Nikon Z30 review: compact mirrorless is a dream for vloggers

The Nikon Z30 is perfect for vloggers who want a compact, lightweight option to be able to capture their daily lives.

Nikon Z30 review
(Image: © Nikon)

Our Verdict

The Nikon Z30 is aimed at content creators who want a decent-quality camera at a reasonable price point. This camera is capable of 4K 30p recording without cropping, works exceptionally well in low light and has strong auto-focus performance. The Nikon Z30 is the perfect choice for vloggers who want to document their daily life or travel adventures as it’s lightweight, easy to use, has a good quality flip-out touchscreen and is perfect for any skill level. It is a camera that puts video first, so vloggers will love it, but it still takes pretty good photographs too.

For

  • 4K video
  • Nice to handle
  • Lightweight

Against

  • No headphone jack
  • No image stabilisation
  • No viewfinder

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SPECS

Type: Compact mirrorless 
Max resolution: 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD)
Effective pixels:  20.9 million
Sensor: : APS-C CMOS 
AF Points: 209-point hybrid AF system
ISO:  ISO 100 - 51,200 (expandable to ISO 204,800) 
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Viewfinder:  No
Storage:  SD and UHS-I compliant SDHC and SDXC  
Format:  NEF (RAW), JPEG, NEF (RAW)+JPEG
Battery:  Rechargeable Li-ion battery
Weight:  350g (without lens)
Size: 128 mm x 73.5 mm  x  59.5 mm
GPS: No

As a content creator, you face a tough choice between getting a dedicated camera or using a smartphone. But while the smartphone may win points for always being with you, if you want videos and images that always look perfect on Instagram, you can’t go wrong with a dedicated camera. The Nikon Z30 is the latest mirrorless camera in the Nikon line up and with a compact body and vary-angle touchscreen, it’s the ideal solution for any budding YouTube sensation. 

This camera is available as a body only or with a couple of lens options. The model I was sent comes with an impressive 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR standard zoom kit lens, which covers wide-angle to portraits so it is worth trying to find a package with this lens included because beginners or casual users, there will be little need to buy additional glass. The weightless, compact body also makes it a convenient camera for taking out and about, which means it has earned its place among our best cameras for vlogging (opens in new tab) guide. 

This camera has a 20.9-megapixel image sensor with 4k recording capabilities and an 11fps continuous shooting speed, delivering quality photo and video performance. And one of the things that is absolutely great about this camera is that it works with Nikon’s entire range of Z-mount lenses. This camera is also priced at a point where it’s affordable for beginners starting at £599 for the body only or £699 with the 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens kit. 

I’ve used this camera for around a month, making both still images and video with it. I’ve used it in a variety of different light settings and spaces. I’ve also tested how well it’s handled in different situations such as when on the move, at home or just in the park. 

I tested this camera by using it for both photos and video. I tested it in different light settings and situations to see how it handled and how easy it was to use when out and about, so let’s see how I got on. 

Nikon Z30 review: build and handling

Nikon Z30 review: Build and handling

(Image credit: Rachael Phillips )

The Nikon Z30 is a lot of camera in a diminutive, compact package. The body weighs just 350g, but despite it being so light, it doesn’t feel flimsy. The magnesium-alloy body makes it feel solid and a lot more expensive than it is too. It has a chunky grip, making this camera really easy to use when shooting with one hand, either in front of or behind the camera. 

There is no viewfinder, but this camera’s target audience probably won’t mind that. The rear 3-inch, 1040K-dot vari-angle LCD touchscreen will allow users to enter selfie mode by flipping it fully forward or operate the control panel when facing the other way. Plus, by getting rid of the viewfinder, Nikon has managed to achieve one of the smallest APS-C mirrorless cameras on the market. Although, it would be good if there was an option to add an electronic viewfinder for those who prefer the old-school way of shooting. 

The button layout has been well thought out, the record button is larger and more prominently placed than other Nikon models. But another thing vloggers, in particular, will be happy with is that when shooting video, a red border and a tally lamp is visible on the screen, so you know that you’re getting the footage you want. The video/stills toggle switch is also more prominently displayed, so switching between the two modes couldn’t be easier. Likewise, the DISP button will activate the menu for each setting. 

The back also has the usual suspects, including the menu, playback, delete, zoom, and AE.L/AF-L buttons. There is also an I button which will bring up a customisable menu.

The top of the camera houses the mode button, which includes three user presets, ideal for customising your camera to your most used settings. 

There is no headphone jack, but the onboard stereo mic provides decent sound quality. When it comes to ports, there’s a full-sized HDMI, USB-C and micro-USB port.

Overall, it’s a nice camera to handle and use, with easy access to menus and settings. It doesn’t feel as plasticky as other cameras at the same price point. One letdown is that it isn’t weatherproof. If you’re taking it out in light rain, then you’ll have no issues, but anything more than a few spots, and you’ll need to protect it.

Nikon Z30 review: features

Nikon Z30 review: features

(Image credit: Rachael Phillips )

The Nikon Z30 shows its firm commitment to those who want to create video content with this camera. So offering 4K video isn’t the most surprising thing in a modern-day camera, but the Nikon Z30 does it exceptionally well because it’s taken from the full sensor meaning there’s no crop. It can also record up to 120 minutes of footage, although that does depend on your storage card. 

It also benefits from continuous autofocus and face detection, which for vloggers is a huge must as you can present to the camera whilst moving around and still be in perfect focus. 

Whilst the lack of a viewfinder is a downside, the 3-inch, vari-angle screen is a joy to use. If you turn it towards the front, it automatically flips into selfie mode, so you will focus and track your face and movements perfectly. 

Despite being a camera that is aimed towards the video crowd, it takes pretty good still images too, offering up a 20.9 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. Combined with the 209-point hybrid AF system and 11fps maximum shooting rate, you’ll get a good range of images. 

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are included in this model of camera as well as a built-in microphone so good news for anyone who wants to use it for live streaming as it can be powered while recording. 

Nikon Z30 review: photo performance

Nikon Z30 review: photo performance

(Image credit: Rachael Phillips )

Put simply, the Nikon Z30 can create quality photos that your smartphone can’t compete with. The images from this model are bright, and vibrant and show incredible details. Even with the basic 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens kit, it came up with some stunning images. 

It’s not an action camera, if you’re trying to capture your dog bouncing around the garden, then even with the 11fps burst speeds, you may find that you’ll have to do quite a few rounds. But it’s not awful, the auto-focus is quick and, on the whole, works well. 

This model also works well in the dark. Whilst you won’t get the perfect shot, the camera will detect the light levels and switch to the low light autofocus mode. Although, autofocus does take a bit longer to kick in when the light is low. 

Exposure also felt accurate whilst using this camera, if anything, images tended to come out darker rather than too light, which is easier to edit later, so that’s not an issue. Even at high ISOs, these images came out crisp and sharp. 

Nikon Z30 review: video performance

Nikon Z30 review: video performance

(Image credit: Rachael Phillips )

As I’ve mentioned, this camera is made for video, and you get the same vibrant colours and detailing as with still images. The vari-angle screen makes this a great choice for vloggers who want to do straight-to-camera pieces. This camera doesn’t feature image stabilisation, but it does feature electronic vibration reduction, so you may find the edges shake a little when filming and walking around. This could be easily remedied by using a tripod or a gimble and turning off the VR options. 

One thing I really love about this camera is that you can set photo and video colour profiles, the colour profiles can also be kept separate, so if you prefer a different style for your videos, then it’s just a simple tap to get what you like. 

The built-in mic also performs well, it is very sensitive but produces great audio. However, there is an option for an external mic to be fitted, and that will level up the sound quality straight away. 

Nikon Z30 review: battery

Nikon Z30 review: battery

(Image credit: Rachael Phillips )

The battery life is pretty decent. It won’t blow you away, but you get around 400 shots or 80 minutes of video from a single charge. It uses a rechargeable EN-EL25 lithium-ion battery, which can be charged via the USB-C cable in the box, but there’s no separate dedicated charger. You can also use this camera while charging, including when live streaming, so it’s ideal for vloggers who like to go live and have the best quality. 

Nikon Z30 review: pricing

Nikon Z30 review: pricing

(Image credit: Rachael Phillips )

The Z30 is Nikon’s most affordable mirrorless camera to date. Even with kit options, it’s still exceptional value. The body only costs £599 and you can buy the body with a Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens for £699. There is also a vlogger kit which is the body, 16-50mm VR Lens, SmallRig tripod grip and wind muff for just £789 which isn’t bad for someone who wants to take their video content creation to the next level. 

Should you buy the Nikon Z30?

Nikon Z30 review: should you buy it?

(Image credit: Rachael Phillips )

If you’re a self-shooter who wants to make plenty of video content but also want the benefit of taking stunning stills, then yes, you should definitely get this camera. Even if you just want a really good compact camera that will help you grow your photography skills, the Nikon Z30 is an excellent choice. The 20.9MP APS-C sensor combined with 4K video will give you exceptional images and video every single time. 

Whilst this camera may be missing the viewfinder and built-in flash, it really doesn’t make much of a difference when the 3-inch display and exceptional performance in low-light kicks in. 

There’s nothing much to dislike about this camera. It’s compact, really nice to handle and produces stunning images time after time. 

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The Verdict
9

out of 10

Nikon Z 30

The Nikon Z30 is aimed at content creators who want a decent-quality camera at a reasonable price point. This camera is capable of 4K 30p recording without cropping, works exceptionally well in low light and has strong auto-focus performance. The Nikon Z30 is the perfect choice for vloggers who want to document their daily life or travel adventures as it’s lightweight, easy to use, has a good quality flip-out touchscreen and is perfect for any skill level. It is a camera that puts video first, so vloggers will love it, but it still takes pretty good photographs too.

Craft writer Rachael Phillips has written for The Evening Standard, The Independent, Fit&Well, The Radar, T3, and TopTenReviews. She also writes on many other subjects, including lifestyle, travel, food, internet culture and eco-living for online and print publications.