If we look at the pixel count of the image sensor, the Nikon Z 7 boasts the same specs as the popular Nikon D850. Compared to the optical viewfinder and excellent depictive power of the D850, many users who are planning to get the Nikon Z 7 are probably curious about the differences between the two cameras. So, in what way does the Nikon Z 7 differ from the D850 in terms of depictive performance? Do take a look at the following review based on actual test shots taken using the two cameras. (Report by: Toshiya Hagihara)
Both the Nikon Z 7 and D850 have a resolution of approximately 45.7 megapixels. The major differences are the diameter of the mount and the image processor they use. Below shows a comparison of test shots taken using the two cameras and a standard zoom lens.
While the centre portion is well resolved in the resulting image of both cameras, the image produced by the Z 7 appears sharper with “Mid-range sharpening” applied as the default setting. Also, by looking at the outermost area of the image, we can tell that the definition is formidably higher in the image of the Z 7, which has more leeway in its lens design due to its advantageous large-diameter mount and short flange focal distance.
Both the Nikon Z 7 and D850 offer a native ISO sensitivity range of ISO 64 to 25600. Test shots were taken between ISO 3200 and 25600 to check for any difference in the depiction by the two cameras in the high sensitivity range. The resulting images are similar up to ISO 6400, although the details are slightly clearer in the images of the Z 7.
When the ISO sensitivity level exceeds ISO 12800, less deterioration in the image quality is observed in the case of the Z 7, such as the sharpness of the lines of the building’s window frame and noise in the shadow areas. This can be attributed to the use of the new image processor.
In the expanded ISO sensitivity range, the overall image quality of the Z 7 is higher, making the camera a reassuring choice for capturing scenes with dimly-lit subjects such as nightscapes and starscapes using high shutter speeds.
A new “Mid-range sharpening” parameter has been introduced on the Nikon Z series for sharpness adjustment. Available as an option in the Picture Control settings, Mid-range sharpening is used to adjust the sharpness of patterns and lines with a thickness that is between those covered by the “Sharpening” and “Clarity” parameters – the former is useful for tweaking the sharpness of details and outlines in an image, while the latter is effective for adjusting the sharpness of the overall image and thicker outlines. Mid-range sharpening is able to enhance the sharpness of a subject that falls in the depth of field around the point in focus.
From the test shots, we can tell that the sharpness within the depth of field is enhanced in a deep-focus shot, making the entire image look sharper than that of the D850. Meanwhile, the areas around the depth of field become clearer and sharper in a shallow-focus shot.
Mid-range sharpening can be set to a level between -5 and +5. The default setting for the “Standard” Picture Control effect is “+2”.
We need to stop-down the aperture (increase the f-number) in order to capture a shot that is in focus from the foreground to the background, such as a landscape photo. When doing so, “diffraction” may occur, which causes the sharpness of the image to deteriorate. Available on the Nikon Z series is a brand new and noteworthy “Diffraction compensation” feature that helps to reduce diffraction effectively.
A comparison of the test shots produced by the Z 7 and D850 reveals an overwhelming difference in the resulting image. While the image produced by the D850 deteriorates in sharpness due to diffraction when the aperture is narrowed down to f/22, the f/22 image of the Z 7 has an apparent resolution that is close to that of f/16 when “Diffraction compensation” is turned on. This effect is equivalent to an improvement in sharpness by about one aperture stop.
The Diffraction compensation feature comes in handy when you want to take a deep-focus shot of a subject with depth or narrow down the aperture to bring out the rays of the sun.
Born in Kofu City of the Yamanashi Prefecture in 1964. Hagihara joined an advertising agency and became involved in catalogue production and event planning. Became a freelancer after leaving the company, and currently specializes in natural landscape photography, also actively writing for photography magazines. A member of the Japan Scenery Photographers Association (JSPA).