Introduction

Product pictures: Dan Bracaglia

Late final 12 months, Nikon introduced the Z7 II, the second iteration of its (for now) vary topping high-resolution full-frame mirrorless digicam. Because the title implies, it is a refinement moderately than a reimagining; and whereas the updates could not knock your socks off, we actually loved the unique Z7 and this new mannequin builds on an already profitable system.

The Z7 II nonetheless has a 45.7MP full-frame BSI sensor, however it’s now backed up by twin processors in comparison with the one processor in its predecessor. The outside of the digicam is basically unchanged, which is okay by us: Nikon’s Z-series cameras supply a few of our favourite ergonomics on the mirrorless digicam market. Blessedly, although (particularly for these of us that average on-line remark sections), Nikon has included twin card slots within the Z7 II for customers that want quick backup or wish to simply separate their nonetheless photographs and video clips. See? One thing good got here out of 2020 in any case.

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 200 | 1/160 sec | F2.8 | Tailored Nikon AF-S 70-200mm F2.8E
Photograph by Barney Britton

Key specs:

  • 45.7MP BSI-CMOS sensor with native ISO 64
  • 4K/60p video with 93% protection of the sensor (a ~1.08x crop)
  • 5-axis in-body stabilization (3-axis with tailored F-mount lenses)
  • 10 fps burst taking pictures with single-point AF
  • 3.69M-dot EVF, 3.2″ 2.1M-dot rear display
  • -3EV focusing with F2.Zero lens
  • 1 CFExpress / XQD card slot, 1 UHS-II SD card slot
  • New EN-EL15c battery, CIPA rated to 420 pictures (LCD), 360 pictures (EVF)
  • Suitable with new MB-N11 battery grip with vertical controls

The Z7 II, being the high-resolution mannequin in Nikon’s mirrorless lineup, is all about outright picture high quality. It stays one of many solely cameras in the marketplace that gives a low native ISO of 64: this helps maximize dynamic vary for high-contrast scenes like sundown or dawn landscapes.

The Z7 II is priced at $2999 body-only or $3599 kitted with a 24-70mm F4 lens. The brand new MB-N11 battery grip with duplicate vertical controls will value you $399.


What’s new and the way it compares

Ask, and ye shall (typically) obtain: The Z7 II now has one SD card slot and one CFExpress / XQD card slot. All management factors proven are equivalent to these on the unique Z7.

The large story within the Z7 II (should you do not rely the brand new card slot) is its twin Expeed 6 processors – so what precisely do these offer you?

To start out with, the Z7 II is a extra credible motion digicam than its predecessor. Its burst velocity tops out at 10 fps with steady autofocus as a substitute of 9 fps (albeit with a single AF space, and never topic monitoring), and the buffer is as much as 3 times deeper, providing you with a complete of 77 12-bit Uncooked photographs earlier than slowing down. Serving to you observe the motion is a claimed discount in blackout within the viewfinder, which is welcome, although we’d have appreciated to see a lift in EVF decision as effectively. Possibly subsequent time.

Autofocus modes

New AF modes have additionally been added and are accessible in the primary and ‘i‘ menus. They embrace the addition of face / eye detection within the ‘Huge space AF’ mode as a substitute of simply ‘Auto Space AF’; this implies you may place an AF field over an individual’s face to inform the digicam to give attention to that individual particular person’s eyes, which is very useful if there are a number of individuals in a scene. An equal mode is out there that prioritizes animals.

The brand new processors additionally permit the digicam to focus in gentle as little as -3EV with a lens at F2 (and you may nonetheless push this even decrease for static topics by enabling the ‘Low Gentle AF’ function).

Video and different updates

For video, the Z7 II is moderately extra competent than its predecessor, and now contains 4K/60p seize with a slight (1.08x) crop. It can additionally output 10-bit N-Log or HDR (HLG) footage to a suitable exterior recorder, and you may output Uncooked video in 1080p should you’re utilizing the complete sensor and 4K should you’re utilizing a cropped APS-C sized area. We would count on good video high quality, however hardcore video shooters ought to set their sights on the Z6 II and its oversampled 4K video which ought to supply a lot better high quality element.

And naturally, there’s these twin card slots. One helps CFExpress (Kind B) and XQD playing cards, and the opposite is a UHS-II suitable SD slot. The Z7 II additionally features a new EN-EL15c battery, which boosts battery life to a CIPA-rated 420 pictures utilizing the rear LCD with vitality saving modes disabled. In response to buyer suggestions, the Z7 II is suitable with a brand new MB-N11 vertical grip, which permits for the usage of two batteries and has portrait-orientation controls built-in. Lastly, from an influence administration standpoint, now you can energy the digicam over its USB-C port, in addition to cost it.

Lastly, we’re happy to see that Nikon has added help for firmware updates over Wi-Fi by means of its SnapBridge app. It will make it simpler for on a regular basis customers to get probably the most out of their cameras, as Nikon has been diligent about updating its digicam up to now with new features and options.

In comparison with…

Let’s check out how the Nikon Z7 II stacks up in opposition to another stabilized, full-frame cameras in the marketplace. Of specific observe is simply how aggressive the Z7 II’s MSRP is true at launch.

Nikon Z7 II Canon EOS R5 Sony a7R IV Panasonic Lumix S1R
MSRP (physique) $2999 $3899 $3500 $3699
Sensor res. 45.6MP 45MP 61MP 47MP
Picture stab. 5 stops Eight stops 5.5 stops 6 stops
LCD kind Tilting Totally articulating Tilting Two-way tilting
LCD measurement/res 3.2″ / 2.1M-dot 3.2″ / 2.1M-dot 3″ 1.44M-dot 3.2″ 2.1M-dot
EVF res / magazine
(equiv.)
3.69M-dot
0.8x
5.76M-dot
0.76x
5.76M-dot
0.78x
5.76M-dot
0.78x
Burst w/AF 10 fps (single AF space solely) 12 fps / 20 fps mech/
e-shutter
10 fps 6 fps
Video res. 4K/60p
(1.08x crop)
8K/30p 4K/30p 4K/60p
(1.09x crop)
Mic / headphone socket Sure / Sure Sure / Sure Sure / Sure Sure / Sure
Battery life (rear LCD) 420/360 pictures 320/220 pictures 670/530 pictures 380/360 pictures
Weight 675g (23.8oz) 738g (26oz) 665g (23.5oz) 898g (31.7oz)

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Physique and dealing with

Put the Z7 II subsequent to the unique Z7 and you would be hard-pressed to inform the distinction between them. Certainly, the one variations of any consequence are the marginally taller reminiscence card door to accommodate the twin slots and the small ‘II’ on the entrance plate.

However we’re not going to complain an excessive amount of, as a result of we actually did not discover a lot fault with how the unique Z7 dealt with. And you’ll count on the identical expertise from the Z7 II: a deep, very comfy grip, well-placed buttons and management dials, an simply readable high show and a satisfyingly ‘clicky’ mode dial.

Okay, however we’ll nitpick a bit simply because we are able to. Being the high-res, stills-focused digicam within the vary, the Z7 II would not essentially profit from a totally articulating mechanism that video shooters want, however a ‘two-way tilting’ design resembling that discovered on the Fujifilm X-T3 and Panasonic S1R would have been welcome. And although the entrance two perform buttons are well-placed, a few of us on employees discover them a bit ‘mushy’.

Apart from that, although, the Z7 II feels extremely stable within the hand and is a supremely comfy digicam to carry and use for prolonged intervals of time. The touchscreen interface is responsive, and it is simple to modify between stills and video rapidly. The arrival of a brand new battery grip with duplicate controls (!) will make for a extra comfy expertise to be used with bigger lenses, just like the Z 70-200mm F2.Eight and tailored F-mount telephotos.

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Picture high quality

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 450 | 1/50 sec | F9 | Nikon Z 24-70mm F2.Eight S
Photograph by Barney Britton

The Nikon Z7 II’s 45MP sensor is unchanged from its predecessor, and that is simply high quality by us: picture high quality is completely excellent in a broad vary of eventualities, and Uncooked recordsdata are eminently versatile. In recordsdata from the unique Z7, we did see some minor banding within the deepest shadows, however Nikon seems to have cleared that up with the brand new mannequin.

Our take a look at scene is designed to simulate quite a lot of textures, colours and element varieties you will encounter in the actual world. It additionally has two illumination modes to emulate the results of various lighting situations.

By way of Uncooked element seize, the Z7 II places up a very sturdy displaying in opposition to its competitors. The Canon EOS R5 appears to be like only a bit softer than the others right here, however that is probably as a result of a weak anti-aliasing filter, however that is of little sensible influence apart from saving you a while with the moiré instrument in submit. We discover that 45MP is loads of decision for nearly any function; although, after all, the Sony and Panasonic give you extra decision of their pixel shift modes assuming your photographic topics are static sufficient to benefit from them.

On the highest ISO values, the Nikon Z7 II pulls forward of Panasonic handily with respect to noise ranges, outstrips the Canon EOS R5 by a hair and appears to be just about neck-and-neck with the Sony a7R IV. However actually, all cameras look stable on the extra practical ISO values that you just would possibly contemplate taking pictures at.

Onto the JPEGs, we discover the general colour palette from these cameras to be wonderful however the Nikon’s yellows look to be only a bit richer and golden, and the greens a tad hotter (we expect these are good issues). The marginally extra magenta pink patch might influence caucasian pores and skin tones, although. JPEG element is likewise good, although the Sony (with its decision benefit, admittedly) appears to be like a bit higher because the Nikon is utilizing clumsier, larger-radius sharpening that does not reveal high quality element as effectively. As ISO values climb, the Nikon and Canon depart behind much less luminance noise than the Sony and Panasonic but in addition retain much less low-contrast element.

Dynamic vary

As we talked about, the Z7 II’s sensor is actually the identical as its predecessor; it makes use of a dual-gain design to reduce learn noise above ISO 320, so that top ISO settings have decrease visible noise. In consequence, the ISO 100 and 200 settings (under the upper acquire step which might decrease dynamic vary) are a bit of noisier within the shadows in comparison with increased ISO settings – above ISO 320 – utilizing the identical aperture and shutter velocity. The distinction is impressively small, although, and so the sensor is including actually low quantities of noise to the ultimate picture, even within the decrease acquire state used at low ISOs. This additionally means that you may save 4 stops of spotlight element by taking pictures at ISO 400 as a substitute of ISO 6400, with the identical publicity settings, and brighten selectively – whereas defending highlights – in submit. You will pay little to no further picture noise value in doing so.

Our customary Publicity latitude take a look at actually emphasizes how little noise the digicam itself is including to your photographs. Even should you cut back publicity considerably, which once more helps you seize further spotlight data, the Z7 II places up a very spectacular efficiency. We additionally do not see any of the banding that would typically happen within the very deepest shadows with the unique Z7 when exposures had been pushed.

A key factor to notice is that ISO 64 mode permits digicam to seize extra gentle earlier than clipping than its rivals can. This, mixed with the very low noise efficiency seen above, means the Z7 II can seize photographs with cleaner tones, all the best way down into the deepest shadows. And, now the banding within the darkest tones has been resolved, this offers it an edge when it comes to tonal high quality and processing flexibility in conditions the place it is sensible to make use of ISO 64.

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Autofocus

The Z7 II’s autofocus system is a match for that of the Z6 II, which in flip is a continuation of the enhancements launched through the lifespan of the previous fashions.

The main change is that the human and animal detection options are actually constructed into variants of the ‘wide-area’ and ‘auto-area’ AF space modes. This implies they do not need to be chosen from a separate i-menu possibility, and they are often simply accessed when you have one of many digicam’s buttons set to ‘Focus mode/AF space mode.’

The supply of a Huge-Space AF (L-people) mode gives a technique to predetermine the place within the body you need the digicam to search for its topic, which gives a technique to pre-select which particular person the digicam goes to give attention to. On the earlier Z fashions you had to make use of ‘auto-area’ mode, that means you needed to wait to see who the digicam targeted on, earlier than with the ability to choose a special topic if required.

Sadly, not like the newest Canon and Sony AF techniques, human and animal detection system separate modes from the digicam’s topic monitoring perform. Because of this you need to make the choice whether or not to make use of a easy AF space, topic monitoring or face/eye detection, after which choose the suitable mode.

AF efficiency

Face/Eye detection autofocus efficiency examined utilizing firmware v1.10

Usually we have discovered that the Z7 II’s autofocus system is excellent, however not up there with the easiest of its friends. Face and eye detection work effectively, efficiently discovering topics even after they’re fairly distant, although the Z7 II’s increased decision makes it a bit of clearer that the digicam is focusing a fraction in entrance of the iris than was obvious with the Z6 II.

Topic monitoring is, once more, good, however not fairly on the identical stage as one of the best in its class. It’s higher at monitoring a definite, shifting topic than it’s at sticking to the half of a bigger topic that you’ve got pointed the digicam at. This implies topic monitoring would not at all times work as a method of exactly putting your AF level, as a substitute for shifting it with the joystick. We additionally encountered occasional cases the place the digicam would try and refocus, even when ‘monitoring’ a static topic.

We carried out our customary AF assessments, first checking the digicam’s capacity to refocus on an approaching topic (the digicam turned in a 100% hit charge on this situation), then asking the digicam to determine a weaving topic and select an acceptable AF level, seen under. These assessments had been shot utilizing the Nikkor Z 70-200mm F2.Eight VR S.

The Z7 II seems to have had little problem in figuring out and following the topic across the scene however, as with many cameras, it’s going to often barely misjudge the main target distance as the speed of the rider’s strategy adjustments. The Z7 II would not supply any settings to regulate the responsiveness of the autofocus (solely the way it responds within the occasion of an impediment showing between the digicam and the topic).

Total the autofocus on the Z7 II is excellent. In a few respects it falls behind the easiest of its friends but when in contrast with most older cameras, notably DSLRs, it is capable of focus very successfully with minimal want for person enter. It isn’t essentially going to supply flawless efficiency for sports activities taking pictures however for panorama, studio or portrait work, it is greater than adequate. The implementation, which requires you to alter out and in of various space modes for several types of topic, is not as slick as Canon and Sony have grow to be however it’s hardly ever too onerous.

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Video

The Z7 II is a much less video-focused digicam than the Z6 II however nonetheless gives some fairly aggressive specs. The Z7 II additionally does a very good job of letting you specify completely different parameters to stills and video modes, together with publicity values, white steadiness, colour mode and even ‘i’ menu configuration. This implies it may be set as much as permit fast jumps backwards and forwards between modes with out carrying inappropriate settings from stills to video or vice versa.

With its increased pixel rely, the Z7 II is not capable of learn out its entire sensor rapidly sufficient to create its video output, and as a substitute seems to skip some traces and solely use the rest. The impact is video that is rather less detailed, with increased danger of moiré and extra noise in low gentle, because the entire sensor is not getting used.

The digicam’s 4K 60p footage seems to be skipping much more traces, which can exaggerate every of those shortcomings. Nonetheless, it does at the very least imply that you may seize 60p footage with out having to crop too far in, so you may nonetheless shoot wide-angle video. If you’re keen to crop in, the Z7 II’s APS-C (Tremendous35/DX format) video is a contact extra detailed. This makes use of all of the pixels in a 5.5K sensor area however nonetheless comes up quick when seen side-by-side with the Sony a7R IV in a comparable mode. The additional draw back is that the noise efficiency will likely be that of an APS-C digicam, and it is more durable to seek out wide-angle lenses for the cropped area.

This can be a fairly respectable end result for a high-resolution digicam however, should you’re taking pictures quick clips (and needn’t use the digicam between these clips), the Canon EOS R5 is able to producing extremely detailed 4K footage from its 8K seize.

There’s additionally a paid improve possibility to permit Uncooked video to be output from the digicam. This will now be encoded both as ProRes RAW or Blackmagic Uncooked, relying on which model of exterior recorder you connect. The newest firmware ensures the ensuing recordsdata are appropriate for Uncooked-level modifying of white steadiness and ‘ISO’ while you get them to edit.

Sadly, we have not had entry to a digicam with the Uncooked improve utilized, so have been unable to check this function.

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Conclusion

What we like… What we do not…
  • Wonderful picture high quality and dynamic vary
  • ISO 64 can provide IQ benefit over friends
  • Good video high quality and options for such a excessive decision digicam
  • Wonderful ergonomics with well-placed controls
  • Efficient in-body picture stabilization
  • First rate battery life and a few backward compatibility
  • USB charging and separate charger included
  • Twin card slots present flexibility
  • Auto shutter mode avoids the necessity to manually change in several conditions
  • SD, XQD and CFexpress compatibility
  • Viewfinder is detailed
  • AF options not as effectively built-in as in its rivals
  • AF monitoring not as reliable as finest techniques
  • Eye AF nonetheless seems to fractionally front-focus
  • Battery life lags behind its friends
  • Tilting display not as versatile as two-way tilt or totally articulated
  • Non-matched card slots calls for buy of a number of codecs
  • Viewfinder is not as excessive decision as one of the best of its friends
  • Requires exterior recorder for finest video high quality (10-bit Log or Uncooked)

The Nikon Z7 II could seem like a comparatively refined refresh of the unique Z7 however the enhancements which were made, such because the second card slot, the choice so as to add vertical management grip, and boosted AF efficiency will all improve its enchantment to the sort of photographers it is geared toward.

We had been impressed by how polished Nikon’s first era of full-frame mirrorless cameras had been, so it is no shock that the Z7 II works effectively. It is responsive in its operation and, although we might like to see the reintroduction of Nikon’s mixed AF change/AF mode button, gives an expertise that Nikon DSLR customers will quick really feel at dwelling with. There is a good diploma of customization with out it being essential to utterly reprogram its operation.

The principle shortcomings (they usually’re solely actually shortcomings compared to some very succesful opposition) relate to autofocus. The tendency for Eye AF to barely front-focus and the topic monitoring’s behavior of focusing someplace on the topic you chose, moderately than monitoring that exact level are the one actual grumbles when it comes to efficiency.

Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 | ISO 64 | 1/640 sec | F6.3
Processed in Adobe Digicam Uncooked. Straightened, whites raised, highlights lowered. One dust-spot cloned-out with heal instrument.
Photograph: Richard Butler

Extra of a difficulty is the best way AF space modes, face detection and topic monitoring work together. Each Canon and Sony have monitoring modes that can use face/eye/particular person focus as wanted, whereas on the Z7 II, you will have to cycle between modes and interact and disengage features to get probably the most out of the digicam. Most photographers will discover a technique to make it work for the topics they shoot, however it’s not as slick because it may very well be and it may eat into valuable customized button availability.

The remainder of the cameras’ ergonomics stay amongst our favourite of the present full-frame mirrorless choices.

Out-of-camera JPEG
Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 | ISO 90 | 1/160 sec | F2.8
Photograph: Richard Butler

The most effective information is that it maintains the picture high quality the unique digicam. We have seen advances in different features of digicam efficiency because the authentic Z7 was launched however, notably in circumstances the place you should use its ISO 64 mode, there have not been many who beat it when it comes to IQ.

The Nikon Z7 II is just not a leading edge digicam and it would not have many thrilling new options to dazzle with, however it’s massively competent, very usable and noticeably inexpensive than its friends. It is arduous to think about anybody being disillusioned with the Z7 II, which earns a stable Silver award. It solely misses out on a Gold by the tiniest margin as a result of it would not notably exceed the degrees set by one of the best of its friends, and is behind when it comes to autofocus.

The way it compares to its friends

The Sony a7R IV is a really credible competitor to the Z7 II, providing a lift in decision for an elevated price ticket. The a7R IV’s autofocus is faster and simpler to make use of, and gives larger precision, in our expertise. It additionally gives considerably higher battery life and a extra detailed viewfinder. Nonetheless, the Nikon gives a greater video taking pictures expertise and arguably higher ergonomics. Lens selection might be probably the most important think about deciding between the 2.

The Canon EOS R5 is a considerably costlier digicam than the Nikon, and delivers a efficiency increase in return. Once more, the Canon’s AF interface is moderately less complicated than that of the Z7 II and its efficiency a bit of higher. The Canon can even shoot sooner, has a better decision viewfinder and may seize really excellent-looking 8K and 4K footage. Nonetheless its battery life is noticeably worse, and it is not capable of shoot its finest video for prolonged intervals, particularly within the midst of heavy photographic utilization, making it much less reliable than you’d hope. At ISO 64 the Nikon has the sting when it comes to picture high quality.

Lastly, the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R guarantees a lot of what the Nikon does, for a bit of extra money. It is both way more substantial or just extra cumbersome, relying in your perspective. It gives a multi-shot high-res mode made extra sensible by its movement correction possibility. The S1R gives a nicer viewfinder and extra versatile display than the Nikon however its autofocus interface and the in-viewfinder flutter whereas utilizing it leaves the Panasonic a bit of behind. It shares the mis-matched card slots of the Nikon, however in the long run, the noticeably decrease battery life leaves us preferring the Nikon in most conditions.

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Nikon Z7 II pattern galleries

Please don’t reproduce any of those photographs with out prior permission (see our copyright web page).

DPReview pattern gallery

DPReview TV pattern gallery

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Nikon Z7 II scoring

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

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