The new Nikon Z7 II full-frame mirrorless camera, released at the same time as its sister, the Z6 II, is intended to be an upgrade from the original Z7, rather than a radical redesign.
The Nikon Z7 II, which we tested in 2018, is the revised version of the Z7 and comes with a range of upgrades, including a new image sensor, smoother continuous shooting providing continuous 10fps shooting, upgraded recording, and more. A 45.7mp full-frame BSI CMOS sensor, stabilization of in-camera images, a 3.2inch tilting touch screen, and 4K 60p video recording are available.
Check Out: Best Lenses For Nikon Z7 II
Nikon Z7 II: Price
Nikon Z7 II: Key Features
Nikon preferred to use the same 45.7-megapixel full-frame back-lit sensor that was used in the Z7, but the Z7 II now has the option of two EXPEED 6 processors instead of the single EXPEED 6 processor that was used in the older model. Doubling the computing capacity carries a range of enhancements with it, including increasing the burst shooting speed from 9fps to 10fps. However, the small print needs to be read, as this speed can only be accomplished if you fire 12-bit raw files and use a single AF point. The extra processing power provides a much deeper firing buffer, with the Z7 II now providing up to 3.3x of the original model’s buffer size.
The video offering of the Z7 II has also been upgraded, with the new camera now capable of shooting 60p 4K video. This is up from 30p on the Z7, but to do this, this higher frame rate sees a small 1.08x crop added to the footage, with the Z7 II using 93 percent of the sensor’s width. If you plan to send video to an external recorder, the Z7 II can produce Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) ready-to-view footage for playback on HDR TV sets, while the USB-C ‘hot charging’ support of the Z7 II ensures you can control the camera while it is in operation, enabling you to film as long as you want.
Speaking of power, a new, improved battery is available for the Z7 II. Although the battery life of the Z7 was officially rated at an underwhelming 330 shots, the Z7 II uses the battery’s higher capacity version, with the latest EN-EL15c now capable of producing 420 shots with the LCD per charge and 360 shots through the viewfinder. It’s a welcome change, but it’s still lagging behind competitors like the A7R IV from Sony that can catch up to 670 shots on a fee.
One region that was often identified with the original Z7 was its dependency on a single XQD card slot, but with the welcome inclusion of a UHS-II SD card slot that sits alongside the XQD/CFexpress Type B port, the Z7 II now benefits from dual card slots.
The Z7 II uses the same 493-point AF system that was enjoyed by the Z7 rather than designing a new AF system, but the extra EXPEED 6 processor has helped Nikon to make some changes here as well. In addition to sharpening the overall autofocus efficiency, the Z7 II now includes identification of human or animal eye/face in Wide Area AF modes and enhanced low-light focusing that sees the Z7 II now able to focus down to -3EV (compared to -2EV in the Z7).
Elsewhere, however, the Z7 II specification remains similar to the Z7.
Nikon Z7 II: Specifications
|Body type||SLR-style mirrorless|
|Max resolution||8256 x 5504|
|Effective pixels||46 megapixels|
|Sensor size||Full frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm)|
|ISO||Auto, 64-25600 (expands to 32-102400)|
|Lens mount||Nikon Z|
|Focal length mult.||1×|
|Max shutter speed||1/8000 sec|
|Storage types||CFexpress Type B / XQD, UHS-II SD|
|USB||USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 GBit/sec)|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||705 g (1.55 lb / 24.87 oz)|
|Dimensions||134 x 101 x 70 mm (5.28 x 3.98 x 2.76″)|
Nikon Z7 II: Build and Handling
The Z7 II specification is identical to the Z7 (and the Z6 and Z6 II for that matter, although the much more inexpensive Nikon Z5 is also very similar), considering the extra card slot, and aside from the Z7 II badge, the only other difference is that it’s a few millimeters thicker and a gram or two heavier.
Although sticking to an unchanged design may seem to be playing it exceptionally safe, when it came to handling, the original Z7 was a fairly well-sorted camera, so maybe it’s not a bad thing that Nikon feels no need to tinker here. The deep grip makes the Z7 II extremely easy to carry and one of the most rewarding mirrorless cameras to film with is the control style. Key controls quickly fall to the side, while like all the other region AF modes, it is good to see face/eye recognition is now accessed. It would be good to have a dedicated drive mode on the Z7 II (perhaps round the mode dial’s collar?), but this is reasonably easy to get to from the menu.
The Nikon Z7 II, like the Z7, features top, front and back covers of magnesium alloy to have enough rigidity and is weather-sealed to Nikon’s technical requirements. All this combined to have a camera that is very well built and can be used happily in a variety of settings.
The EVF and rear monitor are one place we would like to see in Nikon’s redesign. Although the 3.69m-dot EVF impressed at the time in the original Z7, 5.76m-dot EVFs in main rivals have since surpassed it and it is frustrating not to see Nikon equipping the Z7 II with anything similar.
As it is, it uses the same 3.69m-dot EVF as its predecessor, and while it is really fine, it is not a match on the competition for the higher resolution EVFs such as the Canon EOS R5 and Sony Alpha A7R IV.
The fact that Nikon’s sticking with the tilting rear touchscreen LCD is another curiosity. Although this technique has a multitude of uses and implementations, it would have been a more enticing proposition for videographers and portrait shooters through a vari-angle mechanism.
Nikon Z7 II: Performance
While the Z7 II is now capable of maxing out at 10fps, it still leaves it lagging behind the Canon EOS R5, which with its mechanical shutter will fire at up to 12fps, and 20fps if you chose to use the electronic shutter. That said, while it handles big 60-megapixel files, it’s similar in pace to the A7R IV. Although that kind of puts it behind its rivals (especially when it’s restricted to single point AF), for most disciplines, 10fps can still be enough.
A very solid performer is the 493-point hybrid AF system within the Z7 II. The Z7 II seeks attention very easily using both phase and contrast-detect AF, while human/animal face and eye-tracking modes function very well, as we observed with the Z6 II. Train the Z7 II on your subject and also against busy surroundings, and it will lock-on and turn between faces or individual eyes automatically. On the Z7 II, predictive concentration tracking is also good, helping you to keep the focus on your topic as it moves across the picture. Seen in isolation and on the Z7 II, the AF system is quite impressive, but it’s not yet there against the likes of the amazingly advanced AF of the EOS R5. Nikon shooting action consumers are still also better supported by the D850 and D6 DSLRs of the business, though their improved tracking AF definitely has the edge, while they do not equal the 90 percent coverage of the Z II.
When it comes to picture quality, there are no nasty surprises, having seen variants of this sensor used in both the Z7 and D850. The level of detail attainable is remarkable, while the wide dynamic range suggests that the raw files have plenty of versatility. Great numbers of shadow data can be restored, while the Matrix metering of the Z7 II does a decent job of attempting to maintain the highlights.
The laboratory findings were not exactly what we expected, as in noise and dynamic range, the Z7 II appears marginally down against some older rivals. However, the real world findings were very impressive, so when we have another sample, we will re-test the Z7 II again, just to be sure.
The in-body image stabilization (IBIS) of the Z7 II is an efficient performer, providing 5 compensation stops. This suggests that when filming with the Z7 II, shooting at slow shutter speeds and yet coming up with a sharp shot is very much a fact. However, it is not only an advantage for stills, since it can also be used when shooting footage. You will come away with some amazingly smooth 4K video as long as you keep movement down to a minimum where possible.
Nikon Z7 II: Conclusion
All the updates we’ve seen on the Z7 II are definitely welcome, but we can’t help but feel like Nikon’s been playing it a little tight. We’d like to have seen much more of a leap to truly make it a significant challenge to the likes of the Canon EOS R5 and Alpha A7R IV. Nikon is likely to keep this tech back for an all-new model and it sounds a bit like a stopgap without disrespect for the Z7 II.
That said, there’s a whole lot going for the Nikon Z7 II. You can ignore some of its shortcomings by costing considerably less than its counterparts, although the construction, handling, and picture quality are all outstanding. It does not have a signature feature that sets it apart from its contemporaries, but it is a decent mirrorless camera and the Nikon Z7 II performs solidly across the board.