Why the Nikon Mirrorless Already Sucks

Why the Nikon Mirrorless Already Sucks

We all know that Nikon and Canon are fueling up for a big battle for the mirrorless wars, with Nikon firing the first salvo in the form of the Z6 and Z7. But it just does not interest me.

After using every camera system and switching back and forth from Canon to Nikon several times and even shooting Phase One digital medium format, I’ve settled with the Sony a7R III as my favorite camera.

It took me longer than most to jump on board the mirrorless train, with a few things scaring me such as being so small that it might look and feel like a toy. Then I had concerns about the electronic viewfinder in general and if I’d like it; after all I hated the live view on Nikon.

Once I used the Sony, I knew instantly this was it and I was done switching for a very long time. The Sony has already offered everything a Canon or Nikon can do in terms of great focus, image quality, and dynamic range. But then the Sony offers something that is not so easy on the Canon or Nikon. The EVF allows me to use my old vintage lenses like my Helios or vintage Jupiter lenses with perfect focus easily and consistently. Also gone are the days of dealing with the microfocus adjustments since the focusing is done via the sensor.

Bottom line is, Sony has already given us everything that Nikon or Canon are trying to produce.

Critics of the Sony system had once complained about adapters to use Nikon or Canon glass, stating they didn't trust adapters, but now those same folks embrace the idea of adapters if it’s a Nikon mirrorless to use their existing F-mount lenses. Most humans are resistant to change, hence the comfort factor of the name Nikon or Canon. However, since the mirrorless is a new platform even for these brands, it is in fact a change and Sony is already established.

Nikon and Canon are trying to reinvent the wheel since they are so late to the party, and who loses in this scenario? The consumer. Think about it, there’s going to be a mad rush of brand fanboys all clamoring to get the first Nikon or Canon mirrorless when it’s released, and the price will be high and availability will be difficult. Then there’s the obvious growing pains that come with any new system. Sony had it early on, and now we are past those hiccups and I can’t see a reason to start over and go through those growing pains with the others. Had they realized how big the mirrorless technology was, perhaps they could have been in on the ground floor and enjoyed the success.

At this point, I think Nikon and Canon have already lost. Sony already has the market. Now they are just embarrassingly trying to play catch-up much in the same way GoPro tried to do after they realized (again, too late) that DJI had beaten them.

The specs from Nikon seem to be a pretty obvious straight copy of the Sony, except for one huge blunder in only including one card slot. Will it work? Likely yes, but we don't know how many bugs it will have being a new system. Are you getting anything new for your effort and money? Seems like that answer is no.

Time will tell if Canon can make a better attempt at entry into this market than this sad effort that Nikon has made.

What do you think? If adapters are required to use your existing lenses with Nikon or Canon mirrorless, then what advantage does it have over Sony? Just the name you are comfortable with.

Is that really worth the expense, wait, and growing pains of working through the inevitable bugs?

Lead image by Irina Kostenich via Pexels.

Log in or register to post comments


Previous comments
Oliver Kmia's picture

"Critics of the Sony system had once complained about adapters to use Nikon or Canon glass, stating they didn't trust adapters, but now those same folks embrace the idea of adapters if it’s a Nikon mirrorless to use their existing F-mount lenses."
The situation is a bit different. Sony adapters (mainly from Metabones) are not native products and they are hit or miss based on the lens and body (sometime the same lens works ok with a A 7xx camera but very bad with A6xxx camera or vice versa). Nikon developed its own adapter with native support so it should work much better and benefit from the official support of the company.

I don't know if the Z camera suck but I agree that Nikon could have been a little bit more ambitious. The Z6 and Z7 are just aimed at the A73 and A7R2. Why not trying to beat Sony right away? In video, the N-log 10 bits is only available with external recorder but Nikon doesn't have any camera brand to protect (unlike Canon). Perhaps they plan to release a future Z video body later on?
The single card is also strange.
That being said, the Sony reliability, colors, weather sealing, and ergonomics are not the best and Nikon can beat them. On the other hand Nikon Z mount is very fresh whereas Sony FE mount is being adopted by Sigma and Tamron.

Meanwhile Canon is MIA as usual. Hopefully they'll release something before the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 but we can count on them to fuck it up somehow.

Looks like my 5D3 and 6D are not going to retire anytime soon...

dale clark's picture

I say Nikon did try to beat Sony, however, I'm sure these new cameras were in the final stages before Sony updated their A7 series (2 slots, better battery, etc). I'm not certain if Nikon and Canon can refresh cameras at a rate Sony can (again...just a feeling based on prior Nikon and Canon refreshes). The problem here is if Nikon does not sale a bunch of these, there will be less incentive to bring a refresh with any sense of urgency.

Bill Larkin's picture

Well, the one thing to consider here is the size of the company and R&D funding. Nikon is a much smaller company in terms of people than Canon and probably Sony as well. Both Sony & Canon have much larger R&D budgets. From my view, Nikon's just trying to grasp on to every straw they can get, riding the coattails of the Nikon name as long as possible, which I would do too if I were them.

Oliver Kmia's picture

That's right but until now we haven't seen much of the Canon R&D budget in action with the 5D4 and the 6D2.

Eric Salas's picture

Canon better respond and match at the bare minimum to Sony or I’ve lost hope for both of those companies.
If they want to go mirrorless then make a camera that is a close to equivalent as you can. If not, just stick to the DSLR crowd.

The 850 is amazing, the Z cameras are flat out behind the curve. There is no sugar coating the fact these cameras should have been released two-three years ago. If they did, then we’d have a race.

Right now we have a clear failure to bring to the table what Nikon users asked for.

Nikon has less R&D capacity than Sony, but their cameras are designed by photographers instead of engineers adding features that Sony can market. It shows in the handling and menus. It shows in the the less flashy features that Sony leaves out like focus stacking and built in intervalometer. Is shows in the high ISO noise reduction that Sony bakes into raw files. That sounds good in marketing but it causes the star eater phenomena. It shows in the much less robust weather sealing. It shows in the lower bit raw files that you can't always get away from shooting Sonys. Sony has been working on catching up on lenses but not in Speedlights. So many little things.

I m not so sure about the R&D of sony being larger . Remenber thst sony developes dozen of diferent articles when Nikon is focus entirely on cameras and lens . That makes a big difference .

Nikon does a lot more than just cameras and lenses.

Nikon probably not but Canon could if they felt the need. They have the resources they just haven't felt enough pressure yet.

Bill Peppas's picture

The Sony is great... until you get ahold of the D850 or the D5.
If size is a problem... the 300gr that you cut short with a mirrorless is a joke of an excuse.
The good long glass is big on the mirrorless front as well.

Bill Larkin's picture

I've used the D850 - I prefer the A7RIII in every single way.

Bill Peppas's picture

Good, but no matter how one can put it, technically, and practically, it ain't better than the D850.
The D850 has more accurate, consistent and faster AutoFocus, better lenses available in every single focal length, much better battery life, a much better viewfinder, better ergonomics... better... well, I'll leave you to it to put a worse in this sentence ( say weight please :D )

Bill Larkin's picture

Well I can't agree the D850 has better focus, since it's still not mirrorless, the fact of the focusing being done off the sensor leaves no variance like Nikon does for calibration between different lenses and bodies. Say there's a 4 point tolerance level, and you get a copy of a lens that is +4 and a body that's -4, thats a span of 8, which would result in bad focusing... but of both were +4 then it'd work great. This is why some people love a certain Nikon and others hate it. The mirrorless is by nature a better platform for not having those types of issues.

Focusing was one of the main reasons I switched to Sony.

Bill Peppas's picture

Phase Detect on Sensor that is... which is... not that accurate, actually, not any more accurate than a PD on a DSLR can be.

So... you are claiming, that the A7R III has faster & more accurate AutoFocus than the D850.
On both static and moving subjects.

Well, that must be a first.
Since nobody, from expert reviewers and technical analysts, and no well-known professional photographer in his field has claimed that the Sony is better than the D850/D5 in terms of AutoFocus.

We must all be wrong I guess.

Bill Larkin's picture

"Lets consider that I have a camera body that is -2 focus units from perfect, and a lens that is +2 focus units from perfect. Both are considered ‘fine’ according to the manufacturer's definition, although they certainly aren’t perfect. However, the combination of a +2 lens on my -2 camera will be absolutely perfect, I’ll love the lens on my camera . After my experience with this one lens on one camera, I will write Sonnets on the various online forums about how great it is, and will tell anyone who doesn’t like it that they must be a bad photographer."

-- excerpt from Roger Cicala on the technicals of the calibration between DSLR bodies and lenses...
That is something that a DSLR can never get around.

I used a D850 - I wasn't impressed. It was decent, but nothing goundbreaking as Nikon had promised.

Nikon boasting about number of focus points, but the non cross type points are not reliable and what is the coverage of the area of sensor by the Nikon? and by the simple nature of it, you still will have calibration issues with various lenses, even Nikon lenses.

These are all different tools and anyone can use any of the cameras and make something good, but now we are slightly off topic as the article wasn't about the 850, it was about the new Z and how it falls far short of Sony, since Nikon didn't learn from any of Sony's mistakes and growing pains... they are just reinventing the wheel and expecting everyone to jump on board, yet they offer no value proposition vs the primary competitor, which is Sony.

Campbell Sinclair's picture

My photography will not change with mirror less or not so Im not too worried about the Z series They don't offer heaps more than my D750.

Michael Holst's picture

Size is an issue for some shooters. Even since switching to a mirrorless Sony, I haven't looked back. It's easy to stay pretty unnoticed while shooting on the street with the mirrorless instead of a big body DSLR. Maybe the specs on the D850 or the D5 are better on paper but much more goes into the way I shoot than image quality. User experience is important to me and that's a more noticeable benefit than the marginal image quality differences between the two.

Don't assume everyone is a pixel peeper. Your clients usually aren't either.

Bill Peppas's picture

This could be the only real size advantage... unless you are using a high performance ( quality ) lens for a Full Frame mirrorless, which translates to an equally bulky lens, so the "unnoticed" factor goes away.
If you're using a mirrorless and a compact pancake lens, then yes, you do get an "advantage" for street photography.

Michael Holst's picture

There are other manual focus options that are smaller in size. It makes the setup look about the same as an old 35mm film camera. People don't give you a second look. I always felt like when I had my 5d mk2 people would pay more attention when I was shooting with that "what is he up to?" look on their faces. even with the large canon 35L on my a7 (without the hood) I go mostly ignored.

" better lenses available in every single focal length", yeah, so you had a dream where Nikon 24-70 F2.8 was better than Sony 24-70 GM? Tell us more about it. Were there fairies?

Bill Peppas's picture

So... the 24-70 GM which is slightly better than the Sigma 24-70 on the Nikon is a groundbreaking thing.

I guess in your mind the mirrorless cameras have the best... ultra-wide lenses ( see 14-24, 15-30 Tamron ), the best tele lenses ( that magnificent Sony 500 prime :D ) and most definitely, the very best Tilt Shift and Macro lenses.

You got me!

I'm ditching the D850 to switch to a Sony A7R III IMMEDIATELY!
I'm so glad I'll be also saving on batteries, no more need to get extra batteries with me!

I can see a point to this if you don't own a significant glass collection, on either EF or F mounts. But as it stands you have to adapt a lot of specialty glass using questionable 3rd party adapters to fill in holes of the sony system, and given canon/Nikon are already entering the market, it just isn't worth it. You know the canon adapter to their mirrorless will be superior in every way to what we're using to mount EF glass today. So to buy a sony camera could make sense as a stop gap measure only.

Marius Pettersen's picture

And often leads to unbalance. I rejoiced back when I upgraded from Canon 400D to 40D - so much better to hold and work with over time. Grips help, but how many Sony shooters actually use battery grips?

Eric Salas's picture

I’ve never used my Sony cameras without a grip. It feels like a DSLR when I have the grip on.

Maybe if you're shooting on sets this is not an issue, but for most of people it makes a significant difference whether you're pointing an A7 ot a D850 at them. 300g is something I can take, but just look at this:

Lance Bachelder's picture

Funny (or sad) that 99% of the Nikon hate is from folks that have never touched the camera and are Sony fans. I switched from 5D4 to A7RIII and, other than the higher resolution, regret it every time I have a shoot (mostly studio). I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the Z7 and if it's decent, selling all my Sony crap as fast as I can!

99% of the hate are also from folks who never used XQD memories. SD memory is at the bottom of the list as far as reliability. SD cards are very fragile with exposed pins. I would bet most SD failures are ESD from the constant zapping of the unprotected exposed pins. After a while, no matter how much internal protection, it just fails. CFast, CF and XQD are trying to address this but both CFast and CF cards have those pesky little numerous pins that are prone to bending.

Joe Feldman's picture

I feel your pain. Went 5d Mark IV -> a7riii ->5d Mark IV. The Sony feels uninspiring and the colors never worked for me.

Eric Salas's picture

So you don’t shoot raw?

user-156929's picture

What do you dislike so much about the A7RIII? I can't imagine it's the ergonomics because you could/would have tried that before switching.

More comments