Posts Tagged ‘Nikon’

Nikon Z9 Rumors: 45 MP, “Stunning” Autofocus, and a 2021 Release

13 Aug

The post Nikon Z9 Rumors: 45 MP, “Stunning” Autofocus, and a 2021 Release appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

the Nikon Z9 rumors: 45 MP, "stunning" autofocus, and a 2021 release

The Nikon Z9, Nikon’s not-yet-debuted flagship mirrorless camera, will offer a host of powerful features, according to the often-reliable Nikon Rumors.

While Nikon itself has previously revealed several promising Z9 specifications, including 8K video, a stacked CMOS sensor, and a new processor, the company has stopped short of providing a detailed feature set.

Enter Nikon Rumors, a website that has revealed several lists of rumored Z9 features over the last year – the most recent of which painted a relatively full picture of the camera that will soon take its place at the top of the Nikon mirrorless ladder.

First, NR revealed a “confirmed” resolution for the Z9: 45 megapixels, on par with both the Nikon D850 and the Z7/Z7 II, as well as the Canon EOS R5. This should provide plenty of pixels for cropping sports (and wildlife) photos, and will also satisfy resolution-hungry landscape photographers who require 30+ megapixels for large prints.

Previously, the Z9 was rumored to feature a 30 frames-per-second continuous shooting mode. Fresh information, however, suggests 120 frames-per-second shooting “in a lower res file size” – a speed far beyond anything Nikon (or any major camera company) has offered thus far.

But for action photographers, speed is only half the story; without top-notch autofocus, any camera will fall short, no matter its continuous shooting. Fortunately, the Nikon Z9 is poised to overtake even the D6, Nikon’s current flagship DSLR, in autofocus capabilities. According to Nikon Rumors, the Z9 packs “‘stunning’ AF tracking (better than the D6),” including “car autofocus, in addition to animal and people AF.”

Ergonomics will also be exceptional. NR promises a slew of “new menu features to tweak and match your shooting style,” along with an “improved articulated screen that even works in portrait mode.” There will be a D6-style integrated vertical grip, dual card slots, and a 5.76M-dot (or more) electronic viewfinder.

In other words: This is a no-holds-barred camera from Nikon, one that combines the latest and greatest mirrorless technology with the ruggedness and reliability of a flagship DSLR.

Of course, a top-notch camera like the Z9 will undoubtedly come with an exorbitant price tag (Nikon Rumors suggests $ 6000+ USD). But for those who can afford it, the Z9 may soon be the most powerful camera on the mirrorless market.

What about the Z9 release date?

Rumors suggest a September or October announcement (which is generally followed by product shipping within a few weeks). NR is cautious, however, noting that, “because of part shortage, the waiting time for the Z9 is expected to be very long.”

Regardless, the Z9 should be available for purchase before the end of 2021 – so if you’re in need of a best-in-class action camera, keep an eye out!

Now over to you:

What do you think of these Nikon Z9 rumors? Do you plan to buy the Z9? Are there any specific features you’d like to see? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Nikon Z9 Rumors: 45 MP, “Stunning” Autofocus, and a 2021 Release appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

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DPReview TV: Nikon Z7 II versus Sony a7R IV for landscapes

24 Jul

In this week’s episode of DPReview TV, Chris compares the Nikon Z7 II and Sony a7R IV for landscape photography, with a close look at their displays, image quality, lens lineups and more.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get new episodes of DPReview TV every week.

  • Introduction
  • Sample photos
  • Displays
  • Important differences
  • Dynamic range
  • Resolution
  • High ISO
  • Lens lineup
  • Focus stacking
  • Time-lapse
  • Which should you buy?

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Nikon Launches the Z fc, a Film-Inspired Mirrorless Camera

02 Jul

The post Nikon Launches the Z fc, a Film-Inspired Mirrorless Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Nikon launches the Z fc

Nikon has announced its latest mirrorless camera, the Z fc, which combines top-notch APS-C mirrorless technology, Z-mount compatibility, and a beautiful, retro design.

While the Z fc is anchored firmly in the world of digital photography, the “heritage design,” as Nikon calls it, hearkens back to Nikon’s film cameras – specifically the FM2, an “iconic…SLR film camera released in 1982.”

Nikon explains, “The Z fc is the first Z-series camera to adopt a heritage design, while simultaneously supporting various advanced features. In addition to the enjoyment of shooting great stills and videos, it is designed with particular attention paid to delivering the pride and joy of ownership.”

This isn’t a first for Nikon; back in 2013, Nikon launched the Df, a high-end, full-frame DSLR with a film-inspired design. But unlike the Nikon Df, the Z fc isn’t aimed at advanced enthusiasts. Instead, the Z fc will slot into Nikon’s “entry-level” category, despite its impressive capabilities and a near-$ 1000 USD price tag.

In fact, the Nikon Z fc closely mirrors Nikon’s current (and only) entry-level mirrorless camera, the Z50. Like the Z50, the Z fc packs a 21 MP APS-C sensor, which strikes a nice balance between resolution and low-light shooting (the Z fc’s sensor likely comes straight from the Z50). The Z fc also features the Z50’s respectable 11 frames-per-second continuous shooting, a decent 2.36M-dot electronic viewfinder, and 4K/30p video.

But the Z fc and the Z50 differ in several important ways. For one, the Z fc includes a fully articulating screen – one that flips out to the side – while the Z50 screen tilts but doesn’t flip. This is a big deal for vloggers; you can mount the Z fc on a tripod, flip out the screen, and monitor the video as you record.

There’s also the retro design, which promises Z fc users an engaged, down-to-earth shooting process. Instead of adjusting shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation via your camera’s LCD screen and back dials, you’ll be able to make adjustments via three dedicated top dials. No, it’s not for everyone, but if you’ve shot film and liked the feeling, or if you’re a fan of Fujifilm mirrorless cameras, then the Z fc is certainly worth a look.

Nikon Z fc viewed from above

The Z fc is remarkably compact, making it a perfect option for travel photography, casual walkaround photography, on-the-go photography, and more. At just 14 oz (390 g), you can carry it in a backpack, camera bag, or around your neck for hours on end – especially when used alongside Nikon’s just-announced kit lenses, the 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR and the 28mm f/2.8.

So while the Z fc isn’t the most conventional camera on the market, it should certainly appeal to many photographers. If you’re after a lightweight, compact camera and you appreciate (or don’t mind) the retro design, check out the Z fc. You can currently preorder the body for around $ 950 USD; expect shipping to begin at the end of July.

Now over to you:

What do you think of the Nikon Z fc? Do you like it? Will you buy it? Were you hoping for a more groundbreaking new camera? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Nikon Launches the Z fc, a Film-Inspired Mirrorless Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

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Nikon to Announce the Zfc, a Retro Mirrorless Camera, This Summer

18 Jun

The post Nikon to Announce the Zfc, a Retro Mirrorless Camera, This Summer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Nikon to announce the retro mirrorless Zfc

For months, we’ve had hints of a second Nikon Z-mount APS-C camera, frequently dubbed the “Z30” – and according to Nikon Rumors, that camera “is real and will be announced soon.”

But it will not be a standard, entry-level APS-C camera to match the Nikon Z50 or the Nikon D3500. Instead, the new Nikon mirrorless model, now referred to as the “Nikon Zfc,” will be a retro-style camera reminiscent of 20th-century film bodies as well as Nikon’s only retro DSLR, the Df:

Nikon Zfc rumors Df image
The Nikon Df is a retro-style DSLR and likely bears a resemblance to the upcoming Nikon Zfc.

Here’s what you can expect in terms of design, based on Nikon Rumors reporting:

  • Mechanical dials (likely for ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation)
  • A fully-articulating screen
  • A “very thin camera body without a handgrip” and a “Nikon Df-inspired design”
  • “Shape and handling similar to old Nikon FM cameras”

Of course, any mirrorless model from Nikon will undoubtedly pack Nikon’s latest and greatest technology, from Eye AF and fast continuous shooting speeds to a powerful electronic viewfinder and an articulating touchscreen. And Nikon Rumors does claim the Zfc will offer capabilities similar to that of the Z50, a robust but well-priced APS-C camera featuring a respectable 21 MP sensor and an 11 frames-per-second burst mode.

But as film (and Fujifilm) shooters know, the photography experience on a retro-style body is wildly different from what you get on a standard DSLR or mirrorless camera. I’m a big fan of film-inspired designs, myself – the dials force you to slow down and really appreciate your settings, plus they make everything feel more real. And with the Zfc, you’ll get the best of both worlds: the tactile, mechanical ergonomics of a film camera, combined with the impressive speed and efficiency of a 2021 mirrorless camera.

While the Zfc is still only a rumored camera, and while the announcement and release date are technically unknown, Nikon Rumors is pushing a June 28th announcement date and expects the camera to begin shipping on July 31st.

The older Nikon Z50 currently sells for around $ 850 USD, body only, or $ 900 USD with a basic kit lens, and you can expect a slightly higher price for the Nikon Zfc; Nikon Rumors claims $ 999 USD (with a kit lens included).

So keep an eye out for the Nikon Zfc announcement later this month, especially if you like the sound of a reasonably priced, retro-style camera that can use Nikon Z lenses!

Now over to you:

Are you excited by the prospect of a retro-style camera from Nikon? Or would you have preferred a standard entry-level mirrorless camera? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Nikon to Announce the Zfc, a Retro Mirrorless Camera, This Summer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

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Nikon Releases Two “Micro” Lenses for Z Series Cameras

11 Jun

The post Nikon Releases Two “Micro” Lenses for Z Series Cameras appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Nikon releases two Z-mount micro lenses

Nikon has officially released two Z series lenses and announced the development of two more. These lenses will enhance the already impressive Z-mount lineup and should go a long way toward making Nikon’s mirrorless system a compelling option for beginners and professionals alike.

The newly released lenses, the Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S and the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8, both feature 1:1 magnification capabilities – a first for Nikon’s Z series. And the lenses under development, the Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 and the Nikkor Z 40mm f/2, will offer compact, (likely) low-priced glass for travel photography, walkaround photography, and more.

Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8
The Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 is currently under development.

The Z 105mm f/2.8 will feature outstanding image quality at an ideal short-telephoto focal length, perfect for standard macro photography – of flowers, plants, and less-skittish insects – as well as product photography, detail photography, and even portraits. The maximum f/2.8 aperture should offer smooth backgrounds (Nikon promises “the beautiful bokeh of a micro lens”); you’ll also get Vibration Reduction for working at high magnifications or in low light. And for photographers requiring fast focus, the 105mm f/2.8 packs a quick (and quiet) STM motor.

Nikon Z 105mm f/2.8 micro lens
The Nikon Z 105mm f/2.8

The new Z 50mm f/2.8, on the other hand, is designed as an all-purpose lens, though it still offers a 1:1 magnification ratio for high-quality macro shots. While the 50mm focal length and small working distance will make photographing some macro subjects more difficult – insects, for instance – you can still capture beautiful detail photos, and Nikon guarantees “beautiful bokeh” for pro-level macro and portrait results. If you’re a casual photographer, you’ll love the low-light capabilities offered by the f/2.8 maximum aperture, as well as the lightweight, compact body; you can mount the 50mm f/2.8 on your camera, slip it in your bag, and carry it around all day for spur-of-the-moment photography.

Nikon 50mm f/2.8 micro lens on a Z6 II
The Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 mounted on the Z6 II.

According to the press release, the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 50mm f/2.8 will start shipping at the end of June, though B&H notes an expected availability in July. You can currently preorder the two lenses for $ 999 USD and $ 649 USD, respectively.

As for the 28mm f/2.8 and 40mm f/2: While Nikon is keeping the details under wraps, you can expect a 2021 release date. So keep an eye out!

Nikon Z 40mm f/2
The Nikon 40mm f/2, a compact, all-purpose lens.

Now over to you:

What do you think of these new lenses from Nikon? Are you considering buying any? Are there any lenses you wish Nikon would release?

The post Nikon Releases Two “Micro” Lenses for Z Series Cameras appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

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Nikon NX Studio Review: How Good Is This Free Photo Editor?

06 May

The post Nikon NX Studio Review: How Good Is This Free Photo Editor? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Nikon NX Studio review

In order to write a good Nikon NX Studio review, it’s important to step back to see who this program is for and how it fits into the image editing landscape.

In 2006, Nikon released a software tool called Capture NX, which was designed for its fledgling line of digital cameras. Over the years, Nikon slowly added new features, but Capture NX was never a serious competitor to Adobe Lightroom, Capture One, or other popular image editing and management software. That all changed in early 2021; Nikon retired Capture NX (and its companion, ViewNX) and replaced them with Nikon NX Studio.

But is Nikon’s software ready for prime time, and can it hold its own against a growing list of competitors? What exactly does NX Studio do and who is it for? The answers might surprise you.

Nikon NX Studio Review Flower
RAW file processed with Nikon NX Studio.
Nikon D7100 | Nikon 50mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/3000s | ISO 100

Nikon NX Studio overview

In a very basic sense, Nikon NX Studio is like Lightroom – but designed specifically for Nikon shooters. It’s not really a fair comparison, though, because Nikon NX Studio isn’t supposed to be a replacement for Lightroom. The two have a lot of overlap, but when doing a one-to-one feature comparison, Nikon NX Studio comes up woefully short. However, NX Studio does have a workflow that appeals to a lot of photographers, as well as some advanced tools absent from Lightroom.

Nikon NX Studio is great for photographers who want to do more with their photos than what basic programs like Apple Photos can offer. It has tools for common edits such as white balance, brightness, color, noise reduction, cropping, and sharpness. Nikon NX Studio also goes one step beyond Lightroom by letting you perform basic edits on videos, such as trimming and stitching.

It also has one very important advantage over Lightroom and most other programs: It’s free, so you lose nothing by trying it out.

Nikon NX Studio Review Overview
Nikon NX Studio goes way beyond basic image editing, and it has some powerful tools that appeal to amateurs and professionals alike.

For enthusiasts and even professionals, there’s a lot to like about Nikon NX Studio as long as you keep your expectations in check and don’t mind some frustrating bugs and shortcomings. It’s not a full-featured digital asset management tool like Lightroom, though it does offer some basic file management and storage.

But where Nikon NX Studio really shines is in the sheer depth of its tools. The Lightness, Chroma, and Hue adjustments give you incredible control over editing colors, and the Color Point tool gives you fine-grained control that takes several steps to replicate in Lightroom.

Finally, Nikon NX Studio has a trick up its sleeve that no other image editor can match: it works with Nikon RAW files without needing to reverse-engineer the RAW algorithm or convert everything to DNG.

Nikon NX Studio pros

  • The price is great. It’s a free program and should be updated by Nikon regularly for years to come.
  • Lots of features that appeal to amateurs, hobbyists, and professionals
  • Basic movie editing tools are simple and practical
  • Everything takes place in a single interface without the need to switch between Library and Develop modules like in Lightroom

Nikon NX Studio cons

  • Very basic import process compared to Lightroom: no keyword management, applying presets, or metadata adjustments
  • Lacks Brush and Graduated adjustment tools, along with other editing options offered by competing programs
  • Lack of a simple Undo feature
  • Lots of bugs and glitches. Some would say this is expected with Version 1 of a program, but these issues happen more frequently than I would like
Nikon NX Studio Review Import
Nikon NX Studio utilizes a separate program called Nikon Transfer 2 to import images from a memory card or other source. It works fine, but it’s fairly simplistic in terms of functionality.

If you’re a Nikon shooter, you can’t go wrong with just downloading Nikon NX Studio to check it out. It’s free, and it won’t alter your current photos even if you use Lightroom, Luminar, or another program. You really have nothing to lose by trying it, and you might find that the results you get from your Nikon RAW files are much better than what you get in Lightroom. (Note that Nikon NX Studio only works with Nikon NEF RAW files. It will not load DNG files or RAW files from Canon, Sony, Fujifilm, and other manufacturers.)

While I do think Nikon NX Studio is worth trying out, let’s take a closer look at some of its characteristics to help determine whether it’s the right program for you.

Layout and ease of use

If you’ve ever used a program like Lightroom, Luminar, or Capture One, you’ll feel right at home in Nikon NX Studio.

The interface is pretty simple: the left side is where you access your photos in folders or albums. The middle is where you scroll through your photos or look at them more closely. Your tools are located on the right and clicking the title of a tool expands and collapses its options just like Lightroom.

Nikon NX Studio review Layout
The Nikon NX Studio layout is similar to other programs like Lightroom, Luminar, and Capture One. Photo storage on the left, editing tools on the right, and your image in the middle.

An Import button in the top-right corner will let you start loading images from a memory card. Additional icons at the top of the main window let you switch between views: thumbnail, map, 2 and 4 images at a time, before and after, and list, which users of Apple’s Aperture software will certainly appreciate. Along the bottom are more tools that let you show view overlays (such as a grid or a histogram), assign star ratings, and rotate photos.

All these buttons and options might seem overwhelming, but it’s very straightforward; you should be able to find your way around the interface after a few minutes of exploring.

One key difference between Nikon NX Studio and Lightroom is that the former stores your image edits in sidecar files, whereas the latter is based around a single massive database, called a catalog. Some prefer one type of storage over the other, but while there have been reports of corrupted Catalogs causing problems for some photographers, it’s not an issue I have experienced.

Still, if you want a powerful image editor but are wary of putting all your editing eggs in a single basket, Nikon NX Studio might be a good choice.


In terms of sheer speed and editing efficiency, Nikon NX Studio does leave something to be desired. On a 2020 27″ iMac with a 3.6 GHz, 10-core i9 processor, lots of RAM, and a large internal SSD, my edits were fairly smooth.

But running NX Studio on a machine just a few years old with a spinning hard drive felt positively sluggish by comparison. Adjusting any given slider, from White Balance to Highlights to Color Booster, resulted in a visible checkerboard pattern across the image while edits were applied. Each adjustment only took a second or two, but these little bits of time add up quickly when editing dozens or hundreds of images.

goose on the grass with checkerboard pattern
On slower computers, editing operations like changing the white balance can result in a tiny delay, during which time a checkerboard pattern is visible.

Other Nikon NX Studio features resulted in slow response times or outright crashes. Navigating through folders to locate images took much longer than I expected, and simple operations like cropping were slow and choppy. I generally zoom in to a photo to check for focus and sharpness and then zoom out for more editing, but even this relatively basic operation was slower and clunkier than I would have liked. After leaving NX Studio running for a few hours – not processing photos, but simply open in the background – it brought my Mac to its knees with a strange memory management error.

Memory Error
I left Nikon NX Studio running overnight; the next morning, I found that my computer had slowed to a crawl. It had some kind of memory leak that was using every spare scrap of RAM I had available.

I’m not saying that the program is unusable, just that users ought to approach it with a bit of caution. Programs such as Lightroom were just as buggy in their early incarnations and are much improved now, and I have no doubt the same will be true of Nikon NX Studio. It will get better over time, but right now you can expect to encounter some glitches.

However, it’s not all bad news in terms of performance. Loading Nikon NEF RAW files was snappy, navigating between editing panes was quick and easy, and import/export operations had no noticeable lag. When Nikon NX Studio works, which it usually does, it works quite well. But when it doesn’t work, it can be a bit frustrating.

Photo organization

It’s not uncommon for photographers to have tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of pictures to wade through. Nikon NX Studio isn’t going to win awards for groundbreaking AI-powered image management, but it does have some useful tools to help you organize your pictures.

Nikon NX Studio Review Folder Organization
Nikon NX Studio imports images to folders on your hard drive, not to a proprietary archive. To find your images, use the folders on the left-hand side.

In lieu of a Lightroom-style Catalog system, NX Studio shows you a hierarchical view of all the folders on your main drive and lets you navigate through them to locate your images. It’s not dissimilar from Luminar and others, and I prefer this method over the all-in-one archive system used by Apple Photos. When you import images from a memory card, you can create a new folder to store the pictures. You can create custom names for each import, as well.

When browsing through your pictures, you can assign star ratings, color labels, and keywords. There is a Filter bar that you can use to sort your photos according to these criteria as well as other information, but Nikon NX Studio does not have Smart Albums or other dynamic methods for automatically sorting your images. I use Lightroom’s Smart Collections to help me organize my images, but if you aren’t a fan of this method, then NX Studio will be fine.

Nikon NX Studio Review Filter
The Filter bar lets you sort by many different criteria.

Longtime users of Apple’s now-defunct Aperture software will find the Thumbnail List View to be particularly useful when managing photos. This shows a list-style view similar to what you see when browsing through your Mac OS Finder or Windows Explorer, with columns that display various parameters such as exposure information, file size, date modified, and more.

Nikon NX Studio Review List View
List View is a very useful way of viewing and sorting your images. It is very similar to List View in the Mac OS Finder and in Microsoft Windows Explorer.

While Nikon NX Studio’s photo management tools are not as robust as I would like, they’re certainly a good start. If you prefer a straightforward approach that does not rely on a proprietary catalog or database system, then there’s a lot to appreciate.

Photo-editing capabilities

This is where the rubber meets the road, and fortunately, Nikon NX Studio can hold its own against the competition in virtually all the areas that matter. While some NX Studio features are not as refined as other programs and some tools are missing in action, what it gets right, it really gets right.

There’s a long list of editing options at your disposal, including:

  • White Balance
  • Exposure Compensation
  • Active D-Lighting, which is unique to Nikon cameras and is a nice way to automatically brighten shadows and create a more even exposure
  • Brightness and Color
  • Levels and Curves
  • Lightness, Chroma, and Hue
  • Adjust Details, which includes Noise Reduction and Sharpness
  • Touch-Up, to remove spots and blemishes
  • Adjust Composition, which includes cropping, straightening, and perspective control
  • Camera and Lens Corrections

Once again, it’s worth remembering that Nikon NX Studio is a free program, and that fact alone makes the inclusion of all these options kind of amazing. While tools like a graduated filter, a radial filter, and an adjustment brush are missing, the options you do have should suffice for most photo editing. You can even create multiple custom sets of adjustment options that include only the tools you use in specific scenarios. This is quite useful if you prefer different tools when editing landscapes compared to editing portraits.

Nikon NX Studio Review Adjustments
You can create custom sets of editing adjustments, then switch to your custom sets with a simple click.

The Color Control Point editing tool is particularly useful, and one that I’d like to see in other applications. It allows you to click anywhere on your image and immediately have access to eight common editing sliders. Drag any of them to the right or left to increase or decrease that particular parameter. The top slider adjusts the size of the area to which the edits will be applied. It’s a highly useful tool for precise color editing, and the ability to adjust sliders right on the image instead of in an editing pane is something I have grown to appreciate a great deal.

Nikon NX Studio Review Color Control Point
The Color Control Point tool lets you click on any part of an image and use sliders to adjust colors on the spot.

The Lightness, Chroma, and Hue Adjustment takes an innovative and highly effective approach to manipulating color. While similar to the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance option in Lightroom, the Nikon NX Studio implementation offers useful options that professional and amateur photographers will appreciate.

You can use the eyedropper tool to select a color in your image, then click and drag up or down in the rainbow panel to adjust that color’s parameters. You can also change the angle of the rainbow, which means that your edits can be implemented more dramatically or more subtly. Finally, Width lets you target your edits to either a very narrow or very wide band of colors. It’s a powerful tool for global color adjustments.

Nikon NX Studio Review Lightness Chroma Hue Adjustment
Nikon NX Studio has a very useful tool for making global color edits to an image. Click and drag up or down on the horizontal line to adjust the parameters of a color, and adjust the Width to control the range of colors affected by a given peak or valley.

There are some important drawbacks to NX Studio’s photo-editing capabilities, and any Nikon NX Studio review would be remiss in not pointing them out.

First, there is no Undo option. Yes, you read that right; instead of an Undo, you can create a saved state for your edits then revert to that saved state at any point, but an actual Undo feature is missing.

Also, there is no History tool that shows you every edit and lets you step through them one by one. While Nikon NX Studio is nondestructive and all your edits can be changed or removed at any time, a History feature would help when doing lots of in-depth changes.

Other strange feature implementations are present, as well. After you apply a crop, you can’t actually make changes to it; you can start over with a new crop, but you can’t edit the crop once it has been applied. You also can’t darken shadows or lighten highlights – at least, not with the Shadows and Highlights sliders. The Retouch brush has no customization options at all other than its size. Finally, there is no way to make export presets, which could be a dealbreaker for those who rely on this feature in Lightroom and other programs.

Nikon NX Studio Review Export Dialog
The Export dialog in Nikon NX Studio has plenty of options, but its use is limited by the lack of export presets.

There’s a couple of ways to look at these drawbacks.

Compared to a program like Lightroom, NX Studio might seem limited. But on the other hand, you could argue that Nikon NX Studio is free, so there’s not much to complain about. It’s also currently on Version 1 and will no doubt be refined and upgraded over time. Many of the drawbacks have workarounds or alternative methods of accomplishing the same task, even if it does involve some extra steps. And finally, there is always a learning curve with new programs.

So are these missing features drawbacks, or is it more a matter of learning a new workflow? One could make a strong case for the latter over the former.

Who should get Nikon NX Studio?

While I can’t recommend Nikon NX Studio across the board, it’s a great option for many shooters. Certainly, Nikon users will appreciate all the tools NX Studio has to offer, especially for editing RAW files. If you are a hobbyist or working professional who needs a suite of powerful editing tools and you don’t mind some interface quirks, Nikon NX Studio could be right up your alley. Beginners might be intimidated by the plethora of buttons, options, and tools, especially compared to more basic image editors that are available for free on mobile phones and some computers. But Nikon NX Studio could be a good way for those individuals to start using a more advanced image editor without spending any money at all.

People who should definitely not use Nikon NX Studio are those who have a mobile-first workflow. There is no version of the program that works on phones or tablets, and it’s unlikely to be created anytime soon. If you primarily shoot and edit with a smartphone, you’re better off sticking with the tools you already have.

Nikon NX Studio Review 4-Up View

Nikon NX Studio review: final words

Nikon NX Studio is an outstanding program in many ways, and the fact that it’s free is certainly one of its most important advantages.

If you shoot in JPEG, you can use everything Nikon NX Studio has to offer, no matter your camera brand, while Nikon users will greatly appreciate its RAW editing capabilities. While there are certainly some important caveats to consider, as well as some messy bugs that will get ironed out over time, I certainly recommend you download it and give it a try.

Hopefully, this Nikon NX Studio review gave you some information to help you understand a bit more about the program and whether it will work for you!

Now I’d like to hear your thoughts:

Are you interested in Nikon NX Studio? Do you think you’ll use it? What do you like and dislike about the software? Share your views in the comments below!

Do I need to have a Nikon camera to use Nikon NX Studio?

Nikon NX Studio will only work with Nikon RAW files. RAW formats from Sony, Canon, Fujifilm, and others will not work, and neither will universal RAW formats like DNG. However, the program works just fine with JPEG images. So if you don’t use a Nikon camera but shoot in JPEG, you can easily use Nikon NX Studio for your editing and photo management.

Will Nikon NX Studio work on my mobile phone?

Nikon NX Studio is designed for desktop-based workflows; there is no mobile version. You can take photos on a mobile phone, transfer them to your computer, and edit them in Nikon NX Studio, but that workflow adds many more steps and probably takes too much time for most people to consider.

Is Nikon NX Studio better than Lightroom, Capture One, or Luminar?

There are advantages and disadvantages to all of these programs, and it’s impossible to say which one is better. Nikon NX Studio is free, but most of the others have free trial periods for new users. If you’re unsure of which to use, I recommend downloading them, signing up for free trials (if available), and making use of dPS’s many articles to help you learn. That way, you can make an informed choice and find the program that suits your needs.

Will Nikon NX Studio run on my computer?

Most computers made in the past few years will work just fine with Nikon NX Studio. I personally found better results when I was working with an SSD instead of a spinning hard drive, but almost any modern desktop or laptop will run the program just fine.

Can I use Nikon NX Studio to edit video?

While Nikon NX Studio does have a built-in video editor, its capabilities are very limited. It works for basic trimming and combining clips but not much else.

The post Nikon NX Studio Review: How Good Is This Free Photo Editor? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

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The Nikon Z9 Is Officially in Development. Here’s What We Know So Far.

19 Mar

The post The Nikon Z9 Is Officially in Development. Here’s What We Know So Far. appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Nikon Z9 is in development

Earlier this month, Nikon officially announced its flagship Z-series camera, the Nikon Z9.

Designed for professionals, the Z9 will likely follow in the footsteps of the Canon EOS R5 and the Sony a1, both of which offer an unprecedented combination of high resolution, fast shooting speeds, class-leading video, and top-notch autofocus.

So while the Nikon Z9 will undoubtedly appeal as a mirrorless successor to the action-centric Nikon D6, the camera will also be suitable for event photographers, wildlife photographers, and hybrid shooters, as well as jack-of-all-trades professionals who require an all-in-one solution.

Nikon’s official announcement revealed little about the Z9 aside from its name, its release year (2021), and a few hints about shooting capabilities. The Z9 boasts 8K video and “utilizes a newly developed FX-format stacked CMOS sensor and new image-processing engine.” Nikon claims that the Z9 will serve up “the best still and video performance in Nikon history, meeting the advanced needs of professionals in a wide range of genres.”

But what else can we expect from the Nikon Z9?

Well, just prior to Nikon’s official announcement, Nikon Rumors published a series of Z9 specifications, and they are impressive. Take a look:

  • A 45, 50, or 60 MP full-frame sensor (likely 50 MP, according to Nikon Rumors)
  • A “D6 body combined with EOS R5 imaging, a9 II AF, and blackout-free EVF”
  • 20 frames-per-second continuous shooting
  • 8K/30p recording, as well as 4K/120p
  • Dual XQD/CFexpress card slots
  • “Improved noise levels and specifically significantly better dynamic range”
  • “Improved AF” and “‘stunning’ AF tracking (better than the D6)”
  • An ultra-capable electronic viewfinder, offering blackout-free performance

In other words, the Nikon Z9 will be a high-resolution, rugged, lightning-fast, and video-capable camera – the perfect all-around pick for serious professionals and very much in line with Nikon’s claim of “the best still and video performance in Nikon history.”

Regarding the release date:

Nikon Rumors suggests the fall of 2021, though you should be prepared for some delays thanks to COVID-related supply problems.

Nikon Rumors also claims the price will come in between $ 6000 and $ 7000 USD – expensive, yes, but fully compatible with Nikon’s D6-series pricing (you can currently purchase the D6, body only, for around $ 6500), and on par with the Sony a1 (which weighs in at $ 6500 USD).

Of course, for many shooters, the Nikon Z9 is unobtainable, or an excessive amount of camera, or both. But the Z9 isn’t just a new camera; it’s also a sign of Nikon’s dedication to its Z-series lineup and a look at the latest and greatest mirrorless technology (technology that may eventually trickle down into lower-priced models).

And for those who are considering the Z9, you shouldn’t have too long to wait!

Now over to you:

What do you think of the Nikon Z9? Is it a camera you plan to purchase? Are there any features that you want the Z9 to include? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post The Nikon Z9 Is Officially in Development. Here’s What We Know So Far. appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

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Nikon Z7 II review

15 Mar


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Product shots: Dan Bracaglia

Silver Award

Overall score

Late last year, Nikon announced the Z7 II, the second iteration of its (for now) range topping high-resolution full-frame mirrorless camera. As the name implies, this is a refinement rather than a reimagining; and while the updates may not knock your socks off, we really enjoyed the original Z7 and this new model builds on an already successful formula.

The Z7 II still has a 45.7MP full-frame BSI sensor, but it’s now backed up by dual processors compared to the single processor in its predecessor. The exterior of the camera is largely unchanged, which is fine by us: Nikon’s Z-series cameras offer some of our favorite ergonomics on the mirrorless camera market. Blessedly, though (especially for those of us that moderate online comment sections), Nikon has included dual card slots in the Z7 II for users that need immediate backup or want to easily separate their still images and video clips. See? Something good came out of 2020 after all.

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 200 | 1/160 sec | F2.8 | Adapted Nikon AF-S 70-200mm F2.8E
Photo by Barney Britton

Key specifications:

  • 45.7MP BSI-CMOS sensor with native ISO 64
  • 4K/60p video with 93% coverage of the sensor (a ~1.08x crop)
  • 5-axis in-body stabilization (3-axis with adapted F-mount lenses)
  • 10 fps burst shooting with single-point AF
  • 3.69M-dot EVF, 3.2″ 2.1M-dot rear screen
  • -3EV focusing with F2.0 lens
  • 1 CFExpress / XQD card slot, 1 UHS-II SD card slot
  • New EN-EL15c battery, CIPA rated to 420 shots (LCD), 360 shots (EVF)
  • Compatible with new MB-N11 battery grip with vertical controls

The Z7 II, being the high-resolution model in Nikon’s mirrorless lineup, is all about outright image quality. It remains one of the only cameras on the market that provides a low native ISO of 64: this helps maximize dynamic range for high-contrast scenes like sunset or sunrise landscapes.

The Z7 II is priced at $ 2999 body-only or $ 3599 kitted with a 24-70mm F4 lens. The new MB-N11 battery grip with duplicate vertical controls will cost you $ 399.

What’s new and how it compares

Ask, and ye shall (sometimes) receive: The Z7 II now has one SD card slot and one CFExpress / XQD card slot. All control points shown are identical to those on the original Z7.

The big story in the Z7 II (if you don’t count the new card slot) is its dual Expeed 6 processors – so what exactly do those give you?

To start with, the Z7 II is a more credible action camera than its predecessor. Its burst speed tops out at 10 fps with continuous autofocus instead of 9 fps (albeit with a single AF area, and not subject tracking), and the buffer is up to three times deeper, giving you a total of 77 12-bit Raw images before slowing down. Helping you follow the action is a claimed reduction in blackout in the viewfinder, which is welcome, though we would have liked to see a boost in EVF resolution as well. Maybe next time.

Autofocus modes

New AF modes have also been added and are accessible in the main and ‘i‘ menus. They include the addition of face / eye detection in the ‘Wide area AF’ mode instead of just ‘Auto Area AF’; this means you can place an AF box over a person’s face to tell the camera to focus on that particular person’s eyes, which is especially handy if there are multiple people in a scene. An equivalent mode is available that prioritizes animals.

The new processors also allow the camera to focus in light as low as -3EV with a lens at F2 (and you can still push this even lower for static subjects by enabling the ‘Low Light AF’ feature).

Video and other updates

For video, the Z7 II is rather more competent than its predecessor, and now includes 4K/60p capture with a slight (1.08x) crop. It will also output 10-bit N-Log or HDR (HLG) footage to a compatible external recorder, and you can output Raw video in 1080p if you’re using the full sensor and 4K if you’re using a cropped APS-C sized region. We’d expect good video quality, but hardcore video shooters should set their sights on the Z6 II and its oversampled 4K video which should offer much better fine detail.

And of course, there’s those dual card slots. One supports CFExpress (Type B) and XQD cards, and the other is a UHS-II compatible SD slot. The Z7 II also includes a new EN-EL15c battery, which boosts battery life to a CIPA-rated 420 shots using the rear LCD with energy saving modes disabled. In response to customer feedback, the Z7 II is compatible with a new MB-N11 vertical grip, which allows for the use of two batteries and has portrait-orientation controls built-in. Finally, from a power management point of view, you can now power the camera over its USB-C port, as well as charge it.

Lastly, we’re pleased to see that Nikon has added support for firmware updates over Wi-Fi through its SnapBridge app. This will make it easier for everyday users to get the most out of their cameras, as Nikon has been diligent about updating its camera in the past with new functions and features.

Compared to…

Let’s take a look at how the Nikon Z7 II stacks up against some other stabilized, full-frame cameras on the market. Of particular note is just how competitive the Z7 II’s MSRP is right at launch.

Nikon Z7 II Canon EOS R5 Sony a7R IV Panasonic Lumix S1R
MSRP (body) $ 2999 $ 3899 $ 3500 $ 3699
Sensor res. 45.6MP 45MP 61MP 47MP
Image stab. 5 stops 8 stops 5.5 stops 6 stops
LCD type Tilting Fully articulating Tilting Two-way tilting
LCD size/res 3.2″ / 2.1M-dot 3.2″ / 2.1M-dot 3″ 1.44M-dot 3.2″ 2.1M-dot
EVF res / mag
Burst w/AF 10 fps (single AF area only) 12 fps / 20 fps mech/
10 fps 6 fps
Video res. 4K/60p
(1.08x crop)
8K/30p 4K/30p 4K/60p
(1.09x crop)
Mic / headphone socket Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
Battery life (rear LCD) 420/360 shots 320/220 shots 670/530 shots 380/360 shots
Weight 675g (23.8oz) 738g (26oz) 665g (23.5oz) 898g (31.7oz)

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Body and handling

Put the Z7 II next to the original Z7 and you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between them. Indeed, the only differences of any consequence are the slightly taller memory card door to accommodate the dual slots and the small ‘II’ on the front plate.

But we’re not going to complain too much, because we really didn’t find much fault with how the original Z7 handled. And you can expect the same experience from the Z7 II: a deep, very comfortable grip, well-placed buttons and control dials, an easily readable top display and a satisfyingly ‘clicky’ mode dial.

Okay, but we’re going to nitpick a bit just because we can. Being the high-res, stills-focused camera in the range, the Z7 II wouldn’t necessarily benefit from a fully articulating mechanism that video shooters prefer, but a ‘two-way tilting’ design such as that found on the Fujifilm X-T3 and Panasonic S1R would have been welcome. And though the front two function buttons are well-placed, some of us on staff find them a bit ‘mushy’.

Other than that, though, the Z7 II feels incredibly solid in the hand and is a supremely comfortable camera to hold and use for extended periods of time. The touchscreen interface is responsive, and it’s easy to switch between stills and video quickly. The arrival of a new battery grip with duplicate controls (!) will make for a more comfortable experience for use with larger lenses, like the Z 70-200mm F2.8 and adapted F-mount telephotos.

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Image quality

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 450 | 1/50 sec | F9 | Nikon Z 24-70mm F2.8 S
Photo by Barney Britton

The Nikon Z7 II’s 45MP sensor is unchanged from its predecessor, and that’s just fine by us: image quality is absolutely outstanding in a broad range of scenarios, and Raw files are eminently flexible. In files from the original Z7, we did see some minor banding in the deepest shadows, but Nikon appears to have cleared that up with the new model.

Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you’ll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to emulate the effects of different lighting conditions.

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In terms of Raw detail capture, the Z7 II puts up a really strong showing against its competition. The Canon EOS R5 looks just a bit softer than the others here, but that’s likely due to a weak anti-aliasing filter, but this is of little practical impact other than saving you some time with the moiré tool in post. We find that 45MP is plenty of resolution$ (document).ready(function() { $ (“#icl-5317-2087802529”).click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(5317); }); }) for almost any purpose; though, of course, the Sony and Panasonic offer you more resolution in their pixel shift modes$ (document).ready(function() { $ (“#icl-5318-93135894”).click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(5318); }); }) assuming your photographic subjects are static enough to take advantage of them.

At the highest ISO values$ (document).ready(function() { $ (“#icl-5319–1749990159”).click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(5319); }); }), the Nikon Z7 II pulls ahead of Panasonic handily with respect to noise levels, outstrips the Canon EOS R5 by a hair and looks to be pretty much neck-and-neck with the Sony a7R IV. But really, all cameras look solid at the more realistic ISO values$ (document).ready(function() { $ (“#icl-5320–1228588540”).click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(5320); }); }) that you might consider shooting at.

Onto the JPEGs, we find the overall color palette$ (document).ready(function() { $ (“#icl-5321-455437219”).click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(5321); }); }) from these cameras to be excellent but the Nikon’s yellows look to be just a bit richer and golden, and the greens a tad warmer (we think those are good things). The slightly more magenta pink patch could impact caucasian skin tones, though. JPEG detail$ (document).ready(function() { $ (“#icl-5322-1670928541”).click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(5322); }); }) is likewise good, though the Sony (with its resolution advantage, admittedly) looks a bit better$ (document).ready(function() { $ (“#icl-5323–1434692408”).click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(5323); }); }) as the Nikon is using clumsier, larger-radius sharpening that doesn’t reveal fine detail as well. As ISO values climb$ (document).ready(function() { $ (“#icl-5324-995412158”).click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(5324); }); }), the Nikon and Canon leave behind less luminance noise than the Sony and Panasonic but also retain less low-contrast detail$ (document).ready(function() { $ (“#icl-5325-1460628746”).click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(5325); }); }).

Dynamic range

As we mentioned, the Z7 II’s sensor is essentially the same as its predecessor; it uses a dual-gain design to minimize read noise above ISO 320, so that high ISO settings have lower visual noise. As a result, the ISO 100 and 200 settings (below the higher gain step which would lower dynamic range) are a little noisier in the shadows compared to higher ISO settings – above ISO 320 – using the same aperture and shutter speed. The difference is impressively small, though, and so the sensor is adding really low amounts of noise to the final image, even in the lower gain state used at low ISOs. This also means that you can save four stops of highlight detail by shooting at ISO 400 instead of ISO 6400, with the same exposure settings, and brighten selectively – while protecting highlights – in post. You’ll pay little to no extra image noise cost in doing so.

Our standard Exposure latitude test really emphasizes how little noise the camera itself is adding to your images. Even if you reduce exposure significantly, which again helps you capture additional highlight information, the Z7 II puts up a really impressive performance. We also don’t see any of the banding that could sometimes occur in the very deepest shadows with the original Z7 when exposures were pushed.

A key thing to note is that ISO 64 mode allows camera to capture more light before clipping than its rivals can. This, combined with the very low noise performance seen above, means the Z7 II can capture images with cleaner tones, all the way down into the deepest shadows. And, now the banding in the darkest tones has been resolved, this results in higher image quality and greater flexibility than its peers in situations where it’s practical to use ISO 64.

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The Z7 II’s autofocus system is a match for that of the Z6 II, which in turn is a continuation of the improvements introduced during the lifespan of the preceding models.

The major change is that the human and animal detection features are now built into variants of the ‘wide-area’ and ‘auto-area’ AF area modes. This means they don’t have to be selected from a separate i-menu option, and they can be easily accessed if you have one of the camera’s buttons set to ‘Focus mode/AF area mode.’

The provision of a Wide-Area AF (L-people) mode provides a way to predetermine where in the frame you want the camera to look for its subject, which provides a way to pre-select which person the camera is going to focus on. On the previous Z models you had to use ‘auto-area’ mode, meaning you had to wait to see who the camera focused on, before being able to select a different subject if required.

Unfortunately, unlike the latest Canon and Sony AF systems, human and animal detection system separate modes from the camera’s subject tracking function. This means that you have to make the decision whether to use a simple AF area, subject tracking or face/eye detection, and then select the appropriate mode.

AF performance

Face/Eye detection autofocus performance tested using firmware v1.10

Generally we’ve found that the Z7 II’s autofocus system is very good, but not up there with the very best of its peers. Face and eye detection work well, successfully finding subjects even when they’re quite distant, though the Z7 II’s higher resolution makes it a little clearer that the camera is focusing a fraction in front of the iris than was apparent with the Z6 II.

Subject tracking is, again, good, but not quite on the same level as the best in its class. It is better at tracking a distinct, moving subject than it is at sticking to the part of a larger subject that you’ve pointed the camera at. This means subject tracking doesn’t always work as a means of precisely placing your AF point, as an alternative to moving it with the joystick. We also encountered occasional instances where the camera would attempt to refocus, even when ‘tracking’ a static subject.

We conducted our standard AF tests, first checking the camera’s ability to refocus on an approaching subject (the camera turned in a 100% hit rate in this scenario), then asking the camera to identify a weaving subject and choose an appropriate AF point, seen below. These tests were shot using the Nikkor Z 70-200mm F2.8 VR S.

The Z7 II appears to have had little difficulty in identifying and following the subject around the scene but, as with many cameras, it will occasionally slightly misjudge the focus distance as the rate of the rider’s approach changes. The Z7 II doesn’t offer any settings to adjust the responsiveness of the autofocus (only how it responds in the event of an obstacle appearing between the camera and the subject).

Overall the autofocus on the Z7 II is very good. In a couple of respects it falls behind the very best of its peers but if compared with most older cameras, particularly DSLRs, it’s able to focus very effectively with minimal need for user input. It’s not necessarily going to offer flawless performance for sports shooting but for landscape, studio or portrait work, it’s more than good enough. The implementation, which requires you to change in and out of different area modes for different types of subject, isn’t as slick as Canon and Sony have become but it’s rarely too onerous.

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The Z7 II is a less video-focused camera than the Z6 II but still offers some pretty competitive specs. The Z7 II also does a good job of letting you specify different parameters to stills and video modes, including exposure values, white balance, color mode and even ‘i’ menu configuration. This means it can be set up to allow quick jumps back and forth between modes without carrying inappropriate settings from stills to video or vice versa.

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With its higher pixel count, the Z7 II isn’t able to read out its whole sensor quickly enough to create its video output, and instead appears to skip some lines and only use the remainder. The effect is video that’s a little less detailed$ (document).ready(function() { $ (“#icl-5394-1526146656”).click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(5394); }); }), with higher risk of moiré and more noise in low light, since the whole sensor isn’t being used.

The camera’s 4K 60p footage$ (document).ready(function() { $ (“#icl-5395-1815008918”).click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(5395); }); }) appears to be skipping even more lines, which will exaggerate each of these shortcomings. However, it does at least mean that you can capture 60p footage without having to crop too far in, so you can still shoot wide-angle video. If you are willing to crop in, the Z7 II’s APS-C (Super35/DX format) video$ (document).ready(function() { $ (“#icl-5396-1168884176”).click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(5396); }); }) is a touch more detailed. This uses all the pixels in a 5.5K sensor region but still comes up short when viewed side-by-side with the Sony a7R IV$ (document).ready(function() { $ (“#icl-5398-1533746214”).click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(5398); }); }) in a comparable mode. The further downside is that the noise performance will be that of an APS-C camera, and it’s harder to find wide-angle lenses for the cropped region.

This is a pretty decent result for a high-resolution camera but, if you’re shooting short clips (and don’t need to use the camera between those clips), the Canon EOS R5 is capable of producing incredibly detailed 4K footage$ (document).ready(function() { $ (“#icl-5399–224543785”).click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(5399); }); }) from its 8K capture.

There’s also a paid upgrade option to allow Raw video to be output from the camera. This can now be encoded either as ProRes RAW or Blackmagic Raw, depending on which brand of external recorder you attach. The latest firmware ensures the resulting files are suitable for Raw-level editing of white balance and ‘ISO’ when you get them to edit.

Sadly, we’ve not had access to a camera with the Raw upgrade applied, so have been unable to test this feature.

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What we like… What we don’t…
  • Excellent image quality and dynamic range
  • ISO 64 can give IQ advantage over peers
  • Good video quality and features for such a high resolution camera
  • Excellent ergonomics with well-placed controls
  • Effective in-body image stabilization
  • Decent battery life and some backward compatibility
  • USB charging and separate charger included
  • Dual card slots provide flexibility
  • Auto shutter mode avoids the need to manually switch in different situations
  • SD, XQD and CFexpress compatibility
  • Viewfinder is detailed
  • AF features not as well integrated as in its rivals
  • AF tracking not as dependable as best systems
  • Eye AF still appears to fractionally front-focus
  • Battery life lags behind its peers
  • Tilting screen not as flexible as two-way tilt or fully articulated
  • Non-matched card slots demands purchase of multiple formats
  • Viewfinder isn’t as high resolution as the best of its peers
  • Requires external recorder for best video quality (10-bit Log or Raw)

The Nikon Z7 II may appear to be a relatively subtle refresh of the original Z7 but the improvements that have been made, such as the second card slot, the option to add vertical control grip, and boosted AF performance will all increase its appeal to the kind of photographers it’s aimed at.

We were impressed by how polished Nikon’s first generation of full-frame mirrorless cameras were, so it’s no surprise that the Z7 II works well. It’s responsive in its operation and, though we’d love to see the reintroduction of Nikon’s combined AF switch/AF mode button, offers an experience that Nikon DSLR users will immediate feel at home with. There’s a good degree of customization without it being necessary to completely reprogram its operation.

The main shortcomings (and they’re only really shortcomings in comparison to some very capable opposition) relate to autofocus. The tendency for Eye AF to slightly front-focus and the subject tracking’s habit of focusing somewhere on the subject you selected, rather than tracking that precise point are the only real grumbles in terms of performance.

Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 | ISO 64 | 1/640 sec | F6.3
Processed in Adobe Camera Raw. Straightened, whites raised, highlights reduced. One dust-spot cloned-out with heal tool.
Photo: Richard Butler

More of an issue is the way AF area modes, face detection and subject tracking interact. Both Canon and Sony have tracking modes that will use face/eye/person focus as needed, whereas on the Z7 II, you’ll need to cycle between modes and engage and disengage functions to get the most out of the camera. Most photographers will find a way to make it work for the subjects they shoot, but it’s not as slick as it could be and it can eat into precious custom button availability.

The rest of the cameras’ ergonomics remain amongst our favorite of the current full-frame mirrorless options.

Out-of-camera JPEG
Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 | ISO 90 | 1/160 sec | F2.8
Photo: Richard Butler

The best news is that it maintains the image quality the original camera. We’ve seen advances in other aspects of camera performance since the original Z7 was launched but, particularly in circumstances where you can use its ISO 64 mode, there haven’t been many that beat it in terms of IQ.

The Nikon Z7 II is not a cutting edge camera and it doesn’t have many exciting new features to dazzle with, but it’s hugely competent, very usable and noticeably less expensive than its peers. It’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed with the Z7 II, which earns a solid Silver award. It only misses out on a Gold because it doesn’t really out-do its rivals in any specific respect.

How it compares to its peers

The Sony a7R IV is a very credible competitor to the Z7 II, offering a boost in resolution for an increased price tag. The a7R IV’s autofocus is quicker and easier to use, and offers greater precision, in our experience. It also offers significantly better battery life and a more detailed viewfinder. However, the Nikon offers a better video shooting experience and arguably better ergonomics. Lens choice is probably the most critical factor in deciding between the two.

The Canon EOS R5 is a significantly more expensive camera than the Nikon, and delivers a performance boost in return. Again, the Canon’s AF interface is rather simpler than that of the Z7 II and its performance a little better. The Canon can also shoot faster, has a higher resolution viewfinder and can capture truly excellent-looking 8K and 4K footage. However its battery life is noticeably worse, and it’s not able to shoot its best video for extended periods, especially in the midst of heavy photographic usage, making it less dependable than you’d hope. At ISO 64 the Nikon has the edge in terms of image quality.

Finally, the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R promises much of what the Nikon does, for a little more money. It’s either much more substantial or simply more bulky, depending on your perspective. It offers a multi-shot high-res mode made more practical by its motion correction option. The S1R offers a nicer viewfinder and more flexible screen than the Nikon but its autofocus interface and the in-viewfinder flutter while using it leaves the Panasonic a little behind. It shares the mis-matched card slots of the Nikon, but in the end, the noticeably lower battery life leaves us preferring the Nikon in most situations.

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Nikon Z7 II sample galleries

Please do not reproduce any of these images without prior permission (see our copyright page).

DPReview sample gallery

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DPReview TV sample gallery

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Nikon Z7 II scoring

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Nikon Z7 II
Category: Semi-professional Full Frame Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The Z7 II is a very capable all-rounder, boosted by the addition of twin card slots and the option to add a battery grip. It offers superb image quality, solid autofocus and good video specs. But it's only really its slightly lower price that makes it stand out from a very competitive group. Thoroughly likable.

Good for
Landscape photography and portraiture

Not so good for
Demanding action shooting, regular changes of subject type
Overall score

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Nikon develops 1″-type square CMOS sensor that can capture HDR video at 1,000 fps

17 Feb

Nikon Japan has announced (machine-translated) it’s developed a 17.84-megapixel 1”-type multi-layer CMOS image sensor that can capture high dynamic range video at up to 1,000 frames per second.

Nikon is known to use Sony sensors in a number of its imaging products, but it also develops its own sensor technology. Case in point is this new 1”-type backside-illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor, which offers high-speed capture with impressive dynamic range in a square capture format.

The stacked sensor uses 17.84 million 2.7?m pixels (4224×4224 pixels) to capture video at up to 1,000 frames per second with 110dB dynamic range. If dropped to 60fps, the dynamic range jumps to 134dB.

Nikon doesn’t specify what kind of products this sensor is destined for, but based on its square format and hint at its use in ‘industrial fields such as automobiles,’ it’s unlikely we’ll see this in a consumer camera anytime soon.

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Adobe Camera Raw vs. Nikon ViewNX-i and Capture NX-D: Which should you be using?

19 Jan


Recently, I kicked off a new series of articles comparing the software provided by camera manufacturers with one of their most popular third-party alternatives, pitting Canon Digital Photo Professional head-to-head against Adobe Camera Raw. Now, I’m back with the second in the series, in which we’ll take a look at how Adobe’s raw processing rivals that offered for free with Nikon’s cameras.

Nikon ViewNX-i version 1.4.3’s user interface.

There’s a bit more to discuss this time around, as Nikon offers a choice of two different raw processing apps for free — the somewhat inconsistently-named ViewNX-i and Capture NX-D. As in the previous article, I’ll be limiting discussion mostly to each application’s user interface and image quality in the interests of keeping things to a readable length, and won’t be addressing features like image management, tethering or printing.

The ground rules

In this article, I’m comparing Adobe Camera Raw 12.4 alongside Adobe Bridge 10.1.1 versus Nikon ViewNX-i 1.4.3 and Capture NX-D 1.6.3, all of which are their current versions. My computer is a 2018-vintage Dell XPS 15 9570 laptop running Windows 10 version 1909.

To level the playing field as much as possible, I’ve once again aimed to reproduce the look of already-processed images from our galleries, without any prior knowledge as to the recipes behind them. I’ve chosen images from the Nikon Z6 for use in this comparison, since it’s similar in price and resolution to the EOS R used in the first article, and has been around long enough for Adobe to fine-tune its support.

Adobe Camera Raw version 12.4’s user interface.

To avoid getting too far into the weeds, sharpness and noise reduction were left at their defaults, while lens corrections were enabled for all three apps where possible.

Adobe Camera Raw doesn’t allow built-in corrections to be disabled at all. ViewNX-i doesn’t allow you to change whether or not distortion correction is enabled, and just abides by what’s set in the raw file. Only Capture NX-D allows corrections to be enabled/disabled (although even it prevents disabling distortion correction for certain lenses).

Images processed in ACR were saved at JPEG quality 11, just as used in our galleries. For NX-i and NX-D, I saved at JPEG quality 86, producing similarly-sized files.

The main differences

Click or tap for the full-sized ACR version; here for ViewNX-i version

Of course, the most immediately obvious differences between ACR and NX-i / NX-D are their camera support and price tag. You already paid for NX-i and NX-D when you bought your Nikon camera, so it’s effectively free. While it only supports Raw files from the company’s own cameras, you can expect full Raw support for every Nikon camera to be available pretty much immediately upon release.

By contrast, ACR comes with a recurring subscription fee. While it supports a vast range of cameras from many manufacturers – including every single interchangeable-lens Nikon camera made to date – that support can sometimes take a while to arrive after the release of new models.

It’s also sometimes more limited than that in first-party software, especially for Coolpix compacts. While Adobe offers ‘camera matching’ profiles for almost every Nikon ILC, for example, it’s not available for a fair few compacts, including the relatively recent Coolpix A1000.

As for the differences between ViewNX-i and Capture NX-D, we’ll describe those in more detail when we look at NX-D on the next page. Suffice it to say that NX-i is the simpler, more approachable of the pair, however.

ACR is a little cleaner, but NX-i is approachable too

Click or tap for the full-sized ACR version; here for ViewNX-i version

For the remainder of this page, we’ll focus solely on ViewNX-i. Although its interface isn’t quite as modern as that of ACR, it’s still pretty clean overall, with relatively few controls on offer. Some features like sharpening are combined into a single easy-to-use slider, while others like noise reduction are controlled entirely automatically.

The selection of controls available to the user is sometimes a bit odd, though. For example, I’d wager that most NX-i users won’t have the first clue what “axial color aberration” means, nor will they find any tooltip explaining it if they hover over the control. Yet several more common (and easily-understood) attributes like distortion and vignetting corrections cannot be controlled by the end-user.

The selection of controls available in ViewNX-i is sometimes curious. For example, there are controls for more obscure functions like aberration and diffraction, but none for more easily-understood variables like distortion and vignetting.

The good news is that, with fewer controls on offer, Nikon gives you access to everything up front. Editing functionality isn’t hidden behind buttons or under menus. Nor is it strewn across multiple tabs of controls, as in some applications.

Instead, you’ll find all available editing tools grouped together in a single, relatively short scrollable panel. And sliders move smoothly rather than in large steps, so making fine-grained adjustments is easy.

Like ACR, modern features like support for 4K displays, touch-screens and pen control are pretty good, although if you switch between 4K and Full HD displays — especially while NX-i is running — you’ll often have to resize panels or perhaps even restart the application entirely so it redetects the screen resolution before you can get to work.

ACR is still the speed champ, but ViewNX-i isn’t that far behind

Click or tap for the full-sized ACR version; here for ViewNX-i version

ViewNX-i isn’t quite as fast as ACR, especially when it comes to previewing changes as controls are adjusted. Still, it trails Adobe by only around a third in terms of final rendering times, which is much better than some rivals. All six images in this preview took ViewNX-i around 26 seconds to batch-process, compared to 19.5 seconds for ACR.

And while image previews aren’t adjusted in near real-time as in ACR, they never take more than a second or less to catch up to your changes, and render in a single pass. The accuracy of that preview isn’t perfect when viewing full images, so for the finest adjustments you’ll want to switch to a 1:1 view instead, but it’s certainly good enough to get you close.

Unfortunately, there’s no indicator to show when the preview is updating, which is a bit frustrating when making more subtle adjustments.

ACR gives you much more control, especially over shadows and highlights

Click or tap for the full-sized ACR version; here for ViewNX-i version

As noted previously, ViewNX-i offers a smaller selection of controls than does Capture NX-D, and the same goes doubly when compared to Adobe Camera Raw. A particularly surprising omission in an app aimed at less-experienced users is the lack of a one-click auto control to help get everything in the ballpark. Much like ACR, ViewNX-i includes slider control over brightness, contrast, shadows and highlights.

NX-i also has D-Lighting HS and Color Booster sliders, the latter replacing the separate saturation/vibrance sliders offered by Adobe, and providing a choice of people or nature modes for some control over skin tones. Sharpening control is likewise limited to a single slider with no fine-tuning possible. And Nikon’s app lacks ACR’s sliders for texture, clarity, dehazing or black-points and white-points entirely, as well as its noise reduction and curves controls.

The D-Lighting HS slider makes it really easy to recover shadow detail, but I found its interactions with the shadow protection and contrast sliders in particular to be a bit difficult to predict and control. With D-Lighting HS set in the upper half of its range, as little as a 2-3% change in the contrast slider could have a pretty major effect overall and badly block up deeper shadows. This was particularly true of the shots inside the aircraft hangar, as well as the backlit model shot.

The fixed noise reduction is too heavy-handed by far

Click or tap for the full-sized ACR version; here for ViewNX-i version

With less challenging scenes, though, I thought ViewNX-i did a pretty good job in most respects. It yielded pleasingly lifelike color with relatively little effort, and I found myself preferring its rendering of foliage and skies in particular over those of ACR.

The fly in the ointment is that its noise reduction – which, remember, can’t be disabled – is quite heavy-handed. This is particularly noticeable in portrait shots, where much fine detail is lost in things like hair or thread patterns in clothing, and skin can end up looking unnaturally plasticky. This, more than anything else, will push more experienced photographers to either Capture NX-D or a third-party alternative like ACR.

ViewNX-i’s default noise reduction can lead to slightly plasticky-looking skin.

If your shot doesn’t have much noise to start off with, though, ViewNX-i can extract about almost as much detail as can ACR. (And can appear a little crisper at default settings, thanks to slightly stronger unsharp masking).

Final thoughts on ViewNX-i

Click or tap for the full-sized ACR version; here for ViewNX-i version

Less experienced photographers might, perhaps, find ViewNX-i to be a bit less intimidating than Capture NX-D or Adobe Camera Raw, and it’s certainly capable of providing decent results if you can live with its noise reduction performance. Performance is decent too, especially in terms of final rendering, although Adobe still takes the win handily in this respect. But for many, the limited controls on offer and the heavy-handed noise reduction will push them to Capture NX-D or a third-party alternative instead — and rightly so.

Nikon ViewNX-i

Pros Cons
  • Available free with your camera
  • Excellent support for Nikon’s cameras from launch day
  • Realistic color with minimal effort
  • Impressive shadow recovery from D-Lighting HS
  • Decent performance, albeit still not as good as ACR
  • Only supports Nikon cameras
  • Lacks many controls offered by ACR and other rivals
  • Selection of controls doesn’t make sense for less-experienced shooters
  • No one-click auto control
  • Can’t use distortion correction if it wasn’t enabled at capture time
  • Denoising robs fine detail and can’t be disabled
  • Interactions between controls can prove challenging

Adobe Camera Raw

Pros Cons
  • More modern user interface
  • Supports a vast range of cameras from many brands
  • Great performance and accurate real-time preview
  • Great image quality overall
  • Holds onto more fine detail than ViewNX-i
  • Does a great job with highlights/shadows
  • Recurring subscription fee with no perpetual license option
  • Camera support can take a while to arrive
  • Less pleasing color than Nikon’s software by default
  • Leaves significantly more noise in images by default

And with our Nikon ViewNX-i vs. Adobe Camera Raw comparison complete, it’s time to see how Capture NX-D fares against its third-party rival. Continue reading on the next page!

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