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Z7 upgrade path logistics ???

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
I am quite satisfied with my existing Z7. I wish it had a second card slot a-la the Z7ii, but really don't need it. I like the idea of faster/better AF, but honestly have not run into any significant issues with the current AF in my regular useage. A 46MP sensor is plenty for me, even considering I normally shoot at the 4:5 aspect ratio and only net 38 of them -- but I'd happily accept more pixels *IF* (and only if) the color fidelity were equal or better and noise is at least equal...

First conundrum... I'm reading from a few early adopters that the Z7ii is showing better color fidelity via improved AWB, especially in skintones. Again, I have not had much of an issue here, but have had a little bit in confusing mixed indoor light -- so my first question is, does the Z7ii really do better skin than the Z7? If this is really true, it might compel me to upgrade now.

Second... The Z8/9 rumored to be coming out Fall of 2021, debut at the olympics, so about a year from now before the first ones are delivered. It is currently rumored to use the same 46MP sensor, have significantly higher framerate at 20 FPS with further improved AF, dual CFex slots (smart move, but the body dimensions are likely to swell a bit) and also higher resolution LCD and EVF. So, is it smarter still to just sit tight and wait for that camera?
 

KeithL

Active member
Jack, I base all such decisions on need. It sounds to me that you, for the moment at least, have no compelling need for change, unless of course you really need two bodies. I'd tend to wait until there is a compelling solution meeting a compelling need.

Just my tuppence worth.
 

tcdeveau

Well-known member
Jack I was all set on upgrading my Z6 to the Z6II until you reminded me about the Z9 :)

I’m in a similar boat, albeit with the Z6. The gen II bodies have improvements that would be worthwhile for me - improved AF and controls on the battery grip in particular.

I decided I’m going to hold off on the upgrade til this time next year and pick up more lenses in the meantime. Versatility is key for me right now, and if the Z9 is everything it’s rumored to be, it could be the perfect camera for me at my current stage of life. D6-like AF (or better) and high FPS would be great for pics of my kids, and 45ish MP would tick the boxes for landscape, all in one package. I wouldn’t mind a bigger body to help balance some of the larger lenses either. I’d keep the Z6 as a backup and smaller setup to use with the 50/85 1.8. We’ll see what happens but the Z6II/Z7II do look like great cams if you go for it
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
I hear you both, and hence my own hesitation to do anything just yet. The Z9 could be the cat's pajamas as the all-around FF cam, but then the Z7ii still makes a nice intermediate step -- and maybe even nice enough I won't need a Z9! Reality under the state of covid is I don't *need* a second body -- though I had assumed I'd have at least one and probably a Z6 as well long before now.
 

Joe Colson

Well-known member
Jack, as usual, I have a contrary opinion. First, there will always be a "next best thing". Technology won't slow down and camera technology will continually advance. By the time the rumored Z8/Z9 cameras are announced and available, there will be rumors about a Z10. Second, after the Z7 II, I doubt whether its successor will have the same 46MP sensor, especially since the Sony a7RIV has had a 61MP sensor in a similarly sized body since July 2019. Nikon is behind both Sony and Canon and can't [literally] afford to be viewed as the perpetual laggard. So I expect the 2021 announcements to be solid advancements over the Z7 and Z7 II (and Z6 and Z6 II). More than frame rate and improved AF. Yes, there probably will be a camera to compete with the Sony a9 (a mirrorless D6 successor), but that's not what you're seeking as a landscape photographer. Finally, if the pandemic has taught me anything, it's taught me that life is short, and deferring the modest joys of life is a fool's game. "Man plans. God laughs."

How does this apply to me? I currently have a Z7 and an IR-converted Z6. I'm in the queue for the Z7 II. I will likely have my Z7 converted to IR and sell the Z6. Since I bought the Z7 used, I won't be leaving a ton of money on the table. And I'll be anxiously awaiting Nikon's 2021 announcements. I'll have the native Z lenses for any new camera(s) they introduce and will likely be an early adopter.

So, is it smarter still to just sit tight and wait for that camera?
Like everything, "smarter" is highly personal and depends upon your needs and no one else's. I'd vote for scratching the itch.

Joe
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Joe, you make excellent points too. I will scratch the interim itch if the Z7ii actually does do better AWB and skintone...
 

Joe Colson

Well-known member
A 46MP sensor is plenty for me, even considering I normally shoot at the 4:5 aspect ratio and only net 38 of them
Jack, do you compose and shoot at the 4:5 aspect ratio or compose and shoot at 2:3 and crop in post? Just curious.

Joe
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
I compose and capture in the 4:5 ratio -- it makes my workflow far easier, at least for me and the way I see.
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Thought I'd add an update for posterity. I had pretty much decided to wait for the Z9. But then a deal came up on a low mileage (under 1000 clicks) Z7 at an (VERY) attractive price, so I figured why TF not? I now have 2 bodies and finally feel like my bag is "complete." I prefer having two different lenses mounted and/or being able to have one set up for mono and the other color, or square vs 4:5 vs pano...

I will add a slight disappointment, the real reason for this post... I copied all of my adjustments from one body onto the card and loaded them into the new body. This was great as far as it went, but that wasn't very far. It set most, but not all, of my base preference settings and did not transfer over the custom U modes. Which meant I still had to go through all the menu items one by each and confirm which had transferred and which had not, and then go through the rather laborious task of setting up all of the U's. End of day, it did not save much time over just setting up everything from scratch. Some examples of things that did not transfer over were jpeg color filters -- yet jpeg sharpening, contrast and color adjustments did, which I thought weird. Also my custom menu items did not transfer over, yet the i menu items and order did. Finally, the Fn button assignments did NOT transfer, extremely weird IMHO.

Anyway, onward.
 

KeithL

Active member
Similar story here, Jack.

In the end I just put both cameras on and laboriously synced the two manually to ensure they were identical.
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Am I missing something? Would logic not dictate a user would want both cameras 100% identically set up initially, then be able to make whatever one-off changes to the other one they might want to make, as opposed to forcing us to have to double-check everything? Kind of a stupid implementation in my opinion...
 

KeithL

Active member
I often forget that if I make changes on the fly and want them to stick then I have to save all again to the relevant program or user mode.
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
I often forget that if I make changes on the fly and want them to stick then I have to save all again to the relevant program or user mode.
I think that is the biggest issue. I wish they "held" your last settings, or at least gave you the option to have that happen... I use A mode most frequently, so set my U's up in A mode; and in A the U's hold aperture to whatever it was set to when you saved, not what you have been using. So now every time I power off to save battery, when I restart I've lost whatever aperture I've set for my current shooting session.
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
For thread posterity, I'd thought I'd add my thoughts after a week with the Z7ii. I decided to upgrade one of my Z7's to a Z7ii to see for myself if the "improved AF" was hype or reality. In truth, I don't *need* super AF very often for my kind of imaging, so initially I figured I'd just wait for rev 3 or whatever the next camera was. But then the bug bit me and I put out a feeler, and as fate would have a it a friend had just decided to sell his Z kit to make room for a new MF outfit; and so long story short I've had a Z7ii and a few new lenses to play with over the past week.

First comment is I did not immediately notice greatly improved AF. In fact, it seemed maybe 20% faster out of the gate if I had to put a value on it. No worries, it was an improvement and I liked the dual card work-flow with raws and jpegs separated onto their own cards. Next comment is I did not see, nor did I expect any IQ differences between the two cameras -- and for all intents they do render identically. I do prefer the slightly different menu layout in the ii, and with that comment, we get to the added AF modes...

It was a few days before I wandered into the new AF modes of wide-area-people and wide-area-animal. I won't bore you with the technical details, but they're basically the Z7 wide AF area with animal or people eye detect enabled. Unlike the Z7 where you chose the AF eye-detect mode then selected whether it's for animals or people under a dedicated sub-menu, in the Z7ii they are their own unique mode and selectable independently, which makes them one-button selectable in the i menu -- which is firstly more convenient than with the Z7 and secondly there are three or four options not available in the Z7. It is these new modes that awoke the AF surprise for me. So far from what I've seen, anything in the wide-area square can be locked onto by the camera almost instantly with an S lens mounted. If there happens to be a human or animal eye in the frame, it gets locked onto. If there's no eye, it *appears* to average high contrast edges extremely quickly for a remarkably well balanced focus zone. The keeper rate is impressive.

From my initial use of it, I have altered my shooting style with this camera and relying more and more on this essentially as an "intelligent auto AF for anything inside the box" mode. Admittedly, it's not easy for this "old dog" to adapt to this "new trick" of letting the camera do its thing, but I am. It's reminiscent of when I first realized I could rely on the then new matrix metering to make a correct --or at least close enough-- exposure decision without going into spot, taking a couple readings and making a conscious exposure choice. Obviously one needs to be in AF-C for it to be able to flow at its will, and coupled with that, I now find myself shooting in continuous Low or High and popping off two or three frames just because -- and most of those frames are amounting to not much more than duplicates ;)

In summary, it was definitely a worthwhile upgrade for me. Obviously the ii is now my main camera, and I keep either my ultrawide zoom or a lower light prime mounted to the Z7 for an easy grab.

Oh, one other thing -- battery life on the ii is impressive. Seems to be 20% to 30% more than the Z7, which frankly I wasn't disappointed in to begin with. I don't know if this is due to the larger capacity of the new battery or better power management in the body or both. Regardless, if you're buying any new batteries for your first generation Z camera, I'd advise springing for the newer EN-EL 15C's.
 
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