Nikon Z 5 Review: Full-Body however Too Sluggish

Nikon Z 5 Review: Full-frame however too sluggish

MSRP $1,400.00

“The Nikon Z 5 can be an incredible entry-level full-frame camera if not for its unreliable low gentle autofocus and sluggish burst velocity.”


  • Good picture high quality
  • Compact
  • Inexpensive
  • Twin SD Slots


  • Sluggish low gentle autofocus
  • Inconsistent autofocus in combined/low gentle
  • Sluggish 4.5 fps burst mode

Because the race for full-frame mirrorless settles from a sprinter’s tempo to a marathon, camera lineups are getting extra assorted — and cheaper. The Nikon Z 5 is the corporate’s most reasonably priced full-frame camera presently available on the market, cheaper than even the getting old D610 DSLR. The Nikon Z 5, priced at $1,400 or $1,700 with a package lens, mixes the scale, ergonomics, stabilization, and even many of the picture high quality of the corporate’s pricier Z 6. The truth is, the Z 5 even presents an improve the Z 6 and Z 7 don’t supply — twin SD card slots.

The entry-level designation, nevertheless, introduces just a few vital minimize options from the pricier fashions. Velocity is considerably slashed, 4K video can solely be captured with a crop, and the design isn’t fairly as rugged. The query is, does the Nikon Z 5 supply sufficient to drop $1,400 on? Dubbed as a camera for “extra than simply photographers,” who’s the Z 5 greatest for?

I spent virtually two weeks making an attempt out the Z 5 to see the place the entry-level full-frame stands. In that point, I imagine that the Nikon Z 5 confirmed itself to be entry-level full-frame camera sadly held again by subpar low-light autofocus and sluggish burst speeds.

Easy design

Whereas the Z 6’s design is a close to twin to the Z 7, the Z 5 strays a bit extra from that household line in methods which can be each good and unhealthy. On the optimistic facet, the Z 5 manages to suit two UHS-II SD card slots, ultimate for both creating in-camera backups so a card error doesn’t spell catastrophe or to create overflow for much less card swapping. The Z 5 additionally doesn’t use XQD playing cards, transfer for an entry-level camera contemplating the cardboard kind retails within the triple digits, lots when in comparison with the affordability king that’s SD, the place many high-capacity playing cards may be had for as little as $20. 

Regardless of including an additional card slot, the Z5 is barely a tenth of an inch wider than the Z 6 and Z 7 and doesn’t add any weight. At lower than a pound and a half, the camera is gentle sufficient for all-day shoots. (I can’t say the identical for the tough texture of the included neck strap, nevertheless.) Paired with the package lens, the Z 5 didn’t trigger any main aches and pains whereas on a two-mile hike.

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The Z 5 makes use of a magnesium alloy body however combines that with a plastic exterior that feels identical to an entry-level Nikon DSLR. The physique is weather-sealed, nevertheless it’s not as strong of a seal because the Z 6 and Z 7. Consequently, I might nonetheless preserve an affordable camera rain poncho in my bag for something greater than a drizzle.

The camera’s management scheme is a pleasant hybrid mix between maintaining controls accessible but not overwhelming novices. The highest of the camera doesn’t home an additional LCD display screen. I argue {that a} top-facing LCD isn’t terribly uncommon for mirrorless, however its absence right here strays from Nikon’s design selections in its entry-level full-frame DSLR, the D610, which saved the display screen intact. 

The camera’s management scheme is a pleasant hybrid mix between maintaining controls accessible but not overwhelming novices.

As a substitute, the mode dial sits on prime inside attain of the shutter button, twin management dials, and shortcuts for recording video, adjusting ISO, and tweaking publicity compensation. With some observe, all these controls may very well be accessed with out pulling the camera away out of your face, although differentiating between the ISO and publicity compensation button is hard to do blind, not like with the simply discernible raised report button.

Regardless of being an entry to the full-frame class, the Z 5 retains my all-time favourite camera management: The joystick. It’s a fast and ergonomic methodology to regulate the place the autofocus level is. Swapping between autofocus modes, nevertheless, in addition to numerous different controls that Nikon’s DSLRs depart loads of room for, requires leaping into the fast menu or assigning to the 2 customized buttons up entrance. Most novices gained’t thoughts, nevertheless, as a result of the camera’s controls really feel much less formidable to be taught. Shortcuts to regulate the burst mode and a back-button focus choice, in addition to playback, menu, and show choices, take up a the rest of the camera’s rear controls.


Ports weren’t stripped for the finances value both — reverse the twin SD card slots, the Z 5 nonetheless contains ports for mic, headphones, HDMI, USB, and a cable set off. Like many full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Z 5 lacks a pop-up flash.

The lower cost doesn’t terribly truncate the Z 5’s viewfinder, both. At 3.69 million dots, the digital viewfinder reveals enough element and is denser than the also-new Panasonic Lumix S5. Importantly, the Z 5 reveals a reasonably correct illustration of what you might be about to seize, not like some finances cameras that I’ve tried that don’t fairly present an correct preview of the publicity or colour steadiness. The three.2-inch touchscreen tilts for capturing from excessive angles however doesn’t flip ahead for vlogging or selfies.

Stuttering efficiency

Funds cameras are infamous for being sluggish, and the Z 5 isn’t any exception. Regardless of having the identical processor because the 12 fps Z 6, the Z 5 presents lower than half that velocity. Some would possibly argue that’s as a result of the Z 5 makes use of SD playing cards quite than the sooner however costlier XQD playing cards, however the switch charges we’re listed below are effectively under the edge for SD speeds. Curious.

With a most burst velocity of 4.5 frames per second, I’m not even positive why there’s each a low- and high-speed choice since even excessive velocity is quite sluggish. The shutter velocity is fortunately nonetheless a max of 1/8,000 (entry-level cameras was once capped at 1/4000 commonly), useful for vibrant conditions.

The Z 5’s 4.5 fps prime velocity will plug away for about 21 pictures capturing RAW + JPEG. The official buffer rely listed on the again of the camera is 16, however the tempo is sluggish sufficient that the camera writes just a few of these pictures whereas taking the remainder. You’ll eke out just a few extra pictures in JPEG mode, with the camera capturing for greater than 20 seconds earlier than stopping.

The Z 5’s autofocus in restricted gentle is persistently poor.

What’s a bit tougher to find out from a fast take a look at the camera’s tech specs, nevertheless, is the autofocus. With a 273-point hybrid system, the Z 5’s system appears to be like virtually equivalent to the Z 6, till you dig a little bit additional into the specifics. And when you dig far sufficient, you’ll discover the camera’s largest flaw: An autofocus detection vary all the way down to solely -2 EV, or -3 utilizing the camera’s low-light autofocus. Nevertheless, Nikon rated the AF in low gentle with an f/2 lens, so the package lens and plenty of different lenses obtainable for the system gained’t work in addition to Nikon’s specs declare, a declare which is already not nice. It’s not mendacity outright, however it’s deceptive.

That seems to be the perpetrator of why the Z 5’s autofocus struggled indoors. Even in a room with home windows on three of the partitions, the Z 5 was sluggish to focus. In dim gentle, the camera would usually take two to even 5 seconds earlier than locking onto the topic and infrequently failing to search out the topic in any respect. Whereas not a difficulty for nonetheless topics, capturing any type of motion in restricted gentle turns into problematic with such a delay. The camera will mechanically activate low-light autofocus mode, nevertheless — a plus contemplating the unique Z 6 and Z 7 require activating the mode within the menu. Low-light autofocus is extra correct and permits for focusing in robust situations, however is sluggish.

Due to how the autofocus system works, the camera will even battle to give attention to darkish objects. However, as is true with any distinction detection system, that needs to be alleviated by the phase-detection factors of a hybrid system. The Z 5 has a a lot simpler time specializing in topics with a number of distinction, comparable to lights or a light-colored object on a darkish background, nevertheless it shouldn’t battle as a lot because it did on darkish objects. It’s a hybrid autofocus system that’s appearing like a contrast-only one in some circumstances, and that’s disappointing.

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Low-light autofocus was a grievance on the Z 6 and even Z 7, with an inclination to be hit and miss, however the Z 5’s autofocus in restricted gentle is persistently poor. The Z 6, by comparability, is rated to hit -6 EV in low-light mode, the place the Z 5 is barely at -3.5.

What makes the low-light autofocus really disappointing is that the Z 5 would in any other case be a superb camera at the hours of darkness. The five-axis, in-body stabilization is stable. Doing every part I may to assist the camera keep regular in need of a tripod — holding my breath and bracing the camera with my elbows — I may shoot down to almost a half-second at 24mm on the package lens. That’s a superb system for the worth of the camera, however the sluggish low-light autofocus will make pictures troublesome earlier than the camera even must go that low. In fact, stabilization isn’t only for low gentle — the stabilization will come in useful when working with telephoto lenses.

The main focus system detects eyes pretty simply and shortly.

Steady autofocus will get sharp pictures more often than not with sluggish motion, although roughly half of the pictures the place the topic was coming immediately on the camera ended up delicate. It’s not designed for motion however will seize just a few sharp pictures in additional basic use, like photographing youngsters or folks transferring at a strolling tempo.

The Z 5’s autofocus isn’t all unhealthy, nevertheless. Eye detection AF labored effectively and even beats out the pricier Canon EOS R6 in specializing in eyelashes when capturing from a excessive angle. The main focus system detects eyes pretty simply and shortly. The system isn’t quick sufficient for say, utilizing whereas capturing sports activities, however as talked about the Z 5 isn’t an motion camera. Pet eye AF is included, however I couldn’t get it to work on my cat. (To be truthful, I couldn’t get the Canon model of this to work on my cat both.)

The Z 5 provides a brand new autofocus bracketing choice that mechanically adjusts the focal size between pictures in a collection to be able to create a spotlight stack in a while a pc. The brand new function is straightforward to make use of for anybody who has labored with Nikon bracketing or time lapses earlier than. However the pictures are activated by urgent begin within the menu — which implies you see the menu within the viewfinder and may’t good the composition earlier than hitting begin. It’s a usability flaw that we hope to see improved in later firmware updates.

Wonderful photographs and video

The Z 5 makes fewer sacrifices in the case of picture high quality. Sporting a 24.3-megapixel full-frame sensor, the Z 5 has only a smidgen much less decision than the pricier Z 6. The bigger sensor measurement makes bokeh simple to create even with the package and presents a number of flexibility in put up. Element is sweet, and, when completely centered, even the package lens is kind of sharp.

yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7ISO 12800 with noise discount and crop Hillary Ok. Grigonis/Digital Tendencies

Decrease decision bodes effectively for ISO and, beneath good circumstances, I may edit out the noise of an ISO 12800 shot with solely a slight lack of element. Pictures are greatest saved beneath ISO 6400, the place there’s some noticeable colour noise, however the variety that’s simply corrected with software program. 

Colour was equal to what I might anticipate coming from a Nikon DSLR — on the entire correct, with an occasional tendency to skew the white steadiness a tad inexperienced for my style. Pores and skin tones are rendered pretty effectively.

RAW recordsdata are additionally in keeping with what I might anticipate from an entry-level, full-frame Nikon DSLR. I may get well quantity of element and even texture from the shadows, to the purpose of virtually reversing a close to silhouette. As with virtually any camera, blown-out highlights are more durable to get well, and photographers are greatest to err on the facet of too darkish quite than too gentle.


The Nikon Z 5 presents 4K video, however at a 1.7x crop and with out all of the bells and whistles of the Z 6 and Z 7, comparable to N-Log. The 1.7x crop means each a lack of gentle and lenses gained’t be as vast, nevertheless it’s commonplace for an entry-level choice. Colours and sharpness are persistently good, as with the photographs, and the Z 5 does much less focus looking out mid-recording than a Nikon DSLR.

Our Take

The Nikon Z 5 is an efficient entry-level full-frame camera — however sluggish low-light autofocus, inconsistent accuracy in combined lighting, and a sluggish burst mode preserve the camera from being an incredible entry-level full-frame choice. The Nikon Z 5 is an efficient choice for fanatic photographers, influencers, and different creatives commonly taking pictures in good gentle.

Picture high quality and design are each wonderful, whereas the slower efficiency is Nikon’s clear differentiator in the case of the additional $400 for the Z 6. If the Z 5 was $1000 and even $1200, it could be a straightforward suggestion; however at simply $400 lower than a considerably higher performing camera, it’s a tough promote.

How lengthy will it final?

Digital camera our bodies are likely to final just a few years, and the Z 5 is probably going no exception. The climate sealing and supplies aren’t as high-end because the Z 6 and Z 7, however with correct care, the camera physique ought to serve you effectively into the longer term.

Is there a greater different?

In order for you a full-frame Nikon and may’t spend greater than $1,400, no. Even the getting old Nikon D610 solely focuses all the way down to -1 EV and is $200 extra at listing value. Ready to avoid wasting up one other $400 for the Z 6 is a good suggestion, nevertheless, for any photographer commonly taking pictures indoors or of transferring topics.

But, the full-frame mirrorless market is getting crowded for photographers not but invested in a lens system or prepared to make a swap. The Canon EOS RP has a greater autofocus system because of Twin Pixel technology and is rated to focus as little as -5EV, however lacks in-body stabilization. Discovering one other $1,400 camera is troublesome to do exterior these two fashions and older generations. The Sony a7 III is a sooner camera, however is $600 extra. The very new Panasonic Lumix S5 presents higher autofocus, extra superior video modes, and sooner bursts, however once more, sits on the $2,000 value vary, not the under-$1,500 vary.

Shifting into the crop sensor class will repair these efficiency points, however sacrifices that bigger sensor. Nikon’s personal Z 50 is way sooner with related ergonomics and lens compatibility, but the low gentle autofocus nonetheless isn’t ultimate. The Fujifilm X-T30 has a sooner burst, extra video options, and wonderful autofocus, nevertheless it lacks stabilization. The Sony a6600 presents a quick burst and autofocus whereas maintaining the stabilization, however once more, has that smaller sensor.

Must you purchase it?

Purchase the Nikon Z 5 if you need a full-frame Nikon, largely take footage outdoor in good gentle, and may’t spend greater than $1,400. Should you plan on plenty of capturing in lower than ultimate circumstances, nevertheless, together with in restricted gentle or fast-moving topics, keep away from the Z 5. Wait till it can save you up one other $400 for the Z 6, or think about a crop sensor or the unstabilized EOS RP.

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