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The latest digital camera and digital imaging reviews from Digital Photography Review.
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    The Fujifilm X100VI is a photographers' fixed-lens camera which combines a stabilized 40MP APS-C sensor with a 35mm equivalent F2 lens.

    Key features:

    • 40MP BSI CMOS APS-C X-Trans sensor
    • 35mm equiv F2 lens
    • In-body IS rated at up to 6EV of correction
    • Hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder (3.69M dot OLED panel)
    • Machine-learning trained subject recognition AF
    • 14 film simulations
    • 6.2K video capture and 10-bit recording
    • Built-in ND filter
    • Tilt up/down rear touchscreen

    The X100VI will be available at an MSRP of $1599, a $200 increase over the previous models. It will be available from early March 2024.


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    What's new?

    The biggest change in the X100VI is the addition of in-body image stabilization.

    Interestingly, Fujfilm says the IS performance drops from 6.0EV of correction to 5.5EV of correction if you use the viewfinder in optical mode. We weren't given a reason for this, so can only speculate that the 6.0EV figure is achieved with some degree of analyzing images for shake that for some reason doesn't occur when the live view feed isn't being used. We'll correct this if Fujifilm provides any further explanation.

    Very little appears to have changed on the back of the X100VI, except the disappearance of the phrase 'Made in Japan.' We traditionally don't take a position on such issues but feel it's worth mentioning when it comes in conjunction with a price rise.

    The X100VI also sees a move to the 40MP BSI CMOS sensor used in the X-H2 and X-T5. It's a sensor that delivers high levels of detail capture, and from what we've shot so far, we don't have much concern about the lens's ability to make the most of this resolution bump.

    The VI also features Fujifilm's X Processor V, that brings with it the machine-learning trained subject recognition algorithms. This means the X100VI has modes to recognize animals, birds, automobiles, motorcycles and bikes, airplanes or trains. As with other recent Fujifilm cameras, human face and eye detection is a separate mode, so you'll need to configure two buttons or positions on the Q Menu if you plan to swap between photographing people and a different subject type.

    Film simulations

    The X100VI gains the Reala ACE film simulation first seen in the GFX 100 II. Alongside this are added the Nostalgic Neg and Eterna Bleach Bypass simulations, taking the total number to 14 simulated filmstocks or 20 if you include the faux-color-filtered variations of the mono modes.

    This is a lot to choose from, even for experimenting with them after the fact, using in-camera Raw conversion. For the most part the options available represent film responses that you might actually choose to use, but the distinction between some of the modes are becoming quite subtle and there's a balance between providing useful options and feature-bloat.

    Camera to cloud

    The X100VI becomes Fuijfilm's first camera to support the camera-to-cloud (c-2-c) system using its built-in Wi-Fi. This comes in addition to the usual Wi-Fi-to-smartphone options. It lets you pair the camera with a Wi-Fi network and then have the camera upload images and video directly to Adobe's Frame.io cloud-based collaboration platform. Even on the preproduction model we have we found it was easy to set up and gives the option to auto upload files as they're created or to let you manually select the ones you wish to upload. You can select specific file types, too, so that it only uploads video or JPEGs, or just Raws or HEIFs, as you prefer.

    Video

    The X100 series has always offered video to some degree, but we've not heard of a lot of people making use of that capability. The X100VI offers essentially the same options as the X-T5 (itself not the company's most video-focused model), so you gain 10-bit recording, 6.2K capture from a 1.23x (43mm equiv) cropped region or 'HQ' 4K derived from this footage. This exhibits appreciable rolling shutter. Alternatively there's sub-sampled 4K at up to 30p from the sensor's full with or at up to 60p with a 1.14x crop.

    Like the recent GFX 100 II, the X100VI now has AF tracking in video mode, and this isn't restricted to the subjects it's been trained to recognize.

    The X100VI has a mic input and can use its USB-C socket for audio monitoring though, unlike the X-T5, no USB-to-3.5mm adapter is provided.

    It's interesting to note that many of the movie mode's settings are now accessible only when the camera is in Movie drive mode. This way there's only a single page of basic video functions in the menu when you're shooting stills.


    Other changes:

    In addition to the updates of some of the camera's main specs, the X100VI also inherits many of the smaller refinements and updates that Fujifilm has developed in the four years since the last model was released. These include:

    • HEIF capture
    • Skin smoothing effect
    • White priority and Ambience Priority Auto WB modes
    • Custom AF zone areas
    • Option to limit available AF area types for AF-S or AF-C shooting
    • Pre-shot bursts (E-shutter + Cont H)
    • Self timer lamp on/off
    • Interval shooting with external timer
    • Interval priority mode (prioritizes chosen interval, irrespective of exposure time)

    Body and controls

    The X100VI is 2mm deeper than the existing X100V, and 43g heavier. In practice, neither of these changes are especially noticeable. The camera still doesn't feel overly heavy.

    The body's dimensions are similar enough that it'll still fit in the existing LC-X100V leather camera case. It's also still compatible with the existing tele and wide-angle converter lenses. It uses the same lens as the previous model, so you can weather-seal the camera if you add the filter ring adapter and a filter of some sort.

    The rear screen on the X100VI is a refinement of the tilting touchscreen on the previous model. It now tilts down a little further (45° rather than 30°) and pulls away from the body and viewfinder a little when tilted up for waist-level shooting. It's a small change, but a welcome one.

    Controls

    The control layout is identical to the previous model, with dedicated controls for aperture, shutter speed, exposure comp and ISO (albeit an ISO control that's fiddly to the point of primarily being decorative). As with previous models and many historic film cameras, the exposure mode is dictated by the position of the dedicated dials. Essentially you turn the dial to 'A' if you want the camera to control that value:

    Manual Aperture Priority Shutter Priority Program
    Aperture ring setting F-number F-number A A
    Shutter speed dial setting Shutter speed A Shutter speed A

    Exposure compensation is available in all modes, including Manual, if you have Auto ISO selected. And, since the shutter speed dial only has whole-stop steps, you can use a command dial to give you 1/3rd stop precision, ±2/3 EV from the value selected on the dial.

    Command dials

    In addition there are two pressable command dials on the front and back of the camera, which can have a series of functions applied to them if the dedicated controls aren't being used.

    This is where things get a little complicated: the exposure comp and ISO dials have dedicated 'C' positions to pass control over to the command dials. The shutter speed dial doesn't have a C position, so instead should be turned to its 'T' (Time) setting. The aperture ring doesn't have a C position but its 'A' (Auto) position can be reconfigured to act as 'C', via the menus. This may not be obvious, given the ISO dial has both an A and a C position, but this is where the X100 series development has brought us to.

    We find it hard to imagine many people are assigning three settings to the command dials, and hence needing the pressable dials to make their function toggleable, but for most permutations we can anticipate, we think you can configure them only to the functions you want to control, so at least you won't accidentally press the dial and adjust anything unexpected.

    Disappointingly, if you set ISO to 'A' you can't use a command dial to select between the three Auto ISO presets that you can configure. For that you'll need to select 'C' and be careful not to scroll the command dial too far and disengage Auto ISO altogether.

    Hybrid viewfinder

    The X100VI has the same hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder as its immediate predecessor. This has three modes: fully electronic, fully optical and optical with an inset electronic display.

    As with all viewfinders that are offset from the lens and sensor, it's affected by parallax: when focused at infinity, the difference in position between the lens and viewfinder is irrelevant, but becomes increasingly important as the focus distance decreases. Not only does the framing of the photo diverge at closer focus distances, the position of the AF points effectively moves down and to the right as you focus on closer subjects.

    The X100VI finder includes the improvements made in firmware 2.0 for the X100V. A 'Corrected AF point' option (AF/MF Settings pg 3) that displays a bracketed indicator in the OVF, showing where your AF point will move to if you focus close to the camera. Another menu option, 'Bright Frame Position Memory' (Setup/Screen Setup pg 1) lets you decide if you want the AF box to revert to infinity after each shot or stay at the correct position for the last time you focused. Between these two options you should be able to get the OVF to work the way you're most comfortable with.

    Battery

    The X100VI uses the same NP-W126S battery as the previous few X100 models. It's an 8.2Wh unit from which the camera is rated to deliver 450 shots per change using the optical viewfinder or 310 shots if you use the EVF. The usual caveats come into play: in many shooting scenarios you can expect to get around double this number.


    Initial impressions

    Richard Butler

    It's easy to be a little underwhelmed by the X100VI at first. It looks so much like its predecessors that it's hard to appreciate what's new. I rarely have the need for vast pixel counts, so appreciate the move to 40MP without being especially thrilled.

    Likewise, the addition of subject recognition AF is a pleasant enough addition, but like the arrival of 10-bit video and tap-to-track focus in video, it feels a lot like a feature that makes a lot more sense for a camera such as the X-H2S, instead of on a camera with a fixed 35mm equiv lens. The byproduct of Fujifilm's developments elsewhere in its range, rather than things that the X100 series was crying out for.

    And, as we noted when the lens was updated with the X100V, the new lens isn't especially fast to focus: its design moves most of the lens to focus, prioritising sharpness over speed. So, even if you decided that you want to go birding with a 35mm-equiv camera, it's not going to keep up with fast-moving subjects, no matter how much more sophisticated the AF algorithms are.

    But then I started digging a little deeper, and started to research a look back at the development of the series. As someone who bought the original model and remembers the buzz in the office when Fujifilm first presented it to us, and who's been involved to at least some degree in reviewing all the subsequent versions, I was still caught a little offguard by how many changes the company has made with each iteration.

    So here we have the addition of a major feature: in-body image stabilization, but also a host of little tweaks and refinements. There are the subtle physical tweaks like the screen that tilts further down and pulls further away from the viewfinder when turned upwards. But there are also minor updates, such as the addition of HEIF capture, the option to use an external intervalometer and the ability to modify which of the camera's many AF area modes are available when you go to select them. All individually minor, and probably each relevant only to a subset of users, but cumulatively these little adjustments build up into something.

    For both better and worse, the X100VI operates a lot like an X100V: the model where we finally felt Fujifilm's 'use it however you prefer' approach to operation risked overwhelming the camera's original simplicity. But it also behaves like an improved, more refined X100V, which itself behaved like an improved, more refined X100F, and so on. At its heart it's still the latest incarnation of the camera that more DPReview writers have spent their own money on than any other.

    With each release of the X100 series, the question of whether owners of the current model should upgrade has typically been a fairly nuanced one. But the answer for new inductees to the question "which one should I get?" has always been "the latest one."

    Plus ça change...


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    Sample gallery

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    Product photos by Richard Butler

    Nikon's Zf is a full-frame mirrorless camera with classic styling, built around a 24MP BSI CMOS sensor. It's designed to mimic the look of the company's FM2 SLR from the early 1980s, meaning it effectively becomes a full-frame counterpart to the company's Z fc APS-C camera.

    Key specifications

    • 24MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor
    • In-body image stabilization rated up to 8EV
    • Dedicated Monochrome mode
    • Up to 14fps continuous shooting (JPEG), 11 fps Raw
    • 'C30' JPEG-only 30fps mode with pre-burst function
    • AF system with tracking and recognition of 9 subject types
    • 4K/30 video from 6K capture, 4K/60 with crop, 10-bit N-Log recording
    • 32-shot high-res mode to give 96MP images
    • SD and MicroSD card slots

    The Zf sells at a recommended price of $2000, the same as the launch price of the Nikon Z6 II, which gives a reasonable idea of the camera's ambitions.


    Buy now:



    • Sept 20: Initial review published
    • Jan 15:Operation and handling, Image quality, Autofocus, Video, Conclusion and updated Sample gallery published
    • Feb 12: Sample video and video experience section added

    What's new?

    Sensor/Processor

    Nikon isn't making any claims about the Zf's 24MP BSI CMOS sensor being new and, other than wider AF coverage, most of its performance appears to be consistent with the elderly but well-respected sensor in the Z6 II.

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    The adoption of the latest 'Expeed 7' processor brings significant changes, though. For a start, it brings subject recognition to the camera's AF system as well as a Z9-like implementation of the company's '3D Tracking' along with the 9-type subject recognition system. In addition, there's context-sensitive noise reduction that more aggressively smooths areas that appear not to have detail. It's this noise reduction in the JPEGs and HEIF files that convinced Nikon to let the camera's ISO range expand up to 204,800 (the unexpanded limit also rises to 64,000).

    The move to the latest processor also allows the Zf to capture Raw files compressed with the more efficient High Efficiency compression system we first saw on the Z9.

    The Zf can shoot at up to 11fps in Raw (in Continuous High Extended mode, that we suspect won't include live view refreshes between shots), and up to 15 or 14fps depending on the use of electronic or mechanical shutter for JPEG mode. There's also a JPEG-only 'C30' mode that uses a video stream to shoot 30fps images, with a pre-burst option like that on the Z8 and Z9.

    B&W mode

    Commanding its own position on the control that selects between stills and video shooting, the camera's black and white mode gives a choice of mono profiles, including a low-contrast 'Flat mono' and 'Deep tone mono' that accentuates red details in the scene. These profiles can be applied to both still images and video footage, and emphasize Nikon's focus on the creative process.

    Video capabilities

    Unlike the Df, which promised photographic purity by omitting any video features, the Zf is a pretty capable video machine. It can shoot up to 4K/60 from an APS-C (DX in Nikon speak) crop of the sensor or can capture 4K up to 30p from the full 6K pixel width of its sensor.

    The camera we used was pre-production but the 22ms rolling shutter we measured for 30p capture is consistent with the existing sensor in the Z6 models. We doubt it's a coincidence that Panasonic's S5 II models also have to crop into an APS-C region to deliver 60p capture while showing similar readout speeds.

    It also adds waveforms, which helps, when trying to assess exposure for video, especially now that we have 10-bit internal capture, allowing Log recording.

    Multi-shot pixel shift

    Nikon joins the ranks of camera makers using its image stabilization system to offer a multi-shot pixel shift mode, moving the sensor by precise degrees to ensure the capture of each color at every pixel location or in fractions of a pixel to boost the resolution of the output image. Nikon's system offers four modes, all of which require that Raw files be combined in desktop software: a four-shot mode that captures full color at each pixel, an 8-shot mode that does this twice, to further improve tonal quality and noise, a 16-shot mode that also boosts image resolution 96MP, and then a 32-image version that repeats the process, again boosting noise/tonal performance.

    Image Stabilization linked to AF point

    As companies try to maximize the performance of their IS systems, it's becoming more and more difficult to offer further improvements. Nikon says the Zf's performance has been improved by linking the IS system to the chosen autofocus point.

    The logic is that pitch and yaw movements (tilting up/down and rotation to the left and right) cause greater shifts in the image away from the center, particularly when using wide-angle lenses. The Zf's IBIS system can use the chosen AF point as the central point of its corrections, rather than the center of the image, helping to provide more effective stabilization when using off-center AF points with wide lenses. This approach should help maintain sharpness at the point you're focused on, helping the camera to its 8EV stabilization rating, when tested to the CIPA standard.


    How it compares

    The Zf arrives in the hotly contested ∼$2000 corner of the market, where there are plenty of very capable full-frame options available. What's interesting to note is that, while its styling brings something you won't get from its immediate rivals, Nikon hasn't used this as an excuse to offer a lesser specification.

    Other than the space-saving decisions around card type and their location in the camera, the Zf appears perfectly competitive.

    Nikon Zf Sony a7 IV Canon EOS R6 II Panasonic Lumix S5 II Nikon Z6 II
    MSRP at launch $2000 $2500 $2500 $2000 $2000
    Sensor size Full-frame Full-frame Full-frame Full-frame Full-frame
    Resolution 24MP 33MP 24MP 24MP 24MP
    Stabilization (up to) 8EV 5.5EV 8EV (with lens IS) 5EV (6.5EV with lens. IS) 5.5EV
    Burst rate 11 fps Raw
    14 fps JPEG
    (15 e-shutter)
    30fps in C30 JPEG mode
    10 fps 12 fps (40 fps e-shutter) 7 fps (30 fps e-shutter) 14 fps
    Viewfinder res / mag 3.68M dot OLED
    0.8x
    3.68M dot OLED
    0.78x
    3.68M dot OLED
    0.76x
    3.68M dot OLED
    0.78x
    3.69M dot OLED
    0.8x
    Rear screen 2.1M dot
    fully articulated
    1.04M dot fully-articulated 1.62M dot fully-articulated 1.84M dot fully-articulated 2.1M dot tilting
    Video 4K/30p full width*
    4K/60p APS-C
    4K/30p full width*
    4K/60p APS-C
    4K/60p full width*
    4K/60p APS-C
    6.2K/30p (3:2)
    5.9K/30p
    4K/30p full width*
    4K/60p APS-C
    4K/30p full width*
    4K/60p APS-C
    10-bit modes N-Log, HLG (HDR) S-Log3
    HLG (HDR)
    C-Log2
    HDR PQ
    V-Log
    HLG
    Over HDMI
    Rolling shutter (4K/24) 22ms 27ms 17ms 21ms 22ms
    Storage 1x UHS-II SD
    1x UHS-I Micro SD
    1x CFe Type A / UHS-II SD
    1x UHS-II SD
    2 x UHS-II SD 2 x UHS-II SD 1x CFe Type B
    1x UHS-II SD
    Battery life
    LCD / EVF
    380 / 360 580 / 520 580 / 320 370 / 370 410 / 340
    Dimensions 144 x 103 x 49mm 131 x 96 x 80mm 138 x 98 x 88mm 134 x 102 x 90mm 134 x 101 x 70mm
    Weight 710g (25.0oz) 659g (23.3 oz) 670g (23.6 oz) 740g (26.1oz) 705g (24.9 oz)
    *Oversampled, using all horizontal pixels to produce 4K footage from 6K capture (7K on a7 IV). The Canon EOS R6 II offers oversampled 4K at up to 60p.

    Body and controls

    The most obvious thing to say about the Zf's body is that it very closely resembles the Nikon FM2 film camera from the 1980s. Placed side-by-side it's apparent the new camera is larger but the proportions have been kept, so it still looks the part.

    The Zf has primarily magnesium alloy construction (with some plastic panels to act as a radio window to let the Wi-Fi work), which Nikon says is 'dust and drip resistant.' Its adherence to the traditional look means that there's no protruding hand grip yet, like the FM2 and cameras of its vintage, it can be used quite comfortably. The few millimeters of added depth don't make it hard to grasp and the dials feel well-positioned such that they can be operated without feeling like you're going to drop the camera.

    There was some criticism of the smaller Z fc, that its light weight made it feel flimsy, an impression compounded by rather plasticky dials. The added heft of the Zf avoids this problem: it feels more substantial and the feel of the controls is consistent with that.

    Card slots

    Perhaps the most baffling decision on the Zf: two card slots hidden in the battery compartment, one of which is a UHS-I Micro SD slot.

    Nikon has given the Zf two card slots,but to keep its size under control, has opted to make the second card slot a MicroSD type. These are pretty small and can be fiddly to insert and remove from the camera, so it might make sense to leave a fast microSD card in the camera at all times as overflow, rather than planning on removing it too often. That said, while the SD slot is UHS II compatible, the Micro SD is only UHS I.

    The slots are positioned next to one another in the battery compartment, adding an extra layer of inconvenience, especially for tripod users, though the speed of the USB-C port means it's easy enough to get data off the camera or power into it, without accessing the underside door at all.

    Viewfinder

    The Zf has a 3.68M dot EVF, which is not especially high by today's standards. Without the super-fast dedicated readout path that the Z8's sensor offers, it can't match the near-zero-lag experience that that camera does. Overall, it's a pretty middling viewfinder experience, but one definitely improved by the pretty good 0.8x magnification.

    Screen

    The Zf's rear touchscreen is fully articulated: a choice that made more sense on the more video and social media-focused Z fc. It's a 2.1M dot LCD that we found to work well even in bright light, but I suspect we won't be alone in having preferred the two-way tilt arrangement of the Z8's screen, which could potentially have made the camera a fraction slimmer.

    Battery

    The Zf uses the same EN-EL15c battery as the majority of Nikon's mid-range cameras, which powers it to a respectable rating of 380 shots per charge (LCD) and 360 shots per charge (EVF). These numbers rise to 430 and 410 shots per charge if you turn energy saving mode on. It's rechargeable over the camera's USB C port, of which, unlike the Z8, there's just one.

    Unlike the Z6 II, there's no option to mount a battery grip to the Zf.


    Initial impressions

    By Richard Butler
    Published Sept 20 2023

    When Nikon introduced the smaller-sensor Z fc model, it made very clear that it was a camera designed for social media content creators, hoping to attract some of the younger photographers who've perhaps learned the craft on second-hand 70s and 80s film SLRs. But Nikon can't have missed the number of established photo enthusiasts who said they wanted a full-frame version.

    That said, Nikon is also likely to remember that the initial buzz generated by the teaser videos for its last retro full-framer (the rather half-baked Df) didn't turn into the sales success it was hoping for.

    However, where the Df was a rather misproportioned lump that commanded a significant premium over the D610 on which it was heavily based, the Zf is an altogether more handsome affair (and if you're aiming to attract a style-conscious audience, that matters), and one that out-specs the Z6 II while selling for the same price.

    In fact, in the absence of a Z6 III, the Zf becomes the company's best-specced camera around the high-contested $2K price point. It still seems to use the same image sensor as the previous Z6s but features the newer Expeed 7 processor from the Z9 and Z8, which brings updates such as the mirrorless camera implementation of the company's '3D Tracking' system.

    "In the absence of a Z6 III, the Zf becomes the company's best-specced camera around the high-contested $2K price point"

    These days we can simply call it 'tracking,' as the majority of brands have now adopted a comparable approach of simply following whatever is under your chosen AF point (or near to it, in the case of most subject recognition systems). It's such an obvious approach that, for once, the term 'intuitive' might almost be appropriate, but the idea of integrating tracking into the main AF interface really started with Nikon, so it's great to see the Zf catch up to the 'best practice' approach that Nikon itself pioneered.

    Multiple multi-shot modes

    In a more reactive manner, Nikon has also become one of the last brands to add a multi-shot high-res mode to its camera. Multi-shot modes that try to cancel out the effect of the Bayer filter or oversample the scene to produce more detailed images have become increasingly common as engineers look for ways to exploit the presence of in-body stabilization mechanisms.

    In many instances, they're not terribly useful: often requiring tripods and near-static subjects, with a combination of images often requiring proprietary desktop software. There are clearly lots of patents protecting different implementations, as almost every brand appears to take its own approach (in terms of the number of shots and degree of in-camera processing).

    The Zf offers a range of modes, including one that takes a staggering 32 images, collected in around four seconds, to deliver a 96MP final image. That's a long time during which your subject might move, which undermines its usefulness, but there are at least other options if your subject doesn't include much motion. So, perhaps primarily in the interest of people who like to wage brand wars over the obscure ends of the spec sheets, Nikon now offers the feature.

    In use the Zf was enjoyable during the period I got to use it. The distinctive styling was something of a curse, given Nikon's concerns about it being seen out in the wild, but from today onwards, it's more likely to be an asset. The camera I used was the all-black version, but six other leatherette color schemes will also be available. There's no news of a silver/black version. It's not clear whether this is because of the challenge of delivering matched silvers across different materials to maintain the camera's premium character or because Nikon plans a special edition at some point in the future.

    The pre-production camera I was using started to show temperature warnings after around two hours of stills shooting, but it should be noted that I was shooting in 32°C (90°F) conditions, often in direct sunshine. It didn't get warm enough to start a countdown to auto shutoff, though.

    AF tracking isn't as sticky as with the Z8 and Z9. This isn't a huge surprise but, for instance, when I tried to pick out a particular part of a flower, the Zf's tracking target would sometimes wander off the specific detail I'd been wanting it to track. Performance with a recognized subject appeared excellent, though, with seemingly unerring tracking of eyes, for instance.

    Ultimately, though, the Zf moves things forward from the Z6 II and finally seems to deliver the camera that so many people hoped the Df would be. Now if only the barriers to Sigma introducing its compact, aperture ring-sporting i-series primes for Z-mount could be overcome, then things would get very interesting indeed.


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    Operation and handling

    It's been interesting to encounter such a squared off camera after decades of increasingly large stick-out grips. The Zf's weight and squareness meant I found it would cut into my little finger if I didn't make a conscious effort to maintain most of the weight using my left hand, supporting the lens. This was particularly acute when the Zf was combined with a heavier lens, such as the 24-70mm F2.8.

    We also found the Zf offers a little less customization than we'd expect of a camera at this level. The Zf appears to have five customizable buttons, as the Z6 II does, but one of these is the Playback button, effectively leaving you with four if you actually want to be able to review your images. Similarly, the Zf includes the usual options to change exposure comp without pressing a button, and letting you choose whether the front or rear command dial changes the setting, but these only have any function if the dedicated exposure comp dial is deactivated by turning it to its 'C' position, so for much of the time one of the camera's command dials has no function. No one has considered letting you assign ISO to a command dial, for instance, so quick access to ISO requires a button press and takes up one of your precious custom buttons, and again this button stops working if you select a specific ISO value from the dial. Oddly, this means you also lose the ability to disengage or engage Auto ISO, if you turn the ISO dial. The overall effect is quirky, to say the least.

    The dials play a central part in the camera's retro appeal but the way they interact with some button and dial functions takes some getting used to.

    Unlike previous Nikons, there's no way to quickly access the 'minimum shutter speed' value if you use Auto ISO. Some previous models let you assign this option to the camera's My Menu list, meaning you could gain quick access by setting a custom button to 'Access top item in My Menu,' but the Zf doesn't allow this. Overall it feels like no one has really thought through the full impact or opportunity of adding the dedicated shutter speed and exposure comp dials to the camera.

    Combine all this with the lack of AF joystick – the four-way controller defaults to AF point positioning but isn't as quick or as well-positioned – and the Zf is not as fast or fluid a camera to use as the Z6s were, nor the likes of Panasonic's S5 II, its most closely-priced competitor.

    It gets a lot right, though: its on-screen interface is relatively clean, in an era succumbing to increased clutter, and the menus are pretty well laid out, albeit very, very long. It's hard to escape the suspicion that the same components in the form of a Z6 III would be a much more effective photographic tool. Albeit one that's nothing like as pretty.


    Image quality

    Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you'll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

    The Nikon Zf is based on the widely-used 24MP BSI CMOS sensor, so there are no great surprises to its image quality. In terms of detail capture, it does exactly as you'd expect a 24MP sensor to. And the performance both at moderately high and very high ISO is very good, as you'd expect.

    Nikon's default JPEG sharpening is very large radius, so it appears to be capturing much less detail than its peers (even though we know from the Raws that this isn't the case). Color exhibits standard Nikon response with lots of punch and saturation. Yellows are vibrant with no green or orange tint but the pink closest to a generic caucasian skintone is notably brighter and more pink than either the Sony or Canon renderings. We tried to include plenty of portraits in the gallery so you can decide what you think of this.

    The Zf's noise reduction at high ISO smooths away noise pretty well but takes a lot of the fine detail with it. Overall it's a very similar performance to the Z6 II, which we really liked.

    Dynamic range

    Again there are no surprises from the Zf's sensor. It's been around for a few years, but we've not encountered any chips that are significantly better in a mid-priced camera. At base ISO the camera adds very little noise, so there's scope to reduce exposure to protect highlights, with the reduction in exposure being the main source of noise and the limit on how far you can push things. Its dual gain design means there's even less shadow noise from ISO 800 upwards, and minimal benefit to increasing the ISO above that point. In low light scenes with bright highlights, underexposing ISO 800 by three stops and then brightening should give similar noise to ISO 6400 but with three additional stops of highlights preserved in the Raw.

    White balance in the real world

    Auto WB (Keep overall atmosphere) Reprocessed in-camera: Natural light Auto WB

    The camera’s auto white balance lets you decide how completely the camera tries to cancel-out the effect of the color of the light you’re shooting under. It defaults to ‘Keep overall atmosphere,’ with a more extreme ‘Keep white (reduce warm colors)’ option or a less severe ‘Keep warm lighting colors’ setting. We found the last of these to give the nicest results: even the default middle-ground setting can tend to render subjects a little cold/blue. There’s also a ‘Natural light Auto’ mode that works better for outdoor shooting. It’s definitely worth switching to this mode when you know you’ll be shooting outdoors, but it’s bit of a disappointment that the standard auto mode isn’t as set-and-forget as you might hope.


    Autofocus

    The Nikon Zf is the first mirrorless model to include 3D Tracking autofocus but not have a super-fast readout Stacked CMOS sensor to drive it. The distinction between this and the tracking on previous models is twofold: firstly it's an AF area mode, just like any other, rather an optional feature engaged separately from area modes and, secondly, it doesn't need to be disengaged once initiated: release the AF-On or shutter button and the AF point reverts to wherever it was originally placed: no 'cancel' required and no resetting to the center of the scene.

    The Nikon Zf’s AF tracking is generally very good and noticeably improved, compared with the previous generation models, such as the Z6 II and Z5. The 3D tracking mode does a good job of staying on the target you’d pointed it at. The performance improves still further if you select one of the camera’s subject recognition modes to run alongside it.

    In our basic AF tracking test the basic 3D tracking mode would tend to lose track of the subject as it passed through one of the corners (where the subject’s approach rate changes, as well as its direction). It would typically find the subject again when it returned near to the center of the frame, where the AF was initially placed. This was a somewhat surprising result, as we didn't encounter this often in our more general shooting. The camera gave the same result repeatedly, though, which suggests performance can vary with subject.

    However, engaging human/face detection ensured the camera didn’t ever lose the subject. It continued to work, regardless of whether the subject was wearing dark glasses, obscuring part of the face.

    However, it’s also noticeable that portraits taken with face detection aren’t always perfectly focused on the eye itself. The camera’s detection and the persistence of its tracking is very good but the precision isn’t always as high as some of its immediate peers, with a tendency to focus just in front of the eye itself. That said, eye detection and the way it respects the selected AF point make it a really valuable feature on the camera, meaning you can focus on the camera’s other settings and on interacting with your subject, rather than having to think about focus.

    The improved AF tracking extends to video mode, where it was recognizably weaker on previous models. Overall we got the sense that the Zf’s autofocus doesn’t quite match the pro-level performance of the Z8 and Z9 but brings Nikon’s AF behavior and handling to the point it’s very competitive with its rivals.


    Video

    Despite the 80's styling, the Zf has mic and headphone sockets to support its pretty capable video feature set. The HDMI socket is of the rather sensitive 'micro' variety, so we wouldn't plan on making it the center of our workflow.

    The Zf's 24MP sensor was one of the first full-frame sensors from which manufacturers squeezed 4K footage. It reads out quickly enough that the Zf can deliver 4K video derived from 6K capture at up to 30p or it can shoot 60p if you crop into an APS-C region of the sensor ('DX' in Nikon's terminology).

    But the Zf does more with the sensor than the Z6 or Z6 II did, gaining internal 10-bit capture with Log and HLG recording, giving more flexibility to the editing and output options. It also gains waveform displays for helping you expose your Log footage, making it a much more usable video camera.

    The Zf's 24p footage is more detailed than it was from the Nikon Z6 II, but it becomes noticeably less sharp in its 60p mode. You probably wouldn't notice this difference, intercutting between footage from the two, but the smaller capture region used for 60p will mean it gets noisier, faster, as will the need to use shorter exposures, so for indoor shooting, expect cuts to slowed-down 60p to have a little extra graininess to them.

    Rolling shutter for the full-width footage measures around 22ms. This is reasonable (Panasonic's high-end, video-centric S1H from a few years ago gives a very similar performance), but it's not great. 22ms is slow enough that attempts to pan the camera or capture fast movement across the frame will see vertical lines become horizontally skewed, and this distortion can interact badly with the camera's attempt to shift the sensor to stabilize its footage, causing slight jitter in the footage.

    The use of a relatively slow UHS-I Micro SD card as the camera's second memory card slot means it's not really practical to leave a card in the smaller slot and use it as internal memory for shooting video to. You can shoot video to the SD slot and stills to Micro SD but you risk blunting the camera's performance that way.

    Image stabilization

    The camera's image stabilization is pretty good, with digital stabilization applying a 1.25x crop that gives the camera room to move that crop around within the video capture region in order to cancel out unintended motion. The stabilization is quite smooth, gently drifting around rather than trying to maintain a tripod-like lock on proceedings. But, as mentioned, there is some vertical jitter introduced when stabilization is active, presumably as the camera moves the region its capturing while the existing area was still being read-out.

    Sample video

    We shot this video entirely handheld and you can see the camera does a good job of stabilizing the image. However, you can definitely notice the jitter that gets introduced by eVR in the clips where we're moving the camera to keep pace with our subject.

    All shots in the video were also taken using autofocus, using custom-shaped AF areas and, where appropriate, human detection. We reduced the AF speed and nudged the AF target box to conduct the far-to-near focus pull in the middle of the video, but most other shots were left at the default focus speed, and the camera did a good job of maintaining focus without drawing attention to any changes in focusing distance.

    The camera's waveform monitor was particularly useful for exposing the N-Log footage used on the ferry, where there's a vast difference in brightness between the overcast grey outside and the low-lit interior. Nikon hasn't yet published a LUT for the Zf's implementation of N-Log, so we had to use the one for the Z6 II, which pushes the highlights very bright and the shadows quite dark, so it's hard to assess how well exposed these clips are, but the waveform display meant we were able to protect the highlights from clipping.

    Overall the Zf was a more capable video camera to shoot with than its retro styling might suggest.


    Conclusion

    What we like What we don't
    • Excellent image quality
    • Very good autofocus
    • Very strong video feature set
    • Classic styling
    • Dedicated controls whose setting can be read even with the camera switched off
    • Reasonable level of direct control
    • Decent battery life
    • $40 SmallRig grip (initially bundled in some markets) improves handling
    • Good set of features (time-lapse, focus bracketing, pixel shift high-res, multiple exposures...)
    • Interaction between dials and button functions often peculiar
    • No quick access to Auto ISO settings
    • Use of slow Micro SD reduces the value of second card slot
    • Body becomes uncomfortable with large lenses
    • Limited choice of small lenses or options with aperture rings
    • Cards in battery compartment are inaccessible when on a tripod
    • Some vertical jitter in video footage with electronic VR engaged
    • Multi-shot high res combined off-camera with no motion correction

    The Nikon Zf looks a lot like the camera everyone was hoping the Df would be: a cutting-edge camera styled to look like one of Nikon's classic models from the early 80s, without too much additional size or weight. And I think most people would agree it succeeds spectacularly from an aesthetic perspective.

    We're a little less convinced when it comes to the camera's handling. Even compared with the cameras it's modeled on, the Zf can become uncomfortable to hold after a while, and we found it hard to shake the perception that Nikon's engineers hadn't really thought-through the full implications of having dedicated dials when they copied over most behaviors from their other cameras.

    The Zf is a lovely camera to sling over your shoulder when you're out for the day. Until you mount a heavy lens on the front.

    Nikkor Z 24-70mm F2.8 S @ 40mm | F5.6 | 1/100 sec | ISO 100
    Processed in Adobe Camera Raw: straightened, highlights reduced, white balance adjusted
    Photo: Richard Butler

    The Zf works less and less well, the larger the lens you mount on it, and Nikon's range of lenses doesn't have many small, light options. Worse still, there's plenty to suggest that it's blocking third-party makers from filling that gap. Relatedly, Nikon's Z lenses tend not to have aperture rings, but the Zf mimics the control layout of cameras from a system in which they did, which isn't ideal.

    So, while the Nikon offers a distinct image quality benefit over the likes of Fujifilm's X-T series, the Fujifilm cameras have size, weight and a wide choice of small lenses with aperture rings on their side. This and a higher level of operational consistency has the unfortunate effect of showing how this concept can be delivered more successfully.

    Improved autofocus tracking and subject recognition give the Zf a distinct edge over previous mid-range Z series cameras.

    Nikkor Z 85mm F1.8 S | F8.0 | 1/160 sec | ISO 720
    Photo: Richard Butler

    The Zf's performance is very good, though. It's built around a excellent, well-proven sensor and delivers very good autofocus performance, particularly with subject recognition engaged. It's also a remarkably capable video camera, providing a level of flexibility and capability that its classic styling might otherwise disguise. Again this was supported by its much-improved autofocus.

    We're sure a lot of enthusiast photographers will happily work around the Zf's quirks and oddities, in return for getting to own and use a camera that has so much character to it, and they won't be let down by the photos it produces. But having used Fujifilm X-T cameras so much, and knowing what the likes of Sigma's i-series lenses would add, it's hard not to contemplate what might have been.

    Speaking as someone for whom the Zf's styling has a powerful resonance, I thought I was going to love this camera. But having used it for several months, my head says Silver, even though my heart says Gold.


    Scoring

    Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about what these numbers mean.

    Nikon Zf
    Category: Mid Range Full Frame Camera
    Build quality
    Ergonomics & handling
    Features
    Metering & focus accuracy
    Image quality (raw)
    Image quality (jpeg)
    Low light / high ISO performance
    Viewfinder / screen rating
    Performance
    Movie / video mode
    Connectivity
    Value
    PoorExcellent
    Conclusion
    The Nikon Zf is a camera whose image quality and performance live up to its stylish looks, but its handling and operation isn't always quite as slick. Paired with smaller, lighter lenses, it's a joy, but your Z-mount options are somewhat limited at present.
    Good for
    Enthusiast photographers for whom style and design matter
    Not so good for
    Photographers using longer lenses or needing constant quick settings changes
    90%
    Overall score

    Compared to its peers

    The Canon EOS R6 IIis still the camera to beat in this class. It's more expensive than the Nikon and no longer offers such an advantage in terms of autofocus, but it can shoot full-width 4K/60p, can capture faster bursts and is simply nicer from a handling and operation perspective. Both cameras are restricted to relatively limited lens ranges, with Nikon at least allowing some third-party options in, but it's worth checking that the lenses you want are available at reasonable prices before opting for either camera.

    The Sony a7 IV is another strong contender at this price. It offers slightly higher resolution (and more sophisticated JPEG processes emphasize the difference) and slightly more dependable autofocus than the Nikon. It's not especially strong as a video camera, though, and costs more than the Zf, making it a slightly less capable all-rounder. The wider choice of lenses comes out clearly in favor of the Sony, with the likes of Sigma's affordable i Series optics making a great match.

    The i Series lenses are also available for the L-mount used by Panasonic's S5 II and S5 II X. The operation and handling of the Panasonic pair are also significantly nicer than those of the Nikon. However, even with phase detect AF having been added to the S5 II, the Zf has a simpler and more dependable AF system than the Panasonics. And, perhaps unexpectedly, the Nikon's video capabilities are a good match for those of the S5 II, so overall we found the Nikon to be that bit more usable.

    Finally, it's worth considering the comparison with Fujifilm's similarly-styled X-T5. The Fujifilm is based around a smaller sensor, giving the Nikon an immediate image quality advantage and greater flexibility in terms of depth-of-field. The X-T5 is also arguably less good at video: it seems to offer better specs on paper but varying crops and rolling shutter means that advantage disappears when the bits hit the memory card. But the Fujifilm is nicer to use, despite its ostensibly similar control ethos, and the smaller size, lighter weight and slight front bulge make it more comfortable to use. And, of course, the X-mount offers many, many more lenses, including a vast range of primes, that work well on the X-T5. On balance it's a more difficult choice than it might initially seem.


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  3. Photo: Dan Bracaglia

    It’s okay to be curious – the Megadap ETZ21 Pro is an affordable and surprisingly compact AF-capable accessory for adapting Sony E-mount glass to Nikon Z-mount bodies, including both full-frame and cropped lenses/cameras.

    Recent Videos

    Priced at $250, the ETZ21 Pro supports electronic communication for full autofocus, autoexposure, image stabilization and aperture control. EXIF data is also transferred from lens to camera body. But how does it perform? Read on.

    Key features

    • Adapts Sony E-mount lenses to Nikon Z-mount camera bodies
    • Compatible with full-frame and crop lenses/bodies
    • Electronic contacts for full AF, AE, IS and aperture control
    • EXIF data transfers between lens and camera
    • Thin, stainless construction
    • $250

    The Megadap ETZ21 Pro Sony E- to Nikon Z-mount isavailable now for $250.


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    Competition

    The ETZ21 Pro is seriously thin.

    Photo: Dan Bracaglia

    There are a number of similarly-priced and spec’d adapters out there promising full AF/AE compatibility, including options fromFotodioX andTechart. The former looks like it could have shipped out of the same factory as the Megadap. The latter looks a whole lot like Megadap’s prior generation Sony-to-Nikon accessory and which you can read more about in our review.

    The discontinued Megadap ETZ11 is the predecessor to the current ETZ21. It offers similar function, but less speedy performance overall and a less robust build quality. Given the option, go for the newer version.

    There are also, of course,

    Design

    This diminutive piece of tech is delightfully powerful.

    Photo: Dan Bracaglia

    The Megadap ETZ21 Pro is a remarkably diminutive accessory. It adds only 2mm to the length of a lens, but that's not an arbitrary amount. This positions your adapted E-mount lenses at the 18mm mount-to-sensor distance they were designed for instead of the 16mm distance a Z-mount camera provides.

    Built from stainless steel, it feels reassuringly solid and well-made in hand. However, the fit can be worryingly tight with certain lenses and camera bodies. It continues to take some considerable effort to dismount the Megadap from my Nikon Z50.

    The metal tab on the adapter acts as a lens lock. Beyond that, there’s not much to discuss design-wise besides the electronic contacts and mounting marks. Ultimately, it’s a refreshingly straightforward piece of tech.

    Performance

    Face and eye detection work great.

    Nikon Z8 + Sony 24-70mm F/2.8 GM II. Out of camera JPEG.ISO 450 | 1/250 sec | F/2.8 | 70mm

    Photo: Dan Bracaglia

    I tried out the Megadap ETZ21 Pro using two different setups: a Nikon Z8 with Sony’s latest 24-70mm F/2.8 GM II and a Nikon Z50 with an ancient E 16-50mm f/3.6-5.6 kit lens attached.

    AF speeds and precision impressed me in decent lighting conditions and with the latest-gen Nikon camera and Sony lens. Nikon’s subject detection and focus tracking work almost as if a native lens is attached. AF speeds slow down a little in lower light but are still very good. In general, I was able to use Face and Eye detection on the Z8 with great success, despite having a Sony lens attached.

    Nikon Z8 + Sony 24-70mm F/2.8 GM II.Out of camera JPEG.ISO 64 | 1/250 sec | F/3.2 | 24mm

    Photo: Dan Bracaglia

    The Z50 and Sony 16-50mm combo performed modestly in decent light. Keeping in mind this lens is so long in the tooth, it might as well be a stalactite, I was again impressed with the performance. In low light, however, I ran into plenty of hunting and mis-focused shots, which is exactly what I expected. That said, I don't doubt that more recent, faster-aperture Sony primes, like theSony E 15mm f/1.4 G, will perform admirably via the Megadap on my Z50.

    It’s also worth mentioning that not all third-party Sony E-mount glass is currently supported by this adapter. Some folks report AF issues with especially long telephoto lenses. The takeaway? If you’re considering the Megadap ETZ21 Pro, try to take it for a spin with your current setup before committing to buy or put it through its paces during the return window.

    I was able to use Sony’s 16-50mm kit zoom on the Nikon Z50, but not without a little (well, a lot) of vignetting.

    Out of camera JPEG.ISO 12,800 | 1/320 sec | F/3.5 | 16mm

    Photo: Dan Bracaglia

    Making lens corrections

    My Z8 photos look ridiculously sharp, despite the unusual pairing of gear but not every lens will fare as well. Because your Nikon camera can't recognize your adapted E-mount lenses, geometric distortion and vignetting corrections can't be applied to the camera's JPEG output. This presents a challenge for any lens that was designed with the expectation these corrections be taken care off automatically.

    Processing the Raws gives a little more flexibility, but these files left Adobe Camera Raw somewhat stumped on how to approach lens corrections. For the Z8 combo, ACR automatically defaulted to the Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 when I selected Auto Lens Correction. For the Z50, ACR didn’t even bother to provide a lens profile when I clicked the auto option. Capture One provided similar results. You can manually select the corrections in ACR but it's worth checking if your preferred software will let you apply corrections for lens combinations its creators hadn't anticipated.

    Conclusion

    The Megadap ETZ21 is a solid product built for a rather specific crowd.

    Photo: Dan Bracaglia

    The Megadap ETZ21 Sony E-mount to Nikon Z-mount adapter is a reliable method for attaching Sony mirrorless lenses to Nikon Z-mont mirrorless bodies without sacrificing autofocus, autoexposure or lens stabilization capabilities. Performance is impressive but it’s no magician.

    You’ll still have better overall AF performance and precision sticking to native-mount lenses, sans adapter. And older Sony lenses tend to struggle when adapted in all but the best lighting conditions. Additionally, it may not always be possible to apply the lens correction that is an essential element of some lens designs.

    However, as far as what’s currently available for Sony shooters wishing to dabble in the Nikon realm, there is no better option on the market than the Megadap ETZ21 Sony E-mount to Nikon Z-mount lens adapter.

    The Megadap ETZ21 is truly a barely-there lens adapter.

    Photo: Dan Bracaglia

    What we like What we don't
    • AF speeds are impressively fast
    • Works with Eye and Face AF
    • Exif data captured
    • Firmware can be updated via attached camera body
    • All-metal design
    • 2mm thick when mounted
    • Best performing adapter in its class
    • Tight fight with some camera bodies and lenses
    • Not compatible with all third-party E-mount lenses
    • AF may be finicky with long telephoto lenses
    • Lens corrections may not be available when processing

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  4. Sample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photo

    Product images by Shaminder Dulai

    The Sony ZV-1 Mark II is a vlogging-focused compact camera built around a 20MP Type 1 (13.2 x 8.8mm) Stacked CMOS sensor and an 18-50mm equivalent F1.8-4.0 lens. Besides the new focal length range, much of this camera remains the same as its predecessor, which was itself a competent pocket-sized video camera.

    Key specifications:

    • 20 megapixel Type 1 (13.2 x 8.8mm) Stacked CMOS sensor
    • 18-50mm equivalent F1.8-4.0 lens with built-in ND filter
    • 4K/30p, 1080/120p video
    • 24fps stills in both JPEG and Raw, for up to 800 JPEGs
    • Fully articulating, 921K dot, 3" touchscreen display
    • 8-bit Log and 'HLG' video shooting modes
    • Directional 3-capsule microphone with wind screen
    • UHS-I SD card support
    • USB-C charging port, which can also be used while the camera is on and for streaming
    • 3.5mm stereo microphone socket
    • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for image and video transfer

    The ZV-1 Mark II runs $899.99 (MSRP) and comes in two color options: black or white. The camera can be paired with a black or white Sony GP-VPT2BT Bluetooth shooting grip, which doubles as a compact tripod, for an additional $139.99.


    Buy now:


    Index:


    What is it?

    The ZV-1 Mark II is an entry-to-intermediate level vlogging camera designed first and foremost for users to film themselves speaking to camera from arm's length, at a tabletop or from a tripod. It has a three-mic array designed to isolate voices speaking to the camera, a selfie-friendly zoom range and touch controls to operate the camera with the rear screen flipped out for selfie video shooting.

    Recent Videos

    While the camera can shoot stills in Raw and JPEG (the cheaper ZV-1F couldn't shoot Raw), it's very evident that Sony sees this as mainly a walk-and-talk video camera for YouTubers and social media creators; for confirmation, we only need to look at Sony's logo on the touchscreen, which only appears right side up when it's flipped out for a selfie.

    Compared to its predecessor, the ZV-1 Mark II is an update with very few changes save for one very notable switch (arguably correction) to a wider 18-50mm equivalent F1.8-4.0 lens. The original ZV-1 had a 24-70mm equivalent lens that made it challenging to frame wide-angle selfies, especially if you cropped in by engaging digital stabilization. With the updates to the lens, we can start at 18mm equiv. or employ digital image stabilization (IS), which imposes a 1.33x crop to give approximately 24mm equiv. field of view. The change means the Mark II gives a 24-67mm equiv range when stabilized, making it more usable for on-the-go selfie vlogging.

    Other than the wider lens, the rest will be very familiar for ZV-1 users. The same Type 1 (13.2x8.8mm) Stacked CMOS 20MP sensor returns, which helps it achieve fast autofocus, quick and accurate people and animal tracking with low rolling shutter. It also has the same form factor as its predecessor, with the same buttons in the same configuration, the same rocker switch for the zoom, and the same distinctive fuzzy rat over the mic array, which slightly obscures the on/off button in the same way. Also carried over are the fully articulating 3" touchscreen, battery and ports for a 3.5mm stereo mic socket and Micro HDMI output. The multi-port has been swapped for a USB-C port. Absent once again is a headphone socket for audio monitoring.


    How it compares

    We've seen a slew of vlogging or creator cameras in recent years from Sony, Canon, Panasonic and even Nikon; there's no shortage of options. Sony alone has produced five models in its vlogging-focused 'ZV' range, stretching from the $500 ZV-1F to the $2200 full-frame interchangeable lens ZV-E1.

    Considering the vlogging camera space and which cameras to compare, we thought it apt to include Sony's ZV-1F and ZV-E10. These cameras are aimed at a similar user need as the ZV-1 Mark II, yet they're spread across lower price points, making a features comparison useful. Among competitors, we also looked at the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III and Nikon Z30, as they fit the bill for size, weight and features aimed at vloggers, making a comparison meaningful.

    Sony ZV-1 Mark II Sony ZV-1F Sony ZV-E10 Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III Nikon Z30
    MSRP $900 $500 $700 (body only), $800 (w/16-50 lens) $750 $710 (body), $850 (w/16-50mm lens)
    Sensor 20MP Type 1
    (13.2 x 8.8mm)
    Stacked CMOS
    20MP Type 1
    (13.2 x 8.8mm)
    BSI CMOS
    24MP
    (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
    APS-C CMOS
    20MP Type 1
    (13.2 x 8.8 mm)
    Stacked CMOS
    20.2MP
    (23.5 x 15.7 mm)
    APS-C CMOS
    Stabilization Electronic (Video only)

    Electronic
    (Video only)

    Lens + electronic Lens + electronic Lens + electronic
    AF system Phase-detect Contrast-detect Phase-detect Contrast-detect Phase-detect
    Viewfinder No No No No No
    Lens/Zoom range 18–50 equiv 20mm equiv Interchangeable lenses 24-100mm equiv Interchangeable lenses
    Rear screen Fully articulating, 0.92M dot, 3" touchscreen

    Fully articulating, 0.92M dot, 3" touchscreen

    Fully articulating,
    0.92M dot,
    3" touchscreen

    Tilting 1.04M-dot (180° up, 45° down) 3" touchscreen Fully articulating, 1.04M-dot, 3" touchscreen
    Video

    Up to 4K/30p

    Up to 4K/30p Up to 4K/30p Up to 4K/30p Up to 4K/30p
    Mic / headphone socket Yes/No Yes/No Yes/Yes Yes/No Yes/No
    Dials 1 rear dial 1 rear dial 2 rear dials 1 rear dials 1 front dial,
    1 rear dial
    Card slots UHS-1 SD UHS-1 SD UHS-1 SD UHS-1 SD UHS-1 SD
    Battery life rating Still: 290; Video: 45 min at 4K Still: 350; Video: 60 min at 4K Still: 440;
    Video: 80 min at 4K
    Still: 235; Video: 55 min at 4K Still: 330;
    Video: 75 min at 4K
    Weight 292g 256g 343g 304g 405g
    Dimensions 106 x 60 x 47mm 106 x 60 x 47mm 115 x 64 x 45mm 105 x 61 x 41mm 128 x 74 x 60mm

    If vlogging and auto mode simplicity are the chief concerns, then the Sony ZV-1 Mark II is a suitable option. It benefits from a Stacked sensor, allowing for faster readout for minimal rolling shutter, and has very responsive phase-detect autofocus to help it avoid focus hunting during videos.

    However, if you're seeking more control and want the versatility of exchangeable lenses – and don't mind losing the outstanding autofocus, rolling shutter performance and pocketability of the ZV-1 Mark II – we recommend the Nikon Z30. It's a trade-off that gains a larger sensor and better ergonomics, and while you may miss focus more often for selfie videos, we think the positives outweigh the negatives.


    Body and handling

    The ZV-1 Mark II is small, compact, lightweight and relatively pocketable at 292g (10.3oz) and 106mm (4.2") on its longest side. The body is very boxy, with a slight bump along the front for a hand grip and a thumb rest along the back. For its size and stature, the bump and thumb rest in tandem are surprisingly efficient and comfortable in securing the camera when not shooting selfies. A wrist strap loop adds peace of mind that the camera won't get jostled loose while in use.

    When held in selfie mode, the camera can become difficult to hold steady or maintain a nice grip. We found having an external handle to screw into the tripod mount was essential for steady operation. Sony has an optional Bluetooth shooting grip (Sony GP-VPT2BT) with REC and zoom controls, which can also double as a compact tripod, for an additional $139.99, but any grip will do if you're looking to save some money.

    The camera is sparse on buttons. Along the top plate and rear are a limited set of buttons, a rocker switch for the zoom and one rear dial. There is no viewfinder on the ZV-1 Mark II, which may present a challenge when used in bright sunlight if you're not shooting video in selfie mode.

    On the back, there's a button for the Fn menus and 4-way dial to make quick adjustments to camera settings, but aside from the prerequisite shutter button, menu button and some additional customizable function buttons, the ZV-1 Mark II delegates most operations to the touchscreen.

    We found the touchscreen to register inputs quickly. With the screen flipped out for selfie video, the touchscreen allows quick adjustments to shutter, aperture, ISO and white balance settings, but anything more requires swiping the panel to bring up additional quick menus. For instance, if you want to activate the ND filter or switch from touch focus to touch tracking, you'll need to swipe up on the touchscreen to bring up the Fn menu. Starting and stopping recordings can also be done through a touchscreen button, but we found it far easier to use the physical record button on the top plate. Having a tactile confirmation you are recording is nice, but we also appreciate the inclusion of a tally light and a red border that appears around the screen when recording. However, adjusting beyond basic settings requires accessing the main menus, which became an issue when shooting in selfie mode.

    With the screen-flipped out or selfies, the touchscreen becomes your main way to control the camera, with all basic settings a tap away, including focus and the record button.

    While on the go, thankfully the ZV-1 Mark II is quick to boot up and be ready to shoot. Users can turn the camera on/off via a power button along the top plate. However, this button ends up obscured and buried under the fuzzy rat accessory which sits over the three-capsule microphone, but there is an alternative. The camera can be set to turn on and off by flipping open or closing the rear touchscreen, and this quickly became our preferred way of activating the camera.

    Battery

    The ZV-1 Mark II retains the same 4.5Wh NP-BX1 battery from the original ZV-1, which is CIPA-rated for 290 still frames per charge (it's pretty normal to achieve at least twice the rated value). This is a reasonable level of endurance to squeeze out of a small battery. The CIPA rating for "Actual" video recording is 45 minutes. In practice, we landed closer to 30-35 minutes for video, which became a pain point.

    New to this version is a USB-C port, which can be used to recharge the battery. Using this method, we could recharge the battery from nearly empty to full in about 35 minutes. You can also power the camera while in use over USB. Hence, an external power bank becomes an option for longer shoots than a single battery will allow, but this also defeats the purpose of a small form factor and highly portable design.


    Video

    The ZV-1 Mark II can capture up to 4K/30p, but that drops to 1080 if you want to use slow-motion frame rates. Unlike its predecessor, this version does not have lens or in-body stabilization. Stabilization is only available in video as a digital process, which crops the frame and takes its video from a moving frame within the cropped region to correct for motion. It works fairly well when capturing 4K video, and the crop turns the 18mm equiv. into about a 24mm equiv. This crop feels intentional; to deliver a camera designed to be a stable 24mm equiv., an unstabilized 18mm equiv. lens was required. (If you're curious, the original ZV-1's digital IS had a crop that turned the 24mm equiv into about a 30mm equiv.)

    Sony has included HLG modes, which are designed for viewing on HDR displays, and S-Log2 and S-Log3, which are aimed at retaining additional tonal information about the scene to give users more control over how they color grade their footage during editing. But there's just one problem. The camera only has 8-bit color depth. This is unusual for HLG and has a major drawback for Log footage.

    Capturing in 8-bit risks the footage falling apart if you try to adjust color too far; this is because a wide dynamic range is stored with too few data points, and the result is images can start to degrade, band and posterize as you try to make large adjustments. S-Log3, which tries to maintain a very wide dynamic range, is particularly susceptible to this. We'd tend to stick with S-Log2 on this camera.

    A few creative modes and dedicated buttons also return from the ZV-1 for vlogging ease. A defocus button tells the camera to prioritize a shallow depth of field and a 'Product Showcase' mode uses face detection but tells the camera to automatically rack focus to any objects you hold up close to the camera, which should help for anyone doing make-up tutorials, cooking demos, unboxing videos or anything where you need to demonstrate something and shift focus from your face to the object. A 3-capsule mic array also automatically adjusts to isolate the speaker's voice, whether behind, in front or around the camera.

    CineVlog mode

    New to this version is CineVlog mode, which automatically sets the camera to a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio with the 24p frame rate used in cinema and a gentler 'film-like' color profile. It also lets you apply color filters and adjust focus speed to mimic the big screen presentation.

    Within CineVlog mode, a unique subset of color filters are broken down into "Moods" and "Looks." Broadly speaking, Moods adjust color response and Looks adjust tonal response and contrast. Both can be used in combination with each other to dial in a preferred presentation.

    Looks: Chic Clean Mono
    Moods: Forest Gold Ocean

    Four Mood options (Auto, Gold, Ocean and Forest) and five Look options (Classic, Clean, Chic, Fresh and Mono) exist. Autofocus transition speed may also be set between Hi, Mid and Lo.

    The idea behind CineVlog is to produce ready-to-share videos directly from the camera. However, it should be noted this mode has baked-in black borders and the 2.35:1 isn't the native format YouTube and other social media platforms use.

    File management and Sony's Creator App

    One appeal of dedicated vlogging cameras is improved file management. Whereas a smartphone requires freeing up internal memory to continue shooting or a possibly slow and tedious download process that halts work, a camera with an SD memory card allows for quick swapping and downloading of files independently of a camera being used for filming.

    In addition to memory cards and USB-C tethering, the ZV-1 Mark II can transfer files to mobile devices using Sony's Creator App (Android or iOS). With the app, files are meant to be moved directly from camera to phone and appear in the phone's photo/video library. In practice, we found the iOS version of the app was finicky with failed connections and frequent signal drops mid-transfer. We did not test the Android version.

    Image stabilization performance

    The quality of the stabilization will vary, depending on how much movement the camera is experiencing and in which direction. As you may expect, the slower and more steady the movement, the better the result in digital stabilization.

    Walking at a normal pace – not briskly or intentionally slow to steady the camera – we found the stabilization to be better when moving forward and backward in the same direction as the walker talking to the camera. Vlogging to the camera was smooth, and pointing the camera out as we walked forward also yielded decent results.

    Once we introduced walking turns around street corners and panning there was a noticeable drop in quality, with the the stabilization trying to grab onto the framing and then releasing as it reached the limit of what it could correct, giving a jerky experience. It's a very noticeable pain point that doesn't come up often, but it can make your work look amateur when it does.

    Another option is bypassing the in-camera stabilization to use Sony's "Catalyst Browse" software. The camera records movement metadata from its IS sensors, making it possible to take unstabilized footage into the software and utilize the greater processing power of a computer, rather than expecting the camera to deliver results in real time. With this software, our stabilization results ranged from decent to marginally better. The extra steps to take this route are cumbersome and bring to question the camera's design ethos of steering users toward auto settings to make things quick and easy.


    Audio performance

    The ZV-1 Mark II has a directional 3-capsule microphone that can be set to auto or manually to capture directional sound from the front, back or all around. It is the same system used in the original ZV-1.

    We tried a few simple tests to evaluate how much separation the microphones produce between the audio we want (a person talking to the camera) and the ambient noise in the environment. The results were mixed.

    In Auto, the camera does its best in quiet and outdoor spaces but struggles indoors and in noisy environments, such as windy beaches or heavily trafficked city streets. Reverb is an issue with all audio capture, but on the ZV-1 mark II it is particularly bad indoors and gets worse as the distance between the speaker and camera increases. Auto audio mode struggles to discern where sound is coming from in these environments, and it's a guessing game if it will decide to use omnidirectional pick-up, recognize where the speaker's voice is coming from, or get fixated on the reverb source in the room.

    We also noticed when rotating the camera 180 degrees, from having a person speaking behind it to in front of it in one continuous take, the auto mic array isn't consistently reliable in switching mic priority from rear to front. Another issue for continuous takes is that the camera also picks up the sound of the lens zoom motor.

    When the system works as intended to identify a main speaker and prioritize them over ambient noise well, the results still leave something to be desired. Out-of-camera voice tracks are flat and tinny, and pale in comparison to external audio we captured simultaneously.

    If possible, external audio is recommended, however, the Mark II does not have a headphone socket to monitor sound. There are visual levels, but there is no way to know exactly what those levels are measuring without listening.


    Autofocus performance

    One area this camera shines is the autofocus; it is very zippy, recognizing faces and eyes on people quickly. And once a face is locked in, the camera does a great job of staying on that person, even if other people enter the frame later.

    Product Showcase mode demonstrates how effective the camera can be at tracking faces or transitioning to other subjects as required.

    Thanks to the Stacked CMOS sensor, readout is fast and aids AF tracking to stay sticky on people and animals. We only noticed the camera losing focus in situations where we were briefly backlit and the focus jumped to the background, such as walking into a dark alley and the camera shifting focus to the trees behind us. In these situations, users can tap to focus on their face again or wait for the camera to recognize there is a face in the frame and start tracking it again.


    Image quality

    Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you'll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

    The ZV-1 Mark II uses the the same Type 1 (13.2 x 8.8mm) sensor we've seen in RX100 models and image performance is similar as expected. The new lens is sharpest at the center with some falloff as you approach the corners. Colors and skin tone capture are fairly accurate, and we didn't notice skin tones going too pink for typically lighter skin or too red for darker skin. Greens and yellow are pleasing but not partially punchy using the standard profile. There is an issue with daylight white-balanced images going very blue, an unfortunate stumble in an otherwise capable system.


    Conclusion

    What we like What we don't like
    • Fast and reliable autofocus with face and eye tracking for people and animals
    • Clean out-of-camera 4K video
    • Touch-controls for selfie mode video
    • Quick boot-up time
    • Very good rolling shutter
    • Tally light and red border on touchscreen to confirm video recording
    • Built-in ND filters
    • Auto modes that make tech invisible
    • Wide lens for selfie videos
    • Lack of IS for stills, digital-only for video
    • Densely packed menus can be challenging to navigate
    • No headphone socket
    • Slow and quick motion drops to 1080
    • Electronic shutter limits lower end to 1/4 sec
    • Difficult to shoot stills in non-auto modes
    • Limited body buttons
    • S-Log3 in 8-bit has limited flexibility

    The ZV-1 Mark II has many nice video features; it's fast to boot up, auto modes get you shooting quickly, autofocus and rolling shutter performance is very good and there's digital image stabilization for video (no IS for stills however). Users considering a compact vlogging camera or an upgrade to the original ZV-1 would find much to love in this camera, but there are stumbling points and limits that smartphone users and more advanced users may find frustrating. And, unsurprisingly, if you're primarily interested in stills and want manual control, this isn't the camera for you.

    A brief note about stills

    I've spent the bulk of this review examining the video capabilities of this compact, but if you noticed that 18-50mm equivalent F1.8-4.0 lens, stacked sensor and small form factor and thought, "This might make a great compact point-and-shoot," you're not alone. It's certainly not a thought that didn't occur to me during this review. The image quality is pretty decent; during our studio scene, we found minor softness in the extreme corners. However, while the ZV-1 Mark II is capable of stills, it's a camera aimed at vlogging and using it for stills isn't the most enjoyable photographer's compact.

    "Video needs to be your primary need... making things using mostly auto modes and features."

    The design philosophy of the ZV-1 Mark II is one built on automatic settings, aimed squarely at solo video creators. There's no need to know what an aperture is, what the lens is doing, the difference between cardioid and omnidirectional mics, or why Hollywood uses 24fps; the resulting look is the key here and Sony has tried to make it simple.

    For all these promises, the ZV-1 Mark II is held back by a few glaring issues that prevent it from meeting the needs of its target users. Out-of-camera audio is better than most other cameras but isn't good enough to fully rely on: we don't recommend using it if you have other options. Then there is the issue with the jerky IS, which struggled to travel around corners, grabbing and releasing the frame. Coupled with color going too blue in some outdoor daylight scenes and an anemic battery run time for video, and it becomes hard to recommend the camera for users seeking a pocketable video-centric camera.

    The biggest question to ask with any vlogging camera is whether the dedicated device is better than the smartphone we already carry daily. In this regard, we don't think the ZV-1 Mark II is up to the task.

    The camera's excellent autofocus, subject tracking and rolling shutter performance are all leagues ahead of most smartphones. The addition of aperture control and memory cards that make it easier to transfer files is also appealing, but its over-reliance on auto modes, audio issues, terrible battery (I can't overstate this enough) and price point make it a product we would not recommend for users already meeting their needs with a good smartphone.

    For smartphone users hoping to find manual controls a smartphone can't provide, I'm afraid here too, the ZV-1 Mark II does not fit the bill.It does have manual controls, but using them is punishing as you have to navigate menus and virtual buttons on the touch screen, and it's very easy to errantly adjust a setting with a misplaced finger. Manual focus is a non-starter here, as in: it's available, but we don't advise ever trying to use it.

    Scoring

    Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about what these numbers mean.

    Sony ZV-1 Mark II
    Category: Enthusiast Large Sensor Compact Camera
    Build quality
    Ergonomics & handling
    Features
    Metering & focus accuracy
    Image quality (raw)
    Image quality (jpeg)
    Low light / high ISO performance
    Viewfinder / screen rating
    Optics
    Performance
    Movie / video mode
    Connectivity
    Value
    PoorExcellent
    Conclusion
    The video-centric Sony ZV-1 Mark II has excellent rolling shutter, industry-leading autofocus and a very nice selfie-friendly zoom lens, but runs into issues with short battery life and flat out-of-camera audio. The camera thrives in auto modes, making it best suited for users seeking a simple-to-use camera.
    Good for
    Video creators seeking a feature-packed dedicated device without a large learning curve.
    Not so good for
    Video creators desiring manual controls and still photographers seeking a pocketable compact.
    83%
    Overall score

    Compared to its peers

    Amongst Sony's ZV line of vlogging-centric cameras, the closest competitors to the ZV-1 Mark II are the Sony ZV-1F and Sony ZV-E10.

    The ZV-1F is the lowest-priced alternative to the ZV-1 Mark II, something it accomplishes by cutting features. The most notable 'cut' is that the camera only has contrast-detect autofocus. This isn't an issue for stills but will make videos, particularly selfie videos, an exercise in regularly having footage with missed focus and focus hunting. The camera also suffers significant rolling shutter, making it further unsuitable for video. We don't recommend it over the ZV-1 Mark II. Saving $400 (MSRP) may seem appealing, but don't do it.

    On paper, Sony's ZV-E10 looks like a better buy, but it also pales next to the ZV-1 Mark II. Although the ZV-E10 has a larger APS-C sensor, dual dials and the flexibility of interchangeable lenses, the ZV-1 Mark II's faster readout gives smoother video from a more compact package. If your main use case will be selfie videos on the go, we prefer the ZV-1 Mark II.

    Canon's closest competitor is the PowerShot G7 X Mark III,but it is the worst vlogging option among the cameras highlighted here. Video quality is significantly lacking compared to the ZV-1 Mark II, and contrast-detect autofocus introduces notable bouts of focus hunting. If you don't see yourself ever capturing video, then the Canon's ease of manual operation makes it an appealing option for stills.

    Nikon's Z30 captures lovely video and has a low-light advantage over the ZV-1 Mark II thanks to its larger sensor. Rolling shutter performance isn't as good as the ZV-1 Mark II and its stacked sensor, but it's not terrible either. The autofocus is also less dependable.

    We recommend Nikon's Z30 over the ZV-1 Mark II for vloggers who can accept a less pocketable option. A kit with a 12-28mm F3.5 can be had for cheaper than the ZV-1 Mark II. The only thing really holding this camera back is a limited selection of lenses (there are 5 own-brand and a few third-party lenses at present).


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    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.

  5. Sample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photo

    Product images by Shaminder Dulai

    The OM System OM-1 Mark II is a high-speed Micro Four Thirds camera based around a 20MP Stacked CMOS sensor. As the name implies, it's an updated version of the flagship OM-1, with a series of hardware and firmware improvements.

    Key Specifications:

    • 20MP Four Thirds Stacked CMOS sensor
    • Continuous shooting at up to 50fps with full autofocus, 120fps with AF/AE locked
    • In-body stabilization rated to 8.5EV
    • 4K (UHD or DCI) at up to 60p with 10-bit and Log capture options
    • Extended subject recognition AF modes
    • 5.76m dot OLED viewfinder with 0.83x magnification
    • 80MP multi-shot high res mode with 50MP hand-held option
    • Live composite, Live ND and Graduated ND mutli-shot modes
    • Environmentally sealed to IP53 standard
    • Twin UHS-II cards

    The OM-1 Mark II will be available from February 26th at a recommended price of $2399, a $200 increase compared with the original model from February 2022. US customers ordering before Feb 25th will receive a second BLX-1 battery and $300 off select lenses, we'd expect other regions to be offering similar incentives to pre-order.


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    What's new?

    The OM-1 Mark II arrives two years on from the original model and offers a series of improvements, rather than a radical change of specs, compared with the existing model.

    Recent Videos

    The OM-1 II uses the same TruePic X processor as the original model did and its headline capabilities are essentially the same, but the new version has more RAM onboard, which the company says underpins many of the changes that have been made possible.

    So, while the max burst rate and video specs remain unchanged, the way features are implemented and the performance of the camera within the bounds of those headline figures have changed.

    Improved AF

    A 'Human detection' option in the camera's subject detection system replaces Face/Eye detection. It should be better at recognizing smaller subjects as well as helping simplify the user interface.

    The headline change is the improvement of the camera's autofocus. The OM-1 II builds on what was one of the earliest implementations of machine-learning-trained subject recognition. The Olympus E-M1 X was the first camera to use algorithms developed by machine learning to offer an AF system that had been trained to recognize a broad range of subjects (previous rivals could only recognize people and domestic animals, typically).

    The biggest outward change is that OM-1 II gains a Human detection mode, which extends subject recognition beyond just face detection but also means that all the camera's recognition modes are now integrated within the same section of the interface (Face Detection was a separate mode on the OM-1).

    The company also says the refresh rate of the AF system has been improved, boosting the performance of the (non-recognition-based) C-AF + Tracking mode as well as the effectiveness of the AI-trained subject recognition modes.

    As before, you can specify what the camera does if the recognized subject ventures beyond your chosen AF area: stick with the subject or revert to focusing within your chosen area. This can be set separately for stills and video.

    We're also told the base C-AF tracking (without subject recognition) has been improved, which we're looking forward to testing.

    Improved IS

    Another major step forward in the OM-1 II is its improved in-body image stabilization. The revamped system, which uses updated algorithms, is now rated to deliver an impressive 8.5EV of correction when subjected to industry-standard testing.

    This is unlikely to mean that you can actually reliably shoot at 8.5 stops below the traditional 1/focal length shutter speed (with a 50mm equiv lens, that would be an exposure of around seven seconds), but it does leave the OM-1 II as the highest-rated camera on the market.

    More blackout-free modes

    The existing OM-1 offered true blackout-free shooting at its fastest shooting settings. The Mark II extends this to some of its slower burst rates, meaning that photographers who don't always need to use the camera's fastest rates still experience the benefit of the sensor's rapid readout.

    Bigger buffer

    The most obvious sign of a hardware change in the Mark II is its deeper buffer. The Mark II can shoot 256 Raw frames at 50fps or 213 in its single (initial) AF 120fps mode. These numbers are around double the figures that the original model could achieve, and help boost the value of its high-speed capabilities.

    In many circumstances, the benefit won't so much be the ability to stay on the shutter for five seconds, but instead that it decreases the likelihood of the buffer being full at the moment you need to capture another quick 50fps burst.

    Graduated Neutral Density filter

    The OM-1 II's GND feature lets you adjust the severity of the gradient and adjust its position and angle.

    Building on the Live ND option, which blends lots of short exposures to give the effect of a neutral density filter, the OM1 II gains the ability to simulate a graduated neutral density filter.

    It gives the choice of whether you want the gradient to have a hard, medium or soft edge, and whether you want it to have a 1, 2, or 3-stop impact (ND 2, 4 or 8). You can then use the four-way controller or the touchscreen to move the mid-point of the gradient, and the dials to rotate its angle. The front dial rotates the gradient effect by 15 degrees, while the rear dial makes single degree adjustments.

    The camera's Live ND feature has also been extended and can now simulate a 7-stop ND128 filter: a stop darker than the original model.

    14-bit multi-shot Raw

    The OM-1 II has the option to capture its multi-shot high-res images in 14-bit Raw. In both the 80MP mode that requires the use of a tripod and the 50MP mode designed for hand-held shooting, the camera can now store Raw files with the capacity for wider dynamic range that multi-shot shooting generates. It doesn't appear that this additional Raw depth is used to store the image data any more efficiently, though: the multi-shot Raws are between 2.4 and 4 times the size of a single-image file. We look forward to discovering whether there's an appreciable difference one we get independent Raw support for the camera.


    Body and handling

    The OM-1 II shares a body with its predecessor: a compact, dense body with a well-designed layout that offers extensive direct control, despite the camera's small size.

    The most obvious change between the OM-1 and the Mark II is that the camera now wears OM System branding across its viewfinder hump. The original OM-1 was at quite an advanced stage of development when Olympus divested its camera business, so it still had the previous company's branding emblazoned on it, which the Mark II sets straight.

    Beyond this, the handling of the camera is almost identical to that of the original camera. We say 'almost' because OMDS has changed the camera's command dials to ones with a rubbery coating. These offer an improved tactile feel and also make the camera a little easier to operate when using gloves.

    The OM-1 II's dials have a rubberized finish to them, improving the feel and making them easier to use when wearing gloves.

    The result is a small camera with a huge degree of direct control but with a layout that means these two factors are rarely in conflict (unless you have very large hands). We remain impressed with how much direct access is available and how comfortable the camera is to hold and shoot.

    The elimination of the separate face detection option means that subject recognition options can now take its place on the Super Control Panel, just below the White Balance setting.

    Beyond this, the camera's handling and operation remain unchanged. It continues to use the updated version of the Super Control Panel quick menu, making it easy to see and adjust the camera's key settings.

    The dizzying degree of customization of the camera is still present. For instance, you can set the two-position lever around the AEL button to switch between focus settings, at which point you can decide whether this affects the AF mode, AF area mode and chosen AF area, so that it does exactly what you want. However, newer features such as focus limiter and subject recognition mode aren't options for what the switch changes, so you can't use this feature to engage and disengage subject detection mode or switch between subject types.

    Viewfinder and screen

    The 5.76M dot electronic viewfinder offers blackout-free burst shooting at slower speeds than its predecessor.

    The OM-1 II uses the same 5.76M dot (1600 x 1200 px) OLED viewfinder as the previous model. The viewfinder optics give a finder with 0.83x magnification. As before, this can be run at up to 120Hz, with OMDS claiming a refresh lag of 5ms. It's a large and responsive viewfinder.

    As you might hope, the OM-1 II also comes with the little FL LM3 flash. This mounts in the camera's hotshoe and can be rotated sideways and upwards, allowing you to bounce it. It's not very powerful in itself, but as well as being a lot more flexible than a typical built-in flash, it can also be used to communicate flash information to external flash units using the 'RC' infrared system.

    Battery

    The OM-1 II uses the same BLX-1 battery as the previous model. This is a 16.4Wh unit that powers the camera to a CIPA rating of 500 shots per charge: a very slight drop compared with the existing camera. In the more efficient Quick Sleep mode, the rating jumps to 1010 shots per charge, but with the screens slowing and then going dark much, much more quickly after each interaction with the camera.

    As always, CIPA numbers tend to significantly underestimate the number of shots you're likely to get from a camera. Double the rated value isn't unusual, and this number significantly increases if you're shooting shots in bursts, where you're unlikely to view each image individually for long periods on the rear screen.

    The OM-1 Mark II is compatible with the existing HLD-10 battery grip, which adds a second battery to the camera.


    Initial impressions

    By Richard Butler

    The first thing that's likely to strike many OM System and Olympus users about the OM-1 II is that OMDS has chosen to update one of its most recent models rather than expanding or refreshing the rest of its lineup.

    The company's presentation about the camera talked in terms of "perfecting" the already impressive capabilities of the original OM-1, rather than significantly expanding them. A deeper buffer, improved AF performance and uprated image stabilization suggest the company's engineers have been busy, though.

    The new camera has more onboard memory, which we're told enables some of the new features. The deeper buffer during burst shooting is the most obvious outcome, but it could plausibly also be underpinning features such as the virtual Graduated ND feature that requires lots of frames to be held while the processor blends them together. But it's clear why the company has called this a Mark 2, rather than branding it as an entirely new model.

    The move to a human detection mode within the camera's subject recognition options, rather than face/eye detection that lives separately, helps improve the coherence of the camera's operation. But there are still clear signs (such as the limited functions that can be controlled by the two-way switch) that this is a camera that's been added to, year by year, rather than developed from a blank sheet of paper.

    What it continues to offer is pro-level speed with camera/lens combinations that are appreciably smaller and lighter than larger formats. There's a trade-off to be made for this, but features such as hand-held high resolution mode can help to overcome the differences.

    The OM-1 II's video specs are unchanged, compared with the existing camera.

    OMDS has clearly recognized this, and if the improved AF performance makes the camera more effective for wildlife photography, then it could help strengthen the brand's handhold in that niche. We're still in the early days of testing the OM-1 II, but more effective autofocus, combined with the OM-1's speed, its weather sealing and the availability of light long lenses, would help justify the company's focus on its high-end models.

    We'd love to see a continuation of the PEN line of small, classic-looking cameras, as they were some of the models that helped define the early promises of the move to mirrorless. But the speed and multi-shot capabilities Olympus and OMDS have developed make more sense in a rugged camera to be taken into the wilderness with a long lens for landscape and wildlife shooting. Arguably, some of these capabilities could also translate into a go everywhere/do everything travel camera, too, but for now the efforts have been concentrated on the OM-1 and OM-5 lines.

    As with the move from the E-M1 II to the III, there'll be people who wonder whether the changes could have been made as a firmware update, and it'll be interesting to see whether some of the behavioral refinements of the Mark II are made available to owners of the original camera. But our first impressions are that the OM-1 II represents a meaningful advance in the areas that matter for its intended uses. Whether they're meaningful enough to prompt OM-1 users to upgrade is something we'll discover in the coming weeks.


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    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.

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