The Nikon Z6 and Z7 II have been officially unveiled as the successors to Nikon’s original full – frame mirrorless cameras from 2018 – and while they may not be a big leap from the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7, a new addition has helped unlock some new capabilities.
For the first time, Nikon has packed dual Xpeed 6 processors into its new glassless flagships. It may not seem exciting, but the Nikon Z6 and Z7 II promise generous boost to their autofocus, buffer and video power.
If you are not familiar with the original Z series cameras (which are on sale), the Nikon Z6 is a 24.5 MB full-frame all-rounder that topped our best camera guide. The Nikon Z7, meanwhile, is a 45.7MP full-frame with the mirrorless looking benefit of DSLRs like the Nikon T850.
The Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II have the same rear-illumination sensors of those two original models, which may be good or bad news depending on your expectations. We definitely did not complain because both are one of the best full-frame sensors we have tested.
The real question is whether or not Nikon has added enough features to keep its full-frame glassless flagships out of the newer competition of the Canon EOS R5, Canon EOS R6 and Panasonic Lumix S5. Answer … possible.
Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II release date and price
The Nikon Z6 and Z7 II are not yet on sale date, Nikon tells us they will be available by the end of 2020. We will update this page as soon as we get a more accurate date.
In terms of price, the Nikon Z6 II will be priced at $ 1,999 / £ 1,999 / AU $ 3,499 (body only), while the body of the Nikon Z7 II will be priced at $ 2,999 / 2,999 (around AU $ 5,440).
This means that the Nikon Z6 II has almost the same release price as its Z6 predecessor, but the Z7 II is actually slightly cheaper than its predecessors. In 2018, the Z7 came in at $ 3,399.95 / £ 3,399 / AU $ 5,499 (body only), so it looks like Nikon is trying to make its high-resolution model a little more attractive to pro shooters.
Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II specifications and features
In addition to their new dual-speed processors, both cameras have six key differences from the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7.
First, Nikon says the Z6 II and Z7 II have “greatly improved” autofocus and tracking power, which now includes animal detection AF, which officially works on cats and dogs, but also on other animals such as bears and foxes.
In the paper, this sounds like a step back from the incredible Animal Eye AF (see our wildlife photographer’s thoughts on Canon’s Animal I AF) we recently saw on the Canon EOS R5, but we will wait to test it before passing judgment. Nikon claims that low light focus is also improved on the Z6 II and Z7 II – using an f / 2.0 lens, you can focus on the -6EV (or “foot moonlight”).
The second and third upgrades offered by those dual processors are higher burst shooting rates and deeper buffers. The Nikon Z6 II can shoot action shots at 14fps, with buffer depth of 112 sources (12-bit uncompressed) or 200 JPEGs. Since this is a high resolution camera, the Nikon Z7 II is a little more limited, but can still cut frames at 10fps, with the buffer running after 50 rows (12-bit compression) or 200 JPEG.
Limited buffers are one of our biggest reviews of their predecessors, so this is a bonus for sports and wildlife photographers – however the Z6 II and Z7 II lag behind the more expensive Canon EOS R6 in this front.
The fourth big change is that both the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II have two memory card slots. Their predecessors were widely banned for having only single slots, but one of the newer cameras is for CFexpress / XQD cards and the other for UHS-II SD cards.
This means you can either use a card, JPEG another card, or set up a backup in case your main card fails. We thought the single XQD card slot on the Nikon Z6 and Z7 was actually a relatively minor issue, but it was definitely a very versatile system.
Another bonus for versatility is that you can now charge the camera using the USB-C port. Another oversight of the Nikon Z7 and Z7 we are glad to see that this has been fixed.
Lastly, the Nikon Z6 and Z7 II bring enhanced video power, although with the former there is little caution. While the Z7 II can shoot 4K / 60p video out of the gate, the Nikon Z6 II will have to wait for a firmware update in February 2021 to get that mode. I hope that update is not delayed.
Speaking of firmware, both cameras have the long-awaited update, which allows the Apple Pros to shoot on Raw while recording on the compatible Automos external recorder. ProRASE format allows you to protect the entire data and all data from the sensor, but in smaller file sizes.
It can be recorded via HDMI and via HLG (Hybrid Lock Gamma) to a 10-bit external recorder, making it ideal for re-playing video on HDR displays.
Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II parts
Beyond the cameras, Nikon has also announced two new pro-level accessories. The new MB-N11 has a battery grip (£ 359, about $ 467 / AU $ 650) that includes a rear command bar, an AF-On rear button, a focus button and a joystick to select your AF point.
Like the existing MB-N10 grip, it also allows the batteries to warm up when you have no time or when shooting videos, so you do not have to pause shooting. Handy.
If you work a lot with wireless lighting, the new wireless remote is WR-11b (149, about $ 195 / AU $ 270), which allows you to create off-camera flash from a distance of 120 meters.
It also doubles as a long-distance wireless remote control for the camera, making it easy for wildlife snoopers. Another small addition to this theme is that the CH + (Continuous High Extended) mode of the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II will now be synced with Flash, which will increase the appeal for action sports photographers.
Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II: What’s missing?
They are all new features in the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II, but do they all offer it in our wishlist? They are certainly welcome, but lack some features.
Both the Z6 II and Z7 II have identical viewfinders (0.5-inch, 3.6 million dot EVF) and their predecessors with tilt-only screens. While the expensive Canon EOS R5 and Sony A7S III are overshadowed by EVFs, the former is even more competitive. But the lack of a contrasting touchscreen can put off looking for real video-stills hybrids because the camera can’t rotate the screen to face you while shooting.
Although their video specifications have been improved, both the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II are slightly inferior to full-frame competitors such as the Panasonic Lumix S5. Rather than having to rely on an external recorder like Nikon, that camera can shoot 10 bit video internally. However, it is good to see the arrival of 4K / 60p mode on both Z6 II and Z7 II, the former unfortunately will have to wait until the February 2021 firmware update to get it.
Lastly, there are no new announcements about Z-Series lenses, and the road map is the same as we saw in July 2020. Future announcements on that table include 24-105mm, 100-400mm and 200-600m lenses, but it looks like we’ll have to wait until late 2021 or 2021 to get more accurate details on those years.
What does this mean for the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7?
Since the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II are relatively minor upgrades, you may be wondering what will happen to the Nikon Z6 and Z7 prices. After all, since both cameras are now over two years old, they could turn out to be full-frame mirrorless bargains.
Right now, Nikon claims that the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7 will go on sale at future prices at current prices. But with the arrival of their shiny new heirs, it looks like some small discounts may be coming soon. We will definitely be rolling our eyes and let you know if we see any deals. Confirm our bookmark Agreements page Follow Decoder Agreements Ask about them first on Twitter.