The all-purpose zoom lens that’s perfect for travel and walkabout photography
Earlier this year, Nikon announced the 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR zoom Nikkor for full-frame (FX) Z-mount mirrorless cameras. Despite its variable aperture design, I was intrigued by the idea of having a native Z-mount lens for travel and general purpose photography. During my international photo tours, I typically used my 24-120mm f/4 VR zoom Nikkor as my primary lens.
When I moved to the Nikon Z mirrorless camera system last year, one of the challenges I faced was coming up with an appropriate travel kit. When I’m traveling, especially internationally, the size and weight of my kit are more important than superior optical quality. The Nikon 24-70mm f/4 S lens, which is the Nikon Z “kit” lens, is very good but has a limited zoom range, meaning I’d need to add a longer telephoto zoom to my bag.
I considered using my 24-120mm f/4 with the FTZ lens mount adapter, but I found that it was a little clumsy to use and frankly, quite heavy. That left me with the following travel kit:
This kit worked well on my photo tour of Scotland in the fall of 2019, but it was still a bit cumbersome compared to having a good all-purpose zoom lens. With the addition of the 24-200mm to the Nikon Z lineup, I could theoretically have a two-lens kit, with the 24-200mm being my go-to lens in most situations. This change would save me nearly a kilogram of weight from my bag!
Autofocus settings for birds in flight with Nikon Z cameras
I’m back from my third annual San Diego Birding & Wildlife photo workshop, and this year I decided to use the workshop as a testing ground for the Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera. Ever since the Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras were released, the general consensus seems to be that their hybrid phase/contrast autofocus system was great for everything except fast moving subjects, like flying birds. I decided to test the Z6 myself and see how well it could perform in the field in real-world conditions.
For four days I put the Z6 through its paces, and came away with the conclusion that by tweaking the autofocus settings, you can nail BIFs with this camera almost as well as I could with my tried and true Nikon D850 DSLR. The trick is to customize your autofocus settings to something other than the defaults, and the settings I chose will actually seem counter-intuitive. More on that in a moment.
Updating the firmware on a Nikon Z mirrorless camera is fairly straightforward. To do so, you’ll need:
A formatted XQD memory card
An XQD card reader for your computer
A fully charged EN-EL15 battery
Nikon firmware update file
After downloading the firmware update, copy the binary (.bin) file to the ROOT (main) directory of the XQD card. Put the card in your camera and navigate to the Firmware Version option in the Z6 or Z7’s SETUP (wrench icon) menu. Follow the on-screen prompts to update your firmware to the current version (currently 2.10).
This week, Rick and Jason discuss Nikon’s mirrorless cameras, the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7. Both Jason and Rick own and use these cameras, and offer their first-hand thoughts of the new Z-mount, and the strengths and weaknesses of the Nikon Z system.