New Mirrorless Cameras Nikon Z6 and Z7 for Real Estate Photos?

Oliver M. Zielinski Oliver M. Zielinski - 27. August 2018 - in: English

New Mirrorless Cameras Nikon Z6 and Z7 for Real Estate Photos?Nikon unveiled its new full-frame mirrorless cameras last Thursday: the Nikon Z6 and Z7. These models are supposed to strike fear into the hart of Sony, currently being market leader in this camera segmant with their successful Alpha 7 series. Now, since all the show-smoke had disappeared, it’s time for a little analysis on whether the cameras can be the new stars for real estate photographers.

So much in advance: Nikon has presented two very powerful cameras to create the first class image results, and obviousely they also deliver great photos according to the first (independent) images shown.

But, what about real estate photography? Can real estate professionals benefit from the new cameras?

Further down in this post I will also refer to some of the negative critique from the first reviews to find out how far these are relevant to real estate photography.

Analysis of First Reviews

For me, the last three days have been exhausting, since I’ve read, heard and seen 56 international reviews online (up to now). These came from photographers, photobloggers and technical journalists, whom I follow on the internet on different channels. They were invited by Nikon to different locations in the world to have the new cameras presented, to take them in their own hands and take pictures or video with them.

Their published reports varied a lot: There wase huge euphoria, moderate tones, slight disappointment and slating reviews – obviously, Nikon can not get it right for everyone with their new entry into this camera segment. The demands and expectations of the Z6 and Z7 are quite high, after all we are talking about a camera class that is already popular with photo professionals. In addition, these reviewers had so-called pre-production models in their hands, so that maybe not everything went completely as desired. Until the launch of the Z7 at the end of September there is still time for corrections (at least in the software area). The Z6 should then be available for Christmas business.

Two Cameras for Different Applications

I don’t really want to discuss all the technical data at this point. Anyone interested can get information from Nikon online. Only so much in advance:

Both cameras have an identical body, but differ in the following key features:

Feature
Nikon Z6
Nikon Z7
Image Sensor
24,5 megapixels
45,7 megapixels
Sensitivity
ISO 100 – 51.200
ISO 50 – 25.600
phase Autofocus with 90 % Coverage
273 focus points
493 focus points
Frame Rate
up to 12 images / second
up to 9 images / second

There are more differences in the areas of video and energy. Most other functions are identical. The difference between the two cameras is comparable to that of current DSLR models between Nikon D750 and D850. However, the new cameras are significantly smaller than their counterparts with mirror box. In addition, the Z6 is 20 percent lighter than the D750 and the Z7 weighs 26 percent less than the D850.

However, when you connect your old Nikon lenses to the camera with the available adapter, the advantage in size in the longitudinal axis almost gone.

Cameras of a Higher Class

In my opinion both cameras are targeted to so-called prosumers, shooters so with a professional claim but being still consumers. This puts them in the same category as the D750 and D850. Nevertheless, many professional photographers will probably equip themselves with the new cameras – because they expect a tremendous quality at a reasonable price. A pure professional camera, such as the Nikon D5 (DSLR) or the Sony Alpha 9 (mirrorless) acts a separate segment, even financially.

Nikon Z6 or Z7 for Real Estate Photos?

According to the information on paper, for real estate photography I would tend to the cheaper Nikon Z6. I see three reasons for this:

  1. The Z6 must accommodate less megapixels on the same sensor area, each of which can therefore be larger. Larger lightsensitive elements, work more precisely. This, in turn, causes lower image noise. In particular, real estate photos are often heavily edited in post-production to gain details in the brightest and darkest parts of the image. This considerably increases the existing background noise (even with ISO 100). However, image quality would benefit, if noise is already low when capturing the frame.
  2. In addition, the files of the Z6 are smaller and require less computer performance when processing the images.
  3. The argument that one can crop parts out of the 45 megapixels of the Z7, does not apply to real estate photos. A crop of an image is, apart from the loss of resolution, nothing more than the use of a telephoto lens. However, we need more wide-angle lenses in the great majority of scenes – in other words, exactly the opposite.

New Lens Mount and New Lenses

The main innovation is that Nikon has developed a new lens connector, the so-called Z-mount. It is much larger than the 60-year-old F bayonet of previous SLR cameras. This allows significantly more light to pass in the direction of the sensor. In addition, the sensor has moved much closer to the lens (flange distance only 16 mm). Both contribute to the fact that smaller and lighter lenses with significantly improved image quality towards the edges of the image and in the corners can be used. That’s exactly what real estate photographers want.

 

Nikon Z7 and D850 in Comparison

Nikon Z7 and D850 in comparison: The Z7 has a larger lens mount, while the D850 has a smaller bayonet and the sensor is placed further back in the camera. The body of the Z7 is much smaller.

Nikon’s required S-lenses are absolute new developments and are published step by step – there is a plan until 2021. The data for twelve lenses are fixed, for eleven other models in the years 2020/21, the key data are not yet known. At launch Nikon introduces three lens models, which are less interesting to real estate photography, because of their focal lengths. However, if you want to continue using your old Nikon glas for the time being, you can connect it to the camera with an adapter without any loss of function. Even the lenses of secondary manufacturers seem to work. But this should be checked separately for each model. Reports about this will certainly appear online in the near future.

Favourite Features Included

Improved Wifi Connectivity could be a great deal for real estate photography.  But this definitely requires a practical test, if possible with a simple and efficient workflow.

Other properties that have a positive impact on real estate photos, but also can be found on many other camera models (also from Nikon):

  • Handling: Almost all Nikon SLR cameras feel very good in the hand. Also, the handle of the Z6 and Z7 has this DNA and is superior to competitor Sony.
  • Menu: The industry has actually agreed: Nikon has one of the best menu systems. So obviously there was no reason to change the structure. Of course, new menu items have been added.
  • Controls: Nikon uses the proven knobs and buttons. They provide a good grip and defined pressure points.
  • Touchscreen: The menu operation, especially the quick menus via the i-button, and the selective focus via the camera screen contribute to a more efficient photography.

There is information that I could not find so far, but is quite important for real estate photos: image dynamics. This number tells you how many over brightness levels the camera can display details. This is of great importance with the stark differences in light that occur in indoor shots. In the technical specs, I did not find such info, German advertising materials only speak of an „amazing dynamic range“.

Negative Critique for Nikon Z6 und Z7 (and its Importance for Real Estate Photography)

Both the moderate and the dedicated critics have reportet the same few deficiencies. Often these are not real mistakes, but unfulfilled expectations. Do these points of criticism play a role for real estate photography?

1. Just One Memory Card Slot

Memory Card Slot of Nikon Z6 und Z7

Memory Card Slot of Nikon Z6 und Z7

This is probably the biggest uproar that drives the critics on the net. For many cameras in the more professional segments, it is now common that there is room for two memory cards. The task of the second memory card can usually be defined via the menu, such as:

  1. It serves as a memory extension, when the first card is full, the camera continues to store on the second.
  2. If you take pictures in two different file formats, the camera can save one file version per card.
  3. One memory card contains photos, the second one is reserved for video captures.
  4. The second card serves as a backup drive because both cards store the same recording at a time.

Exactly at the last point the critique starts, because the Z6 and the Z7 have only one card slot each on board. The critics justify this with possible data losses due to a defective memory card and therefore rely on this type of instant data backup. At the new cameras they miss this function painfully.

In my opinion, this is really only relevant in hectic environments, however, because of the density of events prevents permanent image control, or for capturing irretrievable moments. I think of photojournalists in sports or in crisis areas or even wedding photographers.

For real estate photography, this argument is irrelevant.

2. Expansive XQD Card instead of SD Card

This is where many photographers begin to howl and their wallets start to cry. Nikon installs one slot for the much more powerful XQD card in their two new cameras . It is not compatible with the familiar SD format. And it is many times more expensive.

Nikon has obviously opted for this because XQDs can read and write data much faster. This is especially interesting for journalists or for videographers.

For real estate photography, this argument is a (uniquely painful) cost factor.

3. No Eye Autofocus

The title says it already. It’s about photography of subjects with eyes. For example, we love portraits when the eyes (at least the one closer to the camera) are absolutely sharp. Both cameras do not have this popular focus automatic. The critics must therefore use another classic focus technique while shooting. But there is at least one face recognition in the video mode in order to automatically focus on the respective actor.

For real estate photography, this argument is irrelevant.

4. Not Enough Lenses and Lack of Fast Apertures

For the start of the Z7, there will initially be two lenses: a lightweight wide-angle lens 35 mm f1.8 and an all-round zoom lens 24-70 mm f4. Two months later with the Z6, there will also be a standard lens 50 mm f1.8. Critics moan that these are too few lenses. However, they should remember that they are all new developments and that there were no developed cameras for the hard test of many models.

In addition, the lens selection is criticized: The 35 is a reporter lens and is suitable for the genre of streetphoto, so it has a limited scope. The 24-70 as an all-rounder is not stretched far enough. Required is a 24-120. And the 50 is too expensive with 679 EUR, especially since the old DSLR version currently costs only around 200 EUR.

Neue Nikon-S-Objektive

Slim lens construction of Nikon S for the start.
Left: zoom lens 24-70 mm f4 | Middle: moderate wide-angle lens 35 mm f1.8 | right: normal lens 50 mm f1.8

In addition, some testers  demand that Nikon should better launch brighter models of the fixed-focal-length lenses with values of f1.4 or even f1.2 in order to exploit the optical advantages of the new system.

All mentioned focal lengths do not play a major role in real estate photography, because the strong wide-angle range according to the Nikon roadmap will only be considered in 2019 with a 14-30 mm f4 and in 2020 with the 14-24 mm f2.8.

In the meantime you can use the FTZ adapter offered by Nikon and use almost 100 existing lens models of the DSLR system.

For real estate photography, this argument is irrelevant.

5. Tilting Monitor instead of Flip Screen

Many professionals say in their tests that the camera developers did not implement enough professional features. The next moment they complain that they can not use their professional tool as a vlog camera to film themselves. In my opinion, here opens a big gap of different approaches. And all, because you can not see yourself in the monitor when you are in front of the camera. Because the screen can only be folded up and down, but not 180°. And it can not swing to the side and at the same time turn to face the front side.

Since the D750 I have found it very pleasant to be able to choose the camera angle with the tilting display back-friendly from the top. Every now and then it is annoying when you shoot in portrait format and then just can not judge the image from above, because the of camera rotation the screen is only foldable sideways. However, over 90 percent of my pictures are in landscape format.

For real estate photography, this argument is irrelevant.

6. No 4k 60p

This relates to the video function of the camera. It means a higher frame rate at higher resolution to generate more fluent videos.

For real estate photography, this argument is irrelevant.

7. No GPS

If you get around a lot, it’s nice to know later where exactly which picture was taken. Some cameras have a GPS module that communicates with satellites and the reports the current location to the camera. This information is then stored invisibly in the image file during recording. Later it can be read out on the computer.

It may be interesting to understand where a marketed property was located. But how important this function is, is in question. After all, most of the photos are taken indoors. However, the GPS connection is extremely unstable without a clear view of the sky. In addition, most of the recordings are processed immediately and are either immediately put into a folder on the computer or even get a file name, which shows the location. In addition, a GPS module consumes power, which may reduce the number of images with the current battery charge.

For real estate photography, this argument is irrelevant.

8. No Backlit Buttons

For professional camera models, the buttons on the back of the camera are backlit, so you can operate the camera in the dark. That’s a nice product feature.

However, I have the experience that in almost all properties there is still so much light available that you can identify the buttons without light assistance. And in very rare cases, when it is really not possible (for example, when shooting outdoors at dusk), the lamp of the smartphone can help out.

For real estate photography, this argument is irrelevant.

9. Not very reliable Continous Autofocus in Bad Light

We are photographing real estate. The name says it all: they stand still. Continuous AF, for example, is for sports photographers who need to track moving athletes with the camera and respond to rapid focus changes.

If this phenomenon is now increasingly noticeable, this is a childhood disease of the new camera system. So Nikon will work on the camera software and soon provide an update and of course deliver new cameras with the current version.

For real estate photos, however,  static single-autofocus is always preferable.

For real estate photography, this argument is irrelevant.

Conclusion

  • In the near future, there will be two powerful mirrorless full-frame cameras with the Nikon Z6 and Z7, which will make photography even more fun.
  • However, we are looking at a new system of which only pre-production models have been tested so far.
  • For real estate photos, the Nikon Z6 is better.
  • In terms of cost, existing Nikon lenses can be used on the cameras with the FTZ adapter.
  • The main criticisms of the testers are largely irrelevant for real estate photography.

For whom are Nikon z6 and z7 suitable?

  • Professional photographers will use these cameras. They save space and weight, especially when it comes to mobile jobs.
  • Photographers who have photographed with Nikon so far and are now faced with a camera change will opt for the new models because, in addition to high photographic quality, they benefit from the reusability of their existing lenses.
  • Photographers will move from other brands to these Nikon cameras because Nikon combines the industry-recognized benefits of ease-of-use (haptics) and operation (menu navigation) with the advantages of mirrorless full-frame cameras.
  • There will also be some newcomers who will equip themselves with the Z6 or Z7 and gradually develop their photographic skills. This process will take some time and requires some endurance.
  • For real estate professionals who are serious about getting better photos for their objects, the Nikon Z6 is a world-class tool.

Will I get me one of these cameras?

Belly says „yes“, head (still) says „no“. My Nikon D750 is currently the workhorse and makes great shots with the Tamron 15-30 lens and some other Nikon lenses. If a new purchase will be necessary, I tend to the Nikon Z6 with FTZ adapter.

Of course, as soon as I see the chance to test this camera myself, I will not hesitate.

 
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