(Pocket-lint) – After the success of its first pair of full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Z6 and Z7, Nikon is back with their respective sequels: the Z6 II and Z7 II (just don’t call them “mark II”, it’s just straight up “two” for the newer models).

As there’s no numerical shift to the model number, however, you’ve probably already guessed that the original models are quite similar to their 2020 counterparts. So just what is new for the ‘Z II’ generation?

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Nikon Z6 II vz Z6 & Z7 II vs Z7: Design

  • Nikon Z6 & Z7: Single XQD card / Z6 II & Z7 II: XQD & SD (UHS-II) dual card slots
  • Nikon Z6 II & Z7 II measure 2mm deeper (at 69.5mm) than (67.5mm) originals
  • All cameras: In-body 5-axis image stabilisation (to 5-stops)
  • All cameras: Magnesium alloy front, back & top covers
  • All cameras: Z series mount, full-frame coverage
  • All cameras: Weather sealed construction

When the Z6 and Z7 were announced back in 2018 the key attribute that set them apart was resolution. The Z6 features a 24.5-megapixel full-frame sensor; the Z7 a 45.7-megapixel one. The Z6 II carries the exact same sensor as the Z6; the Z7 II the same higher-resolution one as the original Z7. So there’s no change in terms of resolution or image quality.

It’s elsewhere that changes take place. The Z6 II & Z7 II are each 2mm deeper than the original models. Why? Because there’s a dual card slot this time around, using both XQD and SD (UHS-II) – unlike the XQD-only solution of the originals. We think that’s a very smart move.

Otherwise it’s much the same. The control layout is identical. The on-board stabilisation is the same 5-axis system. The weather sealing – to Nikon D850 standard – also remains. Really, other than the “II” on the bodies of the newer cameras you won’t be able to tell the difference.

Nikon Z6 II vz Z6 & Z7 II vs Z7: Viewfinder & Screen

  • All cameras: 3.2-inch tilt-angle LCD touchscreen, 2.1m-dot resolution
  • All cameras: 3.6m-dot electronic viewfinder, 100% field of view 0.8x magnification

It’s the same story for the screen and viewfinder. All cameras feature the same – and highly capable – built-in OLED EVF and tilt-angle LCD touchscreen. The spec is still top of its game in this regard.

Nikon Z6 II vz Z6 & Z7 II vs Z7: Image Sensor, Speed, Video

  • Z7 & Z7 II: 45.7MP full-frame CMOS sensor (FX format), ISO 64-25,600 native
  • Z6 & Z6 II: 24.5MP full-frame CMOS sensor (FX format), ISO 100-51,200 native
  • Z7 & Z7 II: 493 phase-detection points, covering 90% of frame
  • Z6 & Z6 II: 273 phase-detection points, covering 90% of frame
  • Z7: 9fps burst maximum / Z7 II: 10fps / Z6: 12fps / Z6 II: 14fps
  • All cameras: 4K60 video, 1080p100/120, 10-bit HDMI out
  • Z6 II & Z7 II only: Dual Expeed 6 processing engine
  • Z6 II & Z7 II only: Autofocus to -6EV claimed

As we said up top, the image sensors in the Z6 II and Z7 II remain the same as their respective Z6 and Z7 predecessors. But the newer cameras do benefit from Nikon’s first ever Dual Expeed image processing engine, which means more speed, more autofocus accuracy, and better buffer performance.

Never before has Nikon put two lots of its processing chip into one of its cameras. The difference is clear when looking at the numbers: the Z6 could shoot at 12fps, while the Z6 II steps that up to 14fps; the Z7 could shoot at 9fps, while the Z7 II steps that up to 10fps.

Nikon claims the Z6 II can maintain that speed and shoot up to 200 JPEG Fine or 112 12-bit Raw files; the Z7 II up to 200 JPEG or 50 Raw. The Raw file number decreases if you’re shooting 14-bit, but still, that’s a lot of files and a lot of data in a single burst.

The autofocus system for the 2020 models can also focus in what Nikon describes as “quarter moonlight”, all the way down to -6EV. That’s very dark conditions indeed. While the AF systems for the respective Z6 & Z6 II and Z7 & Z7 II system pairs are each the same – 273 phase-detection and 493 phase detection areas – the newer models also benefit from enhancements to eye-tracking autofocus (for both humans and animals).

Video-wise that more capable buffer means more data can be pushed through too. The Z6 II will be able (although not at launch – it’s coming later) to shoot 4K at 60fps, doubling the 30fps of the original Z6; the Z7 II will have cropped 4K60p from the getgo – again doubling the frame-rate compared to the original Z7.

Nikon Z6 II vz Z6 & Z7 II vs Z7: Conclusion

  • Z6 II & Z7 II: Available ‘winter 2020’, pricing TBC
  • Z6 & Z7: Available now, prices vary

Blink and you’ll miss it: both because the Z6 II and Z7 II are very similar to their Z6 and Z7 originals, but also because the newer cameras are so rapid in burst mode and processing that, well, you might miss it with a little blink.

Although Nikon hasn’t confirmed, we suspect the ‘Z II’ generation models will see the originals fazed out over time. Meaning the newer, faster, dual-card-slot models will take over as the standard.

Sure, the ‘Z II’ generation doesn’t bring giant bounds forward, but given how stellar the Z6 and Z7 had already proven to be we think that’s fine – after all, for most these won’t be upgrade models, just the new norm.

We do wonder how the prices of the originals will decrease, though, which could make for a hugely compelling prospect for those looking to buy into the full-frame mirrorless Z system line-up.

Writing by Mike Lowe.





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