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Nikon Z 50 Camera Review

Tested using Methodology v0.10
Reviewed Feb 08, 2021 at 07:40 am
Nikon Z 50 Picture
7.3
Travel Photography
7.6
Landscape Photography
7.6
Sport & Wildlife Photography
7.3
Vlogging
7.8
Studio Video
5.5
Action Video
Body Type
SLR-Style
Mirrorless
Yes
Sensor Size
APS-C
Tested Lens
Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR

The Nikon Z 50 is a mid-range mirrorless camera. It delivers impressive image quality, a decently reliable autofocus system, and great image and video stabilization performance. It's also well-built, amazingly comfortable to use, and has an outstandingly easy-to-use menu system. That said, it's bulkier than other mirrorless cameras, and its recording quality in poorly-lit environments isn't particularly impressive.

Our Verdict

7.3 Travel Photography

The Nikon Z 50 is decent for travel photography. It takes sharp, clear images, even in dimly-lit environments, and is well-built and comfortable to use. Its autofocus system is also decently reliable and consistent. Unfortunately, it's bulkier than other mirrorless cameras and has somewhat short battery life.

Pros
  • Great image quality.
  • Comfortable to operate.
Cons
  • Relatively bulky design.
  • Mediocre battery performance.
7.6 Landscape Photography

The Nikon Z 50 is good for landscape photography. Image quality is impressive, and its kit lens lets in quite a bit of light, giving you a bit of added flexibility in darker environments. It's comfortable to use and feels sturdy, too. Unfortunately, it might feel a little heavy during longer hikes.

Pros
  • Great image quality.
  • Comfortable to operate.
Cons
  • Relatively bulky design.
7.6 Sport & Wildlife Photography

The Nikon Z 50 is decent for sports and wildlife photography. It takes a long time for it to clear its buffer after long continuous bursts, but it has a decently reliable, responsive autofocus system and has a high maximum shutter speed, which is good for fast-moving subjects. It takes sharp images and keeps visual noise to a minimum, too. That said, the maximum zoom range of its kit lens isn't sufficient for taking clear photos of far-off subjects.

Pros
  • Great image quality.
  • Comfortable to operate.
Cons
  • Relatively bulky design.
  • Long buffer clearing time for continuous shooting.
7.3 Vlogging

The Nikon Z 50 is a satisfactory option for vlogging. Its video stabilization features help keep camera shake fairly minimal, and its autofocus system does an outstanding job of tracking faces whether you're recording in 4k or FHD. However, its screen only tilts and flips but doesn't fully articulate, so it can be slightly hard to angle it toward your face when the camera is pointed at you.

Pros
  • Impressive autofocus performance.
  • Excellent video stabilization performance.
Cons
  • Relatively bulky design.
  • Screen doesn't fully articulate.
7.8 Studio Video

The Nikon Z 50 is decent for studio video. While it doesn't handle noise very well in poorly-lit environments, it supports a wide variety of recording options in 4k and FHD. Its autofocus system can also track subjects reliably and consistently. While there's a good variety of inputs and outputs available for videography equipment, there's no headphone jack for in-depth audio level monitoring.

Pros
  • Comfortable to operate.
  • Impressive autofocus performance.
Cons
  • No headphone jack.
  • Mediocre video recording quality in poorly-lit environments.
5.5 Action Video

The Nikon Z 50 isn't designed for action video. It's too big to be mounted on a helmet rig and isn't water-resistant. Also, frame rate options are limited in 4k recording, though you can shoot 120 fps video in FHD if you want to create slow-motion videos. It also does an amazing job of smoothing out camera shake if you're recording handheld video.

Pros
  • Excellent video stabilization performance.
Cons
  • Relatively bulky design.
  • Limited frame rate options in 4k recording.
  • 7.3 Travel Photography
  • 7.6 Landscape Photography
  • 7.6 Sport & Wildlife Photography
  • 7.3 Vlogging
  • 7.8 Studio Video
  • 5.5 Action Video
  1. Updated Sep 23, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.10.
  2. Updated Aug 09, 2022: We mistakenly noted that this camera had no water resistance, but according to the manufacturer's website, the camera is in fact weather-sealed. The 'Water Resistance' field has been updated.
  3. Updated Aug 04, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.9.
  4. Updated Apr 26, 2022: We reevaluated this camera's low-light video performance in comparison with other cameras and slightly increased its score. The 'Low Light Capability' and overall 'Video Quality' scores have been adjusted accordingly for both 4k and FHD.
  5. Updated Apr 22, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.8.
  6. Updated Jan 24, 2022: Rescored FHD test scene extract.
  7. Updated Sep 20, 2021: Updated 'Crop' field to show a 1.1x crop in 'FHD Video Stabilization' box.
  8. Updated Sep 17, 2021: Retested 'Luminance Noise' to account for the camera's shutter speed and achieve more accurate results.
  9. Updated May 21, 2021: Corrected input error in 'Screen Articulation Type' field in 'Screen' section.
  10. Updated Mar 08, 2021: Corrected input error in the 'Max Aperture (Full Frame Equivalent)' field inside the 'Lens' section.
  11. Updated Feb 12, 2021: An input error in the 'Guide Mode' field in the 'Menu System' box has been corrected. An error in the name of the tested lens has also been fixed.
  12. Updated Feb 08, 2021: Corrected input errors in the 'Sample Gallery' section.
  13. Updated Feb 08, 2021: Review published.
  14. Updated Feb 08, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
5.6
Design
Portability
Height
3.7" (9.4 cm)
Width
5.2" (13.3 cm)
Depth
3.0" (7.6 cm)
Volume
58.0 in³ (950.7 cm³)
Weight
1.01 lbs (0.46 kg)
Weight With Lens
1.28 lbs (0.58 kg)
7.5
Design
Build Quality

  • Mostly made of plastic
  • Tilting screen mechanism is solid
  • Buttons, wheels, and dials on the camera provide good physical feedback
  • Memory card and battery compartment is covered by a solid hinged door
  • Collapsible lens needs to be retracted before storing the camera
  • Input/output compartment is covered by a rubber flap
  • Screen only tilts and doesn't rotate, so you can't see yourself when the camera is pointed at you

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
Yes
Design
In The Box

  • Nikon Z 50 mirrorless camera
  • Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens
  • Lens hood
  • 1x Nikon EN-EL25 battery
  • Shoulder strap
  • Sensor cap
  • Battery charger
  • Micro-USB cable
  • User manual

8.5
Design
Ergonomics & Comfort
Hand Grip: Small Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Medium Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Large Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Extra-Large Hand
Yes

  • Adequate room between the camera body and the lens, even for people with large hands
  • Handgrip surface is textured but can be slightly slippery
  • Changing aperture, shutter speed, and ISO is simple with either eye pressed up against the viewfinder
  • Users with very large hands may find handgrip a little small

Design
Viewfinder
Viewfinder Type
Electronic
Advertised Coverage
100%
Advertised Resolution
2.36 million dots
Advertised Magnification
1
8.0
Design
Screen
Screen Articulation Type
Tilt And Flip
Screen Max Brightness
540 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

  • Menu is easy to use and can be navigated via physical controls or inputs on touch screen
  • Many features are hidden behind sub-menus
  • Guide mode function helps users understand some camera functions

7.0
Design
Lens
Lens Type
Interchangeable
Maximum Aperture
3.5 - 6.3
Max Aperture (Full-Frame Equivalent)
f/5.4
Minimum Focal Length
16 mm
Maximum Focal Length
50 mm
Max Focal Length (Full-Frame Equivalent)
76.5 mm
Optical Image Stabilization
Yes
Luminance
85.3%
Light Falloff
52.8%
Design
Sensor
Sensor Type
CMOS
Advertised Effective Pixels
20.9 MP
Processor
EXPEED 6
Extended ISO Minimum
N/A
Native ISO Minimum (Base ISO)
100
Native ISO Maximum
51,200
Tested Firmware
2.20
6.3
Design
Battery
Battery Type
Nikon EN-EL25
USB Charging
Yes
Use When Charging
No
Advertised Battery Life In Photo
300 photos
Tested Battery Life In Video
95 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
1/4,000 s
Silent Shooting
Yes
HDR
Yes
Time Lapse
Yes
7.6
Photo General
Photo Shooting Speed
Low Speed Continuous
3 fps
High Speed Continuous
11 fps
Silent Shooting Continuous
11 fps
Raw Buffer Size
35 Photos
JPEG Buffer Size
100 Photos
Buffer Empty Time
10 s
7.3
Photo General
Photo Autofocus
Object Tracking Success Rate
63%
Face Tracking Success Rate
54%
Face Detection Distance
100" (255 cm)
Eye Detection
Yes
Advertised Coverage
N/A
Advertised Focus Points
209
7.8
Photo General
Photo Image Stabilization
Minimum Shutter Speed Achieved
1/13 s
In-Body Image Stabilization
No
Photo Image Quality
8.5
Photo Image Quality
Photo RAW Dynamic Range
Dynamic Range At Base ISO
10.8 f-stops
Dynamic Range At 1/500s Exposure Time
8.9 f-stops
Dynamic Range At 1/2000s Exposure Time
7.4 f-stops
Dynamic Range At 1/4000s Exposure Time
6.8 f-stops
7.8
Photo Image Quality
Photo RAW Sharpness
Vertical Edge MTF50 At Base ISO
1,748 LW/PH
Horizontal Edge MTF50 At Base ISO
1,761 LW/PH
8.0
Photo Image Quality
Photo JPEG Noise
SNR 18% At Base ISO
38.36 dB
SNR 18% At ISO 800
35.62 dB
SNR 18% At ISO 3200
34.25 dB
7.6
Photo Image Quality
Photo RAW Noise
RAW SNR 18% At Base ISO
39.71 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 200
37.96 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 400
35.7 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 800
33.02 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 1600
30.27 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 3200
28.57 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 6400
25.62 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 12800
23.58 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 25600
20.54 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 51200
19.64 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
6.1
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
1.1 x
7.9
4k Video
4k Video Internal Recording
Bitrate Maximum In 4k
142 Mbps
Bitrate Minimum In 4k
135 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
8.1
4k Video
4k Video Autofocus Performance
Object Tracking In 4k
8.3
Face Tracking In 4k
9.1
Face Detection In 4k
Yes
Eye Detection In 4k
No
7.3
4k Video
4k Video Quality
Low Light Capability In 4k
6.5
Test Scene Extract In 4k
8.1
5.9
4k Video
4k Video Rolling Shutter Effect
4k Rolling Shutter
6.7°
Full HD Video
9.5
Full HD Video
FHD Video Frame Rate
240 fps In FHD
No
120 fps In FHD
Yes
60 fps In FHD
Yes
30 fps In FHD
Yes
24 fps In FHD
Yes
FHD Crop At Max Available fps
1 x
7.8
Full HD Video
FHD Video Internal Recording
Bitrate Maximum In FHD
145 Mbps
Bitrate Minimum In FHD
12 Mbps
Chroma Sampling In FHD
4:2:0
Bit Depth In FHD
8 Bit
Record Time Limit in FHD
30 min
8.1
Full HD Video
FHD Video Autofocus Performance
Object Tracking In FHD
8.3
Face Tracking In FHD
9.1
Face Detection In FHD
Yes
Eye Detection In FHD
No
7.0
Full HD Video
FHD Video Quality
Low Light Capability In FHD
6.5
Test Scene Extract In FHD
7.5

Update 01/24/2022: We rescored the FHD test scene extract to better represent this camera's actual performance in relation to comparable cameras.

8.2
Full HD Video
FHD Video Rolling Shutter Effect
FHD Rolling Shutter
2.0°
Storage And Connectivity
Storage And Connectivity
Storage
Card 1 Slot
SD Card UHS-I
Card 2 Slot
No 2nd Card Slot
7.8
Storage And Connectivity
Inputs / Outputs
USB
Micro USB
HDMI
Micro (Type D)
Headphones
No
Microphone
Stereo
Wi-Fi
Yes
Bluetooth
Yes

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Nikon Z 50 is only available in one color variant: 'Black', which we tested with the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens, and you can see its label here.

It can be purchased with other Z mount lenses, including the Nikkor Z DX 50-250mm F/4.5-6.3 VR lens, but we haven't evaluated its performance when it's been configured differently. It can also be purchased without a lens at all.

If you come across a differently-equipped variant of the Nikon Z 50, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Cameras

Sony α6600

The Sony α6600 and the Nikon Z 50 are both APS-C mirrorless cameras, though the Sony is a little higher-end, with weather-sealing and in-body image stabilization. The Sony also has a bigger battery that lasts longer, is more portable, and has a more reliable autofocus system. That said, they both deliver impressive image quality, and the Nikon has slightly better high-ISO noise handling, making it a tad better-suited to low-light photography.

Fujifilm X-T30 II

The Nikon Z 50 and the Fujifilm X-T30 II are both good beginner cameras. The Nikon is less portable than the Fujifilm, but it's a bit more comfortable to shoot with, thanks to a larger handgrip and viewfinder. Otherwise, they both offer well-rounded photo and video performance for casual or beginner shooters.

Discussions