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Home / Technology / Nikon is responding to Sony with new Z6 and Z7 SLR cameras

Nikon is responding to Sony with new Z6 and Z7 SLR cameras



Nikon and Canon have been synonymous with high quality cameras for decades. But about five years ago, Sony's imaging arm started a quick ascension among serious hobbyists and even some professional photographers. Sony succeeded in committing heresy: It sharpened initially point-of-view cameras, giving them larger image sensors and interchangeable lenses, but dispensing with the mirror as single-lens cameras digital models and before them movie usage to jump a preview image in an optical viewfinder. It is allowed to have smaller, easier Sony models to compete for image quality with their larger and more conventional DSLR competitors.

Sony is now turning to Nikon and even long-time Canon in the sale of interchangeable cameras in the United States, not yet on the total number of devices, but on average price per camera sold. In July, the average price for a Sony SLR was $ 1

,040, against $ 831 for a Nikon DSLR and $ 793 for a Canon DSLR, according to data from the NPD Group. In July, Sony even beat Canon and Nikon total revenue for interchangeable lens cameras in the United States

In other words, people pay a premium for Sony's technology. And with smartphones that have killed cheaper camera categories, the premium market is almost all left.

Z 6 and Z 7 pack full-frame image sensors. [Photo: courtesy of Nikon]

Today, Nikon is fighting back. It introduces its own professional SLR components, namely 24.5 Megapixels Z 6 (available in late November) and 45.7 Megapixels Z 7 (September 27th), and sells for $ 1,996 and $ 3,400 (without lenses). Together with the cameras, it advertises three new lenses (with plans for more) designed to take advantage of the new technology. But the new cameras can also use a $ 250 adapter that provides compatibility with over 360 Nikon SLR lenses created since 1959 (over 90 offering auto focus with the new cameras). The announcement for pros and semi pros who already own a fortune in Nikon equipment: Mirrorless technology is ready for you. Nikon can not steal customers away from Sony, but the new cameras can stop Sony from stealing away Nikon users.

This is not Nikon's first dalliance with mirror-free technology. In 2011, there were a series of consumer cameras called Nikon 1: smallish models with a small collection of small lenses. They took quite good pictures, but were playing compared to Nikon's entry level DSLR. As a market force, Nikon 1 was "not particularly groundbreaking", says analyst Stephen Baker of the NPD. Nikon ended up finishing the line.

Why Mirrorless Things

What's up with the mirror? Originally removed it made the camera smaller, but also crumbled. The first, mirror-free models, from Olympus and Panasonic, had small sensors, blunt autofocus systems, and no searcher or a lousy pixelized digital eyepiece. You had quite a lot to use the LCD monitor on the back of the camera to eyeball a shot – so opaque to a photographer like a Ford Pinto to Mario Andretti.

But more camera makers, especially Sony, gradually changed all this. Mirrorless models began to shoot larger and larger imaging pieces that could take good shots, and built in autofocus sensors that made the camera at least as fast as DLSRs. The true turning point came in October 2013 with Sony's A7 model. It contained the giant full-frame image sensor compulsory in true pro cameras. And the eyepiece used a crystal clear OLED display that competed with a conventional optical viewer.

An optional adapter allows Z 6 and Z 7 to use Nikon's SLR lenses. [Photo: courtesy of Nikon]

Getting a good digital searcher was "a big obstacle," says Nikon senior technical manager Steve Heiner. The new cameras have "quad-VGA" OLED eyepieces (which at my math are 1280-by-960 pixels, even though Nikon will not confirm). Heiner says that the cameras focus "as fast as a DSLR if not faster." Z 7 takes up to 9 frames per second, and Z 6 (with fewer pixels to be processed) catches up to 12.

The new models & # 39; Sensors are built with a technology called backlighting – an expensive chipet creation wires that allow more light to reach the pixels, and improves image quality in poor conditions. Sony's newish a7R II, offers the same technology. This can not be coincidence. Sony, a major manufacturer of image sensors for everything from smartphones to Hollywood-enhanced camcorders, delivers many sensors to other companies. Nikon only says that the Z-camera sensors are tailor-made for Nikon, but not by whom.

The Z6 and Z7 also include one of the best advantages of mirror-free technology over DSLR: 5-axis image stabilization. The sensors are mounted on a frame that moves to counter five types of camera shake: upside down, side by side, tilt up and down (AKA pitch), tilt side to side (yaw) and rotate left or right (scroll) . (DLSR is limited to the use of lenses that only compensate for the first two types of shaking.) Available in many other mirror-free models, 5-axis image stabilization is useful for taking slow shutter speed and great for capturing handheld video. Z 6 and Z 7, by the way, shoot every 4K / Ultra-HD video as well as slow-motion HD video.

A screen at the top will display key settings. [Photo: courtesy of Nikon]

Where is Canon in all this? The photogigant started half-hearted with a medium-speed M1 camera in 2012. But it gradually began to take technology more seriously and now has more models on the M line, including some with 5-axis image stabilization. The company has not yet set full-frame sensors requested by professionals in some mirror-free models – an omission that it allegedly works to address.

With the high-end camera market quite stagnant, even a best scenario for Nikon's new cameras will probably be holding the share instead of growing it, says Baker. DSLR will continue to lose the ground to mirrorless models, and the latter grows by a few percentage points each year. "I'm not willing to say that [DSLRs] is on its way out," says Baker, at least the next few years. Then he adds that it's all chance of something new and innovative could ultimately make for mirror-free, what goes smoothly with DSLR: "For ten years everything's coming out."


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