The new Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II are here, will they fulfill your wildest dreams? Or are they a massive fail? Let’s find out.
Here are the highlights.
Opening statement – the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7 were already the best cameras in their class for the price even today. Nikon has mostly just added some quality of life improvements here as well as a few new groundbreaking features.
Upgrades To Both Cameras
Focus stacking. You still have to combine the images with software, but you can set the camera to focus stack.
Built-In Timelapse. This will keep the RAW files for you but also render you out a video in-camera.
Dual Card Slots – and XQD/CFexpress and SD UHS-II card. No backup while recording video.
Capable of using a vertical grip
Expanded Eye AF to work in AF Wide mode and in video. So basically it works like Sony and Fujifilm in that regard.
No 10-bit internal video on either camera . . . unfortunately.
4k60p is going to be available in a DX crop but with a Feb 2021 firmware on the Z6. On the A7 it’s 4k60 at 1.08x crop.
USB power delivery while the camera is in use.
Better AF in low light.
Same EVF but improved blackout times and lag.
You can reverse the manual focus ring direction now. – Finally!
No update to IBIS.
No fully articulating screen – Thank the Gods! Those things are annoying. I have two cameras with them. Sometimes they are nice but mostly I really do not like them. You’re always fiddling with them, twisting them around, adjusting them and it’s hell. This is the main reason I did not buy the X-T4 and why I probably won’t jump in the Canon R5 or R6. I want to shoot photos, not spend my life adjusting and twisting a screen constantly. ps. I shoot off the screen a lot because I have an eye condition so I have to wear toric contact lenses, and closing one eye always makes them get unstabilized, so I don’t use the EVF as much these days. I’m also 6’3″ so if I shoot with the EVF I’m aiming down at pretty much everyone unless I squat like an idiot.
In the Z 6II
Price: $2,000 – Pre-Order B&H
They’ve upgraded the 12fps mechanical shutter to 14fps. Previously on the Z6 you could only get 14-bit Lossless compressed in 9fps, at 12fps it would drop down to 12-bit. This is a new record but I don’t at what rate it drops you to 12-bit or if you can stay in 14-bit the whole time.
5x bigger buffer.
4k60 1.5x crop
In the Z 7II
Price: $3,000 – Pre-Order B&H
They’ve upgraded the mechanical shutter from 9fps to 10fps.
3.3x bigger buffer.
4k60 1.08x crop. But no information on the overall process. Oversampled, binned, line skipped?
External ProRes RAW video does 1080p with the full sensor only or 4k with the DX crop.
What People Will Complain About
No internal H.265 or 10-bit 4:2:2 – Unfortunately, you need a new processor for this with that functionality integrated. All they did was add a second processor with the same specs. They will likely never be able to add this with firmware either. At the price of the Z6 and how much cheaper it is than the Canon R6, this might not be a problem. Nobody has been complaining about it with the Sony A7c, in fact, everyone is calling it a filmmaker beast, even though it can’t even do 10-bit out as the Z6 can.
No flippy screen – This is a pretty awful trend right now. My least favorite trend to date. Look they’re fine but they make the camera extremely high maintenance if you shoot off the screen a lot as I do. Videographers should just get a small external monitor or mirror if they want to see themselves. I use Ninja V.
4k60p on the Z6 II with the 1.5x crop. This is pretty standard, except the Canon R6 can do it full frame. All you have to say here is “buy the Z7 II.” The Z7 II only has a 1.08x crop on the 4k60.
It doesn’t look like there is a real-time eye/face + tracking mode like all the other cameras have.
Notes About The Competition
The contenders here are the Canon R6 / R5, the Sony A7III / A7c / A7rIII or A7rIV depending on how much money you want to spend. I shoot Sony and Canon also, but don’t shoot much with Panasonic so won’t include them.
None of the Sony cameras shoot 10-bit internal ( except the A7sIII which is a very expensive 12MP video camera ), and they also don’t even offer 10-bit external. The Nikon Z6 offers 10-bit external, hlg, N-Log, and 12-bit ProResRAW. The A7III and A7c do not have record limits and the A7c has a flippy screen which is nice for people that shoot long videos.
The Sony A7rIV has a 61MP sensor but is also more expensive and doesn’t offer 4k60 as the Z7 does. None of the competitive Sony cameras also have touch screen interfaces and the A7III ($2000) and A7c ($1800) rear screens are only 3″ with a 900k-dot resolution. Compared to 3.2″ 2m-dot resolution on the Nikons. It’s 1.5m-dot on the A7rIV but still only 3.0″.
Sony cameras also cannot shoot lossless compressed and if you shoot compressed when bursting they drop to 12-bit. The Z6 will maintain 14-bit with lossless compressed at 9fps. I’m not sure if the Z9 II improves here.
The Canon R6 and R5 are both more expensive than the Z6II and Z7II respectively. The Canon R5 has fake video specs that won’t work for most people – according to some. Although I think the 8k would be great for sports shooters and all you really need is a few seconds of 120p, to be fair. The R5 is pretty incredible in my opinion and you can shoot DX crop at 4k without any heat limits. My Z6 overheats a lot when shooting 1080p60 in DX crop. The R5 costs are $900 more than the Z7 II.
The R6 shoots 10-bit internally but with an IPB codec only but you do get full frame 4k60. Its costs are $500 more than the Z6. The IPB codec is probably fine with the bitrate they give you especially since H.265 is incredibly efficient, but it’s something people often complain about.
Considering the prices, the Nikon Z6II and Z7II smoke the Sony cameras, although the A7c is a bit less expensive so you can forgive some of the weaker specs like the single cards slot and terrible EVF. The A7III is no longer a contender.
Compared to Canons, the Nikons are mostly inferior with video specs and the EVF but the Z6 II and Z7 II are quite a bit cheaper.
The main thing to think about between Canon and Nikon is what kind of lenses you want. They both take a completely different approach to their design philosophy here.
Sony has a lot of great lenses, but keep in mind a lot of the third-party and even older Sony lenses cannot compete in autofocus with the new Nikon and Canon lenses.
Nikon Z6 II / Z7 II Final Thoughts
Overall the cameras look nice. I was hoping for a little more like 10-bit internal and I really would have liked H.265, but at the same time, I was assuming they would be more expensive. At the current price, those shortcomings are pretty forgiving. I can’t justify upgrading to a Z6II from my Z6, but that Z7II looks very tempting. I’ve been waiting for some time to move away from Sony A7rIII as my landscape camera and the Z7 II might just be it. Nothing against the A7rIII it was Sony’s best camera for the time, and my all-time favorite Sony camera, but none of the Sony landscape lenses or zoom lenses have really appealed to me and I really want that NIKKOR 14-24mm f2.8, the 24-70mm f4, and hopefully they make a 70-200mm f4 soon.