Nikon Z7: Rock-solid body with good handling

The Nikon Z7 is said to be weather-sealed, so you can use it in all weather conditions.
The Nikon Z7 is said to be weather-sealed, so you can use it in all weather conditions.

After months of teasers and trailers, Nikon finally launched its first full-frame mirrorless cameras with the 45.7-megapixel Z7 and the 24.5-megapixel Z6.

In terms of design and build, both cameras are identical. The main differences include the number of autofocusing (AF) points - 493 in the Z7; 273 in the Z6.

The Z7 has a continuous shooting speed of up to nine frames per second (fps), while the Z6 goes up to 12fps. The Z7 has a lower base sensitivity of ISO 64, compared with the Z6's ISO 100.

I managed to get a brief hands-on session with the flagship Z7.

The Z7 feels rock-solid, thanks to its magnesium alloy body. It is said to be weather-sealed, so you can use it rain or shine. Its ergonomic rubberised grip ensures users have a good grip on the camera.

Those familiar with Nikon DSLR cameras will feel right at home with the Z7. The button layout is similar.

There is a mode dial on the top left and a command dial on the top right. Next to the command dial is a small monochrome display that shows ISO, shutter speed, aperture and battery-life information at a glance.

Like all Nikon DSLR cameras, the power switch is a rotary one built around the shutter-release button. The video-recording, ISO and exposure-compensation buttons sit behind the shutter-release button.

In front of this cluster of buttons is another command dial. You can quickly change aperture and shutter speed in manual mode with the front and top command dials.

The rear of the camera houses most of the controls and buttons - such as the mini-joystick, menu and shooting drive mode - on the right for easy access with your right thumb. I particularly love the mini-joystick, which allows you to quickly move the AF point.

The 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD can be tilted down by only 45 degrees and tilted up by 90 degrees. This is certainly not a camera for selfies.

For this hands-on session, I used the Z7 with the new Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S Z-mount lens.

I found the AF to be fast, the camera could lock on to a focus instantaneously under bright sunlight. Even in dim lighting conditions, the Z7 was able to get a focus in less than two seconds.

Perhaps, the only downer is the use of a single XQD card slot.

Having two SD card slots instead would have been better, as they allow photographers to make immediate backup of the photos they have taken. However, XQD cards are significantly faster than the fastest SD cards.

For existing Nikon users, you can easily use your existing Nikkor F-mount lens on the Z7 with the new FTZ mount.

There is no step down in terms of aperture, AF speed or image quality, according to Nikon.

Overall, I am impressed with the Z7's handling and speedy AF.

I can't wait for the review unit to arrive.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2018, with the headline 'Rock-solid body with good handling'. Subscribe