Has Nikon Just Smashed It out of the Park With the Z 5 and New Compact Zoom Lens?

Has Nikon Just Smashed It out of the Park With the Z 5 and New Compact Zoom Lens?

If you’re a budget-conscious photographer looking to buy a full-frame mirrorless camera in August, you should probably just buy the new Nikon Z 5. For the money, it looks amazing.

Nikon truly hasn’t cut many corners in its efforts to deliver customers an affordable, lightweight stills camera (read the announcement here). At just $1,399, the Z 5 packs a huge amount into an incredibly compact body. Essentially, they’ve taken the best bits of the Z 6 and Z 7, ditched the XQD card slot in place of a pair of UHS-II SD slots, and thereby rectified the lack of redundancy missing from the Z 5’s bigger brothers.

Impressively, weather-sealing hasn’t been compromised either. Being small hasn’t made it delicate, with Nikon intent on making a camera that is ready for the same conditions as its other offerings. Photographers seeking to save money and weight shouldn’t then have to avoid going out in bad weather, something that was taken into consideration for the design of the brand new 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens.

Perhaps the most notable compromise for stills shooters is the drop in frame rate. The Z 6 shoots at 12 frames per second (the Z 7 shoots 9), while the Z 5 drops to a mere 4.5 frames per second — a fairly reasonable offering in an entry-level camera, and comparable to the 5 fps offered by the Canon EOS RP.

In terms of pricing, the RP is still significantly cheaper at just under a grand, and while the Z 5 may drop in price not long after launch, we may see a further reduction in the price of the Canon. The Z 5 offers significant advantages for the budget-conscious full-frame buyer, such as the 5-axis in-body stabilization, and dual card slots.

Furthermore, you could argue that there’s a better choice of affordable glass to draw consumers into the Nikon ecosystem. Nikon’s solid selection of f/1.8 primes might not draw the headlines of Canon’s f/1.2 beasts, but for amateurs and enthusiasts, they're a much better prospect. Admittedly, this has probably shifted slightly given Canon’s introduction of its new 85mm f/2 and pair of bold f/11 super-telephoto primes.

The choice of a sensor that doesn’t have backside illumination is perhaps one of the bigger steps down from the Z 5’s siblings. This may impact low-light performance and combined with the slower processor, perhaps also speed of autofocus.

For some, the 24-50mm f/4-6.3 will be an odd choice, as the aperture range will be too restrictive. However, this is very much a kit lens for consumers and those looking to travel light: at just 6.9 oz (195 g), this is insanely light, and at less than two inches when fully retracted, it’s incredibly compact. It might not be fully weather-sealed, but Nikon guarantees drip- and dust-resistance — not something you usually get in a small, affordable lens. Of course, the 50mm f/1.8 — $200 more expensive and more than twice as heavy — is a better choice for low-light and subject separation, but this is a lens to take with you on a day out when flexibility and weight-saving are priorities.

Of course, Canon is hogging the headlines with its hottest new releases, but as someone who appreciates compact, lightweight full-frame cameras, this seems like an impressive and affordable combo from Nikon, and I genuinely hope that the Japanese manufacturer sells a shedload of them. Let me know your thoughts and whether this is a strong move from Nikon.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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If I was looking for brand new camera to buy today, my choice would be this one, it checks all my needs...

Nice for travel - if you've already convinced yourself you absolutely gotta have Full Frame. I really like the Z50 and I worry that Nikon won't continue APS-C if the Z5 does well.

For what it is, that's very reasonable. YMMV

Sure! What's your address? I'll pick one up and deliver it to your door. :-D

To me this is a great offering. Attractive and all what I need. I hope the downgrade of sensor does not affect normal usage and autofocus. If they have done there job with autofocus on this camera, it looks like great travel camera. Don’t get the 24-50 but it’s a much like a iPhone I suppose. I hope it will do well for Nikon.

If Nikon can come up with an R5 minus 8k at around $3k, they could probably take a good share of what Canon hopes is a lens gold mine at at time clients have to decide how to transition. Z5 also has the potential to hurt the R6 (DOA in my opinion).

If I was shopping for a camera right now, I'd get the R6 without question or checking reviews etc.

No need for 8k?

none lol

I guess Nikon/Sony are now trying to migrate the APS-C users to these 24mp full frame sensors. Which does make some amount of sense. 40+ is where the high end is now, but Sony and Canon would still have a huge incentive to keep cranking out the 24mp-types sensors.

Pretty solid specs for a lightweight landscape camera. Don't need the fps or low light so much anyway.

Sounds good but if the Canon RP is $400 cheaper....???

I like the RP but it loses in key areas to the Z5...no IBIS, no Dual Card-Slots, slower burst, lower max shutter, inferior EVF, and inferior battery life. The one advantage the RP has is weight. It is much lighter. But in reality, I would not compare these 2 cameras as Nikon will frequently have rebates of 200-300 and make the Z5 an even more worthy cost of entry for full-frame.

For the amateur, true hobbyist, motivated beginner with the loot, hell, even a pro who is looking for a capable B-camera that can take a pounding while ticking most the boxes...the most important one, for me, being Nikon's IQ and natural color science, this camera has to be on top of the list.

Gotcha, thx.

I’m a hobbyist, this would appear to be a great travel camera. But still think the Z50 is good too. It seems like they will be competing with each other, Z5 and Z50. I wonder which will be better for dark city streets at night?

I honestly think it's a bit over priced at $1899 CDN (where I am in Canada), I'm really wondering what Nikon has in store with the rumored Z6s...hopefully Nikon ends their hate for fully articulating screens.

I am sure it is a good camera and whilst it is more expensive than the Canon RP, the RP is a year older and not as well specced. What I am finding though is in the UK, the Z5 is retailing at around the same price as the Z6 or even higher with the kit lens (and I don't think I would recommend that lens).