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Nikon Z30 Camera Review

John Riley has been on his travels with the compact-sized Nikon Z30 to find out how good it is for those who enjoy capturing images on holiday as well as vloggers.


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Nikon Z30 Flat Front View | 0.5 sec | f/16.0 | 78.0 mm | ISO 100

Quick Verdict

The Nikon Z30 is compact, well made and economically priced, plus has all the features necessary to ensure that straightforward vlogging is easy and reliable. The 'Selfie' mode is just one example of how the camera is tuned to the vlogger. However, this is not a one-trick device as it is also a very capable mirrorless camera for stills, with just the proviso that the user needs to accept the lack of an EVF. For anyone who wants a compact, high-quality travel or vlogging solution, the Z30 could be the answer.

+ Pros

  • Compact and light
  • High-quality DX-format sensor
  • Excellent Z DX 16-50mm lens
  • Designed for vlogging
  • Vari-angle 3” monitor, touch-sensitive
  • Auto selfie mode
  • Straightforward video shooting
  • WiFi/Bluetooth connectivity
  • Snapbridge
  • Picture and Creative Picture controls
  • Fast and accurate AF
  • High-quality manufacture
  • Great handling
  • Good price

- Cons

  • No weather resistance
  • No viewfinder
  • VR in lenses only
 

 

There are an increasing number of vlogging-friendly cameras appearing, and Nikon here present the latest of their offerings. To keep bulk and weight down there is no EVF, but the camera itself is exceptionally well made and the lenses that go with it leave nothing to be desired. The camera is clearly aimed at making vlogging straightforward and the video options are simple and hassle-free. This may not be for the professional film-maker, but is aimed fair and square at the content creator. The provided Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens (a 35mm-format equivalent field of view of 24-75mm) has already been reviewed and received the accolade of Editor's Choice. Let's see if the new Z30 body can reach the same heights of handling and performance.

 

Nikon Z30 Features

Nikon Z30 Lens Extended Front Oblique View | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100
 

Take a Z50 or Zfc camera, strip out the viewfinder and we have more or less the Z30 left. It is never quite that simple of course as development always goes on under the skin, but in terms of facilities it perhaps sums things up fairly reasonably. This is no bad thing as the emphasis here is on vlogging, and with that in mind the relatively light body (405g with battery and card) will be appreciated by those who are carrying the camera, arm extended, for long periods of time. Likewise, the vari-angle screen is crisp and easy to view and when forward facing moves into selfie mode.

Starting at the front of the camera, the wide Nikon Z mount will accommodate the full frame FX as well as the crop sensor DX optics, although this is of course a DX-format body. If desired, the Nikon FTZ adapter can be fitted, enabling the use of Nikkor DSLR lenses. The Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens that comes with this kit is much more fitting for the camera, being very light and compact, as well as being a superb performer and, as mentioned, receiving an Editor's Choice award when reviewed. There is no weather sealing, which is a shame, but vlogging in the rain is probably not particularly common.

Nikon Z30 Front View | 0.5 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 100

The only other things to be seen from the front are the Fn1 and Fn2 buttons and, at the top of the grip, the sub-command dial, used to change settings such as aperture in A mode. Fn1 by default is White Balance and Fn2 is focus and AF area mode selection. The function of these buttons can be re-assigned.

The camera top has a hot shoe, an impressively slick mode selector dial, on/off switch around the shutter release and buttons for ISO, exposure compensation and video start/stop. There is also the main command dial, which is perfectly placed under the right thumb. The grip itself is beautifully sculpted and falls into the hand so precisely for the shutter release button. For the video start/stop button a different hold is needed, although for some there may be some potential in exploring using the thumb rather than the first finger.

Nikon Z30 Flat Rear View | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 78.0 mm | ISO 100
The back of the camera is dominated by the excellent 3 inch TFT touch-sensitive monitor, plus the usual Nikon buttons and four way controller. It is all very familiar and logical for the Nikon user, and easily assimilated by anyone after just a short time for familiarisation. The i menu is noteworthy as it gathers the main functions under one easily accessed grouping. Items can be selected by using the four-way controller and changed using the command dial. It all works very well.

Connectivity is assured via WiFi or Bluetooth, and in addition, there is the SnapBridge App for smartphones that enables backup and sharing of images. The camera can even be used as a high class webcam with the free Nikon Webcam Utility software. This is downloadable from the Nikon website.

Connectivity can also be achieved using the USB-C or HDMI connections. There is a 3.5mm stereo jack input for the external mike. In power charging is also supported as there is no charger provided with the kit. Given that the battery is only rated for 330 shots or 75 minutes of video, spare batteries could be advisable and these would be simpler to handle with an external charger, a useful optional purchase.

 

Key Features

  • 20.9MP CMOS APS-C format DX sensor
  • 12-bit or 14-bit RAW capture
  • ISO range 100-51,200 (expandable to ISO 102,00 and 204,800)
  • Meter range -4 to +17 EV
  • 3” Vari-angle TFT monitor 1040k dots
  • Monitor touch-sensitive
  • 4K UHD Video 30p
  • Video 1920x1080 up to 120p
  • Video compression H.264/MPEG-4
  • Built-in stereo microphone plus external connector
  • WiFi (2.4 GHz)/ Bluetooth 4.2
  • Hybrid AF with -4 to +19 EV range
  • EN-EL25 battery
  • 1 SD card slot (plus UHS-I compliant SDHC, SDXC)
  • 11 fps
  • Shutter speeds 30s – 1/4000s
  • Picture Control System
  • Selfie mode with monitor facing forwards

 

Nikon Z30 Handling

Nikon Z30 Screen In Selfie Mode | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100

In common with the other cameras in the Z series, the handling is very intuitive. Despite being a relatively inexpensive and light construction, the quality is very high and the camera fits solidly in the hand, inspiring confidence. The placement of controls is good, everything falls to hand, and there seems to be no tendency for any dials or switches to be accidentally moved.

The one handling point that is probably true of most vlogging cameras is that making a smooth start and stop to a video recording, without any unseemly judder, is a bit of an art form in itself. The position of the start/stop button for video never seems to be in the right place, as the shutter release button is where it needs to be. With this camera, wrapping the thumb over the top of the command dial and using it to operate the switch may offer a solution. This obviously depends on the size of the hands of the individual videographer, and also only applies when making videos from behind the camera. When in front of the camera, that's a different issue and the other alternative, and perhaps the best one, will be the vlogger kit with its handle.

For stills photography, the Z30 remains a viable option, provided we are happy with the lack of viewfinder. If so, then a compact, light, high-quality camera that feels great to use could be a fantastic travel companion.

 


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Photographs taken using the Nikon Z30

Dramatic WorsleyDamhouse

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