The Z 30 – Simple, Small, Delightful!

The Z 30 w/Z16-50f3.5-6.3

The Z 30 has been part of my kit for some time now, bought it when it first arrived at Bedfords. I’ve not put it down since as it solved one of the biggest problems since I started shooting forty years ago. The one thing I lack in my files are literally photographs of me taking photographs! You see, I really hate being in front of a camera for many reasons, one being, seeing what the person is doing with the camera and knowing it isn’t going to turn out good. The other, I just don’t have the patience to have my picture taken. Another is I just don’t like the verticals the iPhone takes. Well, the Z 30 was made for me! I’m being 100% serious here, the “selfie mode” of the Z 30 is brilliant, simply brilliant! The portrait of me you see like on Twitter or AnyQuestion, I took those with the Z 30 with the selfie mode.

The Z 30 w/Z16-50f3.5-6.3 & Rode VideoMic NTG Camera-mount Shotgun Microphone

The Z 9 is still my primary camera which is why I have two of them but the Z 30 goes everywhere they go! With the Z16-50 attached, it slips right into my briefcase. When conditions work for that portrait, ya simply flip out the LCD monitor to the front so the lens and monitor are both facing you. That puts the Z 30 into selfie mode. Be it still or video, you depress the button, it counts down and click! It is literally that simple! For video, I have the Rode VideoMic NTG Camera-mount Shotgun Microphone which is perfect. It’s small, light, runs from the Z 30 and the perfect small mic for the selfie mode. The Z 30 does not have a EVF, you only have the monitor to frame your photo. With my reading glasses, I use the Z 30 at times as a landscape camera and it does the same great job as the Z 9 in this mode. The Z 30 is perfectly designed for its role in our photography. And now, forty years later, I have no excuse for BTS of me in the field!

Z 9 Firmware 3.0 Dropped

And we are talkin a whole lot of good stuff! Check this out! At the bottom of the page is a video spelling out all the new features and potential of the amazing Z 9!

Note: The changes listed below under “Still Photography”, “Video Recording”, “Displays”, “Playback”, “Controls”, and “Network” are detailed in the Supplementary Firmware Update Manual.

My Z 9 3.0 Settings

■ Still Photography

• The [Image size] item in the photo shooting menu is now [Image size settings] and offers new options that apply only to pictures taken using the DX image area.
• Added [C60] to the frame rates available for high-speed frame capture. Custom Setting d4 in the [CUSTOM SETTINGS MENU] is now [Pre-Release Capture options].
• Added [High-frequency flicker reduction] to the [PHOTO SHOOTING MENU].
• Added [Focus position auto reset] under [Focus shift shooting] in the [PHOTO SHOOTING MENU].

■ Video Recording

• Added [High-frequency flicker reduction] to the [VIDEO RECORDING MENU].
• Added [Hi-Res Zoom] to the [VIDEO RECORDING MENU].
• Added [Reset using remote] under [Timecode] in the [VIDEO RECORDING MENU].

■ Displays

• The [Prioritize viewfinder] monitor mode has been replaced by [Prioritize viewfinder (1)] and [Prioritize viewfinder (2)].
• Expanded the range of monitor brightness options to include both brighter and darker settings.
• Made the following additions to the [CUSTOM SETTINGS MENU]:
– Added a [3D-tracking focus point color] option for Custom Setting a11 [Focus point display].
– Added [Always] and [Only when flash is not used] options for Custom Setting d9 [View mode (photo Lv)] > [Show effects of settings].

■ Playback

• The [Rotate tall] item in the playback menu is now [Auto-rotate pictures]. If [ON] is selected, the playback displays in the monitor and viewfinder will rotate automatically to match camera orientation.
• The playback display now shows the color temperature for pictures taken with [Preset manual] selected for [White balance].
• Options are now available for handling as a group each series of photographs taken in continuous-release modes.
• Added [File info] to the options available under [Playback display options] in the [PLAYBACK MENU].

■ Controls

• Added a full-format option under [Format memory card] in the [SETUP MENU] for use with compatible CFexpress memory cards.
• Made the following additions to the [CUSTOM SETTINGS MENU]:
– Added a [Type A auto restore delay] option for Custom Setting d14 [Release timing indicator].
– Added [Center-weighted area] to the items available for customizing shooting displays using Custom Settings d18 [Custom monitor shooting display] and d19 [Custom viewfinder shooting display].
– Custom Settings f2 [Custom controls (shooting)], f3 [Custom controls (playback)], and g2 [Custom controls] now offer access to an expanded selection of custom roles and controls.

■ Network

• Connection status is now shown in the shooting display when the camera is connected to an FTP server.
• The camera now supports FTPS.
• Added an [ATOMOS AirGlu BT options] item to the [NETWORK MENU].

■ Other Changes

• Improved autofocus accuracy.
• Improved low-light autofocus performance, lowering the minimum level of illumination required by 0.5 EV.
• Reduced the sensitivity of [3D-tracking] to objects passing between the subject and the camera.
• Improved focus performance when [Animal] is selected for [AF subject detection options] during [3D-tracking].
• Reduced the tendency of the camera to focus on the background during subject detection when [Wide-area AF (S/L/C1/C2)], [3D-tracking], or [Auto-area AF] was selected.
• Focus peaking, electronic rangefinding, and the focus distance indicator are now available when focus is adjusted using the lens focus ring, not only in manual focus mode but in other focus modes as well. In addition, adjustments have been made to the length of time the focus distance indicator is displayed.
• Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO sensitivity will now be displayed if exposure is adjusted while the live view display is zoomed in.
• Improved manual focus response in video mode and when silent mode is selected during still photography.
• The shooting display now shows synchronized release connection status. Improvements have also been made to the display in the remote camera list accessed via [Connect to other cameras] > [Remote camera list] in the [NETWORK MENU].
• [Português (PT)] has been added to the languages available via the [Language] item in the [SETUP MENU] for Z 9 cameras sold in Canada and the United States.
• Fixed the following issues:
– If (a) AF-S was selected for focus mode, (b) an AF-area mode that supported subject detection was selected via a control to which [AF-area mode + AF-ON] had been assigned using Custom Setting f2 [Custom controls (shooting)], and (c) an option other than [Subject detection off] was selected for [AF subject detection options] in the [PHOTO SHOOTING MENU], then pressing the custom control would sometimes fail to activate subject detection.
– If (a) 3D-tracking was selected for AF-area mode, (b) an option other than [Subject detection off] was selected for [AF subject detection options] in the [PHOTO SHOOTING MENU], and (c) the shooting settings recalled via a control to which [Recall shooting functions] or [Recall shooting functions (hold)] was assigned using Custom Setting f2 [Custom controls (shooting)] had [3D-tracking] selected for [AF-area mode] and [Subject detection off] chosen for [AF subject detection options], then subject detection would continue during AF-ON after the custom control was pressed.
– If (a) AF-C was selected for focus mode, (b) an option other than [3D-tracking] was selected for AF-area mode, (c) an option other than [Subject detection off] was selected for [AF subject detection options] in the [PHOTO SHOOTING MENU], and (d) the shooting settings recalled via a control to which [Recall shooting functions] or [Recall shooting functions (hold)] was assigned using Custom Setting f2 [Custom controls (shooting)] had [3D-tracking] selected for [AF-area mode], then subject detection would not be performed where expected when AF-ON was initiated via the custom control.
– Shutter speeds of 1/320 s to 1/640 s would produce uneven exposure across the frame in pictures taken with SB‑800 flash units using auto FP high-speed sync.
– Choosing a different Custom Settings bank in the [CUSTOM SETTINGS MENU] after selecting a non-default setting for [Auto bracketing] > [Increment] in the [PHOTO SHOOTING MENU] would cause the value for [Auto bracketing] > [Increment] in the [PHOTO SHOOTING MENU] to revert to 1.
– Shooting information would in rare circumstances disappear from the viewfinder.
– Attempting to record 8K video with a NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4S lens attached and an option other than [Off] selected for [Vibration reduction] in the [VIDEO RECORDING MENU] would sometimes cause the camera to stop responding.
– Tracking small or low-contrast subjects against a solid-color background such as a blue sky would sometimes cause the focus area to move to the top of the display.
– Selecting [C30] or [C120] for release mode when an option other than [Off] was chosen for [Active D-Lighting] in the [PHOTO SHOOTING MENU] would cause monitor or viewfinder brightness to change.
– The camera would in rare circumstances fail to record 8K video correctly.
– In video mode, the camera would fail to increase the aperture (lower the f/-number) after reaching the upper limit for ISO sensitivity in modes P and S if the value selected for [ISO sensitivity settings] > [Maximum sensitivity] in the [VIDEO RECORDING MENU] was below [12800].

You can download 3.0 here!

Profoto A10 & Telephoto Flash

I started to use telephoto flash with the F3 utilizing the latest technology in 1981, the Norman 200B. We’ve come a long ways in flash technology but my goal still remains the same. Get the color accurate for birds when I’m behind the camera. I’ve recently incorporated the Profoto A10 into my kit which is whole new world of gorgeous light. I recently was in Australia at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat where I put the new system to a helluva field test. The results still light my imagination to what I can go capture next!

The video is a longie – twenty-five minutes broken down into three chapters. I go over the Profoto A10, its operation and use with the Nikon Z 9. I then go through the process of getting ready to actually shoot. And finally I look at the results and explain the thought process behind the capture and how I made it happen. The gear I used were:

Nikon Z 9
Nikkor Z400f4.5
Really Right Stuff lens foot
Really Right Stuff 87-B
Profoto A10

Video shot with
Nikon Z 9
Nikkor Z70-200f2.8
Senal Shotgun Mic

The vast majority of the photographs in the video were shot with -1/3 Exp Comp shot at ISO 800. All images were taken at f/4.5.

The Z400f4.5 – A User Report Video

Z 9 / Z400f4.5
The new Nikkor Z400f4.5 S lens is an absolute delight to shoot bringing all photographers an amazing tool to add to their kit! Small, light, sharp, and fun, the Z400f4.5 by itself or with either the Z1.4x or Z2x offers wildlife, aviation, sports, and all photographers, legendary telephoto performance. How did Nikon create this amazing lens? How can you put it to use in your photography? What accessories might you want to add to the Z400f4.5? This is just some of what I covered in the video.

The Z400f4.5 for me has four major attributes endearing it to my style of photography. Its physical size and weight (4.1 in. (104 mm) x 9.3 in. (234.5 mm) / 41 oz. (1160 g) ) make it very portable and easy to handhold all day long. Its MFD (8.21 ft (2.5m) from focal plane) produces outstanding image size. And finally, it is sooooo sharp by itself or with either Z teleconverters. One aspect of this lens that is truly personal that I didn’t know I had been missing so much is being able to bebop around with a bird lens on my shoulder! That was something I did for many, many years bringing a ton of enjoyment and filling my library with many bird images still earning money today. I am very grateful the Z400f4.5 has brought that back to our lives!

Here are links to items mentioned in the video:

Z400f4.5 VCM
Really Right Stuff
SmallRig Lightweight Fluid Head

If you have questions or comments, you can leave them on the YouTube page for this video and I will get them answered for you!

Oh Yeah, it’s Very Sharp

immature Rufous Hummingbird “Sly” captured by Z 9 / Z400f4.5 w/Z1.4x

Cutting right to the chase, the Z400f4.5 / Z1.4x creating a 560f6.3 is a spectacularly sharp combo! And to answer a couple who asked, yes, it’s a whole lot sharper than the old 400f5.6 / TC-14 combo I so loved. And to answer a couple of others, yes, the Z400f4.5 / Z1.4x is producing the same spectacular results as the 180-400 with its 1.4x engaged. I am still working on my Field Report video of the Z400f4.5 but wanted to answer this incredibly common question of late. “Sly” has been incredibly cooperative and in this rare moment when he’s not ambushing another hummer, you can count the barbs on his primaries and secondaries with all the information the Z400f4.5 / Z1.4x deliver. There is a very good reason why both are hard to find right now, demand is vastly out stripping delivery. I’m not the only one enjoying these gorgeous results. Because oh yeah, it’s very sharp!

The Z400f4.5 is Spectacular!

White-tailed Deer captured by Z 9 / Z400f4.5 (crop of image below done in PS)

Had the most enjoyable weekend working the critters of The Ranch with the new Nikkor Z400f4.5! Shooting hand-held the entire time, I simply walked about photographing whoever stood still with the Z400f4.5 on the Z 9. It is everything I was counting on and more. This is by no means a field report or a review but just an exclamation of oh my, whata lens. A number of you have emailed asking my thoughts about the Z400f4.5. Saying it’s sharp, light and wonderful seems to sell it short. mtc

White-tailed Deer captured by Z 9 / Z400f4.5

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