Nikon Z7 - My
Z7 User Manual Menus
The Z7 delivers 45.4 MP
at a 8256 x 5504 resolution (Large) on FX format.
There are many Z7 reviews - some just parroting
what the Nikon manual is saying without actually testing. I found the links
Matt Granger :
Jared Polin :
What is the Big Deal about
What is a SLR?
To understand the
advantage of mirrorless cameras, we must first understand what a SLR camera is.
SLR stands for Single-Lens Reflex. DSLR is the digital version of it. What is a
SLR camera anyway? There are two parts to it: single-lens & reflex.
To allow the viewfinder to see the same image as the film is seeing, we needed
to have a single lens-system for the viewfinder and film (instead of having a
separate viewfinder optics as in rangefinder cameras. That's the "single-lens"
part. To achieve that, we needed to intercept the light in front of the
film and route it to the viewfinder. This is where the "reflex" mirror comes in. SLR cameras have been around for the past 60 years.
Now, in the age of digital cameras, all cameras have suddenly
become single-lens, or could have been. It is because the image received by the sensor
(film) is also routed to the rear monitor and/or the viewfinder. So,
we no longer need a complex, flipping reflex-mirror mechanism.
First of all, both are digital
cameras, so they produce the same image - the final result is identical. Then,
what is the difference between the two? Well, the major difference -- and probably
the only major, critical difference -- is how the viewfinder shows the image when
you are shooting (that is, before the shooting). And it is a big deal for many photographers. The optical prism
finder of DSLRs will give you a real optical image while in mirrorless
cameras you are looking at a tiny TV screen. Many photographers (myself
included) prefer a crystal-clear, real glass image. That is one (and probably the only) issue that
makes people hesitate to abandon their DSLRs.
Mirorless Viewfinder Advantage
As I said earlier, I
prefer a DSLR's real-glass finder over an EVF of mirrorless. But mirrorless is the
logical direction of camera technology. We cannot reverse or stop the flow of
technology. Though top-of-the-line pro DSLRs from Canon and Nikon fire 12-14
fps, this incredibly complex reflex-mirror mechanism is a dinosaur, a
soon to be. Having used Nikon Z7 for a few weeks, I am getting used to its clear
finder. During the daytime shooting, there is almost no difference compared with
a DSLR finder - thanks to the superb viewfinder optics deployed in the Z7. Now, in evening~night photography, I came to appreciate a bright
EVF finder image even more, that depicts what
you are going to get in the final shot. In DSLRs, the finder is pitch dark.
Remember, the final image we are trying to capture at night is the same for DSLR
cameras - a nice, colorful, night image. And an EVF will show it to you before you
Shutter vs. Electronics Shutter
The Z7 has a metallic, vertical focal-plane
shutter and electronic silent shutter. Both 1/8000~30 seconds. When you remove the
lens, you can see the sensor exposed and visible - that is scary to say the
least. Also, the flange-sensor distance of this Nikon's new Z mount is only 16mm!
which Nikon proudly says contributes tremendously to the better and more
flexible design of the lens. Sony's cameras also keeps the sensor exposed when
the lens is removed. Canon EOS R has its mechanical shutter closed when the lens
is detached. This prevents the dust problem.
Focal-plane shutter in mirrorless:
In mirrorless cameras, the user is looking through the EVF, so the sensor has to
be exposed to the incoming light at all times. That is, the sensor cannot be
covered by the shutter. The focal-plane shutter is made of a lower (front) curtain and a upper
(rear) curtain. When the sensor is exposed (or when the shutter is open), the upper and lower curtains are
pushed to the upper and lower sides of the shutter box respectively. When the
shutter button is clicked, the lower curtain swings up to cover the sensor.
Once covered up, the sensor will begin sending signal to the memory buffer (the
shutter is about to open and the sensor is ready). Now the lower curtain will
swing down (the opening of the shutter) to expose the sensor to the light. After a
duration (depending on the shutter speed used), the upper curtain will swing
down to close the shutter. The exposure is done. The sensor will then stop
sending the signal to the memory buffer, and the upper curtain will swing up to
expose the sensor to the light
(so the EVF is visible again). Note that the swinging-down of either curtain is
for the actual exposure. The lower-curtain swing-down will open the shutter and
the upper-curtain swing-down will close the shutter. On the other hand, the
lower-curtain swing-up will cover the sensor in preparation of shutter release
and the upper-curtain swing-up will uncover the sensor for the EVF. (Note that
which curtain is lower or upper depends on how each camera manufacturer designs
Exposure delay mode: Based on my focal-plane
shutter description above, the Z7's exposure delay works this way: The moment
the shutter is clicked, the lower curtain swings up to cover the sensor (the EVF
turns black). After some "delay" period specified (0.2s / 0.5s / 1s / 2s / 3s), the
focal-plane shutter is released in a normal way, that is, opening the shutter
for 1/30 sec, say, and closing it. Then immediately the upper curtain swings up
to uncover the sensor again. So the only vibration-reduction
benefit here is the swinging-up movement of the upper curtain in preparation for
the shutter release.
Electronic front-curtain shutter: If
enabled, the opening of the shutter is done electronically, but the closing is
done by the mechanical shutter. That is, the moment the shutter is released, the
memory buffer starts to read signal from the sensor. The EVF becomes black
during the exposure (even if the shutter is open). When the shutter exposure is
done, say, after 1/30 sec, the focal-plane shutter closes (by swinging down the
upper curtain). Then the upper curtain swings up immediately to make the EVF
One question I have is that the electronic shutter opening and the mechanical
closing have different traversal speeds and how do they reconcile this
difference? Maybe software will rectify the difference... else an uneven
exposure will result. It is probably because of this reason that the Z7
restricts the maximum shutter speed to 1/2000 second when the EFCS mode is
Silent shutter: This
means no mechanical shutter is involved. This is an electronics shutter. The moment the shutter is clicked, the
switch is turned on to send signal to the memory buffer, and after some
duration, say, 1/30 sec, the switch is turned off to complete the exposure.
There is no moving parts in the silent shutter.
Two kinds of sensors:
CMOS and CDC sensors. Most of the digital cameras nowadays use the CMOS sensor.
The CMOS sensor reads the light from the upper-left corner of the sensor going
all the way to the lower-right corner of the sensor -- the reading is not
instantaneous. For this reason, if you use
the electronics shutter (by
turning the sensor on and off), you get what is called a "jello" effect of a
horizontally moving object when a high-speed shutter is used. That's why the
CMOS is called a "rolling" shutter. The CCD sensor does not suffer from this effect and it is called a "global" shutter.
The focal-plane shutter also creates a jello effect, so both mechanical and
electronic shutters are rolling shutters. The mechanical focal-plane shutter
scans from top to bottom in about 1/200-1/250 seconds (which is the flash sync
speed, by the way). The electronic-shutter scan is appreciably slower (probably
2-3 times slower), hence a jello effect is more pronounced. Well, the sensor
technology is improving all the time, so when this speed is increased to the
level of the current mechanical shutter (or even more), there is no reason to
use a focal-plane shutter anymore (which is largely a legacy of an old
technology...). Just like we are throwing away the old, bulky reflex mirror box,
we can get rid of another piece of mechanical junk from our modern camera body!
--- I wonder what the flash sync speed is for the silent shutter...
This is my general
comment about the user-interface on their menu manipulations... In "My Menu",
for instance, all the menu items chosen by the user is shown. But in addition,
"Add items", "Remove items", "Rank items" and "Choose tab" are also shown in the
same color. These four items are "tools" to manipulate My Menu and should be
visually distinct from the items selected. This will make a better and more
user-friendly user-interface. The same comment applies to other areas...
Canon EOS R >>> Canon EOS R menu interface
is appreciably better compared with Nikon... Canon looks more appealing because
of the color they use, but that is not the reason their UI is more intuitive.
Canon did a lot of research and testing on the user-friendliness of their
interface. One thing I felt is that Nikon's scrolling of menu items up and down
when there are more items to fit in the screen is uncomfortable to maneuver -
compared with the Canon's scheme where they show page numbers 1,2,3,... to jump
to the following page when all items do not fit in a single page.
New EN-EL15b battery can
be charged in-camera via USB using EH-7P charging AC adapter. This also works as an
AC adapter for the camera. When the camera is turned off, it works as a battery
charger (only charges EN-EL15b battery). You can also use MH-25A battery charger
for EN-EL15, EN-EL15a and EN-EL15b.
XQD Memory Card
The Z7 takes one XQD
card, offering an extremely high read/write speed of up to 500MB/sec and
storing capacity beyond 2TB. Nikon opted to put only one card in the Z7 body.
Many professionals are already expressing their concern about not having dual
slots, in case one fails. Well, the memory card is a very stable hardware and
very unlikely to fail; there is much higher chance your camera will fail. If you
are a pro, it is assumed that you carry two extra bodies in your camera bag at all
times! My Sony 64GB XQD G series memory card (R:440MB/s, W:400MB/s) cost me $132 from Amazon. You
should be grateful each body takes only one XQD!
Nikon Z7 does not seem
to support a vertical grip that also serves as an extra battery storage. The
camera bottom of the Z7 does not have any electrical contact points, hidden or exposed. Even just for extra batteries, how do they
connect the battery pack? Unless they insert a connection into the camera
battery cavity, just like the Canon cameras do (by removing the battery cover).
Well, I am not a vertical grip user anyway, so I do not care if they do not
In-Camera Image Stabilization
Nikon Z7's 5-axis in-camera VR (vibration reduction) is a huge deal.
Canon EOS R did not add the image stabilizer
in-camera. You have to rely on lenses to do the job.
Memory Card Door Security
Nikon Z7 has a sliding door for its XQD memory card. There is no lock
provided to prevent an accidental opening of the door. Nikon used to have a
solid locking mechanism for the door as in D300 and others. It was abandoned, since the
general trend of the industry is to just provide a sliding door for the memory
card without wasting a precious space for the unlocking lever. I think it has been
well tested in many professional shooting situations without
any accidental opening. So, this simple sliding door for the Nikon Z7 memory
card is OK.... My real concern is the fact that this "plastic"
door is used as the thumb-hold for the Z7 body. This is where the heaviest
stress is placed constantly while the photographer is holding the camera. In
this Z7 design, this small door is constantly pressed by the thumb to hold the
entire weight of the camera. I just have to assume Nikon engineers hold an
unwavering confidence in the strength of this plastic door. I hope they are
(Electronic View Finder)
Nikon Z7's EVF is the
best in the industry. So clear and almost indistinguishable from a real prism
finder. This is a convincing reason to consider moving to mirrorless. But there is a slight delay in refreshing the image in
shooting. It does not refresh as fast as Sony A9 (the best in
the industry), which refreshes without any delay at whopping 20 fps (frames per
second). I tried Canon EOS R too. Their EVF is as good as Nikon Z7, but it has a
refresh delay like the Z7. Sony A9 has no delay, no blackout, at all, and shoots
20 fps with the continuous AF enabled - it is simply amazing. The Z7's AF-C
barely catches up with the speed of 2-3 fps. Having said that, I like the
clarity of the
Nikon Z7's finder over Sony's.
AF-S (single auto-focus) is
pretty fast. As for the continuous AF (AF-C), you cannot use the highest fps
setting (H+). You must use H or slower... Also, AF-C priority must be set to
"Focus" not "Release". This way, the continuous AF will work, but it poses until
the focus is done, so the shooting speed may slow down. But even with this
setting described above, AF-C (H-mode) sometimes continues shooting
The original meaning of AF-C (continuous
AF) is NOT to shoot continuously but rather this way: With the AF-C mode on, you
hold the release button half-way, and the camera keeps focusing even if the
subject moves, moving away from you or coming closer, possibly using a
"predictive" focusing algorithm, and then you shoot - bang!
Seems like the D850 (similar price range) performs better
than the Z7 in AF-C. The D5, of course, will never miss the focus, but it is a
$6500 camera. The Z7 only goes 2-3 fps when the AF-C mode is activated. In Sony
cameras, a fair comparison is against A7R III (42 MP). There, the A7R III wins
with 10 fps with AF-C activated.
Auto-focus is a complex area. In the Z7,
Nikon removed 3D dynamic area mode. The algorithm is pretty complex. Even the
software designer cannot predict how system behaves. You just have to experiment
using different settings offered to see which one or some combination of modes
to see which works best for a given situation.... AF-C seems to work
better in D850 ... we may have to wait for firmware update... I found the
current Z7's Wide-area AF(S) mode more suitable for AF-C shooting.
New AF-S lenses work
well on the Z7 using the FTZ adapter. My DX lenses (like AF-S18-200mm DX)
works perfectly. DX lenses automatically sets the camera to DX mode, but the
DX image fills the entire viewfinder which is very nice. (Even in the DX mode, I am shooting with more than 20M
compared with my old D300.) The FTZ works just as
well with older manual-focus Nikkor lenses, but you must use M (manual) or A
(aperture-priority) mode. With these MF lenses, I could not enable the exposure +|- indicator display
in the viewfinder somehow, nor could I use any focus aid < > indicator.
Rear LCD Monitor Tilting
Nikon Z7 has a tiltable
rear LCD monitor. Only tilts in horizontal direction, like many other high-end
DSLRs. I much prefer the tilting rear monitor of, say, Nikon D5600. A new
mirrorless from Canon, EOS R, uses that mechanism for their rear LCD.
Canon EOS R >>> Canon EOS R provides a rear
LCD tilting echanism similar to the one provided in the lower-ranking cameras. I
like this much better.... it is cleaner and more flexible. No metals being
exposed in the rear of the LCD. I wish all high-end cameras will use the same
With my MF Nikkor 20mm
f/3.5 lens via the FTZ converter, Nikon Z7's focus aid did not work at all. That
is, the red green focus area did not change to green when focused, nor did I get
the focus-aid indicator < > arrows.
Z 24-70mm f/4 S Zoom
This "S-line" lens is
amazing. All S lenses have nano-crystal coating. The Z 24-70mm performs well
I Do Not Understand...
U1, U2, U3
I set the U1 and saved
it. It happened to be A (Aperture-priority) when I set it. Now, I go to U1 (by
dial) and all my settings are restored from U1. But I have to keep the dial to
U1. Now, how do I change to S (Shutter-priority) mode without affecting all the
other settings? If I dial to A, it is no longer the U1 settings...
I can change other settings under U1, like VR on/off, for instance. I can
restore all U1 settings by dialing to something else and come back to U1...
AF-C / Dynamic
I was having a hard time
setting my Z7 to AF-C (continuous auto-focus) and Dynamic area mode. I set it
alright, but my screen focus box (red) did not change to a square box with eight
dots outside. (The four dots were missing.) I called
NIKON SUPPORT 800-645-6687. The technician who answered the phone
tried their Z7 and same thing happened. After some asking around she got a
solution to my question. Go to SETUP Menu > Reset all
settings. I tried and it worked - the dynamic area mode display of a red
box and eight red dots surrounding it has been restored... But I lost all the
settings I spent the last few days setting, including all of my U1, U2, U3
settings! I am certain this is a software bug on their part.
2018-Oct-18 Nikon Z7, FTZ Adapter,
Ai Fisheye Nikkor
16mm f/3.5, at f/11, 1/10 sec, hand-held, Auto ISO 5600, direct from JPEG, file size 27MB
2018-Oct-21 Nikon Z7, Z Nikkor
24-70mm f/4 S, at 24mm, at f/8, at 1/13 sec, hand-held, Auto ISO 2800, direct from JPEG, file size 26MB
2018-Nov-11 Nikon Z7, Z Nikkor
24-70mm f/4 S, at 24mm, at f/4, at 1/6 second, hand-held, ISO 64, direct from JPEG, file size 21MB
Suggestions to Nikon
The Z7's power switch
around the shutter button is harder to turn on; much easier to turn off. I
suggest to shift the "finger feeler" to the right by the amount the size of the
When you click the
Release Mode button on the back, the rear LCD displays the choices
(S/L/H/H+/Self). The current choice is in yellow. You can change the selection
by the rear wheel. Now, when this is done, the list of choices (S/L/H/H+/Self)
should not move horizontally; only the yellow should move. The way it is is very
In "My Menu", change the
visual appearance of the "tool" items -- "Add items", "Remove items", "Rank
items" and "Choose tab" -- to distinguish them from the menu items selected for
My Menu. This can be done by color, font size/style, or whatever.
There are a total of
seven menu categories (Playback, Photo Shooting, Movie Shooting, Custom Setting,
Setup, Retouch, My Menu). Each category is associated with a unique color. The
currently selected category is shown at the top of the right pane. My
suggestion: The background color of it should be the color of that category.
Also, the left-pane icons of these seven categories should be colored with its
own color, with the current selection indicated by the yellow frame around the
In some menus the
current selection is not shown. For instance, in Peaking Highlights, the current
setting at the right of this item is just "--". I know there is not enough space
to say everything including the "color" but at least it should say "On" or
"Off", or maybe "On1", "On2", "On3"... Minimally I like to know if it's On or
Off. The same suggestion applies to many other menu items too.
Page Scroll by (+) (-) Buttons
In menu manipulation,
when the focus is on the right pane, and when there are more menu items to fit
in one page, we should be able to use (+) (-) zoom buttons to go to the previous
or next page. (Yes, we can use the touch screen, but these buttons are not used
in that instance, so why not use them.) I just realized that the "-" button
is already spoken for for "?", so we cannot use it for Page-down... OK, just use
the "+" button only for page scroll.
Go into i-menu. Select
(highlight) Vibration reduction, for instance. Click OK. Now, you can choose
Off, Normal, or Sport. In this screen, the current item title "Vibration
reduction" should be displayed. This suggestion applies to all i-menu items.
Nikon should change the
menu navigation as follows (similar to Canon EOS R and other Canon DSLRs):
Change the main menu categories from "vertical" to "Horizontal". This change has
a significant implication such that the menu categories can be selected by Left<
>Right buttons while menu items on the right pane can be selected by Up ^ v Down
buttons at any given time. The current Nikon scheme uses Up & Down for both menu
categories and menu items therefore the user, after selecting the menu category,
must change the focus to the right pane by the
Right button before being able to select a menu item by the same Up/Down button.
The Canon's scheme allows the selection of both menu categories and menu items
anytime since they use different sets (vertical or horizontal) of buttons.
Z7 User Manual Menus