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Nikon Z 50 Assessment | PCMag

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With the Z 50 ($859.95), Nikon is placing the mirrorless expertise developed for pricier full-frame our bodies right into a extra transportable—and extra inexpensive—digital camera, constructed across the DX (APS-C) sensor format. It drops some options, notably in-body stabilization, however nonetheless gives an excellent viewfinder, extensive autofocus protection, and 4K recording. Its autofocus system is not fairly as superior as related cameras from Fujifilm and Sony, although, and there are fewer devoted mirrorless lenses obtainable for the Z 50, so it is extra interesting to photographers already invested in Nikon tools, or household photographers who do not want a great deal of lenses.

Nikon’s First DX Mirrorless

The Z 50 matches the appears to be like of its full-frame siblings, with a outstanding EVF hump on the highest and Nikon’s iconic pink stripe on the handgrip. However, regardless of sharing the identical wide-diameter lens mount, it is smaller throughout. It is available in at 3.7 by 5.0 by 2.4 inches (HWD) and 13.9 ounces—the full-frame Z 6 is 4.0 by 5.3 by 2.7 inches and 20.6 ounces.

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Nikon Z 50 - Profile

You should purchase the digital camera as a physique solely, however I might anticipate many patrons will look to a equipment with a bundled lens. For $999.95 you may get the digital camera with the DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR, a compact, collapsible zoom. A dual-lens equipment provides the DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR, however ups the value to $1,349.95.

The digital camera feels very sturdy within the hand. It makes use of a magnesium alloy chassis, and gives primary safety from moisture and splashes. I might really feel comfy utilizing it in mild precipitation, however remember it is not sealed to the identical stage as Nikon’s full-frame digital camera line.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

The handgrip is small however decidedly practical. I paired the digital camera with a giant telephoto lens, the AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, and located the mix to be very comfy to make use of handheld. Granted, the 500mm f/5.6E is exceptionally mild given its focal size, nevertheless it’s extra lens than most Z 50 homeowners will use with the digital camera.

A Little Cramped

Nikon has managed to squeeze fairly a little bit of controls into the Z 50’s body. To its credit score, the vital ones—the shutter launch, entrance and rear dials, and the directional pad—are all inside comfy attain. However some others are crammed shut collectively, requiring dexterity to achieve and good muscle reminiscence to search out by contact. The most important culprits are the 2 entrance operate buttons, that are nestled into the small house between the lens mount and grip, and the Document-ISO-EV trio, all positioned immediately behind the shutter launch.

Nikon Z 50 - Top

I used to be additionally disenchanted by among the contact choices. It is simple sufficient to faucet the display screen to determine a topic for focus when utilizing the LCD as your viewfinder, however that is not the case with the EVF. Different cameras, together with the Nikon D5600, allow you to use the contact display screen to regulate the lively autofocus level, nevertheless it’s not an choice right here. As a substitute, you may want to make use of the four-way directional pad. It really works, nevertheless it feels a bit mushy. It is simply not as comfy to make use of because the small joystick that Fujifilm consists of in its most related digital camera, the X-T30, and Nikon consists of in each its full-frame Z cameras.

Rear controls are customary fare. There is a show button subsequent to the EVF, and also you get the on-screen menu I button, together with the usual Delete, Menu, and Play controls, organized in a cluster on the underside proper of the rear face. There’s additionally an AE-L/AF-L button, simply to the left of the rear dial, which might be reconfigured to drive autofocus if you happen to favor to separate the operate aside from the shutter launch.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

Nikon additionally opted to incorporate a gaggle of touch-sensitive controls on the LCD itself. There are devoted contact areas to zoom out and in, or change the quantity of data proven on the show or viewfinder. One problem of word: When you’re a left-eye-dominant photographer, there’s an opportunity that your nostril will inadvertently set off the body magnification operate—it occurred to me typically sufficient to search out it annoying. There isn’t any technique to disable these contact controls.

Show and EVF

The rear show is 3.2 inches diagonally, with help for contact enter and sharp 1,040k-dot decision. Viewing angles are robust, and you may change between detailed overlay data, full with a framing grid, to turning off all the knowledge for a clear preview of your picture. I had no points utilizing it in daylight at default brightness, and you may set it brighter if you happen to’re out and about on a manifestly sunny day.

Nikon Z 50 - Selfie Mode

The display screen is mounted on a hinge, so you possibly can tilt it to face up or right down to extra simply make pictures from askew angles. It is also in a position to face ahead, swinging beneath the physique, which mechanically switches the digital camera to a selfie mode, full with a countdown timer. I am not a giant fan of the swing-under design, and it is particularly limiting for vloggers who use handheld gimbals.

The EVF, an OLED with a 0.68x magnification score, is bigger to the attention than the viewfinder you get with a primary SLR, just like the Nikon D5600, however a bit smaller than you get with most full-frame cameras. As a result of it is digital, it additionally exhibits a real preview of your publicity. When you determine to use a inventive filter, or need to make black-and-white pictures, you may see their results within the viewfinder as nicely.

Z Lenses

The Z system is comparatively new—the Z 50 is just the third digital camera to be launched with the mount. Due to this, there aren’t as many lenses obtainable for it as with extra established methods—Sony and Fujifilm have had years to construct out their mirrorless methods, making them extra interesting to photographers who need to have the ability to choose and select from dozens of accessible lenses.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

We anticipate Nikon to proceed to construct out the Z system—it has already introduced plans for yet one more devoted APS-C zoom, an 18-140mm, together with extra prime and zoom lenses that can work with each the Z 50 and full-frame fashions. Particularly of curiosity are a pair of compact prime lenses, one in 28mm and one other in 40mm focal size. They’ve solely been teased, although, so we all know nothing about pricing or design, or an anticipated launch date.

There are nonetheless gaps. There isn’t any ultra-wide Z lens constructed for a DX sensor, for instance, nor one on the present roadmap. If you wish to snap photographs at excessive angles, you may want to achieve for a lens just like the Nikkor DX 10-24mm for SLRs and pair it with the FTZ adapter.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

Fortunately, the FTZ adapter works very nicely. And, if you happen to’re a longtime Nikon system proprietor with a stash of F-mount SLR senses, the Z 50 has some enchantment as you possibly can leverage present glass with out a penalty in efficiency.

However if you happen to’re not coming in with a stash of Nikkor lenses, and also you need probably the most choices to select from, the Fujifilm X and Sony E methods are higher beginning factors as we speak.

Energy and Connectivity

The Z 50 is powered by a chargeable EN-EL25 battery. That is the primary digital camera to make use of it, so you will not have any spares sitting round. It may be charged in-camera by way of USB or utilizing the included wall charger. Spare batteries are priced at $69.95.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

The Z 50’s battery life is not fairly pretty much as good as others within the class. It is rated for 320 photographs utilizing the LCD or 280 with the EVF; the Fuji X-T30 (360 EVF, 380 LCD) and Sony a6400 (360 EVF, 410 LCD) are barely higher.

Liberal use of the wi-fi SnapBridge system, to ship pictures to your Android or iOS cellphone by way of Bluetooth or remotely management the Z 50 by way of Wi-Fi, will even reduce into battery life. When you plan on prolonged outings—say a day on the theme park or zoo—plan on carrying a spare. The power to recharge utilizing a USB battery helps too, although we want Nikon had used USB-C as a substitute of the dated micro USB connection.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

The Z 50 additionally consists of micro HDMI output, a 3.5mm microphone enter, and a single UHS-I SDXC reminiscence card slot. There is a sizzling shoe for an exterior flash, together with a pop-up flash with help for 1/200-second synchronization.

Speedy Response, So-So Autofocus

The Z 50 may be very responsive. It begins, focuses, and fires in nearly a second, and it is able to firing off 20.9MP JPGs at 11fps, or Uncooked pictures at as much as 9fps. The UHS-I card slot does not benefit from the quickest playing cards, however you are still in a position to internet about 85 JPGs or 30 Uncooked or Uncooked+JPG photographs earlier than the digital camera slows down, and the buffer clears fairly rapidly—a full Uncooked+JPG burst takes about 13 seconds to clear.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

The quick burst seize fee is one which’s interesting to photographers capturing fleeting moments of motion, whether or not it’s a goalie making an important save or a songbird simply retreating. For preliminary acquisition the Z 50 is lethal quick, locking on in nearly no time, nevertheless it does undergo at preserving topics shifting towards or away from the lens tack sharp.

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In our steady focus take a look at, the place we {photograph} a goal shifting towards and away from the lens, the Z 50 was a bit sluggish to react, leading to misfocused pictures. Dropping down from the highest burst fee, which Nikon payments as Excessive Prolonged, to the usual Excessive velocity setting, slows the seize fee to 5fps, however cuts down on the variety of photographs which might be out of focus.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

The 5fps is nice when put next with related SLRs—it matches the equally priced Nikon D5600 in spite of everything. And regardless of being a bit sluggish to react to shifting targets, the main target system does cowl a a lot bigger portion of the body, versus the fairly restricted central space you get with most shopper SLRs.

But it surely’s rather less thrilling when put next with different mirrorless fashions. The Sony a6400 (11fps) and Fujifilm X-T30 (20fps) each fireplace at faster charges, and do a greater job preserving each shot in focus.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

You will not at all times use the highest velocity settings, in fact. However you’ll use the autofocus system each time you choose up the digital camera. The Z 50’s interface is fairly easy. It has three primary modes—Auto (AF-A), Single (AF-S), and Steady (AF-C). Auto lets the digital camera determine whether or not it ought to maintain focus lock or maintain wanting, Single locks focus as soon as it is acquired, whereas Steady retains checking for focus up till you launch the shutter, and continues to verify between photographs in a steady drive mode.

You may let the digital camera select a spotlight level by itself—it helps face and eye detection to help it—or you possibly can choose the main target level manually. There are just a few completely different sizes obtainable, starting from a tiny pinpoint option to a versatile group of factors.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

Topic monitoring is on the market too. It isn’t the most effective implementation, although. It is solely an choice when utilizing the extensive, computerized focus space. Urgent the rear OK button provides a versatile spot, outlined in white, to the overlay. Put it over your goal, half-press the shutter to begin focus, and the field will change to yellow and observe the goal because it strikes.

It tracks topics fairly nicely, however the additional clicks to get it began, and the have to be within the extensive space to start with, do not make it as clear to make use of as the same monitoring modes provided by Fujifilm and Sony, and even the 3D Monitoring mode in Nikon SLRs.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

Do not assume you can’t {photograph} shifting topics with the Z 50—it is greater than succesful for normal photographs of each day life, journey, and pictures of your youngsters and pets. It is for extra intense disciplines, like sports activities images, the place it is merely not as responsive or as nice to make use of as others.

Imaging and Video

The Z 50 makes use of a 20.9MP picture sensor. It is a new implementation of the essential sensor design utilized by the D500 and D7500 SLRs. It is not class-leading in decision—Fujifilm gives fashions with 26MP and Canon has the EOS M6 Mark II with a 32.5MP imager—however picture high quality is sort of good when put next with different APS-C fashions.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

I would not fret an excessive amount of in regards to the pixels for many photographs—it is robust to inform the distinction between a 20MP and a 30MP photograph on Instagram—however you should have the choice to crop extra aggressively if you happen to go along with a digital camera with extra megapixels.

The sensor might be set as little as ISO 100 and ranges as much as 51200 in customary mode, and all the way in which to ISO 204800 in prolonged settings. The JPG output is clear, with robust element, by ISO 1600, and only a slight drop in readability at ISO 3200. Advantageous element smudges collectively at ISO 6400 and 12800, and at ISO 25600 and up the outcomes get blurry. Within the prolonged vary there’s little or no seen element.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

Uncooked seize can be an choice. The sensor is able to netting glorious readability by ISO 1600, and whereas there is definitely some roughness when going increased, particulars shine by when working as excessive as ISO 12800. Photographs present some roughness at ISO 25600, and are overwhelmingly grainy at ISO 51200 and up.

Along with clearer photographs once you push the sensitivity increased, working in Uncooked format affords higher flexibility to regulate coloration and publicity.

The Z 50 has fairly good video chops too. It data at 4K high quality at customary body charges as much as 30fps and at 1080p all the way in which as much as 120fps for sluggish movement. The digital camera makes use of the complete width of the sensor for video, even at 4K.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

The video is mostly sharp, and autofocus works simply as nicely for shifting pictures because it does for stills. There isn’t any in-body stabilization, so you may need to use a lens with VR for the most effective handheld outcomes. For extra superior customers, the digital camera gives a flat profile for inner recording, and a clear output over HDMI so you should utilize an exterior recorder if desired.

Falls Barely Quick for Shutterbugs

Make no mistake: The Z 50 is an excellent digital camera, one which exceeds the capabilities you get with a Nikon SLR of comparable value. It feels good within the hand, gives a top quality viewfinder, wi-fi connectivity, 4K video, and usually speedy operation. When you purchase it in a equipment together with the collapsible 16-50mm zoom lens, you’ve got a really compact, and succesful, interchangeable lens digital camera.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

However there are some drawbacks that make it much less interesting for extra demanding photographers. Whereas the autofocus system is ok for preliminary focus acquisition—assume candid snapshots—and aided by face and eye detection, it struggles to maintain up with fast-moving topics at its prime burst velocity, and its topic monitoring interface can use some enchancment, so it is much less interesting for photographers who presently use a D7500 or D500 for motion, nature, and sports activities images. And, whereas it is definitely subjective, I discovered that the svelte body made it robust to maneuver my fingers to achieve sure management buttons.

Additionally a priority to photograph hobbyists, there simply aren’t as many Z lenses obtainable as we speak, and solely a handful are purpose-built for the DX sensor format. The corporate’s growth roadmap is targeted on full-frame lenses, and whereas telezooms are going to be massive regardless, there aren’t any introduced plans for an enormous vary of compact lenses made particularly for the smaller sensor format, such as you get with Fujifilm X, Micro 4 Thirds, and Sony E mirrorless methods.

Nikon Z 50 : Sample Image

There are some for whom the Z 50 makes a great quantity sense. If you have already got a great deal of Nikon gear, and are mulling an improve to an older DX SLR, the Z 50, when paired with the FTZ adapter, will let you maintain utilizing the identical lenses and Speedlights you employ together with your present SLR, for about half the value of the full-frame Z 6. You may add a bit little bit of bulk to the digital camera with an adapter, however not rather more than an SLR.

For photographers with out present funding in Nikon gear, now we have two Editors’ Selection merchandise on this class, the Fujifilm X-T30 and Sony a6400. Each provide extra strong lens libraries, superlative autofocus and topic monitoring, and barely higher battery life, for across the identical value because the Z 50.


  • Few native lenses.

  • Topic monitoring not so good as rivals.

  • Contact options might be extra strong.

  • Lowest decision at school.

  • Selfie display screen design is a bit awkward.

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The Backside Line

The Nikon Z 50 is an effective mirrorless digital camera with lots of enchantment to photographers already invested within the system, however is not fairly as succesful as its rivals.

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