Nikon Z6 II Review

November 20, 2020 | Amy Davies |

Image Quality

Considering the Nikon Z6 II uses the same sensor as its predecessor, we weren't expecting any big shocks when it came to image quality, expecting it to produce good results in a range of situations.

When we reviewed the original Z6, it was a brand new system with only three native lenses to go with it. Fast forward nearly 2.5 years later and the system has had time to become established, and there's a much wider range of directly compatible optics, some of which we've been using as part of this review.

As we found before, the 24-70mm f/4 makes for an excellent walk around lens, with the relatively narrow aperture meaning it can be smaller and more compact than an f/2.8 equivalent.

With 24.5 megapixels to play with, the Z6 II doesn't provide as much fine detail as the Z7 / Z7 II, but for most photographers it should still be more than enough, even allowing for some post-capture cropping if necessary. Meanwhile, colours in JPEGS straight from the camera are very natural, with just enough vibrance to make them pop without looking unnatural.

The all-purpose metering mode does a good job of providing balanced exposures in most situations, with the exception of very high contrast scenes where you might need to switch to using spot metering.

Theoretically at least, the Z6 II should be better-equipped for low-light shooting than the higher resolution Z7 II (or Z7). We haven't been able to test the Z7 II yet, but we can say that the Z6 copes very well with low light, producing useable results right up to around ISO 25600, especially if you're only viewing or printing at A4 or below. ISO 51200 is just about useable if you're sharing at very small sizes, but it's best avoided if possible.

Noise

The base sensitivity of the Nikon Z6 is ISO 100 but you can go down to ISO 50 (L1.0) if you wish. At the other end of the scale, the highest native sensitivity of the Nikon Z6 is ISO 51200, but two boosted settings, ISO 102400 and ISO 204800, are also available.

JPEG RAW

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

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ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

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ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

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ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

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ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

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ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

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ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

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ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

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ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

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ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

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ISO 51200 (100% Crop)

ISO 51200 (100% Crop)

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ISO 102400 (100% Crop)

ISO 102400 (100% Crop)

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ISO 204800 (100% Crop)

ISO 204800 (100% Crop)

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Low Light

The Nikon Z6 II lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 30 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well for exposure times of practically any length, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. There is an optional long-exposure noise reduction function that can be activated to filter out any hot pixels that may appear when extremely slow shutter speeds are used.

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Active D-lighting (ADL)

D-lighting is Nikon's dynamic range optimisation tool that attempts to squeeze the full dynamic range of the sensor into JPEGs. Active D-lighting works “on the fly”, before the in-camera processing engine converts the raw image data into JPEGs. The available settings are Off, Low, Normal, High and Extra High, plus an Auto mode.

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Off

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Auto

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Low

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Normal

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High

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Extra High

Picture Controls

Nikon's Picture Controls are preset combinations of sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue. All 28 different Picture Controls can be tweaked to your liking, then saved and transferred to other cameras.

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Auto

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Standard

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Neutral

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Vivid

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Monochrome

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Portrait

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Landscape

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Flat

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Dream

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Morning

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Pop

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Sunday

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Somber

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Drama

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Silence

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Bleach

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Melancholic

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Pure

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Denim

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Toy

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Sepia

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Blue

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Red

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Pink

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Charcoal

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Graphite

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Binary

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Carbon

Crop Modes

The Nikon Z6 II is an FX camera, but it can also shoot in one of three other crop modes.

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FX

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DX

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16x9

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1x1