The Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II have been officially revealed as the successors to Nikon’s original full-frame mirrorless cameras from 2018 – and while they’re not a huge leap from the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7, one big new addition has helped unlocked some new talents.
For the first time, Nikon has packed dual Expeed 6 processors into both of its new mirrorless flagships. That might not sound exciting, but it does promise to give the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II a generous boost to their autofocus, buffer and video powers.
If you’re not familiar with the original Z series cameras (which will remain on sale), the Nikon Z6 is a 24.5MP full-frame all-rounder that’s long owned the number one spot in our best camera guide. The Nikon Z7, meanwhile, is really a more niche 45.7MP full-frame for pros looking for a mirrorless equivalent to DSLRs like the Nikon D850.
The Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II have exactly the same backside-illuminated sensors as those two original models, which could be good or bad news, depending on your expectations. We’re certainly not complaining, as both are among the best full-frame sensors we’ve tested.
The real question is whether or not Nikon has added enough extra features to keep its full-frame mirrorless flagships ahead of the hot new competition from the Canon EOS R5, Canon EOS R6 and Panasonic Lumix S5. And the answer is… possibly.
Check Out Nikon Z6 and Z7 Price
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Check Out: Best Nikon Z6 Lenses
Check Out: Best Nikon Z7 Lenses
The Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II don’t have an exact on-sale date yet, with Nikon telling us they’ll be available by the end of 2020. We’ll update this page as soon as we get a more precise day.
As for pricing, the Nikon Z6 II will cost $1,999 / £1,999 / AU$3,399 (body only), while the Nikon Z7 II’s body-only price will be $2,999 / £2,999 / AU$5,499.
This means the Nikon Z6 II has a virtually identical launch price to its Z6 predecessor, but the Z7 II is actually quite a bit cheaper than its predecessor at release, in the US and UK. Back in 2018, the Z7 arrived for $3,399.95 / £3,399 / AU$5,499 (body-only), so it seems Nikon is trying to make its high-resolution model a little more attractive to pro shooters.
Specifications and Features
Other than their new dual Expeed processors, both cameras have six main differences from the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7.
Firstly, Nikon says the Z6 II and Z7 II have “vastly improved” autofocus and tracking powers, which now includes Animal Detection AF that officially works on cats and dogs, but has apparently also worked on other animals like bears and foxes.
On paper, this still sounds a step behind the incredible Pet Eye AF we recently saw on the Canon EOS R5 (check out our wildlife photographer’s thoughts on Canon’s Animal Vision AF), but we’ll wait to test it before passing judgement. Nikon says low light focusing has also improved on the Z6 II and Z7 II – using an f/2.0 lens, you’ll apparently be able to focus in -6EV (or “quarter moonlight”).
The second and third improvements delivered by those double processors is higher burst shooting rates and deeper buffers. The Nikon Z6 II can shoot action sequences at 14fps, with a buffer depth of 112 raws (12-bit uncompressed) or 200 JPEGs. As it’s a higher resolution camera, the Nikon Z7 II is a little more limited, but can still rattle off frames at 10fps, with the buffer running out after 50 raws (12-little bit uncompressed) or 200 JPEGs.
Limited buffers were one of our big criticisms of their predecessors, so this is a bonus for sports and wildlife photographers – although the Z6 II and Z7 II even now lag behind the likes of the pricier Canon EOS R6 on this front.
The fourth big change is that the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II both have two memory card slots. Their predecessors were widely panned for only having single slots, but the new cameras have one for CFexpress/XQD cards and another for UHS-II SD cards.
This means you can shoot raw to one card and JPEG to another, or set up a backup in case your main card fails. We thought the single XQD card slot on the Nikon Z6 and Z7 was actually a relatively minor issue, but this is definitely a much more versatile setup.
Another bonus for versatility is that you can now use the USB-C port to charge the camera while you’re shooting. This was another oversight on the Nikon Z7 and Z7 that we’re glad to see has been fixed.
Lastly, the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II bring improved video powers, although there is a slight caveat with the former. While the Z7 II will be able to shoot in 4K/60p video right out of the gate, the Nikon Z6 II will have to wait for a firmware update in February 2021 to get that mode. Hopefully that up-date won’t get delayed.
Talking of firmware, both cameras also have the long-awaited upgrade that lets you shoot in Apple ProRes Raw when recording to a compatible Atomos external recorder. The ProRes Natural format helps preserve all the data from the full-frame sensor, but in smaller file sizes.
You can also record 10-bit to an exterior recorder via HDMI and in HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), which is ideal for creating a video to playback on HDR displays without the need for time-consuming colour grading.
Given the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II are relatively minor upgrades, you might be wondering what’s going to happen to the prices of the Nikon Z6 and Z7. After all, with both cameras now well over two years old, they could potentially become full-frame mirrorless bargains.
Right now, Nikon says the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7 will remain on sale for the foreseeable future at their current prices. But given the arrival of their shiny new successors, it seems likely that some small discounts could arrive soon. We’ll certainly be keeping our eyes peeled and will let you know if we spot any deals. Make sure you bookmark our deals page and follow TechRadar Deals on Twitter to hear about them first.