Z7 goes to the zoo – battery performance and AF-C tracking

After 2,5 hours and 421 pictures the supplied EN-EL15b battery showed 41% remaining charge.

Due to the fact that it was early morning with an overcast sky, both viewfinder and back display only needed moderate brightness, which for sure influences battery consumption. With bright sunlight I would expect a total runtime between 3 and 4 hours and approximately 500 to 600 pictures. Shooting several bursts, more than 1.000 pictures per battery charge seem possible.

I quickly gave up on the auto area AF mode, which supposedly replaces the §d tracking of modern DSLRs. This function needs more time to evaluate properly, The best results for fast moving animals were achieved by using Wide-S focus point in AF-C mode. The best animals for testing are the sea lions in our zoo. They move fast and change direction pretty often.

Here are a series of 100 % crops, taken with the Z7, FTZ and 70-200mm 2,8 VR II. The exif data is also included as screenshot excerpt. The focus only missed in picture 4 slightly:


In my opinion the Z7 fares better than the D800 in focus tracking, but does not reach D4 level. D500 and D850 in a completely different league due to the new AF module.

When it comes to AF-S mode, the Z7 is comparable to the D850 in regard to focus speed and precision.

Z 24-70mm 4,0 S Nikkor – much more than a kit lens

After the first weekend with the Nikon Z7 it is a bit early for me to draw any conclusion about the new mirrorless camera, handling is too different compared to a DSLR to make quick judgments. The writeup about the Z7 will take a while until I fully come to grip with the new system.

However, the Z 24-70mm 4,0 S made an instant impression on me that I would like to share. The lens comes for 600 € bundled as a kit lens in Europe, compared to 1099 Euro if bought as individual lens. This lens is a first demonstration of the optical quality that is possible with the new Z mount and should not be seen as simple “kit lens”.

Build and feel are quite good and much better compared to the consumer zooms like AF-S 24-85mm VR. It does not reach the massive build of a AF-S 24-70mm 2,8, but still feels like a quality lens. The big zoom ring has a rubber cover while the narrow focus ring is made of plastic. Focus movement is determined electronically (focus-by-wire), therefore no real mechanical connection is given between focus ring and lens elements.

Optical performance is on the first glance excellent. Sharpness is very good across the whole focal range and beginning at wide open aperture. The sharpness into the corners and towards the borders is simply stunning. Stopping down to f/5,6 increases the sharpness up into the corners to an excellent level (while it is already very good at f/4). Filed curvature seems also absent from the Z 24-70mm 4,0. The lens performs overall better than my AF-S 24-70mm 2,8G in this regard at all apertures and across the whole range. Only vignetting is more intense with the Z at f/4 and f/5,6 than with the F Nikkor.

Color and contrast are comparable between Z 24-70mm 4,0 S and AF-S 24-70mm 2,8G, the Z is a tad cooler in color. Aberrations are minimal for the Z lens, distortion has not been compared by me yet.

An extensive test will be included in the respective section of this website later on. For now I want to share my first impression on the lens and advise anyone who thinks about buying a Z6 or Z7 to get the Nikkor Z 24-70mm 4,0 S along with it. It is a really excellent lens, much more than a kit lens. It is – except vignetting and f/2,8– an optical upgrade to the AF-S 24-70mm 2,8G and I expect it also to be better than the newer E VR version. The new Z mount seems to deliver right from the beginning.


Z7 Z24-70mm @ 70mm und Blende 4,0: JPEG RAW

Z7 Z24-70mm @ 24mm und Blende 4,0: JPEG RAW

Z7 Z24-70mm @ 24mm und Blende 5,6: JPEG RAW

Z7 Z24-70mm @ 24mm und Blende 4,0 (Distanztest, 1/3): JPEG RAW

Z7 Z24-70mm @ 24mm und Blende 5,6 (Distanztest, 2/3): JPEG RAW

Z7 Z24-70mm @ 24mm und Blende 8,0 (Distanztest, 3/3): JPEG RAW


Problem with firmware updates for various DSLRs from 27th of February 2018

Nikon published firmware updates for older DSLRs on 27th of February. Those updates for D4, D4s, Df, D800, D800E, D810, D810A, D7100 and D7200 should provide compatibility for AF-P lenses. Without firmware update, the stepping motor returns to its default position once the light meter turns off.

Shortly after some people updated, complaints about the autofocus on older Sigma lenses popped up. The AF function simply stopped to work. I was able to confirm this on D4 and D800 with a Sigma 150mm 2,8 macro lens (non-OS), which was simply dead after the update.

Fortunately Nikon still provides the older firmware versions for download and a downgrade is possible without any problem. For people not using AF-P lenses an update is therefore not recommended.

D850 – first impressions review

After several weeks of usage, a first impressions review of the D850 has been published in the new cameras section of the website.

D850 – the shutter counter in silent mode


Nikon has hidden two additional counters in the metadata of the Image file. Updated shutter count programs will be able to show actuations by physical shutter, silent mode exposures and images total.

A first application is already available here: http://blog.naver.com/dodge46/221137770747

The main indicator for age or wear of a DSLR has been  the shutter counter, hidden in the metadata of an image file.

This will most likely change in future. With the D850, Nikon implemented a “silent mode” for the first time, which utilizes an electronic shutter in live view mode. A picture is taken without any movement of the physical shutter.

Unfortunately the hidden counter in the EXIF data is inremented for every exposure, even when the physical shutter did not move. This is rather strange, as it was before identical to every open/close cycle of the shutter. Activating live view without taking a picture increments the counter also.

The addition of silent mode turns this counter now into a simple total images taken indicator, no matter how they were taken.

© 2018 Dennis Saßmannshausen Photography

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