Nikon Z7 II vs Z6 II - Head-to-head Comparison
The Nikon Z7 II and Z6 II are not completely new cameras, instead building on the strong foundations of the original Z7 and Z6 models from 2018.
Subsequently they are predominantly aimed at DSLR upgraders or users moving from another brand, rather than people upgrading from the original models.
You may be wondering exactly what has changed on each new camera, and how they compare to one another.
So we're bringing you this handy Nikon Z7 II vs Z6 II comparison to help you choose between them.
So the Z7 II 45.7 megapixel full-frame BSI CMOS sensor with a pixel pitch of 4.34 µm and is positioned as a portable studio-quality mirrorless camera.
The Z6 II has a 24.5 megapixel full-frame BSI CMOS sensor with a pixel pitch of 5.94 µm and is positioned as all round hybrid mirrorless camera for stills and video.
Or more correctly, processors, as the Z7 II and the Z6 II both use not one but two Expeed 6 processors, one of the biggest upgrades compared to the original Z7 and Z6.
Dual Expeed 6 processors provide double the processing power of the original models, enabling the new Mark II versions to offer improved AF, higher burst shooting frame rates, a deeper buffer and faster write speeds.
The two cameras do differ in all of these aspects, though, which we'll get into in more detail below.
The big improvement to the Z7 II and 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.
Both cameras have a crop applied when shooting 4K/60p - a slight 1.08x on the Z7 II and a more substantial 1.5x on the Z6 II.
Even more strangely, it will only be available on the Z6 II 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 on the Z6 II.
The other main addition to both cameras 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 Z7 II and Z6 II now support Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) for immediate playback on HDR displays, something that their predecessors don't offer.
Raw video can be enabled via a firmware update, but it will only be available as a paid service.
The new Z7 II has exactly the same 493-point Phase-detect AF system as the Z7, whilst the Z6 II has exactly the same 273-point Phase-detect AF system as the Z6 II.
The frame coverage on the Z7 II and Z6 II is the same, 90% horizontally and vertically, so it's only the actual number of AF points that differs between the two new cameras.
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, whereas the Z7 II can only focus down to -4EV.
The native ISO range of the Nikon Z7 II is impressively wide, from ISO 64 to ISO 25600 (32-102,400 expanded), somethings that's also true of the Z6 II, which runs from ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (50-204,800 expanded).
The Z7 II offers an extra stop at the lower end and the Z6 II an extra stop at the higher end.
The continuous shooting capability is one area where the cheaper Nikon Z6 II has an advantage over its more expensive sibling.
While the Z7 can shoot at 10fps at its fastest setting in the Continuous H (extended) burst shooting mode (continuous AF but with exposure locked at the first frame), the lower-resolution Z6 II achieves 14fps at its fastest setting.
Perhaps more impressive is the increased buffer depth for continuous bursts on both cameras compared to the original models.
The Z6 II can now record 124 12-bit uncompressed Raw files and 200 Large JPEGs, which is a massive improvement on the rather restrictive 33 Raw files and especially the meager 44 JPEGs offered by the original Z6.
The Z7 II can now record 77 12-bit uncompressed Raw files and 200 Large JPEGs, which again is a leap forwards on the 19 Raw files and especially the meager 25 JPEGs offered by the original Z7.
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 both new cameras, something that the originals didn't offer, which means that you use an external flashgun even when shooting at 10/14fps.
The new Z7 II and Z6 II are slightly heavier than the Z7 and 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 to both each other and to their predecessors in terms of their design and control layout.
The Z7 II and Z6 II 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 Z7 and Z6 models came under some serious fire for only having one memory card slot, something that the new versions have somewhat unsurprisingly rectified by including two card slots.
The Z6 II and Z7 II still use 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 separate movies from stills, or RAW from JPEG, copy files between cards, and configure slots for overflow and backup.
Both the older Z7/Z6 (via a firmware update) and the new Z7 II/Z6 II can use the latest Nikon battery, called the EN-EL 15C.
This allows all four cameras 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 new Z7 II and Z6 II 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 Z7/Z6.
Future firmware updates on the Z6 II and Z7 II can now be done using the Snapbridge app via your smart device.
The previous Z7 was priced at £3,399 / $3,399 (body only) and the Z6 II at £2100 / $2100 (body only) when they were launched two years ago.
The new Z7 II has an official RRP of £2999 / $2699 when it launches later this year and the Z6 II will cost £1999 / $1999.
This make the Z7 II the cheapest high-resolution full-frame mirrorless camera on the market, despite being the newest, costing much less than the Canon EOS R5 and Panasonic Lumix S1R and also the Sony A7R IV without any kind of rebate.
Also somewhat surprisingly, both of the original models will continue to be sold alongside their newer siblings for the forseeable future.
The Nikon Z7 II and Z6 II are much more of an evolution rather than a revolution, addressing some of the key user complaints about the original models and updating them for 2020.
Subsequently, if you've already got a Z6 or Z7, then you'll probably be less interested in investing in the new Mark II versions than either a DSLR upgrader or a system switcher will.
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 on the Z6 II 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 and Z7, 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 models.
Choosing between the Z6 II and Z7 II is ultimately the same as choosing between the original Z6 and Z7.
If your main photographic passion is high-speed action shooting, the new Z6 II has the edge with its faster burst shooting speed of 14fps versus 10fps on the Z7 II and its larger buffer. It also has the potential to offer ever so slightly better performance at high ISO speeds thanks to the lower-resolution sensor with its larger pixels.
If you're more interested in out-and-out-resolution and can afford the extra £$1200, then the Z7 II with its higher-resolution sensor, slightly more sophisticated AF system and lower minimum ISO speed is the one to go for, especially as it also offers 4K/60p video out of the box.
What do you think of Nikon's latest mirrorless cameras? Leave a comment below!