Nikon Z 50 Review: The Instagrammer’s mirrorless digital camera
“The Z 50 lets you trim video in-camera and share it wirelessly to your phone, making it perfect for the influencer on the go.”
Weather-sealed, ergonomic design
Excellent picture high quality
11 fps burst pace
Wireless video transfers
Autofocus struggles in low gentle
Few native DX lenses at launch
There are cameras for photographers, after which there are cameras for pre-photographers. The Nikon Z 50, Nikon’s smallest DX digital camera but and first APS-C mirrorless digital camera, falls largely into the second class. Marketed in the direction of Instagram customers able to improve from a smartphone, the Z 50 incorporates in-camera video modifying and wi-fi video switch whereas protecting to a design that channels an entry-level DSLR.
But the Z 50 additionally launches with a built-in viewers — informal Nikonographers with a stash of F-mount lenses that may be simply tailored to the mirrorless Z mount. Lacking the in-body stabilization of the full-frame Z 6 and Z 7, the Z 50 makes up for its shorter characteristic listing with a light-weight, 14-ounce physique and a tiny package lens.
After the failed Nikon 1 sequence, it’s good to see Nikon placing some actual effort right into a mirrorless digital camera that targets informal photographers. It’s not excellent, however the Z 50 does so much proper.
Design: A mixture of previous and new
The Z 50 ditches among the high-end options of the Z 6 and Z 7, like in-body picture stabilization, in an effort to shave off just a few millimeters. Sitting at simply 3.7 inches tall, the it’s unsurprisingly Nikon’s smallest crop-sensor interchangeable lens digital camera, beating out even the diminutive D3500 DSLR.
However, Nikon can’t make the identical claims about weight. At 14 ounces, the Z 50 is about 6 ounces lighter than its full-frame counterparts. But because of the magnesium alloy, weather-sealed exterior, it’s heavier than the finances D3500, if solely by about an oz. We’ll take that additional ounce in alternate for the superior building, somewhat than the plasticky really feel of an inexpensive DSLR.
The 16-50mm package lens is simply as impressively small, measuring 1.26 inches lengthy and weighing lower than 5 ounces. While extremely simple carry with you, the small dimension makes it attainable to seize the fallacious management ring. It additionally leaves no room for a spotlight scale or a AF/MF change. Instead, handbook focus have to be toggled from the digital camera’s fast menu. Given the Z 50’s goal demographic we don’t suspect many shoppers will thoughts this additional step as they’ll be comfortable to depart the digital camera in autofocus.
While smaller cameras typically make extreme sacrifices to ergonomics, the Z 50 manages to hit a cheerful medium. The grip is a pleasant dimension, broad sufficient to know comfortably for long-term use. Because of the shorter physique, one’s fingers don’t wrap across the controls fairly as completely as a DSLR, requiring the digital camera to sit down a bit of greater within the palm in an effort to comfortably entry the highest controls. But, for such a small digital camera, it’s decently comfy to carry.
The controls are easy sufficient to not overwhelm new photographers, however nonetheless depart some room to develop into. There’s each a pop-up flash and a scorching shoe, in addition to microphone, USB, and HDMI ports — and, after all, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Unlike the Z 6 and Z 7, there’s no secondary display screen on the highest plate, leaving extra room for the mode dial, twin management wheels, and shortcuts for ISO, publicity compensation, and video. While the document button works to start out capturing video in any mode, a small change swaps between a nonetheless and video mode — this enables photographers to make use of one set of settings for stills and one for video, simply switching between the 2.
At the entrance, two perform buttons supply customizable shortcuts. The again continues the minimalist scheme with just a few menu controls and playback choices together with three buttons constructed into the LCD display screen. A autofocus joystick, sadly, is lacking from the design.
The 3.2-inch LCD display screen makes use of a hinge-style tilt, which nonetheless permits the display screen to flip all the best way ahead, however on the backside of the digital camera somewhat than out to the facet. While the design is sturdy and works properly for handheld selfies, this implies the display screen can be blocked when utilizing a tripod, a possible concern for vloggers and YouTubers. With the display screen ahead, the digital camera routinely enters a selfie mode and locks most of the digital camera’s controls to stop unintentional bumps.
The Z 50 often is the first within the new DX mirrorless sequence, however the digital camera appears like a real Nikon.
Like the LCD, the two.36-million-dot viewfinder is evident and correct. While not as distinctive because the higher-res viewfinder on the Z 6 and 7, it’s good for this class of digital camera. The draw back — like most, however not all digital viewfinders — is that it blacks out as a photograph is taken, making following motion a bit tougher.
The Z 50 often is the first in a brand new DX mirrorless sequence, however the digital camera appears like a real Nikon. While we miss the joystick and taller grip of the Z 6, Nikon managed to make use of the true property on the Z 50 correctly, making a digital camera that’s each simple to make use of and versatile.
Snappy, however imperfect efficiency
The 1 sequence — the mirrorless system that Nikon would somewhat you overlook — had many points, but it surely was famous for its snappy efficiency. The Z 50 follows an identical vein, though it’s definitely not as quick as skilled sports-oriented cameras just like the Sony A9.
The 11-frames-per-second burst pace is fast and handles RAW recordsdata properly. (That most pace isn’t appropriate with flash, although.) The buffer fills up after 3 seconds of RAW photographs and desires roughly 15 seconds to get better utterly. For JEPGs, the digital camera will shoot for 8 seconds straight, and recovers in simply 4; the low-speed setting retains the Z 50 clipping alongside at a gentle tempo for for much longer.
But, like Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Z 50 autofocus stumbles a bit. In good lighting, the digital camera performs as anticipated, focusing shortly and lacking solely a handful of pictures in steady mode.
In dim circumstances, resembling indoors or outdoors at night time, the 209-point autofocus struggles. It hunts for longer than standard, making a delay within the shot, or generally by no means discovering focus in any respect. That’s to not say all of the low-light photographs from the Z 50 are out-of-focus, however the digital camera has a decrease hit price than a Nikon DSLR — and a few competing mirrorless cameras — within the hardest circumstances.
The autofocus can’t sustain with motion and had laughable bloopers, like selecting to concentrate on an inflatable snowman’s face.
The Z 50’s eye AF follows an identical good-but-not-great sample. So lengthy as the topic is comparatively nonetheless and near the digital camera, it really works positive (farther away, the digital camera locks on to faces). But the attention AF can’t sustain with a variety of motion and had some laughable bloopers — like selecting to concentrate on an inflatable snowman’s face as a substitute of the individual barely farther away.
Similarly, monitoring autofocus labored nice in some conditions, however in others, the main target indicator field would drift away from the chosen topic.
While the autofocus might not be as strong as a Nikon DSLR, the Z 50 manages to do what a DSLR can’t — shoot silently. The silent mode lives as much as its title — there could also be some slight noise from the autofocus motor, however that’s it. However, with out seeing viewfinder blackout, you’ll be able to’t inform if a photograph was taken.
While most cameras have a handful of in-camera modifying choices, the Z 50 additionally provides the choice to trim and resave a video. That helps preserve time and battery when utilizing the brand new Snapbridge functionality that permits for wi-fi switch for movies. Like different current Nikons, establishing a wi-fi connection is straightforward and grants entry to distant pictures instruments and distant transfers for present photographs, an enormous enchancment from the clunky connections from only a few years in the past.
Image high quality
At first look, Nikon seems to have stepped backwards for the Z 50. After all, it’s solely 20.9 megapixels, 4 lower than even the $400 D3500. Most firms appear to favor 24 megapixels for fanatic fashions, whereas the brand new Canon EOS M6 Mark II boasts 32.
But megapixel depend is a superficial and inaccurate solution to measure picture high quality. Images from the Z 50 sensor are 5,568 pixels broad, whereas pictures from a 24-megapixel digital camera are 6,000 pixels broad. That distinction is nice for shifting up one other 1.8 inches in print dimension, however few will truly discover the distinction — particularly the Z 50’s goal buyer of Instagram customers.
Most will, nevertheless, discover the distinction in picture high quality on the subject of noise. Generally, the extra pixels you cram onto a sensor, the extra inclined that sensor is to noise. With fewer megapixels and a the brand new EXPEED 6 processor, the Z 50 handles excessive ISOs superbly. With some changes to the RAW file, ISO 3,200 doesn’t even appear to be a excessive ISO. Even with out modifying, noise at remains to be unobtrusive. Photographers can shoot confidently even at ISO 6,400, and pushing past that high quality solely steps down from wonderful to good.
At and underneath ISO 6,400, sharpness is great from the Z 50, a development that we’ve been seeing with all Nikon’s Z cameras, thanks partially to the brand new lens mount. Swapping out the Z 50’s cheap package lens for the pricier 24-70mm f/4 Z lens eked out a bit extra sharpness, however at a stage that’s doubtless not noticeable in real-world capturing.
Video high quality follows a lot of the identical sample, with wonderful sharpness and colour. The autofocus seems clean, although it didn’t at all times regulate as quick as we’d like. 4K provides wonderful element, whereas Full HD provides a wider vary of body charges.
While the physique will not be stabilized, the 16-50mm package lens is. We have been capable of shoot sharp stills right down to 1/25 second, and handheld video wasn’t nausea-enducing. At this time, solely two Z DX lenses can be found, the second being a 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3, which can also be stabilized. For every other focal lengths, you’ll both have to spring for full-frame Z glass or adapt Nikon DSLR lenses, neither of which is able to preserve the slim profile of the Z 50.
The Nikon Z 50 is a powerful begin for the primary APS-C mannequin within the Z sequence. It’s a strong design, shoots wonderful pictures, and provides typically quick efficiency. Simple connectivity and in-camera video trimming assist make it preferrred for influencers that wish to shoot and share with out plugging into a pc. Autofocus lags behind some DSLRs and competing mirrorless cameras, nevertheless, significantly when working with restricted gentle.
Starting at round $850, the Z 50 can also be moderately priced and compares favorably to different cameras on this class.
Is there a greater different?
While the Z 50 is a powerful little digital camera, the autofocus efficiency retains it from dethroning favorites just like the Fujifilm X-T30 and Sony A6100. We choose the design of the Nikon over the A6100, however Sony’s autofocus system is a transparent winner. The X-T30 additionally will get excessive marks for the autofocus system, although the Z 50 could also be extra ergonomic. The Z 50 can also be the one one on this grouping to be weather-sealed.
How lengthy will it final?
This digital camera is well-built and feels sturdy within the arms. Short of any catastrophes, it ought to hold capturing for a number of years. The Z 50 additionally shares lenses with the full-frame Z 6 and Z 7, resulting in a transparent improve path.
Should you purchase it?
Yes, particularly when you have a stash of Nikon lenses. Hold off, nevertheless, in case you take a variety of photographs indoors or in low gentle — whereas the Z 50’s excessive ISO efficiency is admirable, its autofocus can fail in these conditions.