Camera Review: Nikon Z 7

May 1, 2019

By Greg Scoblete

Thanks to the wider diameter of the Z mount, F-mount lenses attached using the Adapter FTZ will deliver excellent image quality out to the corner of the frame.

Rangefinder is a member of the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA), which has partnered with the lab Image Engineering for detailed test of digital cameras. Here are their results for the Nikon Z 7.


Nikon’s new mirrorless Z series boasts a 45-megapixel back-illuminated sensor with no optical low-pass filter and an ISO range of 64 to 25,600 (32 to 102,400 expanded). It has 493 hybrid phase/contrast detect AF points. The hybrid system automatically switches between focal plane phase detect AF and contrast detection.

The Z 7 tops off with a continuous shooting speed of 9 fps. It can create 4K time-lapse movies in camera and 8K time-lapse movies in post. It can meter in low light down to -3EV and focus down to -1EV, though a dedicated low-light AF mode can push that down to -4EV.

As for video, Nikon has finally killed the crop when recording 4K. If you’re recording 4K and opt for a DX crop, you’ll enjoy full-pixel readout (3840 × 2160/30p). This is Nikon’s first camera to support outputting a 10-bit video signal from the HDMI output as well as an N-Log color profile for 12 stops of dynamic range. Focus peaking in both 4K and full HD and time code are also supported. HD video can be captured at up to 120p.

The Z 7 offers an electronic shutter and built-in Wi-Fi for transferring images to phones and (for the first time) computers. Nikon’s DSLR accessories, such as the EN-EL15/a/b batteries and WT-7/A/B/C Wireless Transmitter, will work with the Z 7.


At ISO 64, the Z 7 resolves 103 percent of the theoretical maximum—based on the way Image Engineering tests cameras, the top result can be 120 percent. That bests both the Sony a7R III (98 percent) and Canon’s EOS R (also 98 percent at base ISO). It’s an improvement over the D850 too, which resolved 94 percent of the theoretical maximum at ISO 64. The Z 7 also outperforms the D850 in texture reproduction in low-contrast areas up to ISO 3200. Lower ISOs show consistently excellent resolution and mid-range ISO values showed solid resolving results. When you hit the Z 7’s highest native ISO, resolution drops to 79 percent, just slightly better than the a7R III’s 76 percent. 

Visual Noise

When viewing an image on a monitor at 100 percent, noise is well contained through ISO 3200. The Z 7 produces slightly noisier images in this viewing condition than the a7R III, but not dramatically so. It’s only when you hit the maximum native ISO that the Z 7’s noise performance obviously falls apart. Keep in mind that this viewing condition is also the toughest one and the one that least approximates how most people view photos (in other words, it’s for the pixel-peepers only).

When viewing a postcard-sized photo print, noise results are quite good. At ISO 12,800, you’d get results equivalent to ISO 64 when viewed on a monitor at 100 percent. When viewing a print that’s 15 inches high, noise only becomes noticeable at ISO 6400 but is still well contained, even at 12,800.

Noise occurs primarily in the darker portion of the middle tones.

Dynamic Range

At ISO 64, the Z 7 achieves 9.3 f-stops of dynamic range (when measuring JPEGs). Dynamic range dips to 8.9 stops at ISO 1600 and 7 stops at ISO 25,600. 

The Z 7 outperforms the D850 when it comes to dynamic range. That said, it underperforms both the Canon EOS R and Sony’s a7R III, which can achieve a maximum of 14.1 and 10.2 stops of dynamic range, respectively. 

Color Reproduction & White Balance

Only four colors—all bright reds—deviated strongly from the reference target. That’s better than the EOS R, which had six strong deviations, but it’s worse than the Sony a7R III, which had but two. The Z 7 did generate more visible color deviations in total than either the EOS R or Sony a7R III.

The camera’s Delta E, or the degree of difference between the reference color and the camera’s actual performance, was very consistent throughout almost the entire ISO range.

Automatic white balance shows excellent and consistent results at ISOs through 12,800. Even at the highest native ISO value, Image Engineering found the Z 7’s performance was still good. 


The Z 7 resolves 96 percent of the theoretical maximum at base ISO, trailing the a7R III’s 103 percent. You’ll see moderate texture loss in areas of high contrast and sharpening in video is generally moderate. You will notice more sharpening effects in low-contrast edges.

Noise is barely observable when viewed as large prints or a postcard-sized print. Zoomed in at 100 percent on a display and noise would be visible as you edge into higher ISO values, which is natural. 

Image Engineering deemed color reproduction in video to be “not bad” with a lower Delta E at both high and low ISO than was achieved when shooting stills.  

Dynamic range in video is 10 f-stops at low ISO values and only drops slightly to 9.7 f-stops at higher ISO values for videos recorded directly in camera. That bests both the EOS R (9.7 stops) and Sony’s a7R III (8.7 stops). You can get even better dynamic range results by outputting a video signal to an external recorder. 

Related: 15 New Mirrorless Camera Bodies and Lenses

Hands-On Review: Canon’s Mirrorless EOS R

Sony a7R III Review

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