Why I’m taking the chance on a Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera

Aug 26, 2018

Geoff Livingston

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Why I’m taking the chance on a Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera

Aug 26, 2018

Geoff Livingston

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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Last week, I went out on a limb and pre-ordered the 24 megapixel Nikon Z6, which should ship on November 30. It is a bit of a flyer, but assuming my instincts are correct, the camera will replace my second body, the Nikon D750.

Currently, I have two cameras, one a Nikon D810 and the other a D750. They are my first and second bodies respectively. I use the D810 almost exclusively for jobs, and the D750 serves as a second backup body in case of failure, and a personal project camera, too. I intend to upgrade both cameras over the next year and a half, and I definitely want to move towards mirrorless.

The Z6 has much to love, including most of the features that Sony and Fuji have pioneered in the space. Most notably, Nikon has an incredible new mount that lets in more light than any other Full Frame, APS-C or 4/3 mirrorless body on the market.

I personally think the next D6 or perhaps even a medium format Nikon may be in the works as a result of this mount. Plus I have tested Fuji, Sony and Olympus products, and every time felt myself wanting a Nikon DSLR in my hands.

Why the Z6 and not the Z7? Afterall, the bodies are almost identical besides the sensors. The Nikon Z7, which is $1400 more for its additional 21 sensor megapixels, was too much of a risk. Let me explain.

Possible Issues with the Z6

YouTube video

Much has been said about these Z cameras, and while some of it seems snitty and pickythe big concerning issue is the new autofocusing technology. My understanding is that this is a software issue as the test samples had a beta .5x software release in them. As the esteemed NikonRumors said, shame on Nikon putting half-baked software in the hands of significant press and influencers.

Another major issue with the Z6 and Z7 cameras is a very high battery usage rate which rates at only 300+ clicks per charge (CIPA rating). Test users of the Z camera say the battery far exceeds its low rating. The above video notes that the battery rating also seems to be a software issue based on some reports I have read.

A more controversial (but less concerning to me) issue may be the decision to include only one slot for an XQD memory card. The memory card thing has been a source of a highly volatile online debate, particularly amongst wedding and other photographers who demand redundancy in their memory card slots.

I had a Nikon Df for four years and only experienced one card failure, and the XQD card is supposed to be much more reliable than the older SD format. Further, the owner’s manual seems to indicate that wireless backup to a hard drive may be a feature in the new camera. Still, it’s a serious issue for some.

The single slot decision shows that Nikon chose to ignore Sony’s challenges in its evolution to the A7R III. Some say Nikon didn’t want to create a more substantial body or that there were cost reasons, but a more likely motive was to protect Nikon’s existing pro DSLR user base. Perhaps this was penny-wise and pound foolish based on the response.

These issues are not enough to stop me from using the Z6 camera body as a second rig. Most of them can be addressed with firmware updates. At the same time, the overall risks give me pause and make me want to mitigate my risk. I can’t replace my D810 with a single slot unproven camera that had a decent, yet flawed launch with serious question marks.

The Z6 allows me to get into Nikon mirrorless, play with the kit lens and my existing lenses via the FTZ converter. A primary reason to stay in the Nikon universe is my current sunk costs in lenses. Further, the next camera in the Z line may very well be an actual pro version with two slots and the most advanced features in the Nikon line. We will see.

It will make my life much easier if the Z series works out.

October and November are Critical for the Z Line

Dupont Circle Metro in Washington, DC

The Z7 will ship two months before the Z6. I will be very interested to see how the Z7 does in those two months before Z6 shipping.

I suspect that many of the issues revolve around the pre-production software loaded on the influencers’ Z7 cameras. But if the concerns persist or worsen, then I can always cancel my order.

If that is the case, I will buy an “old school” DSLR format Nikon D850, and make the D810 my second body. And perhaps consider a Fuji XT-3 or X-100F as a personal travel camera (sorry, Sony, I still don’t like the build quality).

I imagine many people are in the same boat, trusting Nikon, but worried about the risks. As you may or may not know, I have two businesses. The primary being a marketing consultancy and the second being my photography. The marketer in me sees a rushed launch and a flawed influencer strategy, but Nikon put itself in this boat. Now the Z has to get the company out of the situation.

Let’s Get Grounded About Photography, Please

Henri Cartier-Bresson must have sucked. He didn’t have two slots.

I’ve got two concerns with the ongoing debate these cameras have sparked, regardless of whether you are a Sony or Nikon (or Canon or Fuji) shooter. The theory that a camera makes you a better photographer is just wrong. We need to get grounded in a better conversation about what these tools do. Here are my two issues:

  1. You need more megapixels — at least 40 — to be considered a pro or outstanding photographer. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. Canon 1DX II, Sony A9, and Nikon D5 are all 20-24 megapixels, and they are the top of the line cameras, the shit that’s so expensive everyone is dropping down. Do you think all of these professional AP and Nat Geo photographers are really out there shooting with inferior cameras?
  2. You need a fast lens, 1.4 or better (unless you have to settle for 2.8 in a telephoto, which then is fine) to have good glass. More bullshit. Truthfully, the best range for almost all lenses is 5.6-11, with 8 usually being the sweet spot. Yes, wide open creates a sick bokeh effect, but you make some serious sacrifices on image quality. And that’s from a guy that uses wide open lenses frequently at night.

The photographer makes a great image, not the equipment. Tools make it easier and allow you to have different options, but please don’t tell me you are taking an inferior shot because the lens is an f1.8 or even f5.6 wide open lens. Or that you only have 24 MP in your camera.

It’s on you the photographer to make great images, not the equipment.

About the Author

Geoff Livingston is a professional photographer in the Washington, DC area shooting photojournalism, portraits and fine art photography. You can find out more about Jeff on his website, and follow his work on 500px and Instagram. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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35 responses to “Why I’m taking the chance on a Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera”

  1. Hugo Pinheiro Avatar
    Hugo Pinheiro

    I take my money seriously so I’m keeping with the D500!

    1. Jyi Offer Avatar
      Jyi Offer

      D500 is a toy compared to this

    2. Hugo Pinheiro Avatar
      Hugo Pinheiro

      Jyi Offer I like this toy! It works really well for me! ?

  2. Liam Avatar
    Liam

    …good advice, I’m also currently using a D810, and STILL use my D700 ( 12mp was adequate for billboards at it’s release ). I think I may just splurge for the D850 though. I’m more concerned with how the Z-series might effect my shooting workflow, perhaps get a Z6 to ‘play’ with…

  3. Eric G Gagnon Avatar
    Eric G Gagnon

    I do 95% stills, got Already a d5 and D850. Kinda like the lightweight and 5 stops stabilizer. ?

    1. Hugo Pinheiro Avatar
      Hugo Pinheiro

      Yep! Lightweight and have my 50 f1.4 estabilized is a must BUT one card a slot is a little disappointing to me!

    2. Eric G Gagnon Avatar
      Eric G Gagnon

      yes, but XDQ are pretty solid. I beat mine to death and they still work… ?

      1. jagigen Avatar
        jagigen

        Yeah. I would take XQD (with CFe as a firmware update) any day before I touched the dual SD.

  4. Maximilien Charlier Avatar
    Maximilien Charlier

    Nice article! I have a D810 and a X100F. I think it is a bad idea to buy a Z6
    now… Why? Because I have bought a D750 just after its release and men the
    repair service of Nikon sucks! When your camera doesn’t work and Nikon make
    multiple recall, it’s just insane… (my D750 has been replaced 2 times, have
    spent 4 months in the repair service and finally I have sold it to buy a
    D810.)
    Here the Z series do not like to be finished. I think a big challenge
    to Nikon is to have the software. Last year they have made a voluntary departure plan to reduce cost.
    In this case, it’s only the employed with opportunity who left the company and
    IT is one of the last type of job where we can find better opportunity. But, on
    the other hand, a miss my “24 MP DSLR” and the Z6 could be a very good camera,
    but it is better to wait, one year to have a mature production line and software
    or a new camera (like the D600 replace by the D610 without new features, only to
    tell, “this camera doesn’t have problems like the D600”).
    Side note: The
    X100F is a fantastic camera, I take them everywhere and I love it. You can shoot
    where you want and place it under your coat.

    1. Marko Avatar
      Marko

      And the D810 is what the D800 should have been. Instead of fixing the D800’s they just released another camera. Nikon service sucks indeed!

      1. David Flower Avatar
        David Flower

        Honest question, is there any major camera company that doesn’t have crappy service? I haven’t had to send my Canons in for years, but have recently sent a Panasonic GH5 in for service and it was awful. I assume Sony’s service would also be not so smooth.

        1. Marko Avatar
          Marko

          Good point. I don’t know other manufacturers but Nikon service sucks. Honestly, I don’t have much good things to say about them. They fixed my SB-900 (overheated of course and burnt) and after that the wheel dial stopped working. They fixed an old 28-70 (an amazing lens) a year later it start squeaking again and the focus motor started to fail. According to them they changed the motor and the barrel, I wonder…

          Two more issues with their services that happened and they were willing to correct at no charge (how noble of them).

          We laugh at the Chinese but those established brands are not much better.

      2. MegaNickels Avatar
        MegaNickels

        What was wrong with the D800?

        1. Marko Avatar
          Marko

          plenty of problems with auto focus.

  5. jagigen Avatar
    jagigen

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Z.

    I’m in the same decision making process. Drop one or both of my D3S/X and get the Z6.

    With the Z7 my current glass would not be enough to utilise the Z7 resolution and a long struggle and loads of cash is needed.

    But with the Z6 and FTZ I could continue with my current setup and swop them out over a period of time.
    The problem is which one do I sell?
    Or should I simply take the leap, sell both and stop worrying? :/

    I’ve never had any problems selling bodies before but these two apparently feels dear to me. :)

  6. Meng Tian Avatar
    Meng Tian

    Pre-order? Seriously?

  7. John Andrew Avatar
    John Andrew

    Pre-ordered?…… I don’t even want a free one.

    1. Najib Saer Avatar
      Najib Saer
    2. MegaNickels Avatar
      MegaNickels

      Well they sold out so you’re in luck.

  8. Marko Avatar
    Marko

    Agree with you on the bullshit points :-) So many photographers fall for it. I also like your reasons for Z6 and not the Z7. If the Z6 can’t do the job the Z7 will not do it either. Having more MP does not make much (or any) difference.

    I was thinking like you and would like to replace my aging (and still my favourite) Nikon D3 with the Z6 but even if I purchase the Z6 I will still keep my D3. My other camera is the D750.

    I am very disappointing by the lack of a second slot, what were they thinking? Taking away features to prevent pros from buying it is petty and dumb. It’s petty and small minded thinking. Maybe that’s why Canon revenue is 9 times Nikon’s?

    Great article.

    1. geofflivingston Avatar
      geofflivingston

      I think the slot thing maybe overblown given that it is XQD and the quality and reliability of this technology. However, Nikon blew it on explaining the logic for this. After all, the d5 has two XQD slots. And what they failed to understand is the dual slots are for us, the people who forget to load the second card or drop it and step on it, or overwrite one card by accident. So yeah, now we get to find out what it is like to own a Leica with one slot, but not a Leica camera ;)

      That being said I had a Nikon Df for four years with one slot and had only one issue with an old and damaged card. My fault for continuing to use it.

    2. Phteve Avatar
      Phteve

      The next problem with only one slot is: how often should one replace the XQD cards? Every year or two?

      With two slots I can use my card till it dies.

      1. geofflivingston Avatar
        geofflivingston

        If you are not replacing your cards every year or two at the most, then card failures are on you.

        1. Marko Avatar
          Marko

          I disagree, I have no interest in keep buying cards when my cards are perfectly fine. I will replace them when they die or stat to have issues. Having two cards working at all times prevent loosing photos when one goes. It happened to me this year and last year, I replaced the bad card and everything was fine.

          Just a note, both cards that failed were less than a year old.

  9. Linda Harper-Hocknull Avatar
    Linda Harper-Hocknull

    I’m keeping my kidneys….. too much money wanted for this.

  10. bergstrom Avatar
    bergstrom

    Consensus seems to be don’t buy these nikon mirrorless, mayb wait another 2-3 years for the follow up. Buy a nikon DSLR instead. The release by nikon of a crap line up of over priced lenses isn’t helping them. They tried, they failed. Move on.

  11. James Michael Avatar
    James Michael

    I was disappointed by this announcement, so I am going to wait and see what bodies they release next year. Also, there are too few lenses and I want a native 70-200mm.

  12. Abimanyu Boentaran Avatar
    Abimanyu Boentaran

    Most importantly Nikon’s great color renditions which Sony and Fuji lacks…

    1. MegaNickels Avatar
      MegaNickels

      Fuji color is amazing. Sony’s is flat as a board. You HAVE to edit images from a sony. which is fine if you are going to edit them any way, which most people do.

  13. Jyi Offer Avatar
    Jyi Offer

    I would in a heartbeat if Australia price was on par with the rest of the world ?

  14. Tech Avatar
    Tech

    >>LET’S GET GROUNDED ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY, PLEASE
    Starting point argument for any specific brand camera loyalist :)

    >>Henri Cartier-Bresson must have sucked. He didn’t have two slots.
    Why then the urge to upgrade to mirrorless? Using this analogy, why would anyone has to upgrade their camera?

    BTW, Henri Cartier-Bresson wasn’t a wedding photographer. Who cares if I miss a shot doing street photography.But agree that using less-feature camera can make you more creative as you’ll be aware of camera limitations all the time.

    Having camera with more features, can make the user little lazy…
    e.g. 42 MP allows post-composing the frame. Why spend so much time framing the shot?. On some occasion, I got 2 photos from a single shot.

    >>The photographer makes a great image, not the equipment.
    Agree. But at the same time why assume users of high-end feature cameras doesn’t take great image?
    If I see two choice, why not compare and get the best one? Why settle for less and claim, it’s the photographer not equipment..?

  15. Albin Avatar
    Albin

    Anybody “grounded ,,. please” would think twice about spending their own money pre-ordering expensive kit that hasn’t been professionally tested and reviewed, made by an OEM that hasn’t made anything in that hardware format before. Assuming anything wrong with first edition hardware will be limited to “software” is silly speculation. If it’s a blogger discount or freebie from Nikon, should be revealed. Otherwise, caveat emptor.

  16. WallStreetDude Avatar
    WallStreetDude

    Photographers are drawn to the lack of dual card slots in the Zs. On paper, its the worse unforced error. Size was an issue on a de novo body? The author thinks he can get around this with a wireless hookup. Yeah, right. As for superior QXD cards; two el cheapo SD cards are more reliable than one expensive QXD card by a mile.

  17. Whatdoyknow Avatar
    Whatdoyknow

    The bottom line of all these new cameras coming onto the market is basically for the camera manufacturers to stay alive and relevant to a certain extend. If you do know your job as a photographer and have a decent enough camera you can make the most incredible photos. Much to much emphasis is put on the No of pixels available. Good Lord do we all want to produce Bill Boars sized photos, or crop the hell out of them?

    I sometimes look at my first 6.5 Mp Canon 300D pictures and boy were they good! Nearly as good as my 24Mp. Admittedly my 24 MP camera has so much more lovely features but otherwise the difference is not that big that I have to “upgrade” to a mirror-less camera. Whether it is the Z6 or Z7 or a DSLR its still a BIG camera. All the same I love reading up about all this new stuff, but buy for the sake of improving? No not really. I believe if there wouldn’t be any new cameras coming out it wouldn’t really make a difference to the number of fantastic photos that are coming out and published. Look at the cameras used, most of them are older models, some very old! I’m not wasting my money on a new camera, rather spend the money on traveling around to find lovely subjects to photograph.

  18. kaptink Avatar
    kaptink

    For me MP stands for Marketing Pixels; high MP count is for Marketing Purposes. If you think you more MP makes better photos then you’re Missing the Point.

    Some of the best, most well-known images ever were shot on film. What’s that? Perhaps 16MP equivalent?

    I think I’ll get a Z6. I have an old D700. It’s brilliant but the sensor is showing its age. The Z6 sensor promises a huge advance in DR and high ISO performance. I’d have liked basically a D500 with a 20MP FF sensor but I might wait forever so I reckon this is as close as I’ll get for the foreseeable.