Nikon Z7 Goes Head to Head Against D850, Canon EOS R, and Sony a7R III

Nikon's Z7 is often called a D850 in mirrorless form. Does it actually meet that claim?

Photographer Tony Northrup has had some seat time behind all of the cameras and decided to put the question to the test. Not only does he run the Z7 through a battery of tests against its closest mirrored brethren, the Nikon D850, but he also pits it against the other mirrorless standard-bearers from the other two other brands, the Canon EOS R and Sony a7R III.

Much has been made in the last few days about banding that's being exhibited in Nikon Z7 raw files due to phase detection pixels being placed across the sensor, per tests done at DPReview. But how does that compare to noise performance overall? Northrup breaks it all down (along with the images), and the results are actually surprising. Banding may not be the biggest issue among this group of new cameras compared to some of the other issues he saw.

In any case, sensor issues are not all that uncommon when a camera is new, and sometimes there's an easy fix. When the Canon EOS 5D Mark II was released, many photographers thought the sky was falling when little black dots appeared in their images around point light sources. It turns out that a simple firmware fix cleared up the issue, and such could be the case. That said, when your competition is a D850, it's a high standard to reach.

What do you think of the image quality from the current crop of mirrorless cameras in this video? Do you think there was a clear winner in this test? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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16 Comments

Jan Kruize's picture

Man go and do something useful. Comparisations between medium format an full frame for instance.

Robbie Q and me appropriated the Z7 for a "ride along" this past weekend. Any wildlife we encountered where out of range & at extreme distances (owing to wind conditions & hunting season here).

Having said that, coupled with the new Nikkor 500 P any captured files where very pleasing and sharp. The compact form factor and build quality of this combo really stood out.

Tony doesn't know what he's talking about. Just posting click-bait videos aimed at maximising the amount views.He's not even a real photographer, he's a professional youtuber and a book writer.

Even if you have to push your pictures +5EV or more, which 99.99999% photogs don't, it's sufficient to put your RAW into 12bit mode to get rid of this effect completely. Here's a proof:

https://www.richardcostin.com/post/2018/10/nikon_z7_raw_tests_001/

Nobody can really see any difference between 14bit vs 12bit in Nikon image and if banding is any issue, it's a really easy trade-off to put the camera into 12bit mode and forget about banding. However the title of the video surely draws attention and those much needed views. All that matters after all are the view-$$$, right?

He also made a couple of remarks regarding sharpness and amount of details captured - now that's funny considering he compares pictures with lenses wide open (f4), while every beginner photog knows any lens is at it's worst wide open and it's much more telling if you close it down to ~ f8, otherwise you judge a lens not matrix.

Again, that doesn't matter to Tony, because the truth doesn't bring nearly the same amount of views as fake news.

Ryan Cooper's picture

Define "real" photographer.

By the way, this is his portfolio: http://www.northrupphotography.com/

Chris Rogers's picture

Woaaaah Chelsea's work is so much better than Tony's lol. But that is indeed a subjective opinion XD .

Ryan Cooper's picture

I'd agree, her style is more appealing to me as well but I don't think anyone could claim Tony is not a "real" photographer with any degree of credibility. I think both of them have world-class work that firmly gives them both plenty of credibility in the field as educators. I've seen weaker work out of many educators who are just as popular.

William Howell's picture

Tony and Chelsea are real photographers and they love photography. Now I know what you are saying about click bait, but you have to have a snazzy title to get views, and to me, I don’t see anything wrong with that, unless it is a false and misleading title.
Good and thoughtful comment though.

Your name doesn’t help your argument. What is a “real” photographer?

He has a curated portfolio which anyone can view online, he shoots daily and has experience as the photographer and assistant.

I’m going to assume your a follower of Ken, so is he a “real” photographer?

nope, dont watch either one of them. Ken is full of it. Of youtube reviewers I highly consider only Dustin Abbott, who is a canon / sony shooter btw.

I do enjoy Abbott’s review style.

Jonathan Reid's picture

Every video this guy posts is turned into an FStoppers post. Why not just automate it?

.. or better yet, stop it at all. Anybody who wish to watch it may as well subscribe

David Pavlich's picture

Haters gonna' hate. It is the internet, after all.

David Pavlich's picture

And one more observation; saying T&C aren't real photographers from a person that has no images here. C'mon now...show us what you got. Maybe you should be on the cover of National Geographic. It's hard to get discovered if you don't show the world your photographic prowess.

Photo Kaz's picture

I posted my settings for the Nikon Z7 along with a BIN file you can download to try in your own camera. You can use the file as a starting point for your own settings (back up your own settings first), or try out the settings as they are. Open to suggestions as well.

https://photokaz.com/Nikon_Z7_Setup

dred lew's picture

"Nikon's Z7 is often called a D850 in mirrorless form." That may only refer to the sensor resolution. Feature-wise, the Z6 & Z7 are more considered to be in the semi-pro/enthusiast line (like D750), not considered professional. Nikon stated publicly that a "professional" level (like D5/D850) mirrorless has yet to be released. That's analog to Canon's strategy, the EOS-R is not considered to be a professional level camera.

If you take all this into account, then the Z-line as well as Canon's R-line are excellent cameras in their respective class. There is no need that these cameras need to live up to the top of the line DSLRs, because that's not what they were intended for. It just would have been helpful if Nikon had communicated this as such to set the right expectations.