Crested Owls. Photo by Eduardo Libby

Bird photography with the Nikon Z7

There is a lot of talk on the Internet about the Nikon Z7 capabilities for wildlife photography, especially of birds in flight. I took out the Z7 for the kind of bird photos I normally do and I am very, very happy with the results.

First, if you select DX crop, the image gets automatically enlarged to fill the wonderful EVF. No more squinting to see the small masked-out image of dSLR-FX cameras. No need to carry an additional DX body to get more reach with telephoto lenses. The best of both worlds!

Switching image area was very helpful when I was photographing birds at the excellent feeders that artist-wildlife tracker Cope has set out in his property in the Costa Rican lowland rainforest. In DX mode, my telephoto plus teleconverter had the right power for small birds like tanagers or hummingbirds. However, I was too close to fit pigeons or oropendolas in the cropped frame and was very happy to be able to go into FX mode for them without changing camera bodies.

Chestnut-headed Oropendola. Photo by Eduardo Libby
I photographed this Chestnut-headed Oropendola in FX mode. There was overexposure warning on the top of its beak but the RAW image had no problem with the highlights.

I have not gotten a chance to photograph water birds in flight, but I feel pretty confident the Z7 will be up to the task: I could get in focus sequences of Blue and White Sparrows fairly consistently (provided I was able to lock focus in the fast, tiny birds). Just a test! I have nothing publishable as I got small bird silhouettes only. This of course is why the camera locked confidently on hummingbirds at the feeders in AF-C mode.

Hovering hummingbird. Photo by Eduardo Libby
This hummingbird was flying back and forth as it fed. I locked focus on the bird while it was at the feeder and the camera kept it in focus as it receded. A little fill-in flash ensured detail in its plumage.

The other feature I loved is the silent electronic shutter. No noise to spook out nervous birds and also no vibration to blur photos with long lenses and teleconverters. The photo of the Crested Owls is a perfect example of this.

Crested Owl. Photo by Eduardo Libby
In a gallery forest close to Cope’s (click here to visit) a couple of Crested Owls spends the hot daytime amidst thick vegetation.

I told a friend I was not reviewing the camera… I am letting it prove its worth: It is very expensive so it better perform!

I will keep adding user experiences as I explore the possibilities offered by the sophisticated technologies built into this small and well built camera. Let me know if there is something you would like to know, and also if you want to share your experiences!

Crested Owls. Photo by Eduardo Libby
This is a heavy crop of the Crested Owls photo. There is plenty of room for cropping with so many megapixels. Here I had to combine two images as the birds were not in the same focusing plane and also to remove an out of focus branch.

 

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3 thoughts on “Bird photography with the Nikon Z7”

    1. Hello Don, This is something I need to investigate in detail because where you set the limit depends on the subject. That day I did pictures of a Helmeted Iguana at ISO 6400 and they looked like the D810 images at ISO 3200 or maybe even lower. I other words, very good, and completely usable. Now, fine detail in bird feathers is more demanding and this is the test I need to make now. I am guessing ISO 3200 will probably be the limit. Remember though that I photograph wildlife in dark tropical rainforests so my bar is set at a higher ISO than what you read about in forums. The Crested Owls was 1/125 s f/5.6 at ISO 900 for example, and this I call good light for a forest. Good thing they did not move! I will try to make the ISO testing as soon as I get a cooperative Motmot…

      Liked by 1 person

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