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Nikon Z 50 Camera Review

Tested using Methodology v0.11
Updated Nov 17, 2022 at 03:46 pm
Nikon Z 50 Picture
7.6
Travel Photography
7.9
Landscape Photography
7.9
Sport & Wildlife Photography
7.3
Vlogging
7.8
Studio Video
5.4
Action Video

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.

Our Verdict

7.6 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 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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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 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.

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

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.

Pros
  • Excellent video stabilization performance.
Cons
  • Relatively bulky design.
  • Limited frame rate options in 4k recording.
  • 7.6 Travel Photography
  • 7.9 Landscape Photography
  • 7.9 Sport & Wildlife Photography
  • 7.3 Vlogging
  • 7.8 Studio Video
  • 5.4 Action Video
  1. Updated Jan 24, 2023: Added text to 'Photo AF-C Tracking' and 'Photo AF-C Center Point' boxes, with minor touch-ups throughout the review for clarity.
  2. Updated Jan 23, 2023: Converted to Test Bench 0.11.
  3. Updated Nov 17, 2022: Added full text to review and rewrote existing text for clarity.
  4. Updated Sep 23, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.10.
  5. 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.
  6. Updated Aug 04, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.9.
  7. 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.
  8. Updated Apr 22, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.8.
  9. Updated Jan 24, 2022: Rescored FHD test scene extract.
  10. Updated Sep 20, 2021: Updated 'Crop' field to show a 1.1x crop in 'FHD Video Stabilization' box.
  11. Updated Sep 17, 2021: Retested 'Luminance Noise' to account for the camera's shutter speed and achieve more accurate results.
  12. Updated May 21, 2021: Corrected input error in 'Screen Articulation Type' field in 'Screen' section.
  13. Updated Mar 08, 2021: Corrected input error in the 'Max Aperture (Full Frame Equivalent)' field inside the 'Lens' section.
  14. 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.
  15. Updated Feb 08, 2021: Corrected input errors in the 'Sample Gallery' section.
  16. Updated Feb 08, 2021: Review published.
  17. Updated Feb 08, 2021: Early access published.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

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.

Compared To Other Cameras

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.

Nikon Z 5

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.

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.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
5.4
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)

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.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Nikon Z 50 feels well-built. It's made of plastic but still feels solid. Its battery and SD card slots are covered by a hinged door, while the inputs and outputs are covered by rubber flaps. The buttons and dials feel sturdy and turn well. The screen tilting mechanism feels solid, too.

Design
Body
Body Type
SLR-Style
Water Resistance
Weather-Sealed
Mirrorless
Yes
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 Z50 camera body
  • Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens
  • Lens cap
  • Sensor cap
  • Shoulder strap
  • 1x Nikon EN-EL25 battery
  • 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

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.

Design
Viewfinder
Viewfinder Type
Electronic
Advertised Coverage
100%
Advertised Resolution
2.36 million dots
Advertised Magnification
1

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.

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

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.

9.0
Design
Menu System
Guide Mode
Yes
App Name
Nikon SnapBridge

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.

not tested
Design
Built-In Lens
Maximum Aperture
No built-in lens
Max Aperture (Full-Frame Equivalent)
N/A
Minimum Focal Length
N/A
Maximum Focal Length
N/A
Max Focal Length (Full-Frame Equivalent)
N/A
Optical Image Stabilization
No
Luminance
N/A
Light Falloff
N/A
Design
Sensor
Sensor Type
CMOS
Advertised Effective Pixels
20.9 MP
Sensor Size
APS-C
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

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.

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

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.

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.

6.2
Photo General
Photo AF-C Tracking
Autofocus Tracking Shots
Perfect Focus Hit Rate
47%
Usable Focus Hit Rate
66%

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.

10
Photo General
Photo AF-C Center Point
Autofocus Center Point Shots
Perfect Focus Hit Rate
100%
Usable Focus Hit Rate
100%

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.

7.8
Photo General
Photo Image Stabilization
Minimum Shutter Speed Achieved
1/13 s
In-Body Image Stabilization
No

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

The camera is very effective at reducing noise in JPEGs taken straight out of the camera. Of course, at higher ISO levels, noise is inevitable, but photos hold up well even into higher ISO settings.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

7.3
4k Video
4k Video Quality
Low Light Capability In 4k
6.5
Test Scene Extract In 4k
8.1

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.

5.9
4k Video
4k Video Rolling Shutter Effect
4k Rolling Shutter
6.7°

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.

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

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.

7.0
Full HD Video
FHD Video Quality
Low Light Capability In FHD
6.5
Test Scene Extract In FHD
7.5

FHD video quality is decent. It performs well in brighter lighting conditions, with plenty of detail and colors that pop. However, low-light video doesn't quite hit the mark, with some noticeable noise and muddier details.

8.2
Full HD Video
FHD Video Rolling Shutter Effect
FHD Rolling Shutter
2.0°

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.

Storage And Connectivity
Storage And Connectivity
Storage
Card 1 Slot
SD Card UHS-I
Card 2 Slot
No 2nd Card Slot

The SD card slot is located next to the battery. The compartment is on the bottom of the camera, making it harder to switch out cards if you're using a tripod.

7.8
Storage And Connectivity
Inputs / Outputs
USB
Micro USB
HDMI
Micro (Type D)
Headphones
No
Microphone
Stereo
Wi-Fi
Yes
Bluetooth
Yes

Discussions