The Nikon Z50 is the first-generation Z-mount DX mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor. Announced on October 10, 2019, together with two compact DX lenses specifically designed for the camera, the Nikon Z50 packs many attractive features, putting it above entry-level DSLRs like Nikon D3500 and D5600. With its price point of $860 MSRP, it competes head-to-head with other mirrorless options on the market such as the Sony A6400, Fuji X-T30, and Canon EOS M6 Mark II. I had a chance to test the Nikon Z50 with the two DX lenses during the past 3 months of traveling in the US and the Middle East, so this review reflects extensive shooting experience in the field.
Sporting a 20.9 MP DX sensor, fast phase-detection autofocus system, 11 FPS continuous shooting speed, ability to record high-quality 4K video at up to 30 FPS without any crop (Full HD slow motion at up to 120 FPS) and a compact, lightweight construction with great body build and ergonomics, the Nikon Z50 is certainly a serious camera to consider for new and existing Nikon shooters.
The two Z mount DX lenses launched with the camera, the Nikon Z DX 16-50mm VR and the Nikon Z DX 50-250mm VR are both attractive choices for those who want to keep their camera kit small and lightweight, but for those who want more lens options, there are plenty of excellent Z-mount full-frame lenses already available, as well as older Nikon F lenses (both DX and FX) using the FTZ adapter. While testing out the camera, I purposefully limited myself to only the two DX kit zoom lenses the camera came with, so that I can demonstrate their capabilities and see if they are sufficient for most day-to-day needs of photographers.
Nikon Z50 Specifications
· Sensor Resolution: 20.9 MP
· Sensor Type: BSI CMOS
· Sensor Size: 23.5 × 15.6mm
· Sensor Pixel Size: 4.22 µ
· Optical Low Pass Filter: No
· In-Body Image Stabilization: No
· Image Size: 5568 × 3712
· Image Processor: EXPEED 6
· Viewfinder Type / Coverage: 2.36-million dot OLED EVF / 100%
· Viewfinder Magnification: 1.02× (0.67× FF equivalent)
· Built-in Flash: Yes
· Storage Media: 1× SD, UHS-I Compatible
· Continuous Shooting Speed: 11 FPS
· Electronic Shutter: Yes
· Shutter Speed Range: 1/4000 to 30 seconds
· Exposure Metering Sensor: TTL exposure metering using main image sensor
· Native ISO Sensitivity: 100-51,200
· Boosted ISO Sensitivity: 102,400-204,800
· Focus Points: 209 focus points
· On Sensor Phase Detection: Yes
· Flicker Detection: Yes
· Video Maximum Resolution: 4K up to 30 FPS (No Crop), 1080p up to 120 FPS
· LCD Size, Type and Resolution: 3.2? Tilt-down 1,040,000-dot Touchscreen LCD
· Wi-Fi / Bluetooth: Yes
· Battery Life: 320 Shots (CIPA)
· Weight (Body Only): 395 g (13.9 oz)
· Dimensions: 126.5 × 93.5 × 60 mm (5.0 × 3.7 × 2.4 in)
Nikon has done a great job making its first mirrorless DX camera, the Nikon Z50. It is packed full of great features, has superb ergonomics and a very intuitive menu system. The 20.9 MP sensor has similar performance as what we have seen from the Nikon D7500, with excellent high-ISO and dynamic range performance for an APS-C size sensor. Coupled with a fast EXPEED 6 processor, 11 FPS continuous shooting speed, a decent-sized image buffer and solid AF performance, the Z50 is a versatile choice for doing many different types of photography, including action. The only limitation I have found is when tracking subjects that move fast and erratically – that’s where the Z50 showed its weakness. If Nikon could tweak the autofocus system on the Z-series cameras and make it more accurate and as feature-rich as its DSLRs, it would surely make the Z-series cameras ideal for action photography. For now, if I were to pick a camera for photographing fast action, I would probably still stick with DSLRs like the D7500 and D500, which have a proven AF system that simply works.
NIKON Z 50 + NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR @ 150mm, ISO 200, 1/640, f/6.3
The Nikon Z50 is also a capable video camera, thanks to its ability to shoot 4K videos with no cropping at up to 30p. The two new Z-mount DX lenses are very light, compact, sharp and best of all – very inexpensive, especially when purchased as part of the kit. Without a doubt, Nikon did many things right with the Z50 and it certainly earns our high praises.
Sadly, some of the design and camera limitations are a bit puzzling and get in the way of shooting, which is unfortunate. First of all, as I have pointed out on the first page of this review, I do not understand the point of the tilt-down screen. It is useless in function for anyone who wants to mount their camera on a tripod, making it only practical for those who hand-hold the camera for selfies and short videos. Second, the inability to turn off all information overlays on the rear LCD is a serious design flaw that remains on all Nikon Z-series cameras, including the Z50. I do not understand why Nikon engineers think it is OK to clutter the screen with information that cannot be turned off – it makes composing images so much harder via the LCD. And lastly, some open questions remain in regards to firmware updates with the Z50. Will the Nikon Z50 receive the same treatment as the Z6 / Z7 for frequent firmware updates and new features? It would be nice to know.
NIKON Z 50 + NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR @ 16mm, ISO 100, 8 sec, f/5.6
Overall, despite the above issues and limitations, the Nikon Z50 is still an excellent camera. I had a lot of fun shooting with this camera for the past few months and I cannot wait to see what Nikon has in the pipeline for the Z mount DX future.