Now that I’m not grinding down to the bone with work, I thought it would be cool to share some recent photos with a random blast of what’s on my mind.
I’ll try to do this more often.
Lockdown is lifted officially here in San Clemente, parking is a bit easier at the beach and there is a bit more going on. Although, not that it ever was really locked down to begin with. People panicked for about two weeks then everyone was over it and life kinda returned to normal, fairly quickly. The people of San Clemente need their bread and circus.
Anyway, now that the water is warm, the weather is warm and the waves are firing, it’s a good time to go to the beach.
I’ve been messing around with a few different cameras and lens setups but these shots are from the Nikon Z6.
I shot a lot yesterday with the Neewer 35mm f1.2 on my X-T2 which I post a full review of soon with my opinions. While that lens and camera is a ton of fun, the Nikon Z6 just gets the job done. And here is the coolest part, did know that there are other ways to focus a camera in 2020 besides animal and eye AF? You did? Oh cool, cuz no camera reviewers are aware of that right now. 🙂
Thoughts About Nikon Z Lenses
What I’m noticing with these Nikon Z lenses, at least the ones I have, is that there is a consistency between them all which I haven’t seen yet with any other brand.
I own most of the Fujinon primes and there is no consistency between the looks of their lenses. The f1.4 lenses are all over the place in terms of what you can expect from the rendering, and the f2 Fujinon lenses are also a bit random as well. Some have bad swirling bokeh, some have funky soap bubbles that show up sometimes, etc. Although those Fujinon f2 lenses are still very nice. The same is true with Sony.
I’ve also cooled off with Fujifilm a little recently.
I’m still a little disappointed with Fujifilm after what they did to Tatsuo Suzuki. They definitely dropped a few notches in coolness after that and I’m pretty disappointed with them as a brand. Turns out they’re just a bunch of corporate jocks that won’t defend the artistic style of their artist. Rather they kick them to the side of the road, because street photography isn’t nice. Nope, street photography is not nice, and did you guys know Banksy was just a graffiti artist? So I’ve been getting more into Nikon lately.
Well, it’s not just that. I also don’t like how Fujifilm is following in the path of Sony where they refresh their cameras every 15 months. This really bothers me.
Instead of making one really good camera that has everything great that will last four years. They drip feed features into their cameras and release new ones every year and a half, killing the resell value of their cameras. Whereas the Nikon D850 is still selling for a lot and still is incredible and that camera is old.
And so, for example, I shoot with the X-T3. The X-T4 came out a year and a half later. But Fujifilm has killed firmware support for features with the X-T3. So if you buy a Fujifilm camera, expect it to no longer get any new feature upgrades with firmware, even though Fujifilm has the software written for newer cameras.
I’m still a big Fujifilm shooter, and fan, but man, Nikon.
But I digress.
With these Z lenses, so far, at least from the three I own, they all have a similar vibe, where it looks like they all come from the same family. In other words, there is not a dramatically different look in terms of bokeh, and the tonal rendering between them.
They all produce this really smooth focus falloff with a very clean bokeh. It’s really nice, especially when going for more of a beauty vibe, like sunset beach portraits. But I think I still prefer a bit harsher, punchier tones for street photography.
I probably won’t buy the 20 or 24mm Z lenses. I never really shoot wide unless I’m doing landscape. Also, bokeh and those wider lenses usually never look as good as what you can get with a 35mm. This is even true with the Fujinon lenses, so it’s not like you’re getting anything great by going f1.8 with those. I think I’ll eventually get an ultra-wide zoom, the 14-30mm or something else eventually and that will have me covered from 14-30mm and I’ll use primes for everything else. I would probably do a 135mm f1.8 too if it ever comes out, or just get a Z7 and crop the 85mm to simulate 135mm if I can find one for cheap enough. We’ll see.
These shots are all colored initially with Lightroom.
After my Lightroom colors, I did little detail enhancements and the Orton effect with Luminar. When life returns to normal and I’m back in Japan, I’ll make some more videos with all these little tricks.
Luminar is cool and I use it a lot for my non-street photography photos. BTW, you can use code GRIFFIN and get 10% off with Skylum products.
The two shots of Luka were using my presets which you’ve all been waiting for patiently for the last few months. Soon, I promise! Check out https://alikgriffin.com/store
I originally designed all those presets with Fujifilm and Sony cameras and I just want to make sure they’re working well for Nikon, so I’m doing last little color tune-ups to the alt looks to make sure I’m very happy with them on the Nikon cameras.
But I think what I will do with those is release like a version 1, then version up as I make tweaks throughout the years then give those updates away for free to people who have bought the presets.
Because the colors between cameras also change with each new version as well. Nikon and Canon and even Adobe have changed the colors quite a bit in the last 10 years, so it makes sense that any presets should also get updated.
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I’m a longtime Sony user. We use Sonys at the school that I work for and they are fantastic work cameras. I’ve owned the A6000, A7iii (three separate times), A7Riii, and even an A7Riv but I’ve always tried to get away from Sony because they’re never felt like a real camera to me. Always just tools but never something I’ve really enjoyed for my personal projects or family pictures.
I’ve tried Fujifilm and Panasonic but never felt like they really hit the mark for me. Fujifilm bodies feel way too small, I even tried the XT4 and the grip is still not enough after you’ve used the A7iii or A7Riv for long enough. Panasonic just couldn’t get video autofocus down and the small sensor size threw me off for video.
About a year and a half ago I was at Best Buy randomly and decided to pick up the Nikon Z6 and the Canon EOS R just to feel what their ergonomics were like after using a Sony for so long. I was not impressed with the EOS R at all and I actually vowed that I’d never go with Canon because of how bad the body felt in my hand. The Nikon Z6 however felt amazing!
Fast forward to about a month ago and I once again decided to look for another option other than Sony to go with for my personal camera. I remembered the Z6 that I had felt and decided I’d do more research. Long story short, your blog helped push me to the Z6 and the 50mm 1.8 S.
In the last few weeks I’ve taken more keeper pictures of my wife and my seven month old son than I had in probably a year or so with my old A7iii that I sold off.
The Nikon, to me, feels and responds like a real camera. The grip is far better than the Sony but the body still maintains a smaller footprint than most full frame cameras. I’m also a big fan of the Nikon raw files. They seem far more saturated and contrasty than the Sony files I was used to and that’s a great thing! I also love that the EVF and LCD screen are higher res than the A7iii that I’ve been using for work and personal stuff these past two years although I do miss the A7Riv EVF at times.
Lastly, I’m a huge believer in these Z mount lenses. That 50mm 1.8 S is far and a way my favorite prime lens that I’ve ever used. Super sharp, extremely well corrected, weather sealed, fast autofocus, and a relatively small footprint. What more can you ask for in a lens? I’ve used a ton of Sony lenses and my favorite prime has always been the Sony Zeiss 55mm 1.8 and the Nikon lens blows that lens away!
Thanks again for having this blog and please continue to post about your experience with Nikon. I really think more people need to see how positive of an experience you can have with the Z system!
Thanks for the feedback Ciaran. I went through your same journey. I’ve been shooting on Sony gear, stills and video cameras since 2004. Then got into their cameras for personal use in 2013 with the A7r, then the A6300, A7rII, A7rIII.
I always beat around the bush avoiding Nikon for some reason until the Z6, love it so much. It’s all I really want to shoot with these days. Except my X100V, that’s a different little camera though.
Hi Alik, really nice shots. I love Fuji but I agree they release way too many cameras now and don’t kaizen the old ones like they used to.
I used to shoot Nikon for years and they were also bad at this to be fair, especially their apsc models but seem better now. Fuji only update the Xpro every four years but the XT line is too frequent.
I’m in the market for a new camera but I think Fuji are going too ‘bespoke’ now. The Xpro3 is more expensive here than the Z6! Will likely stick with Fuji but I’m tempted to go Z6, I’m not sure. Nikon are like the wise old granddaddy. They just get the finer details right.
I still shoot on Fuji and Nikon 50/50. I’m definitely not ditching Fujifilm anytime soon, their APS-C system is just too valuable, and APS-C is so useful for street shooting or just casual stuff. The camera I’m now waiting for is the X-H2. That’s suppose to be their new flagship model so it will likely lead the system with technology.
I kind of think what happened with the X-T3 – X-T4 was the Sony competition. Sony has always made those little A6500, a6300, but shortly after releasing the X-T3, Sony released the A6600 which had the bigger battery and IBIS, which is a huge trend right now especially with camera reviewers, so Fujifilm had to get a new body out ASAP. Plus, Fujifilm also needed to be in a position to compete with the A7III and the Z6. Because both those cameras had good features the X-T3 did not and the X-H1 was too big for APS-C which is why I always stayed clear of it.
I’m hoping they slow down now, because it seems crazy to release two XT cameras with the same sensor, they’ve never done that before. I think just Sony caught them off guard and they had to respond. I’m going to assume they will slow down their camera release cycle because the X100 was still on it’s normal 2.5 year cycle and the X-Pro is still on the same cycle as their sensors.
So I’m going to give Fujifilm the benefit of the doubt and say the X-T4 was rushed out to compete with the other systems, but they should still give the X-T3 some firmware love.
And yeah, Nikon is like the wise old man, the Z6 was my first Nikon and there is an unspoken quality to their cameras. You just don’t see it until you start shooting with them regularly.
Where are you living? Pro 3 is half the price of Z6 in Poland. It should be a distributor problem there.
I’m back and forth between Southern California and Japan. Right now stuck in Cali.
Z6 here is $1600 right now, The X-Pro 3 is still $1800 USD.
Where are you living? Pro 3 is half the price of Z6 in Poland. It should be a distributor problem there.
Wow… I’m dying here. Every day I’m flipping around between investing in Fuji with the XT4 or Nikon with the Z6. Need Ibis, primes only, likely 35, 85 and maybe/probably a 50. I am a hobbyist, learning, and want to fill some of the empty walls in my house with some pics I took. I need an artistic outlet. I am hoping to find something I don’t mind carrying around to random places but can also set up more intentional shoots.
Who has the better outlook for next several years between Fuji and Nikon?
Fuji has the nostalgic feel that drives the desire to go shoot. Smaller lenses make it feel super portable to just have around for kid shots, candid stuff, whatever and will still nail landscape and travel and street. Film simulations have me drooling. We’ve got updated f2 primes for focus speed and size, but nervous about fast primes being a bit dated – although very usable. Maybe 3rd party coming soon? And fears about shorter term product refreshes, firmware support and the sensor not being new? Is Fuji losing the character that sets them apart?
Then Z6 and full frame goodness, always wanted the big sensor. Here seems to be the opposite with lenses. Fast primes already are redone but need those compact primes from the roadmap for 2020/21 to make a more portable kit instead of lugging around extra size and weight. Body is a few years old, but no direct replacement in sight so that’s good… No film sim but could maybe work stuff out by developing some presets? IQ is great + better low light and bokeh. Checks all the boxes for quality but is the built by engineers approach killing character? Do you ever reach for this system spur of the moment? Would you if it had smaller primes like Fuji?
I dunno this is just a very hard decision. Any advice is appreciated
I shoot both systems 50/50. It’s a really tough one. Really tough. You also get really nice internal video with Fujifilm where as with Nikon you only get 8-bit. But I have a Ninja V recorder so I could upgrade to RAW if I want with Nikon.
Both systems are great for different things.
At this point, if I could only have one system it would probably be Nikon for a few reasons. I shoot a lot in crazy weather, hurricanes, at the beach in waves, raining, etc and I often shoot at night, so I can get a little more out of the full frame system with those f1.8 weather sealed lenses and I just trust Nikon more with this. The Fujifilm lenses cannot compete here, but of course the Nikkor lenses are bigger, which honestly hasn’t been bothering me.
Also, I need a few new zooms and going with the f4 Nikkors just makes more sense. Very small, very light and not too expensive. You’ll get more bang for the buck here vs going with the f2.8 Fujinon lenses which you would need to match dof.
This latest generation of Nikkor lenses don’t have the same level of character as the last generation, but smoke them with technical performance and IQ with things like sharpness and AF speed. You could always buy some of the old F lenses for character, so here you have choices at least. There are some older F lenses that are just legendary. Some of the best lenses ever made.
The Fujifilm f1.4 lenses have all the character, but have a lot of mechanical weaknesses. The f2 lenses are pretty flawless but they don’t have as much character. So you get choices which is cool.
When comparing to APS-C to Full Frame in terms of image quality, the Z6 is just better. Not gonna lie here. You just see it. It’s better.
The Z6 produces images that are so clean and the rendering has this magic to it, the Nikon look is really unique with almost these soft pastel tones. Fujifilm has their simulators which are cool, but Fujifilm also has more of a punchier harsher look which is great for a lot of things but the X-Trans sensors still have that funky noise pattern that you can see in a lot of stuff.
Nikon is suppose to have a pancake coming at some point. Tamron lenses are coming and I hope that all those little 7artisans and Meike lenses comes to the Z mount now that Nikon is doing APS-C as well.
So both systems are great, just depends on what you’re doing with them exactly and do you need the little bit extra the Full Frame gives you.
The Z6 was my first Nikon camera ever, and it honestly just kind of blows everything away. Nikon is just better at all the subtle little details. I also like that Nikon doesn’t refresh their cameras every year and a half like Fujifilm has been doing, so the cameras hold their value longer and Nikon usually puts all the best components that are available at the time into their high end bodies, so you get the best screens, EVF, IBIS etc. Fujifilm, like Sony still cuts corners here and their cameras lose their value faster than any other brands.
One last thing, when I’m going out with my kids to the park of whatever and just want small and light, I almost always take a Fujifilm. There are just so many fun manual focus third-party APS-C lenses, and I think that’s ultimately what keeps me in Fujifilm so much and so often. The Fujinon 90mm f2 is also amazing and I also love the 56mm f1.2, but those are really the only two lenses that really get me excited.
I think moving forward I’ll be shooting more on the X100V with the Z6. That way I get the best of both worlds. Also, I could see getting more into Fujifilm if they released all new f1 or f1.2 prime lenses that could compete with the Nikkor Z lenses. We’re still years away from this though, and by then we’ll probably have plenty of compact lenses for the Z system. It’s a super tough decisions, but at the moment I’m leaning a little towards Nikon for building my portfolio. X-T3 is more of my fun camera.
I actually still shoot on the Sony A7rIII and EOS R as well. But I think the Z system is better than what Canon and Sony offer currently for the general do-it-all photographer. Sony is great cuz of the lens options but their full frame cameras are annoying. So for me, the future will probably be Fujifilm + Nikon. For portfolio building maybe go Nikon, for fun hobbiest stuff or street photography maybe go Fujifilm.
Thanks so much for taking the time to respond, Alik. I ended up going Fuji with the X-T4, 23mmf2 and 50mmf2. Once I run those for a bit I’ll invest in some faster glass based on where I want the improvement. At the end of the day, the line that sold me was “when I’m going out with my kids to the park of whatever and just want small and light, I almost always take a Fujifilm”. I want the fun factor as I’ll be spending more time chasing kids than taking a day to go hunt the perfect shot.
Those are the two perfect lenses to start with too. Fast AF, and the 35mm and 75mm can cover just about anything. That’s actually similar to what I lug around when I bring my Nikon places, 35mm and 85mm.
Hi Alik, thanks for your article again! I would like to express my personal feeling about the Tatsuo Suzuki issue you mentioned in the article. I think the street shooting style of Tatsuo is too much even I sometimes make street photographs too. I image my families one day walking on the street, a mid-age guy suddenly points a camera close to their faces. Even they try to avoid him but the photographer still doesn’t care. I think I must feel angry, don’t you feel the same if your daughter is uncomfortable about him? Even though he didn’t break any law, but I think any artist or mature person should know that they don’t have any rights to step into the private sphere of anybody. On the contrary, any artist or any people should care about humanity. Artist is nothing special, paparazzi is nothing special too.
Fujifilm took down the promo video and dropped the partnership with Tatsuo makes sense to me. If my colleague do something wrong seriously, I am sure being a boss should not try to defend. What Fujifilm did wrong was the company should do a well research about the photographers before they decide to sponsor or support them.
Yeah what you said there at the end is the issue I have with it. They made the video with him, they knew the style. They were ok releasing the video, they’ve worked with him for years, but then when the public reacted they totally turned their back on him. If Fujifilm didn’t like his style from the beginning that would be totally ok. He is a very edgy photography and not a lot of people are going to like that.
It’s interesting how people react when they see “behind the curtain” on things. We love the art, the food, the clothes, the devices, etc – right up until we really understand how it’s made and poof, the magic is gone. Fuji definitely dropped the ball here and decided to take the more comfortable way out.
Yes, I also think Fujifilm is going through some growth pains right now. They started off as this underdog in the camera world that nobody really paid much attention to, to a serious contender with some very popular and powerful cameras. So i think we are seeing this transition from them as this small little company of artist, to a big corporation where they have to respond to shareholders.