Nikon Z5

Nikon Z5 review: the best value stills-oriented full-framer

The Nikon Z5 is an entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera that looks and handles almost exactly like its higher-end Z-mount siblings, the Z6 and Z7. It's built around a stabilized non-BSI 24MP CMOS sensor, which is likely more closely related to the generation of chip found in Nikon's D750 DSLR, rather than the newer BSI sensor in the Z6.

Slightly stripped down and more stills-focused, the Z5 shares the same 273-point hybrid AF system, Expeed 6 processor and 3.69M-dot OLED viewfinder as the Z6. But niceties like a top plate display are absent. Likewise, the Z5's max burst rate and video capabilities are considerably less than that of the Z6: 4.5 fps vs. 12 fps and heavily cropped 4K vs. un-cropped, oversampled 4K. But from an image quality and handling standpoint, the two cameras are quite similar.

Key Specifications:

  • 24MP full-frame CMOS sensor (not BSI)
  • Hybrid AF system with 273 phase-detect points covering 90% of the frame
  • 4.5 fps continuous shooting with AF
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization
  • 3.69M-dot OLED viewfinder
  • Dual UHS-II SD cards
  • 4K/30p video capture (with 1.7x crop)
  • 1080/60p video capture (no crop)
  • Headphone and microphone ports
  • Dust and moisture sealed

Nikon Z5 conclusion

What we like

What we don't

  • Excellent resolution and dynamic range, very good high ISO performance
  • Lovely JPEG color
  • Outstanding build quality and dust/moisture-sealing
  • Excellent ergonomics, responsive controls and touchscreen
  • AF joystick
  • Effective 5-axis image stabilization
  • EVF is large, high-res for class
  • Excellent AF point coverage
  • Good subject tracking performance
  • Reliable face and eye detect
  • Deep 100 frame buffer for bursts
  • Decent quality 1080/60p capture
  • Dual UHS-II SD card slots
  • Easy-to-use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • USB charging
  • Mic and headphone sockets
  • Backward compatibility with many F-mount lenses via FTZ adapter
  • High ISO shadow noise a bit more noticeable than in peers with newer sensor
  • 4.5 fps burst may be sluggish for some
  • Heavily cropped 4K video (1.7x) reduces quality and makes it hard to achieve wide angle
  • Lots of rolling shutter in 4K and when using the e-shutter in stills
  • Default JPEG noise reduction a tad aggressive
  • No built-in flash

The Nikon Z5 is arguably the best bang-for-your-buck stills-oriented camera on the market. Image quality from its 24MP sensor is just tad behind class-leading and much of its design, from the build-quality to the ergonomics, is borrowed from higher-end Nikon Z models. Autofocus performance is also solid; reliable face and eye detect make it a great choice for documenting family/friends. Video performance is the one area the Z5 does not excel: 4K video is heavily cropped. But it does offer respectable Full HD capture with the added benefit of in-body image stabilization for hand-held shooting.




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