Nikon has picked a vlogging fight with Sony by launching the new Nikon Z30, which is now its most affordable mirrorless camera by some distance.
This means you get a 20.9MP APS-C sensor, which is smaller than full-frame but much larger than Micro Four Thirds or any smartphone sensor. The Z30 can shoot 4K/30p video or Full HD/120p slo-mo clips, and rather than offering more powerful in-body image stabilization it comes with electronic vibration reduction (e-VR) that creates a 1.3x crop on your image.
Other than the lack of a viewfinder, the main differences from the Nikon Z50 are the inclusion of a 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen (rather than a tilting one), the option of powering the camera through its USB-C port, and the ability to shoot 125-minute clips in one go with no record limits.
One of the most important features for vloggers and YouTubers is autofocus. The Nikon Z30 offers a hybrid AF system, which means it combines phase-detection and contrast AF. While you won’t get the same AF performance as the Nikon Z9, Nikon told us that the Z30’s autofocus is on a similar level to the Nikon Z6 and Z7. This means you should get some pretty sticky Face and Eye AF, and Animal Eye AF also works in video, too.
Despite weighing only 405g, the Nikon Z30 retains the classic deep Nikon deep grip to help keep it stable during handheld shooting, and there are also some further video-friendly tweaks including a more prominent video record button than the Z50 and a tally light on the front so you can see when it’s recording.
The Z30’s lack of a viewfinder means it’s also cheaper than the Z50 was at launch, with a body-only price tag of £699 (available as a single-lens kit only in Australia). When the camera goes on sale on July 14, you’ll also be able to buy it in various bundles. One of these includes the 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens for £839 / AU$1,299, while a larger vlogger kit will include that lens, the camera, an ML-L7 Remote, SmallRig tripod and SmallRig Windmuff (which collectively cost £879; currently not announced for Australia).
Those who want a bit more versatility will also be able to buy the Nikon Z30 with two lenses (Nikon’s 16-50mm and 50-250mm) for £1,069 (TBC for Australian customers).
Analysis: Fun, if a little late to the party
Like Sony and Canon, Nikon knows that the most in-demand feature on entry-level cameras is now video. This means the Nikon Z30 is a sensible (if slightly belated) addition to the options available to fledgling filmmakers.
Our guides to the best vlogging cameras and the best YouTube cameras are currently dominated by Sony and Panasonic, and the Z30 does already have some pretty fearsome rivals in the form of the Sony ZV-E10, Panasonic GH5 Mark II and the new Canon EOS R10.
If its autofocus skills perform well in the real world, then the Nikon Z30 could still offer a good value alternative to those cameras. But like the Nikon Z50 and Zfc, its main achilles heel is a lack of lenses – its 16-50mm kit zoom (which in full-frame terms offers a 24-75mm focal length) is arguably not wide enough for some vloggers, and there are currently only two other lenses that are specifically designed for its APS-C sensor.
Still, there is a 12-24mm lens in Nikon’s roadmap for its ‘DX’ APS-C mirrorless cameras, and you can also adapt hundreds of older F-mount lenses using Nikon’s FTZ adaptor. That doesn’t quite compare to Sony’s recent launch of three new APS-C lenses, though, and there are growing rumors that Sony is preparing to launch a new ZV-series camera for vloggers (opens in new tab) soon.