Nikon Z5 Review

ATypical Review Nikon Z5: Comparison with Z6 or Sony A7III

Nikon priced at $1399.99 USD or Rs.1,13,995

Is Nikon Z5 worth your money?

or

Who should buy Nikon Z5?

These are some of the questions on everyone’s mind. Nikon Z5 is an entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera and is in close competition with Nikon Z6. 

Many wedding photographers are looking at Z5 as an alternative to Z6. 

Is Nikon Z5 a good wedding photography mirrorless camera? 

And then there is another segment of buyers that are confused between Z5, Z6, and Sony A7III. I will go into the details in my review of Nikon Z5 and how it competes with Z6 and Sony A7III. 

Before we go into the details, here are some standout features in favor of the Nikon Z5 full-frame mirrorless camera.

Nikon Z5 comparison with Z6, Canon EOS RP and Sony A7III
  • 1/8000 second shutter speed.
  • 5-axis in-body stabilization.
  • Includes Animal and Human eye AF.
  • Two SD Card Slots.
  • Sensor-based stabilization.
  • Double Exposure in real-time while composing.
  • Focus Shift Mode for focus stacking.
  • Ergonomics is similar to Z6.

Here are features that you are going to miss

  • Old generation Non-BSI Sensor (back-illuminated sensor)
  • 4k at 30fps but with 1.7x crop factor.
  • Status LCD missing.
  • Tilt only TFT back screen.
  • Lower frame rate of 4.5 fps in continuous shooting.
  • FTZ adaptor not included.
  • Magnesium alloy body “but” plastic on the base and back of the Z5.
  • Expensive body at $1400.

Nikon as a company is not doing well. They are working hard to retain existing Nikon DSLR users. The Z5 is a step in the right direction but it comes with some problems. It will be hard for existing non-Nikon users to get impressed with Z5.

The first thing you will notice if you already own a Z6 is the missing LCD status screen. It has a mode dial instead. Long time Nikon users (read: me) will find it a little awkward.

Image Sensor: This can affect wedding photographers or any photographers who rely on the dynamic range of the raw files. The sensor in Z5 lacks BSI (back-illuminated sensor). That means you won’t be able to pull out much info from image files without introducing noise due to a low dynamic range as compared to Z6.

Also, expect it to be on the slower side on readout speed and you may face a rolling shutter effect that is quite common in mirrorless cameras. This is going to affect the performance of autofocus in video modes.

Z5 has 273 focus points using hybrid phase-detection AF similar to big brother Z7. Animal and human eye detect are available similar to Z6/Z7.

1/8000th sec shutter speed is a pleasant surprise. A wedding photographer like me loves shooting with prime lenses wide open. With fast shutter speed, it is easy to shoot widest at F1.4 in daylight.

Two SD card slots in Z5: One slot was the biggest criticism or talk on the internet when Z6/Z7 was launched. Nikon with all ears open has listened to the community and has introduced two slots in Z5. So the prediction is the upcoming upgrades in Z6/Z7 will have two slots.

There are two SD slot (UHS-II) in Z5 and does not support new faster CFexpress cards.

Video: The Z5 supports both 4k and 1080p videos but it comes with a compromise for avid video fans. The 4K video is available at 4K UHD/30p but with 1.7x crop. For mixed situations like shooting still and taking videos in between, you will have to recompose the shot for 4k video as the composition will be tighter due to crop.

For full HD video, it shoots maximum at 1080/60p

Low Frame Rate: The frame rate in continuous mode is quite average at 4.5fps. I don’t think sports or wildlife photographers will love it. Wedding photographers on a budget can live with it.

Weather-Sealed Body: Z5 body lacks a full magnesium alloy body. It has plastic at the back and base of the camera but it is still fully weather-sealed against dust and moisture. Maybe some of us can justify this cost-cutting at sub $1000.

EVF is a 3.6M dot OLED electronic viewfinder that is equivalent to 1280×960. It is an average non-HD viewfinder.

Rear Screen is again average at 1M dot at 3.2″ that is close to 640×480. The rear screen follows Nikon’s tradition of tilt screen and lacks the rotatable screen useful in many situations and vlogging.

Battery: Z5 has a new battery EN-EL15c Li-ion battery but is backward compatible.

Let us compare neck to neck with competitors.

Nikon Z5 vs Nikon Z6

Nikon Z5Nikon Z6
Non-BSI SensorBSI Sensor
Two UHS-II SD card SlotsOnly one card slot.
4K video with 1.7x crop factor.4K video without crop factor.
Minor lack in Autofocus performance in comaprison with Z6.Better Autofocus performance.
LCD Status Screen MissingStatus Screen present.
Approx $1400 for BodyApprox $1800 for Body

Nikon Z5 vs Canon EOS RP

Nikon Z5Canon EOS RP
Approx $1400Approx $1000
24MP Sensor26MP Sensor
Two SD card slotsOne SD card slot.
5-Axis stabilizationNo in-built Stabilization only supported through lenses with internal stabilization.
Tilt back-screenSide flip screen
LightweightLighter than Z5

Nikon Z5 vs Sony A7III

Nikon Z5Sony A7III
Price: ~1400Price: ~1800
Continuous Shooting Frame Rate: 4.5fpsContinuous Shooting Frame Rate: 10fps
4K shooting without crop.4K shooting with 1.7x crop.
Wide range of Sony mirrorless lenses & third party mirrorless lensesLimited range of Z lenses & very few third party mirrorless lenses.
BSI Sensor.Non-BSI Sensor.
Relatively better AF performance.Acceptable AF performance.

Price Correction: The worth of a camera is always relative and subjective. There are some good features and there are some, where it lacks. But the degree of relevance is defined by its price.

Nikon Z5 is a good package in size and features but with a launch price of $1400 (Rs.1,14,000) is overpriced and will be a big deterrent for photographers. If the price is revised to $1100 or Rs.90,000, it is a steal. I am expecting a price drop in the next 6 months as Nikon has does in the past.

Secondly, a camera is a part of a package that involves lenses. Once you start adding lenses it becomes more expensive than the competition. Look at the example below when I add an all-time favorite 50mm F1.8 lens.

Nikon Z5Sony A7IIICanon EOS RP
Body Price: ~$1400
50mm F1.8 Z lens: ~$600
Total Price: ~$2000
Body Price: ~$1800
50mm F.18 lens: ~$250
Total Price: ~$2050
Body Price: ~$1000
35mm F1.8 lens: ~$500
Total Price: ~$1500
(Canon has only 50mm F1.2)
Pricing after adding your favorite lens

As you can see every brand has a different set of lenses in the mirrorless category. The pricing varies so does the cost of owning the kit. Nikon and Canon have limited choices in lenses when compared with Sony.

Sony A7III as evident in the above comparison tables is a better and expensive camera. 

Nikon Z5 being compared with Sony A7III will be unfair to Z5.

Who Should Buy Nikon Z5?

Nikon Z5 is an entry-level mirrorless camera and is better suited for travel and portrait. It can be a vlogging camera if you are with tilt only back screen. It is a nice light and compact camera with a kit lens for vlogging.

For wildlife and sports category, the continuous shoot mode with 4.5 fps is too low to be usable.

It can be a good option as a backup camera for wedding photographers who are already into Nikon mirrorless. If you are a wedding photographer and planning to switch into the mirrorless world, Sony has a stronger lineup. But if Nikon is where you want to be, I would suggest Nikon Z6/Z7 are strong contenders for first Nikon mirrorless cameras.

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