Hey, it’s Jay P. Morgan. I’ve got Barbie here with me. “Hello”. We’re going to take a look at two cameras that I really respect, the a7R V from Sony and the Z8 from Nikon. These are incredible cameras. Let’s see how they compare with each other. One comes in just under $4,000. One’s about at $4,000. But these are cameras that really deliver a great picture, great video specs. Let’s take a look at each of these. One of these only has an electronic shutter. We’ll see if that matters. So let’s get started and see what we can do.
All right, let’s break these two cameras down. These are flagship cameras, incredible cameras in both these lines. The Z8 falls just below the Z9. In some ways it really is a miniature version of the Z9 which gives you some incredible video capabilities, incredible still capabilities. But still a large megapixel sensor. I mean it comes in at 45.7MP. Whereas the a7R V is a full frame, obviously 60MP image. So it gives you a beautiful large image. It falls under the a1 and gives you good video, but not great video. Both these cameras are placed to be crossover cameras. So let’s see how they compare.
So first off, price-wise, they both come in around $4,000. The Z8 is just a couple of dollars under $4,000 and the a7R V from Sony is $100 under $4,000. So this is a major commitment. You buy this camera when you really want a robust still or robust still and video camera. So let’s go on now and look at the image. That’s really what matters to me.
Let’s take a look at the picture quality test of these two cameras. You know you can have a lot of features on a camera but if you do not love the picture you’re not going to love shooting the camera. And so for me it’s taken me a long time before I really felt like Sony’s picture got to where I loved it and enjoyed shooting it. Nikon’s picture has always been beautiful. It has great color rendition. Something I’ve always felt like since the D850. Just a great image to look at. And a great image, it produces a great image. So look at, looking at these two, I see a very similar image. We shot these at the same camera settings. Processed them at the same color settings, RAW images. Didn’t do any sharpening on them at all. Just straight out of the camera. And if I just look at the sharpness of these two images the Sony is just a little sharper. And I shot several of these to make sure I’m hitting. These are both shot on a 50mm lens, f/1.2 native lenses. And we’re shooting them at f/2.8 to give us a little bit of focus, a little bit of sharpness. So we’re not having the lenses wide open. And definitely the Sony is just a little bit sharper. When it comes to that image quality you can see it here when we punch in. It’s just a little sharper. The color is a little more vivid on that Nikon. Look at the pink. The pink feels a little more vivid. The green feels a little more natural to me. Sony’s feels a little more, a little more forced. I think the color just looks so beautiful on that Nikon. But it does feel like the Sony is just slightly sharper. When it comes to picture quality I think you really have a beautiful image on Nikon. But I think Sony has caught up in a major way. So when it comes to a picture quality test I’m going to call this a tie. I think the Nikon has a little prettier color but I think the Sony is slightly sharper.
All right, let’s talk about ergonomics. Wow, these cameras couldn’t be more different. Even though the Z8 is a slimmed down, lighter weight Z9, it is a beast. It is still a heavy-duty camera. It is very small. It gives you a great grip. You’re able to get ahold of it. It’s really nice in that way. But it comes in at about 2 lbs. Whereas the Sony’s going to come in at about a 1.6 lbs. Sony is much smaller. These two lenses are both 50mm lenses. Wow, f/1.2 lenses. That is crazy how heavy duty the one is from Nikon. This really, as a camera, even though it is a slimmed down version of the Z9, still I think is a significant weight. It has some things about it though that I think are really nice. That top screen to be that secondary display. You don’t have that on the Sony. You have in the camera itself, monitor wise, on the back, you’re getting about that 3.2 inch monitor 2,100,000 on one 2095,000 on the Sony. So they’re about the same when it comes to the monitor on the back. You do have the 4 Axis display screen. I mean, it’s so nice on the Sony. This just gives you complete access to the screen and pops down. It’s a beautiful, beautiful screen. The Nikon’s a little funky for me. It pops out and down, does all kinds of weird stuff. But it’s not near, it doesn’t flip back towards you. It just gives you a lot of articulation there that I just I don’t care for the screen near as much on the Nikon as I do on the Sony. I get a decent grip on the Sony. So I can get a hold of it. There’s good buttons and display buttons so I can see and you know, be able to give me secondary buttons. But not near as many as you get on the Nikon. You got the two fn1 and fn2 along the side of your lens which is really a nice feature because it gives you a place right here where your fingers are at, to be able to access different things you program on the menu. I think that is wonderful. Great buttons in order to allow you to see, you know, exactly what the camera is doing. The Nikon has a great autofocus joy stick on the back. And I find that really easy to use, in a great place. But the Sony has that autofocus joystick on the back and it’s in a good place. But because the camera’s a little smaller it’s not as easy for me to use. So there’s advantages to that larger camera and some advantages to the smaller camera. So these two cameras are very different when it comes to card slots. The Z8 has a CFexpress type B card, one. And an SD card. So you don’t have two dual slots. You just have one of each. So in that way there’s some disadvantages there. But it does give you a fast shooting out of that one card slot. We put in a 1TB Delkin CFexpress type B card and it’s, you can shoot forever on that 1TB card. When it comes to the Sony a7R V it has dual CFexpress type A slots. Or you can use SD cards in them. So in that way that’s a really nice setup. You can do SD cards, fast SD cards or the really fast CFexpress type A. To my knowledge you can’t get as large a card on those CFexpress type A than you can get on the CFexpress type B. But still, it’s nice you have two of those on the Sony. Where you only get one or the other on the Nikon.
So battery life between these two is very different as well. The Z8 from Nikon has a smaller battery than the Z9. And so you’d have to get a battery grip to be able to give yourself the ability to shoot. I shot through a couple hours with this pretty and much exhausted a battery. I’d have to have two or three batteries to be able to get through a shoot with this. So you get about 330 shots on a battery with this camera. Whereas with the Sony a7R V it’s the same battery that’s used in all the Sony cameras. You’re getting 440 shots. So you get more battery life out of this which really makes this a better camera with regards to battery. There was a time when Sony batteries weren’t great. But they’re great now. There’s no doubt about that.
Viewfinder wise these two couldn’t be more different. The viewfinder on the Nikon is 3,690,000 dots, the EVF. Whereas, the EVF on the Sony a7R V is 9,437,000 dots. You get a beautiful clean EVF on this camera. Which is wonderful to look at. You see great detail in it and is really an advantage over the Nikon.
The Z8 doesn’t have as many focus points at 493. Whereas the Sony a7R V has 693. So it really makes a big difference when it comes to autofocus. Let’s look at that autofocus test and see how they compare with one another. Now Sony’s always had great autofocus and the a7R V has really an incredible autofocus. It has a great autofocus engine. It really does its job. I love this test because I’m looking at, I’m looking at focus in kind of the shadows into some highlights, into right up into kind of a nice light at the camera. When I shot 36 images over and over and over, between 30 and 45 images. I did not lose any of the ones here when it comes to autofocus. These things are sharp as could be on the Sony. Each and every one of them is just tack sharp as she walks towards the camera. Now I shot at a fast shutter speed so I’d make sure that it wasn’t camera movement. And she really is, whether she’s in this bright sunlight, in the shade walking up into right up to the camera. She is in focus all the way. And it’s pretty incredible. So I expected, because Nikon doesn’t really do quite as well when it comes to focus and that concerned me. It’s like, how, what am I going to get with this camera? So this is a series we did that has almost 42 images in it. And as I walked through this I got a very similar, I had a very similar experience. The Nikon was on her eye the whole way. There was one time I got one that seemed a little bit squishy, but just slightly. I mean I would have to say that almost every single one of these was in focus from front to back. So in this test, walking straight towards the camera, it locked onto the eye and gave me wonderful autofocus all the way. A lot of times cameras struggle when they go from kind of full body to midbody but these, neither of these cameras did. This was an absolute dead tie when it came to autofocus. I did not expect that with a Nikon Z8. I expected it to have problems because Nikon in the past has really struggled a little bit when it came to autofocus. But it certainly didn’t in this test. It gave us a great, great image. I mean sometimes they’re teeny bit, but teeny bit off. But if I were to declare a winner I’d have to say the Sony edged it out slightly. But I think they were head-to-head.
So there’s the autofocus test. Let’s now take a look at continuous shooting. The Z8 does not have a mechanical shutter. It is just like the Z9 and has just an electronic shutter. So in mechanical shutter mode the a7R V is going to give you up to 10 frames a second at 61 megapixels up to 583 images. That’s really, those are RAW images and up to 1000 JPEGs. That makes this a respectable camera when it comes to shooting birds, wildlife. I mean, it’s not sold as a sports camera but it gives you a pretty decent number of frames per second to make it really doable in those kinds of environments. So that’s mechanical. Nothing on the Z8. Pretty good specs on the a7R V. When it comes to electronic shutter the Z8 really shines here. You get 20 frames a second on that 45.7 megapixel sensor in RAW and up to 1,000 images. You get 30 frames a second in jpeg mode up to, well continuously. You can shoot all day in that jpeg mode. So it really gives you fast shutter. That really is a respectable speed when it comes to doing a lot of different kind of applications. I think it starts to really border on the border of being a good sports type photography camera. It really does. Now the a7R V on the other hand gives you up to 7 frames a second on that 61 megapixel and really has terrible rolling shutter. The camera really does not do well in that electronic shutter world. You’ve got to stay mechanical shutter with the Sony a7R V. Whereas you only have the option of doing electronic on the Z8. But they deliver great frames per second.
When it comes to autofocus in video mode these cameras are pretty similar. But I think the Sony kind of leads out a little bit. Now I’m not looking at motion as in when a person turns at a 60th of a second really quickly. When she turns there’s some, a point there where it falls out of, what feels like out of focus. But I think a lot of that is movement. But it is a little bit of falling out of focus. On the Nikon we lose her a little bit in that turn. It has a hard time picking her up again. I think the Sony is a much better, it sticks with her better in autofocus mode when she isn’t turned towards us. And we just, it picks her back up again. So I think the Sony is a little better in this situation. It has just a little easier autofocus to work and some great tracking. It really gives us wonderful tracking. So I think the Sony beats out the Nikon, but not by as much as I had thought it would.
So let’s talk about the video capabilities of these two cameras. So the a7R V does give you, in an H265 XAVC it gives you a 10-Bit 4:2:2, a 10-Bit 4:2:0. You can go to an 8-Bit 4:2:0. It just gives you great Codecs. But the problem, several problems it has.When you go to 8K it’s a crop factor. It’s like a 1.26 crop factor. So you really have a problem there. It’s going to punch in when you shoot on the 8K. If you go to the 4K it’s subsampled. And so the quality is not near as good as you would want it to be. You can go to 4K in the Super 35 mode and it is over sampled. Which is a beautiful image. But you are now punching into a Super 35. So it is equivalent to a crop factor quite frankly. So this camera just doesn’t have a lot of great video capabilities. The Codecs are just not there. You don’t have great video picture Codecs on this camera.
Now for the Z8, the Z8 really has the same video capabilities pretty much as a Z9. Incredibly capable video capabilities. It does ProRes RAW in HQ 12-Bit. You’ve got an H264 in 8-Bit and 10bit. Its got ProRes 4:2:2, high quality 4:2:2 10-Bit. I mean it really does some incredible in camera recording. You got 8K up to 30 frames a second. You got 4K up to 120 frames a second and then you got great external recording. The Sony a7R V does also do great external recording. It’s 4K at 24, 30 and 60 frames. But you get better external recording on the Nikon Z8. You get the same capabilities you’re getting internally and that is the 8K up to 30 frames a second and 4K up to 120 frames a second. So it gives you incredible video capabilities. These two cameras comparatively speaking, when it comes to video, the Sony a7R V just doesn’t really hold its own. In this category the Canon R5 would be more likely to compete with the Z8. But the a7R V just doesn’t.
All right, both these cameras have a full size HDMI which is very nice, thank you for that. When it comes to image stabilization let’s take a look at that test. So I’m looking at the stabilization on these two cameras and the Nikon feels smoother to me. It feels more comfortable. It just feels a little more organic. I feel like it’s a much nicer, smoother looking image. Here’s the example. You can choose for yourself. But I think the Nikon is definitely better when it comes to image stabilization.
So let’s take a look at the ISO test comparing these two cameras. We set these cameras at the same camera settings, same color settings. We sampled off from the Spyder Checkr Photo to be able to give us the exact same color. So they really are very similar when it comes to color. We start at 400 ISO because anything below 400 ISO is pretty clean. I’m looking for transition. How’s that transition from highlight to shadow? Do we start to see digital noise? Do we start to see that red banding from the highlight to shadows. Does the highlight to shadow fall off really fast? Well starting out at 400 ISO they’re both very clean. If we look in the background these are taken from the RAW images. There’s no sharpening involved here whatsoever. And they’re both extremely clean. We go to 800 ISO. I look back in the background kind of in the shadow areas just to see what we have and both these cameras seem pretty clean. I maybe start to see a little bit of noise building. Am I seeing it on her face? If you look at this around her eyes the shadows are starting to make that transition a little quicker than they were before. But still pretty clean. Still pretty clean at 800 ISO. Let’s go to 1600 ISO. Now at 1600 ISO we start to see a little bit of noise up in the background. I’d have to say that the Nikon looks a lot better in that kind of mid-tone when it comes to the shadow area. Yeah, the Nikon’s looking clean in that shadow area for sure. So let’s go up to 3200 ISO. And there’s definitely a good amount of digital noise in that kind of mid-tone to dark tones. But the Nikon is definitely seeming much cleaner to me. If we look at her face we start see that red banding, see that down her nose there? You start to see that when it’s starting to give you that transition. I’m seeing it in both these cameras. They both have that really bad banding as they, just right down that transition from shadow to highlight is where you start to see that happen. So let’s go to 6400 ISO. At 6400 ISO that banding is going to that red in the transition area is going to start to be pretty darn obvious. Yeah, they’re both getting it. The Nikon though is holding a little better, I think, than the Sony. Look at that in the background. The digital noise is very pronounced on the Sony. A little cleaner on that Nikon now. If we go up to 12,800 ISO take a look at that on the nose there. Yeah, they’re both having that. We’re starting to see a lot of digital noise in the face. Sony’s definitely not, it’s definitely more noise, heavier banding than the Nikon. And when we go to 25,600 ISO, wow, I mean they’re both a train wreck at this point. But it’s a small train wreck on the Nikon. And a little bit larger train wreck on the Sony. And the color, look how that color is shifted. It’s just very, very kind of greenish. And the Nikon, I think the Nikon’s edged out the Sony here. It really has. I think it’s good for almost a stop more, a stop when it comes to digital noise. So I think that’s pretty significant. So there you go. I didn’t expect that. I love the Sony. I own the Sony. I’m feeling a little disappointed. All right, there’s a look at the ISO test. And I think the Nikon definitely shows that it’s about a stop better.
All right, let’s take a look at the dynamic range with these two cameras when they’re both exposed at the same exposure. Normal, we get nice color, nice skin tone. We see how the background, we have a little bit of that white light back there is a little bit blown out on the Nikon a little. It holds a little better on the Sony. But this is where we’ll really start to see it, is when we start to go to underexposed. So we’re underexposed a stop and we start to see more of that detail in the background. We’re able to bring the highlights up and the shadows are really not having any issues when it comes to any kind of digital noise. I mean really, both beautiful images. That underexposed by a stop is always a great place to be. Let’s look at underexposed by two stops. And again we’re seeing pretty good detail in the background. It seems like the Nikon and well, they’re head-to-head. They really are head-to-head here. Both very sharp. You get great detail. We’re not seeing any digital noise. We go to minus three stops. We’ll see if the color starts to shift now. We start to see it a little bit in the pink. It’s not as saturated as it was. We still get a great skin tone. And we’re still looking at really pretty, pretty solid images when it comes to the digital noise. It’s really nice. When we go to four stops you’re now starting to see the digital noise start to build. We’re seeing, certainly holds things in the background. Sony seems to hold that background better than the Nikon does. Look at the detail. That was a car out there. Look at the detail that it holds. And we are getting some kind of digital noise in the image. And the color has shifted a bit. But man, pretty darn good for minus four stops. So let’s go to plus one stop. This is going to be a different story. I mean, already you see that both these cameras have just kind of lost it in the background. It’s just, there’s no detail there whatsoever. We see that we’re going to start to see digital noise build in her face almost immediately. Not too bad yet. But we’ve lost all of our detail in the background. So we go to plus two. Outside that window we’ve lost all the detail in the Nikon and a lot of the detail with the Sony. Our color on her face is starting to shift a little bit. Starting to go a little bit kind of yellowish. When we go to plus three, at plus three it’s just, she’s gone very yellowish. Very bad case of jaundice at plus three on both these cameras. Sony seems to have, well, they both have shifted. Outside the window it’s really kind of lost. So in my mind these two cameras are pretty much a tie when it comes to their dynamic range looking at this test. They responded extremely similar to one another.
All right, let’s wrap this up. I think that the Sony a7R V really does great still images. It’s a great still image camera. It gives you a great mechanical shutter. It gives you a beautiful image. I think in its own way it’s small, compact, easy to carry. And I think in that way, form factor wise, I really enjoy that form factor. I think it’s a great camera. But I think the Z8 really knocks it out of the park in so many different ways. It’s probably one of the best crossover cameras on the market, if not the best. Definitely the best in this category when it comes to shooting both stills and video. It gives you great video specs. It gives you great still performance. And just really checks all the boxes in both those categories. Nikon’s done something kind of interesting here. They did not scrimp on the features in this camera. They took the Z9 and basically made a baby Z9. A smaller form factor. The battery is a bit of a disappointment. But it gives you great specs in that smaller form factor. When I say smaller form factor, it’s still huge. But it gives you incredible specs. So for me, if I’m a Nikon owner, if I don’t have the Z9, I’m buying the Z8. And if I have the Z9 I’m probably buying the Z8. When it comes to Sony, that a7R V, I shoot on it. I love it. It’s still a great camera. But I think the Nikon kind of becomes a camera of choice right now. So there you go. There’s a look at the Nikon Z8 versus the Sony a7R V. We have other comparisons you can check out. Take a look at those. If you have some you want to see let us know what they are. We’d love to take a look at them. I hope you’ve enjoyed this. So keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’!