Learn & Explore - Z Series

Nikon Z 7 × Sports

Capturing The Emotions and Intense Action of Basketball

Basketball, like many other ball games, is a sport of intense action. Capturing exciting and crucial moments of the game requires a capable camera. The Nikon Z 7 is the FX-format mirrorless camera that empowers sports photographers to focus on the game and their subjects, and to not miss out on any of the emotions and action. In this article, I will share my experience using the Nikon Z 7 and provide examples of how it enables me to capture the essence of the game and players in the best way possible. (Photo and report by Onvisa Thewphaingarm)

Nikon Z 7/ NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S/ FL: 32.5mm/ Manual exposure (f/4, 1/1000 sec)/ ISO 2500/ WB: Auto

This shot was taken at the FIBA Asia Champions Cup held at Stadium 29 at Nonthaburi, Thailand. By taking advantage of the reflective surface of the polished wooden floor of the venue, I was able to capture this unforgettable moment of the players in action along with their reflections. The tilting touchscreen monitor of the Nikon Z 7 along with the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens allowed me to quickly capture this frame in high quality at the high speed of 9 fps and the high resolution of 45.7 megapixels.

Nikon Z 7/ AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR/ FL: 120mm/ Manual exposure (f/5.6, 1/2500 sec)/ ISO 2500/ WB: Auto/ Mount Adapter FTZ used

Even though the Z 7 has a different mount than a Nikon DSLR camera, I can use the Mount Adapter FTZ to keep shooting with my AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR. I took this shot from the catwalk above the court, which would normally be a challenge, but it was easier with the Z 7’s lightweight body and by adjusting the angle of tilting monitor. Its fast and accurate 493-point hybrid AF system provided me with better opportunities to capture these surreal bird’s-eye view shots.

Nikon Z 7/ AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G/ FL: 58mm/ Manual exposure (f/5.0, 1/3200 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto/ Mount Adapter FTZ used

Aside from action shots, the high image quality produced by the Nikon Z 7 makes the camera suitable for scenarios where high resolution is required such as studio photoshoots or for photos that need to be printed in large formats. The subject was asked to slightly turn his head in order for me to capture the details of his facial features and hair, which the Nikon Z 7 was capable of reproducing in a stunning depth of definition.

Nikon Z 7/ AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR/ FL: 102mm/ Manual exposure (f/2.8, 1/1250 sec)/ ISO 2500/ WB: Auto/ Mount Adapter FTZ used

In sports photography, especially basketball, being able to follow the action via the viewfinder is very important for capturing the significant moments of the game. I found that the EVF of the Nikon Z series provides a clear and comfortable view with the least amount of lag and blackout for each shot. The EVF and the LCD monitor will display a similar colour, brightness, and contrast as the resulting photos with the “Apply settings to live view” function enabled, thus empowering sports photographers to focus on the game and their subjects and not miss any exciting and crucial instances.

Capturing all emotion and action in full detail with the versatility of the Nikon Z 7

It is wonderful that Nikon’s first ever FX-format mirrorless camera is capable of responding to such a wide range of requirements. In the field of sports photography, we aim to capture the emotions and actions of the game and of the players themselves in the best way possible. I found that the Nikon Z 7 delivers on all fronts.

With the Nikon Z 7, it is easier to depict the game with an even more diverse and deeper dimension due to the ability to see the action of the game through an EVF that provides a clear and comfortable view. Additionally, its tilting LCD touchscreen monitor allows me to compose creative shots that would normally be much more difficult, making it convenient to retell the stories from different perspectives.

With sports photography, fast continuous shooting is a must, and the Nikon Z 7 is capable of capturing images at speeds of up to 9 frames per second with full autofocus (AF) and auto-exposure (AE) tracking capability in the continuous high-speed (extended) mode*, which is abundant for normal action shots.

However, I personally like to be able to express and showcase the full nature of the game, including capturing the pure passion and emotion of the players, which is made easier with enhanced shooting functions such as Eye-Detection AF with still-image shooting* and extension of the low-light AF detection range*. The exceptional resolution of up to 45.7 megapixels enables me to capture a wider range of depictions, more intricate details, such as the definition of muscles, facial expressions, or collision impacts, and to produce high-definition and high-quality photos frame-after-frame. In a sense, it is similar to how high resolution is required in landscape photography in order to capture the view in its entirety, right down to the last-minute detail.

Last but not least, the Mount Adapter FTZ gives me the opportunity to use a wide range of NIKKOR lenses, both existing and new. This is an amazing mirrorless system that will bring your sports photography to another level.

* With firmware version 2.0 and above on the Nikon Z 7 and Z 6

Favourite feature on the Nikon Z series:

Silent photography for highly sensitive situations

When shooting basketball games, you will face emotional moments, whether it is after a tough loss or during national anthem of participating teams. The silent photography feature is therefore perfect for photographers to be able to capture these certain moments, while respecting the subjects of the shots as well. Some of these instances are important to not be interrupted with even the slightest of sound, making the silent electronic shutter of the Nikon Z series one of my favourite features.

Silent photography

Select [On] for [Silent photography] in the photo shooting menu. This will enable the electronic shutter and eliminate the noise caused by operation of the mechanical shutter, making it more suitable for shooting in situations where sound is preferred to be at a minimum.

Onvisa Thewphaingarm

Born in Thailand, Onvisa has always had a deep passion for photography with the desire to capture and preserve precious moments. Studying at a school known for its basketball program, Onvisa developed a true love for the game and has since combined the two interests together. She has been shooting professionally ever since 2014 for international basketball events like the ABL and FIBA Asia competitions, as well as for prestigious basketball clubs.