After having at least one of the second-generation Nikon Z cameras, either the Z 6II or the Z 7II, in my hands for over a full year, I thought it would be fun to share three of the aspects of the cameras that I have enjoyed the most up until this point.
At this stage, the bare specifications of each camera have been discussed at length and repeated to the point of exhaustion. It is probable that if you are interested in purchasing either the Z 6II or the Z 7II, you have already viewed a million and one YouTube reviews that compare the cameras to other models in the market.
Whether you are one of the more conscientious consumers, you may have even gone so far as to have leased one for a period of time to check it out and see if it is the perfect tool for you. This is because renting a tool gives you the opportunity to test it out without having to commit to buying it.
Because it is quite likely that we have never met in person, I have no clue what you photograph, and as a result, I am unable to advise you about whether or not the Nikon Z 7II is the ideal camera for your needs. But I can discuss three of the camera’s less visible capabilities that I have discovered to be the most helpful to me in practical applications over the course of the past several months. These applications have taken place in the real world.
It’s Able to Take a Beatin’ and Keep Right on Tickin’
Now, with that out of the way, let’s talk about a specific talent of yours that if at all possible, I really hope you never have to develop on your own. In spite of the fact that I had no intention whatsoever of doing so, I have, well, let’s just say that have battered the living crap out of my Z 7II over the course of these few months. I didn’t intend to do that.
To be perfectly honest, I cannot claim that I am someone who is notorious for being very rough on their cameras. I am more like the type of person who treats their cameras like a brand new pair of all-white tennis shoes, carefully stepping around every puddle and dusty section of the floor for as long as possible until my shoes inevitably become victim to their first errant splash of mud. In other words, I am the type of person who takes great care to avoid getting their cameras dirty.
But despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to steer clear of situations in which my Z 7II has needed to get its hands filthy over the course of the past few months. In point of fact, I had already been given a demonstration of the camera’s structural strength prior to its first real shoot.
This was made possible by my 10-month-old puppy, who jumped up and literally pulled it down off a shelf. This event caused me to seriously question whether or not he deserved to live to be 11 months old. It’s a miracle that both the dog and the camera lived through their encounter with the hardwood floor in my home, but it did provide as early and unintentional evidence that the body was constructed to last.
Just the week before, I had the opportunity to use the Z 7II while on location shooting in the stunning desert. In addition to that, the desert was infamous for its high wind speeds. That evening, when I returned to the city, not only was I covered in a fine coating of dust, but so were my car and my camera. It looked like something out of Pig-Pen. However, despite the fact that the jacket of the Z 7II got a little dusty, neither the high heat nor the dust that was present in the desert proved to be much of an issue.
I cannot express how much I am looking forward to putting the camera back where it belongs—inside of a pristine studio—where it will be secure. However, if it is capable of withstanding the mental anguish I have inflicted upon it over the course of the past few months, I have no doubt that it will be able to live up to the build quality of its older, more robust DSLR siblings.
It’s a Case of the Marathon Man.
To tell you the truth, it was something that had nothing to do with photography that got me thinking about writing this essay right now. I also work as a cinematographer in addition to being a photographer. And while though I don’t often use mirrorless cameras as my primary video cameras (my A cameras), I do frequently take advantage of their small size and portability to use them as my secondary cameras (my B cameras) or as gimbal specialists when I’m working in specific environments.
In the new global order in which we now find ourselves, in which we all tend to spend more time on Zoom than appears to be medically advised, I am also finding them to be extraordinarily helpful as webcams.
The expectations outlined in the instructions with regard to the Z 7II’s battery life will now be significantly exceeded. However, even a battery that had been upgraded was no match for the 10-hour continuous Zoom call that I was forced to endure the previous week. I felt like I was in prison. In point of fact, so that we are clear, this was a digital conference.
And I was volunteering, against better judgment, to man the virtual booth for the local branch of the American Psychological Association (APA), of which I am a board member. The physical world convention hall was quite similar in appearance to the virtual world’s equivalent of the convention hall. My buttocks, on the other hand, suffered the brunt of the day’s abuse since I was forced to remain seated in front of my webcam for a protracted period of time in order to communicate with prospective customers. My feet did not experience any discomfort at the end of the day.
In light of the fact that I was well aware that no battery on the face of the earth is capable of lasting for ten hours without needing to be recharged, I decided to make use of the USB charging device that was packaged together with the Z 7II.
You are able to power the cameras through USB while they are being used, which is an immensely helpful function that is not often mentioned but is included in the Nikon cameras of the second generation. This benefit may be particularly useful to the workflow of anybody who conducts lengthy interviews or who, for any number of other reasons, requires access to a limitless supply of power.
In my situation, all I did was connect the camera to my computer via USB and then just let it run for a whole day. Not only did the camera not turn off at any point throughout the day, but it also did not overheat once while it was monitoring my grotesque face using the face detection feature. It accomplished this flawlessly. As if that weren’t impressive enough, I managed to pull off the same feat just a few days later while participating in a day of portfolio reviews with creative directors from around the country. Once more, there are no snags.
I am aware that this is a forum devoted to photography. But in a world in which the demands of photographers as well as the needs of company owners of the set are continuously changing, having a tool that may provide you extra advantages beyond simply the image quality that you capture can make a significant difference in the outcome of your work.
Quality of the Image
Oh, and it also takes care of the image quality problem you were having.
Don’t get me wrong. Not everything has been a bed of roses throughout the months I’ve been working with the camera. Despite the fact that it has created a beast of a camera, Nikon still has some work to do in the future. For instance, it has been confirmed that the rumors that the Z 7II’s autofocus is inferior to those of Canon and Sony are regrettably accurate. Accuracy may be expected from the autofocus. Simply said, it is not quite as quick or user-friendly as some of its rivals, at least not at this point in time.
In addition, although the dusty conditions of my desert shoot made me appreciate the Z 7II’s durability, the onslaught of dust particles in the air made me wish that Nikon had beaten Canon to the punch in developing a shutter cover that automatically drops when you remove a Canon RF lens. This would have prevented me from having to manually adjust the cover each time I removed the lens. To tell you the truth, I have no clue why manufacturers didn’t think of it sooner. I just don’t get it.
In particular with new mirrorless cameras, which move the sensor ever so closer to the open mount, there is a genuine risk that a shot may be derailed by an onslaught of sensor dust. When the lens is removed from the camera, Canon’s technology automatically lowers a curtain in front of the sensor. I have high hopes that Nikon will eventually introduce a mechanism that is analogous to this feature. When filming in less-than-ideal conditions, this seemingly insignificant detail can make a significant impact on the final product.
Nevertheless, despite these minor drawbacks, image quality is one area in which Nikon consistently excels. As someone who has shot with the Nikon D850 for the better part of the past four years, I can attest to the fact that the Z 7II continues to produce outstanding files that offer best-in-class versatility in post-production for pushing or pulling shadows and highlights.
The photographs that are captured by the camera are stunning in every way. And, when it comes down to it, isn’t it a significant portion of the reason why you purchase a camera in the first place?
In the past, I’ve provided evaluations that were far more in-depth for both the Z 7II and the Z 6II. Therefore, if you want a more in-depth look at the benefits and drawbacks, I’ll let you refer to those. However, after putting the Z 7II through its paces for a good number of months, I can attest to the fact that it is a very prolific instrument that more than deserves the cost it commands.