Testing the Nikon Z7

We never wanted to buy the Z7. If we go Nikon, we wanted to buy the Z 7–II, but that one was not yet available. But, because the sensor was identical, and the camera would only be better, faster, stronger (to quote a YouTube’ video), it should be good enough to test it against the Fuji XT3s we were currently using.

For this test, our local Nikon dealer loaned us a Z7 plus the 24–70mm 2.8 and the 85mm 1.8. My wife and I tested this extensively over the course of 4 days. We took both cameras with us and did the same shot with the same lenses. On the Fuji we had the 16–55mm 2.8, which is a very nice pro level lens, and the 56mm 1.2 which is probably one of the fines lenses you can get for Fuji as a portrait shooter.

Both of them are the same focal lenghts as their Nikon counter parts, with the only difference being that the 56mm 1.2 is competing with the relatively modest Nikon 85mm 1.8S lens. Modest in price point, the Nikon (750CHF) is a bit cheaper compared to the Fuji (800CHF), to counter this the 24–70mm Nikon (~2000CHF) is a lot more money as the Fuji 16–55mm (~1000CHF). Of course the body itsel is a lot more money as well, even the newer X-T4 from Fuji goes for around 1500 CHF, where the Nikon Z7 is around 2500 CHF and the Z 7 II is 3700CHF.

Just to clarify this from the start. This is not a fair comparison. Fuji cost you in the end a lot less money. The trinity set of Nikon is around 7000 CHF, and you get the equivilant Fuji for less than 4000 CHF.

Having said this, did we see the difference? First there is just the amount of light the camera can take in. The Fuji X mount has a 44mm diameter, the Nikon Z mount is the biggest full frame diameter around with 55mm. It’s huge, when you have them side by side:


And, because of that, and the full frame vs crop factor, when we were taking identical shots, you could always be one stop lower in the Nikon vs. the Fuji. And yes, most cameras today are great at low light. YadaYadaYada. All true, but if your camera can save a stop of light, that’s good, that’s better than the one that can not. Not matter how good low iso performance is. It’s always better not to be there.

Bokeh. There is a bunch of stuff written about the differences between full frame vs crop sensor. Read it. It’s true. It’s not dramatic, but you can see it well enough. If you care about it, take full frame over crop.

Autofocus speed. We updated the XT3 to V4 firmware shortly before that test. And then we did the “i run towards you test” on our terrace. We were not amused. AF on Fuji is still bad, no matter what the fan-boys on Fuji Rumor want to make you believe. It’s not even close to Nikon Z7 Firmware V3. Don’t start comparing it to Canon R5 or any recent Sony camera. It’s just bad.

Color temperature, White balance. As a lot of research has shown, this is very personal. We both like the Fuji color, and were initially not too pleased with the results straight out of the Nikon camera. But, all a matter of setup. If you have been watching this excellent video, you probably know this. We changed our auto whitebalance setup on the Nikon and are very happy now.

Ergonomics. I was always a fan of the fact that Fuji gives me a lot of dials to control everything. And I still am. On the other hand, the Nikon just feels fantastic in our hands. As my wife puts it: “I move the camera to my eye, and i know it’s level. I never had that with Fuji”. It might be that the camera is just a tad larger and therefore works better for us. The grip is slightly larger, me being a tall (196cm) person, I have large hands, the Nikon just feels better. The Z7 also has the best weather sealing in it’s class, all lenses we had felt just vastly better than our Fuji lenses, the ergonomics price clearly went to Nikon.

Ergonomics part 2. It was so easy to go back to control dials vs direct dials. I think, for me, the part that nails this, is the OLED display on top. One glance, and I see everything: ISO, Aperture, Speed. And I change just one dial, and I see it there as well. Turning auto-iso off, is also very easy, easier in fact as on the Fuji. The menus, everything made sense. They are not better than Fuji, but they are certainly not worse. The user settings on the dial are easier to use than they are on Fuji, where you access this over a menu. Overall, using the Nikon for 3 full days –  it felt good, it did not feel like “man this so much worse to use than Fuji”. On the contrary, some things just felt easier. And the camera, the lenses, overall, felt just soo much better.

I like to stress again, the system is a more expensive. This is not to put Fuji down, they are disadvantaged in a major way.

Pixel peeping. Back at home we looked at the pictures. And the advantage of a full frame, 45MP sensor vs a crop sensor with 26MP is just harsh. There is no competition. There are lot’s of sites that allow you to see all that, so I am not duplicating their efforts. I am only confirming what others have said before me, a crop sensor can be very good, and we took lot’s of great pictures with it. But. If you have the luxury to choose, go full frame.

We came out of this longer weekend sure of that we want to switch. But do we go Nikon, or the big, bad wolf: Canon?


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