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Nikon Z 30 review: The social media and video creator’s camera


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The Nikon Z 30 is the camera maker’s most affordable mirrorless shooter to date, and it’s designed for social media and video creators.

Nikon’s mirrorless line continues to grow, as the company has officially halted future development of its DSLR line. The Z 30 sits at the lower end of the range, making it appealing to beginners while also catering to online social videos.

This is the third APS-C camera made by Nikon, after the Z 50 and the Z fc. The first is the most similar with some improvements and the second opts for a more retro look.

In addition to taking great photos, it’s ideal for creators with no video capture caps, no video cropping, and no auto exposure adjustments. Let’s see why this camera shines otherwise.

Nikon Z 30 – Basic Specs

Inside the Nikon Z 30 is a 20.9-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. It uses Nikon’s Z DX line of lenses which are intended to be lighter and more compact than full Z mount lenses.

20.9 megapixel APS-C sensor

When taking photos, it can trigger at 11 frames per second. It is capable of capturing full 4K video at 30fps as well as 1080P video at 120fps.

Nikon’s Expeed 6 processor powers the camera, making system navigation quick and easy.

Shoot a selfie video

Shoot a selfie video

Nikon uses a hybrid autofocus system here with 209 focus points. It can track the subject in both video and photo modes and includes an eye detection mode.

Nikon Z 30 – Design

The Nikon Z 30 has a metal body made of magnesium alloy. It has a solid and compact build that feels great in the hand. The screen has a plastic back that takes away from the solid feel, however, when closed.

Ports

Nikon Z 30 sockets

At the bottom left is the port array. You will find a USB-C port, a micro HDMI output and a microphone input. Unfortunately, there’s no headphone output to monitor audio levels.

Slot for battery and SD card

Slot for battery and SD card

The battery is inside the handle via a bottom mounted door. Next to the EN-EL25 battery is a single SD card slot. It can use SD cards, SDHC cards or SDXC cards.

We strongly recommend using an SDXC card as they can be both faster and higher capacity.

Adjustable display

Adjustable display

On the back, you’ll find a fully articulating three-inch touchscreen. This TFT display has 1,040,000 pixels, the same as the Z 50 and Z fc. Since the Z 50 has a 3.2-inch screen, the Z 30 has a higher pixel density.

It’s still not as sharp as the higher-end Nikon models, but it’s certainly adequate.

Also on the back is a set of buttons that will look familiar to any previous Nikon user. There’s a toggle for photo and video mode, menu and information buttons, and a directional pad.

Some things have been changed to make it easier for video creators, like placing the video record button on the top instead of the back. Switching from old Nikons can take a bit of time to relearn muscle memory.

Mode selector on Z 30

Mode selector on Z 30

At the top is a mode dial with auto, program, preferred aperture, manual, shutter priority mode and two custom user modes. There’s also shutter, video record button, ISO control and exposure compensation.

Many mirrorless cameras don’t have an auto mode, but this is advantageous for this entry-level model. Unique to the Z 30 is the ability to adjust exposure compensation in automatic mode.

Then novice users can rely on the camera to do the heavy lifting while controlling the lighting for the shot.

The Z 30 notably lacks an electronic viewfinder. The lack of an EVF will surely be polarizing although we didn’t have too much trouble with it. The Z 50 has an EVF if that’s a necessity.

Stereo microphones

Stereo microphones

Although it lacks an EVF, it still has a hot shoe mount for connecting various accessories such as external microphones or flashes. On either side of the hot shoe is a microphone grille for stereo audio recording.

Unlike the Sony ZV-E10, Nikon doesn’t include a windshield in the box. Not everyone will use them, but they are an inexpensive accessory that Nikon shouldn’t require users to purchase separately.

Finally, the front has a small pointing light to signify when a video is being recorded.

Nikon Z 30 – Lenses

The Nikon Z series is still fairly new in the grand scheme of things, but its Z DX lenses are still rather lacking. There are three APS-C cameras to use the Z DX lenses and there are three lenses to go with them.

We used the Z DX 16-50mm F3.5-6.3 VR lens in our review and found it to be more than capable. AZ DX 18-140mm VR and Z DX 59-250mm VR are also available if you want something with a bit more zoom.

All three lenses include VR as the Nikon Z 30 does not include any stabilization at the sensor level, so vibration reduction has to come from the lens itself.

Nikon Z DX 18-50mm lens

Nikon Z DX 18-50mm lens

Users can use any of the larger Z-series lenses with the Z 30, although they are bigger, heavier, and bulkier. The F to Z adapter can be attached to vintage lenses in case the worst happens.

Nikon Z 30 – Smart Connectivity

Like Nikon’s other recent cameras, the Z 30 can connect to your iPhone or iPad via the Snapbridge app.

Remote capture via Snapbridge

Remote capture via Snapbridge

Once connected, you can take photos with the camera and transfer photos.

Camera control lets you make multiple settings, including what’s in focus, exposure, and more. To upload photos, you can choose small 2MP images for proofs or you can upload them in their original quality.

Taking pictures with the Nikon Z 30

We took the Z 30 with us to several places. We relaxed on the lake, visited a lighthouse, and attended a local high school football game.

The camera was perfect for traveling thanks to its small compact size. We found ourselves trying to use the viewfinder at first since our other cameras have them, but that went away after a few days.

The autofocus system did an admirable job of tracking people, objects and pets as they moved through the frame. We could go quite fast and the autofocus system managed to keep up.

Preview photos on the Z 30

Nikon says you can capture around 330 shots on a single charge, which was pretty conservative in our experience. We were able to nearly double that number of shots before our camera died.

Even though the battery didn’t last that long, the USB-C port was very handy. We never bothered to remove the battery from the camera, but charged it on the go via USB-C.

We just plugged the camera into a USB-C battery with power delivery support and it stayed charged at all times.

Nikon Z 30 – Capturing video

The Z 30 is built on an excellent processor and an excellent sensor. Although it is exceptional for capturing photos, it has a clear video focus.

Still image sample

Example of a still image from a Z 30 video

For one thing, there’s no cropping when shooting video at any resolution. Some of its biggest competitors crop video depending on the resolution you are shooting in.

This is extremely crucial for video creators who shoot handheld videos of themselves when you need a wide shot to fit everything into the frame.

Still image from a video

Still image from a video

It also ditched the artificial 30-minute video capture limit. You can take photos until your camera gets too hot or the battery runs out. In most cases this will be around 75 minutes.

Still from a Nikon Z 30 video

Still image from a Nikon Z 30 video clip

Several video modes are available, including 120 frames per second in 1080P, and 30 and 24 frames per second in 4K, among others. Streamers can live stream up to 60 frames per second in 1080P.

In our tests, video was crisp and clear, and the autofocus system tracked our subjects perfectly. We found the record button to be a little difficult to press when facing the camera towards ourselves.

More shooting with this camera will make it look a bit more natural.

The audio sounded good, despite the lack of a wind cap in the box. If you want to improve the audio quality, you can get an external microphone or the Creator’s Kit which includes a tripod, remote control and Rode microphone.

Should you buy the Nikon Z 30?

We’re big fans of the Z 30. It lacks a headphone jack and EVF, but it has a steller sensor with sharp photos, fast autofocus, and plenty of video-centric features.

Nikon Z30

Nikon Z30

It has almost everything a mobile creator could need. Uncropped 4K video, impressive audio quality and easy one-handed operation.

There are times when we missed certain features, but know that they are available on many models above the Z 30. Think EVF, headphone jack or sensor stabilization.

Nikon Z 30 with tripod and microphone creator kit

Nikon Z 30 with tripod and microphone creator kit

Whether you want an affordable and reliable mirrorless camera or want to start capturing video to share online, the Nikon Z 30 should definitely be considered.

Advantages of the Nikon Z 30

  • Right price
  • Excellent image quality, even in low light
  • Stereo audio capture
  • Will not crop video to any resolution
  • Articulating touchscreen can be protected when not in use
  • Battery life better than promised
  • USB-C charging
  • App connectivity and remote control
  • Streaming support for 1080P, 60fps

Nikon Z 30 versus

  • No EVF or headphone jack
  • Not yet a large selection of lenses
  • Wind covers not included

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Or buy

These retailers all carry the Z30:

More sample shots