When the Nikon Z system launched in 2018, it was with one adapter, two cameras, and three native lenses. Two years later, the system comprises six cameras, sixteen lenses (including the “f/2.8 professional trinity”), two teleconverters, and (of course) the FTZ adapter. Eight more native lenses are promised by the end of 2021. Considering the unique geometry of the Z-mount and the fact that the S-series lenses are actually held to higher standards than the F-mount “gold ring” lenses, it’s safe to say that even the most demanding photographer need not fear embracing a high-tech mirrorless solution from Nikon.
As with the original Z 6 and Z 7, the Z 6II is the better choice for shooters with a broad range of interests while the Z 7II is better for specialists who need extremely high resolution for commercial, wedding, or studio photography (for example). The Z 6II will be arriving in November and the Z 7II in December, but you can pre-order now at this link or at a Mike’s Camera near you!
There are three main differences between the two, with most of the upgrades of this generation applying to both cameras.
Z 6II vs. Z 7II—what’s the difference?
|Z 6II||Z 7II|
|24.5 MP BSI sensor||45.7 MP BSI sensor|
|273 AF points||493 AF points|
|100–51,200 native ISO||64–25,600 native ISO|
What’s new with both IIs?
Appropriately for generation two, both cameras now have dual EXPEED 6 processors and two card slots. You now have a choice to use UHS-II SD in one slot and/or an XQD or CFexpress card in the other. Those unable to work without the security of duplicate cards, rejoice!
Quite a few other features are enabled by the massive performance boost that comes with two processing units. For one, both cameras will be able to record 4K 60p 8-bit video in-camera* as well as 120 fps Full HD video for slow-motion shooting. Using an external recorder unlocks 10-bit HLG and N-Log shooting at launch, with 12-bit ProRes and Blackmagic RAW support for select recorders coming in early 2021 via a firmware update**. (Alternatively, one of the 20 built-in creative Picture Controls, which work on both stills and video, is a “flat” setting ideal for those who want to color grade after the shoot but don’t want to hook up an external recorder.)
*The Z 6II will be able to record 4K 30p internally out of the box, with 60p enabled by a firmware update at the beginning of 2021.
**This firmware update will also enable the same RAW output from the Z 6 and Z 7.
Action photographers can expect improved buffer performance, thanks also to the improved processing power: the Z 6II jumps from 37 to 124 shots (!) and the Z 7II improves from 23 to 77. Burst mode tops out at 10 fps for the Z 7II and 14 fps for the Z 6II—matching the fastest speed ever on a Nikon mechanical shutter, previously exclusive to the D6—with reduced EVF blackout time during shooting.
Perhaps most excitingly of all, autofocus performance gets a huge boost from those EXPEED processors (in both still and video modes). Eye detection has been added within the Wide Area AF mode, meaning that you can specify a rough area for the camera to monitor and stop worrying about other people in the frame stealing your shot’s focus. Compared to the Z 6 and Z 7, the II models’ AF systems will require only half of the light previously necessary to operate. You can even operate more efficiently yourself—the AF settings menu has been redesigned and is fully customizable so you can pare it down to the modes you actually use.
Nikon also claims that the EN-EL15c battery used in the Z 6II and Z 7II will actually outperform that of the Z 6 and Z 7, despite the increased power of the second generation cameras. Nice! That being said, there will also be a new, fully-featured battery grip available with a shutter button, command dials, a joystick, and more. The original battery-only grip will be compatible with the Z 6II and Z 7II, but the new one will not be compatible with the Z 6 and Z 7 as they lack the contacts to receive the new button input.
A few more upgrades and features of note
- Long-exposure maximum shutter length of 900 seconds
- USB-C charging
- Reversible focus ring direction for those used to other systems
- Firmware upgradable via SnapBridge mobile app
- 5-axis IBIS
- Multiple exposure modes in-camera
- Focus shift and timelapse modes in-camera, including the new ability to save both a timelapse video and individual interval images at the same time
- Pro-grade moisture and dust resistance