In this article I would like to share my experience with the Nikon Z6 and my personal opinion on why I'll probably never go back to DSLRs. Despite the many drawbacks that this generation of mirrorless models from Nikon has, it offered me plenty of tools to take pictures better, more comfortably and with more confidence than before.
I tried to briefly describe the benefits that Nikon Z6 offered me and which I consider to be crucial for my style and the theme of photography I'm into. There are many more functions like this and it is certainly not difficult to access them on the Internet, but for me, these were and still are the most crucial.
Exceptional video quality in 4K, HD 120fps and precise continuous focus
Honestly, this was the first impulse to acquire the Z6. A year before the purchase, I played around with the idea of shooting videos. I bought a Sony A6500 and used my existing Nikon lenses via the adapter. I didn't want to invest in all the equipment. I planned to continue using Nikon for photography and to use Sony's body for video only. It worked well. Although I had to focus manually, at least I learned something. Anticipate animal movement and be ready to refocus at the right time. My theory that I would walk with two bodies and, if necessary, just change lenses according to the situation, if I want to take pictures or shoot, worked well in my head, but not so much in practice. Either there wasn't a good opportunity to do so or plain laziness worked its way against me. I mostly shot videos for almost the whole year and my feel for photography faded a bit. It might not seem like it, but filming and photography are drastically different in the approach. With photography, a person is free to move around and repetitively change his position and so there is less planning and foresight necessary. On the other hand, filming requires you to choose your position with precision in advance, in order to be able to set up and mask your gear.
273 focus points over the entire image area
They say: less is more. But I do not agree with this when it comes to focusing points. Not only you will find a lot of them. They are distributed over the entire image. In addition, sensitivity is exactly the same on every point. So you can be sure, that you focus quickly and accurately on each point, .... something that was not possible with classic DSLRs.
Magnifying image when focusing
I use it a lot when shooting through vegetation, where it is often difficult to focus over grass, branches or any other objects that stand in the way between you and the animal. I have this function set on the button, so when shooting, with just one press I zoom in to make sure my focus is positioned correctly. This feature gave me the courage not to be afraid to take photos in such conditions and, on the contrary, opened the path for more creative approaches.
I'm not so much interested in its better resolution and the fact that it's tiltable. Although even that is a great benefit from older Nikon DSLRs. It's the main feature that will finally offer you the opportunity to use it with the same speed and comfort as the viewfinder. I like this a lot and I often use it when taking photos from the ground and while looking for other angles, when I often get into positions where being stuck to the viewfinder is not very comfortable. I can afford to take pictures with the camera all the way to the ground without having to roll on the ground. I use it for taking photos from hiding, where I can sit further from the camera since by moving my head to the viewfinder I could disturb the animal quite easily. It also works great when taking photos of hares. In a camouflage suit with my head bowed down, I watch everything in front of me through the display. This allows me to avoid eye contact, which could frighten the animal, and I have plenty of time to take my pictures.
Live preview on display and viewfinder
Although exposure metering is usually not something that Nikon would fail at, there are situations where some corrections need to be made. Usually, exposure will require some correction when shooting in backlight or in a very dark environment. The live view takes this whole process to a completely different level than DSLRs. Each exposure adjustment is reflected in what you see in the viewfinder or display. No necessary trials and errors where you have to check your photo on the display to make sure it was captured properly. Not only is that impractical, but certain situations don't provide you with that time window to check and re-take. In such a case you end up having to take them with the settings you got and leave the adjustments for the post-process.
Hint: Also a nice feature is the ability to program the focusing ring. It is possible to assign it to the exposure compensation function instead of manual focusing. This has proven to be a very fast and intuitive solution for me.
Quick “I” menu in display and viewfinder
The ability to change camera settings via the quick menu is fast and intuitive. Especially when it is possible to see it in the viewfinder as well and is fully adjustable. Add features that you change often and arrange its layout. Although I am a little annoyed that they did not take over this function from Sony fully. Sony has the option of empty fields and so it's not necessary to fill all 12 functions slots at all costs.
Last but not least silent shooting. Be invisible and absolutely silent is a key to get closer to wildlife animals. Having a silent friend with you will for sure increase your chances for taking a picture.
The Nikon Z6 has its faults and in some aspects does not match the technical sophistication (if you can call it that) of the D500, D850 and D5 / D6 series. On the other hand, it offers me such a comfortable use and a lot of gadgets without which my move back to DSLRs would be very limiting. I simply prefer the functions described above as key to my work. Features that allow me to take pictures like never before with regard to my options and habits.
Focusing is slower than today's high-end DSLRs can offer. Starting the camera is slower (I recommend having it in standby mode) and the battery life is shorter. A full vertical grip is missing and the sensor is more prone to get dirty. These are all inseparable facts where the Nikon Z series stays behind. Still, it offered me a lot of features that moved my photography forward, and in most cases, even slow focus is enough. I don't take action photos, I'm more of a slow photographer :) and I prefer the atmosphere over the action.