Reader Questions About the Z50

This article will be updated regularly as we learn new information about the Z50 prior to its actual release, much like I did with the Z6/Z7 and Canon R. Latest items (11/9/2019) in purple.

"Will you write a book on the Z50?"

Yes, I'm currently planning on releasing a Complete Guide to the Nikon Z50. Check back to this site towards the end of the year for more details. The good news is that this book is progressing fast due to how close the Z50 is to the Z6 and Z7. That means far less time-consuming researching and writing, though it does mean I have to verify everything I've written before. I'm pretty sure the book will be out before the end of the year.

"When will the Z50 arrive?"

NikonUSA is saying November 7th is their official ship date (actually happened). According to senior managers at PhotoPlus Expo, both the single and dual kit options should be available at the same time (again, actually happened).

"What's your initial impression of the Z50?"

Basically very good, though I'm disappointed by a few of the simplifications/feature removals. The camera with the kit lens just fits into my jacket pocket, which I wasn't quite expecting. That alone makes it the best carry-everywhere option Nikon is currently producing. The kit lens seems every bit up to the MTF charts Nikon published, which means that the image quality is excellent. The 50-250mm telephoto definitely has focus speed issues in low light at 250mm f/6.3, where sliding to focus is common. But I think that was to be expected. I still need some experience with it outside in bright light to get a full handle on it (it's been below freezing and mostly gloomy since the kit arrived ;~).

The EVF isn't as good as the Z6/Z7, but I didn't expect it to be at this price point, and the Z6/Z7's EVF is phenomenal for the most part. 

Hand position on the smaller Z50 body is a little more cramped and constrained. I think some will have issues reaching the Fn buttons satisfactorily. That said, for such a small camera it seems to handle well.

At the price point, Nikon probably has a winner on its hands. I just wish it were a little more full featured (e.g. raw choices, wireless remote flash control, etc.). 

"What do you think Nikon got wrong?"

I think Nikon made a wrong decision about some of the things they did with the Nikon 1 technology. In my opinion, they missed on several points. First, the 3D Tracking style of the Nikon 1 was always a poor solution, but it's basically the solution used for the Z's. The Z50 thus inherits the most awkward 3D Tracking mode of current cameras. This was a mistake, but fortunately a mistake that should be easily fixed with firmware. I just don't know why Nikon thought to continue this aspect of the Nikon 1.

Meanwhile, two things they didn't continue from the Nikon 1 that they should have are Motion Snapshot (similar to Apple's Live Photos) and BSS (Best Shot Selector). As the Z50 is the low-end model that Nikon wants to appeal to the smartphone crowd, both of these things were correct ideas by Nikon, just not perfectly implemented on the Nikon 1 models or marketed well. Both just needed a little more fleshing out to make interesting and useful. BSS, in particular, could lead easily to the Deep Fusion kind type of computational ability, too. But no, Nikon gave up on the two things that were pioneering and ultimately useful and marketable, and kept the one thing that was the most awkward and not as good as on the DSLRs. To me, that's a clear product management mistake.

"There's no IR remote control or DM-MC type connector on the Z50!"

No need to shout something that isn't a question. The appropriate remote control for the Z50 is the optional ML-L7. Works just fine, and can do a lot more control of the camera than the previous remote controls could.

"Is the Z50 a D5xxx replacement or D7xxx replacement?"

Well, first, it's not a "replacement." Nikon keeps saying they will keep DSLR and mirrorless lines going for the foreseeable future. So let's use the word "equivalent." And the answer is: neither.

Nikon themselves seem to have some wavering in this. On one set of marketing materials I've seen, the Z50 is clearly listed with the D7500 and D500 as Enthusiast cameras (the D5600 being Advanced Entry). On another set of documents they suggest that D5xxx users would be very interested in this camera, as if it were an equivalent. Add in the vlogger/selfie marketing messages, and you can get quite confused very quickly with Nikon's own positioning. Since it's their only APS-C mirrorless camera, it seems a bit as if Nikon wants the Z50 to be all things to all users.

In terms of actual specifications and performance, I'd judge the Z50 to actually probably come out somewhere between a D5600 and D7500 in mirrorless form. 

"Does it really have a full magnesium body?"

Sort of. The front and top of the body are one piece of magnesium alloy (includes the grip and some wrap around on the side. This is essentially the spine upon which everything else is hung, and should provide excellent sturdiness. 

"What's with the icons at the right of the rear LCD?

Those are what Nikon calls "soft keys." They act as touch areas for the three functions that are buttons on other cameras (zoom in, zoom out/help, DISP). The name and function is dedicated (i.e. not programmable that I know of). 

"Is it true the Z50 doesn't have built-in sensor cleaning?"

Yes, that's correct. At the moment, Nikon doesn't seem to have a marketing position on this. I'd be fine with the removal of that function if Nikon endorsed user cleaning. Since there's no sensor-based IS to hurt, that should be possible.

"How many images does the Z50 support in Multiple Exposure"

Ten. 

"Does the Z50 have Focus Peaking?"

Yes. Set via Custom Setting. Zebra stripes are also available.

"What's the buffer?"

35 shots max for raw, 71 for JPEG Fine Large, 100 for all other JPEG types.

"Does the Z50 have first curtain electronic shutter or all-electronic shutter?"

Sort of. Definitely a yes to EFCS. But all-electronic shutter seems to be more like the Silent Mode Live View of the DSLRs: it's selected via a menu item, and doesn't extend the shutter range above 1/4000. At least that's what the pre-production models all seem to do.

"Does the 4K video crop?"

Yes, it's an additional 1.5x crop. Thus, the 16mm focal length of the kit lens is equivalent to 36mm full frame angle of view when used for 4K video. If the Z DX system has a problem, it is that it doesn't have much in the way of good wide angle support, and that becomes a problem when shooting 4K. 1080P video does not crop. According to NikonUSA, some sample cameras initially shown did crop 4K video, but the cameras that will ship in November won't crop. That's the problem with trying to launch products from unfinished firmware and without final marketing materials. It's also the reason why this is a live document you should come back and check from time to time.

"What kind of 4K does the Z50 create?"

The Z50 creates UHD 4K, which is to say 3840x2160. It cannot do DCI 4K that extends the aspect ratio to 17:9 (4096 x 2160). 

"Is there a time limit to movie recording?"

Internally, 29 minutes and 59 seconds, as usual.

"Can I change file names on the camera?"

Yes, both Storage Folder and File Naming functions are available as on most prosumer/pro Nikon models.

"Does the camera support 14-bit raw?"

Yes, both 12-bit and 14-bit NEF can be selected. However, there is no choice for compression type, ala the D5xxx models.

"Does the camera support Diffraction Compensation?"

Yes, all of the lens correction capabilities are in the Z50.

"Does the LCD tilt upward at all?"

Yes, you can tilt the LCD upward by about 90°. You can also flip it all the way down so that it facing forward at 180°. While a lot of folk are poo-pooing the tilting mechanism, it does actually extend tilting further than on a Z6/Z7. I'm just not sure that this is going to turn out to be all that useful. 

"How's the low-light autofocus performance?" 

The specifications here are very similar to the Z7: down to -2EV at ISO 100 with an f/2 lens in normal conditions. If you set the Low Light AF Custom Setting, it'll go down to -4EV, though focus may slow. 

Note, however, that the fastest DX lens is f/3.5, meaning that the camera is more likely to be limited to something like -0.5EV at base ISO with the kit zoom. 

"What focus modes are supported?"

Pretty much the same as the Z6 and Z7: Pinpoint (AF-S only), Single-point, Dynamic Area, Wide Area (S), Wide-Area (L), and Auto-Area AF. Face/Eye detect autofocus works the same as it does on the full frame cameras, as well.

"The lens situation is worse for the Nikon Z50 than it is for the Canon EOS M6 m2."

That's not a question, but no, it isn't, actually. As I write this, Canon has released only eight lenses you can mount on an M model without an adapter. Nikon has already released 10 (though I doubt you'll be buying the tenth one, the 58mm f/0.95 NOCT). By the end of 2021 that will be 23 Z mount lenses that can be put on the Z50. Canon's going to have to release a lot of M lenses to match that, and I'm pretty sure they won't. 

Several years ago I wrote an article about the strategies that Canon and Nikon might take when they got around to presenting a full mirrorless lineup. Apparently Canon didn't read that article, because they've picked the scenario I said was wrong. Nikon (and Sony, let's give them credit) have picked the right "one mount" strategy.

Now, that's not to say that all 23 of the Z mount lenses are ones you're going to want to put on a Z DX camera, particularly if Nikon releases a Z30 entry model, but with one exception, I think Nikon is doing just fine here. That exception? There's no 10-20mm Z DX VR lens. Sony gets a big win here with their 10-18mm f/4 OSS, and Canon also gets a nod with their 11-22mm f/4.5-5.6 IS (though the 1.6x Canon APS-C crop makes that almost 18mm equivalent at the wide end instead of Sony's 15mm.

Bottom line: both Canon and Nikon need to work on their APS-C lenses in mirrorless, but Nikon's going to get some benefit from the full frame Z lenses.

"Are the two new Z DX lenses S-Line?"

No, they are not. Indeed, we can now see that 8 of the 23 known Z-mount lenses will not be S-Line. As usual with Nikon marketing, though, we've got almost no words from them about what that may or may not mean. Great job boys! 

The published MTF charts on the new kit lenses actually look quite good (but then again, the old DSLR kit lenses were quite good). 

What some might object to on the Z DX lenses is that they're definitely a bit lower in build quality. The mount on the lenses is plastic, and you only get cheap push on plastic lids instead of rear lens caps. You don't get lens hoods, either. So, you're going to end up buying some extra rear Z lens caps and lens hoods. The plastic mount doesn't bother me at all. The way Nikon made this seems to be with a high-quality and sturdy polycarbonate. Since it's likely that people buying the kit lenses long-term aren't likely to be much of a lens switcher, I think this will work out fine (the lens mount on the Z50 body is metal). 

"Do we know when the 18-140mm Z DX lens will appear?"

No, Nikon has actually removed dates from their road map for some reason. Perhaps because they're juggling a lot of glass in a short period here (at least 11 new lenses in the course of two years). 

I did hear, however, that this lens has been in prototype trials, which would tend to indicate that it might appear in late 2020.

"What's wrong with the Nikon Z DX lens lineup?"

For the most part, one thing: no wide angle zoom. We need a 10-20mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens, and ASAP. In fact, what Nikon's going to learn is that all those selfie and vlogging uses they've been promoting are going to demand this. 

Personally, I'll wait to see what the 28mm and 40mm compact lenses are like before I start getting too much into buzz, buzz land ("buzz, buzz" is my shorthand way of saying Nikon needs more DX lenses, and has been for a decade. It's my imitation of an annoying insect flying around Nikon Product Marketing's face, buzz, buzz). But the missing wide angle zoom is a clear gap they need to fix. Both Canon and Sony have IS wide angle zooms in this category. 

"How can we trust Nikon with Z DX when they didn't actually build out F-mount DX?"

We can't (buzz, buzz). I've been a harsh critic of Canon, Nikon, and Sony all for trying to relegate crop sensor products solely to entry consumer use. And that's despite bodies like the 7Dm2, D500, and A6600. 

There's little doubt that you have to do consumer convenience zooms at the lower price points in order to hook them. So I'm okay with each company doing a small number of those. Nikon got fully carried away with the 18-xx zooms in F-mount DX, though. Really? Did we actually need 18-55, 18-70, 18-105, 18-135, 18-200, and 18-300mm versions, many of which were iterated more than once? I don't think so. In the meantime, loyal Nikon users that wanted some additional DX lenses, such as wide to normal primes and faster zoom, got stiffed. They ended up leaving Nikon for a competitor (via methods I call Sampling and Leaking).

The difference today is that one of the APS-C mirrorless competitors has a pretty full lens lineup, another a modestly full one. If Nikon plays their old style game with Z DX, they'll be wondering why they never got their user base back and why more are leaving. Canon, meanwhile, has a totally messed up EOS M strategy. It's not a gateway drug to anything.

"Why no sensor-VR on the Z50?"

Obviously, a cost simplification on Nikon's part. Of all the decisions Nikon made in creating a simplified Z50, this is the one that bothers me the most. And once again, it has to do with lenses. Most of the known Z lenses won't have VR built in (the 70-200mm f/2.8 and the three known Z DX lenses are the exceptions). 

At the Z50 price point, though, you don't find much with sensor-VR/IS, so I suspect Nikon made this decision by the usual bean-counting way (e.g. "Our competitors don't have it, so we can leave that costly part out, too."). The way you "win" product competitions is to rise to the top quality of excellence in user experience. Leaving off sensor-VR is not rising to the top, in my opinion. 

Nikon keeps making a big deal in their Z50 marketing about "young creatives" as one of their key targets for the camera. Apparently they didn't note that stabilization is a must for that crowd. Sure, they get it as long as they stick to the two Z DX lenses, but the point of an interchangeable lens camera is its flexibility, and losing a key function when you change lenses is the wrong thing to do. 

Of course, by leaving sensor-VR off the Z50, Nikon left room for a higher-end model ;~).

"Would you use an F-mount DX lens on the Z50?"

Me, probably not. I might be tempted to try my Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 on the Z50 with an FTZ adapter, as that combo seems like it would useful. But for the Z50 to find a place in my gear closet, it needs to stay small and light and extremely travel friendly, and that suggests the two kit zooms for now. The entire weight of the two-lens kit, by the way, is 1kg (2.2 pounds). Very travel friendly.

"Is the FTZ Adapter included?"

Not in the US. I suspect that we'll see bundles with it once the initial demand has been met. Nikon's not the type to leave dollars on the table if they don't have to. Apparently NikonUSA's initial approach will be to have lower-cost FTZ adapter bundles. We've already seen prices of US$100 for the FTZ adapter when bought with the camera.

"Can you charge the camera via USB?"

Yes. Though Nikon is using the USB 2.0 Mini-B style plug here, which is going to have some of you perplexed now that we're in the USB-C world. You also need the optional EH-73P to do this. You use the cable that comes with the camera to plug between the Z50 and EH-73P.

"Does the Z50 internal flash support Commander mode?"

No. You need a Speedlight that has Commander mode in the hot shoe to do wireless flash with the Z50.

"How's the Z50 stack up against the competition (that would be Canon M6 m2, Fujifilm X-T30, and Sony A6400, basically)?"

Well if you're starting from scratch with nothing, you actually have an interesting choice between those four. Each company seems to be trying to emphasize something different, and none of them knock it out of the park. 

At least with the Nikon and Sony choices, if you're in those ecosystems already, you should probably stay. Both companies are iterating from long-established ergonomic, control, and naming bases that will make transition from DSLR to mirrorless easier.

Canon's a little tricker, as the M system does the same thing for EF users, but it doesn't lead to RF, which is Canon's future. 

Fujifilm, of course, is essentially a new entry. While they made early DSLRs (based off of Nikon bodies), the current XF lineup was essentially Fujifilm inventing a full camera lineup from scratch. There was no crossover from their DSLRs to their mirrorless cameras.

Personally, I think too many people obsess over specifications, and particularly so at this level of camera. They're all quite competent, just different. I'd argue that price and brand-choice probably should play a bigger role than specific numbers you see in a comparison chart. So I'm not going to do a chart ;~). If you need such a chart, see dpreview's at the bottom of page 2 of their Z50 "initial review".  

"Can we tell anything from the Z50 positioning?"

Maybe. I wouldn't put it past Nikon to produce a Z5 full frame camera using the exact same Z50 body and specifications. It would be almost a no brainer to do. And it could be priced under the Z6 because it doesn't have the fancier EVF and LCD, the top display, or on-sensor VR (among other things). 

As I noted elsewhere, Nikon left themselves plenty of room by putting the Z50 in the middle. They could easily make a Z70 that slotted in specs closer to the D500 (and maybe use the Z6/Z7 body so that it has all the goodies I just said a Z5 wouldn't).  

"What did Nikon cheap out on to hit the price point the Z50 sells at?"

More use of plastic, no IBIS, slightly fewer physical controls, a lower spec EVF and LCD, fewer external connectors, plus things like missing flash shoe cover, rear lens caps, and lens hoods. Virtually none of that impacts the usability/capability of the camera. I'd be a little more leery of using the Z50 in really wet environments than the DSLRs and even the Z6/Z7, but that's about it. 

"Where are the Z50 and lenses made?"

Thailand. 

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