#761. Monday Post (27 Aug 2018) – What an e-Z week we’ve had !

#761. Monday Post (27 Aug 2018) – What an e-Z week we’ve had !

What a week for gear, right?

Nikon’s announcement of 2 new mirrorless cameras caused quite a stir among DS email list members. After months of slumber, you could hear us typing frantically, exchanging thoughts around the globe. And let’s not forget the other seismic shift of the week. One of likely smaller scale, but possibly even greater significance : Zeiss are one again making a camera. And I’m really curious what that is going to be.

No fact checking is needed to say we, at DearSusan, have been the strongest supporters in the whole galaxy, and vocal ones at that, in favour of that idea. So if the camera is great, please send libations our way. If it’s rubbish, feel free to throw darts at voodoo dolls of Paul and Philippe (not me, I’m ticklish).

Needless to say, we’d love to preview it … hint hint Oberkochen !

 

Made with a Zeiss lens. Did I mention I love Zeiss ? I want to write a song about Zeiss.

 

But let’s pedal back to the Z7 for a while. My feeling is that this camera has not always been as well received as it deserves to be.

Here’s a company that’s known for its incremental improvement strategy, that has been averse to risk for the past decade and that has just performed what can only have been a very stressful change of orientation, from a tough position within a tough market. That alone is to be commended.

On top of that, we have to applaud Nikon for jumping into mirrorless – however late – with both feet. The new mount can only mean future proofing. The nomenclature hints at an even higher-end 8-series model.Β  The quality of this very first effort is eminently laudable. Heck, from some angles, this is the best full frame mirrorless camera ever built (not bad for a first attempt) !

OK, from quite a few other angles, it’s a minor let down. Can we talk about that for a minute ?

 

It it’s nice, it’s Zeiss.

 

I’ve read and viewed a few fair criticisms as well as some I completely fail to grasp :

  • AF in dim light isn’t very good. It’s a preproduction camera, so let’s hope it gets better. If it doesn’t, that’s probably the Z7’s most offensive problem. Sure, Nikon’s ability to produce cameras that focus well is a good sign for the future. But it would be reassuring to have good focusing today.
  • Internal stabilisation isn’t as good as Sony’s. In fact, it doesn’t very good at all, particularly with adapted lenses. Again, let’s hope this gets sorted in the final product. May I remind you the absolutely vile image quality of the pre-production Sony A7r ? There were images floating about the web that count among the worst I’ve ever seen. Yet, no one can fault that Sony’s resolution and IQ (except for some colour vaguery) in the finished product. It was spectacularly good at the time! So, the final Nikon Z IBIS might be a lot better. Patience, Anakin. And if it isn’t, it’s still a lot better than any other in the Nikon range, right? That’s a start.
  • It only has one card reader. Yikes, really? So??? I only own one card that still works. Worst case scenario? The card fails. No photos. No one died.Can we just relax, for a second. We’re not pros, mercufully.Two cameras have died on me in very remote places I might never return to. Another year, two SD cards did the same. I still have the memories. All the photos from my kids’ youth were backed up on CDs and DVDs which ALL failed (Go Memorex). Well, better the disks than my kids. I still have them to make new photographs. Ansel Adams lost thousands of negatives to fire or flood (can’t remember). He’s still remembered as a genius.

    People are focusing so much mental energy on a scenario that goes wrong 0.1% of the time and really doesn’t matter when it does. This is just mind trash built into us by marketing departments. It does nothing to make us better photographers, quite the opposite.

 

Shark basking in the awesomeness of my Zeiss lenses.

 

  • My favourite, by far : It’s not innovative. So ? The Z7’s lack of innovation could be bad news for Nikon’s strategy, if it fails to make the camera a conquest product that can turn the tables in Nikon’s favour. Then again, maybe it’s just a test product and maybe something really innovative is just around the corner if this is a decent enough succes. Maybe not.How is that a concern of yours or mine?

    How does not being innovative make a product worse for the end-user? Healthy eating isn’t innovative at all. Quite the opposite. It’s still the best way of not having your limbs cut off because of diabetes, of keeping cancer at bay and of not dying 30 years prematurely. Not many innovative diets have that good a track record. What matters is a good product. If it ALSO brings something new AND great to the table, so much the better. But let’s start with good, shall we, and add new later.

    It seems to me we’re at a point in photography where innovation is a pretext for forcing an upgrade path rather than a true benefit to the user. Mirrorless was a real great innovation that enabled a part of the user base to do stuff that wasn’t possible before. Before that, the switch from film to digital was a real innovation. More recently, you could argue IBIS was a minor but useful innovation. That’s about it. All the rest is mainly hollow.Today a camera that doesn’t push the performance envelope any further but actually does everything really well within that envelope would be a very welcome addition to the market. That’s what the Z7 **might** be, in its finished version. Hopefully πŸ˜‰

  • It’s not a mirrorless D850. Sooo ? Cary Grant wasn’t Grace Kelly with a penis. Still was a much-loved actor.The reasoning behind that comparison with the D850 is perhaps what drives me the most nuts. I’ve said it before and will keep on saying it as long as I can breathe : a product is almost never better because it can do more stuff. Very often it’s a lot better when it does less stuff really well.

    Some evil marketing genius has somehow managed to convince millions of perfectly lovely consumers that they are at the same time Formula 1 videographers, astrophotographers, deep-sea reporters, street photographers, wedding pros, studio artists, vloggers and more…

    Sorry to disappoint so bluntly, you’re just not. The sooner you admit that, the sooner you can focus on one arena and the gear that really matters for it. It is so liberating when you do. The Z7 isn’t a mirrorless D850. And the D850 isn’t a Z7 with a mirror. Fact. Pick one and let’s move on.

You know, all in all, it’s super easy to criticise. But try to remember your first attempt at anything meaningful and how great that was.

 

Again, made with a Zeiss lens. Shameless Zeiss plug NΒ°4.

 

Anyhoo, more intriguing still is the news from Zeiss. In fact we didn’t believe it at first, even having prayed for it for years. We’ll probably know in a couple of weeks what all of this is about. In the mean time, all we can do is speculate and play Zeiss’ guessing game πŸ™‚

And we’re plenty good at that. Not that our guesses are ever true, but we’re plenty good at throwing tons of ideas at the wall hoping one will stick. So, the DS list was summoned and personal guesses curated for your evaluation. Here are some of those ideas. Do any resonate with your own?

  • The idea of Zeiss becoming Sony’s premium brand. Toyota has Lexus, Sony would have Zeiss.
  • The fact that something really profound is needed to bring Zeiss back into the camera game, so definitely not just a compact APS-C with a prestigious badge. To everyone in the list, that seemed like a shabby attempt at slapping a premium badge on a common garden product. Hassy barely survived the Lunar & co. fiasco. We can’t see Zeiss falling for it.
  • The fact that Sony can’t release a medium format camera without angering their medium format sensor customers.
  • Consequently, the possibility that Zeiss might be entering the medium format market.
  • The fact that a single lens prime is a scary commitment for most people.
  • The fact that what you do with the signal is as important as the sensor from whence it came (as evidenced by the mind-blowing IQ superiority of the Hasselblad X1D over cameras with barely fewer pixels and more recent sensors). Zeiss’ attention to detail lends itself well to the possibility of calibrating every single camera, a la Hassy.
  • The fact that a compact form factor is a sexy selling point
  • The fact that quite a few cameras at the top-end of the market are similarly priced (M10P, X1D, GFX, … just sayin’)

A synthetic view of our individual votes would give a medium format fixed lens camera with a high-quality zoom, low-amplitude (28-50 constant f/2.5?) and optimised for the sensor, and great signal calibration/processing, not much larger than a Z7. That would get the checkbooks out from at least 4 of us in our little group, at or below that convergent price point …

Our guess is the electronics are entirely Sony, and the body and lens are entirely Zeiss. Zeiss are world-class masters of manufacturing tolerances, they have experience in weatherproofing, electronics, and designing optics. Creating the body would probably not be that complicated for them. Creating a world-class lens? Well, that’s what they do.

How are we doing, Zeiss? If we’re close, surely we deserve a test drive, right ? πŸ˜‰ If not, ah well, you’ll at least get a laugh out of it πŸ˜‰

 

The mighty Otus : Zeiss glass in a Nikon mount. The road ahead ?

 

Let me leave you with some interesting links (and many thanks to those who sent them to me).

Jean-Pierre :

Kristian:

Paul:

Steve:

 

So, what are your thoughts on these recent developments? GAS or no GAS?

 


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17 Comments

  1. Avatar
    NMc August 27, 2018

    Re GAS ; for the last week I have noticed myself thinking how great cropped sensors are, some sort of revulsion to the recent online meltdown. I think Nikon must have served very sugary artificially coloured snacks at the various events judging by some of the petulant and childish behaviour. I have read a few articles around the recent launch and I do not remember having to search through so much crap to get a sense of what the nature of the beast was.

    Re Rumour GAS; If the Zeiss rumour is true I hope it is not a luxury product, if it is a statement product let it be something other than just big number specs/MTF. Perhaps for example, if Sony have developed some technology that is great for still photograph but not for video, a fixed lens camera is a great launch product to test for market acceptance. Think about the Fuji X100 and how that ended up launching a whole camera system most of which now has quite a different ethos. If it is a stripped down A73 with a sensor that has micro-lenses optimised for the ZEISS C Sonnar T* 1,5/50 ZM, but with a longer focus throw for closer focus, say for flower closeups, do you think anyone would be interested? πŸ˜‰
    Regards Noel

  2. Avatar
    pascaljappy August 27, 2018

    Couldn’t agree more, Noel πŸ˜‰

    SAR has published a high MTF lens patent that would fit into a RX1 replacement. That would be a great camera, but I don’t see the point of it as the RX1 already is a great camera with a few flaws to correct, the lens not being one of them. I’m really hoping it’s a new concept that brings something special to the market. Not necessarily medium format like we described, but something worth getting into a busy and unstable market.

    As for the Z7, what happened to the Internet? It used to be that you could turn to blogs for news the mainstream media didn’t know. Now the big blogs have become the mainstream media and no two say the same thing about this new camera. Little wonder traffic is in such fast decline.

    All the best, Pascal

  3. Avatar
    jean pierre (pete) guaron August 27, 2018

    Hmm – so I get something like the D500’s AF (that came out in Jan 2016), a tilt screen (Nikon went to great lengths to congratulate this innovation when they release the D850 – in July 2017 – 18 months after they put it on the D500, but of course tilt screens have been around for ages, on ALL brands – starting nearly 20 years ago), no second slot (I read your comment – but you’ve read mine, on how disastrous it CAN be and what a relief it was to have had the second slot, so I could keep shooting and limp home), XQD cards to be purchased, a new reader to be purchased, an adapter ring which either costs 100 quid with the cam or 3 times as much if you choose to defer this purchase till later – which of course you won’t, because the initial range of lenses is way to limited to get started.

    Pascal – you are clearly a nicer person than I am. I don’t feel obliged to flatter Nikon for this one. Maybe I’ll change my mind later, when they launch the Z 8 or 9. Anyone have a low-mileage D500 they want to sell, to re-invest in a Z 7? πŸ™‚

    But you turned the corner after you admonished us all not to criticise. And made my eyes light up with a whole section devoted to my favourite lens manufacturer – Carl Zeiss. πŸ™‚

    Leica is “doing it” with Panasonic. Hassy flirts with lens manufacturers. The idea of Sony & Zeiss goes way deeper – Sony is one of the major sources of sensors, as well as their cameras, and Zeiss glass in their paddock would make a formidable team. Sigma also makes great glass, but not in competition with Sony – instead, they have 9 of their ART lenses already, for the Sony E-mount range.

    Their Cybershot DSC-RX10 III Compact Camera must be a hell of a shock for Nikon’s P1000 with its 1/2.3″ sensor. OK the Nik wins on “super tele”, but who shoots 3000mm tele anyway? And the DSC-RX10 III has far better image quality.

    Where will this end? I hope they all get rich and live happily ever after. πŸ™‚ In the meantime, I am feeling drawn to the D500 – which would still help Nikon, anyway. And another Nikon lens – so they’ll be even better off than they would if I bought a Z 7 & adapter plate instead! And engage in several forms of photography that have been beyond my grasp up to this point.

    What would I miss? – not much – mirrorless, weight reduction, higher pixel count, EXPEED 6 Image Processing Engine, different form of stabilisation. But I’d have great AF, a huge tele capacity, much the same tilt screen, great viewfinder, dual card slots taking practically anything except Compact cards and a range of lenses running from 21 to 1020. Of course I could use those lenses on the Z 7 too – but it would cost around $2,000 extra. And if I wanted to sped that much more, I’d rather spend it buying a Sigma Quattro, so I could check out one of those Foveon sensors, as well.

    In the meantime, I am much more concerned with solving issues arising out of the combination of the RGB colour palette we all use in our digit cams, with the CYMK palette used in printing. Various areas are troublesome One or two, almost impossibly so. And it’s much more important to me right now, than working out how to spend another $5 grand on a camera.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy August 28, 2018

      Well, no one has to flatter Nikon. I’m just saying actual people worked hard to create this camera and it is being dissed everywhere based on preproduction models.

      Yes, cards can fail. And do fail. It’s happened to me a lot. I can get why a pro would get upset. But us amateurs? Not really. There’s always tomorrow to make more photos. New photos.

      We agree on one thing, that’s for sure : figuring out printing is a lot more important than spending more on a new camera πŸ™‚

      • Avatar
        Adrian August 28, 2018

        And that hasn’t happened every time Sony release a camera, for example?

        I do find it slightly strange that some.of the “major issues” with various Sony models are now forgivable quirks in a Nikon – but most of the complaints are exactly the same as those Sony has faced, and they have iterated most of the issues away now. Nikon, with their typically ponderous product development times, comes out with a new camera that still have issues that Sony had that have now been improved or resolved.

        It is undoubtedly a mostly very good “me too” product to keep those who want to buy a Nikon happy, and for those who for reasons of politics or prejudice won’t buy a Sony.

        Will this new camera make DXxx owners sidegrade? Maybe. Will it make people switch brands? Probably not.

        Sony gained market share by offering something original and sometimes innovative.

        This new Nikon isn’t either of those things. Surely Nikon need a kick ass halo product right now?

        Canon will soon enter the segment with an ugly plastic body, hobbled by lack of features to enforce a product hierarchy, and it will sell better than the other two merely because hit says Canon on the evf hump.

        • Avatar
          pascaljappy August 28, 2018

          Well, I’m just saying this is a preproduction camera and might get better (if not, then some of the flaws are really serious, in particular the poor AF) and that the lack of innovation really isn’t any issue for the consumer.

          Sony had their strategy to break into a market, which they did admirably well from a business point of view but not from every photographic angle. If Nikon comes along with a camera that suits my tastes better, I’m all for it. None of the recent “innovations” such as mandatory video and insane frame rates leave me stone cold. But give me a camera that doesn’t add a sepia filter on every sunlit scene, and that’s far more interesting to me.

          Nikon aren’t trying to break into a market. They are trying to slow down the user heamoragy and I thing this camera will do the trick really well. I’m with you on the fact it won’t make many converts as the Sony crowds seem too hellbent on technical specs over actual quality. But who knows what can come out of the Nikon stables if the Z7 is a success? That might be truely innovative. Or might not and that will surely reflect badly on Nikon’s bottom line. If the past is anything to judge by, we can expect the latter, unfortunately. But it’s nice to see hope for them.

          The Z7 is potentially a great camera. We’ll have to see if the final production models hold their promises. The fact that the market is already full of higher performance models is Nikon’s headache. Not ours. I’m just happy there’s competition in the market and really hope the Z7 turns out to do some things better and some things worse than Sony’s top of the range cameras. Everybody gets a choice, then. Which, so far, hasn’t been the case in this mad rush for specs at the expense of the most basic essentials.

  4. Avatar
    Kristian Wannebo August 27, 2018

    Paul,
    Thanks for the Olaf photoblog link!
    Simple & good advice.
    And photography I really enjoyed.
    I’ll certainly keep an eye on his blog!

    ( DearSusan,
    A candidate for a DS interview?)

  5. Avatar
    Cliff Whittaker August 28, 2018

    Loved Paul’s Z7 review….. dammit!! :))
    The two scariest words in the English language are cancer and change. I don’t even want to think about the first one so I’ll move quickly on to number two: Is it possible that my hard head is realigning itself for a major attitude adjustment regarding the Nikon Z7 mirrorless? At this point, and based in large part on Paul’s review, I would say have to say yes, it is possible. And you can’t begin to imagine what a concession it is for me to admit that.
    But thank goodness I’m already sitting on a new D850 plus the purchase of a 500mm lens that cost more than the first house I lived in with indoor plumbing. That means I will have to hold off on my GAS for a bit, and while I’m waiting I can read all about other’s experiences with the virtues and shortcomings of the Z7. By the time I’m ready to make a purchase decision the Z8 will be on the market with most of the old quirks ironed out and some new ones added.
    That sounds like about the right time frame for me, but that plan might be sort of like feeling the first twinges of needing to go pee. You know you’re going to have to, you just don’t know for sure how long you’re going to be able to put it off.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy August 28, 2018

      Cliff, it’s probably wise to wait a little, yes. The Z7 review seems a little too beautiful compared to the rest of blogosphere. I’m sure the Z7 has great potential, but let’s wait for the final product to form a real opinion and the Z8 will be even better. In your case, with a D850, the wait shouldn’t be too distressing πŸ˜‰

  6. Avatar
    jean pierre (pete) guaron August 28, 2018

    You seem very pro-Z 7, Pascal. I’ve been floundering, wondering why – there’s nothing new about mirrorless, they’ve been around since forever – this thing needs an adapter to fit any of my existing lenses (and I’ve NO idea how that would impact on their performance) – it has only one card slot (yes, I did read your answer to that – and my answer to that is that I got caught once so I could no longer use one card slot, & was able to limp home with the cards in the second slot – for me, a second slot is like an insurance policy) – no time line for the introduction of further lenses – a tilt screen much like the D500 introduced 30 months ago – more pixels to feed the pixel peepers – what else?

    And there it was – “what else”! BOOM – Paul’s contribution to our reading list this week! Thanks Paul. At least I know what I’m REALLY missing, now. Oh – but I still have my $5,500!

    1 – focus peaking – Nikon, you got me there!

    2 – IQ – dunno that you’d ever see the diff between this cam and anything else up the top, but it’s still supposed to blow you away if you DO get a Z 7

    3 – tilt screen and AF – OK, but I can get that on a D500 (and yes I know it’s not the same – but it IS ‘of interest’!)

    4 – viewfinder – TICK – definitely improved (NB – it doesn’t “take” the photos, it just helps the PHOTOGRAPHER to take them!)

    5 – flicker reduction – now that really IS clever!

    PS – back to the card slot – I note the review says “Nikon – dual card slots in the next version please, of all the forward thinking with this new system, a step backwards was taken here. Unfortunately” and “the single card slot is generating a lot of comments on the internet and in private groups. “Single card slot!?” is all over the place. Understandably, as that was one of my own first comments after handling the camera (I’d seen no specs). It’ll be a deal breaker for some,” – followed by a lot of comment sympathetic to Nikon for making this choice, but concluding “Do I still want dual card slots? Yes, of course. There’s a lesson here for Nikon. Never put statistics over emotions. That’s how most decisions are made, and that cannot be underestimated. No matter how good statistics are, if there is an element of doubt, it will categorically affect confidence.”

    I agree. No second slot – so the cash in hand will likely go to a different camera body, and a super telephoto lens arrangement.

    So that I can break into several new fields of photography. Which BTW the Z 7 wouldn’t – it would just help improve the photography I already do.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy August 28, 2018

      I’m sure we’ll find dual card slots essential when we are used to them. For now, it’s not my case and no one even offered them a few months ago (in the amateur world, at least) so I’m just surprised by the landslide of negative opinions. This is a camera for amateurs. Pros will obviously look elsewhere.

      Basically, I find it totally unfathomable that so many people seem ready to forego super useful features such as IBIS, EVF, focus peaking, all for a very unimportant aspect that affects their life 0.1% of the time. FOMO is rarely a good source of advice. But hey, free country πŸ˜‰

      That being said, that review seems a little too rosy, compared to the criticisms found elsewhere. Ross was shooting in brigh sunlight whereas the camera seems less capable in low light. But here again, it’s a preproduction cam. I almost cancelled my A7r order when I saw preproduction photographs. They were abysmal. Then the real thing came out and blew us all away.

      So we’ll just have to wait and see whether the finished product matches our individual needs or not.

  7. Avatar
    Steve August 28, 2018

    In the behind the scenes email thread that preceded the post I claimed that the Z7/8 were of no interest to me. I have to confess to having to revise my opinion now, my interest has been piqued. Some of those images look wonderful. Yes I know he’s and ambassador /fanboy etc. but still I like what I see. I’m an Oly m43 shooter. Once there were limited lens options, now there’s plenty of stellar glass. I got rid of my Nikon glass when I went over to the dark side so have no legacy/adapter issues. Doubtless great native Z lenses will appear. Slots? My E-M1ii has two, my PEN-F has one. Does this influence my decision on which camera I take out? Nope. I take the one which best suits what I intend to shoot. Or how I feel on the day. No deal breaker there then. The thing I miss most about my old Nikon cameras is the way they felt in my hand. The Oly’s don’t come close ergonomically so there’s an attraction there. The biggest disappoint for me is the lack of articulated screen. Screen articulation compensates for lack of knee and back articulation and that probably is a dealbreaker for me.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy August 28, 2018

      “Doubtless great native Z lenses will appear.”

      If the market gives the camera a chance, many lenses will. In the mean time, it looks like that 24-70 is subpar and that 35/1.8 is extremely sharp. Also, photos in the dark really don’t feel as good as those made in strong lighting. What’s up with that ?

      I can see myself using that 35 (AF, sharp, slightly soulless) for “efficient” travel and my legacy yummy glass for when my Muse holds me in her warm embrace.

      The Z7 has an articulated rear screen, though only vertically tilting, I think. No horizontal swiveling for vlogging or stuff like that. (https://www.thephoblographer.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Chris-Gampat-The-Phoblographer-Nikon-Z7-with-Nikon-35mm-f1.8-Z-product-images-5.jpg)

      The Northrups have not been super enthusiastic about the build quality. Good, but apparently not up to Nikon’s best. That’s a bit of a shame. If anything id going to make me jump ship, it has to be reassuring for the long term.

      • Avatar
        Steve August 29, 2018

        “The Z7 has an articulated rear screen, though only vertically tilting”. That ain’t fully articulated to me! I’m now used to being able to shoot portrait at waist level without having to get down there. Vlogging ability is irrelevant to me. I talk way to much b—-x without recording it to embarrass myself later. But it just makes shooting in portrait orientation, whether hand held or on a tripod, so much easier. It was the main reason I upgraded from the E-M1 to the Mkii (not the two slots!). Oh, and the extra pixels! And a major factor in not keeping the X-T2. Interesting how we all have different criteria at the top of our list given that all cameras take great pics these days. It’s just like cars – it’s virtually impossible to buy a bad one now, they all work really well and we just choose our preferred brand/style/features/price point. You a Volvo, me a Mini.

        And we’ll get to do all this again in Sept when Canon join the party….it better have two slots.

  8. Avatar
    Cliff Whittaker August 28, 2018

    Hmmm. One of these days I’m going to have to get one of those new cards and try it in my D850 just to see if that slot actually works. I’ve had my D800E for several years and I know that both slots work in it.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy August 28, 2018

      You mean the D800e has dual slots ?? Wow, I used one for 18 months and didn’t realise. Ahem, I need new eye glasses …

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