The day has arrived! Nikon has released official details and final specifications for its latest flagship DSLR: the D6. We received bits and pieces when the D6 was first revealed, late last year, but now we know everything. Topping the list of new features are an exceptionally powerful autofocus system, superior image quality, and enhanced connectivity. Joining the D6 in today’s launch are two full-frame lenses for the Z Series: the NIKKOR Z 20mm f/1.8 S and NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR. Both are welcome additions to Nikon’s continuously growing mirrorless system.
D6: The Result of 20+ Years of Flagship DSLR Development
In September 1999, Nikon launched the D1. It was a flagship digital SLR camera. Film was still dominant then and it would take a lot to convince shooters they could rely on this newfangled device. Fortunately, the camera was developed under the guidance of Nikon’s top minds, and the D1 was a definitive success. It was also, perhaps, the camera that sped up the push into the digital age. Within five years of its release, digital camera sales surpassed that of film cameras and now, more than 20 years later, we are still using some of the same concepts first seen in the D1, such as raw file formats. Even with some features sticking with us for so long, it’s encouraging to see that innovation hasn’t stopped at Nikon, because the D6 brings some solid refinements and a few new capabilities to the DSLR series.
As a camera series beloved by sports and action photographers, it is only fitting that the D6 boasts Nikon’s most advanced autofocus system to date. It is a 105-point all-cross-type AF system with a redesigned focus point layout and a triple-sensor arrangement that allows each focus point to provide coverage that is 1.6x greater than the D5. This should allow it to track subjects accurately and quickly in a wide range of shooting environments. Also, low-light performance of the system has gotten a boost, with it now able to function at down to -4.5 EV with the center point. Combine this with a 14 fps continuous shooting rate and a 180k-pixel RGB sensor for Advanced Scene Recognition, and the D6 will deliver nearly unmatched performance. It even becomes the first DSLR to be able to track and follow an individual’s eyes for even more precise focusing on individuals.
Going back to the basics of all digital cameras, the D6 has a solid imaging pipeline. The core is a 20.8MP FX-format CMOS sensor and the EXPEED 6 image processor. This latest generation has further enhanced image quality in low-light conditions and the sensitivity range can be set natively from ISO 100-102400 or expanded to ISO 50-3280000. Photographers can work nearly anywhere.
The system is fast, allowing for 14 fps continuous shooting for up to 200 frames. For silent shooting, live view and an electronic shutter can operate at up to 10.5 fps. Also, the camera can capture stunning video in up to UHD 4K at 30p or Full HD at 60p. This same tech enables the recording of 2MP stills at 60 fps or 8MP images at 30 fps. Supporting this data throughput are dual CFexpress (Type B)/XQD card slots. Of course, this speed isn’t everything. The D6 is a solid camera because it is built to withstand the most demanding conditions. Professional-grade weather sealing, a shutter rated to 400,000 cycles, and illuminated buttons complete the package. An updated EN-EL18c Battery Pack even provides longer shooting times.
Workflow has been enhanced, as well, with the D6. This includes a 1000BASE-T LAN connection that is 15% faster than the D5. Also, wireless connections are supported natively in either 2.4 or 5 GHz bands, and the WT-6A/B/C Wireless Transmitter can boost wireless performance. And, as the latest flagship DSLR, Nikon has equipped the D6 with all the latest functions and features. This includes multiple exposures, creative filters, focus stacking, and even Kensington lock compatibility.
The D6 is truly a complete, refined package for professional photographers.
A Pair of Lenses for Full-Frame Mirrorless
The D1 was an early sign of a paradigm shift in cameras, telling everyone that the digital platform could compete with and beat film. We might want to consider Nikon’s other release for today as a potential indicator for the current camera industry: mirrorless systems are getting serious. The D6 still maintains that DSLRs are the go-to choice for professionals in need of an ultra-reliable and durable camera system that can do it all, but mirrorless seems to be catching up quickly. The engineers and execs at Nikon must see this themselves, which is why we now have the NIKKOR Z 20mm f/1.8 S and NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lenses.
These aren’t quite surprises; Nikon has published a roadmap announcing that these focal lengths are on their way for the Z Series. The NIKKOR Z 20mm f/1.8 S is a continuation of its line of compact, high-performing primes. We have an amazing f/1.8 prime series for Nikon DSLRs, so it is only fitting that mirrorless gets its own complete set. The 20mm is now the widest prime for the system and, as an S-Line lens, promises to deliver incredible resolution and performance.
Wide angle and a fast aperture make the 20mm f/1.8 quite versatile. Photographers can easily find a use for it with landscapes, astrophotography, architecture, reportage, and a great deal more. It also features specialized elements to combat aberrations of all types, and has a Nano Crystal Coat and Super Integrated Coating to minimize flare and reflections. Another valuable feature is an advanced focusing system that uses stepping motors for smooth, near-silent, and fast AF. The lens, just like all other lenses in the line, has a programmable control ring for quickly adjusting certain settings, such as manual focus or aperture, and it is dust- and moisture-resistant. It is a solid wide-angle release for Z shooters.
For something quite a bit different, we have the NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR Lens. This is an incredibly versatile zoom lens—and it’s designed for full-frame Z cameras! Going from wide-angle to telephoto is no small feat, though the overall size and weight of this lens is relatively small, given its range. A conservative f/4-6.3 aperture is one of the key reasons this lens can remain compact while maintaining excellent image quality. It can serve as the go-to all-around zoom for shooters looking to bring a single lens along for an evening outing or an entire vacation.
Don’t forget, just because the 24-200mm is a full-frame lens doesn’t mean it can’t be used on Nikon’s APS-C mirrorless cameras, such as the Z 50. The smaller sensor will give you an equivalent field of view of 36-300mm. A little less wide, but a good amount more telephoto.
The flagship D6 stole the show today, but Nikon’s mirrorless fans have plenty to enjoy in the 20mm and 24-200mm lenses. Have any questions? Concerns? Random thoughts? Leave them in the Comments section, below!