Nikon Z6 II vs Z6 - Head-to-head Comparison
The Nikon Z6 II is a not a completely new camera, instead building on the strong foundations of the original Z6 model from 2018.
The Z6 II is predominantly aimed at DSLR upgraders or users moving from another brand, rather than people upgrading from the original Z6.
It's only been 2 years since the original Z6 model was launched, so you may be wondering what has changed in that time.
We're bringing you this handy Nikon Z6 II vs Z6 comparison to help enlighten you.
This is a 24.5 megapixel full-frame BSI CMOS sensor with a pixel pitch of 5.94 µm.
Or more correctly, processors, as the Z6 II uses not one but two Expeed 6 processors, one of the biggest upgrades compared to the Z6.
Dual Expeed 6 processors provide double the processing power of the original Z6, enabling the new Mark II version to offer improved AF, higher burst shooting frame rates, a deeper buffer and faster write speeds.
The big improvement to the Z6 II on the video side is the jump to 4K/60p recording, up from 4K/30p on the original model.
Sadly, it's still only 8-bit internal, with 10-bit only available to an external recorder over HDMI, and also a 1.5x crop is applied.
Even more strangely, it will only be available in February 2021 via a free firmware update, rather than straight away at launch as with the Z7 II. Until then only 4K/30p will be available.
The other main addition is Eye-Detection and Animal-Detection AF (for dogs and cats) for both stills and also now video, the first time this feature has been implemented on any Nikon camera.
Finally, the Z6 II now supports Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) for immediate playback on HDR displays, something that the Z6 doesn't offer.
Raw video can be enabled via a firmware update, but it will only be available as a paid service.
The new Z6 II has exactly the same 273-point Phase-detect AF system as the Z6, so both cameras offer the same snappy performance, being able to focus on a wide variety of subjects with the minimum of fuss.
The Z6 II can focus all the way down to -6EV when paired with an f/2 lens in the special Low Light AF mode , which is rated as a quarter-moonlight, exactly the same rating as the original Z6.
The native ISO range of the Nikon Z6 was impressively wide, from ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (50-204,800 expanded), and the Z6 II follows suit by offering exactly the same range.
The continuous shooting capability is one area where the Nikon Z6 has an advantage over its older sibling.
While the Z6 can only shoot at 12fps, the Z6 II achieves 14fps at its fastest setting in the Continuous H (extended) burst shooting mode (continuous AF but with exposure locked at the first frame).
This is perhaps only a modest increase that's nothing to write home about given that the Mark II model has an extra Expeed processor.
What's more impressive is the buffer depth for continuous bursts, now at 124 12-bit uncompressed Raw files and 200 Large JPEGs on the Z6 II, which is a massive improvement on the rather restrictive 33 Raw files and especially the meager 44 JPEGs offered by the original Z6.
The other benefit of the dual processors that we've already mentioned are the improved write speeds from camera to memory card, which Nikon are claiming to be "lightning-fast".
Finally, the Continuous high extended flash mode (CH+) is now supported by the Z6 II, something that the Z6 didn't offer, which means that you use an external flashgun with the Z6 II even when shooting at 14fps.
The new Z6 II is slightly heavier than the Z6 - 615g versus 585g - and ever so slightly larger - 134 x 100.5 x 69.5mm versus 134 x 100.5 x 67.5 mm - presumably to accommodate the extra processing unit and second memory card slot.
Otherwise the two cameras are nigh-on identical in terms of their design and control layout.
The Z6 II and Z6 share exactly the same 3.6m-dot electronic viewfinder, which offers 100% horizontal and vertical coverage, 0.80x magnification and 21mm eyepoint). So looking through the viewfinder of both cameras will offer the same experience.
Both cameras have a 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD on the rear that can be usefully tilted through 170 degrees, with 2.1-million dot resolution.
They also both have a second top-plate LCD panel, which is very useful for quickly checking the camera's key settings, even when it's turned off.
The older Nikon Z6 came under some serious fire for only having one memory card slot, something that the new Z6 II has unsurprisingly rectified by including two card slots.
The Z6 II still uses either an CF Express / XQD card, which Nikon claim is less prone to failure than the SD format, but now adds an SD UHS-II card slot too.
So you can now seperate movies from stills, or RAW from JPEG, copy files between cards, and configure slots for overflow and backup.
Both the older Z6 (via a firmware update) and the new Z6 II can use the latest Nikon battery, called the EN-EL 15C.
This allows either camera to be powered by USB whilst you are using it, which is especially handy for timelapse photography or video and for travel photography when carrying a powerful powerbank.
It provides a CIPA-approved lifespan of 340 stills or 100 mins of video when using the EVF.
Note that the Z6 II and Z6 can also use the older EN-EL 15B variant, but as you'd expect, you won't get USB charging then.
MB-N11 Vertical Grip
Thankfully Nikon have finally seen the light and released a new "professional" battery grip called the MB-N11, complete with vertical controls and the ability to hot-swap batteries without losing power.
This should compare favourably to the MB-N10, which was much more of a simple battery holder than a vertical grip.
Note that the is MB-N11 is not fully backwards compatible with the original Z6.
Future firmware updates on the Z6 II can now be done using the Snapbridge app via your smart device.
The previous Z6 was priced at £2100 / $2100 (body only) when it was launched two years ago.
The new Z6 II has an official RRP of £1999 / $1999 when it launches later this year.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Nikon Z6 will continue to be sold alongside its newer sibling for the forseeable future.
The Nikon Z6 II is much more of an evolution rather than a revolution, addressing some of the key user complaints about the original model and updating it for 2020.
Subsequently, if you've already got a Z6, then you'll probably be less interested in investing in the new Z6 II than either a DSLR upgrader or a system switcher will.
Having said that, if your main photographic passion is high-speed action shooting, the new Z6 II has more than enough improvements to warrant the upgrade.
Likewise, videographers may be tempted by the new 4K/60p mode and Eye and Animal AF during recording, although the lack of 10-bit internally may still prove to be a turn-off, as is the fact that the 4K/60p mode won't actually be available until February 2021.
And last but not least, not forgetting one of the issues that people shouted about most loudly at the launch of the Z6, namely dual card slots, which Nikon has now addressed by adding an SD UHS-II slot to the CF Express / XQD slot of the original model. Hurrah!