The Hall of the Mountain King (and Nikon Z7 reservations…)

Let’s start with my previous article and my reservation of the Nikon Z7. This time I’m using ‘reservation’ in two ways: I have developed some reservations over the past few weeks regarding Nikon’s latest super-digital-New Era-Z7 mirrorless camera, and decided to cancel my reservation (order) today (in fact less than an hour ago). Why am I making someone else very happy with my cancelled order? (Nikon cannot fulfil demand currently…)

First and foremost, I’m using cameras for nature and wildlife photography. This usually means rough weather, rough environments, rough light (less of it), rough action (animals usually not doing what you want them to do) and so on. So you need a camera that is fast – meaning it should focus fast, shoot fast, and should be very ergonomic so it will do whatever you want to do, fast. The Z7 doesn’t match the D850 (which I own) on these criteria: I can get 9 frames/sec. on my D850 with full AE/AF where the Z7 will max out at 5.5. This is like stepping back to the years of the D800… it’s nice when you do landscapes and portraits but will be challenging for action. A real setback was when I heard that Nikon had not yet released a battery pack for the Z7, and that the one that is currently under development may not even have a shutter button! This will do for a simple camera but it’s ergonomically again stepping back compared for example to the D850 & D500 battery packs: once you’ve used those you just don’t want to go back…

Second, now that the Z7 is released we’re seeing interesting articles on sensor performance. See for example the latest from DP Review on banding. Something I’m sure Nikon will fix in future generations, and something most photographers won’t even notice, but when you’re often working on retrieving those shadows you want the best possible dynamic range with as little noise as possible (something Canon photographers typically had/have their challenges with…). It’s probably not a deal-breaker for most but is some indication that we’re seeing a ‘first generation’ here.

Third, Nikon charges almost €4000 for the Z7 in The Netherlands and over $3500 in the US – I still have no clue why so much more in Europe for most of these products. So it’s top-price for a 1st generation product, that will mature for sure. However you’ll need to ask yourself if you want to invest while realizing needed improvements may only be enjoyed after investing even more in a couple of years. Sure, if there are no alternatives the decision is made easily, but with a top of the line existing & mature DSLR range… doubts do start to emerge. So, I’m going to wait patiently for Nikon’s new fully pro-level “Z8”, or “Z9”, or whatever they call it, which will be a worthy successor to the D850 – hopefully… and I’ll need to be patient for another 2-3 years – hopefully.

Meanwhile, back at the farm…I went to see the red deers who are in rut again during this time of the year. If you’re patient enough – as well as lucky, you may catch a male deer showing off and strike a pose (for some reason I associated this shot and posture with the drama from Edvard Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King… knowing well we don’t have any mountains in The Netherlands, anyway…). It’s is the third year I’m visiting this event and these elegant creatures, and I’ve discovered that Nikon’s 600mm f/4 super telephoto lens works like a charm when used hand-held, with VR at ‘normal’ and a shutter speed around the 1/640-1/800 s. range, hooked up to the D850. It’s fast, sharp, and you can easily work with the lights and shadows in post-processing. It’s obviously not a lightweight combo…for that you can choose the Z7 :)

“In the Hall of the Mountain King”
Nikon 600mm f/4E FL on Nikon D850, f/4, 1/800 s., ISO 640, -0.7EV exp. comp., hand-held

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