#809. GAS Strikes Again – Z 7 Vs D850

By Dallas Thomas | Review

Jan 16

My last bout of GAS was in May 2018, see #739. An Acute Attack of GAS – Sony A7R111/Nikon D850.

Whilst extremely happy with the D850, the release of the Zs did get my mind ticking over.

It wasn’t until September in Paris, when I finally got to shoot with a ML camera. For the record it was a Sony A7III. In actual fact, I think I took 2 frames. The EVF was a marvel. I took the plunge and bought a Nikon Z7 and FTZ adaptor. I picked it up on the Friday before Christmas.

DS co-author Philippe put the hard word on me on Christmas Eve to pen an article on a comparison between both the 850 and the Z7, my answer was: well of course I will, when I get a few frames up on the Z.

But I feared that if I started the article in a months time, some of my initial thoughts and reactions would be forgotten or left out. So I decided to write as I progressed on my journey with the Z.

As of today, the first day of the article, Christmas Day, I’ve only shot 105 frames after owning the Z for 5 days! The first afternoon was spent following a couple of You Tubes on how to set it up. I only read manuals as a last resort.

The main interest in the Z7 was the EVF/Focus Peaking and of course VR/IBIS as Zeiss lens don’t have VR. 

The Z’s ergonomics are very good, but not excellent if I’m to be picky. The smaller body has a lot to do with this issue. I’m sure after a few weeks I won’t notice it. The menu system is typical Nikon, but not having the buttons on the left makes you dive into the menu system via the ‘I’ button, or use many of the function buttons that are programmable for shortcuts.

I have one major gripe that I’m yet to read about in any review, I WONDER WHY!!! After importing my first small batch of shots into Lightroom, I noticed that the full EXIF data was not available. So it would appear Nikon in their infinite wisdom has decided to not port this information for third party lens. This now necessitates the input of the lens information for Lens Correction, into Lightroom, which adds another step to Post.

This aside, te FTZ adaptor works extremely well, the Zeiss & Nikon G Lens smoothly connect and work as if they’re on the D850.

The first thing that strikes you after using a D850/D4s for so long, is just how quiet the shutter is on the Z. I’m yet to try silent mode. Being able to scroll through the histogram and the level in the EVF is a major plus. Seeing the exposure change as you adjust the shutter/aperture/ISO is well worth the loss of the excellent ergonomics of the D850 back to just very good for the Z.

2 weeks in, I’m very glad I made the jump to the Z, the 850 hasn’t been out of the bag since the arrival of the Z. Philippe in his Last Post for 2018 nominated the mirrorless system (regardless of brand) as COTY, I would have to heartily agree with him.

The question is, is the Z7 better than the D850 yes and no:

  • IQ – No difference, well to my eyes anyway
  • Ergonomy – No, the 850 is better
  • Weight – Yes, only slightly but the smaller body is appreciated
  • Focus – Yes, I use MF about 99% of the time and its much better with EVF and its one of the reasons I bought the Z . From the few times I’ve used the Z in  Auto Focus Mode it does the job.  / No, on fast moving subjects, I would use the D850, from having read other reviewers comments.
  • Battery Life – Shoots, to date, have been limited to a maximum of about 100 frames. The battery life is these situations doesn’t appear to be much different from constantly using the D850 in Live View mode. I just carry an additional battery. 
  • IBIS – Yes, as 850 does have it, overall I’m finding I can use lower shutter speeds, the best I’ve have achieved using a 135mm is 1/15sec.
  • Build Quality – No, IMHO, the D850 has a slight edge its does feel more solid, though there isn’t much between them.

Would I buy another DSLR? The simple answer is no. I believe ML is the future.  The DLSR is not dead and will for sometime continue to be marketed alongside as an alternative. Until both Canon and Nikon have enough top shelf glass to meet buyers expectations, this could be some time away. The D850 is an excellent camera and will remain in my bag for when fast autofocus is required for animals and sporting events.

In summary after nearly 4 weeks of ownership and some 800 images, I now don’t notice the lesser ergonomics of the Z compared to the D850 any more. As I said early the smaller package is appreciated. The Z is well balanced in the hand even using a large heavy lens like the Zeiss Milvus 35/1.4 which weighs slightly over 1kg. 


All the images were taken with the Z and various Zeiss Milvus Lens.


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  • philberphoto says:

    Proof of the pudding is in the eating, and of the camera in the shooting. Thus, your pictures proclaim that the Z7 is indeed an excellent camera. Some shots just made me go green with pure, indiluted envy. No 2, 12, 15 are my faves. Great stuff!

  • albert w erickson says:

    Dallas, I purchased the Z6 in December, and my experience is similar to yours. I own the D750 and have yet to use it since I purchased the Z. I have about 1000 shots on the camera,and am really amazed at the quality of the 24-70 Kit lens, it is remarkable. I think Nikon got this camera right. I also own a Fuji Xt 2, and will probably use that one for my trips, given the SD card. I have not set up my wireless image transfer yet to the I pad. I only travel with an I pad. That will be next on my list of activities. Looking forward to the build out of the S lenses. Good review. Thanks

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    ROTFLMHAO – you are an incurable victim of GAS, Dallas – next will be the complete refit of lenses, because that great big hole in the front of the Z7 is screaming for something larger & faster to exploit it, to the hilt.

    And this attack is so bad that you’ve forgotten the bicycles – not even a contemporary shot of a naked female mannequinin the half shadows of a window! The poster is a step in the right direction so we’ll have to excuse this lapse on this occasion . . . .

    While you and others have been jumping into this latest puddle, I’ve also succumbed to an attack of GAS, and done what will now, inevitably, be my last re-equip. I have exploited the sudden shift in demand to mirrorless, to find bargain prices all over the place, and traded all my previous Nikons in to replace them with the D500 and your last toy, the D850. And I can keep all my glass, and don’t need an adapter.

    Except that that is not entirely true – I DID need an adapter – and my attack of GAS is not quite over, at least not yet, because I want another adapter – because this latest attack of GAS is an aftershock, it resulted from seizing another opportunity, to do something I’ve never done in my life before – get into super tele zooms, and take photos that have been WAY beyond my reach, for what must (at this age) be almost my entire life. Maximum effective focal length already 1,260mm and counting – if I get the other converter, it will jump to a blazing 1,800mm!

    Which has plunged me onto an entirely new learning curve. More fun than you can poke a stick at! At my first attempt it defeated Adobe – neither Lightroom nor Photoshop would handle it, and I had to complete the post processing by buying a copy of Affinity Photo (which was on special) because it uses a far more modern algorithm to produce panoramas.

    Which is not irrelevant. Both that, and the subject matter of your article, Dallas, is all about creativity and our ability to derive pleasure from our photography.

    I love your description of your GAS attack – BTW, did you get into trouble over Christmas, for playing with your new toy while everyone else was trying to get you to eat your Christmas dinner? – and since I have loved available light photography ever since I took my first SRL to the Office Christmas Party, capturing them all in their drunken stupor, completely ignoring me because they had no comprehension of cameras working in such poor lighting conditions – till January, when they saw some of the prints, and broke into my filing cabinet while I was out, to steal all my photos and the negatives. Better than bokeh – the shadows steal across the image, masking all but the subject of the photos, adding atmosphere or even drama. Use flash and it has hideous shadows in the wrong places. Turn up the lights, take the same shot, and it’s as flat as.

    What if anything do you use to correct verticals? I use DxO’s ViewPoint – despite their claims and their best intentions, it doesn’t always work on auto, but even on manual it’s quick and very effective. No post processing computer should be without it 🙂

    Was the trip to Paris planned? – or did you decide to take it, to test the Z7? – it was hardly necessary to travel that far, to buy one – perhaps you were already there when the attack started, and Philippe’s efforts at resuscitation failed, fizzling out into a combined plan to produce this article instead, once the acquisition phase was over?

    • Pete, congratulations on your new toys. The 850 is a great camera, its still in my bag and will get use. No new lens brands for me, I’ll stick with my Zeiss Milvus they are fast and heavy enough for me. As for getting into trouble playing with the Z on Christmas no it was late in the day after an excellent lunch with friends. To answer your questions to correct verticals I use LR I find it good enough for my purposes. The Paris trip was planned some 15 months ago. As you know GAS can strike at anytime. At present it is well and truly under control. I need to sell my D4s before…..

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Should I or shouldn’t I have another attack of GAS? I just told Pascal that I can get the Z7 with the FTZ converter for only #4350 and the newly released 50mm f 1.8 for another $945 – and I already have all the cards and batteries I’d need, because the Z7 uses the same ones as my other Nikons. I think it’s unlikely – I have what I need, so buying that would be frivolous. Interesting, though.
        See, I don’t produce football field-size enlargements. Even the D55 (HF sensor) produces quite sharp images. And I have a suspicion Nik will upgrade the Z7 soon enough, just as they zapped the D810 with the D850 – because they have so many competitors yapping at their heels, and to keep market share, they must be ahead of the pack Fail on that on, and your market share drops savagely – ask Apple about iPhone sales & market share!

        • Pete, all I can say is “Do It” of course Nikon will update the Z, like Canon, Fuji, Sony etc but to me the Z is an excellent camera and you won’t regret it. I’m currently tossing up which camera to take to Dolomites in 10 days. Either the Z or 850 I do love the EVF and slightly smaller package so at this stage I’m learning toward the Z. May be both as a back up in case of mishaps. Yes, a story will follow. Dallas

  • VJ, I did ponder a Leica before purchase of the Z, the customer service I received on my visit left me totally unimpressed. I know it was only one outlet, but it was enough to make me walk away and never return.Weight is something I still have with my chosen lens brand, like you they are worth it to me. Paris is such a target rich environment for any photographer and is now my 2nd home.

  • Ad v.d. Biggellaar says:

    I made my switch from th D850 to the Z7.
    My hands are not big, so this smaller camera fits very good.
    I really love that nice quiet sound of the shutter.
    Using complete silent is strange, did I make that picture… or not?
    EFCS is also more quiet, only one click… a bit strange to hear.
    Dallas, you can’t make more as about 100 pics with one battery?
    I don’t make many pics with one battery, but I only have the Z7 for a bit more as a week…
    So I’m playing to much with it. Till now…
    I love this nice little cam and don’t mind my D850 had to go.

    • Sorry maybe I wasn’t clear I haven’t really tried out the battery. That will happen in this week starting today, in cold conditions so it will be interesting to see how it goes. The Z is the best camera I have purchased every including the D4s and D850

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