The Nikon Z 50 is the first APS-C camera in Nikon's mirrorless Z series. It sits below full-frame models like the Nikon Z 5 and Nikon Z 6II and above the smaller, vlogging-oriented Nikon Z 30. While this isn't the most portable APS-C camera, it's well-built and feels great in the hand. Toss in fast mechanical burst shooting, decent video specs, and a good but not class-leading autofocus system, and you've got a well-rounded camera with a lot to offer for beginners and more advanced users alike.
The Nikon Z 50 is decent for travel photography. It takes sharp, clear images, even in dimly-lit environments, and is well-built with a weather-sealed body. It also has an excellent autofocus system for still or slower-moving subjects. It isn't the most portable APS-C mirrorless camera, and its battery life isn't great.
The Nikon Z50 is good for landscape photography. Image quality is impressive, with excellent dynamic range to bring out more highlight and shadow detail. There isn't too much noise at higher ISO settings, so it performs okay in low light. That said, battery life leaves something to be desired, especially for long hikes in remote locations.
The Nikon Z 50 is good for sports and wildlife photography. Its autofocus system has a great tracking feature, if not quite as reliable as higher-end mirrorless models. Still, it can shoot at a relatively quick burst rate, and though its buffer isn't deep enough for professional use, it can still capture plenty of shots in a single continuous burst. Images also look sharp and detailed. However, telephoto lenses for Nikon's Z-mount are limited to more expensive options.
The Nikon Z50 is decent for vlogging. It doesn't have a fully articulated screen, but you can still flip its screen down to face you for vlogs. Just be aware that putting it on a tripod can block the screen, which isn't ideal. There's no built-in sensor stabilization, but using lenses with optical stabilization can help reduce camera shake. Its autofocus also does an excellent job of keeping faces in focus when recording video.
The Nikon Z 50 is good for studio video. While it doesn't handle noise very well in poorly-lit environments, 4k and FHD video quality is quite good in more controlled lighting, and it offers a fair amount of frame rate options, including 120 fps in 1080p for slow-motion shots. Its autofocus system can also track subjects reliably. While it has most inputs and outputs for videography peripherals, there's no headphone jack for in-depth audio level monitoring.
The Nikon Z50 isn't designed for action video. It's too big to be mounted on a helmet rig and isn't water-resistant. Frame rate options are also limited in 4k, though you can shoot 120 fps video in FHD if you want to create slow-motion action videos.
The Nikon Z 50 is only available in one color variant: 'Black', and you can see our unit's label here.
Depending on the retailer, you can buy it in a bundle with the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens or with other Z mount lenses like the Nikkor Z DX 50-250mm F/4.5-6.3 VR lens. You can also buy it without a lens at all.
There's also a Nikon Z50 Creator's Kit, which comes with the camera body, the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens, a RØDE VideoMicro Microphone, a Joby GorillaPod 3K Kit, a SmallRig Vlogging Mounting Plate, and a Nikon Travel Kit case.
If you come across a different variant of the Nikon Z 50, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.
The Nikon Z 50 is a well-rounded mid-range camera. It's sturdier than a lot of cameras in its class, with some weather-sealing, along with excellent ergonomics. That said, it isn't the most portable APS-C option out there.
For other options, see our recommendations for the best mirrorless cameras for beginners, the best cameras under $1,000, or the best cameras for photography.
The Nikon Z 5 and the Nikon Z 50 are both entry-level options in Nikon's mirrorless lineup, but they have different-sized sensors. The Z 5 has an advantage in noise and low-light performance thanks to its full-frame sensor, along with advanced features like in-body image stabilization and dual memory card slots. However, the Z 50's APS-C sensor gives it a more portable body. The Z 50 also has faster burst shooting and is a bit better-suited to video and vlogging, with more frame rate options and less of a crop on 4k video.
The Nikon Z fc and the Nikon Z 50 perform very similarly overall. They use the same 20 MP sensor, so image and video quality is comparable. However, the Z fc has slightly more consistent AF tracking performance. That said, the biggest difference between the two is design. The Z fc is designed to look like a vintage SLR, with more dedicated control dials, and has a fully articulated screen that makes it a little better-suited to vlogging. The Z 50, on the other hand, is a little less portable but feels more comfortable in the hand thanks to its handgrip. Unlike the Z fc, it has a tilting screen that's better suited to waist-level photography.
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.
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.
The Nikon Z 50 isn't the most portable APS-C camera out there, partly because of its large, one-size-fits-all lens mount. The upside of this is that it's fully compatible with any Z-series lens, whether DX (APS-C) or FX (full-frame), and smaller FX lenses won't feel too imbalanced. Still, if you're looking for something more portable, the Fujifilm X-T30 II has a much more compact body.
The Nikon Z 50 feels very comfortable in the hand. Its grip is nice and roomy and will suit most hand sizes. Its in-between size means that buttons are all within reach, but your hand doesn't feel cramped, either.
The viewfinder is relatively large, especially compared to the smaller viewfinders found on Sony's APS-C lineup, including the Sony a6400. Its 2.36 million-dot resolution is normal for a camera of this type but is still sufficient to ensure a clear image through the EVF.
The Nikon Z50 uses a tilting screen that's great for waist-level shooting. The screen mechanism feels sturdy, and the screen has a pretty high resolution. It doesn't get especially bright, making it harder to review your images on very sunny days.
If you want to shoot vlogs or take selfies, the screen can also flip down to face you. It's nice to have, but not ideal if you're shooting on a tripod since the tripod will get in the way of the screen unless you use an off-center mounting plate.
Nikon's user interface is excellent. Though there are a lot of submenus, it's intuitively organized, and you can use either the physical D-pad or the touchscreen to navigate settings. There's also a help function available for certain settings, denoted by the '?' icon on the bottom left of the screen, which gives you more information about some settings and what they do.
Battery life for photos is mediocre. Its 300-shot CIPA rating falls short of comparable mid-range mirrorless cameras like the Sony a6400 or the Fujifilm X-T30 II. That said, it lasts decently long for video, with roughly an hour and a half of constant 4k video recording with no overheating interruptions.
The Nikon Z 50 has a great max burst rate for an entry-level camera. While it falls short of high-end and pro models, you can still capture quick bursts of continuous action. In its 'Continuous Low' drive mode, it can shoot at speeds from 1 fps to 4 fps. In its 'Continuous High' mode, it shoots at about 5 fps, and in its 'Continuous High (Extended)' mode, it shoots at about 11 fps.
It doesn't have the deepest photo buffer—its RAW and JPEG buffer capacity is a bit shy of the Sony a6400's, for example—but it's a lot quicker at clearing its buffer than the Sony is. It might slow you down if you fill the buffer at a critical moment, but it isn't too bad.
The autofocus is decent overall. It works very well for still or slower-moving subjects, with both face and eye detection for more precise focusing. The user interface for Nikon's autofocus system could be a lot more intuitive, especially compared to Sony's 'Real Time AF', in which general tracking, face, and eye AF are all seamlessly integrated.
Still, the continuous AF tracking is pretty effective. With face and eye detection enabled, and using the 'Auto-area AF' mode, it finds and stays locked onto subjects easily, resulting in a solid keeper rate, though not quite at the same level as Sony cameras like the Sony a6400. On the other hand, the general subject tracking, where you manually select a target for the autofocus to follow, can be a bit sluggish. The camera also struggles more with very fast or erratic subjects.
If you'd prefer not to rely on tracking, the camera will serve you very well. Center point AF is super reliable, with quick and accurate focusing that stays with subjects under the focus point easily.
There's no built-in sensor stabilization, but you can pair the camera with optically stabilized lenses to get clear shots at slower shutter speeds. Generally, Nikon's optical stabilization works well, but your mileage will vary depending on the focal length and shooting conditions.
Dynamic range is excellent on the Nikon Z 50. It's comparable to other top-performing APS-C cameras like the Sony a6400 and isn't much worse than Nikon's entry-level full-frame, the Nikon Z 5. Ultimately, it can capture a fairly wide range of detail in high-contrast scenes, but not as much as the latest full-frame cameras.
The Nikon Z50 uses a 20.1-megapixel sensor, so it can't resolve as much fine detail as models with higher-resolution sensors, like the Fujifilm X-T30 II or the Sony a6400. That said, images are still very detailed, and you likely won't notice a huge difference unless you compare images when zoomed in at 100% or more. You'll have a tad less leeway for cropping photos, but in practice, the impact is minimal, especially if you're just sharing your photos online.
The camera has good RAW noise handling overall. However, it drops off fairly quickly as you raise the ISO. Still, it isn't bad, and can still take great photos without excessive noise in dimmer lighting conditions.
There's a slight crop when shooting 4k video, but it isn't too bad and doesn't affect the field of view to a very noticeable degree. Unfortunately, there are no high frame rate options in 4k, making it harder to generate slow-motion footage.
The camera can only record 4k in 8-bit color, but it doesn't have any Log profiles with which you could take advantage of a higher bit depth, so it isn't an issue. The Nikon Z 50 isn't intended for advanced videographers who do more in-depth color grading; however, its internal recording capability is still suitable for more casual video shooting or creating YouTube content.
Autofocus is great in 4k. Unlike in photo mode, eye AF doesn't work for video, but its face detection feature works very well for tracking moving subjects. The general subject tracking is a bit less reliable but still does a great job of keeping subjects in focus if they're moving at a more moderate pace.
The 4k video quality is decent overall. The image looks sharp and detailed, and there's a bit less noise and more pop to the colors than on the comparable Sony a6400. It's okay in low light, though you lose a lot of shadow detail in high-contrast lighting, and there's some unavoidable noise in really dim lighting.
Rolling shutter distortion is pretty bad in 4k. It's especially noticeable with very fast panning, but it's still better or on par with other APS-C models in its price range.
As with 4k, 1080p video autofocusing is very good. Its face detection and tracking feature does an excellent job keeping moving subjects in focus. Manually selecting a subject for the camera to follow also gets good results, though the camera may still struggle to keep up with more erratic subjects.
There's significantly less distortion from the rolling shutter in 1080p compared to 4k recording. There's almost no visible slanting when panning the camera at a moderate pace, which is great for recording faster action.