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Nikon Z6 for Birding and BIF (1 Viewer)

ericbowles

Well-known member
I've had a Nikon Z6 for about 2 months. During that time I've put it through a good bit of all around testing - including several birding outings and for birds in flight.

The learning curve for the Z6/Z7 is probably greater than for any Nikon camera I've owned. While there is a degree of familiarity, there are new ways to use the camera emphasizing the EVF, function keys, and the iMenu. The Z cameras also have taken familiar features but changed them so old techniques may not work. For example, the AF modes have added Pinpoint AF and two Wide modes, while eliminating Group AF and 3D. Dynamic AF - a staple for the D800 and D810 - changed with the D5/D500/D850 and continues to require that you quickly return the AF sensor to the subject for tracking. But I find the changes to be big positives overall - and something that should be embraced.

One of the key settings for me is to set up the Fn1 key to Zoom. I choose either 100% or 50% depending on the subject. This lets me look through the EVF and zoom in tight to check focus - or for birds, to identify the bird. If it's in a thick area, I can override with manual focus using magnification. When I'm ready, I can get a quick record shot - a big help when birding.

For walk around birding I typically use the older 300 f/4 AFS paired with a TC14EII teleconverter - and of course the FTZ adapter. The lens focus speed and sharpness using the FTZ adapter is just as fast on the Z6 as a DSLR - there is no penalty at all. The latest teleconverter does not AF well with this lens, but the II version is great. The Z camera brings to this combination in body image stabilization (IBIS) - a big plus for handholding. I don't find the FTZ to be limiting in any way.

Because I am using the EVF with a Zoom function, the camera and lens completely replaces binoculars. I've been out three times using the camera and lens only - with Zoom - and not using binoculars. It's not perfect for wider views searching for a subject, but it's better when you see a subject because you can immediately grab a record shot.

I've also tried the Z6 with this combination as well as the Nikon 600 f/4 AFS VR and the FTZ. I had probably 1000 images using the Z6. For flight and fast motion, the Z6 gets about 80% of the images in focus I got with the D850. I usually use AF-C with Wide Small AF mode for sandhill cranes and raptors. I usually had no problem with tracing subjects - even at long distances. The miss was usually picking up the background - especially a busy background. I did not have that problem with the D850 using Group AF, and suspect a firmware update could improve closest subject priority.

Overall I find AF accuracy of the Z6 better than the D850 for close subjects, and not quite as good but equal to the D810 for action and birds in flight. The Zoom feature with a function key is remarkable for birding. So overall, I really like the camera and look forward to using it more. For general use, I'm using the 24-70 S f/4 lens - a nice sharp small lens that does the job.

Attached are a few images.
 

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