Fashion photography is not simply about showcasing clothing and accessories. It is also a blend of fine art and portraiture, where creative vision plays an essential role. With its excellent resolving power, speed and reliable face detection among other features, the Nikon Z 7 has proved to be an excellent partner in helping me bring my commercial shoot concepts to reality. (Photo and report by Dean Cheng)
Nikon Z 7/ NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S/ FL: 47mm/ Manual exposure (f/8, 1/200 sec)/ ISO 64/ WB: Auto/ Studio flash used
The Nikon Z 7's Auto-area AF face detection feature allows me to track my subject's face anywhere in the EVF. Thanks to that, I am able to concentrate on composition of the image and the expression of the model. It makes my fashion shoots so much easier. Also, the Z 7 utilizes the advanced USB Type-C port, which transmits data to my computer faster than before, speeding up my workflow for studio shoots.
Nikon Z 7/ NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S/ FL: 28mm/ Manual exposure (f/8, 1/160 sec)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto/ Studio flash used
The white background and costume in the image above match the tranquil jumping action of my subject. It conveys the beauty of Zen and the oriental art—simple yet powerful. The Z 7 reproduces all the rich tones and subtle gradations in this alabastrine scene. Tip: When using manual (M) mode with flash lighting in the studio, turn off the “Apply settings to live view” function so that the EVF image does not appear black.
Nikon Z 7/ NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S/ FL: 35mm/ Manual exposure (f/5.6, 1/160 sec)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto/ Studio flash used
Scenes like this instance of the robe floating last only for a fleeting moment, but with the rapid response and fast continuous shooting of the Z 7, you can capture them with pin-point accuracy. The excellent optical quality and resolving power of the NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S brings out the best in the 45.7-megapixel resolution of the Z 7, providing exceptionally high image quality. The Z 7’s light-weight design also makes it a joy to work with.
Nikon Z 7/ NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S/ FL: 49mm/ Manual exposure (f/8, 1/200 sec)/ ISO 125/ WB: Auto/ Studio flash used
Even when using minimal ambient lighting, such as when shooting low-key portraiture, the Z 7 is able to attain focus quickly and accurately. Its FX-format backside-illuminated sensor shows excellent latitude in dynamic range, preserving both highlight and shadow detail. Even if exposure is brightened by 1~2 EV during post-processing, noise remains very clean as it is extremely well-controlled at all ISO speeds by the new EXPEED 6 image-processing engine.
With the Z mount’s large inner mount diameter of 55mm, it breaks through the limitations of the previous lens design, resulting in a giant leap forward in lens quality. Edge-to-edge image quality is sharp even at maximum aperture. This gives me the sense of security that I need even as I test the boundaries of creativity—I can place my subjects on the edges of the frame and be assured that image quality will remain sharp.
Commercial photography clients will usually need to crop images to suit their purposes. The Z 7’s 45.7 megapixels is sufficient for ensuring that even after cropping, the file resolution is still large enough to fulfil most file export and printing needs. Such a high resolution also ensures that more details are captured, perfect for showcasing the textures of clothes and the minute details in still life. The maximum burst shooting speed of 9 fps provides the speed essential for capturing fleeting moments and expressions, such as in the image of the floating robe pictured above.
For fashion shoots, we don’t usually use a tripod as we are always moving around to find the best angles. The lightweight, compact body of the Z 7 ensures that you don’t feel any burden even after shooting for the whole day. The wide AF coverage and built-in image stabilisation help increase the rate of successful shots, and this will be further enhanced with firmware version 2.00 and above (on the Nikon Z 7 and Z 6), which adds Eye-Detection AF and support for auto-exposure (AE) tracking capability to the continuous high-speed (extended) mode. On top of all that, the familiar user interface ensures that existing Nikon users can start using it right away without having to read the instruction manual.
The in-camera VR image stabilisation feature offers an unprecedented up to 5 shutter speed stops’ 5-axis image stabilisation when used in combination with a Z mount lens. This enables ISO speeds to be utilised, contributing to better image quality. More importantly, it provides me with a sense of security, and consequently greatly improves my success rate.
Known for both fashion and commercial photography, Dean feels that fashion photography reflects a perspective about aesthetic and a kind of lifestyle. He excels in using rich layers of light to narrate each and every photograph, resulting in an exquisite style that makes his works instantly identifiable. To Dean, beauty is more than superficial and exists in culture and everyday life. He therefore combines fashion photography with documentary photography and seeks to create a style of his own unbound by the restrictions of dogmatic tradition.