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.

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Eric Salas's picture

Well you can look at specs and see a Geo Metro won’t hang with a VW Beetle right?

I made the beetle the Sony since you’d get mad if it was too cool.

Bill Peppas's picture

By the specs the Canon 5DsR looks better than the D850... right ?

You do realize you are judging a book by its cover ?

What if, I say, what if, the new lenses come out, RAW files from production units are fiddled with by Photoshop pros, and the outcome is, a sharper image than before, and more leeway for highlight/shadow recovery, etc etc.

It'll still suck ?

No matter how you look at it, any camera can suck.
This is clearly not a camera for sports & wildlife photography.
Just like you can say the very same for the A7R III, A9, etc.

Very few cameras are good at everything.
And that's how the manufacturers want them to be.
They want to sell 2 cameras or even 3 to a guy who likes for example both landscape & wildlife photography and also likes to produce nice 4k videos.

The only cameras IMHO which are nearly good at everything are either very expensive ( D5, 1Dx Mk II ) or expensive ( D850 ) or not top in everything but very good ( D810 ).

Eric Salas's picture

I understand what you’re trying to get at but at a price point higher that the current “competition” these cameras do not warrant it.

If these cameras were both dropped 500-1000 bucks, then I’d clap but if I see a friend of mine with one in their hands I’ll probably reevaluate their sanity.

Michael Jin's picture

Like I said, I haven't done a whole lot of reading nor have I compared specs, but if the Z7 is basically a D850, which it seems to be, I'm not sure how you could say that every spec is behind when the D850 matches up quite well to Sony's current cameras in terms of specs.

I'm also pretty curious about Nikon's choices in terms of their lens map. It seems incredibly odd to go out of their way to advertise this huge new mount and then start things off with f/1.8 and f/4 lenses. I know that they're claiming that their f/1.8 lenses are supposed to actually behave like f/1.4 lenses (whatever that means), but I'm skeptical and it's just creates a bad look to not launch with at least one major lens right off the bat.

As far as the cost of the lens, I guess we'll see if it's worth the $800. Tamron charges pretty high for their f/1.8 lenses and I think they're worth it, but then again, those lenses have VC built-in. I'm sure when the lens comes out, we'll be able to get a fair evaluation. If it's absolutely sharp edge to edge at f/1.8, then it's possible that it might be in the real of being "worth it". As of right now, however, I'm not really sure how they're planning to justify that kind of price for an f/1.8...

The adapted lens thing won't factor in at all if the performance and image quality is identical to their DSLR counterparts and I'm sure that Nikon will have gone out of their way to make extra sure that is the case because the alternative would be a complete disaster. No brand new system is going to launch with an entire line-up of native lenses right off the bat and to think so would have been unrealistic expectations. The main issue with adapted lenses on Sony cameras was that people were relying on third party adapters to try to use Canon or Nikon glass and it took a while for those to become even remotely acceptable. Sony's own adapters for their own lenses, however, worked well right off the bat. I expect no different here.

As a prime lens shooter, however, I will definitely say that Nikon's announced lens road map looks incredibly underwhelming for me and aside from the 58mm NOCT lens, nothing seems to take advantage of size of the vaunted Z-Mount that they put so much effort into marketing.

That 0.95 lens will be good, but will be expensive, big, heavy, and MANUAL FOCUS. It was just a marketing bluff. Right now, with the current sensors, something past 1.4 makes little sense, that stop of light will cost you a lot.

Ryan Cooper's picture

Personally, I don't care about the stop of light. Its the depth of field that makes the faster lenses appeal to me. But yes, I agree, the fact that it is manual focus was a mistake on Nikon's part. I suspect they are struggling to achieve accurate AF at that depth of field so opted to release a MF first while they continue to R&D. From what I have heard the AF on the Z6 and Z7 has not been good in preview bodies so far when shooting through an f/4 lens, I imagine a f/0.95 is hopeless for them right now.

Andre Goulet's picture

At 0.95, even a great photographer would be lucky to have 1 out of 10 photos focused where they intended. I mean, we have to breathe, which will mess your whole focus point up at that aperture. Marketing, marketing, marketing. The real world usage for this f-stop is questionable at best.

If a person wants that simply for the low-light capabilities and not DOF, today's high-iso cameras mitigate that easily.

But the brag factor? Priceless.

Ryan Cooper's picture

Thats not true at all. Yes it is certainly more difficult but with focus peaking nailing focus for someone that is practiced shouldn't be as hard as you suggest. The depth of field of a 200mm f/2.0 is not that far off a 58mm f/0.95 and people make that work just fine. (presuming you shoot for the same framing) The only difference is that I'd hope the 58mm isn't as expensive as the 200mm, but also that 58mm is a much more practical tool due to its smaller size and closer working distance.

I think where most people make the mistake is assuming we would be using a 58mm f/0.95 for headshot framing. That would be ridiculous. The DoF would be about 1mm and near impossible to focus as you said. However, if you back up and shoot a sort of surreal 3/4 to full body portrait at f/0.95 that depth of field expands to a more useful level. (about 1.5 - 2cm depending on your framing)

user-189304's picture

You shoot automotive and fashion.

None of the drawbacks should be an issue to you.

As to small degrees of technical differences between the new system and existing products, let's just wait and see what the empirical testing of the final (production) product produces.

Bill Larkin's picture

Perhaps they don't affect me as much as others but the point of what I was saying is there's no incentive... since Sony is already better at all those things. :)

That said, the battery life most certainly is a thing as is the single card slot.

user-189304's picture

To be fair, you have already committed to Sony, and that carries with it a set of biases (not a criticism, just a fact). As someone who is shooting an A7R III, It would be surprising if you did want to switch.

My concerns are the same as everyone else's, but I do feel you are being overly critical.

Keeping in mind these are prosumer cameras, and the weather sealing, I'm giving it a hard "maybe" to get into the system. For now I'm watching.

Alex Armitage's picture

No one should have expected the first generation of a product to be better than the rest of the market. Give it time.

Eric Salas's picture

We expected it to be competitive but we got the same problems everyone complained about with Sony’s.

Now, when Sony releases the A7Siii, we’ll see how far ahead they get.

I’m waiting for Canon to come out with something worth it because this Nikon just flat out isn’t.

Michael Jin's picture

The A7SIII does not compete with either the Z6 or Z7. It's aimed at a completely different segment of the market.

Eric Salas's picture

But it’s another mirrorless camera pushing the market ahead and it will be compared to whatever Nikon or canon puts out.

If both cameras are already behind, just wait for the Siii to come out. Sony will have three cameras showing that Nikon failed.

Aaron Bratkovics's picture

You seem very angry in this article. Everything is going to be okay.

Bill Larkin's picture

LOL nice, Mostly disappointed with Nikon as of late. And if they were gonna take a run at Sony, I honestly expected a better effort. :)

So your issues with Nikon started before the Z6/Z7 announcement? We here to help. ;-)

Jan Kruize's picture

Great.... i'm going to read a banana.

user-189304's picture

Re the single card. The relevant question is the statistical failures per million (or billion). If the failure rate is negligable, then the single slot shouldn't be an issue.

Does anyone know how reliable these cards are?

"Why the Nikon Mirrorless Already Sucks". Ridiculous. Bill you're a good photog but many of us have tried Sony and switched back to Nikon. Color, Ergonomics, build, glass. Happy you found a great system that works for you and many others. But the new Z's don't already suck.

Bill Larkin's picture

I understand what you are saying, (and thanks) - So I don't see anything about Nikon's color thats any better, and the glass was a huge thing, native Sony is mostly Zeiss - and I'd trust a Zeiss over Nikon any and every day of the week.

And I do a lot of heavy color grading, so that's kinda a non issue anyway... but my original point was Nikon introduced nothing new here that can even compete with what Sony's already done. And everything I see about the new Z, it's inferior to Sony in every way, including the battery, and of course the single slot.

Jan Kruize's picture

Maybe you should read this, maybe the reason nikon chose for a single cardslot. https://www.fullexposure.photography/nikon-no-dual-card-slot/

Han Seoul-Oh's picture

you're completely right. more choice is bad for consumers. Nikon and Canon missed the window to release a competing product so they should just roll over and die. Sony forever. I don't need to try the Nikon to know it sucks because they never consulted me. Like the Highlander, there can only be one.

not sure if i need to add a sarcasm tag or point out how desperate you are to justify your own purchase into the Sony system.

Bill Larkin's picture

lol nice, I don't need to justify anything, I am only reporting on my findings, I do believe NIkon and Canon did miss the window in a big way. they could have possibly squashed Sony had they been able to compete in the right timeframe, but here we are and they still can't produce a mirrorless than can compete... this new line is consumer/prosumer at best and for the price, the Sony's already miles ahead, battery... card slots, etc.

Eric Salas's picture

What does this Nikon bring to the table the Sony doesn’t have? The groundbreaking Z mount? Oh... my bad i forgot how amazing it is... how stupid of me.

Writer needs an Econ 101 class.

"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."

That's absolutely not true: an increase in competition decreases prices. This is a basic economic principle. Sure there will be initial stock shortages (if Nikon is successful), but Nikon's entry will increase pressure on competitors to improve their products and compete on price, as well as limit Nikon's ability to set high prices (they're the ones entering late into the market). Consumers win in every sense.

Just pointing this out, cause it's a blatant misunderstanding of economics.

Bill Larkin's picture

Oh I understand that in the long run, it's just that Nikon (and Canon) missed the boat, big time. I honestly expected something much better from Nikon than what they announced.

Michael Jin's picture

What did you actually expect, though? That they would all of a sudden release a top end mirrorless camera and an entire array of high end lenses designed for it with their first entries into the market? For me, the lack of dual slots is literally the only thing that I'm seriously disappointed in because everything else could have been anticipated.

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