NameNikon Z5
Date of announcementJuly 21, 2020
A typeSystem mirrorless camera
Camera InformationNikon Z5 on the manufacturer’s website
Price in Nikon online store:
– without lens
– complete with Nikkor Z 24-50mm f / 4-6.3 lens
– complete with Nikkor Z 24-200mm f / 4-6.3 lens

$1,299.95
$1,599.95
$2,099.95

At the end of August 2018, the Nikon Z6 was announced, the first 24MP mirrorless camera from the renowned photo maker. Less than two years later, the Nikon Z5 saw the light, an amateur incarnation of a device with a sensor of the same resolution, which is the subject of this article.

Primary Features of Nikon Z5

  • Full-frame sensor (CMOS) with a resolution of 24 MP (6016 × 4016)
  • Hybrid autofocus (AF) with 273 phase sensors
  • Equivalent sensitivity to ISO 100-51200 (extendable to ISO 50-102400)
  • In-camera 5-axis image stabilization with efficiency up to 5 EV
  • Rate of fire up to 4.5 frames / s; burst duration is limited only by the capacity of the memory card
  • Two slots for SD / SDHC / SDXC UHS-II memory cards
  • Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.2
  • USB 3.1 Gen1 (Type-C)
  • Dust and moisture protection

Introducing the specifications of the new camera (according to the manufacturer).

Specifications

ModelNikon Z5
BayonetNikon Z
CPUExpeed 6
SensorCMOS, 35.9 x 23.9 mm
Sensor resolution24.3 million effective pixels 1
Still image resolutionFX (36 × 24mm): 6016 × 4016, 4512 × 3008, 3008 × 2008;
DX (24 x 16mm): 3936 x 2624, 2944 x 1968, 1968 x 1312;
1: 1 (24 × 24mm): 4016 × 4016, 3008 × 3008, 2000 × 2000;
16: 9 (36 × 20mm): 6016 × 3384, 4512 × 2536, 3008 × 1688
Still picture recording formatJPEG (Exif v2.3); RAW (NEF 12- or 14-bit compressed or lossless compressed)
Video resolutionUHD 4K 3840 × 2160 @ 30/25 / 24p with 1.7 × upscaling;
Full HD 1920 × 1080 @ 60/50/30/25 / 24p unscaled
Video recording formatMOV or MP4 (H.264), Linear PCM stereo sound
Autofocus (AF)hybrid, phase and contrast; 273 points
AF working range−3 to +19 EV 2
AF areaspoint, zone, wide area, dynamic
Focus modessingle frame, continuous, manual
Autoexponometry (AE)TTL; exposure metering: matrix, center-weighted, spot, by zones of maximum brightness
Working range of AE−3 to +17 EV 2
Exposure compensation-5 to +5 EV in steps of ⅓ or ½ EV
Equivalent light sensitivityISO 100 – 51 200, expandable to ISO 50 – 102 400
Mechanical shutterfocal plane vertical course, electronically controlled
Available shutter speeds1/8000 s to 30 s in ⅓ or ½ EV steps, bulb, timed
X-sync shutter speed1/200 s and slower
Self-timer2/5/10/20 s; multiple exposure (from 1 to 9 frames) with an interval of 0.5 / 1/2/3 s
Maximum continuous shooting speed4.5 fps until memory card is full
Time Lapse Shootingyes (setting interval duration, number of shots, start time of shooting)
White balanceauto (3 types), natural auto, direct sunlight, cloudy, shade, incandescent, fluorescent (7 types), flash, direct color temperature setting (2500-10,000 K), custom (up to 6 values)
Auto bracketingby exposure, by white balance, by Active D-Lighting
In-camera image processing (Picture Control)basic modes: “Auto”, “Standard”, “Neutral”, “Vivid”, “Monochrome”, “Portrait”, “Landscape” and “Uniform”;
Creative modes: “Sleep”, “Morning”, “Pop”, “Sunday”, “Gloom”, “Dramatic”, “Silence”, “Whitening”, “Melancholy”, “Clean”, “Denim”, “Toy” , “Sepia”, “Blue”, “Red”, “Pink”, “Coal”, “Graphite”, “Two Tones”, “Soot”
Display3.2 ″ TFT 1MP; coverage ≈100%; sensory; rejected
Viewfinderelectronic (OLED) 3.69 Mp; coverage ≈100%; magnification 0.8 × 3 ; eyepiece extension by 21 mm; refraction correction from -4 to +2 diopters
In-camera image stabilizationgain in 5 steps in exposure duration 4
InterfacesUSB 3.1 Gen1 (Type C);
HDMI (Mini);
microphone input (3.5 mm minijack);
headphone output (3.5 mm minijack);
remote control connector;
Hot shoe (ISO 518)
Wireless connectionWi-Fi (IEEE 802 / 11b / g / n), Bluetooth 4.2 BLE
Memory cardstwo slots for SD / SDHC / SDXC (UHS-II)
BatteryLi-ion battery EN-EL 15c;
up to 470 frames when using the monitor;
up to 390 shots when using the viewfinder;
up to 120 min video recording 5
Dimensions134 x 101 x 70 mm
Weight (with battery and memory card)675 g

Design of Nikon Z5: Is it impressive enough?

Nikon Z5 body top and front metal.

Nikon Z5 front view

A full-face view around the bayonet ring reveals parts traditional for the manufacturer: the lens unlock button (at three o’clock) and two function buttons Fn1 and Fn2. There is an autofocus illumination (AF) spotlight in the upper right corner, in the upper right – the front wheel for setting the shooting parameters and the shutter button with the power switch lever hugging it.

Nikon Z5 front view
Nikon Z5 with Nikkor Z 24-50mm F4-6.3 supplied lens

The camera comes with a stock Nikkor Z 24-50mm F4-6.3 lens, with which it is well balanced.

Nikon Z5 back view: complete review
Nikon Z5. Back view

At the back, there are buttons for menu control, viewing footage, forced autofocus, calling the main shooting parameters, a photo/video shooting switch with a button for activating the Live View mode, a joystick for moving and selecting an AF area, and a four-position selector.

Complete Review of Nikon Z5: Display
Nikon Z5. Display mobility

Display mobility is limited to one plane.

Complete Review of Nikon Z5: Display
Nikon Z5. View from above

When viewed from above, it is clear that the camera’s left side is empty, and the shooting mode selector has moved to the right. In our opinion, this is more convenient from ergonomics, since it allows you to control the shooting with one right hand, which holds the camera.

Complete Review of Nikon Z5: Display
Nikon Z5. Front and top controls

There are three buttons near the power switch: enter exposure compensation, select ISO values ​​and activate video recording.

Complete Review of Nikon Z5: Controls
Nikon Z5. Rear and top controls

On the right side are the connectors for connecting wired devices. When inoperative, they are closed with rubber plugs that provide a seal.

Complete Review of Nikon Z5: Right View
Nikon Z5. Right view

Closer to the bayonet, there is a block of audio connectors (these are standard 3.5 mm jacks): the top is the headphone output, the bottom is the input for an external microphone.

Complete Review of Nikon Z5: Jacks
Nikon Z5. Headphone and microphone jacks

Closer to the display is a compartment with USB-3 (Type C), HDMI and a proprietary remote control interface.

Complete Review of Nikon Z5
Nikon Z5. USB-C, Mini-HDMI and remote control connectors

The memory card compartment is located on the right.

Complete Review of Nikon Z5: left view
Nikon Z5. Left view

Unlike most other consumer cameras, the Nikon Z5 has not one, but two slots for the popular SD / SDHC / SDXC memory cards, each slot supporting high-speed UHS-II. At the bottom there is a battery compartment with a lid with a lock, as well as a standard thread for attaching to a tripod.

Complete Review of Nikon Z5: bottom view
Nikon Z5. Bottom view

The battery is additionally held by a special holder. This helps to prevent the battery from accidentally falling out when you open the battery compartment cover.

Complete Review of Nikon Z5: battery
Nikon Z5. Battery compartment

In addition to the camera itself, the package includes a Nikkor Z 24-50mm F4-6.3 lens, a neck strap, one battery, a charger and a USB 3 cable with a Type-C connector.

Complete Review of Nikon Z5: delivery contents
Nikon Z5. Contents of delivery

The set is packed in a branded box with a traditional design.

Sensor of Nikon Z5

The sensing part of Nikon Z5 is a new chip. Its architecture does not use backlighting of the light receiving cells (BSI, Backside illumination Sensor Imaging), but frontal, that is, front. This is not such a technologically advanced solution, but nevertheless, at low and moderately high values ​​of equivalent light sensitivity (ISO 50-600), the dynamic range (DD) of the new sensor turns out to be wider than, for example, in Nikon Z6, and only at ISO 800— 12800 is inferior to its predecessor.

Dynamic range of Nikon Z5 (cyan) and Nikon Z6 (black) sensors.

By William O. Claff, photonstophotos.com

Starting at ISO 800, the Nikon Z6 performs more attractively. And at ISO 14000 and above, the dynamic range of both cameras’ sensors is practically the same. The Nikon Z5’s gain in photographic latitude at ISO 50-600 is quite valuable. The Nikon Z6’s lead at ISO 800-12800 is a consequence of the more technologically advanced BSI-CMOS sensor architecture (backlit).

Built: How strong if Nikon Z5?

The camera shell is metal. The camera is protected from dust and moisture getting inside, as evidenced by the diagram provided by the manufacturer in its materials.

Nikkor Z 24-50mm F4-6.3 lens:

Nikkor Z 24-50mm F4-6.3 lens

A compact and lightweight stock lens designed specifically for the new Nikon Z5.

Specifications

Here is the manufacturer’s data:

Full nameNikkor Z 24-50mm f / 4-6.3
BayonetNikon Z
Focal length24-50 mm
Zoom ratio2 ×
Maximum aperture openingf / 4 at 24mm;
f / 6.3 at 50mm
Minimum aperturef / 22 at 24mm;
f / 36 at 50mm
Aperture blades7 (rounded)
Optical design11 lenses in 10 groups, including 2 extra-low dispersion (ED) glass elements and 3 aspherical
Closest focusing distance0.35 mm throughout the zoom range
Viewing angle84 ° at 24 mm; 47 ° at 50 mm
Maximum magnification0.17 × at 50 mm
Autofocus drivestepper motor
Built-in optical stabilizationno
Filter diameter∅52 mm
Dimensions (diameter / length)∅74 / 51 mm
The weight195 g
Nikkor Z 24-50mm f / 4-6.3 controls

From the controls, the lens has two traditional rings: zoom (located closer to the front lens) and manual focus (closer to the mount). There is no distance scale, but the focal lengths are marked on the zoom ring (24, 28, 35, 40 and 50 mm).

Front lens Nikkor Z 24-50mm f / 4-6.3

The front lens is small. This reflects the low aperture ratio of the lens, especially in telephoto.

Nikkor Z 24-50mm f / 4-6.3 bayonet mount and contact block

Nikkor Z 24-50mm f / 4-6.3 is enclosed in a plastic body. The bayonet flange is also not metal, but plastic.

Nikkor Z 24-50mm F4-6.3. Left – in non-working position, right – prepared for shooting

The short length (51 mm according to the specifications) is preserved only when folded. Bringing the lens to the working position means extending the tube forward.

Optical design

The lens consists of 11 lenses, which are combined into 10 groups.

Two elements are made of extra-low dispersion glass (ED, yellow). Three aspherical elements (AS, blue).

MTF (frequency contrast characteristic)

The manufacturer publishes MTF (Modulation Transfer Function) curves for Nikkor Z 24-50mm f / 4-6.3. The graphs for 10 lines / mm are marked in red, the graphs for 30 lines / mm are marked with blue; solid lines for sagittal structures, dotted lines for meridional structures. Recall that an ideal optical instrument should have lines as high as possible along the abscissa axis, parallel to the ordinate axis and not contain blockages and peaks.

Focal length 24 mm :

Focal length 50 mm :

It is noticeable that for 10 lines / mm the graphics are very attractive, and at 30 lines / mm the resolution drops.

Competitors of Nikon Z5

When choosing competitors worthy of comparison with our today’s heroine, we were guided by the camera orientation towards amateur photographers, the characteristics of the image sensor (24-26 Mp) and a comparable price.

NameCanon
EOS RP
Nikon
Z5
Panasonic
Lumix DC-S5
Sony
α7 III
Date of announcement14 February 2019July 21, 2020September 2, 2020February 27, 2018
Housingcompositemetalmetalmetal
Protection against dust in moisturenothere isthere isthere is
Resolution, Mp26 1242424
Frame size, mm (pixels)35.9 × 24
(6240 × 4160)
35.9 x 23.9
(6016 x 4016)
35.6 × 23.8
(6000 × 4000)
35.8 × 23.8
(6000 × 4000)
Sensor typeCMOSCMOSCMOSBSI-CMOS
CPUDigic 8Expeed 6Venus EngineBionz X
ISO range
(extension)
100 – 40,000
(50 – 102,400)
100 – 51 200
(50 – 102 400)
100 – 51 200
50 – 204 800 )
100 – 51 200
50 – 204 800 )
In-camera image stabilizationno5 EV6.5 EV5 EV
Photo recording formatJPEG (Exif v2.3)
RAW (14 bit)
JPEG (Exif v2.31)
RAW (12 or 14 bit)
JPEG (Exif v2.3)
RAW (12 bit)
JPEG (Exif v2.31)
RAW (14 bit)
Autofocusphase and contrastphase and contrastphase and contrastphase and contrast
Autofocus points4779273225693
BayonetCanon RFNikon ZLeica LSony E
Displaymobile in all planesfoldingmobile in all planesfolding
Screen size3 ″3.2 ″3 ″3 ″
Screen resolution, pixels1,040,0001,040,0001,840,000921600
Viewfinder (Field of View Coverage)electronic
(100%)
electronic
(100%)
electronic
(100%)
electronic
(100%)
Viewfinder magnification0.7 ×0.8 ×0.74 ×0.78 ×
Viewfinder resolution2,360,0003 698 4002,360,0002,359,296
Exposure range, s30-1 / 400030-1 / 800030-1 / 800030-1 / 8000
X-sync shutter speed, s1/2001/2501/2001/160
Maximum shooting speed, frames / sfive4.57ten
Maximum video resolution3840 × 2160 24p3840×2160 30p3840 × 2160 60p3840×2160 30p
Memory cardsone
SDXC UHS-II slot
two
SDXC UHS-II slots
slot 1 SDXC UHS-II;
slot 2 SDXC UHS-I
one
SDXC UHS-I slot
PC interfaceUSB 2.0USB 3.1 Gen 1USB 3.1 Gen 1USB 3.1 Gen 1
Battery capacity (CIPA)250470440710
Dimensions, mm133 × 85 × 70134 × 101 × 70133 × 97 × 82127 × 96 × 74
Weight (with battery), g485675714710

1 Superiority in terms of performance here and below is highlighted p / f.
2 With Panasonic 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 lens.

An exciting alternative is the Canon EOS RP since this device has the least weight, its matrix has the highest resolution (26 Mp), autofocus has 4779 points, and the display is mobile in all planes. However, this camera (the only one in the comparison group) is not equipped with an image stabilizer, has a minimum available shutter speed of 1/4000 s, does not have dust and moisture protection, and has an outdated USB 2.0 interface.

The Sony α7 III is the only competitor to feature a BSI-CMOS (Back-illuminated) Sensor Architecture. Some indicators are record-breaking among competitors: the fire rate is 10 frames/s, the battery capacity is 710 CIPA shots. However, its price is relatively high, and the screen resolution is the lowest in the comparison group.

The Nikon Z5 looks very good compared to its competitors. At a reasonable price, the device has significant advantages typical of a professional camera: two slots for memory cards (both with UHS-II support), the maximum magnification in the group (0.8 ×) and viewfinder resolution (3.7 million pixels), as well as screen size (3.2 ″).

The PhotonsToPhotos website compares dynamic range plots at different ISO settings for three cameras out of four (Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 has not been tested yet).

Laboratory Tests and Results: Is Nikon Z5 actually worth?

Resolution

The camera was tested in the laboratory in conjunction with the Nikkor Z 85mm F1.8 S lens.

RAW, in a bright scene, gives a fair resolution at 85% up to ISO 6400. In a dark location, RAW keeps the resolution at 82% until ISO 1600 and drops below 80% after. JPEG in both scenes produces resolution, on average 10% lower than RAW and only stays above 80% at low ISO values. Overall, the scores are relatively high, especially the RAW stability.

RAW and JPEG at ISO 12800 produce more than 70% in the extended sensitivity range, which is a good result, not counting the JPEG of a dark scene, which already drops below 70% at ISO 6400 and below 60% at ISO 12800.

Color performance degrades noticeably at high ISOs starting at 6400 in all RAW scenes. In JPG, in a dark scene, colors start to be lost only at ISO 12800, and in a light scene – only at ISO 51200.

RAW, light scene
    
RAW, dark scene
    

Autofocus

In the overall AF speed rating, the camera is far from first place in our rating, even below the Nikon Z50. But Nikon Z5 outperforms all previously tested cameras inaccuracy, which probably explains not the highest focusing speed, approximately on the level of Fujifilm X-H1. In general, the new product is suitable for unhurried shooting.

Shooting speed

The table shows the values ​​of the average shooting speed for different modes. Let’s call the first speed the one with which the burst shooting starts. Its limit is the time after which shooting slows down and continues at a second speed. The units are frames per second and seconds, respectively. The infinity symbol means that the speed has not changed after shooting one hundred frames.

ModeFirst speedFirst speed limitSecond speed
JPEG Low4.0 fps
JPEG High4.9 fps
RAW Low4.0 fps11.7 s2.4 fps
RAW High4.5 fps8.9 s2.6 fps

The camera meets the declared characteristics in terms of shooting speed in full. In the case of high-speed shooting, it “gives out” up to 4.5 fps in RAW and up to 4.9 fps in JPEG, and when recording in RAW, the buffer is enough for 40 frames, and when recording only in JPEG, the buffer has time to be released in the process shooting and does not require interruptions.

Image stabilization

Our methodology allows us to evaluate the effectiveness of the stabilizer at 4.5 exposure stops with a yield of 70% usable – this is a fairly high result.

Nikkor Z 24-50mm F4-6.3 lens

24 mm :

Wide-angle resolution is very high, averaging almost 90% in the center of the frame up to f / 13. The scatter between the edge and center of the frame is significant: at the edge of the frame in the same aperture range, the resolution is on average 70%.

Small chromatic aberration and barrel distortion are noticeable.

35 mm :

At the middle focal length, the resolution in the center of the frame drops to 80% and remains stable throughout the entire aperture range. The edge of the frame practically does not lag behind, and only starting from f / 13 it goes below 80%.

Chromatic aberration and distortion are slightly reduced.

50 mm :

In portrait position, the resolution in the center of the frame rises to 85%, the edge of the frame remains at 80%, which is still a good result, especially for a zoom lens. In general, the resolution is very stable.

Practical photography

We tested the camera in real conditions with the included Nikkor Z 24-50mm F4-6.3 lens, a wide-angle zoom Nikkor Z 14-30mm F4 S, and a fast Nikkor Z 85mm F1.8 S. For photography, we chose the following parameters :

  • aperture priority
  • center-weighted exposure metering,
  • single-frame or tracking autofocus (depending on the dynamics of the scene),
  • single point focusing,
  • automatic white balance (ABB).

Subsequently, from time to time, we needed to change the nature of the metering and introduce exposure compensation.

To save photos and videos, we used a Sony SF-G64 memory card (write speed 299 MB / s, read speed 300 MB / s) with 64 GB capacity. Photographs were recorded in uncompressed RAW format. Photos were “developed” and saved in the latest available version in Adobe Camera RAW as 8-bit JPEGs with minimal compression. Sometimes, during post-processing, we additionally adjusted the brightness of highlights and shadows, tweaked the white balance, and cropped the frame along the short or long side in composition interests.

General impressions

With a “cold start,” after turning on the power, the camera is ready for shooting in less than a second. It fits nicely in hand and is well balanced with the stock lens. All critical controls can be reached with the fingers of your right hand.

Although the display does not have mobility in all planes, it still allows you to shoot from high and low points, either overhead or above the ground.

The number of shots that the unit can take when using a fully charged battery is most likely underestimated. On the most “prolific” day of shooting, we managed to shoot more than 700 frames, and the battery still had half the charge.

Image quality

Colour

The color rendition is correct, adequate to the lighting. Even under challenging conditions, when light of different spectral composition is simultaneously present in the frame, automatic white balance (ABB) works flawlessly. It makes it possible to do without additional color correction during post-processing.

Nikkor Z 85mm F1.8 S; 
F2; 
1/100 s; 
ISO 320

ABB does not hesitate to assess the overall color of the scene and sets the most rational color temperature.

Even daylight, penetrating through the glass into a room with artificial lighting, practically does not light up the window openings with an unpleasant blue.

Halftone

The Nikon Z5 sensor delivers enviable dynamic range and captures images with a wide range of tonal gradations.

Despite the good contrast, image detail is visible in both bright highlights and deep shadows.

This is especially useful when photographing animals such as black-plated birds.

Detailing

In the sharpness zone, the pictures are replete with the smallest details. The sensor does an excellent job of separating contours and reproduces the picture with good micro-contrast.

This is noticeable at both low and high values ​​of the equivalent light sensitivity.

The nature of the lighting does not change the level of detail. It is equally high in artificial and natural light.

Autofocus

In single-frame shooting mode, autofocus is almost never missed. The focusing area can be selected using a joystick or a four-way switch, but in practice it is easier to use the display for this purpose and select the object on it with the touch of your finger to keep in focus.

Even with a large aperture opening of a fast lens, when the depth of field is limited to a few millimeters, AF operates confidently. Face and eye detection works well.

Image stabilization

To test the effectiveness of intra-camera stabilization in conditions of practical photography.

We start shooting handheld with a Nikkor Z 14-30mm F4 S lens at a focal length of 30 mm with a shutter speed of 1/30 s and then double the latter from one frame to the next.

It is noticeable that the first signs of “blurring” of the image appear at 1/2 s, and at 1 s they are already pronounced. According to our experience, the stabilization efficiency is 3 stops of exposure for the duration of exposure with a yield of 100%.

High ISO

To assess the effect of high values ​​of equivalent light sensitivity on image quality, we used a Nikkor Z 14-30mm F4 S lens. We set a fixed aperture value (F4) and then raised the ISO one stop from frame to frame.

A study of the images shows that at ISO 100-400, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. The first signs of noise artifacts become noticeable at ISO 800, but they are not very pronounced at ISO 1600. ISO 3200-6400 should be considered “conditionally working” since the structure of the image, although it suffers, but you can still put up with it, primarily if you use noise reduction. At ISO 12800, there is a noticeable degradation of the picture, and it is better not to reach this limit.

Shooting video

The Nikon Z5 can record UHD 4K (3840×2160 progressive scan) video at 30fps. In this case, only a fragment of the image formed by the sensor is used, and the original image is scaled with a factor of 1.7.

Video is saved as MOV or MPEG4 (H.264 / AVC) with 120 Mbps and 8-bit color depth (YUV 4: 2: 0). Sound in MOV files is recorded in linear pulse code modulation (PCM), and in MP4 files it is recorded with Advanced Audio Codec (AAC) compression. The audio sampling rate is 48 kHz.

Full HD (1920 × 1080 progressive scan) captures video without scaling.

In-camera image stabilization and AF tracking enable handheld video recording without prior preparation and the use of a tripod.

In most cases, the results are encouraging. But sometimes, when using the stock Nikkor Z 24-50mm F4-6.3 lens, the AF exhibits an incomprehensible zeal, tries to readjust in the process of filming in simple scenes, and the focusing gets lost because of this.

However, this does not have the character of a “systemic disease” and cannot spoil the overall impression of the camera.

Conclusion: Should you buy Nikon Z5?

The arrival of the Nikon family’s first full-frame amateur mirrorless camera is a welcome and welcome development. This entry-level novelty has several design advantages inherent in professional devices:

  • Two slots for memory cards of the high-speed UHS-II standard
  • A metal case with dust and moisture protection
  • A high-resolution electronic viewfinder

The image quality is excellent. The sensor has good high ISO tolerance. Autofocus works confidently when photographing. In-camera image stabilization provides a 4.5 stop gain at 70% yield, or 3 stops at 100%. The fire rate is not the highest in its class (4.5 frames / s), but this circumstance is compensated by the ability to record as many frames in one burst as will fit on the memory card.

We believe the Nikon Z5 is the camera of choice for aspiring photographers, especially given its competitive price.

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