Mini Review of the Nikon Z 7 Full Frame Mirrorless Camera

Pre-production Nikon Z 7 with ZTF lens adapter and NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8 lens

Pre-production Nikon Z 7 with FTZ lens adapter and NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8 lens

For a few weeks at the end on July and early August I was honored to be one of the few US photographers chosen by Nikon to shoot with a pre-production sample of the brand new Nikon Z 7 full frame mirrorless camera. It was a blast! It was a blast! I used the Z 7 and the FTZ lens adapter with my existing NIKKOR lenses, I did not have any of the new Z series lenses to test. My mission as given to me was to do what I normally do – day & night landscapes on solo trips. The shot above actually from one of my last outings with the Z 7, and turned out to be one of my favorite Milky Way images that I’ve captured this year!

This is my mini-review of the Z 7. I’ll leave the exhaustive reviews of the camera to the normal outlets, and I will just focus on how it worked for my style of photography.

Pre-production Nikon Z 7 with ZTF lens adapter and NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8 lens

Pre-production Nikon Z 7 with FTZ lens adapter and NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8 lens

As a landscape photographer that does a fair amount of hiking, one of my favorite features of the Z 7 is the significantly reduced weight and size. I may still carry my big NIKKOR lenses on some hikes, but the weight savings of the smaller body is definitely noticed.

Possibly even more exciting to me than the weight and size of the camera is the new lens mount that promises huge advancements in lenses. The larger diameter and smaller flange distance of the Z mount promises better optical designs, resulting in lenses with very little coma distortion, light fall-off (vignetting), and chromatic aberration, and should be sharp across the entire frame even at the largest aperture. So needless to say I’m looking forward to trying the new Z lenses, especially the 24-70mm f/4 S that should be a great hiking lens because it is very small. I don’t need f/2.8 for daytime landscapes, so I’ll take the weight and size savings of the f/4.

The FTZ lens adapter let me use my existing NIKKOR lenses as if they were fitted on a D850. There were no issues with focusing or light fall-off, everything worked as normal. And the Z 7’s built-in vibration reduction turns any lens into a VR lens, and adds a third dimension of VR to any existing non-Z series VR lens.

You can think of the Z 7 as a D850 in a mirrorless body. The image quality is basically the same as the D850. The sensor was redesigned for the auto focus system but the underlying backside illuminated sensor and resolution are the same as the D850. From what I’m told the Z 6, the lower MP sibling of the Z 7, should perform better than the D750 but I did not test a Z 6 and so I cannot talk about anything from personal experience with that camera.

Pre-production Nikon Z 7 with ZTF lens adapter and NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8 lens

Pre-production Nikon Z 7 with FTZ lens adapter and NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8 lens

The Z series cameras use the same EN-EL15 and EN-EL15a type batteries as used in other Nikon DSLRs, so you don’t have to buy a whole bunch of new batteries if you already have these battery types on hand. The big complaint about mirrorless cameras is their battery life due to the EVF (electronic viewfinder) sucking battery power, but my experience with the battery life on the Z 7 was very similar to using the D850. I use live view all the time during the day anyways, and at night I’m doing long exposures anywhere from 10 seconds to 20 or 30 minutes, so I’m already sucking down power regardless of using an EVF. And I’ve heard of wildlife photographers getting well over a thousand shots per charge with the Z 7.

It didn’t take much to get used to the Z 7. Although the buttons and controls are different to accommodate the smaller camera body, enough of the controls are similar enough to existing Nikon cameras that you get in the groove pretty quick, I was using it in the dark with muscle memory (not having to use a light to see the buttons) pretty fast.

Pre-production Nikon Z 7 with ZTF lens adapter and NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8 lens

Pre-production Nikon Z 7 with FTZ lens adapter and NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8 lens

The EVF (electronic viewfinder) felt enough like an optical viewfinder that I forgot it was an EVF some of the time. It also doubles as a great loupe for viewing details in image review mode, you can zoom in and see the details even better than on the back of the LCD.

Keep in mind that the remote cable connection port for the Z 7 and Z 6 use the DC-2 style connector on the side of the camera, not the 10-pin connector that is found on the front of the high end Nikon DSLRs. They had to switch connector types to accommodate the smaller camera body design. So make sure to buy DC-2 remote cables if you use a remote release or external intervalometer. There is a built-in intervalometer just like the D850 and other Nikons, but the cameras don’t support anything more than 30 second exposures so if you want to go above 30 seconds you’ll need a remote so you can use the camera in bulb mode, just like most other DLSRs.

Happy Shooting!

This entry was posted in landscape astrophotography, Landscape Photography, Milky Way, mirrorless, Nikon, Nikon Z 7 and tagged , , , .


  1. John Bradford September 3, 2018 at 1:15 pm #

    Hello Adam,

    I’ve enjoyed you astrophotography and hope to see more. The sharing of your expertise is most appreciated.
    I have a question regarding the mirrorless camera bodies. I’m already a Nikon guy but I still have reservations about the advantages of the mirrorless body. My option is the D500 and the DX sensor.
    I love the 1.5 multiplier. I also have a FX sensor in a D800 so full frame files are no problem.
    I also place a lot of weight on the photographer’s ability to take and edit great photos. So that’s may dilemma. Is there really enough advantages to make the switch at this time?

    • Adam Woodworth September 4, 2018 at 2:13 pm #

      Hi John,

      From an image quality perspective, the Nikon Z 7 is about the same performance as the Nikon D850. The benefits of a mirrorless camera, for me, are the smaller weight and size, which is a welcome thing for hiking. Also, the thing that isn’t getting enough attention is that the new Z mount allows for much better optical designs than the F mount used on Nikon DSLRs, so the new lenses promise to be amazing with minimal coma distortion, vignetting, and should be sharp from corner to corner even at the widest aperture.


      • Niobe September 30, 2018 at 2:26 pm #

        I’ve been waiting for this camera for a long time! Thanks so much for your insight Adam. Long exposures are also my passion but not as long as yours 😀 I always thought that the advantage of a mirrorless camera was the removal of possible camera shake from the mirror movement in a certain exposure length zone. I’m curious about your opinion about this and if / what that exposure length zone is? I am also super excited about your comments about the new Z mount allowing for better optical designs….also a huge advantage I haven’t read about much in other reviews but it totally makes sense.

        • Adam Woodworth September 30, 2018 at 2:30 pm #

          Hi Niobe, glad you found the review useful! You can get rid of camera shake with a regular DSLR by just using exposure delay mode, or mirror lock-up (basically manual exposure delay mode), or quiet shutter mode on some Nikon bodies. Quiet shutter mode on the D850, for example, lets you take a shot in a Live View without having to exit Live View or use the mirror. On a mirrorless camera I still use exposure delay mode so that I can hit the shutter button with my finger but give the camera a couple seconds to settle before it takes the shot.

  2. Eric Benedetti September 6, 2018 at 10:27 pm #

    Hi Adam,
    Great Milky Way shots, I’m curious if you got the chance to use either the new 35mm or 50mm, if you did what were your impressions? The top shot with the 14-24mm looks very sharp, that’s encouraging given the use of the adapter. What were the camera settings used (ISO and exposure length, guessing you shot wide open at f2.8)?


    • Adam Woodworth September 7, 2018 at 6:32 am #

      Hi Eric,

      Thanks! I did not have a chance to test the new Z lenses, but I’m looking forward to getting my hands on them. The adapter is just like using the lens on a regular Nikon DSLR, no impact on image quality.

      As for the top image in this post:

      Nikon Z 7 with ZTF lens adapter and NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 14mm and f/2.8. The sky is from 10 shots each at 10 seconds and ISO 6400 that were star stacked for pinpoint stars and low noise. The foreground is from 3 shots, each at f/2.8 and ISO 1600, 2 at 10 minutes and 1 at 20 minutes, with 1 of the 10 minute shots pulled in for focus stacking. The star stacked result and the 3 foreground shots were blended in Photoshop to create an image with pinpoint stars, low noise, and everything in good focus from the foreground to the stars.


  3. Linda Marquette January 28, 2019 at 2:35 pm #

    Hi Adam- Thanks so much for the information on the Nikon Z body. I have been eyeing the D850 for some time now. i currently have the D750. I hear alot of Astrophotographers going with the sony cameras. Which do you feel is a better choice for astro work? I love shooting at night and looking for a second body.

    • Adam Woodworth January 30, 2019 at 9:49 am #

      Hi Linda!

      I’ve seen most brands come through my workshops and they all are great. If you have a lot of Nikon gear then it would certainly be cheaper and easier to go with another Nikon. Use star stacking and very long foreground exposures (or foreground stacking) and the noise will be so much less of an issue with any camera.

  4. Ilona January 29, 2019 at 2:43 am #

    Hi Adam,

    I just bought the Nikon Z6, together with the 24-70 mm kit lens and the converter. I mainly photograph landscapes in daylight, and can’t wait for the Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 to come out in spring. Now this summer I am going to photograph the Milky Way in a workshop in Bryce Canyon, as part of a roundtrip through the USA with my family. Do you think the Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 is fast enough for this? I would prefer to have the Nikkor Z ultra wide angle f/2.8 for this, but it will only be launched in 2020….. And I think it’s a waist of money to buy the Nikkor AF-S 14-24 mm f/2.8, because no filter can be applied to it, it doesn’t have the new Z-mount with all of its benefits, it’s much heavier, and in 2020 Nikon is launching an ultra-wide Z-mount lens on f/2.8. Again, for landscape photography alone f/4 is of course fine, as I normally shoot on f/8 or f/11. So the question is what your estimation is: will the Nikkor Z 14-30 mm f/4 be good enough to shoot the Milky Way this summer? I would like to come home with some great shots on the other hand, because I will rarely have the opportunity to shoot the Milky Way in such dark circumstances (living in one of the most light polluted countries in the world, i.e. The Netherlands).
    Thank you for your thoughts,

    Translated with

    • Adam Woodworth January 30, 2019 at 9:51 am #

      Hi Ilona!

      If you use stars stacking and very long foreground exposures (or foreground stacking) the f/4 lens should work well. Just stack as many exposures as you can to get the most best signal to noise ratio. Stacking 20 photos at f/4 should produce a very similar result to stacking 10 photos at f/2.8 (just boost the ISO as needed). Use 10 seconds or less at 14mm for the star stacking shots and you’ll get pinpoint (or almost pinpoint) stars!

  5. john bennet June 27, 2019 at 7:20 am #

    I own Nikon Z7 and it is outstanding camera with some decent performance, but man, photos looks amazing when I combine it with Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G lens. Anyway, I am not sure how you managed to take a photo of that sky (first photo) but that is AMAZING! I mean truly I LOVE that photo, is the sky always that clear where you live? I need to move from the city, just to get that amazing night sky view… 🙁 I am jealous.. anyway great job my friend!

  6. Nathaniel Stephan January 29, 2020 at 8:14 pm #

    Thanks for noting about the change in the cable release connector. That’s not something I would have looked to check before purchasing.

  7. Larry Wise November 22, 2020 at 2:14 pm #

    For the Z7, what is the normal lens equivalent to the 50mm lens for the DSLRs? Is the answer different for a Z lens versus using the adapter?

    • Adam Woodworth November 22, 2020 at 2:16 pm #

      Hi Larry, the Z7 is a full frame 35mm camera so there is no focal length magnification like you’d have with a crop camera.

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