Introduction

Product pictures: Dan Bracaglia

The Nikon Z6 II is an up to date model of the corporate’s 24MP multimedia full-frame mirrorless digital camera. It positive factors extra processing energy so as to add improved autofocus and some different tweaks to an already well-rounded characteristic set.

Key specs

  • 24MP full-frame BSI-CMOS sensor
  • Steady capturing at as much as 14 fps (in 12-bit Uncooked with single AF level)
  • Full-sensor UHD 4K video at as much as 30p
  • UHD 60p from an APS-C crop promised in future firmware replace
  • Two card slots (1x CFexpress/XQD, 1x UHS-II SD)
  • 3.69M-dot EVF with improved blackout occasions
  • Tilting 2.1M-dot learn touchscreen
  • USB-C socket for recharging or powering the digital camera
  • Battery ranking of 410 (LCD) and 340 (EVF) pictures per cost
  • Connectors to permit battery grip with portrait orientation controls

The Z6 II launched on the similar worth as its predecessor, with a beneficial promoting worth of $1999 body-only or $2599 with the Z 24-70mm F4 S lens. It’s out there now.



What’s new and the way it compares

The addition of a second card slot will probably be welcomed by some photographers.

The Z6 II is a refined refresh of the present Z6, extending the capabilities somewhat, however providing a largely comparable, well-rounded stills and video characteristic set. By way of {hardware}, the principle distinction is that the mark II positive factors a second Expeed 6 processor, with many of the efficiency and have enhancements stemming from this extra processing energy.

Autofocus

Nikon says the autofocus efficiency has been incrementally improved over the unique Z6, however essentially the most notable characteristic change is the addition of face and eye detection (each human and animal) to the broad space AF mode. Beforehand these options had been solely out there in ‘Auto’ space AF, which means the digital camera determined the place to focus. By including them to broad space, you’ll be able to narrow-down the area wherein that digital camera hunts for faces, providing you with a method of pre-selecting the face you want to concentrate on.

Nikon says autofocus now works in mild
as little as -4.5EV

The variants of Broad Space AF with human and animal face/eye AF have been added to the listing of AF modes accessible from the ‘i‘ fast menu, which means you do not have to individually interact these features.

Nikon says the focusing system now works in mild as little as -4.5EV (a one cease enchancment, and the equal of moonlight someplace between gibbous and quarter), when utilizing an F2.Zero or quicker lens. And that is with out utilizing the low mild AF mode, which extends AF to mild ranges an additional two stops decrease, on the expense of longer acquisition pace.

Taking pictures price

The Z6 II’s most burst pace tops out at a formidable 14 frames per second, however provided that you utilize a single AF level and also you’re prepared to shoot JPEGs or take the slight dynamic vary hit of capturing 12-bit Raws. If you would like the digital camera to decide on an AF level or monitor a topic, it shoots at a nonetheless very respectable 12 frames per second.

Video

The (paid) Uncooked improve will enable an output that an Atomos recorder can encode as ProRes RAW or, after February 2021, a Blackmagic Video Help to encode as Blackmagic Uncooked.

The Z6 II builds on the Z6’s already fairly robust video characteristic set, with the promise of UHD 4K 60p assist in a free firmware replace due in February 2021. This greater price footage will come from an APS-C crop of the sensor, and can solely be out there for inside seize.

As well as, the digital camera’s video output choices have been expanded, with the mark II capable of output 10-bit HLG HDR footage, along with N-Log, to an exterior recorder. An elective paid improve permits a 12-bit line-skipped 4K Uncooked stream might be despatched to an exterior recorder to be encoded as ProRes Uncooked or, after a February 2021 firmware replace, as Blackmagic Uncooked.

Line-skipping means much less element, extra noise at greater ISOs and better threat of moirĂ©. You achieve extra flexibility within the footage however ProRes Uncooked and Nikon has stated it’s going to embed the required metadata to allow you to use the White Steadiness or ‘ISO’ adjustment instruments in Last Reduce Professional.

Viewfinder

The viewfinder within the Z6 II is identical 3.68M-dot OLED as within the unique mannequin (and the Z7/II). Nikon factors out that the optics and coatings are of its personal design and says it is decreased each the refresh lag and the blackout time between pictures. Nonetheless, the corporate hasn’t put a quantity on both enchancment.

In comparison with…

Regardless of being a comparatively refined replace, the Z6 II stays broadly aggressive with different cameras with launch costs round $2000. The Canon EOS R6 is the outlier: priced at a better stage however providing higher specs (although it could’t at all times ship the complete promise of its video capabilities).

We have not included the Sony a7C right here, because it appears extra targeted on compactness than being an fanatic’s important digital camera, however its specs are just like the Sony a7 III’s, simply with out the AF joystick.

Nikon Z6 II Canon EOS R6 Panasonic S5 Sony a7 III
MSRP (physique) $1999 $2499 $1999 $1999
Pixel rely 24MP 20MP 24MP 24MP
Sensor tech BSI-CMOS CMOS CMOS BSI-CMOS
AF system On-sensor PDAF

Twin Pixel
(On-sensor PDAF)

Depth from Defocus
(Distinction Detection-based)
On-sensor PDAF
Picture stabilization 5-axis 5-axis + sync with lens IS 5-axis + sync with lens IS 5-axis
CIPA ranking As much as 5EV As much as 8EV As much as 6.5EV As much as 5EV
Most body price 12 fps
(14 fps*)
12 fps mech shutter
20 fps digital

7 fps (AF-S)
5 fps (AF-C)

10 fps
Flash Sync pace 1/200 sec 1/250 sec** 1/250 sec 1/250 sec
Excessive Res mode No No Sure No
Viewfinder
res / magazine
3.68M dots
/ 0.80x
3.68M dots
/ 0.76x
2.36M dots / 0.74x 2.36M dots / 0.78x
Rear display 2.1M-dot tilting touchscreen 1.62M-dot totally articulated touchscreen 1.84M-dot totally articulated touchscreen 921k-dot tilting touchscreen
AF joystick Sure Sure Sure Sure
Prime-plate settings show Sure No No No
Video seize UHD 4K 30p
(full sensor)
UHD 4K 60p
(1.5x Crop)***
UHD 4K 60p
(1.05x crop)
UHD 4K 30p
(full sensor)
UHD 4K 60p
(1.5x Crop)
UHD 4K 24p
(full sensor)
UHD 4K 30p
(1.2x Crop)
Log/HDR modes

N-Log
HLG
10-bit (HDMI)

C-Log
HDR PQ
10-bit Inner

V-Log/V-Gamut
HLG
10-bit Inner
S-Log2 / 3 / HLG
8-bit Inner
Reminiscence playing cards 1x CFexpress B
1x SD (UHS-II)
Twin UHS-II SD 1x UHS-II SD
1x UHS-I SD
1x UHS-II SD
1x UHS-I SD
Battery life (CIPA) LCD/EVF 410 / 340 510 / 380 440 / 470 710 / 610
USB-charging Sure Sure Sure Sure
Dimensions 134 x 101 x 68 mm 138 x 98 x 88 mm 133 x 97 x 82 mm 127 x 96 x 74 mm
Weight (CIPA) 675 g 680 g 714 g 650 g

* When capturing 12-bit Uncooked utilizing a single AF level
** In digital first-curtain mode: 1/200th with mechanical shutter
*** Promised in Feb 2021 f/w replace

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Physique and dealing with

The digital camera’s ergonomics are primarily the identical as the unique Z6, which is an efficient factor.

The physique and dealing with of the Z6 II is mainly the identical as its predecessor, which implies it stays a solidly constructed digital camera with a cushty grip. The weather-sealed physique is primarily constructed from magnesium alloy, offering steadiness of weight and solidity.

The grip itself is snug and the entrance and rear dials very properly positioned in order that they’re readily accessible whenever you’re holding the digital camera. There are two customizable Fn buttons subsequent to the lens mount, which might be configured independently or set to carry out paired features (equivalent to aperture open and shut throughout video seize).

Viewfinder and screens

Though the spec of the Z6 II’s viewfinder is not significantly stellar by 2020 requirements, the digital camera does at the very least use its decision to its full potential (there are rival cameras with excessive dot-count finders that then drive the display at decrease resolutions). We have not been capable of shoot a lot sports activities to check the EVF refresh price, although Nikon says that in comparison with the unique Z6 there’s much less blackout whenever you take a shot.

The rear display can be unchanged, which means it has an honest decision however solely a tilt up/down design. We discover we desire the two-axis screens utilized by the likes of the Fujifilm X-T3 for stills or a totally articulated display for video.

Menus and interface

The digital camera’s menus are in line with most Nikon cameras made over the past decade or so. This implies the menus are fairly dense with choices however the important thing ‘Customs Settings’ part is properly organized and color-coded, which makes it simple to navigate. A My Menu tab might be configured with both your most popular choices or an inventory of your most lately used choices.

By way of the consumer interface, the principle change is the addition of Broad Space + face detect and Broad Space + animal detect to the ‘i‘ fast menu, which means you can extra shortly interact human face or animal face detection as a part of your AF mode choice.

Battery

The Z6 II comes with the newest EN-EL15c battery. It is a 20% higher-capacity model of the 15b that got here with the earlier mannequin. The digital camera is suitable with earlier EN-EL15 batteries however will carry out significantly better with the newer variations. USB-charging is barely out there with the sort b and c items.

The digital camera is rated as delivering 410 pictures per cost when you use the rear LCD and 340 pictures per cost when you use the viewfinder. As at all times, these rankings are primarily based on very difficult utilization, and it is not unusual to get at the very least twice as many pictures per cost in follow, relying on how you utilize the digital camera. We are likely to discover a ranking of round 400 is adequate for a day’s dedicated capturing or a weekend of pretty energetic images, however not sufficient for one thing as photographically intense as a marriage with out charging and carrying spares.

In the event you want greater than this, you may energy the digital camera over its USB-C socket or add the MB-N11 battery grip, which gives area for a second, hot-swappable, battery.

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Picture high quality

Our check scene is designed to simulate quite a lot of textures, colours and element varieties you may encounter in the actual world. It additionally has two illumination modes to see the impact of various lighting circumstances.

The Z6 II’s picture high quality is indistinguishable from that of its predecessor, together with at in low mild, at excessive ISO settings. That is to say the Uncooked information have loads of element (with the Z 85mm F1.Eight showing a contact sharper than the Z 50mm F1.Eight used on the older digital camera), and noise ranges are akin to its friends.

JPEG shade seems good, with heat, wealthy yellows and greens. Pinks lean a fraction in direction of magenta, moderately than the orange that produces such pleasing skin-tones in Canon’s rendering, but it surely’s much less noticeable than with Sony and Panasonic. The digital camera’s sharpening is a contact extra crude than its rivals: the Canon R6 is displaying finer element regardless of its decrease pixel rely, and the Sony a7 III pulls out extra refined element from its very comparable sensor. Noise discount is fairly good however blurs edges somewhat greater than the competitors, which implies decrease obvious element.

The digital camera has an ‘Auto’ shutter mode that makes use of digital first curtain at shutter speeds the place shutter shake may seem, then makes use of the mechanical shutter to each begin and finish the publicity for very quick exposures. The prevents the glitch that digital first curtain shutters exhibit with vivid lenses at quick shutter speeds, that causes a part of the bokeh circle to get chopped-off.

Dynamic vary

Like its predecessor, the Z6 II makes use of a twin achieve sensor, which means that prime ISO settings have decrease noise. As such the low ISO settings (the place the upper achieve step would minimize into dynamic vary) are inherently somewhat noisier. The distinction is not enormous, although: even within the low-gain mode the sensor is including little or no noise to the picture. It additionally signifies that, as a substitute of utilizing a really excessive ISO setting, if you wish to defend highlights, you should utilize the excessive ISO publicity however preserve the digital camera at ISO 800, the place the upper achieve is used: there’s little-to-no noise profit to growing it above that time.

There is no signal of the AF banding that might seem within the deep shadows of its predecessor

Our Publicity Latitude check emphasizes how little noise the digital camera’s sensor and electronics are including. Even when you cut back publicity considerably, to seize further spotlight data, the Z6’s photographs are at the very least as clear as any of its friends. And there isn’t any signal of the AF banding that might seem within the very (very) deep shadows of its predecessor.

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Autofocus

Autofocus efficiency and usefulness has develop into one of many key areas of distinction between the newest mirrorless cameras, and the Z6 II is robust in each respects, however nonetheless somewhat behind the very best in its class.

Autofocus interface

The Z6 II gives a sequence of AF space modes, from the tiny contrast-detection ‘Pinpoint AF’ area (AF-S solely) as much as the ‘Auto Space’ mode that selects a topic from anyplace within the body.

Individuals or Animal detection can be found as variants of Broad-L and Auto Space modes. You may restrict which AF space modes are accessible if you wish to make mode choice faster.

As a substitute of the human and animal detection modes being a separate setting, they’re now accessed as variants of the Auto Space and Broad-Space AF (L) space modes. This implies you should utilize the ‘Broad Space AF (Massive – Individuals)’ mode to pick the place within the body the digital camera ought to focus and search for a face, so it is attainable inform the digital camera to concentrate on a particular particular person or concentrate on a non-human topic, with out threat of it getting distracted by different faces within the scene. You may must preserve the field over your topic in the event that they transfer too far, although.

It is necessary to vary your AF mode to fit your topic, moderately than the digital camera robotically doing so, as rivals do.

Topic monitoring mode is activated with a button-press from the Auto Space modes. It provides you a spotlight field that then tracks a topic whenever you half-press the shutter button. That is distinct from face detection: you may both use face detection or the topic monitoring mode to comply with your topic however, in contrast to a few of its rivals, the digital camera will not make the most of face and eye detection if the topic you ask it to trace is human.

This makes it extra necessary to vary your AF mode to fit your topic: moderately than the digital camera robotically utilizing its full capabilities on no matter you level it at, as Sony and Canon’s newest programs will. Sadly, the Z6 II doesn’t have the choice to assign completely different AF space modes to customized buttons, as its DSLRs did.

AF Perfomance

We carried out our customary AF assessments, first checking the digital camera’s means to refocus on an approaching topic, then asking the digital camera to establish a weaving topic and select an applicable AF level, too. These assessments had been shot utilizing the Nikkor Z 70-200mm F2.Eight VR S.

6 7 8

Shot 12 is likely one of the most importantly mis-focused photographs of the ~500 pictures we took in topic monitoring mode. As well as, whereas this monitoring efficiency seems just like that of the unique Z6, we have discovered the mark II appears higher at fixing on a topic when you set the main focus topic and recompose, the place the older digital camera would generally drift off your meant topic.

By way of monitoring individuals, the Z6 II does job of utilizing eye detection, face detection or simply staying targeted in roughly the identical area, in case your topic appears to be like away. However, maybe as a result of human detection and topic monitoring cannot work collectively, the Auto Space mode will generally discover a extra compelling topic in case your meant goal is not recognizable for some time.

Eye detection appears improved over the unique Z6, with the digital camera focusing nearer to the pupil moderately than eyelashes in most situations.
Nikkor 85mm F1.8 | ISO 100 | 1/640 sec | F1.8

By way of Eye AF, we nonetheless discover the digital camera will often concentrate on the eyelashes as a substitute of the attention itself and, like most programs, does not decide focus fairly as properly when the topic is sporting glasses. Total, although, we discovered Eye AF to be essentially the most dependable method of getting excellent outcomes (moderately than pinpoint AF or handbook focus).

Video AF

AF in video works very equally to that in stills, each by way of operation and efficiency, which is one thing not all its friends handle. We have discovered the monitoring to be very reliable (extra so than the unique Z6), with an honest quantity of management over AF pace and willingness to re-focus. In quiet conditions the stepper motors utilized in most Z lenses threat contributing a tiny little bit of ‘chatter’ to the internally captured audio, and there might be occasional overshoot because the digital camera refocuses, however for all however essentially the most demanding work, it is one of the vital dependable video AF programs.

AF Abstract

Finally, you may count on the Z6 II to carry out properly in all kinds of conditions. In the event you’re used to the conduct of an older digital camera, the AF is prone to appear glorious. However there are rivals which are that bit extra reliable and that make the entire course of easier.

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Video

The Z6 II is a fairly adept video digital camera. Nikon says it’s going to add a Tremendous 35 (APS-C) 4K/60p video mode that can convey it broadly into line with the specs of its 24MP friends. Nonetheless, in contrast to the Canon EOS R6 and Panasonic Lumix S5, the Z6 II is unable to report 10-bit footage internally and as a substitute requires an exterior recorder for Log, HDR or Uncooked seize.

In its favor, although is an clever separation of stills and video settings. Out of the field the digital camera will use completely different publicity settings for each modes, however in virtually each different regard, you get to decide on whether or not video mode ought to take its settings from stills mode or use its personal, distinct values. This implies you may simply leap throughout and use the identical white steadiness, if you want, or use a preset worth for video that will not then mess up your stills.

Add to this a fairly succesful video AF mode, that works extra equally to stills mode than a lot of its friends, and you’ve got a digital camera that makes it simple to shoot informal clips or shoot prime quality stills and video back-to-back.

By way of video high quality, the Z6 II is a match for its predecessor, with extremely detailed 4K footage however moderately much less spectacular, moderately moirĂ©-prone 1080, at as much as 120p. We’ll have to attend till a firmware replace promised in 2021 to see how its APS-C 4K/60p will examine with the R6’s full-frame model.

By way of rolling shutter, we measured a price of 22ms for each 4K/24 and 30p, which is significantly better than the Canon EOS R6 and akin to the equally sensored Panasonic S5 (and S1H, for that matter). That is a good distance in need of the 10-15ms figures we get with extra video targeted cameras equivalent to Panasonic’s GH cameras or the Sony a7S III.

The digital camera’s Uncooked video stream is sub-sampled: skipping pixels to ship 4K output from its 6K sensor, however we’ll take a look at that in additional element in a separate article.

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Conclusion

What we like What we do not
  • Glorious picture high quality
  • Compact physique with well-designed ergonomics and loads of management factors
  • Robust video options
  • Strong AF efficiency in a spread of conditions
  • Constant expertise and efficiency in video AF
  • Good construct high quality
  • Auto shutter mode avoids shutter shock or bokeh truncation
  • USB charging and operation
  • Exterior battery charger is offered
  • AF options not as properly built-in into consumer interface as the very best of its friends
  • AF can hunt when making massive shifts in focus distance
  • Battery life is middling
  • 10-bit Log or HLG video requires exterior recorder
  • Uncooked video output is sub-sampled, decreasing high quality
  • Some menu sections turning into lengthy with inadequate navigation cues

The Z6 II is a particularly succesful digital camera that can assist the photographer in virtually any state of affairs you throw it into. It is snug to make use of, takes nice images, has a extremely efficient AF system and can be utilized to seize excellent video footage.

It is not an enormous step ahead from the unique Z6 however the means so as to add a battery grip with vertical controls, and the addition of a second card slot solely assist to increase its already broad-ranging means. With these adjustments and the assorted small enhancements we have seen, we are able to suggest the Z6 II for every thing from household images to weddings and sports activities capturing.

The Z6 II is a particularly succesful digital camera that can assist the photographer in virtually any state of affairs

Nonetheless, whereas it does very properly in most regards, it is noticeable that there are cameras that supply comparable AF efficiency with much less want to modify modes, and others that supply extra versatile 10-bit video footage with out the necessity of an exterior recorder, for instance. The occasional faint chattering of the Z-series lens motors and the split-second searching that precedes a giant change in focus distance function reminders that ‘excellent’ is the minimal required simply to stay aggressive in 2020.

The Z6 II’s ergonomics are very good, the menus are usually properly organized and, AF foibles apart, it is a very pleasant digital camera to shoot with. Battery life may impinge in your expertise on lengthy shoots or throughout prolonged intervals of video seize, however usually it is a straightforward digital camera to reside with. Even the Bluetooth/Wi-Fi system works fairly easily as soon as you’ve got set it up.

It is a digital camera very a lot price contemplating, however one that does not stand out from its rivals in any specific respect. This breadth of functionality takes the Z6 II past the likes of the D750 and D780 (two of the very best DSLRs ever made, after they had been launched), however towards competitors that is simply nearly as good, it does not dazzle to the diploma mandatory to realize our Gold award.

In comparison with its friends:

Canon EOS R6: it is hardly a shock to search out that Nikon’s most urgent competitors comes from Canon. The R6 is costlier and gives fewer direct management factors than the Z6 II, however gives an easier AF expertise, spectacular picture stabilization, 10-bit inside video, bigger space 4K/60 seize and the selection of some quick, quiet-focusing Nano USM lenses. However the Nikon’s video remains to be excellent and reveals much less rolling shutter, the AF efficiency is broadly comparable, and the vary of F1.Eight primes could also be extra interesting than Canon’s moderately unique preliminary choices. Your particular person wants or ergonomic preferences are prone to swing this choice greater than both digital camera being decisively higher.

Sony a7 III: the Sony gives a wider vary of lenses and considerably higher battery life, however does not have the newest AF refinements that will assist it stand out from the Z6 II. The Nikon has a nicer viewfinder, higher video autofocus and ergonomics that we total desire. The very comparable Sony a7C gives a dimension benefit over the Nikon however we desire the Z6 II except you really want that additional portability.

Panasonic S5: there are plenty of similarities between the Z6 II and the Panasonic S5, by way of worth, characteristic set and sensor efficiency. The large distinction is AF efficiency, with the S5 falling behind, significantly by way of video autofocus. Which is unlucky, because the S5’s video characteristic set is the stronger of the 2, particularly when used with Panasonic’s co-operative lens+physique IS system. However as an all-rounder, the Nikon can be our decide.


Pattern photographs

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Nikon Z6 II scoring

Scoring is relative solely to the opposite cameras in the identical class. Click on right here to study concerning the adjustments to our scoring system and what these numbers imply.

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