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Nikon Z 5 Camera Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Feb 08, 2021 at 07:40 am
Nikon Z 5 Picture
7.6
Travel Photography
8.0
Landscape Photography
7.2
Sport & Wildlife Photography
6.4
Vlogging
7.7
Studio Video
4.9
Action Video
Body Type
SLR-Style
Mirrorless
Yes
Sensor Size
Full Frame
Tested Lens
Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3

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.

Our Verdict

7.6 Travel Photography

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.

Pros
  • Amazing image quality.
  • Effective autofocus system.
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Very comfortable to use.
Cons
  • Relatively bulky design.
8.0 Landscape Photography

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.

Pros
  • Amazing image quality.
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Very comfortable to use.
Cons
  • Relatively bulky design.
7.2 Sport & Wildlife Photography

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.

Pros
  • Effective autofocus system.
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Very comfortable to use.
Cons
  • Relatively bulky design.
  • Low continuous shooting speed.
6.4 Vlogging

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.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Impressive image stabilization performance in FHD.
  • Good overall face-tracking performance.
Cons
  • Relatively bulky design.
  • Screen only tilts and doesn't rotate.
  • Severe crop while recording in 4k.
7.7 Studio Video

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.

Pros
  • Broad selection of inputs and outputs.
  • Easy-to-use menu system.
Cons
  • Severe crop while recording in 4k.
  • Focus transitions aren't always smooth.
4.9 Action Video

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.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Impressive image stabilization performance in FHD.
Cons
  • Relatively bulky design.
  • Severe crop while recording in 4k.
  • Absence of high-speed frame rate options.
  • 7.6 Travel Photography
  • 8.0 Landscape Photography
  • 7.2 Sport & Wildlife Photography
  • 6.4 Vlogging
  • 7.7 Studio Video
  • 4.9 Action Video
  1. Updated Apr 22, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.8.
  2. Updated Feb 12, 2021: Input errors in the 'Depth' field in the 'Portability' box and 'Guide Mode' field in the 'Menu System' box have been corrected. An error in the name of the tested lens has also been rectified.
  3. Updated Feb 08, 2021: Corrected input errors in the 'Sample Gallery' section.
  4. Updated Feb 08, 2021: Review published.
  5. Updated Feb 08, 2021: Early access published.

Check Price

Black (Body Only)
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com
Black W/ NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 Lens
SEE PRICE
B&H

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
4.0
Design
Portability
Height
4.0" (10.2 cm)
Width
5.6" (14.1 cm)
Depth
3.5" (9.0 cm)
Volume
79.0 in³ (1,294.4 cm³)
Weight
1.52 lbs (0.69 kg)
Weight With Lens
1.90 lbs (0.86 kg)
8.5
Design
Build Quality

  • High-grade plastic and magnesium alloy construction feels solid
  • Body is rated as being dust and moisture-resistant, though we don't currently test for that
  • Buttons and command dials provide good physical feedback
  • Input and output compartment are covered by rubber flaps
  • Tilting screen mechanism is sturdy-feeling

Design
Body
Water Resistance
Weather-Sealed
Rugged
No
Hot Shoe
Yes
Customizable Button
Yes
Command Dial
2
Tripod Mount
Yes
Lens Mount
Z Mount
Built-In Flash
No
Design
In The Box

  • Nikon Z 5 mirrorless camera
  • Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens
  • Lens cap
  • Sensor cover
  • 1x Nikon EN-EL15C battery
  • Shoulder strap
  • Battery charger
  • USB-C cable
  • User manual

9.0
Design
Ergonomics & Comfort
Hand Grip: Small Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Medium Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Large Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Extra-Large Hand
Yes

  • Well-textured handgrip provides a secure, comfortable hold, even for users with large hands
  • Thumb rest is large enough to rest your finger without accidentally hitting any buttons
  • Changing aperture, shutter speed, and ISO is simple with either eye pressed up against the viewfinder
  • Plenty of room between handgrip and lens

Design
Viewfinder
Viewfinder Type
Electronic
Advertised Coverage
100%
Advertised Resolution
3.69 million dots
Advertised Magnification
0.8
7.1
Design
Screen
Screen Articulation Type
Tilting
Screen Max Brightness
524 cd/m²
Advertised Resolution
1.04 million dots
Size
3.2" (8.1 cm)
Touchscreen
Yes
9.0
Design
Menu System
Guide Mode
Yes
App Name
Nikon SnapBridge

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.

  • Interface can be navigated via physical buttons or with touch inputs on the screen
  • Using the shortcut/quick settings menu lets you access frequently used features and functions
  • Nikon SnapBridge app can be used to operate some of the camera's functions through your phone
  • Guide mode helps users understand some functions
  • A few functions are hidden in sub-menus

Design
Assistance Functions
Level Display
Dual-Axis, Photo & Video
Grid Lines
Photo & Video
Histogram
Photo & Video
Zebra Pattern
Photo & Video
Focus Peaking
Photo & Video
Waveform
No
6.8
Design
Lens
Lens Type
Interchangeable
Maximum Aperture
4.0 - 6.3
Max Aperture (Full-Frame Equivalent)
f/4.0
Minimum Focal Length
24 mm
Maximum Focal Length
50 mm
Max Focal Length (Full-Frame Equivalent)
50 mm
Optical Image Stabilization
Yes
Luminance
76.8%
Light Falloff
53%
Design
Sensor
Sensor Type
CMOS
Advertised Effective Pixels
24.3 MP
Processor
EXPEED 6
Extended ISO Minimum
50
Native ISO Minimum (Base ISO)
100
Native ISO Maximum
51,200
Tested Firmware
1.20
9.3
Design
Battery
Battery Type
Nikon EN-EL15C
USB Charging
Yes
Use When Charging
Yes
Advertised Battery Life In Photo
470 photos
Tested Battery Life In Video
154 min
Photo General
Photo General
Photo Features
JPEG File Format
Yes
Raw File Format
NEF
Shutter
Electronic and Mechanical
Slowest Shutter Speed
30 s
Fastest Shutter Speed
1/8,000 s
Silent Shooting
Yes
HDR
Yes
Time Lapse
Yes
5.7
Photo General
Photo Shooting Speed
Low Speed Continuous
1 fps
High Speed Continuous
5 fps
Silent Shooting Continuous
3 fps
Raw Buffer Size
100 Photos
JPEG Buffer Size
100 Photos
Buffer Empty Time
1 s
7.7
Photo General
Photo Autofocus
Object Tracking Success Rate
61%
Face Tracking Success Rate
70%
Face Detection Distance
102" (258 cm)
Eye Detection
Yes
Advertised Coverage
N/A
Advertised Focus Points
273
6.6
Photo General
Photo Image Stabilization
Minimum Shutter Speed Achieved
1/30 s
In-Body Image Stabilization
Yes
Photo Image Quality
9.2
Photo Image Quality
Photo RAW Dynamic Range
SNR 18% After Exposure Recovery
31.38 dB
Dynamic Range At Base ISO
12.4 f-stops
Dynamic Range At ISO 800
11.1 f-stops
Dynamic Range At ISO 3200
9.9 f-stops
9.2
Photo Image Quality
Photo Sharpness
JPEG Sharpness At Base ISO
1.054 pixels
JPEG Sharpness At ISO 800
1.1719 pixels
JPEG Sharpness At ISO 3200
1.356 pixels
RAW Sharpness At Base ISO
2.299 pixels
RAW Sharpness At ISO 800
2.312 pixels
RAW Sharpness At ISO 3200
2.396 pixels
9.4
Photo Image Quality
Photo JPEG Color Accuracy
Color Difference (dE2000) At Base ISO
6.25
Color Difference (dE2000) At ISO 800
6.01
Color Difference (dE2000) At ISO 3200
6.52
8.5
Photo Image Quality
Photo JPEG Noise
SNR 18% At Base ISO
37.90 dB
SNR 18% At ISO 800
37.67 dB
SNR 18% At ISO 3200
37.44 dB
8.6
Photo Image Quality
Photo RAW Noise
RAW SNR 18% At Base ISO
40.63 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 200
39.61 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 400
38.03 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 800
35.78 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 1600
33.33 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 3200
30.63 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 6400
27.78 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 12800
24.92 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 25600
23.43 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 51200
18.98 dB
Photo Image Quality
Test Scene Pictures Download
JPEG Picture At Base ISO Download
JPEG Picture At ISO 400 Download
JPEG Picture At ISO 800 Download
JPEG Picture At ISO 1600 Download
JPEG Picture At ISO 3200 Download
JPEG Picture At ISO 6400 Download
JPEG Picture At ISO 12800 Download
JPEG Picture At ISO 25600 Download
JPEG Picture At ISO 51200 Download
RAW Picture At Base ISO Download
RAW Picture At ISO 400 Download
RAW Picture At ISO 800 Download
RAW Picture At ISO 1600 Download
RAW Picture At ISO 3200 Download
RAW Picture At ISO 6400 Download
RAW Picture At ISO 12800 Download
RAW Picture At ISO 25600 Download
RAW Picture At ISO 51200 Download
Pictures Sample Gallery
Pictures Sample Gallery
The Skate Park Picture
JPEG Skate Park Picture Download
RAW Skate Park Picture Download
Pictures Sample Gallery
The Polish Church Picture
JPEG Polish Church Picture Download
RAW Polish Church Picture Download
Pictures Sample Gallery
The Studio Picture
JPEG Studio Picture Download
RAW Studio Picture Download
Pictures Sample Gallery
The Stairway Picture
JPEG Stairway Picture Download
RAW Stairway Picture Download
Video General
Video General
Video Features
Full HD Video
Yes
4k Video
Yes
6k Video
No
Clean HDMI Output
Yes
Advertised Max Chroma Sampling Over HDMI
Not Advertised
Advertised Max Bit Depth Over HDMI
N/A
Log Picture Profile
No
Recording Light
No
Video General
Audio
Audio Test Sample
Audio Recording
Stereo
Microphone Level Display
Yes
Video General
Video File Format And Compression
MP4 H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
Yes
MP4 H.265 / HEVC
No
MOV H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
Yes
MOV H.265 / HEVC
No
AVCHD H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
No
All-I Compression
No
4k Video
5.8
4k Video
4k Video Frame Rate
240 fps In 4k
No
120 fps In 4k
No
60 fps In 4k
No
30 fps In 4k
Yes, with a Crop
24 fps In 4k
Yes, with a Crop
4k Crop At Max Available fps
1.58 x
7.8
4k Video
4k Video Internal Recording
Bitrate Maximum In 4k
129 Mbps
Bitrate Minimum In 4k
128 Mbps
Chroma Sampling In 4k
4:2:0
Bit Depth In 4k
8 Bit
Record Time Limit In 4k
30 min
Overheat Recording Interruptions in 4k
0
6.7
4k Video
4k Video Autofocus Performance
Object Tracking In 4k
5.3
Face Tracking In 4k
8.7
Face Detection In 4k
Yes
Eye Detection In 4k
No
7.3
4k Video
4k Video Stabilization
Walking Test In 4k
13.29 pixels/frame
Running Test In 4k
27.27 pixels/frame
In-Body Video Image Stabilization In 4k
Yes
4k Video Stabilization Crop
1 x
7.3
4k Video
4k Video Quality
Low Light Capability In 4k
8.0
Test Scene Extract In 4k
6.5
3.8
4k Video
4k Video Rolling Shutter Effect
4k Rolling Shutter
10.0°
Full HD Video
8.5
Full HD Video
FHD Video Frame Rate
240 fps In FHD
No
120 fps In FHD
No
60 fps In FHD
Yes
30 fps In FHD
Yes
24 fps In FHD
Yes
FHD Crop At Max Available fps
1 x
7.6
Full HD Video
FHD Video Internal Recording
Bitrate Maximum In FHD
56 Mbps
Bitrate Minimum In FHD
29 Mbps
Chroma Sampling In FHD
4:2:0
Bit Depth In FHD
8 Bit
Record Time Limit in FHD
30 min
7.7
Full HD Video
FHD Video Autofocus Performance
Object Tracking In FHD
8.3
Face Tracking In FHD
8.1
Face Detection In FHD
Yes
Eye Detection In FHD
8.4
Full HD Video
FHD Video Stabilization
Walking Test In FHD
5.71 pixels/frame
Running Test In FHD
10.48 pixels/frame
In-Body Video Image Stabilization In FHD
Yes
FHD Video Stabilization Crop
1.1 x
6.7
Full HD Video
FHD Video Quality
Low Light Capability In FHD
7.0
Test Scene Extract In FHD
6.3
7.0
Full HD Video
FHD Video Rolling Shutter Effect
FHD Rolling Shutter
4.0°
Storage And Connectivity
Storage And Connectivity
Storage
Card 1 Slot
SD Card UHS-II
Card 2 Slot
SD Card UHS-II
9.5
Storage And Connectivity
Inputs / Outputs
USB
USB-C
HDMI
Mini (Type C)
Headphones
Yes
Microphone
Stereo
Wi-Fi
Yes
Bluetooth
Yes

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

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.

Compared To Other Cameras

Nikon D780

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.

Discussions