We had to wait a little longer for the Nikon Z6 to arrive than we did for the Nikon Z7. Still, this camera may have the most widespread appeal of Nikon’s two full-frame mirrorless models, especially among photography enthusiasts.
The Nikon Z6 and Z7 share the same design and a pretty much identical spec sheet, but the two cameras have three significant differences. These differences include the resolution, the autofocus, and the burst shooting speed. Nikon is adopting a two-pronged strategy similar to Sony’s system when it launched the original Alpha A7R and A7.
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The Z6 is positioned as more of an all-around camera, in contrast to the Z7, which is Nikon’s high-resolution offering and features a sensor that is densely filled with 45.7 megapixels. Has Nikon, on the other hand, arrived at the party a little too late, considering Sony has already taken the lead thanks to the outstanding Alpha A7 III?
Nikon Z6 Features
While the Z7 has a resolution of 45.7 megapixels, the Nikon Z6 has a back-illuminated full-frame sensor with 24.5 megapixels. This sensor does not offer quite the same staggering resolving power as its sibling, but it does deliver a pixel count that should satisfy most users. As we just mentioned, the Z7 has a resolution of 45.7 megapixels.
This also implies that the native ISO range is somewhat enlarged, going from ISO100 to 51,200 (whereas the Z7’s native ISO range goes from 64-25,600); this can be raised to 50-204,800, matching the range of the Alpha A7 III.
As with the Z7, the Z6 is equipped with Nikon’s brand-new Z lens mount. With the release of its new full-frame mirrorless cameras, Nikon has abandoned its more traditional F lens mount.
The mount opening is 55 millimeters, 11 millimeters bigger than the F mount. However, the flange focal distance, which is the distance between the rear lens element and the sensor, is just 16 millimeters, which is relatively low.
Nikon believes that its lens engineers will be able to design optics that surpass current F-mount designs and make the most of the full-frame sensor due to the larger structure and shorter flange distance. This will allow light to easily reach the sensor’s extreme corners, ensuring that the brightness is consistent across the frame.
Nikon Z6 Build Quality
The design firm Italdesign is responsible for the aesthetic of some outstanding Nikon DSLR cameras, including the D4 and the D800. However, the Z6, which has a more realistic appearance, does not quite reach such heights.
As soon as you get your hands on a Z6, any concerns you might have had about how this would affect the way it handles are immediately put to rest. Because of the broad and comfortable handgrip, the camera can be held relatively quickly with one hand.
Those with larger hands may discover, similar to what we found with the Z7, that their little finger hangs just a touch off the bottom of the Z6, but this shouldn’t be too much of an issue for most people.
Even though the Z6 is smaller than a typical Nikon DSLR, the build quality has not been compromised in any way by Nikon’s design choices. Along with a comfy thumb rest and plenty of high-quality textured rubber around the grip and backplate, the Z6 also boasts magnesium alloy in its top, front, and back covers, much like the Z7.
The result is that the camera has a rather stiff feel, even though Nikon advertises that the Z6 has the same amount of weather-sealing as the D850. The culmination of these factors results in a highly robust camera and of high-quality construction.
The Z7 and Z6 are fundamentally distinct in terms of resolution and the speed at which they can take several shots in rapid succession. The Z7 can shoot at nine frames per second, while the Z6 can shoot at 12 frames per second, which is a little faster than the Alpha A7 III, which can only shoot at ten frames per second, and is on par with Nikon’s top D5 DSLR.
However, similar to what we experienced with the Z7, the buffer on the Nikon Z6 is relatively tiny; however, it should still be more than acceptable for most users. When we used a 64GB Sony XQD card with read and write rates of 400MB/s, we could shoot 12 frames per second with 35 raw files (12-bit NEF files).
When shooting 14-bit NEF files, the burst shooting speed reduces to 9 frames per second, and the buffer size lowers to 33 raw files. Things will go much more smoothly if you slow the frame rate down to 5 fps and take 200 raw files at this rate.
Do you wish to fire in complete silence? The Z6 offers a silent shooting mode that replaces the Z6’s mechanical shutter with an electronic shutter while taking still photographs. The only minor issue is that this mode is hidden at the bottom of the Photo Shooting Menu and is not an option in the Z6’s drive mode list.
Nikon Z6 Image Quality
Are 24.5 megapixels adequate for you? That depends depend on what you take and how you want to publish your photos, but for many people, the results from the sensor in the Nikon Z6 will be more than high resolution enough.
After putting the Z6 through its paces with the brand new 24-70mm f/4 and 35mm f/1.8 S-Line lenses, we found that the camera’s image quality more than lived up to our expectations. The metering is dead on, and there is a propensity to expose the highlights to prevent any detail from being blown out. Despite this, the photographs seem snappy and are richly saturated.
Detail is also exquisite; although more densely filled sensors undoubtedly have the advantage, with superb optics on the front of the Z6, you will be able to shoot rich-in-detail photos with excellent corner-to-corner sharpness.
Nikon Z6 Specs
|Body type||SLR-style mirrorless|
|Body material||Magnesium alloy|
|Max resolution||6048 x 4024|
|Other resolutions||3936 x 2624 (DX crop), 4016 x 4016 (1:1), 6048 x 3400 (16:9)|
|Image ratio w:h||1:1, 5:4, 3:2, 16:9|
|Effective pixels||25 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||25 megapixels|
|Sensor size||Full frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm)|
|Color space||sRGB, Adobe RGB|
|Color filter array||Primary color filter|
|ISO||Auto, 100-51200 (expands to 50-204800)|
|Boosted ISO (minimum)||50|
|Boosted ISO (maximum)||204800|
|White balance presets||12|
|Custom white balance||Yes (6 slots)|
|Image stabilization notes||5-axis|
|CIPA image stabilization rating||5 stop(s)|
|JPEG quality levels||Fine, normal, basic|
|File format||JPEGRaw (NEF, 12 or 14-bit)|
|Optics & Focus|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousTouchFace DetectionLive View|
|Autofocus assist lamp||Yes|
|Number of focus points||273|
|Lens mount||Nikon Z|
|Focal length multiplier||1×|
|Screen / viewfinder|
|Screen type||TFT LCD|
|Minimum shutter speed||30 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/8000 sec|
|Exposure modes||ProgramAperture priorityShutter priorityManual|
|External flash||Yes (via hot shoe)|
|Flash modes||Front-curtain sync, slow sync, rear-curtain sync, red-eye reduction, red-eye reduction with slow sync, slow rear-curtain sync, off|
|Flash X sync speed||1/200 sec|
|Continuous drive||12.0 fps|
|Self-timer||Yes (2, 5, 10 or 20 secs)|
|Exposure compensation||±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)|
|Modes||3840 x 2160 @ 30p / 144 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 25p / 144 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 24p / 144 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 120p / 144 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 100p / 144 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 56 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 50p / 56 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 30p / 28 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 25p / 28 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 24p / 28 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM|
|Storage types||XQD card|
|USB||USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 GBit/sec)|
|HDMI||Yes (mini HDMI)|
|Wireless notes||802.11ac + Bluetooth|
|Remote control||Yes (via MC-DC2 or smartphone)|
|Battery description||EN-EL15b lithium-ion battery & charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||310|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||675 g (1.49 lb / 23.81 oz)|
|Dimensions||134 x 101 x 68 mm (5.28 x 3.98 x 2.68″)|
Nikon Z6 Verdict
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Any concerns that the Z6 might fall short of expectations are quickly put to rest when you get your hands on it since Nikon hasn’t held back at all with this model. Until this point, we would have had no hesitancy in suggesting Sony’s Alpha A7 III if you were in the market for a well-specified full-frame camera with a price range of about $2,000 or £2,000. Still, the Nikon Z6 is, in many respects, the more attractive alternative.