This post is about a camera, and some technical photography stuff. If you have no interest in such things, please skip it.
In September 2020, I was offered a new camera and lens, free of charge. This is because I am on the Amazon testing panel, and they wanted me to review it. It was the Nikon Z5, with a basic 24-50mm zoom lens, and at the time the retail price for the kit was £1,699.
(It can now be bought for around £1,200 new)
This is a full-frame camera, with a 24.3 mp sensor that produces very large files. Despite the light weight of the lens, and the limited maximum apertures of f/4-f/6.3, photos taken with it can be clear and sharp.
Like most modern digital cameras, it has a host of features, including electronic and mechanical shutters, a comprehensive viewfinder and rear screen, and a selection of customisable buttons. Add a double card slot and in-camera image stabilisation, and you get quite a lot for your money.
So it would seem.
After owning it for a year, I finally took it on holiday, deliberately leaving all my other cameras behind so I had no alternative but to use it. If you have seen any of my recent posts including photos from our holiday in Lincolnshire, they were all taken using this camera.
So why is this post titled ‘Camera Disappointment’? (I hear you cry.)
Getting such a well-specified camera for nothing, you would think I might be grateful and excited. And to a large extent I was, and still am.
However, it was sent to me to test and review, so it is only fair to list the many things that I don’t like about this camera.
1) The user manual.
This is as good as useless. Other than telling you how to attach the lens, charge the battery, and insert the SD cards, it doesn’t go into enough detail about the huge number of menus and functions. Yes, you can access extensive Nikon help online, and probably download pages of user instructions too. But that’s not much use when you are nowhere near a computer, or there is little or no wi-fi signal. I want what I need to know to be in the book please, Nikon.
2) Not enough dials and knobs.
Other than one large mode dial, the camera offers most settings and adjustments through the electronic menu system. This means me having to make sure to carry reading glasses (which I do not need to see through the viewfinder) and reading small menu instructions from the rear screen that can be hard to see in bright light. (As when on a summer holiday in good weather.) Exposure compensation is not offered as a stand-alone dial, and exposure lock has to be assigned to a button by using the in-camera menu. Using Aperture Priority, it is necessary to assign the aperture option to the small control ring behind the zoom ring of the lens, instead of just having a conventional aperture ring marked accordingly. I would like all of those functions to have their own buttons or dials please, Nikon.
3) Build quality.
Making a camera lightweight is not a bad thing. Easier to carry around all day in a bag, and to use one-handed if you like to do that. But you still have to ensure that a camera of this price is relatively solid and durable. For example, inserting the charged battery, I knocked the camera against my desk. It was a very slight knock, but enough to fully detach the flimsy door to the battery compartment, which fell onto the floor. That meant a long time fiddling about trying to secure the door back on, which now only works properly when fully locked. Open the door to charge the battery again, and it falls off. I have visions of the battery just falling out one day, as I am taking a photo.
The sensor in this camera is far from being great. As you can see from the photos I took, it renders them rather dark. This can be cured by fiddling with the exposure compensation of course, but refer back to 2) and you will know this is a frustratingly fiddly operation involving assigning a button and remembering which one that is.
I just didn’t enjoy using the camera enough to be bothered to constantly mess around with its functions.
Compare this to my old Fuji X30 compact. Exposure compensation dial, aperture ring on the lens, intuitive menu system, and a tiny 2/3 sensor that renders lovely rich colours with file sizes large enough for most users. And it cost about the same when I bought it as the lens alone on this Nikon.
In conclusion, I would suggest you buy a different camera. The full-frame offered on this one doesn’t make up for its shortcomings.