The Nikon Z 5 is one of the most exciting cameras on the market right now. Packed with powerhouse features, it will elevate your images regardless of where you are on your photographic journey.
Whether you're a Nikon DSLR owner looking to make the move to mirrorless, or a hobbyist just starting out who needs a great camera to capture your creativity, the Nikon Z 5 (opens in new tab) is the ideal tool with which to share your passion with the world.
Despite being very pocket-friendly in terms of its portable size as well as its affordable price, this full-frame (FX) mirrorless camera with a 24MP image sensor delivers serious advantages over APS-C cameras and smartphones alike.
You can learn all the secrets of the Z 5 and master its many modes by taking courses at Nikon School (opens in new tab). However, to unleash your passion right away, here are five essential features that will help you get the most out of the camera.
1) User Modes Settings (U1, U2, U3)
The Z 5 enables photographers to set custom user profiles. This makes the camera incredibly easy to use, with your favorite personal settings immediately accessible just by turning a dial. This means that you can set different profiles – such as for low light, portraiture and landscapes – depending on what you like to photograph.
To record the current settings into the U1, U2 or U3 profiles, just set your camera for the type of image you want to take. For example, to exploit the great low light capabilities of the Z 5, you could set it to manual, 1/60 sec, f/4, Auto ISO, AF-S and wide area small autofocus. With these settings, combined with the 5-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS), you can achieve sharp images even in low light conditions – and even while shooting handheld!
Before you take any images, press ‘Menu’ and navigate to the setup menu (the spanner icon) and select ‘Save User Settings’. By saving the current camera settings to, for example, the U1 profile, they are permanently stored in-camera. So the next time you need to quickly switch to your low light settings, just turn the user mode dial to U1 and you're ready to shoot!
2) Customized ‘i’ Menu
You now go one step further with the Nikon Z 5 and customize the ‘i’ menu that appears, either on the rear LCD monitor or in the ultra-sharp electronic viewfinder (EVF). This gives you another option to really personalize the the camera according to your own needs, and make your photography easy and efficient.
Within the ‘i’ menu you have 12 slots, in which you can apply a variety of different settings from the various camera menus, to make quick and clean adjustments. This can be a variety of different features, such as adjusting white balance to control temperature, toggling WiFi or Bluetooth settings on or off, selecting images to be sent to your smart device, or using picture controls to add in-camera color filters and make your images ready to post straight to social media. The options are endless!
To access this feature, press ‘Menu’ and to go custom settings (the pencil icon), then choose f (controls) followed by f1 to customize the ‘i’ menu.
3) 5-axis in-body image stabilization
The Z5 boasts powerful, in-camera, 5-axis vibration reduction technology. This built-in image stabilization means that you can shoot images at shutter speeds up to five stops slower than normal – and this opens up a world of creative options and shooting freedom.
The biggest benefit is with photographing landscapes or shooting in low light situations, as you can now handhold the camera at slower shutter speeds instead of having to use a tripod (not to mention having to remember it, and carry it with you!).
Because the IBIS is built into the camera, your images stay sharp no matter which NIKKOR Z lens you are using – and you get rock-steady 4K video, too, without needing to use a gimbal. And if you have non-VR NIKKOR F lenses, you also get an added bonus when using the FTZ adapter: the in-camera stabilization delivers vibration reduction even with non-stabilized optics.
4) Focus Peaking
Whether you shoot video or still images, the Nikon Z 5's built-in focus peaking enables you to achieve pin-sharp shots when used with NIKKOR lenses. Focus peaking is also invaluable when you need to accurately control depth of field, such as shooting landscapes and macro photography.
Once activated focus peaking will show in real time you which parts of your subject and scene are in focus, as well as the extent of your depth of field, by highlighting these areas of your image with a contrasting color.
To set up focus peaking, press Menu then move to the custom setting menu (pencil icon) then d (shooting / display) and finally d9, Peaking Highlights. You can now set the sensitivity of the peaking highlight, as well as a color. A setting of 2 works well for most situations, especially landscapes, macro and product photography, with red or blue being good choices to stand out against most scenes.
Now simply compose your image, set the required aperture to control your depth of field, and switch your NIKKOR lens or Z 5 to manual focus. When you look on the LCD screen or through the EVF, everything that is sharp will now be outlined in the color you chose so you can easily see what's in focus.
5) Picture Controls
Picture Controls enable you to effectively add color filters to your still images, or color grades to your video files, in-camera. This really helps when you are out on location and want to upload shots straight to social media from your camera, using the built-in WiFi and Bluetooth functionality alongside the Nikon Snapbridge app.
You can also create your own custom Controls to achieve a certain look or feel, such as recreating a vintage film style. Picture Controls can be found in the Photo Shooting Menu on the Z 5, under 'Set Picture Control'.
There is a huge list of preset filters to choose from or, if you use 'Manage Picture Control' from the same menu, you can create up to nine custom Picture Controls of your own. Use these for shooting stills and video alike to realize your creative vision without worrying about post production!
There has never been a better time to pick up the Nikon Z 5. In addition to its 24MP full-frame (FX) image sensor and 5-axis in-body image stabilization, this lightweight and portable powerhouse boasts dual UHS-II SD card slots, 273 Hybrid Autofocus points, impressive ISO100-51200 sensitivity and crisp 4K video.
No matter what you want to shoot, the Z 5 delivers incredible quality with incredible ease. And you can find out how to unlock more features, to make shooting even easier, by joining Nikon School (opens in new tab) online. Or sign up to the Nikon School newsletter (opens in new tab) to find out about the newest courses as they drop.