I’ve been shooting with Nikon Z6 for over a year now. It’s time to share the love/not so much – hate being much too strong – relationship I have with mirrorless cameras in general, and what I REALLY love about the Z6. Totally my personal opinions!
Camera Size – Sweet!
Mirrorless is much smaller and lighter than most SLR counterparts – especially since you don’t need room for the mirror! I still like to have a substantial camera body – as things sometimes hit the pavement when you’re working.
Viewfinder – Very Different, Z6 – Amazing
EVF (electronic viewfinder) is VERY different than looking through a standard SLR. The EVF in the Z series is stellar! So bright! You can see in the dark – like the deer bedded down in the back yard at dusk! No way I could see those details with an SLR even with a f2.8 lens.
You can actually see an electronic representation of f-stop changes – crazy!
TIP! Don’t move too fast! Whip pans can make your head spin. Since the screen has to refresh, try to minimize whipping from side to side which can look very jittery. My eyes and brain needed time to adjust to seeing differently with the EVF. I actually had some eye strain and headaches to deal with but not terribly bad. Just very different.
But again, the Z series viewfinders have AMAZING resolution and brightness! Resolution is much better than some other camera manufacturers!
Shutter Delay – Ugh – SLR wins this one
With most SLR cameras, you can hit the shutter and take a photo without much if any delay. Not so with mirrorless. Since mirrorless uses SO much battery to support the screens, the cameras are set to SLEEP very quickly. They have to. I get it. But coming from news and DSLR – this aggravated me quite a bit! In fact, we returned a Sony A6000 camera mostly for that reason.
It takes forethought to capture images with a mirrorless. You have to anticipate even morebecause you need time for the camera to wake up before you can shoot. Glenn recently came back after shooting with the Z and expressed this frustration. And yes, we’ve missed some moments that we would have captured with DSLR.
TIP! I’ve gotten used to touching the shutter as I’m raising the camera to get it to wake up before my eye hits the viewfinder. It takes a split second. I have to think first. But I’m getting better and faster at it… Takes practice!
Flash – All the settings! Give me a minute!
SLR users don’t have to change all these buttons!
Because Mirrorless behaves very differently than SLR, flash settings can be tricky. Also the red laser focus assist on some flashes DOES NOT work for mirrorless. You need a few seconds to change some buttons when deciding to add flash.
SETTINGS With Nikon Z series, I need to switch from continuous to single frame advance, and make sure silent is off. Also mechanical shutter only or AUTO. Flash doesn’t work with electronic shutter. Every. Time. I. Want. To. Use. Flash. Yes – it takes a minute.
I also turned off AF assist on my Nikon flashes since it doesn’t work with mirrorless.
And just so you know, there’s NO LIVE EXPOSURE VIEW when using flash because the flash hasn’t happened yet. If you want to see exposure with lights – use LED or other constant lighting 😉
Exposure – LIVE! Game Changer!
One of the BEST parts of an electronic viewfinder is being able to SEE the exposure before you shoot (unless of course you’re using flash – see above). This can be a huge time-saver in contrasty or tricky light! With SLR you have to shoot then play back to check exposure. With mirrorless you see it in the viewfinder (and on your phone!) beforehand – so you can adjust brighter or dark immediately! Game Changer!
ASIDE! Every camera is different, and settings can affect exposure so much! So don’t expect the same results standing right next to someone and using the same exposure settings. (Keep reading and I’ll share how simply I tend to shoot and how I have the Function buttons set on the Z6 – which is VERY different from SLR.)
Image Quality – Like OMG!
Tones. I won’t belabor here but just want to say the Z cameras have DROP DEAD GORGEOUS gradation in tones and have been the BEST cameras we’ve ever used in this regard. The dynamic range is CRAZY on the Z series! (That’s the difference from light to dark and still keeping detail – the Z6 has a HUGE range of detail – I feel way more than our D500 -and thats a great camera! Also the way the Z cameras handle highlights and chromatic aberration – WOW! (again personal experience and opinion)
Color. Nikons in our experience have ALWAYS been great at color and white balance straight out of camera. And yes we’ve used Canon 5D and others… Plus I’ve been teaching for over a decade and have shot right alongside MANY other cameras, some cheaper, some MUCH more expensive, so… White balance typically stays on AUTO for us. (And yes I know shooting RAW I can make that anything I want later, and I do set to FLASH in studio, but I rarely change it when editing. Auto works fine – why click any more buttons and spend any more time editing than absolutely necessary)
Banding – UGH
LED lights flicker. If you’re not using the correct shutter speed, you’ll see really strange lines across your image. Change your shutter speed! Also you can turn Flicker reduction ON in the menu – but keep in mind you may not get the exact moment of time you’re hoping for.
Flicker detection will not take effect at shutter speeds slower than 1/100 s (including Bulb and Time) or when Continuous H (extended) is selected for release mode or silent photography, HDR, or exposure delay mode is enabled.
My Settings – mostly
OK so for how I typically set my Z when shooting photos…
Function 1 – Focus AF-S or AF-C on back dial, focus point(s) on the front dial.
Function 2 – Spot Metering. Which I NEVER use with my SLR but some things I shoot are SUPER high contrast and having this available – hey, why not! It’s super FAST to be able to switch from my preferred Matrix metering to Spot just by holding down the function button. Perfect for wedding photography trying to keep detail in the white dress on a bright day!
ISO – most of the time on AUTO – did you know on many pro Nikons, if you hold the ISO button and turn the FRONT dial you can turn AUTO ISO on and off?? Thanks to CRAZY high ISO on the Z series, I typically shoot action with Shutter Priority and AUTO ISO. It just works! I also changed my minimum shutter speed to 1/100 so I sometimes even shoot Aperture Priority in AUTO ISO.
- Picture Control – Neutral
- White Balance – AUTO
- Image Quality – RAW
- Flash Mode – normal
- Metering – matrix
- AF-S + single-point AF
- AF-C + Dynamic Area (sometimes on Auto area if there are no ‘distractions’ and I only have 1 erratic subject to track – aka Eye Focus)
- Continuous Advance (unless I’m using flash)
- Silent OFF unless absolutely necessary
- Auto Select for mechanical/electronic shutter NOTE – this option can also cause your shutter speed to be limited! So if you can’t get your shutter speed to do your bidding – search here for the answer!
TIP! Display button – This one is important to make friends with! You can turn on/off ALL kinds of stuff! Get that mess out of your way!
Check back – I’ll be adding images and more info…
Favorite Lenses with Z6
- Nikon 35mm f1.8 S – Z series – awesome for showing whole room, video, video interviews
- Nikon 85mm f1.8 S – Z series – PORTRAIT GO TO! Also great for low light events – 35 on one camera, 85 on the other.
- Nikon 70-200 f4 G series – amazing balance with Z6, WAY smaller and lighter than 70-200 f2.8, and just as sharp IMHO! Also WAY closer minimum distance at just over 3′! Game Changer! You can find it sometimes at UsedPhotoPro for around $800!
- Nikon 24-70 f4 Z kit lens – dang this puppy gets CLOSE! Also a great 2 camera kit – 24-70 on 1, and 70-200 f 4 on the other – easy for events!
Questions on gear? Drop me an email or text!