Fast Forward


Now that we’ve all heaved a collective sigh of relief following the arrival of the full-35mm mirrorless camera systems from both Nikon and Canon, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of seeing exactly what’s on offer. Of course, Sony has been in this space previously with its FE mount cameras and also Leica with its pricey SL, but both Nikon Z and Canon EOS R are quite different animals, primarily as they’re significantly influenced by the respective D-SLR systems. Makes sense because it’s undoubtedly these audiences that Nikon and Canon are primarily appealing to, at least initially.

But they’re also different for another more profound reason – Sony thinks like an electronics company, both Canon and Nikon think like photographic companies or, perhaps even more influentially, camera makers of long-standing. While the flagship Nikon Z 7 (yes, there’s deliberately a space in the model designation) is being compared to Sony’s A7R III – mostly valid on paper – the two cameras embody very different design philosophies which manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Consequently, the Z 7 is actually better compared with the EOS R so here we are again… the same, only different. But this is where both Canon and Nikon can expect to make up some ground – which they need to do urgently – not only against Sony, but the other mirrorless brands now making inroads into the higher-end ILC market.

The photo DNA that runs through the Z 7, Z 6 and EOS R is very strong indeed – influencing the styling, design, handling, user interfaces, feature sets and specifications. So the Z 7 may indeed be the start of something completely new, but it looks, feels and works reassuringly like a Nikon should… like a camera created by a ‘traditional’ camera company should. 

There are intangibles at play here too, but pick up the Z 7 and it feels absolutely right, especially if you’ve been a Nikon D-SLR user up until now.

It’s bigger than the A7R III – primarily because Nikon hasn’t skimped on the sizes of either the handgrip or the monitor – but it’s still significantly smaller and lighter than the D850 which is the closest D-SLR equivalent. Nikon says it’s 26 percent lighter which is huge and you only have to see the two side-by-side to appreciate how much smaller the mirrorless camera is despite having – spoiler alert – a very similar set of features and specifications. The height is the biggest dimensional difference – a shade over 100 mm for the Z 7, versus 124 mm for the D850.

Mounting Up
What’s also glaringly obvious is the difference in the size of the lens mounts… with its inner diameter of 55 mm, the new Z mount absolutely dominates the front of the Z 7, and it’s a full six millimetres wider than the ‘old’ F mount.

This throws up all sorts of possibilities with wider-aperture lenses which Nikon is already exploiting with the luscious 58mm f0.95 S Noct. Mind you,in the mirrorless camera world, the much more important lens mount specification is the flange back distance which is just 16 mm on the Z fitting, even shorter than the discontinued 1 Nikon mount and shorter than Sony’s FE by two millimetres. What this will allow is much more scope to be adventurous with various optical designs, especially ultra wide-angles.

For the record, the Z mount is a four-claw bayonet – versus F mount’s three-claw arrangement, which means a shorter twist when attaching or detaching – and has a total of 11 contact pins for relaying data between the lens and the camera body, including automatic correction for aberrations. Four Nikkor Z lenses are available now with a fairly ambitious program promising another eight by 2020 and a further eight in 2021 or just beyond. These will cover all the important models – such as f2.8-speed 24-70mm and 70-200mm zooms and a ‘fast fifty’ – but there’s also an F-to-Z mount adapter (logically designated ‘FTZ’) which maintains full AF and AE functionality with 90 Nikkor F mount lenses and will support – to varying degrees – a total of 360 models from the 1977Ai mount update (Automatic maximum aperture Indexing) onwards.

While Z mount and the camera built around it – with a weather-sealed magnesium alloy bodyshell – are new territory for Nikon, there’s much that the marque’s D-SLR users will find familiar which is obviously deliberate. Consequently, it’s hard not to see the bulk of early sales coming from established Nikon users, especially the owners of the higher-end ‘DX’ format (i.e. ‘APS-C’) models who are ready to make the move up to the bigger sensor. The Z 7’s handgrip is virtually borrowed straight from the D-SLRs, including the control arrangement of shutter release with a surrounding power lever, and buttons for exposure compensation, ISO and video start/stop… which is actually pure D850. The joystick-type navigator from the D500, D5 and others finds it way on to the Z 7. The rest of the rear panel layout is also fairly similar although, with the body being smaller, the tilt-adjustable monitor screen takes up more real estate. Nevertheless, any owner of a current Nikon D-SLR will still be able to find their way around without too much difficulty.

There’s a conventional main mode dial – which locks at each position – and the top-deck info screen is a sharper OLED panel rather than the oh-so-yesterday LCD, but overall this is still very much a Nikon high-end camera in both form and function.

The menu system is pure Nikon D-SLR too, including the traditional Custom Setting (colour coded according to function as usual), Retouch Menu and My Menu chapters (see images below).

What’s totally new is that, if so desired, you can also see these in the viewfinder which, of course, is electronic. No doubt with a bunch of hyper-critical D-SLRs users in mind, Nikon hasn’t skimped on the spec here, going for a 1.27 cm OLED-type panel with a resolution of 3.686 megadots and a magnification of 0.8x. The refresh rate is 60 fps. It’s adjustable for colour balance and brightness, the latter either automatically or manually over eleven levels.
Dynamic range is the only area where it’s bettered by an optical finder if the lighting is very contrasty, but in every other respect it’s excellent with no discernible lag and plenty of definition. With a nod to the converts from D-SLRs, there’s the option of switching off any applied settings to give what Nikon describes as a “natural view” similar to an optical finder. The eyepiece is comfortable and incorporates a proximity sensor for automatic switching between the EVF and monitor. The latter is an 8.1 cm TFT LCD panel with a resolution of 2.1 megadots and touch controls. It’s also adjustable for colour balance and brightness.

The touch controls are more fully implemented than on Nikon’s higher-end D-SLRs and include autofocusing with or without auto shutter release, the menus, a new customisable ‘i-menu’ display, and the replay/review functions. In other words, the works, although the one notable omission is not being able to use the monitor touchscreen to move the AF point/area while viewfinding with the EVF (a.k.a. an ‘AF Touchpad’). However, this isn’t really a big deal, given the joystick controller is within easy thumb reach and arguably a more efficient method of navigating the AF points.

On Point
With Nikon having set such a high bar for the capabilities of its D-SLR autofocusing systems in the likes of the D5, D850 and D500, it had to go all-out with its Z series cameras, and the outcome is impressive.

The Z 7 has a hybrid phase-difference/contrast detection system which employs a total of 493 measuring points giving a frame coverage of 90 percent, both horizontally and vertically… obviously good news when it comes to tracking smaller fast-moving subjects. More sophisticated subject analysis and data processing means the system doesn’t always operate in hybrid mode, but may use the on-sensor PDAF detectors exclusively to deliver even more speed. Sensitivity with normal operations is down to -1.0 EV (at ISO 100), but extends down to -4.0 EV in the Low Light AF mode. There’s a choice of five area modes, ranging from the highly-selective ‘Pinpoint’ to the zonal ‘Wide Area’ with a choice of Small or Large settings. There’s a ‘Dynamic Area AF’ mode, but unlike on the D850, it’s fixed to a nine-point cluster which is sized between the small and large ‘Wide Area’ modes. Additionally, there’s an ‘Auto Area AF’ mode which is how subject tracking is enabled, either with or without face recognition. Furthermore, tracking fine-tuning allows for some modification to the way interruptions (i.e. a blocked shot) are handled with five settings from Quick to Delayed. In practice, engaging and disengaging tracking is a little clunkier on the Z 7 than it is with Nikon’s high-end D-SLRs, especially if you’re using the EVF rather than the monitor screen, with an added – and seemingly unnecessary – step needed to reset the AF point rather than simply lifting off the shutter release.

The manual focus assists comprise a magnified image, a distance scale and a focus peaking display in a choice of four colours at one of three intensity levels.

Exposure metering is now also sensor-based with the choice of multi-zone (the number as yet unspecified), centre-weighted average, highlight weighted or spot measurements. Unlike on the Nikon high-end D-SLRs which allows the centre weighting to be adjusted in area, the Z 7 simply has a full-average alternative. There’s a standard choice of ‘PASM’ exposure control modes with Nikon’s ‘Advanced Scene Recognition’ processing at work to better identify the subject and lighting scenarios, tweaking the autofocusing, exposure and white balance accordingly (and also applying automatic flicker reduction with gas-ignition lighting, if this function is pre-activated). The overrides are standard Nikon fare – an AE lock, exposure compensation up to +/-5.0 EV and auto exposure bracketing with a choice of sequences for two, three, five, seven or nine frames. There’s no built-in flash (and no PC sync socket), but the Z 7 retains full compatibility with Nikon’s i-TTL auto flash exposure control and the ‘Creative Lighting System’ functions. Flash sync is up to 1/200 second and there’s a flash bracketing function plus the combination of available light exposure and flash.

Not surprisingly, the Z 7 has both a focal plane shutter and a sensor-based type, but doesn’t use the latter for anything other than eliminating noise and vibrations, the latter still an issue at such high resolutions even with a mirrorless camera. To further emphasise this point, the Z 7 still has an exposure delay timer which enables any vibrations to die away before the shutter opens. The setting range is 0.2 to 3.0 seconds. The FP shutter is essentially the same unit as is used in the D850 with extra braking to help minimise vibrations. It’s tested to 200,000 cycles and has a speed range of 30-1/8000 second which is maintained regardless of how the shutters are configured, the third option being the hybrid “electronic first curtain shutter” which makes the exposure with the sensor, but finishes it conventionally with the FP shutter’s second set of blades.

The white balance control options are virtually the same as those on the D850, commencing with a choice of three auto correction modes called ‘Keep White’, ‘Normal’ and ‘Keep Warm’. All three operate over a range of 3500 to 8000 degrees Kelvin. The choice of presets now numbers 13 (including seven for the different types of gas-ignition lighting) plus there are provisions for storing up to six custom settings, fine-tuning, manual colour temperature control over a range of 2500 to 10,000 degrees Kelvin, and auto bracketing. The new preset is called ‘Natural Light Auto’ which is designed to reproduce colours as they’re perceived by the human eye in natural lighting. No, we’re not entirely sure what this means either given “natural lighting” can be a great many different things. According to the camera’s manual, its operating range is 4500 to 8000 degrees Kelvin.

Bright And Beautiful
The Z 7’s BSI-type CMOS sensor has all the same basic specs as the device installed in the D850, but is obviously different given the addition of the PDAF pixels. The backside-illuminated design helps maximise sensitivity which is equivalent to ISO 64 to 25,600 and extendable down to ISO 32 or up to 102,400. The total pixel count is 46.89 million, of which 45.7 million are effective, giving a maximum image size of 8256x5504 pixels. There’s no optical low-pass filter so all that resolution is available ‘undiluted’.

JPEGs can be captured at one of three compression levels and in three sizes plus there’s the choice of four aspect ratios – 3:2, 5:4, 16:9 and 1:1. The camera will automatically switch to the ‘APS-C’ format if DX Nikkor lenses are being used via the FTZ mount adapter. As on the D850, RAW capture can be with either 12-bit or 14-bit RGB colour and with lossless compression, lossy compression or uncompressed. There’s a host of RAW+JPEG set-up options plus RGB TIFF capture at one of three image sizes.

The sensor is mated with Nikon’s latest-generation ‘Expeed 6’ processor which delivers increased speed as well as a number of new functions that demand plenty of number crunching capabilities. The Z 7 is capable of 9.0 fps all by itself and with either maximum quality JPEGs or 12-bit RAW files. As far as we can make out, this is with continuous AF adjustment, but not AE. The maximum shooting speed drops to 8.0 fps with silent shooting and then down to 5.5 fps with 14-bit RAW capture or both continuous AF and AE adjustment.

There’s a battery grip in development, but it’s not clear at this stage whether it will deliver more speed as is the case with the D850. Regardless, the Z 7 is already quicker than its D-SLR cousin, but notably, not the Sony A7R III which does 10 fps with continuous AF and AE adjustment. File writing is to an XQD format memory card and there’s already been quite a bit of chat, especially online, about Nikon only providing a single card slot while all the high-end D-SLRs have two (as do the rival mirrorless cameras). The D850, for example, supports both XQD and SD which seems like a good compromise. Nikon has been the only supporter in the camera world of XQD and will be offering devices under its own brand, but there’s no escaping the reality that, for many users, adopting the Z 7 (or the Z 6, for that matter) will also involve switching memory card formats, including buying a new reader. The big deal with XQD cards is that they’re super-fast – much faster than SDHC/XC UHS-II – but they’re also more expensive and not so widely available (which may change once Nikon comes to the party with its own products). The extra speed is needed to deliver 9.0 fps at 45.7 megapixels a pop without the buffer very quickly filling up and then taking an eternity to clear. There are some elements of swings-and-roundabouts here, but basically Nikon has opted for an arrangement which optimises higher-speed shooting at a very high resolution… and XQD still has scope for even faster data transfer rates in the future. A future firmware upgrade will provide support for the faster-again CFexpress card format.

The mirrorless configuration has also enabled Nikon to make another important change and adopt in-body image stabilisation rather than the optical system used in various F mount lenses. IBIS uses sensor shifting to give five-axis correction (yaw, pitch, roll, X and Y) for up to five stops of camera shake, depending on the lens focal length. The big benefit for the non-VR F mount lenses is that they also gain three-axis stabilisation when used with the FTZ adaptor. VR-equipped lenses also gain three-axis correction, up from the previous two of the optical stabiliser alone.

Sharper Shooting
There are a number of new in-camera processing functions, starting with a set of 20 ‘Creative Picture Control’ presets. Well, they’re maybe not entirely new because a few of them look suspiciously like filter effects, especially with titles like Toy, Pop, Bleached and Dramatic. What is new though, is that they can be set-up just like a normal ‘Picture Control’ preset with the same choice of adjustment parameters and, additionally, ten effect levels.

Nikon has slightly re-arranged these parameters, adding Mid-Range Sharpening to the existing Sharpening and Clarity adjustments. Additionally, this trio can now be adjusted collectively via a ‘Quick Sharp’ control which replaces the previous across-the-board ‘Quick Adjust’. The latter is a facility we suspect that very few photographers ever used, but it makes a lot of sense to group all the sharpening controls together.

Carried over from the D850 is ‘Focus Shift Shooting’ which can capture up to 300 frames, adjusting the focus in each via a predetermined step from one (narrow) to ten (wide). These frames can then be assembled post-camera for focus stacking. Within focus shift it’s also possible to vary the interval time between shots, employ exposure smoothing or engage silent shooting.

Added to the in-camera lens corrections is ‘Diffraction Compensation’ to counter the softening that occurs when shooting at very small apertures such as f16 or f22. It joins the corrections for distortion and vignetting, but there’s undoubtedly a whole lot of other things going on in the background too, such as minimising chromatic and spherical aberrations.

All the other standard Nikon D-SLR corrective measures are here too – ‘Active D-Lighting’ (ADL) processing to expand the dynamic range (with an auto bracketing function), noise processing for long exposures and high ISO settings and dual-shot HDR capture with either manual or automatic exposure adjustment and edge smoothing. Additionally, the Z 7 has both multiple exposure facility (for up to ten shots with various exposure corrections) and an intervalometer which can record up to 9999 frames in a sequence. The self-timer is programmable for the delay countdown, number of shots and interval time.

In The Hand
We’ve already noted how much at home the users of Nikon’s higher-end D-SLRs will be with the Z 7’s control layout and menus, but more generally this is an exceedingly comfortable camera to handle and use.

Nikon has had the best ergonomics in the D-SLR world and the Z 7 also offers efficient functionality… perhaps even more so than before. It simply works and works well. The superior handling and ergonomics are key points of difference with the Sony A7R III.
While it’s definitely more stylish than its chunky D-SLR cousin, the Z 7’s design is still firmly based on logic rather than trying to be too clever or complicated. Everything is located or arranged to foster smooth operations and, consequently, the camera simply allows you to get on with the job. There’s some scope for customisation, including two multi-function ‘Fn’ keys adjacent to the lens mount and the new multi-function control ring on the Nikkor Z lenses, but Nikon doesn't go over the top here so it’s more about fine-tuning the basics rather than anything else.

Also new is the customisable ‘i-menu’ which comprises 12 function tiles, each assignable from a range of just over 30 functions as desired. This is a refinement of the D850’s ‘Custom Settings Banks’, but much easier to use thanks to being more streamlined in its set-up. Touch control makes the i-menu a very quick and easy way of selecting and adjusting key functions without going near the conventional menus. Nikon has gone further with touch controls on this camera than with any of its D-SLRs (although the D850 is also very good here) and they greatly enhance efficiency, but there are still the old-school hard controls for anybody who prefers a more traditional approach.

The live view display – in both the viewfinder and the monitor screen – can be configured with basic capture settings, a real-time histogram, a dual-axis ‘Virtual Horizon’ level display and a 4x4 guide grid. The review/replay options include pages of four, nine or 72 thumbnails; zooming up to 32x and a slide show with adjustable frame intervals. Individual images can be displayed full-frame either with or without basic capture info or as thumbnails accompanied by a full set of histograms (i.e. brightness plus the RGB channels) or a brightness warning. Additionally, the autofocus points or area used to take the shot can also be shown. As on the Nikon D-SLRs, cycling through the replay options also brings up various pages of detailed capture data which are displayed over the image. Also borrowed straight from the D-SLRs is the ‘Retouch Menu’ which provides a selection of in-camera editing functions including RAW-to-JPEG conversion, ‘D-Lighting’ (for dealing with contrast issues post-capture), Distortion Control, Perspective Control, Straighten, Resize and Image Overlay.

There’s both WiFi and Bluetooth LE connectivity (a.k.a. Nikon’s ‘SnapBridge’), the latter providing the convenience of an always-on connection and quicker pairing.

On the handling front there is one thing to watch out for… and it’s a new problem too. With the flange back distance being less than two centimetres, the Z 7’s sensor is very, very exposed when the lens is detached. Consequently, it could be pretty easy to accidentally touch it when changing lenses which is something Canon has addressed on the EOS R by automatically closing the focal plane shutter when the camera is switched off. Just watch where you put those fingertips, especially if you’re rushing a quick lens change.

ABOVE & BELOW: Test images captured as JPEG/large/fine files with the Nikkor Z 24-70 f4.0 S and 35mm f1.8 S lenses.

Speed And Performance
Loaded with a Sony G series 32 GB XQD memory card – which, incidentally, has a writing speed of 400 MB/second – the Z 7 captured 30 best-quality JPEGs in 3.341 seconds which represents a shooting speed of 8.98 fps. The test files averaged 24 MB in size.
Autofocusing has been the last big battleground in the contest between D-SLR and mirrorless cameras, and Nikon has been on top courtesy of the D5, D500 and D850. It has a big reputation to uphold here so the hybrid AF system in the Z 7 has to perform to a very high standard. Certainly the spec promises this, and it delivers in practice, being exceedingly fast regardless of mode – especially for a hybrid system – and unerringly accurate thanks to the extra-wide coverage and the options for fine-tuning selectivity. It’s also exceptionally quiet, especially compared to the D-SLRs. Both speed and accuracy are maintained in low-light situations too, but in continuous mode the predictive processing isn’t quite as infallible as it is on Nikon’s high-end D-SLRs.

Very little gets away from them in terms of erratic movement or sudden changes in speed, whereas the Z 7 has the occasional lapse of concentration which can see it struggling to keep up. Here then, choosing between the ‘Focus Priority’ and ‘Release Priority’ settings appears to make more of a difference than it does with the D-SLRs.

However, the subject tracking appears to be as reliable overall as it is with the brilliant ‘3D Tracking AF’ operation in the reflexes, but as noted earlier, it’s not quite as smoothly intuitive to use given the need to start and stop proceedings via the ‘OK’ button rather than simply using the shutter release’s half-way position for setting and then resetting to another subject. This will require some re-acclimatisation for D-SLRs users making the switch.

As was the case with the 1 Nikon mirrorless cameras, Nikon hasn’t specified how many measuring zones or pixels are at work with the multi-zone ‘Matrix’ metering, but obviously it’s now also sensor-based. Overall, accuracy appears very good even in contrasty situations, but a small amount of minus exposure compensation – either -0.3 or -0.7 EV – does help keep the brighter highlights from blowing out. That said, the dynamic range is exceptional even without any ‘Advanced D-Lighting processing so there’s plenty of exposure latitude when shooting at the lower sensitivity settings. Underexpose by two or three stops to preserve very bright highlights and the shadow areas are still pretty much noise-free after selective lightening. In fact, even at the higher ISO settings, there’s still plenty of scope for exposure.

With all that resolution on tap, not surprisingly the Z 7 delivers exceptional sharpness and detailing with beautifully crisp definition and seamlessly smooth tonal gradations.
However, as we noted with the D850, to make the most of the sensor’s huge potential it’s necessary to be meticulous with both focusing and the control of any sources of vibrations or small movements. The good news, of course, is that there’s no reflex mirror to worry about so the Z 7 is much more of a practical proposition for hand-held shooting, further assisted at slower shutter speeds by the in-body image stabilisation.

The high ISO performance is very similar to that of the D850 which means noise is very effectively managed across the native sensitivity range with excellent detailing, colour reproduction and contrast maintained all the way up to ISO 6400 and with only a small drop-off in the overall image quality up to ISO 25,600.

Making Movies
Starting with a clean slate has enabled Nikon to come up with its most capable ILC yet when it comes to shooting videos. Apart from the obvious advantage of the mirrorless configuration for this application, the Z 7 is very well featured for videography, including zebra patterns, an N-Log gamma profile (to optimise dynamic range), a focus-peaking display and embedded time coding.
While the lower-res Z 6 records with a full pixel read-out (i.e. no pixel binning) from across the full sensor width at 6K resolution before downsampling to 4K for enhanced image quality (similar to Sony’s A7 III), the Z 7 also uses a full pixel read-out, but only in the APS-C ‘DX’ format so the 1.5x focal length magnification factor comes into play. However, the image quality is still excellent as it records at 5K resolution before downsampling to 4K so sharpness and definition, in particular, both benefit. Time-lapse sequences can be captured in the 8K res.

The 4K clips are recorded in the Ultra HD resolution of 3840x2160 pixels at 25 fps (PAL standard) or 24 fps with MPEG-4 AVC/H .264 compression in either the MOV or MP4 formats. The Full HD (1920x1080 pixels) frame rates run up to 100 fps (or 120 fps in NTSC) to create slow-motion effects (up to 24 fps x5). The Z 7 has built-in stereo microphones with manually adjustable levels and an attenuator, and these are supplemented by both a stereo audio input and output (both 3.5 minijacks). The sensitivity range for shooting video is 64 to 25,600, expandable to ISO 102,400. The maximum recording duration is the 29 minutes and 59 seconds imposed by the EU tax legislation on video cameras (but by-passed if you use an external recorder).

The native N-Log tone curve is only available via the HDMI output which delivers 10-bit 4:2:2 colour. The handy ‘View assist’ function displays gradation compensation while recording with N-Log for confirmation of the final look of the footage.

Simultaneous recording to the memory card isn’t possible with the 10-bit streaming, but simultaneous recording is possible with 8-bit 4K UHD recording (2K to the memory card). The Z 7 supports the Atomos Open Standard protocol for HDMI triggering and timecode while, in turn, the new Atomos Ninja V recorder/monitor will support the 10-bit 4K N-log output from both Z series cameras.

The video functionality is extensive and includes continuous AF with subject tracking and the options to adjust both the speed and tracking sensitivity. All the ‘PASM’ exposure modes are available along with the ‘Picture Control’ presets, the ‘Creative Picture Control’ presets, ‘Movie Active D-Lighting’ processing and exposure compensation. The latter can be applied very smoothly via the multi-function control ring that’s a feature of all Nikkor Z lenses… and it can also be used to adjust the focus, again very linearly and smoothly.

Because our loan period with the test Z 7 was very short, we didn’t have enough time to fully explore its video capabilities or shoot more than a couple of clips (and there was no chance to sample the 10-bit HDMI output), but the potential is undoubtedly there and we suspect it may well attract as many videographers as photographers.

The Verdict
Because the Z 7 is so well resolved as a full-35mm mirrorless camera, the obvious question is just why did it take so long to get to market? Given how soon after that Canon launched its EOS R system (the mere matter of a fortnight, in fact), were the great rivals simply waiting for one or the other to show its hand first? It seems unlikely, but both have undoubtedly allowed Sony – as the main rival in this sector – to gain a substantial head start, particularly in terms of building up a workable lens system. Nikon has definitely done enough to be competitive and stop any further defections which is perhaps all it wants at this stage, especially as there’s such a huge base of its D-SLR owners to draw from. Judging by the early high demand for the Z 7 which, we suspect, has largely been generated by existing Nikon users, going after Sony and others is a secondary consideration. Nikon probably knows it will pick up some decent market share just by keeping it all ‘in the family’.

Nevertheless, the Z System is off to a flying start, not just with the Z 7, but also the Z 6, the Nikkor Z lenses we’ve tried so far (24-70mm f4.0, 35 mm f1.8 and 50mm f1.8) and an interesting selection of new lenses to come over the next 24 months or so. It is certainly no less than we would have expected from Nikon and, in some respects, a lot more… especially in terms of just what a delight the Z 7 is to handle and use.

Straight off, it’s the best executed mirrorless camera – in any sensor format – for its ergonomics, operational efficiencies and tell-it-like-it-is user interface. This is backed up by its brilliant image quality, excellent AF capabilities and super EVF. Most importantly, though, it doesn’t look like Nikon has made any attempt to lessen the attraction of its new mirrorless cameras in order to protect its full-35mm format D-SLRs… even the hugely popular D850 and D750.

Clearly then, mirrorless is the future for Nikon ILCs and the company appears to be fully committed… which is why plenty of new camera buyers will be too.