The Z System Wish List

I'm going to try to accumulate the collective wish list of the user base, with commentary, here.

  • FTZ-S — An FTZ adapter that contains the screw drive motor for older D-type lenses. Bonus points for adding the AI-indexing levers back. Most people don't really need this item, but it's a "legacy liability" point for enough of the Nikon faithful that we've got people still clinging to their Nikon DSLRs because of this. Nikon has a unique position in the camera market, and they'd best serve that 100%. No other maker can claim that have such far-back-reaching legacy support as Nikon does, and anything Nikon does to enhance that status is a competitive win.
  • Return of the real MBs — There's little doubt that a subset of the enthusiast marketplace wants the add-on capability of a vertical grip, with complete controls as well as additional battery capabilities (the pro market would require this). Nikon needs to make sure that they hear the users on this. Even though I'm not a fan of the MB grips, I would not ignore the marketing check box liability that comes with not making real MB grips. Of course, doesn't apply to the original Z6/Z7, Z5, Z50.
  • Pixel shift — Panasonic and Sony have it in their full frame cameras. Nikon needs it on the Z6 II and Z7 II, will need it on the Z9.
  • USB camera power — The Z5 adds this capability, but it really needs to be system wide: all the Nikon Z cameras need to get this function on their next hardware update.
  • Dual slots — Again, the Z5 adds this capability. You really don't want higher level cameras without a capability that an entry camera has, so any follow up to the Z6 and Z7 models needs dual slots, too. Any Z8 or Z9 would, as well. I'm comfortable with any Z DX cameras being single slot. Indeed, that would be a distinguishing marketing trait between crop sensor and full sensor, I think.
  • Higher Video specs — This is a bit of a catch-all category. Quite a few things fall into this category: (1) 4K/60P; (2) 10-bit 4:2:0 or better internal recording; (3) higher bitrates; (4) less rolling shutter; (5) newer compression schemes (yes, H.266 is now documented); (6) some will say 8K (or 5K/6K raw), so I'll add it here, too.
  • Built-in GPS — Yes, SnapBridge can provide GPS data, but in practice, it's not particularly accurate due to the handoffs used between camera and mobile device (let alone how the mobile device is determining position in some cases). As the smartphone makers have discovered, incorporating more sensors enables more things. I won't go into what the things other than just geocoding images might be, but there are plenty of ways that the camera makers are simply not keeping up with the mobile world, and they all devolve to not having the right on-board sensors, or not using the ones they do have.
  • Flash update — If there's an Achilles heel to mirrorless, it has to do with flash. For instance, silent shooting is incompatible with the old DSLR-style flashes, for a number of reasons. We need the mirrorless generation flash breakthrough, something that is better synced to the image sensor usage. Autofocus assist on the flash needs to be reconfigured for the mirrorless cameras. In terms of flash units themselves, scaled down bodies also need scaled down Speedlights. The SB-500 is appropriately sized to the current Z cameras; we need more options like that.
  • Better EVFs — Nikon's EVFs aren't terrible, but at the moment, Nikon is one EVF size behind the competition, I'd say. The lower end cameras really will need 3.7m dot EVFs soon, the higher end cameras 5.8m dot, plus it wouldn't hurt to have a higher refresh rate.
  • 900s Shutter Speed — The D6 and D780 got the D810A's longer shutter speeds. There's no reason why this can't be added to all Nikon cameras, particularly the way they've made this an option via Custom Settings.
  • Restore RGB Channel Highlights — These went away with the Z system cameras, but re-appeared in a new form on the D780. Let's add that to the Z's!
  • Override DX crop — The full frame DSLRs allow you to override the DX crop when you mount DX lenses, but the Z's don't. 
  • Reposition the focus cursor via touchscreen — A number of other cameras allow you to quickly reposition the focus area being used by dragging your thumb on the LCD. 
  • Rethink focus stacking — Because you're typically on a tripod when you perform this action, a simple way to set up focus stack would be via the rear LCD: touch the nearest area you want to have the focal plane, touch the furthest area you want to have the focal plane, go. The camera can do the calculations necessary from that data, and the camera can also detect when the lens hits that far point and stop. 
  • Pre-capture mode— Maintain an image buffer prior to pushing the shutter release, and record the buffer if the shutter release is pressed.
  • 4:3 aspect ratio — It’s the one aspect ratio Nikon hasn’t provided that’s common.
  • Real-time highlight and shadow clipping — Olympus did it, why can’t Nikon (and others) do it?
  • Auto VR — like Auto ISO, but user sets a maximum shutter speed at which VR is active. 
  • Dampen the control rings — Right now the control rings on the lenses (including the focus ring) are typically too sensitive, and they have no adjustable hysteresis. Which means things like Exposure Compensation, when set as a ring function, is just too easy to accidentally set wrong. Personally, I’d like Nikon to add sensitivity options to the focus ring and make the third wheel on some lenses “clicky” so that they don’t get reset accidentally.

This article is a work in progress. It will be updated as new ideas are processed.

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