Introducing Second-Gen Nikon Z 6II and Z 7II Mirrorless Cameras10/14/2020
After such a strong freshman effort, Nikon is back with the sophomore release of the Z 6II and Z 7II full-frame mirrorless cameras. Recognizing the initial strengths, the second generation of these foundation cameras for Nikon focuses on improving and evolving an already strong feature set and design language. Faster processing, quicker shooting rates, and fine-tuned design elements are all featured with these v. II models, yet they also retain the same beloved ergonomics and image quality.
When the original Z 6 and Z 7 were released nearly two years ago, they were groundbreaking cameras that effectively signaled Nikon's commitment to mirrorless. They were the first full-frame, or FX-format, mirrorless models in Nikon's lineup and they were the first two models featuring the then-new Z lens mount. Nikon has since added a couple more Z-system models, but the Z 6 and Z 7 have stayed the course as the top-of-the-line models, until today.
These second-gen cameras, much like the first gen, are mostly similar but have a couple of distinguishing features to suit different types of shooters. The Z 6II is the all-around, multimedia model positioned for the photographer/videographer/do-it-allographer. It has a full-frame 24.5MP BSI CMOS sensor that places it in the proverbial sweet spot for speed and resolution, and has a sensitivity range of ISO 100-51200. Dual EXPEED 6 image processors bring a 3.3x larger buffer than the original Z 6, for recording up to 124 consecutive frames versus the 37 frames of the old model, along with a faster 14 fps continuous shooting rate with single-point AF or 12 fps with other AF modes.
In terms of video recording, UHD 4K at 30 fps with full pixel readout is supported immediately, with 60p support coming via a future update. External 10-bit recording is available, too, along with N-Log and HLG (HDR) recording modes, and an optional firmware update will be available in the future to add 12-bit raw recording via an Atomos recorder. The Z 6II's sensor also incorporates 273 on-chip phase-detect focusing points that cover approximately 90% of the frame.
The Z 7II, on the other hand, is the more specialized model of the two, due to its higher-resolution 45.7MP BSI CMOS sensor, which lacks an optical low-pass filter for higher sharpness and definition. Dual EXPEED 6 processors are featured here, too, which afford a 2.2x larger buffer than the original Z 7, an impressive 10 fps continuous shooting rate, and a versatile ISO 64-25600 sensitivity range.
Despite the higher resolution, the Z 7II is still a capable video camera, with immediate support for UHD 4K up to 60 fps, along with 10-bit external recording, N-Log, and HLG support. Additionally, the sensor includes 493 phase-detection AF points that also cover approximately 90% of the frame for high accuracy.
Differences aside, the similarities between the two cameras are numerous and impressive. With both cameras now touting dual image processors, Nikon claims the 3.6m-dot OLED EVFs have greatly reduced blackout times and more fluid motion rendering. Like the predecessors, the cameras have a 3.2" 2.1m-dot tilting touchscreen, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity enable wireless remote control and image transferring, as well as firmware updating via Snapbridge. In-body 5-axis image stabilization is featured again for sharper handheld shooting, and low-light AF performance has been improved with sensitivity down to -4.5 EV.
One change that's sure to make everyone happy is a new dual memory card slot design, including one CFexpress Type B slot and one UHS-II SD slot, for flexible storage needs.
Some other notable updates for gen II: the cameras support full-time external power via USB Type-C and allow you to change the direction of the manual focus ring; Wide-Area AF has been added with Eye Detect support; timed long exposures up to 900 seconds are possible; and creative recording modes, such as slow motion FHD 120p video, multiple exposure stills, Focus Shift mode, and in-camera time-lapse recording, help extend the range of possible uses.
What are your thoughts on the second-generation Nikon Z 6II and Z 7II mirrorless cameras? What's your favorite new feature from these cameras? What would you like to see Nikon add to the next iteration? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.
If you are looking for more information, check out a recording of our launch even below. This launch panel featured B&H experts Derek Fahsbender and Robert Sansivero, Nikon product manager Mark Cruz, and professional photographers Joe McNally and Charmi Pena. They covered top features of the cameras, why they like the new cameras, and answer some common questions—so be sure to check it out.