Nikon Z50 camera real-world review

Nikon Z50 real-world review by Shawn Sviridov:

With the announcement of the Z50 I was excited, as a portrait photographer I have been in love with the Nikon for a while. The love has never faded despite the fads in the market, my goto DSLRs were the D810, D610 all were great and the Nikon J5 was my first Nikon Mirrorless which worked great and was really really small (but its noise handling was also small).The Z series had launched with the Z6 and Z7, and both are impressive – but I wanted something smaller, lighter and more portable. The answer was the Z50, coming it at 1.33 lbs with the 16-50mm lens which collapses and locks down when not in use. This new Nikon APSC mirrorless camera is so small it can fit into my Canadian winter jacket pocket with ease.

What did I want from this camera and did it meet the requirements?
1) smaller take anywhere body – YES
2) street photography camera – YES
3) 4k (or 1080p) capture for video work – YES
4) camera I could use for portraiture – YES

However, as a pragmatic photographer, I also did not want to jump to conclusions and decided to put the camera through a series of tests. I had a vacation trip coming up and set myself a goal, to take the Nikon Z50 with me on the trip with only the camera gear I could fit into my sling bag. The tests had to include all the regular use a traveler would have for a camera and also to see if I could use it for a professional portrait shoot.

So how did Nikon Z50 handle still photos? For a non-technical assessment, I can say the following: "with ease and quality of Nikon". If you have used a Nikon before you will get excellent results of sharp and colourful photos with a lot of detail. 20 Megapixels of the camera is more than enough for any prints web or online publications. I feel it is also enough for studio shot portraits as this was my most important test, how is the quality and detail and autofocus for portrait photography? I am always considering every camera I purchase with the question, will it work as a backup (or primary) camera for a portrait work shoot. On my trip I had a couple of opportunities to shoot portraits, once at a sustainable farm, where I photographed the staff and visitors and second shoot for a local DJ in Cabo san Lucas.

In both cases was I was very impressed with the Z50 snapping to focus on faces and eyes (a bit confusing at first as my DSLRs did not do that). The Z50 with the FTZ adaptor made the 50mm and 85mm G lenses feel seamless extensions of the Z camera and I did not feel like these were slowed by using the adaptor. Quality out of these lenses was outstanding on the Z50. The photos were sharp, and ISO on the APSC sensor did not let me down coming through with good results.

Final Thought: The Z50 is now in my bag at all times, never know when I will take an amazing photo or need to record video. This camera is a camera a perfect way for DSLR users to get into the Z mount mirrorless cameras. You can then experiment and have a great camera, which shoots excellent photos and video with mirrorless features such as live preview and focus peaking. To go back to video, 4K, 1080p and slow-motion video quality is great and any photographer who shoots stills should look at shooting video as most clients are asking for it. For those using the APSC 3000 5000 or 7000 series Nikon DSLR series camera, the Z50 is a considerable upgrade in quality, size, and ease of use in my opinion. Does this camera replace the D500, no it does not but it can be a great second body for any bird or a nature photographer. It is now always in my bag when I go out while my D810 / D610 stay in the studio on the shelf taking a break from work.

PS I realised reviewing cameras is a lot of work...


The Nikon Z50 is now in stock at: Adorama | B&H | Amazon | Park Camera | WEX | Calumet | Camera Canada.

In the US you can get $150 off on the Nikon Z50 two-lens kit: AdoramaB&H Photo | Amazon.

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