Nikon Z6 vs Z6 II

Tips & Techniques

With Nikon introducing its second-generation Z6 II camera, our readers might be wondering about what has changed between these two cameras. In this article, we will take a closer look at both generations of Z6 and see what has changed in terms of specifications. More in-depth information about the Z6 II will be provided in our future review of the camera.

Nikon Z6 vs Z6 II

Nikon Z6 and Z6 II Specifications Comparison

Both Z6 and Z6 II are targeted as general-purpose mirrorless stills cameras, thanks to their 24 MP sensor, fast continuous shooting speeds, and a robust hybrid autofocus system. However, when it comes to movie shooting capabilities, these cameras shine for serious videography needs as well, especially with their ability to be updated to shoot in 10-bit RAW video format (via a paid firmware upgrade). Nikon refined the Z6 II in many ways, so let’s see what has actually changed:

Camera Feature Nikon Z6 Nikon Z6 II
Sensor Resolution 24.5 MP 24.5 MP
Low-Pass Filter Yes Yes
Sensor Type BSI CMOS BSI CMOS
Native ISO Sensitivity ISO 100-51,200 ISO 100-51,200
In-Body Image Stabilization Yes, 5-axis Yes, 5-axis
Sensor Size 35.9 x 24.0mm 35.9 x 24.0mm
Image Size 6048 x 4024 6048 x 4024
Image Processor EXPEED 6 Dual EXPEED 6
EVF Type / Resolution QVGA / 3.6 Million Dots QVGA / 3.6 Million Dots
EVF Coverage 100% 100%
EVF Improved Refresh Rate No Yes
EVF Improved Viewfinder Blackout No Yes
Viewfinder Magnification 0.8x 0.8x
Built-in Flash No No
Flash Sync Speed 1/200s 1/200s
Storage Media 1x CFe / XQD 1x CFe / XQD + 1x SD UHS II
Continuous Shooting Speed 12 FPS 14 FPS
Camera Buffer (12-bit Lossless) 35 124
Max Shutter Speed 1/8000 1/8000
Min Shutter Speed 30 sec Up to 900 sec
Autofocus System Hybrid PDAF, 273 points Hybrid PDAF, 273 points
Low-Light Sensitivity -3.5 to +19 EV -4.5 to +19 EV
Eye AF in Wide Area AF No Yes
Eye AF in Video No Yes
Video Maximum Resolution 4K @ up to 30p, 1080p @ up to 120p 4K @ up to 60p, 1080p @ up to 120p
4K Video Crop 1.0 1.0 (30p), 1.5x (60p)
HDMI Out / N-LOG 4:2:2 10-bit HDMI Output / Yes 4:2:2 10-bit HDMI Output / Yes
HLG / HDR Out No Yes
Articulating, Touch LCD Yes, Tilting Yes, Tilting
LCD Size / Resolution 3.2″ / 2.1 Million Dots 3.2″ / 2.1 Million Dots
Wi-Fi / Bluetooth Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
Intervalometer + Timelapse Movie No Yes
Firmware Update via Snapbridge No Yes
Battery EN-EL15b EN-EL15c
Battery Life (CIPA) 310 shots 340 shots
Battery Life (Video) 85 min 100 min
Battery Grip MB-N10 MB-N11
Battery Grip Controls No Yes
Continuous External Power No Yes
USB Power + Transfer No Yes
Weather Sealed Body Yes Yes
USB Version Type-C 3.1 Type-C 3.1
Weight (Camera Body Only) 585g (20.7oz) 615g (21.7oz)
Dimensions 134 x 100.5 x 67.5mm (5.3 x 4.0 x 2.7″) 134 x 100.5 x 69.5mm (5.3 x 4.0 x 2.8″)
MSRP $1,999 (check price) $1,999 (check price)

While the two cameras look almost identical physically, most of the improvements on the Z6 II are delivered via hardware and firmware updates. First of all, the new Z6 II now comes with two EXPEED 6 processors, which improves many aspects of the camera, including its buffer, autofocus, and continuous shooting speed. The Nikon Z6 II is able to shoot up to 14 FPS vs 12 FPS on the Z6, but this is a small change compared to the buffer, which has increased significantly. When shooting in 12-bit lossless compressed RAW, the Z6 II is able to shoot up to 124 images, which is roughly 3.5x more than what the Z6 is capable of. This means that with a continuous shooting rate of 14 FPS, you should be able to shoot for almost 9 seconds before the buffer fills up – that’s a huge difference, considering that the Z6 slows down at a mere 3 seconds.

Second, the autofocus system has been improved quite a bit. The Nikon Z6 II has a low-light sensitivity range of -4.5 to 19 EV, which is one stop better than what the Z6 can do. This should make the Z6 II more accurate to focus with in very dark conditions. In addition, the Z6 II gains two new AF features – the ability to perform Eye autofocus in Wide Area AF mode, as well as when shooting videos.

The Nikon Z6 II is now able to shoot 4K up to 60 FPS, although it is limited to a 1.5x crop (1080p and lower resolutions remain unchanged). It is also capable of outputting HLG and HDR via its HDMI port, which the Z6 cannot.

Those who heavily criticized the original Nikon Z6 for its single memory card slot can now relax – the new Nikon Z6 II comes with dual memory card slots. The first slot is able to take both CFexpress and XQD memory cards, while the second slot can take both UHS-I and UHS-II compatible SD memory cards. As with all other high-end Nikon cameras, you can use the two types of media for different purposes – you can set the cards to overflow, back up, or save RAW files in one, while saving JPEG to the second card slot.

When it comes to firmware features, it is great that the Nikon Z6 II is able to shoot timelapses while being able to simultaneously create videos from the timelapse files – something I was personally looking forward to. Another firmware tweak is the ability to shoot up to 900 seconds without a remote (the Z6 is limited to 30 seconds). Speaking of firmware, the update process has been greatly simplified. You can now load firmware directly into the camera from the Snapbridge app on your smartphone without having to download a file to a memory card first, then loading it into the camera.

The new EN-EL15c battery delivers better capacity compared to EN-EL15b, and with the more efficient processing power of the camera, you are able to get more juice out of it. Although the number of still images when using the EVF has only gone up from 310 to 340 shots (per CIPA), shooting video continuously adds 15 minutes of extra power, which is great.

The new MB-N11 battery grip is nothing like the MB-N10 battery pack – it has real buttons and dials, as well as an extra USB Type-C port. Since the Z6 II has proper connections on the bottom of the camera, it is now capable of managing a real battery grip with controls! If you are wondering why a second USB Type-C port is needed, that’s because the camera can now be continuously powered via its USB port. This means that you can power up the camera through the USB Type-C port on the grip, while using the camera’s other port for things like file transfers. Even the USB Type-C port on the camera by itself is dual-purpose now according to Nikon, so you can simultaneously charge the camera while also running the camera as a webcam.

The addition of new hardware added a little to the total weight of the camera and made it 2mm thicker. It is a very minor change, which most Z6 shooters will probably never notice. In fact, the cameras look practically identical side-by-side, so if you shoot with both, you will probably need to look at the label on the front of the camera to see which one you are shooting with.

The Nikon Z6 II comes with other minor improvements, such as better EVF refresh rate and blackout, but Nikon has not yet provided any numbers for me to be able to quantify the differences.

Overall, it looks like the new Nikon Z6 II has a lot of great improvements to offer over its predecessor. I am looking forward to testing the Z6 II as soon as it becomes available.

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