Today’s camera landscape is ultra-competitive and not terribly lucrative, so it takes tons of guts to launch a replacement system. Nikon has done that (again) with the 20.9-megapixel Z50, its first ever APS-C mirrorless camera. Unlike rival Canon, Nikon decided to use an equivalent Z mount lens for both its full-frame and APS-C mirrorless cameras, a choice that has been surprisingly controversial.

Nikon doesn’t have the posh of slowly perfecting its mirrorless lineup like Sony did five or six years ago. The market is mature now and therefore the Z50 goes up against formidable models in its price range, including Sony’s A6400, the Canon M6 Mark II and Fujifilm’s X-T30.

In an early hands-on look, i used to be impressed by the Z50’s ergonomics and its petite size. Now, let’s examine how it stacks up against the competition within the crucial areas of autofocus, image quality and 4K video features.

The Z50 may be a good debut for Nikon’s Z mount APS-C mirrorless system. Unfortunately, it’s entering a really competitive market and faces some strong competition, particularly Fujifilm’s X-T30. While it handles great, the Z50 trails rivals in autofocus, shooting speeds, video and particularly image quality. However, it doesn’t have any fatal flaws and it’s an honest choice for people who need a camera that’s easy to handle, particularly if they have already got Nikon lenses.

Body and handling

Canon has two separate, incompatible mirrorless mounts: The M mount APS-C system and RF mount for its full-frame EOS R and EOS RP cameras. Meanwhile, Nikon cursed with an equivalent mount used on the full-frame Z6 and Z7 cameras. So, why has this caused some controversy?

Critics have argued that since many people buy APS-C mirrorless cameras for his or her compact size, the massive Z mount could reduce its potential therein area,. Another point is that unsophisticated buyers could easily purchase the incorrect lenses for every system.

To me, though, what Nikon did was smart. Having an equivalent mount for both systems likely made development easier, and therefore the company features a lot of ground to form up. Considering that it only has two native zoom lenses for the Z50 thus far (the DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 and DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3) it also means buyers can use full-frame Z mount lenses if they actually need a major.

On top of that, you’ll use Nikon’s DX and FX DSLR lenses on either system with an equivalent adapter. Finally, a wider mount has physics on its side, making it easier for Nikon to create sharper, more compact lenses — or simply crazy fast ones just like the Z-Noct f/0.95.

Nikon Z50 APC mirrorless camera review

Anyway, while the mount does look comically huge on the small body, the Z50 may be a very compact APS-C camera. It weighs in at just 397 grams with A battery and memory card, compared to 408 grams for the M6 Mark II — which does not even have a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF). Despite its petite form factor, the Z50 doesn’t feel cheap and it’s weather-sealed (though not weather-proof), so you’ll confidently take it into mildly adverse weather.

With the small, pancake-like 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens, the Z50 may be a great camera to hold around for street, tourism and family photography. At an equivalent time, it’s better handling than the other APS-C mirrorless camera I’ve ever tried. With the deep, chunky grip, it truly seems like a mini DSLR, which gave me confidence shooting in any situation.

The Z50 also has many physical dials and buttons, including a four-way control wheel, two top control dials, two function buttons and a main function dial. Those allow you to change most settings including aperture, shutter-speed, ISO and exposure compensation without resorting to the menus. you’ll also program the 2 front function buttons to try to to whatever you would like.

The one thing it lacks may be a joystick, which may make it tricky to maneuver your focus point, particularly with the EVF. and in contrast to with its rivals, you cannot use the rear screen as a touchpad with the camera to your eye. Rather, i used to be forced to use the four-way control wheel, which did slow me down sometimes.