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  • Cheryl Tan

Revisiting the Nikon Z7: Lens & Firmware 2.0 Review

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

The Nikon Z7 was one of our favourite cameras that we reviewed in 2018, so we decided to take a look at the new firmware 2.0 update and some new lenses with the Z mount, the Nikkor Z 14-30mm F/4 S, the Nikkor Z 24-70mm F/2.8 S and the F mount AF-S 500mm F/5.6E PF ED VR.

Let’s start with the 14-30mm F/4. It’s an ultra-wide zoom lens, with tack sharp images, little to no chromatic aberration, great depth of field and just a hint of distortion that’s kept to a minimum. There’s 14 elements, 12 groups and four aspherical elements, with the whole lens weighing in at 485g.

It’s a telescopic lens so it zooms externally, which isn’t our favourite feature, but an internal zoom would definitely drive the price up considerably. Photo quality is great, however, with sharp images all through to the corners.

There are two rings on the lens, one is mappable to any function you’d like (aperture, exposure and more) while the other handles the zoom. They both have a good amount of tension and are a pleasure to use, smooth and not too loose.

The 24-70mm F/2.8 lens is what we hoped to see when Nikon launched the Z6 and Z7. A fast zoom lens with a focal length that’s considered part of the “holy trinity”, it has 17 elements, 15 groups and four aspherical elements.

Both the 14-30 and the 24-70 share the same diameter size, 82mm, allowing you to swap filters between the two lenses instead of having to buy double. Weighing 805g, it’s a little heavier than the 14-30mm F/4 but considering that the aperture can open as big as F/2.8, I’d say it’s a decent weight.

There’s a display window on the lens which shows the focal length and aperture, which seems a little odd seeing as those values can easily be found elsewhere, but we’ll chalk it up to a design choice by Nikon. The zoom ring feels almost similar to the one present on the 14-30 with the same satisfying smoothness when operating it.

For photographers looking for a lens at the extreme long end of the focal range, the AF-S 500mm F/5.6E PF ED VR will satisfy your requirements. While it’s using the F mount and not the Z mount, resulting in slightly slower autofocus as opposed to native Z mount lenses, the relatively compact size of the lens makes it invaluable.

A mere 1,460g heavy, this lens feels almost like a 200mm lens in the hand, all while squeezing in 19 elements and 11 groups with the Phase Fresnel lens design. What’s more, there’s image stabilisation in the camera as well.

The minimum 3m focusing distance is a little far, but since this is a super telephoto lens that’s meant for shooting wildlife and the likes, I reckon the users of this lens won’t be getting all that close to their subjects in the first place. While this isn’t the sharpest lens in the market, it’s good enough to get sharp photos with plenty of detail.

Let’s talk about the firmware 2.0 update. The biggest feature that’s gotten people buzzing is the eye-tracking for photos. Now a photographer can focus on human eyes instead of just tracking a face around. While it doesn’t work flawlessly, the technology does work most of the time and can be helpful when composing shots with a subject’s face half hidden.

There’s also better autofocus now in low light and less blackouts when shooting in continuous mode, as well as the addition of auto-exposure tracking in high-speed continuous shooting to ensure all photos have optimal exposure.

Made even better thanks to the firmware 2.0 update with great tracking, better focusing in low light and zero blackout at high frame rates, the Z7 is a great camera. Learn more about it here.

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