Nikon’s latest mirrorless camera features a pro-sized full-frame sensor, but its price undercuts other full-frame models and is less than some fast-shooting cameras with smaller image sensors.
To meet its $1,400 starting price ($1,700 with a lens), Nikon cut out some features found in the upmarket Z 6 and used an older-generation 24MP image sensor, resulting in somewhat lesser video features too.
Matches Z 6 Body Style
The general look and feel of the Z 5 largely matches the Z 6, which remains in production. It has nearly the same control layout, though it does drop the top information LCD, putting a dial to adjust the exposure mode in its place.
There aren’t a lot of corners cut when it comes to build quality either. It maintains the same level and dust and splash protection as pricier models, and the image sensor is steadied by the same 5-axis in-body stabilization (IBIS) system.
Sample Image (Provided by Nikon)
Likewise, the EVF is the same large, sharp OLED used in the pricier Z models, and the LCD offers tilt and touch input. There’s a dedicated focus control stick, and on-screen menus offer a level of customization, so you can tune them to suit your shooting style.
The chassis, while still mostly magnesium alloy, uses some plastic components. The memory card format has changed too—the Z 6 has a single slot with support for XQD and CFexpress cards, but the Z 5 sports two SDXC slots, both with support for speedy UHS-II transfer rates.
Not as Adept for Action, Video
Nikon did have to make some cuts in features to meet the price point, and separate the Z 5 from the Z 6 in the market. The two use image sensors with the same 24MP resolution, but they’re not the same sensor.
The Z 5’s sensor omits the BSI tech found in the Z 6 (and Sony a7 III), an indication that it’s a bit older in design. It also limits the high ISO capability, though the sensor can still reach ISO 102400 in extended mode, and introduces a heavy 1.7x crop when recording video at 4K quality.
The burst rate is also slower—the Z 6 tracks subjects at 12fps, but the Z 5 is good for just 4.5fps. The two cameras use the same autofocus algorithms, and offer coverage to nearly the edge of the frame, but the same slower readout speed that necessitates the cropped 4K footage likely means the camera isn’t able to check autofocus quickly enough to allow for a faster capture rate.
There are some new in-camera creative tools. Budding shutterbugs can take advantage of creative filters for JPG shooting, and can use Raw capture for more flexible editing. In-camera multiple exposure is available too, and if you use Raw you can combine up to 10 images from your memory card and turn them into an ethereal multi-exposure photo, all without loading images to your computer or phone.
Travel-Friendly Zoom, Other New Lenses
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are included too, so you can send photos to your phone using the Nikon SnapBridge app.
Z 5 with 24-50mm Zoom (Provided by Nikon)
To bolster the Z 5’s appeal as a travel camera, Nikon is adding a new full-frame Z lens. The Nikkor Z 24-50mm F4-6.3 has a rather short ratio, and omits in-lens stabilization. It’s a $300 add-on when you buy it in a kit, and priced at $399.95 on its own.
A second kit is available, for $2,199.95, with the Nikkor Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR. The all-in-one zoom is another travel-friendly option, geared at photographers who want more zoom power than the slim 24-50mm delivers.
The Z 5 is scheduled to ship in late August. If you already have Z lenses, you can get it as a body only for $1,399.95. It’s also compatible with Nikon’s F-mount SLR lens library, though you will need to buy the FTZ Adapter to connect them.
In addition to the Z 5, Nikon is announcing two new teleconverters, the Z Teleconverter TC-1.4x ($549.95) and TC-2.0x ($599.95), also shipping in late August.
At press time they’re only compatible with the Z 70-200mm F2.8 VR S ($2,595.95), a long-awaited lens that has suffered shipping delays. Nikon expects it to ship at the same time.