Nikon Z 30 Review: The Perfect Starter Camera for Vloggers
When it comes For video recording, I tend to over-prepared. Certainly, I maybe open the webcam or phone and talk directly to the built-in mic, but instead, I would stress out removing the mirrorless camera, shotgun mic, and multiple stand lights, and then still end up with half the time Time is a bad image. So as someone who needs to expand a bit, the Nikon Z30 appealed to me.
Billed as “creator-ready,” the Nikon Z30 is a mid-range mirrorless camera aimed less at the casual market of professional photographers or industry filmmakers, but more at with an Internet-centric brand, Twitch streamer, and online media. The pitch is simple: This camera is pretty much all you need to start making videos for the internet.
To that end, Nikon also sent us Creator’s Accessory ($150), includes foldable handle/tripod, Bluetooth remote, and mini Rode pistol microphone. The kit and camera are suitable for vlogger-style video and streaming, the kind of product that needs speed and simplicity rather than tight control over every aspect of the image (though both are great) . So how does it measure up? Pretty good.
The most notable aspect of the Z30’s design is the flip screen. Unlike many mirrorless camera monitors, this one can be flipped to face the subject. This sounds simple, but it helps a lot for creators who are working alone and don’t want to have to buy an external monitor. It also does a great job showing how your video looks right on camera.
The screen is beautiful, but I have the same scratch that I have had with every camera since reviewing Blackmagic’s PCC6K: The interface is still very cluttered. For example, it is not possible to change the frame rate on its own. Instead, you have to choose from a list of resolution and frame rate combinations deep in an ugly menu system.
I call this a nitpick for two reasons. First, this is a pretty standard user experience. I’ve been spoiled a bit by Blackmagic here, but most traditional mirrorless cameras share the same design, aimed at professionals who aren’t afraid of ugly menus and lots of buttons. From that point of view, the menus are good. That said, the Z30 is targeted at people who are more likely to upgrade from a phone than another mirrorless, so the less technical user interface won’t be appreciated.
The second reason I call it nitpick is because Nikon is expected to handle most of the image editing work for you. On that front, it delivers much better. The Z30’s autofocus not only detects faces but also eyes. Although it occasionally tripped over my glasses, for the most part it managed to keep me in focus even when I was moving—both in the frame and while I was walking.
To its credit, the Z30 has offered a number of user interface improvements over other cameras. The customizable shortcut menu (activated by pressing the “i” button on the camera) has some of the features I mentioned above, like white balance and image stabilization. In Auto mode, however, many of them are off because the camera tries to handle them for you.
When it comes to a camera like this, I have one primary expectation above all: Will I be able to get a good useable photo without thinking too much about it? I’m happy to report that, more than most cameras in its class, the answer is yes. Even in low-light settings, where ISO is often adjusted up to 8,000 or higher, the Z30 has significantly less noise than other cameras I tested.
It’s not a panacea, anyway—seriously, buy some lights before you rely on the camera to fix your lighting problems—but that was enough for me to feel comfortable shooting a vlog-style video at sunset.
The image stabilization is similarly impressive, although when I was using the small tripod kit (more on that below), I couldn’t help but think how much smoother the shots would have been if I had used the gimbal. . However, the problem here is reducing the number of devices. You won’t get steady shot shots from this unit, but at least it minimizes enough hand-held camera shake for the shots to work. At least good enough for the already shaky vlog style.