• Andrew JK Tan

Nikon Z 6 - Birds in Flight !! Can the Z 6 with the FTZ adaptor perform ?


I am sure many Nikon DSLR users out there are really wondering just how the Nikon Z 6 would perform in AF tracking of really fast moving subjects with unpredictable motion especially when using the existing Nikkor f-mount telephoto range lenses with the FTZ adaptor. I was really keen to know myself , so off I went to the Jurong Bird Park to find out ..... Read On !

SETUP

Nikon Z 6

Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR with VR OFF

FTZ Adaptor

12 fps setup

Shutter Speed : 1/1600s

JPEG FINE*

AF-C

AF-C priority set on FOCUS

Focus Tracking with lock-on set to LEVEL 2 (fastest would be Level 1)

Dynamic Area AF mode

Hand-Held

COMMENTARY BY IMAGE

Flamingos in Heat - Male Flamingo suddenly flies up to mount the smaller sized female.

Focal Length : 500mm

The Z 6 got EVERY shot in the sequence i captured tack sharp , sure this is not your typical bird in flight action but the action was very quick & brief !

Barn Owl in flight

Focal Length : 400mm

The Z 6 with the 200-500mm f/5.6 E ED VR + FTZ adaptor performed SUPERBLY as it nailed this shot and the next shot , for the entire sequence wise the Z 6's success rate was lower at 60%. The success rate was on the low side but I can't let the Z 6 take all the blame , there were ocassions during the capture sequence where I could not place the AF point as accurately as I wanted to.

I did notice though that the Z 6 focus accuracy with the Dynamic Area AF mode dropped :

- especially when the background was higher contrast then the subject itself

- when the main subject was very near to another subject (the trainer)

Brahminy Kite in Flight

Focal Length : 300mm

The Z 6 & yours truly had a tough time with the super fast and super unpredictable flight path of the very dynamic BRAHMINY KITES !!

Well it's been at least 5 years since I last photographed the Kites performing at this particular show where the trainer would toss pieces of meat upwards and the Kites would swoop upwards to catch and gobble the piece of meat up.

I did get a couple of good shots with the KITES in sharp focus but the success rate was too low for my standards. There were ocassions when the Dynamic Area AF point was on the Kite but the Z 6 still failed to lock on successfully.

The following combination of factors definitely impacted the success rate

1. Unpredictable flight path

2. Speed of the bird

3. Lighting conditions which generated higher contrast backgrounds then subject

4. my inability to follow focus accurately (Did NOT use DOT-SIGHT which would have made it easier)

This image below is an example of what I meant when the contrast of the background was HIGHER then the subject itself. I did get this shot in focus BUT there were many miss-focused shots of the Kite with this high contrast background. When the background was darker and had lower contrast , I had better success.

Screenshot of magnified area to show that the Z 6 locked on accurately for this shot !! and I feel that it was because the head of the bird was entering a lower contrast darker area which allowed the Z 6 to lock on.

Baya Weaver in action

Focal Length : 500mm

For the Baya Weaver , the Z 6 did not have much issues locking on, it was more the photographer mis-timing the trigerring of the shutter when the bird zooms out to pick up more reeds to weave the nest together

The background made it easy for the Z 6 to lock on in my opinion.

FINAL WORDS

My frank opinion is that the Z 6 did REALLY well as I was NOT using native Z lenses !! but instead Nikkor f-mount lenses with the FTZ adaptor.

Honestly photographing the high speed BRAHMINY KITES in the confined performance area was really a tough challenge for ANY system.

The Z 6 would do well to have another AF area mode which 1. predicts fast motion better & 2. be less sensitive to high contrast backgrounds like the Group AF area mode in my D850 in addition to the current Dynamic Area AF mode which while capable in many situations can't really keep up with the fastest action & those high contrast backgrounds.

The Z 6 Dynamic Area AF mode could do well with an upgrade to deal with really fast moving subjects better, I am pretty sure Nikon will listen to us.

I hope the readers appreciate my frank findings, like I said the Z 6 did a super job allowing me to capture really good Bird In Flight shots (especially love the Barn Owl in flight shot) with an adaptor based system in this case as there are still no Nikkor Z telephoto lenses yet !

So Nikon if you read this blog , lets start with a 300mm or 400mm prime or an 80-400mm Nikkor Z !!

I will be bring the Nikon Z 6 to Hokkaido to photograph more wildlife & birds in flight next week so look out for more blogs from yours truly on how the Z 6 does.

..... and of course the Z 6 / Nikkor 200-500 f/5.6E ED VR + FTZ Adaptor did GREAT with all the other Bird captures.

Till the next blog.

Cheers,

Andrew

#NikonZ6 #Z6 #BirdsinFlight #ActionPhotography #AFperformance