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Nikon Z7 for Wildlife Photography

Nikon Z7 for Wildlife Photography
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Nikon Z7 for Wildlife Photography

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Nikon Z7 and 600mm

You can take a look at my Nikon Z7 review at the URL below.  After doing a few weeks of shooting and testing the Nikon Z7 for general photography I took the camera out for some Bird Photography and here are my thoughts.

I set my Z7 up with three User settings that I can dial in quickly depending on my day of shooting.  Today I use my U2 mode set up for birds in general and toggle between spot focus mode and wide area mode with the bird is in flight. I find the wide area focus mode with spot metering works the best for me. I also toggle between Auto ISO on with a high ISO of 1600 to maintain a shutter of at least 1/1250s when the situation dictates - otherwise I use manual ISO for more control.

Inbound Landing Missed
Capturing Birds in Flight with the Nikon Z7: This is my personal struggle even with my trusty D500 or D850 my focus failures are more of my poor technique and not the camera. With super telephotos, it takes but a split second of inattention to allow the bird to move outside the frame, and that normally spells disaster as the camera will immediately try to focus the lens on whatever is out there in front of you or go into a hunt mode. Is the Z7 the perfect camera for birds in flight with a super-telephoto lens, short answer - not my first choice but in a pinch is acceptable (For more info on birds in flight using the Z read the Nikon Z6 Review link below). 

When using a 600mm telephoto with a teleconverter you have little room for error, as the bird is usually faster than your reflexes and may make sudden un-predictable moves, and tracking the subject is something I struggle with on a personal note. There is a saying for bird photographers - "think like a bird" which means, keep your attention on the bird and try to anticipate the bird's next move - get to know what the bird will do next.  This photo is the only one usable following the inbound landing of the Great Blue Heron in flight. The Nikon Z7 does at times struggle with focus even in the best of light. This was not the best of daylight as the sun was at a harsh angle and the Great Blue was coming in just above reeds dropping down in front of a busy background causing the Nikon Z7 to miss several shots.] Due to the time of year at my location, I don't have as many opportunities for Birds in Flight.

Nikon Z7 with 600mm f/4
Awesome details using the Nikon Z7 and a Nikkor 600mm f/4
Birds in Trees with the Nikon Z7:  Nice and easy as I call it.  The Nikon Z7 performed equally well as my D850.  I shot several busy American Robins foraging for food in this tree at about 10 AM in the fall and the sun angle was still on the pleasant side. These North American Robin photos were taken with a Nikon 600mm f/4 using the FTZ adapter on a Nikon Z7 with a 1.4 TC at ISO 800.  The Nikon combination was excellent in handling these birds in tree shots. Birds, in general, do not stay in a single spot for long and the photographer has only a few seconds to acquire focus and exposure before the bird moves on.  For this shot, I use spot metering with a single point focus mode with manual aperture and exposure with +.3.  The Nikon Z7 makes it easy to switch between custom camera profiles assigned to U1, U2, and U3 or just go full manual.  I love the Z7!   If you are into Bird Photography the Nikon Z7 would be a better fit than a Z6 due to the higher resolution of the Z7.  Everyone knows birds in trees are small even with a 600/800mm lens, and cropping is needed to show the details, and the Nikon Z7 shows greater detail when cropping is required and when shooting in DX mode.

Tiny Starling Far Away
A Starling So Far Away
Tiny Starling so far away - Longshot, as I call it (100% Crop) high in the old tree, was captured using manual mode on the Nikon Z7 with ISO 400 f/1250, Nikkor 600mm at f/7.1 - Nothing can escape Nikon glass and camera technology not even this small Starling Bird.  I enjoy using the Nikon Z7 as my all-purpose camera and appreciate what the new mount has in store for the future - I can only imagine a day when a Z camera has a native 600mm f/2.8.

Note: All images were converted to medium resolution Jpegs to facilitate the speed of downloading/viewing.

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True Toad


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I live at the edge of the forest in semi-moist locations, I enjoy larva, and other delights. Although I am toothless and mostly warty, I am a sight to see.

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  • Nikkor 600mm f/4 FL ED VR
Camera Body
  • Nikon Z7
  • TC-14E III
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Z7 with FTZ Adapter for Nikkor FX/DX lenses  Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 ED Lens  Binoculars 
Binoculars for Birding


Collapse Expand Comments (2)

Thank you for the bird photos. My wife shoots only birds and uses the Nikon D5300 with the 300 f4 PF, and 1.4 TC, giving 24MP at 630mm at 55 oz. (1559g). With 350k photos on the shutter, we're planning her next camera.

Based on your shots, the Nikon Z7 will not cut it. Thank you for preventing an expensive mistake.


The Nikon Z7 is an excellent mirrorless camera but can be frustrating at times under certain circumstances for those faster moving subjects with complicated backgrounds.

I would recommend picking up a D500 but also recommend keeping an eye out for the Next update for the Z7 camera from Nikon. Nikon has positioned itself to produce superior lenses based on the new Z mount and that is important for the long haul.


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