Travel Photography With the Nikon Z7
I’ve taken a number of trips in recent months - Norway, Russia, and Turkey - and each time, I took my Nikon Z7 with me (and a Sony a6400 for video purposes).
Since my normal routine with the Z7 is photographing here locally in the Los Angeles area, I wanted to explore how the Z7 performed as a primary camera for traveling. I also like Nikon Z6 which is the best full frame mirrorless camera by Nikon.
Spoiler alert...it didn’t disappoint.
Nikon Z7 Travel Photography: Size, Weight & Build
As I noted in my full Nikon Z7 hands-on review, the Z7 isn’t exactly a pocket-sized mirrorless camera.
It weighs about 1.5 pounds with the batteries installed and is 5.28 x 3.98 x 2.68 inches in size. While this pales in comparison to my Nikon D850, it’s still not a small camera to carry around.
That being said, it’s not like you’re hauling around a 10-pound camera, either. As I traveled around Norway in the freezing cold, made my way through busy Russian airports, and explored Istanbul, I found the Z7 to be easy to carry and handle without getting fatigued.
What helps ease the pain, so to speak, is the huge grip on the Z7. It’s more like the grip on my D850 than what you’d expect on a mirrorless camera, and it makes all the difference.
The grip is deep and chunky, and though there’s not enough room for my pinky finger, it’s still a nice, comfortable grip that will keep you from getting hand cramps as you spend the day photographing your travels.
The controls of the Z7 are slightly different than those on my D850, yet they feel like an old friend.
Nikon wanted their new mirrorless cameras to feel like Nikons, and they were successful in that regard. With a control dial on top, one control wheel on the front, and another on the back, you get a familiar, comfortable, and functional feel with the control layout.
The difference is that the Z7 has three buttons on the front of the body - just below your fingertips - that you can customize to engage settings of your choice without even having to take the camera away from your eye.
Likewise, there’s a joystick next to the thumbrest for moving focus points and navigating the camera’s menu system. Also on the back is an “i” button, which is used to open a control screen that allows you to change critical settings without having to navigate through the camera’s full menu system.
All told, when you’re traveling with the Z7, you’ll find that it’s intuitively setup with great handling so you can concentrate on actually traveling and taking photos instead of struggling with a camera that just doesn’t feel right in the hand.
Nikon Z7 Travel Photography: The LCD is a Dream
Something else to appreciate about travel photography with the Nikon Z7 is its big, beautiful 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD.
Obviously, the touch capabilities for changing settings, setting the focus, and taking shots is a dream for travel photography. Since I take a lot of landscape photos, shooting in Live View is a must, and this camera certainly delivers.
In fact, I seldom used the viewfinder because the LCD is so good and so easy to use.
The screen tilts up and down for taking low-angle and high-angle shots, too. I found this to be advantageous when making my way around the Lofoten Islands, as I was able to capture some interesting low-angle shots of the incredible terrain. And with the five-axis image stabilization, I was able to do so without worrying about camera shake
The Z7’s electronic viewfinder is no slouch, either.
With about 3.6-million dots of resolution, it’s clear, crisp, bright, and detailed. I found there to be virtually no lack or blackout, so this thing acted more like the optical viewfinder on my D850 than an EVF.
I love that the EVF sports nearly 100-percent frame coverage, and with a diagonal viewing angle of about 37-degrees, you get a nice, wide view of the subject as well.
Nikon even incorporated the ability to set the EVF and LCD to display the same color, contrast, and brightness. If you turn this feature off, you get a view that’s similar to an optical viewfinder, so it’s like having the best of both worlds to help you get the best travel photos.
Nikon Z7 Travel Photography: The Sensor is Sublime
The Z7 has essentially the same sensor as the D850, which isn’t a bad thing because the sensor is absolutely fantastic.
At nearly 46-megapixels, you’ve got plenty of resolution to turn your travel photos into large-format prints.
With the larger lens mount on the Z7 - which is 17-percent larger than on the D850 - you also get epic low-light performance. The native ISO up to 25600 helps out in that department as well.
What makes all that so great for travel photography is that you can be indoors where flash photography might not be permitted and still get high-quality shots.
What’s more, if you’re in Norway in the winter and want to venture out in the bitter cold to photograph the northern lights as I did, you have a beautifully resolute sensor and top-notch low-light performance to snag some pretty awesome shots.
The all-new 493-point autofocus system is worth mentioning as well.
Not only is it supremely accurate, but it’s lightning fast as well. The camera did a wonderful job of acquiring focus quickly and shooting with virtually no shutter lag.
Admittedly, there were a couple of times when the focus was off, but this was such a rare occurrence that when it did happen, I found myself in disbelief. The autofocus system on this thing is simply that good whether you’re photographing a still scene like a landscape or a bustling open-air market or something in between.
Nikon Z7 Travel Photography: My “Complaints”
It should be of no surprise that this camera produces enormous image files.
Even when shooting sample photos at the lowest resolution, the images were still in the 14MB neighborhood. That’ll fill up a memory card quite quickly.
However, it’s not like memory cards are hard to come by or difficult to carry, which is why this is a very minor “complaint.”
A bigger issue is that the Z7 doesn’t exactly wake up in a speedy fashion.
Normally, this isn’t a huge deal for me, but when traveling, you never know when an opportunity for a wonderful shot will arise. That being the case, you want your camera to fire up instantaneously so you don’t miss the shot. Unfortunately, the Z7 can’t fulfill that need.
Nikon Z7 Travel Photography: Final Verdict
Is the Nikon Z7 a perfect camera for travel photography? No. Is it one of the best cameras for travel photography? Absolutely!
On the positive side, the camera handles well, is easy to use, and has a killer combination of fantastic sensor, fast and accurate autofocus, epic low-light performance, and ultra-sharp EVF and touchscreen LCD.
I found the battery life to be even better than what Nikon claims, so that was a happy bonus while having this rig with me on long days of shooting as I traveled.
On the downside, the Z7 isn’t as small or lightweight as other mirrorless cameras, which could be of concern for some travel photographers.
Of greater concern is the point I mentioned just above - the Z7 takes too long to wake up, so you will inevitably miss some shots if it’s been off for awhile.
However, the benefits of this camera for travel photography far outweigh the detriments. If you’re looking to upgrade your kit with a capable, all-around camera for travel photography, this could be the one for you.
In fact, this camera isn’t limited to just this one type of photography. It’s great for landscapes, portraits, action photography - you name it!
UPDATE: I offer my real-world, long-term review of the Nikon Z7 in the video above. Give it a look!