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Review: Nikon NX Studio answers our plea for a free, all-in-one editing app

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Review: Nikon NX Studio answers our plea for a free, all-in-one editing app

Introduction

Nikon NX Studio version 1.0.0’s user interface.

A few weeks ago, we published an article comparing Nikon’s free ViewNX-i and Capture NX-D utilities with their dominant payware alternative, Adobe Camera Raw, which also underlies the popular Adobe Lightroom Classic. In summary, I found both ViewNX-i and Capture NX-D to offer pretty decent image quality and good performance.

But one of my primary complaints with this duo was that neither app offered a complete feature set. ViewNX-i’s Raw processing capabilities were rather more limited in the interests of approachability, while Capture NX-D lacked features like support for geolocation, keywording, movies, slideshows and more. That left users having to switch back and forth between the pair for a full experience.

The newly released Nikon NX Studio definitively addresses this. It’s essentially a replacement for both applications, offering almost every feature of the pair in a single program. Capture NX-D and ViewNX-i will remain available for download, but are unlikely to be updated to add support for new cameras or compatibility with future operating system updates.

NX Studio replaces ViewNX-i if already installed, but can run alongside Capture NX-D, allowing you to try both in parallel should you want to. It comes bundled with a new version of Nikon Transfer 2 whose sole change is to add support for NX Studio itself. It also works with the same Message Center 2 and Picture Control Utility 2 apps as its predecessors.

It will support all Nikon DSLRs released since the D1 in 1999, as well as all of the company’s Z and 1-series mirrorless cameras, Coolpix compacts and KeyMission action cameras. (Although with that said, AVI-format movies from a couple of dozen Coolpix models released between 2009 and 2011 can’t be played back in the app.)

Key takeaways:

  • NX Studio comes with a modern, approachable UI
  • Keywording and GPS tagging are now supported
  • Allows for movie playback and light editing
  • Image quality and performance are broadly similar to predecessors; convenience in a single package is the reason to upgrade

A cleaner, friendlier, more modern user interface

The user interface is aesthetically similar to that of both earlier apps, but it’s now cleaner, friendlier and more standards compliant than before. Icons are monochromatic, with a bolder yellow accent color used to call attention to enabled options, rather than the more muted yellow of the Capture NX-D and ViewNX-i. And unlike both earlier apps, there are no drop shadows or gradient effects, giving NX Studio a cleaner, more modern look.

Alongside its predecessors, Capture NX-D (bottom left) and ViewNX-i (bottom right), Nikon NX Studio (top) has a cleaner, friendlier user interface that’s nevertheless familiar.

Compared to NX-D specifically, NX Studio is far more approachable. Adjustment panels are no longer hidden behind toggle buttons, expanding a new one no longer causes a previous one to vanish from the UI, and nor do conflicting variations of a single control appear in multiple places as in the earlier app. If you only use a subset of the controls on offer, you can also create a custom panel containing just those specific controls, which helps made them easier to find.

And unlike in Capture NX-D, Windows conventions are now properly followed, so you can tab or shift-tab to switch back and forth between fields when typing in values directly, saving some wrist strain in having to reach for your mouse or touchpad repeatedly. One slight shortcoming is that while keyboard shortcuts are supported – for example, the F key toggles full-screen mode – there’s no list of shortcuts to be found in the otherwise-excellent user manual, and nor are they listed in the app’s settings. We’ve sent a query over to Nikon about the keyboard shortcuts, and will update this article if and when we receive a response.


Few and minor drawbacks to the new interface

There are relatively few downsides to the new UI. You can no longer undock and float panels to place them wherever you like on the screen, nor can you dock them in different locations to their defaults, other than for the film strip. This defaults to a horizontal bar at the bottom of the screen, but can be switched to a vertical column at screen left instead

The navigation panel, folders and albums controls are all fixed at screen left, while the histogram, adjustments, EXIF information and keywording tools sit at the right of the screen. Both of these side panels can easily be resized, or hidden with a single click on their centrally-located arrow buttons. The film strip lacks a similar button to allow it to be hidden, but you can hide it by dragging downwards when resizing.


Keyword your images manually or based on location

Given that ViewNX-i had a rather abbreviated selection of editing controls, I’d wager most users will be migrating from Capture NX-D. In most respects, NX Studio’s editing controls are identical to that app, although it does add the Color Booster control from ViewNX-i alongside NX-D’s saturation tool, giving you access to other method.

NX Studio now includes support for XMP and IPTC keywording, including automatic address and Wikipedia data tagging based on geolocation info.

But what else do you gain by switching from NX-D? The most significant addition is probably the arrival of both XMP/IPTC keywording, allowing you to manually tag your images post-import, view existing tags and remove those which aren’t applicable.

If your images are geotagged, you can also add location-based tags semi-automatically, choosing from a list of app-selected location name suggestions, or even from place names suggested via Wikipedia. Confusingly, though, this functionality is available only when in map view, even though the ‘Set from location data’ button remains visible – albeit grayed out – in other views. I’d like to see Nikon correct that to be clickable regardless of your chosen view.


View your images and track logs on the map

Speaking of the map view, that’s another new addition, and it allows you to see geotagged images from your currently-selected folder or album on an interactive world map. You have a choice of map, satellite, hybrid or physical views provided by Google Maps.

The new Map view can pinpoint the location and capture direction of individual photos, show GPS track logs and automatically geotag your images from the tracks.

Each individual image shows up as a yellow pushpin on the map, with the currently selected image being shown in red. If your camera recorded a compass bearing at capture time, that direction is also indicated on its pushpin when selected as shown in the screenshot above left, but not otherwise.

If you have an NMEA or GPX track log recorded by the camera itself or a compatible device, these can be imported and shown as a red track line. And once imported, they can be used to approximately geotag selected images based on their capture time as compared to the times recorded in the track log.


Play movies and perform basic editing tasks

Another new addition is support for movies, both in terms of playback and basic editing. The editing functionality allows you to quickly trim the start and end of clips, or splice multiple files together.

You can also combine multiple movie clips and images to make a new file complete with titles, captions, and overlaid music. There are, however, only three transition effects, three still image durations (with optional motion effect), and three brief music samples provided. You can also add your own music in .WAV or .M4A formats, and process movie clips to remove autofocus noise.

You can now view and perform basic editing on movies in-app, but you’ll need a beefy processor and GPU if you want to do so with ultra high-def footage.

Unfortunately, you’ll need quite a beefy processor and GPU for smooth playback if you shoot in 4K, let alone editing. On my 2018 Dell XPS 15 9570 laptop running Windows 10 version 1909, I found 1080p clips from the Nikon Z5, for example, played smoothly but those at 4K resolution stuttered badly.

And that’s not down to the hardware, as VLC Media Player played them perfectly smoothly on the same computer, while Windows’ own Media Player and Photo apps only dropped a handful of frames.


Several smaller tweaks, too

Nikon NX Studio also includes a number of smaller tweaks compared to Capture NX-D. For one thing, you can now upload images and movies directly to Nikon’s Image Space service and YouTube, respectively. You can also view slideshows with optional, user-provided background music, and the new program adds support for more obscure file formats such as 3D Multi Picture Object files or voice notes recorded on older Coolpix cameras.

Support is included for uploading your creations to both Nikon Image Space and YouTube.

Really, I can only find a couple of omissions. As mentioned previously, you can no longer undock interface panels, nor can you change whether they appear in the left or right-side palettes. Other than that, I couldn’t find any other missing features this time around.


Image quality is indistinguishable from NX-D

Initially, I planned to compare Nikon NX Studio’s image quality to that of its predecessors and Adobe Camera Raw in detail. However, on testing the program I’ve found its results with identical settings to be visually indistinguishable from those of NX-D, even though precise file sizes do differ fractionally at the same compression level.

You can also play basic slideshows in-app, but there are only three transition types to choose from, and you’ll need to supply any background music yourself.

With that being the case, I’ll refer you to the second page of my earlier article, instead, for a more detailed analysis. NX Studio is capable of delivering good image quality with very pleasing color and impressive shadow recovery, but feel Adobe still has a slight edge when it comes to fine detail at low sensitivities, which increases at higher sensitivities thanks to significantly stronger noise reduction from Nikon.

The good news is that with no noticeable change in image quality, and with all the same controls on offer as in both predecessors, NX Studio will read and apply all the same tweaks as did either earlier application, meaning you can upgrade without fear of having to rework all of your adjustments.


Performance is similar to both predecessors

As for performance, which was already a strong point of Nikon’s software compared to that provided by most manufacturers, things are also pretty similar to before. Adobe still has a small but noticeable edge in the speed of final output processing, and a more substantial advantage in terms of preview performance.

NX Studio is a little faster than Capture NX-D, however. Using the same six comparison images as for my previous article, it took 28 seconds to complete the batch. That’s about two seconds faster than with NX-D, and two seconds slower than NX-i. By way of comparison, performance leader Adobe still holds the crown with a time of 19.5 seconds.


A few bugs, but that’s to be expected in a brand-new app

In my time with Nikon NX Studio, I’ve found it to be very stable, but that’s not to say it’s perfect, nor would I expect a brand-new app to be. I’ve run across a couple of bugs, although only one strikes me as particularly significant. (And both are related to issues I found with the previous apps, as well.)

Firstly, there’s still an issue with detecting dragging of the right-panel scroll bar, regardless of whether the program is running maximized or not. But where this only happened with my Dell Active Pen, it now also happens with both the touch screen and even when dragging with the mouse. Simply using the scroll wheel or a two-fingered touchpad swipe works around this, however.

The program also ignores Windows’ scaling settings entirely in mixed-resolution monitor setups when running on an ultra high-def screen. That makes it extremely difficult to use on a 4K display unless you either lower the resolution or disable your lower-res screen(s).

Image quality from NX Studio is broadly comparable to what you’d get from the Capture NX-D; check out how it compares with ACR here. Click or tap for the full-sized ACR version; here for CaptureNX-D version

The good news is that Nikon is aware of this problem and working on a fix. In the meantime, desktop users with mixed-resolution displays can work around it using a scaling setting built into NX Studio, but notebook users will find that they constantly have to change this setting – which also requires an app restart – every time they disconnect or reconnect a display of differing resolution.


NX Studio is a big step in the right direction

So what do I think of Nikon NX Studio? I have to say that it’s a big step in the right direction, giving photographers that Nikon cameras a powerful editing application where they can perform most of the edits they’d want to.

The most important thing here is that the new program provides basically everything of any significance from its two predecessors, allowing you to ditch one of them altogether. Its new interface is noticeably better and easier on the eye, and its performance and image quality are just as good as before.

I think this first iteration of NX Studio is a great replacement for Nikon’s earlier apps. If you’re using either ViewNX-i or Capture NX-D currently, I highly recommend you upgrade to the newer app, because I’m confident that you’ll agree.

What we like:

  • Available free with your Nikon camera
  • Includes almost every feature of Capture NX-D and ViewNX-i in a single app
  • Recognizes and retains edits made with Capture NX-D or ViewNX-i
  • Significantly friendlier interface than its predecessors, though with familiar controls
  • Realistic color with minimal effort
  • Impressive shadow recovery from Active D-Lighting and D-Lighting HS
  • Slightly faster than Capture NX-D, albeit still a fair bit slower than Adobe
  • A very generous editing feature-set

What we don’t:

  • No overall one-click auto control, although many individual controls have an auto setting
  • Noise reduction robs fine detail and, depending on your camera, there may not be much scope to fine-tune it
  • Interactions between controls can prove challenging
  • 4K video playback requires beefy hardware
  • Similar touch/pen issues to earlier apps, but they’re easily worked around

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Ricoh launches Pentax 17 half-frame fixed lens film camera

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Ricoh launches Pentax 17 half-frame fixed lens film camera



Ricoh has revealed the Pentax 17, the half-frame film compact with a manual focus fixed prime lens.

The Pentax 17 has a 25mm F3.5 lens which works out at 37mm equivalent, and derives its name from the horizontal width of the 17 x 25mm frames it captures. The company says the vertical format makes it similar to images shot by smartphones.

It has a manual focus lens that can be set to one of six preset distances, from 0.25m to infinity, indicated with icons on the top of the lens. The company says the lens is based on the design of 1994’s Pentax Espio Mini and features three elements in three groups. It features a leaf shutter that gives a circular aperture shape all the way from F3.5 to F16, and gives a shutter speed range from 1/350 sec to 4 seconds, and offers a Bulb mode for longer exposures.

The company says its targeting a younger audience who enjoy the experience of shooting film and will appreciate the cost-savings of shooting two exposures on each 36 x 24mm frame. The 17 will also provide the certainty of a full warranty with good availability of spare parts, which second-hand cameras lack. It will come with a one year warranty and, in the US at least, the option of a second year of coverage.

The camera features magnesium alloy construction and uses a standard CR2 lithium battery to power its flash, light meter and viewfinder indicators.

The 17 will be available from late June 2024 at a cost of $499.95.

Press Release:

Ricoh announces the PENTAX 17 compact film camera

PARSIPPANY, New Jersey, June 17, 2024 — Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation today announced the highly anticipated PENTAX 17 compact film camera. The PENTAX 17 is a half- frame camera, capturing two 17mm x 24mm pictures within a single 35mm-format (36mm x 24mm) film frame. It produces vertical-format pictures, with similar ratios to those captured by smartphones, for seamless sharing on social media after the film is developed and scans are produced by a film lab.

The popularity of film cameras has grown rapidly in recent years — especially among young photographers — because of the distinctive, somewhat nostalgic experience provided that is so different from using digital cameras. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the global film camera market is projected to be 5.2% through 2030 and a quick search of the hashtag #filmphotography on Instagram pulls up more than 42.6 million posts.

Borne out of the PENTAX Film Camera Project, a concept first announced in December of 2022, the new camera resulted from a close collaboration between Ricoh Imaging and PENTAX experts and younger engineers. The experts shared their vast knowledge and decades of experience in film and imaging technology with the current team members to design a film camera that would allow photographers to express their originality and creativity by leaving some room for manual operation, rather than making it a fully automatic camera.

| Design merges manual operation and ease of use for maximum creative expression |

The design of the PENTAX 17 was inspired by the PENTAX brand’s heritage, incorporating manual operations unique to film photography that are gaining a loyal following in today’s digital world. This includes a selectable zone-focus system, manual film winding, manual film advance lever, and exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity adjustments, each with their own dials. The classic design of the camera body was developed with high-quality materials; the top and bottom covers are made of solid, lightweight magnesium alloy and the 40.5mm filter mounting thread enables the use of a range of filters.

The PENTAX 17 features a newly-developed 25mm F3.5 lens (equivalent to a 37mm lens in the 35mm format). Further building on the PENTAX brand heritage, the lens is based on optics incorporated in the acclaimed PENTAX Espio Mini — which was marketed in 1994 —redesigned to support the half-frame format. The lens is treated with HD (High Definition) coating to optimize the clarity and sharpness of the half-frame photos. In a nod to Ricoh’s rich history in optics and photography, the designers based the lens design on the lens in the RICOH Auto Half – a best- selling half-frame model first marketed in 1962 – incorporating the angle of view and focal length to make casual, everyday picture-taking simple and flawless.

The camera’s zone-focus system is divided into six focus zones that can be selected on the zone focusing ring to capture subjects at a long distance or as close-up as 25 centimeters away in the macro zone. Its bright optical viewfinder features a bright, Albada-type frame finder to facilitate framing a scene as well as a close-up visual field compensation frame to help users more easily compose close-up images. The zone focus marks can be seen directly through the viewfinder to further support composition.

The PENTAX 17 has seven shooting modes to accommodate different applications and scenarios. It automatically adjusts exposure settings based on lighting data collected by its metering sensor. In addition to the Full Auto mode in which all exposure settings are selected by the camera, it provides six other shooting modes including: Slow-speed sync, which is useful in twilight photography; and Bulb, a long-exposure mode useful for photographing nightscapes and fireworks.

The camera supports a wide selection of ISO film speeds and features a note holder on the back cover where the end of the film package can be inserted for at-a-glance confirmation of the film in use, three strap lugs to accommodate both horizontal and vertical suspensions, and compatibility with the optional CS-205 Cable Switch for use in extended-exposure photography in Bulb mode.

| Industry support for PENTAX 17 |

“Film photography has been growing in popularity over the past decade and especially recently! The new PENTAX 17 film camera is going to kickstart an entirely new generation of film shooters,” said Philip Steblay, Cofounder of The Darkroom, an online film developing service. “This terrific new camera will add to the great pleasure and enjoyment of shooting film. The PENTAX analog functionality, film selection process and thinking more carefully about your shots will enhance the fun of photography. This, coupled with the anticipation that comes with waiting for your images to process, adds to the joy of photography. With new cameras and film coming to market the future of film photography looks bright.”

“The PENTAX 17 is a stunning camera, both in form and function,” said Kyle Depew, founder, Brooklyn Film Camera. “Its design is handsome and classic, yet it features elements that are delightfully unique and innovative. It’s amazing to see modern PENTAX engineering applied towards a new film camera. We couldn’t be more delighted.”

“The film photography community is vibrant and growing, and we are thrilled to see Ricoh Imaging recognizing this and creating new products for this market,” said Meredith Reinker, managing partner, Roberts Distributors LP. “Film photography has been growing in popularity over the last several years and supporting this community is supporting a growing industry as well as supporting the arts. We are honored to be partnering with Ricoh to make this camera available through our distribution channel of independent, local and analog-focused businesses. We look forward to watching the analog community embrace this exciting announcement as we all have a shared goal of keeping film photography alive and accessible.”

“This camera has been a reminder to have fun and not take things too seriously,” said Matt Day, photographer. “It’s fun to shoot with, it’s compact enough to carry anywhere, and double the amount of exposures makes it easier to shoot more.”

“Many photographers were first introduced to the joys of photography using a PENTAX film camera. We’re hoping to introduce a new generation to the world of film photography with the PENTAX 17,” said Ken Curry, president, Ricoh Imaging Americas. “It is an ideal model not only for film camera enthusiasts who have enjoyed film photography for years, but also for photographers who are excited about trying film photography for the first time.”

| Pricing and Availability |

The PENTAX 17 will be available late June at www.us.ricoh-imaging.com as well as at Ricoh Imaging-authorized retail outlets nationwide for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $499.95.

| Main features |

1. Half-size format

The PENTAX 17 features the half-size format, in which two 17mm x 24mm pictures are captured within a single 35mm frame (36mm x 24mm). It also employs a manual film advance lever. When holding the camera in traditional orientation, the PENTAX 17 captures vertical-format pictures, similar to the familiar images captured by smartphones, which are commonly used today for picture-taking.

2. Manual camera operation unique to film cameras

The PENTAX 17 features a manual film-winding mechanism based on those incorporated in PENTAX-brand single-lens reflex (SLR) film cameras. The film advance lever lets the user enjoy the film winding action and a wind-up sound after every shutter release. An easy-loading system is designed to prevent film-loading errors, especially for first-time film camera users. It also features other mechanisms unique to film cameras, such as manual film rewinding operation using the rewind crank; exposure compensation via the exposure compensation dial; and ISO sensitivity setting via the ISO sensitivity dial.

3. Newly developed lens combining time-proven optics and the latest lens coating technology

The PENTAX 17 features a newly developed 25mm F3.5 lens (equivalent to a 37mm lens in the 35mm format). Based on the optics incorporated in the acclaimed PENTAX Espio Mini (marketed in 1994), it has been redesigned to fit perfectly in the half-size format. It is also treated with HD (High Definition) coating — a highly acclaimed multi-layer coating — to optimize the clarity and sharpness of half-size pictures. Using the lens used in the RICOH Auto Half (a best-selling half- size model first marketed in 1962) as a reference, the angle of view and focal length were selected to make casual, everyday picture-taking simple and flawless.

4. Zone-focus system to switch the in-focus area via simple selection of zone marks

From close-ups to long distances, the PENTAX 17’s zone-focus system can handle it all. The system is divided into six focus zones, indicated by marks that signify each zone. All the user has to do to set the camera’s focus is select the mark best suited for the subject distance on the zone focusing ring. In the Macro focus zone, the user can capture a close-up photo from approximately 25 centimeters away. The hand strap (included as a standard accessory) lets the user measure subject distance more accurately.

5. Bright optical viewfinder for real-time confirmation of a subject image

The PENTAX 17’s optical viewfinder features a bright, Albada-type frame finder that helps to facilitate framing a scene. It also comes with a close-up visual field compensation frame to help the photographer more easily compose close-up images. It is possible to check the zone marks directly through the viewfinder.

6. Seven shooting modes to accommodate different applications

The PENTAX 17 automatically adjusts exposure settings based on the lighting data collected by its metering sensor. In addition to the Full Auto mode in which all exposure settings are selected by the camera, it provides six other shooting modes, including Slow-speed sync, which is highly useful in twilight photography; and Bulb, a slow-shutter speed mode that comes in handy for photographing nightscapes and fireworks. The PENTAX 17 also features an independent exposure compensation dial, which allows the user to swiftly shift the exposure level to accommodate different types of subjects or express the user’s creative intentions.

7. High-quality body with meticulous attention to every detail

The PENTAX 17’s body has a classic design, reminiscent of traditional film cameras. The top and bottom covers are made of a solid but lightweight magnesium alloy to optimize the camera body’s rigidity. The 40.5mm filter mounting thread allows the user to mount a range of filters, which are available for purchase on the market. With meticulous attention paid to every single detail, the PENTAX 17 is designed to be a joy to own.

8. Other features

  • A wide selection of ISO film speeds (50, 100, 125, 160, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200)
  • Note holder on the back cover, into which the end of the film package can be inserted for an at-a-glance confirmation of the film in use
  • Three strap lugs to accommodate horizontal and vertical camera suspensions, to best suit
    the user’s shooting style
  • Compatibility with the optional CS-205 Cable Switch, which comes in handy for extended-exposure photography in the Bulb shooting mode



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Nikon Z6III initial review

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Nikon Z6III initial review


Product Photos by Richard Butler

The Nikon Z6III is the company’s third-generation full-frame mirrorless camera, bringing a faster 24MP sensor that boosts the autofocus and video capabilities of this stills/video hybrid.

Key specifications

  • 24MP “Partially Stacked” CMOS sensor
  • 14fps with mech shutter, 20fps e-shutter up to 1000 Raw files
  • In-body image stabilization rated at up to 8.0 stops
  • 5.76M dot EVF with high brightness and wide color gamut
  • Fully articulated 3.2″ 2.1M dot rear screen
  • 6K/60p N-Raw video, 6K/30p ProRes Raw
  • 5.8K/60p H.265 video
  • Pre-burst capture, pixel-shift high-res mode

The Nikon Z6III will be available from late June at a price of $2500. This is a $500 increase over the previous Z6 models but brings it into line with the likes of Canon’s EOS R6 II and Sony’s a7 IV, with which it directly competes.


What’s new

24MP “Partially Stacked” CMOS sensor

Nikon’s image of the Z6III’s sensor, showing the extensive readout circuitry above and below the sensor.

Image: Nikon

The sensor at the heart of the Z6III is responsible for much of what the new camera brings. Nikon uses the term “Partially Stacked” to suggest it has some of the performance benefits of the Stacked CMOS chips it uses in its Z8 and Z9 models, but without the associated cost.

Nikon hasn’t given us precise detail but it appears the readout and analog-to-digital conversion circuitry around the edge of the chip is stacked, allowing it to be both more sophisticated and closer to the pixels themselves, delivering faster readout.

The effect result is that the camera can read out its sensor fast enough to deliver full-width 6K video at up to 60p in N-Raw mode and a flash sync speed of 1/60 sec. This means it must be able to read the entire sensor in less than 1/60 sec,

However, that maximum sync speed of 1/60th is around a quarter of the speed of true Stacked CMOS sensors and not a vast leap forward from the previous generation of sensors. It should improve AF performance and video capabilities but won’t deliver the blisteringly fast performance of the likes of the Z8.

Improved AF

Along with the faster sensor, the Z6III also gains the autofocus improvements seen in Nikon’s recent models, including 3D Tracking and subject recognition. The company says AF is up to 20% faster than it was in the Z6 II, and that the performance is comparable with the Z8 and Z9.

On top of this, the camera can focus at down to –10EV without you having to engage the Starlight AF mode (though it’s worth noting that this figure is predicated on an F1.2 lens being attached). It also gains most the subject recognition modes from the Zf, though lacks the dedicated bird detection mode that the Z8 and Z9 have recently gained.

Subject detection modes
  • People
  • Animals
  • Vehicles
  • Airplanes
  • Auto

(Dogs, cats, birds)
(Cars, motorbikes, trains, airplanes, bicycles)

These all reflect a significant improvement over the Z6 II. The 3D Tracking system resembles those on Nikon’s DSLRs: pick an AF point and the camera will follow whatever’s under that point when you hold the shutter half depressed or the AF-On button. As soon as you release it reverts to your previously chosen position. Unlike the Z6 II’s system you don’t need to press a button to cancel tracking and it doesn’t revert to the center.

But as well as this increased ease-of-use, the interface controls a much more effective and reliable tracking system that’s much less likely to lock onto the wrong thing or just lose it completely (which was not uncommon, especially in movie mode, on the preview generation of cameras). Add to this the camera’s ability to recognize a series of subjects near your chosen AF point and the Z6 III should be much quicker and easier to work with than previous mid-level Nikons.

Video

The faster sensor sees the Z6III’s video capabilities gain a significant upgrade, compared with its predecessor. It’s too soon for Nikon’s purchase of cinema camera maker RED to have played into this camera’s development, but it relieves any uncertainty around the inclusion of onboard capture of both N-Raw and ProRes Raw video formats.

All of the codecs offer both UHD 4K and a higher-resolution capture mode, all of which use the full width of the sensor. The Raw modes offer 6K or 4K capture, while the gamma-encoded modes (ProRes 422, H.265, H.264) offer 5.4K or 4K recording.

Codec Resolutions and max frame rates
N-Raw 6K/60p
UHD 4K/60p
ProRes RAW 6K/30p
UHD 4K/60p
ProRes 422 5.4K/60p
UHD 4K/60p
H.265 5.4K/60p
UHD 4K/60p
H.264 UHD 4K/30p

Like the Z8, the Z6III includes shooting aids such as waveforms, zebras and focus peaking.

The Z6III also becomes the first Nikon to accept a line-level input over its mic socket. It’s also compatible with Atomos’ AirGlu, a Bluetooth-based Timecode sync system.

Additional functions

The Z6III also gains all the other functions that have been added to Nikon cameras since the launch of the Z6 II, including pre-burst capabilities and multi-shot high resolution modes.

It also has the image stabilization system that centers its correction on your chosen AF point. This is particularly valuable if you’re focused in the corners of wide-angle shots, where the required pitch and yaw correction is significantly different from that needed at the center of the image.

In addition, like the Zf, the Z6III can use its subject recognition system even if you’re in manual focus mode. This means that engaging magnified live view will punch in on your subject’s eye, as you check focus, rather than you having to navigate around the scene to find it.

Finally, the Z6III will be compatible with a “Flexible Color” tool that will be added to Nikon’s NX Studio software, which provides an enhanced set of color tools for creating custom Picture Control color modes to install on the camera.

Cloud access

The Z6III will be the first Nikon camera to use the Nikon Imaging Cloud service. This will fulfill a series of functions. At its most basic it’ll be a service to which images can be uploaded and then sent on to other storage and social media services (rather than the camera itself having to know how to connect to multiple services).

It’ll also be a source for “Imaging Recipes,” which are camera settings intended for taking specific types of image, created with the help of Nikon’s sponsored creators. There will also be “Cloud Picture Controls” presets that can be downloaded. This service isn’t available yet, so we won’t be able to assess its usefulness until it is.


How it compares

The $500 price hike brings the Nikon directly into line with the MSRPs of its two most comparable competitors: Sony’s a7 IV and Canon’s EOS R6 II. All three cameras are highly capable stills and video machines with strong AF systems. We’ve included the more expensive Panasonic DC-S5II X here because its video capabilities and price are closer to those of the Nikon.

Nikon Z6III Canon EOS R6 II Sony a7 IV Panasonic Lumix DC-S5II X Nikon Z6 II
MSRP $2500 $2500 $2500 $2500 $2000
Sensor type “Semi-stacked” BSI CMOS Dual Pixel AF FSI CMOS BSI CMOS BSI CMOS BSI CMOS
Resolution 24MP 24MP 33MP 24MP 24MP
Maximum shooting rate 20fps (Raw)
60fps (JPEG)
40fps (12-bit Raw or JPEG) 10 fps (lossy Raw) 30fps (e-shutter) 14fps
10fps (14-bit Raw)
Rolling shutter rate (ms) ∼14.6ms
(14-bit)
∼14.7ms
(12-bit)
∼67.6ms (14-bit) ∼51.3ms
(14-bit)
∼50.8ms (14-bit)
Video resolutions 6K (Raw)
5.4K
UHD 4K
6K (Raw over HDMI)
DCI 4K
UHD 4K
UHD 4K 6K
5.9K
5.9K (Raw over HDMI)
DCI 4K
UHD 4K
UHD 4K
Uncompressed video N-Raw
ProRes RAW
Over HDMI Over HDMI Over HDMI
Viewfinder res/ magnification/ eye-point 5.76M dot OLED/ 0.8x/
21mm

3.69M dot OLED/
0.76x/
23mm

3.68M dot OLED/ 0.78x/
23mm
3.68M dot OLED/
0.78x/
21mm
3.69M dot OLED/ 0.8x/ 21mm
Rear screen 3.2″ fully-articulated 2.1M dot 3.0″ fully articulated
1.62M dot
3.0″ fully articulated
1.04M dot
3.0″ fully articulated
1.84M dot
3.2″ tilting 2.1M dot
Image stabilization Up to 8.0EV Up to 8.0EV Up to 5.5EV Up to 5.0EV
Up to 6.5EV with Dual IS 2 lens
Up to 5.0EV
Media types 1x CFe B
1x UHS II SD
2x UHS II SD 1x CFe A / UHS II SD
1x UHS II SD
2x UHS II SD 1x CFe B
1x UHS II SD
Battery life EVF / LCD 360 / 390 320 / 580 520 / 580 370 / 370 360 / 420
Dimensions 139 x 102 x 74mm 138 x 98 x 88mm 131 x 96 x 80 mm 134 x 102 x 90mm 134 x 101 x 70mm
Weight 760g 670g 659g 740g 705g

What the table can’t capture is the subtle differences in performance between these models, which is increasingly what it comes down to, in this most competitive of classes. Our early impressions are that the Z6III matches the Canon and Sony in terms of autofocus tracking performance and usability, wheres the Panasonic lags a little and the Z6 II feels like it’s left significantly behind.

Likewise the new Nikon and the Canon stand ahead in terms of video performance, as they offer faster video capture with less rolling shutter, especially compared with the rather slow Sony. We’ll need to shoot the Nikon more to know whether it can outdo the Canon’s video AF, which isn’t the most dependable.

The stills stabilization figures do nothing to convey the smoothness of video stabilization, either, with the Panasonic doing particularly well in this regard. Increasingly, choice and availability of lenses will be the critical deciding factor for a lot of people.


Body and handling

The Z6III looks, at first glance, a lot like the existing Z6 and Z7 models, with a familiar low-height camera with significant hand grip and viewfinder hump extending from it. But if you put them side-by-side you find that the Z6III is a very different body, even if it uses the same styling cues.

It’s a larger camera than its predecessors and heavier. However, it’s much closer in size to them than it is to the Z8. It’s wider and thicker but maintains a solid, comfortable grip. The button positions are essentially unchanged, compared to the previous cameras, with twin function buttons on the front and an AF joystick on that back.

Viewfinder

The Z6III is a larger, heavier body than its predecessor, but the controls are essentially the same. The Playback and drive mode buttons have been swapped, but that’s the most significant change. There’s also a button on the top plate to illuminate the settings panel.

The Z6III becomes the first Z-series camera to move beyond the 3.69M dot panels used so far. It sees a jump to 5.76M dots but, more importantly, also gains a significant brightness boost. The panel can go as bright at 400nits and can cover the full gamut required for HLG.

You’ll need to manually push it to its brightest setting to get this full brightness but it means the camera can represent true HDR capture when shooting in HEIF mode, and generally give a viewfinder that differs less in brightness, relative to the real world.

Articulated rear screen

The Z6III becomes the first mid-range Nikon to gain a fully-articulated screen, rather than the tilting panels that the previous models have had. It’s a 3.2″ LCD panel with 2.1M dots.

The hinge is very close to the camera’s (full-sized) HDMI port and only a little in front of the mic and headphone sockets, so expect it to be a little awkward to use if you’ve got a lot of things plugged into the side of the body.

Battery

The Z6III uses the same EN-EL15c battery as its predecessor, and is rated as delivering a similar number of images. In standard mode it is rated to give 390 shots per charge if used via the rear LCD, and 360 shots through the viewfinder. Move into power saving mode and these numbers increase to 410 and 380 shots per charge, respectively.

As always, these numbers tend to significantly under-represent the number of shots most people will achieve. Getting twice the rated figure isn’t unusual, and more if you shoot a lot of images as bursts.

A battery grip with vertical controls and space for two, hot-swappable, batteries has been created. The MB-N14, which will be available in summer 2024, has been designed so that it’s backward compatible with the Z6 II and Z7 II. This grip displaces the internal battery, meaning you end up with two batteries in total. It has its own USB-C socket for charging the batteries even with the grip detached.


Initial impressions

By Richard Butler

The Z6III closely resembles the Z6 II (and Z7 II, pictured), but is slightly deeper, and has a larger top-plate settings panel.

The dullest possible reaction to the Z6III would be to take a quick look and conclude it’s all about video. Because, while there are plenty of video improvements, the Z6III is also a much better stills camera than we’ve seen from the company at this level. After the rather subtle refresh of the Z6 II, the III represents a much more significant step forward.

Admittedly, the video improvements are easier to spot. Internal Raw video, a full-sized HDMI socket, that fully-articulating LCD, waveforms, full-sensor 4K and 6K/60p: these collectively move Nikon from bringing up the rear of this class to arguably leading it. It’s striking that this mainstream class of cameras now offers the kinds of capabilities you’d previously have found only in dedicated video cameras like Panasonic’s GH series.

Part of this feature set has trickled down from capabilities developed for the Z9 but a lot of it comes from the new, faster sensor. And that faster sensor is a benefit to stills shooters, too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-Rxu4mUxuM

The faster shooting rates are the most obvious sign of this, but the autofocus is also improved. The addition of 3D Tracking and Subject Recognition make the system more powerful and quicker to use, but according to Nikon the faster readout also means the Z6III will outperform the Zf, which has the same processor and interface.

But the improvements for photographers go beyond the performance boost: the higher-resolution viewfinder that can more closely match the brightness of the real world, and can better preview HDR shooting is a major benefit for photographers. Then there’s the addition of options such as pre-burst capture and the multi-shot high-res mode, for those who find them useful.

The Z6III doesn’t (at launch, anyway), have the standalone ‘Bird’ detection mode that has been added to the Z8 and Z9, but it can detect them in its Animal mode.

Nikkor Z 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 VR S with Z TC-1.4 | ISO 1250 | F7.1 | 1/640
Photo: Richard Butler

And for every photographer disappointed about the move to a fully articulating rear screen, there may be another who appreciates this as being the only camera in this class to have a top-plate settings display. Nikon has made the camera a little larger but it hasn’t spoiled the ergonomics that we’ve always rather liked.

It’s interesting to look back ten years to the launch of Nikon’s D750 DSLR, a camera that seemed to offer everything a keen enthusiast photographer would want. Image quality hasn’t improved radically since that point: we’d expect the Z6III’s high ISO performance to be a little better, as the D750 pre-dates dual-gain chips, but it won’t be a radical difference. But everything else is unrecognizably better. Modern lenses are sharper and more consistent, autofocus is quicker, more precise and easier to get the most out of, the Z6III is more compact yet will merrily outperform the D750’s pro-sports contemporary, the D4S, in speed and AF while showing less viewfinder blackout. And that’s before we even consider what happens when you press the red REC button.

It would absolutely be possible to take this photo using a Nikon D750, with enough practice and patience, but the Z6III makes it significantly easier.

Nikkor Z 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 VR S with Z TC-1.4 | ISO 450 | F8.0 | 1/500
Photo: Richard Butler

I’ll admit that, having seen how much Nikon had squeezed out of the existing sensor with the Zf, I thought the Z6 III might simply be a repackaged version of that camera, especially as Panasonic’s S5 II twins also continue to rely on that same chip. But the Z6III is much more ambitious, and something that brings Nikon into serious contention in terms of both specs and performance, in what’s probably the most competitive sector of the market.

Pre-production sample gallery

Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter/magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review); we do so in good faith, so please don’t abuse it.

All images taken using a pre-production Z6III, from which we can only publish the out-of-camera JPEGs.



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DPReview Rewind: Nikon D1, the first in-house DSLR

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DPReview Rewind: Nikon D1, the first in-house DSLR


The Nikon D1 was the first DSLR developed in-house by a camera maker and the first to generate JPEGs internally.

Photo: Phil Askey

In 1999, you could already buy an F-mount DSLR: Kodak had been selling modified Nikon SLRs since the DCS100 in 1991. But at the turn of the century, its prime offering was still a rather inelegant combination of a Nikon F5 film camera and a bolted-on digital imaging unit called the Kodak Professional DCS-620.

The camera Nikon revealed on June 15th 1999 was arguably the first ground, up digital SLR: still borrowing heavily from the F5 and F100 film models, but clearly designed as a coherent whole. Everything was crammed into a conventional two-grip professional body of the kind that’s still made today.

The D1 had a recommended retail price of $5,500, body only, meaning it cost around half as much as the DCS-620. And its APS-C CCD boasted 2.62 megapixels, to the Kodak’s 1.99MP. It was also the first DSLR to natively shoot JPEG: another feature that, for better or worse, is still recognizable.

DPReview founder Phil Askey got his hands on an early sample around three months after this announcement, but his (and the site’s) move from Singapore to London caused a significant, and understandable, delay in the review.

By the time he was able to complete his write-up, the Nikon had serious competition, not from Kodak but from Canon’s $3000 EOS D30 with its 3.2MP CMOS sensor and single grip design, and from the Fujifilm S1 Pro, which was another Frankencamera, grafted into Nikon N60/F60 body but promising 6.13MP images from its 3.07MP Super CCD sensor, at a cost of $4000.

Even before these players entered the market, Phil noted in his review that he’d spoken to Kodak employees who seemed “blasé” about the threat that the D1 represented. Quarter of a century later and Kodak’s only presence in photography is via companies licensing its name.

Even in the light of the new contenders released since its launch, DPReview considered the D1, with its “ultra-fast AF,” to be “the digital tool for professional photographers.” After we’d explained the impact of the APS-C sensor on full-frame lenses.

Read our original Nikon D1 review

Nikon D1 sample gallery



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