Reader Questions About the Z50

This article will be updated regularly as I learn new information about the Z50.

"There's no IR remote control or DM-MC type connector on the Z50!"

No need to shout something that isn't a question. The appropriate remote control for the Z50 is the optional ML-L7. That unit works just fine, and can do a lot more control of the camera than the previous wireless remote controls could.

"Is the Z50 a D5xxx replacement or D7xxx replacement?"

Well, first, it's not a "replacement." Nikon keeps saying they will keep DSLR and mirrorless lines going for the foreseeable future. So let's use the word "equivalent." And the answer is: neither.

Nikon themselves seem to have wavered on this. In one set of marketing materials I've seen, the Z50 is clearly listed with the D7500 and D500 as Enthusiast cameras (the D5600 being Advanced Entry). On another set of documents they suggest that D5xxx users would be very interested in the Z50, as if it were an equivalent. Add in the vlogger/selfie marketing messages, and you can get quite confused very quickly with Nikon's own positioning. Since the Z50 is Nikon's only APS-C mirrorless camera at the moment, it seems a bit as if Nikon wants the Z50 to be all things to all users.

In terms of actual specifications and performance, I'd judge the Z50 to actually probably come out somewhere between a D5600 and D7500 in mirrorless form. 

"Does the Z50 really have a full magnesium body?"

Sort of. The front and top of the body are one piece of magnesium alloy (includes the grip and some wrap around on the side). This is essentially the spine upon which everything else is hung, and should provide excellent sturdiness. 

"What's with the icons at the right of the rear LCD?

Those are what Nikon calls "soft keys." They act as touch areas for the three functions that are physical buttons on other cameras (zoom in, zoom out/help, DISP). The name and function is dedicated (i.e. not programmable that I know of). 

"Is it true the Z50 doesn't have built-in sensor cleaning?"

Yes, that's correct. At the moment, Nikon doesn't seem to have a marketing position on this. I'd be fine with the removal of that function if Nikon endorsed user cleaning. Since there's no sensor-based IS to hurt, that should be possible.

"How many images does the Z50 support in Multiple Exposure"

Ten. 

"Does the Z50 have Focus Peaking?"

Yes. Set via Custom Setting. Zebra stripes are also available.

"What's the buffer?"

35 shots max for raw, 71 for JPEG Fine Large, 100 for all other JPEG types.

"Does the Z50 have first curtain electronic shutter or all-electronic shutter?"

Sort of. Definitely a yes to EFCS. But all-electronic shutter seems to be more like the Silent Mode Live View of the DSLRs: it's selected via a menu item, and doesn't let the shutter range go above 1/4000. 

"Does the 4K video crop?"

According to NikonUSA, some prototype cameras initially shown did crop 4K video, but the cameras that shipped to users don't crop. That's the problem with trying to launch products from unfinished firmware and without final marketing materials. It's also the reason why this is a live document you should come back and check from time to time.

"What kind of 4K does the Z50 create?"

The Z50 creates UHD 4K, which is to say 3840x2160. It cannot create DCI 4K that extends the aspect ratio to 17:9 (4096 x 2160). 

"Is there a time limit to movie recording?"

Internally, 29 minutes and 59 seconds, as usual.

"Can I change file names on the camera?"

Yes, both Storage Folder and File Naming functions are available as on most prosumer/pro Nikon models.

"Does the camera support 14-bit raw?"

Yes, both 12-bit and 14-bit NEF can be selected. However, there is no choice for compression type, ala the D5xxx models. A NEF file always uses Lossless Compression on the Z50.

"Does the camera support Diffraction Compensation?"

Yes, all of the lens correction capabilities Nikon has made are in the Z50.

"Does the LCD tilt upward at all?"

Yes, you can tilt the LCD upward by about 90°. You can also flip it all the way down so that it facing forward at 180°. While a lot of folk are poo-pooing the tilting mechanism, it does actually extend tilting further than on a Z6/Z7. I'm just not sure that this is going to turn out to be all that useful. 

"How's the low-light autofocus performance?" 

The specifications here are very similar to the Z7: down to -2EV at ISO 100 with an f/2 lens in normal conditions. If you set the Low Light AF Custom Setting, it'll go down to -4EV, though focus may slow. 

Note, however, that the fastest DX lens is f/3.5, meaning that the camera is more likely to be limited to something like -0.5EV at base ISO with the kit zoom. 

"What focus modes are supported?"

Pretty much the same as the Z6 and Z7: Pinpoint (AF-S only), Single-point, Dynamic Area, Wide Area (S), Wide-Area (L), and Auto-Area AF. Face/Eye detect autofocus works the same as it does on the full frame cameras, as well. The one difference is that the Z50 uses the old Subject Tracking mode (requires user interaction), while the Z6 and Z7 firmware updates made that are more automatic.

"The lens situation is worse for the Nikon Z50 than it is for the Canon EOS M6 Mark II."

That's not a question, but no, it isn't, actually. As I write this, Canon has released only eight lenses you can mount on an M model without an adapter. Nikon has already released 12 Z lenses. By the end of 2021 that will be 23 Z mount lenses that can be put on the Z50. Canon's going to have to release a lot of M lenses to match that, and I'm pretty sure they won't. Canon seems content to let users get flexibility only via a lens adapter, and that adapter is going to be for EF lenses, not RF. 

Several years ago I wrote an article about the strategies that Canon and Nikon might take when they got around to presenting a full mirrorless lineup. Apparently Canon didn't read that article, because they've picked the scenario I said was wrong. Nikon (and Sony, let's give them credit) have picked the right "one mount" strategy.

Now, that's not to say that all 23 of the Z mount lenses are ones you're going to want to put on the Z50 DX camera, but with one exception, I think Nikon is doing just fine here. That exception? There's no 10-20mm Z DX VR lens. Sony gets a big win here with their 10-18mm f/4 OSS, and Canon also gets a nod with their 11-22mm f/4.5-5.6 IS (though the 1.6x Canon APS-C crop makes that almost 18mm equivalent at the wide end instead of Sony's 15mm.

Bottom line: both Canon and Nikon need to work on their APS-C lenses in mirrorless, but Nikon's going to get some benefit from the full frame Z lenses.

"Why no sensor-VR on the Z50?"

Obviously, a cost simplification on Nikon's part. Of all the decisions Nikon made in creating a simplified Z50, this is the one that bothers me the most. And once again, it has to do with lenses. Most of the known Z lenses won't have VR built in. 

At the Z50 price point, though, you don't find much with sensor-VR/IS, so I suspect Nikon made this decision by the usual bean-counting way (e.g. "Our competitors don't have it, so we can leave that costly part out, too."). The way you "win" product competitions is to rise to the top quality of excellence in user experience. Leaving off sensor-VR is not rising to the top, in my opinion. 

Nikon keeps making a big deal in their Z50 marketing about "young creatives" as one of their key targets for the camera. Apparently they didn't note that stabilization is a must for that crowd. Sure, they get it as long as they stick to the two Z DX lenses, but the point of an interchangeable lens camera is its flexibility, and losing a key function when you change lenses is the wrong thing to do. 

Of course, by leaving sensor-VR off the Z50, Nikon left room for a higher-end model ;~).

"Would you use an F-mount DX lens on the Z50?"

One for sure: 10-20mm AF-P. I might also be tempted to try my Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 on the Z50 with an FTZ adapter, as that combo seems like it would useful. But for the Z50 to find a place in my gear closet, it needs to stay small and light and extremely travel friendly, and that suggests the two kit zooms for now coupled with the 10-20mm on the FTZ adapter. The weight of the two-lens kit, by the way, is 1kg (2.2 pounds). Very travel friendly. As I note elsewhere, the three-lens kit I suggest fits in a very small bag.

"Is the FTZ Adapter included?"

Not in the US. I suspect that we'll see bundles with it once the initial demand has been met. Nikon's not the type to leave dollars on the table if they don't have to. Apparently NikonUSA's initial approach will be to have lower-cost FTZ adapter bundles available. We've already seen prices of US$100 for the FTZ adapter when bought with the camera.

"Can you charge the camera via USB?"

Yes. Though Nikon is using the USB 2.0 Mini-B style plug here, which is going to have some of you perplexed now that we're in the USB-C world. You also need the optional EH-73P to do this. You use the cable that comes with the camera to plug between the Z50 and EH-73P. Some experimentation will let you figure out other charger options, but the old 2a ones generally don't work.

"Does the Z50 internal flash support Commander mode?"

No. You need a Speedlight that has Commander mode in the hot shoe to perform wireless flash with the Z50.

"How's the Z50 stack up against the competition (that would be Canon M6 Mark II, Fujifilm X-T30, and Sony A6100, basically)?"

Well if you're starting from scratch with nothing, you actually have an interesting choice between those four. Each company seems to be trying to emphasize something different, and none of them knock it out of the park. 

At least with the Nikon and Sony choices, if you're already in those ecosystems you should probably just stay. Both companies are iterating from long-established ergonomic, control, and naming bases that will make transition from DSLR to mirrorless easier.

Canon's a little tricker, as the M system does the same thing for EF users, but it doesn't lead to RF, which is Canon's future. 

Fujifilm, of course, is essentially a new entry. While they made early DSLRs (based off of Nikon bodies), the current XF lineup was essentially Fujifilm inventing a full camera lineup from scratch. There was no crossover from their DSLRs to their mirrorless cameras.

Personally, I think too many people obsess over specifications, and particularly so at this level of camera. They're all quite competent, just different. I'd argue that price and brand-choice probably should play a bigger role than specific numbers you see in a comparison chart. So I'm not going to do a chart ;~). If you need such a chart, see dpreview's at the bottom of page 2 of their Z50 "initial review".  

"Can we tell anything from the Z50 positioning?"

As I noted elsewhere, Nikon left themselves plenty of room by putting the Z50 in the middle of two DSLR models. They could easily make a Z70 that slotted in specs closer to the D500 (and maybe use the Z6/Z7 body so that it has all the goodies I just said a Z5 wouldn't). There's also plenty of room for a Z30 entry model.

The problem, of course, is lens (buzz, buzz). Nikon's telegraphed a position with Z DX: just a handful of consumer convenience lenses. 

"What did Nikon cheap out on to hit the price point the Z50 sells at?"

More use of plastic, no IBIS, slightly fewer physical controls, a lower spec EVF and LCD, fewer external connectors, plus things like a missing flash shoe cover, push-on rear lens caps, and no lens hoods. Virtually none of that impacts the usability/capability of the camera. I'd be a little more leery of using the Z50 in really wet environments than the DSLRs and even the Z6/Z7, but that's about it. 

"Where are the Z50 and lenses made?"

Thailand. 

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