|Thanks to Techart, everything you see here plays pretty well together.|
Back in the summer of 2019, Techart released the TZE-01 adapter – an impressively thin metal ring that makes possible some previously unseen lens-camera combinations. It does this by way of an integrated circuit board that, with the aid of some reverse-engineering on Techart’s part, allows for a vast number of Sony lenses to function fully on compatible Nikon Z-mount camera bodies.
The adapter itself appears, at first, to be low on compromises, with the only concerns of note being a lack of compatibility with Samyang / Rokinon lenses and the inability to even mount the adapter on the Nikon Z50 and Z fc bodies. Unfortunately, we found some compatibility issues with a few other Nikon cameras in our testing (more on that later), but it worked swimmingly with a Nikon Z5, so that’s what we used for our test drive.
Design and handling
As you can see, the TZE-01 is thin. Really thin. Mount it onto a Nikon Z-series camera and you basically forget it’s there. The fitment is also tight enough that I found it difficult to mount to the camera first – it’s much easier to mount to your chosen lens first, and then mount the assembly onto the camera.
The only control of note on the adapter is the little metal tab you can see at the bottom of the above animated image – push down on that to depress a pin and unlock the lens. The tab feels less flimsy than it might appear in photos, and its small size is a blessing, in that you’re unlikely to press it unless you mean to (even if you’re using the front custom button on Nikon’s bodies, which are nearby).
Overall, it’s a really neat piece of design, and even with a relatively bulky Sony FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G lens mounted, the combination felt solid without noticeable flexing or creaking.
How well does it work?
If the design of the Techart TZE-01 can be summed up as ‘really thin,’ then it’s only fitting that a summary of its performance on a Nikon Z5 be similarly succinct: ‘really good.’
As noted at the outset, though, we had some compatibility issues. Nikon’s Z6 II and Z7 II refused to work with the adapter at all (the cameras interpret it as Nikon FTZ adapter in need of a firmware update). We also used it on an original Nikon Z7, and while it did function, focusing with every one of a variety of lenses that we had available was inconsistent, and the camera often went into ‘low-light focus’ mode despite bright shooting conditions.
It is possible that newer firmware from Techart might cure some of these ills, (updates are via an included USB dock), and we’ve reached out to Techart and will update this article as necessary when we receive a response.
|Out in the real world, the Techart TZE-01 performed admirably, if not flawlessly.|
Processed in Adobe Camera Raw 13 | ISO 100 | 1/500 sec | F2.8 | Sony FE 35mm F1.8 | Nikon Z5
But back to the Nikon Z5 – on that camera, the TZE-01 worked like a charm. What was most striking was the speed of focus: Sony’s FE 35mm F1.8 comes with faster AF motors than Nikon’s own Nikkor Z 35mm F1.8 S, and the difference is absolutely noticeable regardless of your AF settings.
I chiefly tested the adapter out in the real world with that FE 35mm F1.8 as well as Sony’s FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G, but a Tamron 28-75mm F2.8, Zeiss Batis 25mm F2 and Sigma 65mm F2 DG DN all focused well in more controlled testing in our studio. Note that aperture control rings, such as those on the Sigma and Sony’s G Master lenses don’t work with the TZE-01 – you have to use the command dial on the camera.
|It might not perform quite as reliably as Nikon’s own lenses mounted on a Nikon Z5 body, but overall performance was impressive.|
Processed in ACR 13 | ISO 200 | 1/640 sec | F5.6 | Sony FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G | Nikon Z5
Once I got the camera and lenses out to the lake for some shooting, I noticed some occasional foibles, though none was significant enough to dampen the novelty of using Sony lenses on a Nikon camera. I noticed some occasionally weird behavior as I was switching between AF-S, AF-C and MF on the camera – sometimes, in MF, the aperture blades would seem to get stuck in a stop-down, open-up loop. Switching to another AF mode or power-cycling the camera took care of it.
I found that Nikon’s AF tracking and Eye AF both work well in AF-S and AF-C, though you’ll likely see some ‘fluttering’ in AF-C where the lens will briefly lose focus, hunt around, and then reacquire it again. This fluttering is a bit more noticeable if you’re using Sony lenses with slower AF motors, but in the end, the camera is almost always able to regain focus if you just give it a bit of time.
|Processed in ACR 13 | ISO 125 | 1/640 sec | F5.6 | Sony FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G | Nikon Z5|
When shooting in AF-S, there were definitely moments where the camera would struggle and fail to acquire focus in situations that I wouldn’t expect any trouble with when using Nikon’s own lenses (this happened more frequently in very low light levels). A quick reframing or even twisting the manual focus ring to get the focus closer to where I wanted it would usually take care of the problem.
Things to be aware of
Techart’s own website claims that a good degree of reverse-engineering went into the TZE-01 – in looking through my images in Adobe Bridge, I found it interesting that every image showed as being taken with a Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.4 G (though, oddly, the correct focal length of whatever lens you’re using is separately recorded). Well, I guess we now know which lens the adapter is ‘spoofing’ in order to convince the camera to play nice.
|Processed in ACR 13 | ISO 100 | 1/200 sec | F2.8 | Sony FE 35mm F1.8 | Nikon Z5|
As such, if you pick up the TZE-01 for yourself, it’s probably best to disable all lens corrections on the camera if you intend on shooting JPEG. Otherwise, you’ll just get corrections intended for a 50mm F1.4 (which are – probably not coincidentally – pretty minimal) slapped onto everything you shoot. If you shoot Raw files, you’ll have no problem applying the correct lens corrections in post if you so desire.
In-camera corrections on
Correct profile chosen
You should also exercise some degree of caution in handling the adapter on its own. When sandwiched between camera and lens, it’s really solid – however, when not mounted, the delicate circuitry is decidedly exposed. We noticed that a portion of ours seemed to be coming slightly unglued, though if (and only if) you buy directly from Techart, the company claims you get a warranty.
|With the Techart TZE-01, it’s become easier than ever to confound your gear-nerd friends.|
On a Nikon Z5 at least, the Techart TZE-01 looks like a really solid piece of kit. Although I must assume the heads of engineering at Nikon would prefer it didn’t exist, the TZE-01 has made Nikon’s mirrorless bodies a lot more appealing to me. I know Nikon’s own Z lenses are, for the most part, stunning – but the fact remains that there are still some gaps in the lineup here and there.
Sure, there’s Nikon’s own FTZ adapter that promises even more reliable performance with DSLR-era AF-S designs than the Techart, but given the dimensions of Nikon’s F mount, it’s necessarily bulky. The Techart just makes for a more balanced handling experience as well as a more streamlined appearance, and Sony also makes a fair few more truly compact primes than Nikon does (at least for now).
|It took a few tries, but I eventually got precise focus for this image.|
ISO 1600 | 10 sec | F2.8 | Sony FE 35mm F1.8 | Nikon Z5
At $250, it’s true that the TZE-01 is a bit of a pricey proposition. But based on my experience using it on a Nikon Z5, I can’t say I’d have a problem paying for it if I had a Sony lens in mind that I wanted, and if I had an older Sony a7-series camera system, I’d absolutely grab one if I wanted to move over to a compatible Nikon camera without reinvesting in all new lenses.
But again, the elephant in the room has turned out to be camera compatibility. There are reports of the adapter working at least somewhat with the Z6 / Z7 II cameras, but the surest bet at this point would seem to be to pair it with the original Z6 and Z7 cameras and the Z5. We just have to hope that future firmware updates from Nikon won’t eliminate compatibility altogether, and that Techart is able to continue improving it on their end as well.
What we like:
- Extremely slim design
- Excellent lens compatibility
- Very solid fitment
- Included dock for firmware updates
What we don’t:
- Limited camera compatibility (Z50 isn’t supported and some users report spotty performance with Z6/7 II)
- Slightly less consistent focus performance than Nikon’s own lenses
- Exposed circuitry encourages cautious handling
- A bit pricey
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