This was originally written and published for Photofocus. The article is republished here with search engines blocked and canonical set to the original published article. It is here for archival purposes and so my community can find it too.
Ever since Sony released their first full-frame mirrorless camera in 2013, I have been wanting to make the switch from DSLR to mirrorless.
But I did not want to switch to Sony, for a handful of reasons. Some of which are:
- The camera is built on the Minolta system, which to me is a turnoff. (Here come the hater comments). You see, I used to work at a large camera warranty company and could see first hand how poorly made Minolta cameras were, how poorly made Sony cameras were. Yes, Sony has evolved over the years, and they’re much (much) better now. But the mount is still based on Minolta.
- I did not want to switch lenses. I have always been a Nikon user, thanks to my grandfather who left me his Nikon equipment when he passed.
- I like having good battery life, and the Sony batteries just aren’t up to par.
- When I tried the a7 II, I was not impressed by its low light capabilities. I used it at an indoor birthday party as an experiment and it couldn’t handle the event.
As mentioned in the first noted reason, Sony has evolved. They’ve come a long way and the newer cameras are far better than the “older” models. So a big kudos to Sony for working hard to make better equipment.
There are additional reasons, but I thought I’d share a few before moving on.
Over the years I’ve tried a bunch of mirrorless cameras, both full frame and cropped:
Of those, the one with the best build and image quality was the Leica M9, but it was also the slowest due to the nature of a range finder, and the most expensive to maintain because, well, Leica is simply overpriced.
The Panasonic Lumix GH5 worked well for a short time because of its video capabilities, but I was not fond of the still image quality.
Due to my dislike of all the mirrorless cameras I tried, I stuck with my Nikon D850 for video and still work. Until the Nikon Z series was released.
With that, though, I had my concerns. Here are some of those:
- The Z cameras use XQD cards, which are expensive and not common among camera brands. However, the card slot is firmware upgradeable to CFexpress which would make the cards (even) faster as well as less expensive.
- The Z cameras require new lenses, the S line for Z bodies. Go figure. Why not just called them Z lenses?
- The Z camera requires the use of an adapter (model FTZ) to use Nikon F mount lenses on the new body. This is just like if I want to use my Nikon F mount lenses on a Sony body. Although the advantage of the FTZ adapter is as follows:
- You can full autofocus capabilities even with F mount lenses
- You get in-body stabilization even with F mount lenses
- There is only one card slot when Nikon could have easily made 2 XQD or 2 SD card slots if they really wanted to. This doesn’t bother me too much as I carry a WD My Passport Wireless Pro with me when traveling to do on the fly backups. But I can understand why this would bother some photographers.
That was the extent of my concerns. But after spending some time with the Z7 and now owning a Z6, I can honestly say that it’s one of the best Nikon cameras I’ve owned, and definitely the best mirrorless.
Not only is the EVF spot on and incredible. Not only is the autofocus (including in video) fast and accurate, but the battery life is amazing. It uses the same long-lasting battery as the Nikon D850, and it continues to last a long time in the mirrorless body. I can go an entire day of capturing images and video on one charge.
I almost forgot to mention that people were complaining that the camera has no Eye-AF (which uses software to guarantee a focus on eyes). Nikon already announced that it’s coming with a firmware update soon.
Now I’m a mixed camera type. I use a Nikon D850 for work that requires the megapixels, like commercial work. I use the Nikon Z6 for all my videos now as well as street work, photos of my own family and other daily things. It’s on my hip via the Spider Holster, all day every day. It’s light, compact and flawless.
So far so good, and I might switch from the D850 to another mirrorless (with that high of megapixels and dynamic range) in the future. Maybe the second iteration of the Z7, or whatever comes next. Maybe something with two card slots if they make it. Why? Because once you use an EVF and find yourself loving it you never want an optical viewfinder again. But for now, split use is what I’ll be doing.
My Nikon Z6 setup is as follows:
- 24-70mm f/4
- Spider Light Holster
- Spider Pro Clamp
- Really Right Stuff L Bracket
- Wine Country Camera 72mm 3-Stop ND Filter
- Nikon FTZ Adapter (for F mount lenses)
- Spider Light Hand Strap
Eventually, I’ll be adding the 14-30mm f/4 for video work.
This is my move to mirrorless. It’s been a slow road, but I’m glad to finally be on this journey for the long haul.
If you’re interested in seeing that quality of videos to come out the Nikon Z6, visit my YouTube channel and click subscribe.