Having taken the high end of the market by storm with the Z 9, Nikon is looking to secure the other end of the spectrum with a camera designed for social media creation.
The other day my sister came to me for camera advice. As any photographer will attest, this is not an unknown request. Especially in these days of social media craziness, everyone wants “good photos”. Whether or not they have an interest in learning photography might be a whole other question. But whether it’s starting a vlogging channel on YouTube, spicing up their Zoom calls, or simply finding a better way to livestream subscribers to a chosen platform, there’s a large and growing segment of the market dedicated to creating the as much content as possible, in the easiest way possible, for the least amount of money possible.
Now full disclosure, I personally don’t tend to fall into that category. I’m the type of person who needs a full lighting package, a 10 ton handle truck and a full hair and makeup crew just to take my passport photo. I have been passionately studying the art of photography and cinematography for decades now. I do it professionally. And I put every ounce of my knowledge and soul into each individual frame. At this point, I think I might be clinically incapable of just pointing and shooting.
My sister, on the other hand, just wanted to start a vlogging channel. It’s for his business. And she wanted it to be beautiful, but, at least to begin with, she didn’t have the time or inclination to learn everything there was to know about the exposure triangle or the technical reasons for the shallow depth of field. What she wanted was just a camera that would just work – a camera that would keep her or a product that she displayed in focus, that would do the vast majority of the heavy lifting for her, that would allow her to get a beautiful image without breaking the bank.
Because I’m a self-proclaimed Nikonian and have learned to trust the brand implicitly over the past two decades, my first reaction when someone asks me to point them to a camera is to try to find something thing in the Nikon range. It doesn’t always work that way. People have different needs, and while Nikon cameras have met my needs, that doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for everyone. Still, I really wanted to keep my family in the Nikon family, and so I searched the range for a camera that might be suitable.
Of course, my love for my sister outweighs my love for Nikon, so I also did my due diligence and looked at all the other brands’ offerings. At the time I was researching, Sony and Canon seemed to have strong offerings aimed at the vlogging market. More importantly, at this exact moment, Sony was running a sale that made its offering very hard to beat price-wise. My sister ended up going with the little Sony and as far as I can tell it seems to have worked just fine. Still, I still wished I had found a Nikon offering in its limited price range that would have done the job better.
Well, for those who want a Nikon camera that meets all the needs of today’s low-budget social media creator in a small, easy-to-use package, the wait is over.
Today, Nikon announced the long-rumored Z 30. It’s a video-focused camera aimed to do for the entry level of Nikon’s range what the Z 9 did for the top. It is small, compact and affordable. With a 21 MP (20.9 effective megapixel) DX CMOS sensor, fully articulating display, and eye autofocus (including with video), it is specifically designed for the user who wants to turn the camera on himself. It has built-in stereo sound, a 125-minute recording limit on video, and can be battery-powered or even AC-powered for those who want to use it to glam up on extended Zoom meetings. It shoots in 4K up to 30p or Full HD up to 120p to create slow-motion effects without additional cropping.
The camera lacks a viewfinder, nor the extended video formats and features of Nikon’s high-end cameras. This is an entry-level camera, after all. Much of that is expected given the price and placement in the Nikon lineup. But it still delivers top-notch video for a beginner user looking to get the best picture possible on their platform of choice in as little time as possible. It also comes with many traditional Nikon attributes such as the Z-mount, allowing it to connect to Nikon’s full range of high-quality lenses, customizable function buttons, and adds a larger video record button to put even more emphasis on video creation.
This is a camera aimed squarely at the user who will spend as much time in front of the camera as behind it – someone like my sister, who needs to travel light (the camera only weighs 405 grams) and wants to have a tool ready in the blink of an eye to capture their story and share it with their followers in the fastest way possible. It’s an entry point into the Nikon range for those looking to explore the possibilities or image capture beyond their phones. It’s for those who want quality at a lower price, who want to create, learn and capture. This is not the end of a photographic journey. This is the start of one.
Nikon has been smart to meet the needs of high-end users with the Z 9. And their mid-range cameras like the Z 6 II and Z 7 II are used and loved by photographers all over the world. With the Z 30 they extend their reach and expand the outer limits of their product range.
The camera is expected to hit store shelves in mid-July and come in a variety of packaging. The body is only $709.95. The body plus the NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 costs $849.95. There is a set of two lenses with the 16-50mm and 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 for $1199.95. There’s another package with the body plus the 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 for $1149.95 starting in November. In addition, Nikon will offer a Creators Accessory Kit for $149.95. The kit will include a SmallRig tripod handle, an ML-L7 Bluetooth remote, and the Rode VideoMicro microphone.
So what do you think? A good hit ? Could the Z 30 be a good choice for the burgeoning creator in your home?