There’s been no more hotly-contested sector in the industry this year than full-frame mirrorless market. Even before Panasonic announced its S1 development models at Photokina, Canon had pulled the covers off its EOS R, and Nikon brought two full-frame models to the market, the Z6 and Z7. It’s fair to say that all the brands have one target in their sights, Sony, who have dominated full-frame mirrorless cameras over the last few years. So, it’s time to pitch Sony’s epic A7RIII against Nikon’s high-resolution model, the Z7, by comparing specification sheets…
|Nikon Z7||Sony a7RIII|
|LCD||3.2-inch tilting touch-screen||3-inch tilting touch-screen|
|Video||4K @ 30p||4K @ 30p|
Design and build:
The Nikon Z7 is built around a 45.7-megapixel back-illuminated (BSI) CMOS full-frame sensor and features the new Z-mount, which is notably wide and was designed to allow Nikon to build lenses with faster maximum apertures. The high-resolution sensor benefits from sensor-shift image stabilisation technology offering up to 5-stops of compensation – the Z7/Z6 are the first Nikons to feature In Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS). While the Z7 is a first generation camera, the Sony a7RIII is now on its third generation and Sony has built on the success of the first two models. The a7RIII is built around a 42-megapixel full-frame BSI CMOS sensor which features no anti-aliasing filter to produce sharper images at the risk of increased moire. Of course, the a7RIII features 5-axis IBIS that offers 5.5-stops of compensation and like the other models in the a-series range uses the Sony E-mount.
The resolution stats gives the Nikon the edge in the megapixel wars but what about autofocus? Well, although it’s a close run battle, the Z7 comes out on top in this area too, offering photographers 493 AF points compared to the a7RIII’s 425 AF points. Where the Sony does strike back is in burst rate, offering photographers 10 frames per second compared to the Nikon’s 9FPS. What’s more, the Z7 falls down in one important area that has niggled long-time Nikon users…storage slots! While the Nikon only offers up one XQD card slot, the Sony records its files to dual SD card slots (a Memory Stick Pro can also be used in one of the slots), affording photographers an instant backup or giving them the option to record stills to one card and video to the others.
Both cameras are close in weight – the a7RIII tips the scales at 657g, a slight bit lighter than the Z7, which weighs 675g. Although a little heavier, the Z7 does have the bigger screen (3.2-inches v 3-inches), with both LCDs touch-sensitive and featuring a tilting design to aid the user when setting up an awkward low/high composition. Both the cameras are weather-sealed, making them suitable for professional use and capable of operating in harsh environments. The Z7 also offers photographers a top plate LCD to display exposure information at a glance and this option is missing from the a7RIII
As you’d expect from two high resolution full-frame models, both cameras in this test can produce huge image files. The Z7 can shoot images measuring 8256 x 5504 pixels, while the a7RIII manages 7952 x 5304 pixels. This is more than enough to make huge prints of your images or, alternatively, allow the photographer to crop in intensively into an image without compromising image quality. The Z7’s ISO range stretches from 64-25600 (expandable to 102400), while the a7RIII offers the slightly higher native range of 100-32000 and can also be expanded to 102400.
Both cameras have plenty to offer videographers and the good news is that the Z7 and a7RIII both shoot ultra high-quality 4K footage at 30p. Videographers can also choose to shoot at Full HD at 60p or take advantage of each camera’s ability to shoot 120fps for cool slow motions sequences at Full HD. In terms of colour options, each camera comes with the brand’s log profile included (N-Log for Nikon, S-Log for Sony) and both models feature ports for headphones and an external mic, meaning enhanced audio can be both monitored and recorded. All these options make each camera very attractive propositions for those photographers who shoot an equal amount of stills and video content.
Each camera has plenty of lens options to offer the photographer – Sony has plenty of high quality glass, including lenses from third-party brands like Sigma. Although there are only three Z-mount lenses available for the Z7, many more are planned and there is a Nikon FTZ adaptor to make F-mount lenses compatible and this should kill off any fears existing Nikon users may have about adding the mirrorless Z7 to their system.
Each models has a number of other noteworthy features that should be considered. The Z7 boasts a cool focus stacking mode that will make capturing ultra-sharp shots via multiple images a lot easier. Meanwhile the a7RIII boasts a Pixel Shift mode that combines multiple files to produce one single file with greater detail. The Sony has a much better battery life, offering 650 shots between charges compared to the Z7’s 330, but the Nikon can create in-camera 8K timelapse.
Both cameras are packed with cutting edge features and technology and there is very little to separate them. Given this, it’s worth remembering that this is Nikon’s first attempt at a high resolution full-frame mirrorless model and the brand should be applauded.
Because the two cameras are so closely matched, existing Nikon photographers who are familiar with the brand’s DSLRs and probably have a bag full of F-mount lenses will probably be tempted to go for the Z7 as they have compatible optics ready to go. Alternatively, those looking to come fresh to a new system may prefer the faster burst rate and longer-lasting battery of the a7RIII. Both are excellent buys that are capable of producing high quality stills and video.