Author Topic: Is it me or the Z-system?  (Read 923 times)

PeterN

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Is it me or the Z-system?
« on: July 14, 2020, 09:27:45 »
I've been mulling on this question for some time now. I have been shooting with the Nikon Z6 and Z7 now for a year or so and there is something about the output that I don't like but I can't put my finger on. The output looks sharp, the colors look right but the photos look a bit too digital. I look for clues in a photo that trigger an emotion. And the Z-series does not do that for me. After studying tons of pictures, I reached the conclusion that it has something to do with how the (high)lights are reflected, resulting in either some kind of glow or a "grey haze" (the latter especially higher MP cameras). However, dor a reason I put myself first as the one to blame because I suffer from glaucoma and am particularly sensitive to light and see less dynamic range than others. So I thought to bring it up here. Do others have the same impression in comparison to shooting full-frame DSLRs, especially the 16-24MP ones? Is it me? Or the system? Could it be the pixel size, the processor, the lenses, the whole package or something else?  Whatever it is, I am not happy and plan to sell the Z7 and the Z-lenses. But I am really interested in your experience and thoughts.
Thanks for sharing.
Peter

Netr

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Re: Is it me or the Z-system?
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2020, 10:22:25 »
Which camera bodies and/or lenses do you prefer the look of?

Viv

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Re: Is it me or the Z-system?
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2020, 12:34:43 »
Shoot RAW.
Process to taste.

Erik Lund

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Re: Is it me or the Z-system?
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2020, 12:46:34 »
Raw yes and then it seems to me all of the Z lenses so far are almost Zeiss like in rendering so even more use of PP
Erik Lund

PeterN

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Re: Is it me or the Z-system?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2020, 13:06:23 »
Shoot RAW.
Process to taste.

I shoot raw only and use various PP programs: CaptureOne, Photoshop, Photo Ninja for raw processing/basic adjustments as well as Luminar, Affinity, PerfectlyClear, Topaz, NIK for specific effects. I used Lightroom but switched to CaptureOne.

Which camera bodies and/or lenses do you prefer the look of?

My favourite combination Ipersonally used is the Nikon D750 paired with the 58mm 1.4. Others I like: Zeiss 135mm APO, Nikon 85mm PC-E, Nikon 300mm PF f4. So different types of lenses. The VL 125mm APO Lanthar is a favourite lens I never owned. A camera from the past I liked for its color rendering, is the Nikon D200. Others I like but never owned: the D4/Df files as well as Leica M (especially with 35mm summicron but also Zeiss 28mm 2.8 )


I am curious if others have similar experience or that it is just me.
Peter

Erik Lund

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Re: Is it me or the Z-system?
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2020, 13:27:58 »
I don't shoot any of the Z cameras, but I do like a lot of the images from Z6 and Z7 that are posted here on NikonGear - The Z6 really has nice rendering - The Z7 reminds me very much of D850 that I really love the images from!
Erik Lund

tommiejeep

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Re: Is it me or the Z-system?
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2020, 14:33:24 »
Peter,  I had the very same feeling when I first bought the Olympus EM5 but I used the term "plastic' looking.   My wife shifted totally from Nikon to two EM1 bodies but her market loved the images,   I felt the same about Sony but started taking everything back to neutral or portrait in Cloud PS.   I think one of the things is the sharpness of MILC is a given so I really watch it. Means some of my lenses on DSLRs needed fine tune  ;) .   Also it can depend on the lens used and aperture.  My favourite for people is the Df followed by the D3S.   I have a feeling that many people these days like the type of image so manufacturers give them what they want.   My wife is very particular about what gear I use to photograph her.   She prefers Df, 85 1,4D, DC105f2D, 135 2.8 Q-Auto and 58 1.4G.   Of course the first three are MF on the Z6. I bracket the focus and let her pick  ;) .

I do spend more time on PP with Z6, a7rii and a7iii than I ever need on the Df.  More toning down.  I am sure that if I were still shooting lots of Sport the folk in Goa would love the 'new' look in out of camera Vivid jpegs ;D
Been raining all day (Monsoon)  but maybe tomorrow I will shoot the Df vs Z6 using same lenses  RAW and jpeg.

Might be worth posting a couple of RAW images and see what other here do with them before you give up and sell.
Stay safe,
Cheers,
Tom
Tom Hardin, Goa, India

Jan Anne

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Re: Is it me or the Z-system?
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2020, 15:20:43 »
Modern lenses and processing lean towards a lifeless clinical rendering which I don’t care for myself.

Each new camera seems to have more of these “features for dummies” to make the images look even cleaner, I turn all these “features” off to get some life back into the image. I shoot fast lenses wide open and fully enjoy the presence of mechanical vignetting so I switched the Vignette control off which is on by default.

Same with noise reduction as it flattens the images killing the perception of subject separation I’m trying to achieve with fast lenses. This applies to other cameras as well btw with the reduction set to high, no or low settings works better for me depending on the camera model.

Active D-Lightning is also tricky, you win some dynamic range at the cost of contrast which also makes the images look less lively.

Not all of these features are baked into the RAW file but some are...
Cheers,
Jan Anne

PeterN

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Re: Is it me or the Z-system?
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2020, 15:42:33 »
Thanks, Erik, Tom and Jan Anne,

I really appreciate your views.

I do spend more time on PP with Z6, a7rii and a7iii than I ever need on the Df.  More toning down.  I am sure that if I were still shooting lots of Sport the folk in Goa would love the 'new' look in out of camera Vivid jpegs ;D

I am glad that I am not the only one with that feeling. Eventually I get to a point but it takes more work.

maybe tomorrow I will shoot the Df vs Z6 using same lenses  RAW and jpeg.

That would be great! Thanks!

Might be worth posting a couple of RAW images and see what other here do with them before you give up and sell.

I just got a quote for my set but the write-off did put me off so I guess I will have to keep it for a while anyway. I will look into raw files but all of them are either flower or watch related and part of a focus stack. I deleted the individual raw files and kept the stacked tiff files, so it won't be useful to post those.  PerhapsI should take another photo and restart the processing thread theme.


Modern lenses and processing lean towards a lifeless clinical rendering which I don’t care for myself.
......
Not all of these features are baked into the RAW file but some are...

Thanks! Good points! The good news for me is that apparently I am not the only one and that all is a matter of taste and preference. I will look into the baked-in corrections. The one Sean Reid mentions frequently (software distortion correction) does not bother me but others might. Thanks for mentioning.
Peter

Airy

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Re: Is it me or the Z-system?
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2020, 18:39:06 »
I do very little post-processing since I started using the Df, in 2014.
This holds true no matter which lens I use - old MF Nikkors, recent Zeiss, or Voigtländer.
I did some shots with the Z7, combined with a Summicron-R 50/2 (II), and was happy with the results.

Bottom line, it may well be that self-complacency is the dominating factor here. But there may be secondary factors. For instance, as brilliant the photos were with the Olympus E-M1, they felt ever so slightly "overprocessed" and that made me stick with the Df. The optics were not to blame, I guess.

Concerning the optics, it seems that I can cope with most of them, e.g. the 50/2 - Nikkor AI, Summicron-R (II), or Zeiss Milvus: these belong to different generations and cannot be more different in any respect, but each one has its set of "use cases". Different souls, but none is "soul-less".

I guess I spend as much time carrying the camera as I spend watching the results, so maybe the biggest difference lies in the "user experience". With the Df, I'm interacting with a camera; with the Olympus, I was interacting with an admittedly fantastic mini-computer. Same with lenses. Maybe that could also explain your feelings.
Airy Magnien

Peter Connan

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Re: Is it me or the Z-system?
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2020, 18:40:05 »
Have you tried using some of your older lenses on the FtoZ adapter?

Birna Rørslett

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Re: Is it me or the Z-system?
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2020, 18:42:42 »
The Z cameras all are capable of delivering excellent results. It's more about how the camera handles and what kind of lenses you put on it.

I don't need snapshots with 45 MPix files so reserve my Z7 for studio work (stacking and photomacrography) for which purpose the camera is eminently suited. I do more field work with Z6 or Z50, either with the native Z lenses to get all the automated features, or using older lenses through adapters for getting the "character"  a given lens can deliver.

The Z NEFs are easily malleable to get exact the colours and sharpness required. If one has colour issues, do include a ColorChecker Passport or similar in the frame to allow fine-tuning colours.

For sheer enjoyment in one's photography, a well-worn Df combined with manual Nikkors is hard to beat. That camera has a personal character I can easily relate to. However, in terms of final image quality, an Z6 gets you more or less the same in an easier and more posh fashion. The ancient rangefinder lenses combine well with the Z50 and give excellent handling. These won't work with the F bodies due to the shorter register distance, but are a breeze to use on the Z system.

Thus I use a mix of F- and Z-systems all the time. In fact, just ordered my 4th(!) FTZ adapter to simplify things for myself.

PeterN

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Re: Is it me or the Z-system?
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2020, 15:02:15 »
Airy, Birna: thank you for sharing your views and experiences. Very helpful.

All in all, I think it is not just me or just the Z-system but a combination. Perhaps I need together used to spending more time on PP.

@Peter: I only took a few shots with the 105mm 2.5 in unfavourable weather conditions so inevitably those shots looked dull with the same "grey haze"

Thanks again!
Peter

Jan Anne

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Re: Is it me or the Z-system
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2020, 15:38:26 »
Just shoot a little more with both RAW and JPG as output files and see which setting does what, the JPG will be your reference of what Nikon thinks the image should look like and the RAW can be used to see how your RAW editor interpits the data from the NEF file.

I know from the early days that part of the information in the NEF was hidden for third party editors, so much so that I could not recreate the colors and vibrance in the original version of Lightroom and forced me to use Capture NX which did render the image how I remembered it and saw it on the cameras LCD.

So when in doubt of the image quality check the JPG or open the NEF in Nikon software :)
Cheers,
Jan Anne

Frank Fremerey

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Re: Is it me or the Z-system?
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2020, 16:12:39 »
I've been mulling on this question for some time now. I have been shooting with the Nikon Z6 and Z7 now for a year or so and there is something about the output that I don't like but I can't put my finger on. The output looks sharp, the colors look right but the photos look a bit too digital. I look for clues in a photo that trigger an emotion. And the Z-series does not do that for me. After studying tons of pictures, I reached the conclusion that it has something to do with how the (high)lights are reflected, resulting in either some kind of glow or a "grey haze" (the latter especially higher MP cameras). However, dor a reason I put myself first as the one to blame because I suffer from glaucoma and am particularly sensitive to light and see less dynamic range than others. So I thought to bring it up here. Do others have the same impression in comparison to shooting full-frame DSLRs, especially the 16-24MP ones? Is it me? Or the system? Could it be the pixel size, the processor, the lenses, the whole package or something else?  Whatever it is, I am not happy and plan to sell the Z7 and the Z-lenses. But I am really interested in your experience and thoughts.
Thanks for sharing.

it might be the lenses you use. The only Z lens I own is a 4/24-70S and it is too perfect for my taste. With Novoflex Z to OM adapter I do use Oly lenses from the 1989ies and the output is absolutely charming and magic.
You are out there. You and your camera. You can shoot or not shoot as you please. Discover the world, Your world. Show it to us. Or we might never see it.

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