The Nikon Z 5 is the third FX-format (full-frame) camera in the Z series. While it has similar specs as the reputable Z 6 which is designed for advanced users, it also incorporates new features by popular demand. The result: a camera that provides excellent value. Built sturdily with weather-sealing to protect the camera from dust and water droplets, the camera is also equipped a bright, clear electronic viewfinder (EVF) and in-body Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilisation. With the addition of dual UHS-II SD card slots and an option of USB power delivery, the Nikon Z 5 ticks off many items on a first-time mirrorless photographer’s wishlist. (Report by: Kouji Ueda)
The Z 5 uses Nikon’s latest EXPEED 6 image processor as well as a brand new image sensor that, unlike the one on the Z 6, is not backside-illuminated. This prioritizes balance between high resolution and high ISO speed performance, in addition to cost performance.
The Z 5 features the same well-acclaimed in-body Vibration Reduction mechanism found in the Z 6 and Z 7, which corrects camera shake on 5 axes and achieves up to 5 shutter speed stops’ equivalent image stabilisation. You can shoot with confidence even when using a non-VR lens!
For batteries, the Z 5 uses the EN-EL15c, which boasts improved capacity and is interchangeable with the existing EN-EL15 series. It is rated up to 470 still shots or 120 minutes of video.
The 0.5-inch, 3.69 million dot high definition OLED electronic viewfinder shares the same specifications as that on the Z 7 and Z 6, and provides excellent vision with its 0.8x magnification ratio. The smooth, flicker-less display has become a trademark of the Z series cameras.
Instead of XQD or CFexpress, the dual card slots on the Z 5 take SD cards compatible with UHS-II standard.
The full body surface and top cover of the Z 5 are made of strong, solid magnesium alloy. Weather sealing gives the camera dust- and drip-resistance comparable to that of more advanced cameras.
The Z 5 uses a mode dial instead of a display panel, allowing easy operation just like the Z 50. There is no locking mechanism.
The Z 5 is the first camera in the Z series to support powering via a USB cable while you are still using it. Previously, in-camera USB charging was possible, but not powering while using the camera. This means you no longer need to worry about batteries running flat when taking time lapse movies or attempting long duration shoots! Compatible with the new EN-EL 15c batteries and EH-7P charging AC Adapter, or UC-E25 USB cable to a computer or power bank*.
* Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W recommended.
The Z 5 is an extremely comfortable and easy to use camera. The ergonomics are superb, and the overall size and weight of the body felt just right. Combining it with the new NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 kit lens makes a very compact, portable package that delivers fantastic images all on its own, without the burden of extra gear—perfect for taking along with you not just on walks, but also hikes and other arduous outdoor activities.
Another thing I like about the Z 5 + NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 combination is the speed and accuracy of the autofocus. For travel and street photography it was very reliable, and I rarely found the need to change out of the auto focus point select mode. The speed of the EVF coming on, the autofocus, the face and eye detection, the compact size of the camera and lens, the excellent in-camera VR, and the superb ergonomics all play their part to make the Z 5 + NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 a great package for street photography.
Nikon Z 5/ NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 / FL: 44mm / Manual exposure (f/9, 1/800 sec)/ ISO 400
I really liked how the small stool here looked with the artwork on the wall behind it and the light coming in from the left was gorgeous. I wanted to add a human element to the scene without revealing the subject's identity, so I opted to wait for someone passing to put their shadow in the right place in the scene. Small and discreet, the Z 5 and NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 combination reacted quickly with great accuracy, allowing me to capture the fleeting coincidence without disturbing the moment.
Nikon Z 5/ NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 / FL: 32mm / Manual exposure (f/16, 0.8 sec)/ ISO 100
This image is of the Empress Falls, located in the Valley of The Waters in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia. I was really impressed by the new five-axis in-body VR system. Being able to use shutter speeds as slow as 1 second and yet still retain perfect results, even while standing on uneven ground, made me rethink the way I approach landscape photography. I feel liberated from the slow and often cumbersome task of setting up my tripod, which makes it a lot easier to get creative and experiment with more compositions. The weather sealing in both the camera and lens is also reassuring when shooting in such rugged conditions.
Right out of the box, this lightweight powerhouse felt so comfortable in my hands! Prior to this, I was using the older D750, which was impressive but had limited features compared to the Z 5. Having a touchscreen, image preview in the viewfinder and different colour processing opens up a whole new world, unleashing possibilities I didn’t know existed before.
I rigorously tested it out while out adventuring and was beyond impressed with how this handles harsh light and low light. Light and handy, it produces stunning image quality under almost any light, giving me more time to focus on my composition, where I wanted to be, how I wanted the photos to look, and other artistic aspects. It is a huge weight off the shoulders in more than one sense.
Combined with the NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR kit lens, you get a huge range of focal length to work with without having to constantly switch lenses. A solid all-rounder lens like this makes the art of photography ten times easier!
Nikon Z 5/ NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR / FL: 44mm / Manual exposure (f/5.3, 1/80 sec)/ ISO 640
Even in challenging backlight, the sharpness and quality of the images captured by the Z 5 and NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR was amazing. The fur details of this highland cow are well resolved with no visible colour bleeding. For this shot, I enhanced the vibrant evening colours in-camera by using the “Vivid” Creative Picture Control preset. All I needed to do after that was adjust the contrast a little. Telephoto lenses can be intimidating to subjects, but the NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR was compact enough, allowing me to shoot this image from as close as around 5 to 10 metres away.
Nikon Z 5/ NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR / FL: 26mm / Manual exposure (f/5.3, 1/80 sec)/ ISO 640
I stood at this location waiting for the sun to peak under the clouds, and while doing so, my batteries went flat. In-camera USB power was able to get me through just long enough to snap this beauty. The Z 5 handled the highlights and shadows flawlessly, resulting in this final product.
Small and lightweight (dimensions: approx. 134 x 100.5 x 69.5 mm; weight: approx. 675g with battery and memory card) and yet tough and durable, the Z 5 is a very appealing take-along camera if you want to capture beautiful, high-quality FX-format images of your adventures. Features like the in-body VR system, which reduces the need for a tripod in many scenes, and the support for in-camera USB power which helps prolong shooting times, up the convenience for when you plan to spend the entire day out shooting with the camera and prefer to travel light.
Enhancing the experience is the excellent autofocus, high-resolution EVF, dust- and drip-resistance, and dual card slots, thus endowing the Z 5 with features found on a semi-professional camera. Indeed, it provides excellent value for new mirrorless camera creators as well as enthusiasts looking for a high-performing, all-purpose yet affordable camera.
Tim first fell in love with photography while shooting the landscapes of his home country, Australia, and became intrigued with street photography in the streets of New York City while living in the United States. He runs @street.finder, an Instagram account that curates inspiring street photography posts.
Elliott Thompson is a wedding, portrait and adventure photographer based in Clare, South Australia. To him, photography is about capturing those special moments, so that each split second isn't just a memory, but something you can physically have forever!
Facebook: Elliott Thompson Photography