Nikon Z6 Review

Nikon Z6 Review

Nikon Z6 Review Camera BodyMuch of what you will read in this Nikon Z6 Review will be the same as what I wrote in my Nikon Z7 review simply because the cameras are so similar as to be almost identical.

Before going into the technical and other aspects of the Nikon Z6 let me give you my final opinion up front.

Personally I love everything about this camera except for possibly 2 things – neither of which is a deal breaker.

Those two features are:

  1. Only 1 memory slot – I like a second as a back-up but to be very honest I have never had to resort to my second card because of a failure in the primary.  It’s nice to know it’s there though.
  2. A limited battery life – again not really a concern for me as the first accessory that I ALWAYS get when I buy a new camera body is a second battery.  As far as I can recall I have never taken more than 200 photos in one day but I can see the disadvantage of a limited battery life (eg for wedding photographers).

Other than that, the Nikon Z6 is a stunning camera in it’s design and traditional Nikon layout.
It feels great in the hand and despite its relatively small size is a solidly built camera.

The Nikon Z7 has higher specs in megapixels, native ISO range and number of focus points plus a much higher price tag.

The lower specs on the Nikon Z6 actually make it more attractive because:

  • 24.5 megapixels is heaps – *I’ll share a little secret with you – you’ll find it at the bottom of this review, just before the conclusion.
  • 1 extra stop in ISO – who cares?  It still has very good low light capabilities.
  • 271 Focus points is more than enough for me – thank you very much.
  • The “lower” specs allow for a 33%  increased burst rate – from 9 fps to 12 fps.  Very handy for action shots and wild life photography (human toddlers fall under the “wild life” category in my book).
  • The savings of almost $2000.00 is huge and allows me to invest in more lenses or accessories.

As you will see in this review the Nikon Z6 is a fantastic all round camera – much like the D 750 was when launched but much better and in a mirrorless format. 

Recommended For

  • Me! (no doubt about it)
  • For all genres of photography
  • Professionals
  • Hobbyists
  • Wild life (human toddlers) and sports
  • Videographers
  • Photographers wanting a small-bodied full-frame camera

Not Recommended For

This area should really be left blank but if I must …

  • Photographers who want extreme detail in their prints
  • Newbies – unless you are absolutely certain you want to have a top-end camera and are prepared to master this magnificent camera.  It will be a steep learning curve but one that is well worth it.

Video Review

Let’s start with a short video, the key specs and then go into a bit more detail …

Introduction

The Nikon Z6  and  Z7 were announced at the same time with an earlier launch date for the Z7 – I suspect the reason for this was to create a bit of hype and a buying frenzy and it seems to have worked. 

Outwardly the cameras are identical – and retain a similar layout to the existing Nikon range.

The few technical specs that differ are outlined below and I will highlight what that means to you as a photographer.

OK let’s get into the key specs and then go into a bit more detail.

Key Specifications

Sensor Size:
Sensor Type:
Processor:

Megapixels:
Image Stabilisation:
ISO Range:
Focus Points:
Body:
Weight:
External Dimensions:
Weather Sealed:
Touchscreen:

Articulated Screen:
Shutter Speeds:
Maximum Frame Rate:
Storage Media:

Battery:
Battery Capacity:
Image Quality:
Focusing:
GPS:
WiFi:
Timelapse Recording:

Price as at January 2019:

Full Frame – 35.9 x 23.9mm
BSI CMOS
Expeed 6
24.5
5-axis image sensor shift
100 – 51,200 (expandable to 50 – 204,800)
273 AF points
Magnesium Alloy
675 g (23.81oz) with battery
5.3 x 4.0 x 2.7 inches (134 x 100.5 x 67.5mm)
Yes
Yes
Tilting
30 secs – 1/8000th
12 fps
1 x XQD Memory card
EN-EL15B Li-Ion Type 
310 Photos
RAW, JPEG fine and normal, TIFF
Hybrid phase-detection/contrast AF with AF assist. 6 AF options
No
Built in (no NFC)
Yes

Body only $1,995.00 (as at December 2018)

Check Current Price

What's Different or New in The Nikon Z6?

The body is nice and compact and ergonomically designed.

It’s a well built camera and although lighter than DSLR models it does not feel like a toy – far from it.

Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Full Frame cameraIt feels good in the hand and Nikon fans will find the buttons, controls and menus to be familiar.  I really like the size of the camera because I have small hands, although I must admit I also feel very comfortable with the bigger DSLR bodies.

Nikon have used the same excellent, or similar, technology found in the Nikon D850 and Z7 cameras while using slightly lower specs for the Nikon Z6.

  • The first and most obvious new feature is the larger Z mount – the image above shows the Nikon Z6 with the FTZ mount adapter fitted 
  • Also new is the 5 Axis In-Body-Image-Stabilisation (IBIS)
  • A high resolution sensor which is a slightly scaled down version of the  D850 and Z7 sensors.  The sensor is the main difference between the Nikon Z7 and Nikon Z6 – more details below.
  • Silent Electronic Shutter and Electronic First Curtain Shutter mode
  • Improved Image Processing
  • Improved 4K video capabilities
  • 12 fps Burst speed

The BSI CMOS Sensor - High Resolution in a Small Body

The main difference between the Nikon Z7 and Z6 is in the sensor covered in some detail here as it applies to you as a photographer.

Megapixels

The backlit technology (BSI) used on the Nikon Z6 and Z7’s sensors provide more light than a conventional sensor.  The Nikon Z6 has a low-pass filter which has been removed from the Nikon Z7 to provide extra sharpening and much greater detail over almost double the pixels.

Megapixels are simply the amount of dots on the sensor – the more you have the greater the detail that can be captured. It wasn’t that long ago that 20 megapixels was considered truly amazing.

But do we need more megapixels?  I don’t believe we do – see my footnote at the bottom of this section where I let you in on a little secret

ISO Sensitivity Range

The lower megapixels of the Z6 allow it to have a higher ISO sensitivity range than its bigger brother. The Native ISO range is 100 – 51,200 expandable to 50 – 204,800.

This higher ISO range should give the Z6 an edge when it comes to an all round camera – much like the D750 is a jack of all trades and master of some.

Auto-Focus Phase Detection Points

The Z6 has 273 phase detection points on the sensor and the Z7 has 493.

The phase detection points are there to assist with auto-focusing and the In Body Image Stabilisation.

From a practical point of view the difference is barely discernible.

Higher Burst Speed

The lower number of pixels on the Z6 allows the burst speed to be pushed up to 12 fps.

As a result is is said there may be a slight trade-off between the ability of tracking moving subjects, with the Z7, versus getting more frames per second with the Z6 but again the difference should be negligible.

 

The New Nikon Z Mount - why Nikon's keeping it a secret ...

The biggest change Nikon has made with the Z series is the new wider and shorter Z mount.

Nikon Z6 Review Z MountThis means they need to produce a whole new range of lenses specifically to fit the Z mount.  Unlike previously for now Nikon will not be sharing the details of the mount with any third-party lens manufacturer’s (Sigma and Tamron) in a bid to grow and protect their own range of lenses.  The image right shows a Nikon Z6 with the FTZ adapter fitted.

One can understand their reasoning even though it probably means the lenses will cost more than they might have through a third party.

It’s not all bad news … there is some very good news. 

Nikon have produced an FTZ mount adapter which will allow the use of F mount lenses on the Z7.  

What this means to you and me is that we will be able to use existing AF-S and AF-l lenses with no restrictions. 

Older Nikon lenses can be used with  a few restrictions such as no auto focus on the AF-D lenses.  

We can expect to see Nikon rolling out a number of Z mount lenses in the coming months.

Whats so special about the Z mount?

The shallower mount combined with a 55mm mount diameter (about 25% wider than the current F mounts) allows a lot more light to penetrate the corners of the sensor. 

For the same reasons lenses with apertures as wide as f0.95 can be used and Nikon is  currently developing the Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct – a specific lens, details of which follow in the next paragraph.

Specialist Nikon lenses have always been exceptionally high quality and if Nikon is throwing everything behind the Z series, as they appear to be doing, we can expect even more exceptional glass in the near future.

Z Mount Lenses Available at Launch Date

With the launch of the Nikon Z series three lenses became available:

  1. NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S
  2. NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S 
  3. NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S

Nikon also released the FTZ Mount Adapter to accommodate older lenses.

Thankfully we can go right ahead and shoot with our new Z6 for a small outlay of less than $250.00.

What is the new “S” designation?

S-line of lenses is to distinguish these lenses as being the new level of excellence in Nikon’s range. They will bring a totally new benchmark standard in optical lens design.  

Said to produce a rendering performance that will surpass the current conventional f/4 standard zoom lenses and the offerings of the current  f/1.8 wide-angle or  prime lenses – that’s quite a statement.

With the  wide aperture (as low as f/0.9) that will be on offer, we can anticipate much clearer and sharper images with stunning bokeh. What’s not to love? 

Nikon Z6 Review Nikkor S Series Lenses

In Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS)- up to 5 stops!

Nikon have, up until now, been reliant on Nikon’s Vibration Reduction to assist with camera shake.  With the introduction of in-body-image-stabilisation (IBIS) on 5 difference axis the entire game has changed.

How does IBIS actually work?

The IBIS is located in the sensor that has built-in gyroscopes to adjust for lateral and rotational movement on 5 different axis; vertical, horizontal, yaw, roll and pitch. 

There are several advantages to IBIS.

  • Probably the biggest advantage is the ability to now have the best image stabilisation with all older lenses that don’t have vibration control.
    Suddenly those old, excellent lenses are taken to a whole new level.
  • With up to 5 stops of stability hand-held shots will be so much easier and sharper. Quite amazing. 
  • Reduces the complexity of future lens design.
  • Fewer moving parts in the lens makes for less potential for a lens to go wrong.
  • As you can  use older lenses only bodies will need to be upgraded
“Can you turn it off when using a tripod where vibration control is not needed?”
Yes – IBIS can be turned off.
 
Everyone should be very happy with the introduction of in-body-image-stabilisation being a superior system that will save you money when upgrading.
 
Exciting times lie ahead.

Video Capabilities - 4K Capabilities

The same as the Z7 but different …

Using the same ports and hotshoe the the Z6 has exactly the same video specs as the Nikon Z7 for external accessories. 

But with the lower pixel count the Z6 is able to records video somewhat differently.

4K Videos can be recorded using with the Z6 using 100% of the sensor’s width with 100% pixel readout, this is not possible with the Z7 as the sensor is too pixel populated.

Using the focus-point selector on the tilting touch-screen makes video recording much easier and more accurate than previously possible. 

A great feature for videographers – it will be interesting to see how many wedding videographers start using the Nikon Z6 and what they think of it.  so far all reports are excellent.

 

Nikon Z6 Review

Comparison Chart

How does the Nikon Z6 compare to similar models?

In trying to compare apples with apples I have created the following table of full-frame mirrorless cameras that are similar in features/capabilities/specs or price to the Nikon Z6.

I hope you will find it interesting.

Nikon Z6

Nikon Z7

Canon EOS R

Sony A7 iii

Pentax K-1

Megapixels

24.5

45.7

30.3

24

36

Native ISO Range

100 – 51,200

64 – 25,600

100 – 40,000

100 – 51,200

100 – 204,800

Shutter Speed

30 – 1/8000 sec

30 – 1/8000 sec

30 – 1/8000 sec

30 – 1/8000 sec

30 – 1/8000 sec

Burst Rate

12 fps

9 fps

8 fps

10 fps

4.4 fps

WiFi

Yes (No NFC) 

Yes (No NFC)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Touch Screen

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Articulating Screen

Tilting

Tilting

Articulating

Tilting

Tilting

Weather Sealed

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

AF Points

271

493

5,655

693

33

Memory Storage

1 x XQD Slot

1 x XQD Slot

1 x SD Slot

2 x SD Slot

2 x SD Slots

External Dimensions

5.3 x 4.0 x 2.7 in.
(134 x 101 x 68 mm)

5.3 x 4.0 x 2.7 in.
(134 x 101 x 68 mm)

5.3 x 3.9 x 3.3 in
(136 x 98 x 68 mm)

5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9″
(126.9 x 95.6 x 73.77 mm)

5.39 x 4.33 x 3.39 “
137 x 110 x 86 mm

Weight

1175 gms
(41.4 oz)

1175 gms
(41.4 oz)

660 gms
(48 oz)

650 grms
(22.9 oz)

1010 grms
(35.6 0z)

Battery Life

310 Images

400 Images

370 Images

610 Images

760 Images

Price at January 2019

$1,996.95

$3,396.95

$2,299.00

$1,998.00

$1,499.00

As always comparison charts do not tell the whole story – there’s a lot to consider when buying a camera and the above features/comparisons are probably the most relevant for the majority of us.

Take this table as a useful guide and if you spot any mistakes, or would like me to add something else, please contact me and let me know – I’m only human after all.

The Secret I Promised You

*My Secret – keep it to yourself please.

Does one really need a zillion pixels?

No – not unless you need extreme detail (and I do mean extreme).

To get really sharp images it is far more important to have a good technique, focus correctly, use the correct settings (in other words understand your camera and know it’s limits) – megapixels don’t come into it until you are printing HUGE (and yes I do mean HUGE) prints!

To really get the best out of any digital camera you need to take control of the camera and the post-processing side of it.

Whenever I have prints done the printers I use comment on how sharp my photos are.  

The reason for that is I don’t leave everything up to the camera (or processing software). 

Images need different levels of sharpening for each print size and then different sharpening  for computer screens. It makes all the difference and as my  mentor once said to me:

Processing is everything!

The reason my photos are so sharp has nothing, zero, zilch to do with the number of pixels my camera has.

Some years ago I took an online sharpening course and learnt the optimal sharpening for each of my images. Every photo is different and needs to be processed accordingly.

If you’d like to know more about correct sharpening methods drop me a line in the comments below or contact me .

Conclusion

Pros

Cons

  • Menus and buttons familiar to Nikon users
  • Compact yet well built body that fits comfortably in the hand
  • Excellent weather sealing
  • 12 fps burst rate
  • 24.5 Megapixels coupled with the MP BSI-CMOS sensor gives exceptional image quality and outstanding resolution
  • Lenses do not need micro-adjusting
  • FTZ adaptor allows the use of existing Nikon lenses
  • Tilt screen for those high and low shots
  • The IBIS – brilliant for slow-shutter-hand-held stills, low-light shooting and videos
  • An excellent EVF displaying all details
  • AF point placement through touchscreen or joystick
  • All AF points are easily visible and accessible
  • Silent shutter mode
  • Excellent video – even better than the bigger Z7
  • Top-plate info display – all cameras should have this!
  • Easy Wi-Fi + Bluetooth connectivity
  • Can be charged using USB
  • Limited buffer – disappointing
  • Single card slot
  • Not a fully articulating screen
  • AF system hunts a bit in low light because of limited sensitivity
  • Limited customisation on AF button
  • The Electronic First Curtain Shutter (EFCS) is “Off” by default but is needed to avoid possible shutter-shock.
  • EFCS limits the maximum shutter speed to 1/2000
  • No Two-Button-Reset or Quick Format – why?
  • Shortish Battery life (310 shots) – could be a problem for all day shooting

Recap

Recommended For

  • Me! (no doubt about it)
  • For all genres of photography
  • Professionals
  • Hobbyists
  • Wild life (human toddlers) and sports
  • Videographers
  • Photographers wanting a small-bodied full-frame camera

Not Recommended For

This area should really be left blank but if I must …

  • Photographers who want extreme detail in their prints
  • Photographers on a tight budget

That about sums it up for me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Nikon Z6 and if you think it is going to have as big an impact as I do.  I’ve got thick skin and can take it so hit me up with your thoughts.

In the meanwhile if you want more information and reviews on those that have bought and used the Z6 CLICK HERE

2 thoughts on “Nikon Z6 Review”

  1. Wow! What an article – thank you for all the incredible information. I have a little suggestion for you though:

    “There’s a new Thingymajing in the whatchamacallit that you’ll be able to access by using the the funny button with like a wedge pattern – try it and play with that until you get some nice photos”

    Blessings
    Louise

    • Bwahaha – Are you saying my photos are not so nice? 🙂

      Love your sense of humour and it tells me you enjoy your photography – we should all continually step back and remember that we are doing this because we love and all those buttons and gizmos (thingymajings and whatchamacallits) are just a means to an end.

      And that’s what I like about the Nikon Z6 they’ve improved it without changing the basic Nikon layout – I think that was very clever thing to do in order to retain their fan base.

      Hey I appreciate your comments and will go try out your suggestions. 😉

      Lawrence

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