new Z6 hitting the shelves in a matter of weeks, Kai Wong puts it through its paces at a nearby zoo, testing its autofocus and all-round performance with the help of a seasoned, Nikon-shooting photojournalist.
Photographer Paul John Bayfield has been shooting Nikons in the field for several years, so he’s the perfect candidate to see how the Z6 compares to its DSLR counterparts, and discuss how it stacks up against the Z7.
As mentioned elsewhere, the autofocus system just doesn’t quite compare to the 3D tracking offered by the likes of the D850 and the D5. For Nikon enthusiasts, this was undoubtedly something of a disappointment. The new combination of contrast detect and phase detect systems implemented in the Z range seems to be in its infancy, and prior to the launch of the Z7, expectations were high thanks to the 3D tracking in Nikon’s DSLRs that had set the standard by which it would be compared.
For some, the autofocus performance is something of a disappointment, but perhaps it’s more acceptable in the Z6 given its lower price point. As Tony Northrup pointed out, Nikon probably oversold the Z7: "they promised me my D850 in a mirrorless form, and that was not my experience.”
With only three lenses available for Nikon’s new mirrorless cameras, and without any of them being put to the test by Kai and PJB, it’s hard to get a true sense of how the Z6 autofocus performs. In Kai’s experience, it’s not the quickest but still better than the Z7. Can fewer autofocus points really mean better decision-making?
For Kai, however, the autofocus does little to detract from the fact that, as an all-round consumer full-frame mirrorless camera, the Z6 could be the best option available. Shooting video comes with one small disclaimer: if you want to squeeze out 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 N-Log, you'll need an external recorder, and given that Nikon has been demonstrating models at launch shows with an Atmos Ninja V over the last couple of months, clearly it expects anyone wanting that level of quality to have no qualms about this.
We should get a better idea as more reviewers get their hands on more units, but until then, let’s give a huge shout out to Kai who somehow managed to spend 15 minutes discussing a new mirrorless camera without once becoming distracted by the number of card slots. Well done, sir.