Reader Questions About the Nikon Z6/Z7

This page is also now permanently added to the Camera Database section for the Z cameras, and future updates will be done there. I will add to this page as I get new questions where public answers provide a benefit to site readers.

"Do F-mount autofocus lenses work in autofocus via the FTZ adapter when shooting video on the Z6/Z7 bodies?"

Yes. But AF-I and AF-S may make noises that could be audible. They weren't designed for silent continuous autofocus use.

"Can I use AI and AI-S lenses on the FTZ adapter?"

It appears that the answer to this is yes, that you can set exposure with these lenses. Obviously, they don't autofocus since they're all manual focus lenses ;~). As I learn more, I keep updating my FTZ adapter article.

"Will we ever see a Z to F mount adapter to use the new Z lenses on DX and FX DSLR cameras?"

No. The Z lenses were designed to provide infinity focus when sitting 16mm forward of the sensor. The F-mount is over 46mm from the sensor. If you move a lens that far forward of where it was designed, it will lose infinity focus (and probably a lot of distance focus, too). If you wanted to use use a Z lens on an F-mount body as a macro lens, I suppose you could create an adapter that acts like an extension tube, but I don't see much demand for that.

"Is it possible to built a teleconverter into a Z adapter?"

I would think that answer to be yes. It might be a little tricky to optimize, but I don't see why it couldn't be done.

"Does the FTZ adapter work with third party F-mount lenses?"

Information is still sketchy on this. I've been getting reports from people attending the dealer product demonstrations that have been going on who brought a third party lens with them. Some seem to work, some don't, but it's impossible to do a real assessment in that environment. I suspect I'm going to have to do something like I did with some DSLRs and keep a running list of what readers are reporting and what I've found in my testing.

"Will the FTZ adapter make F-mount lenses perform worse?"

No. The Z7, for instance, appears to use pretty much the same technologies and coatings that the D850 uses. An adapted lens will be at the same position to the sensor, so the light ways will hit that sensor the same. Thus, I expect no differences between the way a lens performs on a D850 natively and on a Z7 via adapter.

"What happens with DX lenses?"

They work as expected on the FTZ adapter. The camera automatically crops. The EVF compensates (e.g. the DX crop fills the image area). 

"What about other crops?"

The missing crop (from DSLRs) is 1.2x. The Z6/Z7 only support FX, DX, 5:4, 1:1, and 16:9 image areas.

"Why no 28-200mm or something similar on the lens road map?"

The Z system is about image quality, not convenience. Nikon has chosen to emphasize image quality at least out through 2020. Personally, I think that's the right move for a high-end system. I've never understood the notion of putting a quality-limited lens on a sensor that's state-of-the-art that some have. 

"Is the new mount really just a way of selling new lenses? What do the new mount dimensions really mean?"

Yeah, blame Nikon's marketing for people having to ask this question. Also their planning team. By making the flange distance so short and the throat opening so big, you can do two things in optical designs that you had restrictions on before: (1) using the same or similar optical designs you should be able to make a smaller lens; (2) using new optical designs you can push at the boundaries of a lot of different design parameters, including corner correction, light collection, and even how light goes from the rear element to the sensor. 

Nikon is sort of trumpeting #2 with the S-line series, though not doing a great job of explaining it and showing off the difference that is achieved. Those first lenses look exceptionally good on paper, plus we have some very fast (light gathering) lenses coming down the pike. On #1, Nikon punted for the time being. The brochures do point to "Other Lenses" coming at some time in the future (according to the Road Map, that wouldn't be before the end of 2020, though). I'll bet we see small pancake type lenses that perform well downstream, and that's because of #1.

As for "selling new lenses," that's what all camera companies want to do ;~). It's a given, and Nikon's mirrorless system is no different. But what I'm trying to say here that Nikon is struggling to say is that yes, that new mount opens up a whole new world for Nikon's top optical designers to explore. Word I have from one is that he's excited about this new world in ways he was starting to get a bit apathetic about with the F mount. I like the idea of excited, top-level lens designers, and am looking forward to seeing what that creates.

Here's my former answer on a similar question:

"I was reading the comparison between Sony and Nikon and noticed that you count the larger mount opening of Nikon as an advantage for that system. As of now, the only reason Nikon gave for it is that it would allow for higher quality and brighter optics. But so far, there is no proof that this will actually be the case. We only have the 58mm f0.95 lens in development, but there already exists a f0.95 lens for Sony FE."

Nikon marketing has not done this point justice, for sure.

Sure, we have a third-party f/0.95 lens for FE, but have you actually used it? Huge vignetting and corner issues.

The larger mount allows optical engineers to have to bend the light less in many cases, and to shape the light differently than they can in a narrow mount. Think of it this way: can you stuff a V8 engine into a Kia Soul? Technically, yes, it is possible. But not without issues. Far easier to put that V8 into a large truck and get everything a V8 can deliver.

The published MTFs for the first three Z lenses are jaw-dropping. These are Otus-type results, and they're wide open. If those lenses really perform as the MTFs suggest, we have a new class of lenses. 

"Does the Z6/Z7 have a low pass (AA) filter?"

The Z6 does have a low pass filter, the Z7 does not.

"Can I clean the sensor on my Z6/Z7?"

Yes. And Nikon did the right thing here: when the camera is off, the sensor VR is locked mechanically. Other IBIS type solutions I've seen to date don't lock the sensor position, which led Olympus to disclaim user sensor cleaning, while early Sony A7 models tended to have IBIS failures until Sony beefed up the mechanism.

"Will we now see sales on Sony A7 products?"

Yes. We're already seeing them. Someone showed me a sale that starts on the 26th in Australia, and I've heard about others, as well. If Sony executives are reading this, there are three basic responses they should be making: (1) welcome Nikon for proving that Sony was right about the full frame mirrorless market for years, pointing out that Sony is on generation three, Nikon generation one; (2) point to all the Sony and third-party lens support available today; and (3) use price as a lever (e.g. sales) wherever possible to put immediate pricing pressure on Nikon. There's obviously more they can do, but those should be their most important three responses.

"How viable is Wi-Fi directly to a computer as a means of providing backup in case the XQD card fails?"

Not at all, I'd guess. I'd actually say that the likelihood that your Wi-Fi connection fails during a shoot is way, way higher than an XQD card failing. Nikon didn't make that single slot decision without doing research. I can't find anyone that's had a true, documented XQD card failure. The most common failures with cards in the past came because of design issues in CF and SD, none of which are repeated in XQD (that was one of the original goals ;~). Also, some people are using SD cards long past their expiry date (e.g. past their write/read limits). That's not to say you could never have a failure with only a single slot, just that I don't believe it likely to be card related unless you've worn out the NAND gates through overuse. One of the most common "failures" I see isn't actually a card failure, it's a write mechanism failure (inability to keep up with the stream). That, too, is lower with XQD because it's based on PCIe, a well known and direct parallel mechanism that has a high bandwidth. 

"When will we get a raw converter that understands the Z images?"

A better question than you think. According to my friend Iliah Borg, the Z series uses a completely new structure for the tags/data in its NEF images. The compressed data is in the same form, but in a different place, for instance. This means that it won't be quite as simple as taking the D850 converter routines and substituting out the Z7 name for D850 ;~). Iliahs' LibRaw team has already done some of the work, so a RawDigger beta already understands uncompressed NEFs. I suspect that both RawDigger and FastRawViewer will both get quick updates.

I also expect we'll see Capture NX-D updated right around first shipment of the Z7. Nikon does seem to be cooperating more with Adobe these days, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a reasonably quick update from them, too. 

But there's more going on now to consider: the changes in EXPEED6 now produce different sharpening and styles (looks) for JPEGs. So creating LUTs for the Adobe product that match up JPEG output versus NEF conversion is going to take some work and time, too.

"I’ve read a lot about what can be done in menu’s but usually accompanied by Photo Capture and later Nikon Capture.  Are the new abilities dependent on Nikon Capture or something new to actually take advantage of them? Would hate to see tying camera function to proprietary software Nikon has never done well at and is handcuffs for users."

The new EXPEED6 capabilities are tied to in-camera JPEGs. I suppose if you want your raw files to come out exactly as an in-camera JPEG you'd be restricted to Nikon's software. But that's always been the case.

"Is the autofocus as poor as Tony Northrup [and a few others] suggest?"

Having not been provided a pre-production model by Nikon, nor was I invited to the NikonUSA launch event in New York (which was local to me), I simply can't comment in any useful way. I wouldn't really comment about image quality and focus performance of a camera until I've had a chance to learn its nuances well and then used that product in a production situation, anyway. 

NikonUSA took risks by providing pre-production units to some and then setting up what looks to have been an sub-optimal test environment for the launch event. That's a little out of character for Nikon. I'd say this: if you're concerned, then wait for final firmware and real tests, and then don't discount that Nikon will learn more about how to optimize the new system via firmware updates. 

"Do you think that Nikon can upgrade their focus via firmware?"

Sure. While the hardware aspects (on sensor PD and the data pipeline/CPU) would be locked, it's easy to imagine that there are algorithmic things that could be done to change/improve/expand focus abilities. We've seen this before out of Nikon (e.g. the D9 and Group HL and VL modes on the D5). At this point it's impossible to know what might hardware-related limitations versus software ones, though. As I note below, there's a bit of feeling of rush to the Z system, so there's likely a weak point that needs addressing.

"The three lenses at launch don't appeal to me."

I'm hearing this a lot. Yet Nikon is making some claims for these lenses that might change your mind, if true. I'm really intrigued by the published (but theoretical) MTF charts. They imply lenses that should be sharp edge to edge and have very little coma/astigmatism in the corners, which is exactly Nikon's claim. What if the 35mm f/1.8Z turns out to be the best 35mm Nikon has produced? I'm pretty sure the 50mm f/1.8Z is the best 50mm Nikon has produced, but that bar is far lower. And having shot with the Sony/Zeiss 24-70mm f/4 from the beginning of the A7 history, I can tell you that Nikon doesn't have to go very far to surpass that lens. 

After listening to the detailed talks and sorting through all the Nikon printed materials, I actually have high expectations for these three lenses (and the ones that follow). Granted, the prime focal lengths aren't the ones I'd be most interested in for my shooting, but if they perform as expected, I'll make a place for them.

"I’m sure many people will want the 58mm f/0.95 NOCT lens (I didn’t say buy). Will they?"

People want McLaren's and Lamborgini's, too. The 58mm f/0.95 NOCT is what we call a "halo product." One that establishes the potential and credibility of a brand, but isn't necessarily something that we'll all opt for. I don't know that I have a use for this lens (and I already have the two previous 58mm's, which get rare use). But I'm glad that Nikon's pushing the boundaries of what's possible. For a while, they weren't, they were producing consumer convenience lens after consumer convenience lens.

"Is there really a diffraction correction function in the camera?"

Yes, and it can be turned on or off as you desire. It's right next to the Distortion Control and Vignetting menu items. 

Of course, what this function actually does and how well it works has not been determined. Nikon seems strangely silent on what the function actually does.

"Does the Z6/Z7 have User Banks?"

No. We the more prosumer U1, U2, U3 settings on the Mode dial instead.

"The Z launch seems rushed."

Can't disagree there. Moreover, a rushed introduction piles onto the usual Nikon problem that they just don't get the down-in-the-weeds technical details down to the subsidiaries fast enough, and they can't get their marketing messages dialed in right. (I will say that after a week, Nikon's marketing finally seems to be catching up with details and answers and doing a better job. Still, that's an indication that the launch was rushed.)

I did notice that Nikon seemed to initially be showing cameras with firmware 0.5 (or 0.53). Typically a month before shipment I'm used to seeing 0.9x versions with Nikon. A week later we've got version 1.0 showing up everywhere. I don't know if that's meaningful here, but Nikon is a pretty anal and engineering nerd culture. They have a long-established step process they use. I just get the feeling we saw these cameras a little earlier in that firmware process than usual (which also implies the process was getting time-compressed). 

"Do I buy a D850 or a Z7?"

A question that requires a lot more information on your part. I've long advocated the right tool for the right job. If I needed to take silent images of pro golfers on tour, well, that's a Z7. If I need a deep buffer for fast action, that's a D850. I'd say those are things that are probably "known" at this point. 

But for a real assessment, I'd need both your usage information, your specific needs/desires, and some time with a Z7. So the Magic 8 Ball says: Try Again Later.

"Do I buy a Nikon Z6 or a Sony A7m3?"

Similar question, but there's more to this answer. Nikon F-mount shooters with AF-S lenses already have a predisposition towards the Nikon. Those without Nikon lenses would probably have a predisposition towards the Sony, as the available lens choice for the A7/A9 series is much larger at the moment.

I'm trying to keep a page up-to-date on the known feature differences, so you can start there. But as with the previous question, my personal answer awaits real testing with the Z cameras. 

"When do the cameras ship?"

Subject to change of course, but NikonUSA says September 27th for the Z7, FTZ adapter, and lenses, November 30th for the Z6.

"Can you get the Z products under NPS Priority Purchase?"

Yes. Sign into your NPS account and you should see that option under Benefits on the main page. Click on Submit a Request.

This of course means that pros will be cutting in line ahead of consumers again, as they did with the D800, D500, and D850 launches, causing initial shortages (the D4 and D5 launches also had NPS PP in place, but the quantities were such that it didn't really cause a consumer backlog). I'm getting conflicting information about the pre-order levels for the Z system so far. But Nikon themselves have already issued an apology that they can't deliver to demand initially.

"Most people seem to be comparing the Nikon Z7 to Sony A7Rm3, but isn't another comparison to the Fujifilm GFX50s?"

Yes, true. Actually very true if the lens capabilities are as good as Nikon is promoting for the new Z lenses. I've held off reviewing the GFX50s, but I think I'll now need to do a fairly direct comparison against the 42/45mp DSLRs/mirrorless options.

"Why only a single slot?"

That's a good question that Nikon didn't answer (and should). I'm shocked that they didn't anticipate needing to. I'm also actually pretty sure that somewhere in their organization they have the answer to this question, but it just shows you how problematic their marketing is that they couldn't supply a clear answer to anyone at the launch or in the followups post launch.

As I've noted elsewhere, I—and many others I've encountered—use my D500 and D850 as a single slot camera. Why? Because SD slot use slows down the camera in a variety of ways. I've never had an XQD card failure in tens of thousands of images shot. Actually, it probably is into the hundreds of thousands now. Note: all cards eventually fail. That's why you should regularly refresh your card stock.

Which leads me to what I believe the answer from Nikon would actually be if the engineers were  asked: the measured field reliability of XQD cards is extremely high; SD as a second slot (or both slots) would slow the camera down; and two XQD cards would have been problematic to fit into the space available. QED: one XQD slot. 

"Does the Z6 have focus stacking?"

Everything seems a bit premature still (the Z6 doesn't ship until November 30th according to NikonUSA). But my reading of the tea leaves is that only the Z7 has this feature. The 78-page brochure is best set of details we have so far, and it only mentions the Z7 for this feature. NikonUSA says the Z6 has the feature, though.

"Isn't there a vertical grip for the Z series?"

At the moment, apparently not. The Z6 and Z7 don't have any electrical contacts under rubber on the bottom, either, which would be an indicator that we won't get a vertical grip, at least not one with controls. 

Mostly overlooked in Nikon's announcement, however, was the mention of a to-be-released-later MB-N10 Multi-Power Battery Pack. That external unit will take two EN-EL15b batteries and appears as if it might connect into a dummy battery in the camera (ala how the EH-5 works). But it doesn't seem to have a vertical shutter release or any controls in the prototypes that are being shown.

"I have a WR-R10 receiver/transmitter. I thought this was a round 10-pin but looking at it the round-pin is actually an adaptor and the receiver pulls out to reveal a rectangular connector. Do you think this would this work with a Z7 series?"

That's exactly correct. The round 10-pin bit is an adapter that pulls off the base; the Z6/Z7 only need that small base.

"Why no flash? Which small flash should I get?"

Nikon chose to keep the body small, and frankly, the mirrorless camera companies tend to avoid built-in flash because it depresses the CIPA battery statistic numbers considerably. Nikon's current Speedlights (SB-300, SB-500, SB-700, SB-5000) should work with the Z cameras, but frankly I'm surprised we didn't get a Z-specific flash (and that there isn't a power connector at the hot shoe, ala Nikon 1). The good news is that you can use the small WR-R10 base unit plugged into the left side of the camera and an SB-5000 as a wireless remote flash. Not having the circular 10-pin connector is actually a step forward, believe it or not (for the DSLRs you have to seat the WR-R10 base unit in a bigger right-angle adapter/extension, and that is highly prone to breaking).

"SnapBridge? Again?!?!"

Look a little closer. Nikon did something I and others asked for: they now support both ad hoc and infrastructure mode with the Wi-Fi. That means that we can now transfer images directly to our computers (through our router). SnapBridge was miserable when it first came out, as I documented many times. It got better over time to the point where what it does is reliable for what it is doing (2.0). It appears that Nikon is going to take another step in the right direction with the Z models, and I applaud that. Now if they'd only implement the other things I asked for when I met with Nikon executives in Tokyo back in 2010. Baby steps.

"Nikon has not told me why I need the [Z6/Z7] camera. They have not given the press people a message that they can all relay. So what happened? The Northrups say the AF is terrible, Jared Polin says it’s great. Nikon mentions the superior optics of the S-line. Jared Polin calls it slime (slime line) because it’s low end consumer lenses. Even went so far as to ask Nikon when the pro line of lenses is coming.

YouTube [now pronounces] a “not quite Sony previous generation AF” with toy overpriced lenses out of it. It’s alright to buy though. The comment section continues down the spiral though and declares it useless because of the single card slot and the low rated battery life.

Pre-orders will tank due to that for sure. Big press outlets will notice that initial demand is much lower than expected and declare the Z6 and Z7 a failure. Nikon is in trouble."

And people wonder why I say that Nikon marketing sucks ;~). If I were in charge of this marketing, I'd expect to be fired.

Let's try to break this down a bit.

"Nikon hasn't told you why you need the new cameras." Yes, absolutely correct. Nikon's messaging is all over the place, yet nowhere. "Mirrorless Reinvented." How? Why? What? Just throwing slogans out isn't marketing. Slogans without any connection to anything are even worse than no marketing at all. Nikon would have been far better to just stick to tried and true feature/benefit tandems, as in "Detailed and fast EVF shows you how your photo will look before you take it." "High eyepoint means that those with glasses can see the full viewfinder at once." And so on. You do find a fair amount this feature/benefit tandem on the NikonUSA page for the Z's, but strangely, that events page that Nikon managed to get everyone in the world going to for the teasers, nope, it still only has the teasers. Wasted opportunity.

"Haven't given the press a message to relay." Yep, still correct. The one message they keep sending is "the mount is bigger." They fail to do much to tell anyone why you'd want to trumpet that. Buried on NikonUSA's Web site is a curious video, which attempts to get a message across, but ultimately fails. Right idea, wrong execution. And as far as I can tell, the press hasn't been given even what little message there is in that video other than as an anecdote. 

"The YouTubers are hot and cold." Well, that's a risk you take by making them the primary folk you cater to. I can tell you that I haven't heard a peep from Nikon since NAB. Ironically, I'm not the type to make a snap judgment based upon one pre-release event like the YouTubers were. So if they were afraid of what I might write had I been invited to the press confab in New York, they made a serious miscalculation there. 

"Not quite Sony previous generation AF." Too soon to make any judgments about that. And I have some complaints about current generation Sony AF, too ;~).

"Toy overpriced lenses." Nikon seriously goofed up here. As I've written several times in the last few days, on paper it looks we're about to get the best 35mm, 50mm, and f/4 mid-range zoom lens we've ever seen out of Nikon, and maybe anyone. Too many people are judging these new lenses solely on their aperture specification. Here's a line for Nikon marketing to use: "We're going to set a new standard for what people should expect out of an f/1.8 lens [and f/4 zoom]." That might get people's attention. Seriously folks, Nikon couldn't market their way out of a Sam's Club store. Even if we lit up the exit with fireworks and had large arrows pointing to it.

"Preorders are going to tank." Yes, I think pre-orders are going to come in a bit under where Nikon thought they'd be. Not by enough for it to be an issue, though. And it's correctable by getting the right information and messaging out and putting real cameras and lenses into the right hands early. Nikon seems to be scrambling to do that.

"Failure. Nikon is in trouble." No to both. These aren't high volume, true consumer products. They just need to pull in a reasonable number of those Nikon faithful that have been sitting waiting, and I believe they will. If Nikon is smart, they'll have their ear to the ground and will be fast to address any shortcomings that are found. Overall, Nikon should have a good quarter financially, so shareholders will be happy. 

Where Nikon is open to failure is in the feeder system. Basically everything from the lowest Coolpix to the D5600 is sending off warning signals and needs to be addressed. And there the marketing messages are going to be even more important to get right. 

Other marketing errors Nikon is making: the Coolpix P1000 and the 500mm f/5.6E PF lens needed more separation from the Z launch. I've long said that Nikon's marketing and sales "team" has trouble launching one camera at a time. Launching a full new system of two cameras and three lenses, a replacement camera, and a unique lens all in different markets and in such a short period is beyond their capability to keep the messages out there and clear. There, I said it. 

I've gotten a number of emails similar to yours, but I picked yours because it allowed me to step through all the marketing problems Nikon is struggling with. But again, these are marketing problems, not product problems. It's always important to understand that difference. 

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