Joe Mcnally’s late-night NYC Z7 street shoot
One of the charges I had when Nikon loaned me a preproduction Z7 was to challenge the camera in as many ways as I could. How would the camera deal with a fluid shooting situation? How would it govern TTL Speedlights? How would focus behave in low light? How would the camera handle mixed ambient light? Seeking answers, we headed to New York City, gathering about 11pm for hair, makeup and styling, and hitting the streets of Chinatown at around 3am.
It was hugely helpful to see the exposure through the EVF. I am also quickly getting addicted to the ‘i’ button, which transfers a grid of options, all changeable with a thumb click, right to the EVF screen you are seeing through. I’m also getting used to the pacing of the camera. Shoot a series of pictures, then release the shutter button and keep your eye to the camera, and they spin in review right there in the screen. Cursor in, again with a thumb click, and you have confirm on critical sharpness. The EVF is actually Nikon glass, and so much technology is built into that thing it feels like a head-up display on a fighter jet.
We worked through the sticky August night with a max of two light sources. The above is a new Lastolite source, the Ezybox Pro Strip. It can handle two Speedlights, in this instance, two radio controlled SB-5000 units, and it is a truly beautiful, luminous source. Strips are amongst my favourite style of softboxes, and this one is great. It’s a massive upgrade from other older, complex softboxes in that it practically puts itself together – there’s about three to five minutes of setup, but that’s it.
Our lovely, subtle and beautiful model is Sara, styled in typically wonderful fashion by Samantha Brown, with makeup by Deborah Englesman. Production, as usual, was impeccably wonderful, pulled together by our own Lynn Delmastro. Cali, Andrew Tomasino and I hit the streets and started shooting.
I didn’t use a tripod all night. I let the camera crunch on background detail, while I governed the foreground with Speedlights (SB-5000S), which the camera controlled in precise and rather predictable fashion.
In short, as an intuitive street instrument, the preproduction Z7 was outstanding, and makes me salivate for the production-line models. Given the stealthy nature of our assignment, we had to work carefully, choosing our situations away from crowds. So, quite counter-intuitively, we went to Times Square. But I have to say, at 4:30 am at the crossroads of the world, most of the folks out there had consumed so many varieties of intoxicants that they weren’t all that interested in mirrorless cameras.
It was cool being out on the streets of NYC, which I have shot since I moved there in 1976, shooting a Nikon F. Now I’m there shooting with this space-age camera… Just wild, and fun.
Two Ezybox Pro Strips at work. Nikon Z7, Z 24-70mm f/4, 1/15 sec, f/4, ISO400 It worked for a close-up as well. Nikon Z7, Z 24-70mm f/4, 1/30 sec, f/4, ISO800