Nikon Z5 arrives for beginners with world’s smallest full-frame zoom lens


The long-rumored Nikon Z5 has finally been revealed as the junior, full-frame sibling of the model that currently tops our best cameras list, the Nikon Z6.

A 24.3MP full-frame mirrorless camera compatible with Nikon's Z series lenses, the Nikon Z5 has much in common with our favorite all-round camera, including the same in-body image stabilization system, 273-point hybrid AF system and 3.69-million dot electronic viewfinder.

Aimed at full-frame beginners or owners of Nikon DX DSLRs (which have smaller APS-C sensors), the Nikon Z5 has arrived with a new Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 kit lens, which is apparently "the shortest and lightest full-frame mirrorless zoom lens around".

Strangely, Nikon will initially only be selling the Nikon Z5 with this kit lens, rather than offering a body-only option. While the new 24-50mm lens looks a good alternative for those whose main priority is traveling light, it's a shame there's no body-only option for photographers who want to start their Z5 careers with a different lens.

Still, Nikon has said there will body-only Nikon Z5 availability in the future, and the new camera certainly has a lot going for it, particularly for stills photographers. Unlike the Nikon Z6 and Z7, it has two card slots (both of which support UHS-II SD format), rather than a single XQD slot. The Nikon Z5 can also be powered by USB, which is handy if you fancy shooting long timelapses.

Naturally, the Z5 is lacking compared to its more senior siblings in two main areas. The main one is video – the Z5's 4K video comes with a 1.7x crop, and it also lacks a 120p slo-mo mode. 

The new camera is also inferior to the Z6 and Z7 when it comes to burst shooting. While the Nikon Z6 can shoot action or wildlife scenes at up to 12fps, the Z5 can only manage a maximum of 4.5fps. That's pretty low by today's standards.

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Nikon Z5

(Image credit: Nikon)
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Nikon Z5

(Image credit: Nikon)
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Nikon Z5

(Image credit: Nikon)
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Nikon Z5

(Image credit: Nikon)
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Nikon Z5

(Image credit: Nikon)

Glass act

Still, the Nikon Z5 is otherwise shaping up to be a promising option for hobbyists looking to move to full-frame. It has a magnesium alloy build with weather-sealing, an autofocus system with both Eye-Detection and Animal-Detection AF, and a tilting touchscreen (albeit not a fully articulating one, like the Canon EOS RP).

While we haven't yet taken the new Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens for a spin, it does look impressively compact for a full-frame zoom. This is largely thanks to its retractable design, which means you need to rotate its zoom ring to extend it out and get shooting. But Nikon claims that the lens has a decent close-focusing distance of 35cm and also offers near-silent focusing for shooting video.

Nikon also says that it'll be bolstering the Nikon Z system lens collection later this year with the announcement of the Nikkor Z 14-24 f/2.8S, which will complete a 'holy trinity' of zooms alongside the 70-200mm f/2.8 and 24-70mm f/2.8.

Perhaps the main disappointment with the Nikon Z5 is that it will only initially be available with that new 24-50mm f/4-6.3 kit lens. You'll be able to buy it from "late summer 2020" with the kit lens for £1,719 (around $2,175 / AU$3,100).

That bundle is more expensive than a body-only Nikon Z6 and significantly pricier than a body-only Canon EOS RP with an EF-EOS R adaptor, which means it's still quite a big investment for full-frame beginners. We'll report back with the body-only price when Nikon decides to make the Z5 available in that form.


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