The Nikon Z 5 is a full-frame mirrorless camera. It takes sharp images that are free of noise, even in low-light conditions, has a fairly effective autofocus system, and has a comfortable-to-use design that's also exceptionally well-built. It also has a wide range of ports for various videography accessories and does a good job of smoothing out camera shake in FHD. Unfortunately, its maximum continuous shooting speed is quite slow, and it can struggle to smooth out camera shake while recording in 4k.
The Nikon Z 5 is good for travel photography. Images are sharp and low in visual noise, even when you step up to high ISO levels. Its autofocus system is quick and reliable, and it has enough battery life for a long day of shooting. Its minimum shooting speed allows for fairly complex long exposure shots, and the kit lens provides a reasonably shallow depth of field. While it's smaller than a traditional full-frame DSLR, it's still too big to be stored in a pocket or a purse. Thankfully, it should be comfortable to use, even if you have large hands.
The Nikon Z 5 is a very good choice for landscape photography. It takes images that are sharp and mostly clear of graininess, even when you increase the ISO setting to compensate for dim lighting conditions. It also feels well-built, with sturdy dust and moisture-resistant construction, though we don't currently test for that. It's also fitted with a manual focus assist function, so you can ensure that your shot is in focus. While its kit lens lets in a good amount of light, it exhibits noticeable light falloff, so the corners of your shot may look darker than the middle. It's also a little bulky, which can make it a bit of a hassle to carry around on hikes compared to a point-and-shoot camera.
The Nikon Z 5 is decent for sports and wildlife photography. Its maximum shooting speed is lower than comparable mirrorless cameras, so you may struggle to capture distinct images of fast-moving subjects. The kit lens' maximum zoom length also isn't sufficient for capturing clear images of far-away subjects. Thankfully, its autofocus system is responsive and effective, and the camera itself takes sharp images. It's comfortable to use and feels superbly well-made.
The Nikon Z 5 is passable for vlogging. Its screen only tilts and doesn't rotate, so you can't see yourself while the camera is pointed at you. It's also relatively bulky, and it does a sub-par job of smoothing out camera shake in 4k while walking. Recording in 4k also incurs a severe crop. Thankfully, it performs better in FHD, with decent video quality and good video stabilization performance. Its autofocus system also does a reasonably good job of tracking faces.
The Nikon Z 5 is a satisfactory option for studio video. Its video quality in FHD and 4k is fair, though recording in 4k incurs a severe crop. It offers a wide selection of inputs and outputs for videography accessories, including external recorders, auxiliary microphones, and headphones. Its menu system is also quite easy to use. Unfortunately, while its autofocus system is reasonably effective overall, focus transitions aren't always smooth.
The Nikon Z 5 isn't designed for action video. It's too big to be mounted on a helmet rig and isn't capable of recording at high frame rates for slow-motion video. That said, it does a good job of smoothing out camera movement in 4k and FHD and has a sturdy-feeling body that's rated as being dust and moisture-resistant, though we don't test for that.
Update 02/12/2021: The 'Guide Mode' field has been set to 'Yes' following a retest that confirmed the presence of a guide mode feature. The text has been updated.
The Nikon Z 5 is only available in one color variant: 'Black', and you can see its label here. We tested it with the Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens, but other lenses can be purchased with the camera, including the Nikkor Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens. However, we haven't tested its performance in other configurations. It can also be purchased without a lens at all.
If you come across a different variant of this camera, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.
The Nikon Z 6 is a bit better than the Nikon Z 5, though they're very similar overall. The Z 5 is Nikon's entry-level full-frame camera, while the Z 6 is aimed at pros and enthusiasts. Because of that, the Z 6 has a faster continuous shooting speed, can shoot 4k video without a crop and offers more frame rate options, and has a CFexpress card slot. However, it does have a shorter battery life than the Z 5.
The Nikon D780 is better overall than the Nikon Z 5, though they use different camera technologies. Though both are full-frame cameras, the D780 is an enthusiast-level DSLR, so it has an optical viewfinder, while the Z 5 is an entry-level mirrorless camera with an electronic viewfinder. Both feel robust and comfortable to shoot with, but the Z 5 is significantly lighter and more portable. The D780 has a longer battery life and a more versatile autofocus system since it uses both contrast- and phase-detection AF depending on whether you shoot through the viewfinder or Live View on the screen. The Z 5 can also only shoot 4k video with a severe crop, but on the upside, it has in-body image stabilization, meaning you can use non-optically stabilized lenses.