There’s a lot to be said for having a full-blown mirrorless camera, but for convenience and ease of use, examples like the Nikon Z50 fit more neatly into the category of enthusiast and hobbyist photographer. While Nikon mirrorless cameras like the Z7 and Z6 may be full-frame and have the most features, the Nikon Z50 can still use the Z-range of lenses, along with the older F-mount types when used with an adapter.
This means that you can have all the fun of a full-on mirrorless camera offering, but with a more streamlined feature set. Therefore, let’s have a closer look at the Z50 and how it weighs up against the competition.
Nikon has built at the heart of the Z50, a 20.9MP DX-Format CMOS sensor with an EXPEED 6 Image Processor, UHD 4K video recording, an ISO range of 100-51200, and a 2.36m-Dot OLED electronic viewfinder. The hybrid autofocus system from the Z6 has been incorporated with 209 AF points covering 90 percent of the frame, with added features such as eye-detection AF and a sensitivity of -4EV.
The electronic viewfinder maybe smaller in resolution and size than on the Z6 and Z7, but at least there is a 3.2-inch rear touchscreen, which is fully tiltable. The new de facto standard 4K video is also present up to 30fps, with full HD recording at 120fps. In-camera clip trimming is available, plus 20 creative picture controls, and 10 special effects for both video and stills.
For transferring footage, there is built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which works alongside Nikon’s SnapBridge app. There is a micro USB port, but no USB-C port. There is also a single SD card slot for more traditional storage, rounding out the most obvious ways to transfer and store data.
As for the general build of the Nikon Z50, it’s made from solid magnesium alloy, which is weather-sealed and has a very Nikon layout of features. The grip is chunky and very easy to hold for a mid-priced mirrorless solution, but also to save space, things like the top plate LCD screen and rear joystick have been omitted and these functions moved to the menu.
The traditional mode dial is present on the top of the camera, with a dedicated video recorder button, ISO button, and exposure compensation button. The electronic viewfinder may not be up to the high standards of its full-frame counterparts, but it is still reasonably high resolution and bright for general needs. The tilting rear screen is also a great addition, with the only downside is that it’s tricky to use on a tripod.
The layout of workings may be a simpler format than found on the Z6 and Z7, but the essentials are present within easy reach. Plus, with a continuous shooting speed of 11fps at 20.9MP and a weight of only 395g, the Z50 is shaping up to be a solid all-rounder as a mid-price solution.
The Nikon Z50 in Use
As the autofocus system has been directly lifted from the Z6, the 209 AF points do a fine job of locking onto a subject, depending on which AF mode you choose. Auto-area AF generally locks onto a subject with good accuracy, while Single-point AF allows you to select your own AF points, which can up the accuracy levels.
AF-C mode is useful for moving subjects and while working efficiently, it won’t be able to lock on to fast-moving objects, which could negate it from being a great action sports camera.
However, when the camera is flicked into continuous shooting, the 11fps come in rather handy, only really limited by the speed of the UHS-I SD cards. The Eye AF feature is great for locking onto a subject’s eye and can track movements, which is excellent for family shots or portrait work.
As for overall image quality, the crop sensor can produce images with plenty of detail and a good degree of saturation and contrast. It may not be up to the resolution of the Nikon Z7, but still respectable for a 20.9MP sensor.
Color rendition and vibrancy can’t be faulted, with the metering system working very well in most lighting situations, with a highly accurate automatic white balance system. Under artificial lights, yellowish tones may be produced, but on the whole, the camera produces reasonably neutral renditions of a scene.
Light sensitivity is reasonable up to ISO 6400, with noise smoothing kicking into gear most obviously after ISO 12800. Depending on the lens being used, the Z50 can cope well with low-light conditions, but again not to the same extent as the Z Series cameras.
How Does the Nikon Z50 Compare?
One of the obvious competitors at this price point is the Fujifilm X-T30. The X-T30 is only slightly more expensive than the Nikon Z50, but it also has more traditional rangefinder design sensibilities. The X-T30 also has slightly higher resolution, with a very accurate viewfinder and lots of external dials and buttons for more tactile usage.
When it comes to available lenses, the X-T30 has more scope, but it won’t be long before Nikon remedies this point. But, as for which to choose can come down to design preferences, as each camera produces wonderful images and video with capabilities for the majority of shooting situations.
|Nikon Z50||Fujifilm X-T30|
While the Z50 may not be as turbocharged as the Nikon Z6 and Z7 for features and ultimate resolution, for a mid-priced mirrorless camera, it has a lot of potential. For those used to the Nikon way of working, it will also be a familiar sidestep from a regular DSLR, with lots of AF points to choose from and reasonably speedy workings.
The build quality is great with a substantial grip and the essential exterior buttons and dials have been incorporated. The viewfinder is also very usable and the tilting rear screen is a wonderful addition for getting those very high and low angle shots. When more lenses become available, it will be interesting to see how this camera performs at all focal lengths.