At launch, the Nikon Z 6 didn’t exactly set the world ablaze. However, it found favor among Nikon’s faithful, and thanks to some updates after launch it became a half-decent camera. The Nikon Z 6II is promising twice the horsepower out of the box but will it giddy-up and go? Find out in our full review.

On paper, the Nikon Z 6II doesn’t sound like the most amazing camera. Actually, it sounds quite tame compared to other cameras in its class. However, you should never judge a book by its cover. Over the last few weeks, I’ve grown rather fond of the camera world’s Steady-Eddie.

Pros

  • Feels great in hand
  • Weather sealing
  • IBIS
  • Dual card slots
  • Good phase detect autofocus
  • Great burst modes (up to 14fps)
  • Competitively priced

Cons

  • Focus point selection is a little clunky
  • Mediocre battery life

Nikon Z 6II — Technical specifications

All technical specifications have been taken from the official Nikon website:

  • Sensor: 24.5 million
  • Storage: SD UHS-II, CFexpress (Type B), XQD Type Memory
  • ISO: 100 — 51,200
  • Video 4K: 4K UHD 30 fps, 4K UHD 25 fps, 4K UHD 24 fps
  • Monitor: Tilting TFT 3.2-inch
  • EVF: 3.69m dot (Quad VGA) OLED 100% coverage
  • Burst mode: Up to 14 fps in full res
  • Autofocus: Hybrid phase detect with 273 AF points
  • IBIS: 5-axis
  • Connections: USB type C USB, HDMI: Type C, Mic input: 3.5 mm diameter; Headphone jack 3.5 mm
  • Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi type N, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Battery life: Approx 320 shots (400 in energy saving mode)
  • Approx. Dimensions: 5.3 in. (134 mm) x 4.0 in. (100.5 mm) x 2.8 in. (69.5 mm)
  • Weight: Approx 1.7 oz. (615 g), 1.35lbs (body only)

Nikon Z 6II — Ergonomics and build quality

Everyone’s different when it comes to ergonomics. Still, for me, the Nikon Z 6II is one of the most comfortable cameras I’ve used. The grip is deep and there’s plenty of room between it and the lenses for your fingers. My pinkie doesn’t dangle off the bottom of the grip either. There are also two easy-to-reach customizable buttons next to the lens mount.

Apart from the mode dial, playback and delete buttons, which are on the top left, all of the controls are on the right side of the camera. This means you can control everything else with your thumb and finger. All of the buttons and dials on the top and back panels are well placed too. Once you’ve got the layout down you can control everything without taking the camera away from your eye and that’s always a plus.

The top panel of the Nikon Z 6II is clean and uncluttered.

The top panel houses a small display that shows your current settings, which comes in handy more often than you might think. The 3.2-inch tilting LCD engulfs the back of the camera. The right side of the camera houses the dual card slots. The left houses the USB-C port, headphone and mic jacks, and the HDMI jack. The Nikon Z 6II is masterfully designed, and it feels wonderful in the hand. Kudos has to go to Nikon here.

Build quality

Nikon Z 6 II

The Z 6II has a magnesium alloy body underneath the black covering. It’s a solid camera that will withstand a beating. All of the dials and buttons feel firm and offer great feedback. The tilting screen is mounted on a tough metal plate and the seals over the ports close tightly.

The Nikon Z 6II will also please those who like to shoot in inclement weather. I used the Z 6II out in the rain and it never batted an eye. After three weeks of use, I found just one tiny spec of dust on the sensor. The sealing is impressive. This is a camera that will not let you down over time.

Nikon Z 6II — In the field

Nikon Z 6II

As mentioned above, the camera just feels lush in the hand. The user interface is also up there with the best of them. The menus are clean and they’re touch-friendly. My Menu makes it easy to get to the most common functions you use. You can remap six buttons to control functions that are important to you. The dual EXPEED 6 processors also make the Z 6II much more responsive than the original Z 6.

The LCD at 3.2 inches is larger than most and it’s bright and responsive. The LCD hinge tilts down from the body and it folds out flat for waist-level shooting. The 3.69-million dot EVF is large, clear, and offers 100% coverage. However, it only has a 60hz refresh rate and there is a little blackout when shooting in bursts. It’s not the greatest EVF but it’s certainly not the worst.

There’s a joystick to control the 273 autofocus points. You can control the focus selector with normal up, down, left and right movements and it can move diagonally. My only complaint is that when moving the cursor with the joystick it often seems to stutter. Overall, once you get this camera configured to your liking you’ll have a nice time with it.

Features galore

Nikon Z 6II
The IBIS might not be the best in class but it’s still very effective — handheld at 1/5s

The Nikon Z 6II has a good IBIS system that offers up to 5-stops of stabilization. It’s not the best IBIS out there and it does fall short of systems found in Olympus, Panasonic and Canon’s cameras. Still, it’s on par with other IBIS systems. I was able to handhold this camera down to 1/5th of a second with the 24-70mm f/4, which is still impressive.

The dual card slots enable the use of UHS-II, XQD and CFexpress type B cards. There’s a multi-exposure mode that lets you combine 10 images in the camera. There’s also a focus shift feature that lets you can 300 images with different focal points and then merge them with additional software. A lot is going on here that will let you get in touch with your creative side.

Buffer and battery performance

The battery life is on the Nikon Z 6II is mediocre. The battery is rated for roughly 400 shots per charge. I have to say this is pretty accurate, Battery life is good enough for the casual shooter or for those who do portraits for instance. However, event photographers will feel the pinch. You’ll need to carry extra batteries if you’re an event or wedding photographer.

Buffer performance is great. I was able to rattle off 120 shots with an XQD card when shooting 12-bit files before the buffer filled. Thanks to fast write speeds the buffer also clears quickly. Overall the Nikon Z 6II is a nice camera to use.

Nikon Z 6II — Autofocus

Big improvements have been made over the original Z 6 thanks to the dual processors. I would say the Nikon Z 6II is on par with offerings from Fujifilm and Panasonic now, which is to say that the autofocus will be good enough for most photographers out there.

In good light and low light, the autofocus performance was fine. Autofocus performance is not as rapid as the autofocus found in Canon and Sony cameras. Still, unless you’re trying to shoot the fastest action you’ll have no issues. In single point and single-shot mode autofocus was snappy and confident. In continuous focus modes with wide and the auto area selected the camera was again peppy and accurate. Animal and human eye AF is also great. The Z 6II’s eye AF is much more accurate than the eye AF in the Z 6, which tended to focus on eyelashes.

When tracking moving subjects the Z 6II did a nice job sticking with my target. It had a few issues with the erratic movements of my dogs, but overall I was surprised at just how much better the performance is over Z 6. Nikon’s autofocus system has come a long way and it is now more than suitable for professional use.

Nikon Z 6II — Image quality

The images you produce with this camera and its 24.5-megapixel sensor will delight you. The dynamic range and the high ISO performance are great. Overall, the images are very detailed. Standard colors tend to lean heavily on the cool side.

However, colors can always be adjusted during post or with various image profiles in the camera, including a lot of fun profiles like dream, carbon, binary, bleached and more. Let’s break things down further below.

Dynamic range and RAW files

As with all modern sensors, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to dynamic range. Highlight recovery is a piece of cake unless you overexpose to the point of whiteout.

Shadow recovery is equally as impressive as highlight retention. You can pull a lot of detail out of shadow areas without introducing too much noise. The RAWs from the Nikon Z 6II are pliable and nice to play with. I never once wished for more out of them.

JPEG quality

JPEGs are what you would expect them to be from a new mirrorless camera. They are more than good enough to share straight from the camera. Overall the colors are nice and can be changed to suit your taste thanks to various profiles. Shadows and highlights are controlled nicely.

Images did seem to have quite a bit of sharpening applied to them and at times noise reduction was a little heavy. Still, overall, the JPEGs look great. If you’re just sharing to Instagram or Facebook you’ll be more than pleased.

High ISO performance

In a word, it’s bonkers. ISO 6400 is a piece of cake for this camera. I would have no problems at all shooting beyond it either. Even at ISO 12800, the images packed a ton of detail. There was some color noise at 12800 but the images were pleasing overall. Nikon has put ISO wizards inside this camera. Crank the ISO and be happy.

The Nikon Z 6II is dependable

Nikon Z 6II

The Nikon Z 6II is a huge improvement over the original Nikon Z 6. However, it still lacks that certain wow factor over other cameras on the market. It’s by no means a bad camera. It’s a very good camera. The Z 6II is a safe option; it’s the Steady-Eddie of the camera world if you like. The Nikon Z 6II is the employee who goes to work in their brown suit every day, keeps to themselves, and just gets their work done without the flash and pomp of the other employees. It doesn’t draw attention to itself, instead, it just works hard.

For your money, you’re going to get a camera that delivers great images. The ergonomics are fantastic, the IBIS and autofocus systems, while not the best in class, are more than good enough for most use cases. The feature set overall is good. The Nikon Z 6II is solidly built and it will serve hobbyists and pros well. The Z 6II doesn’t excel at anything in particular compared to other cameras, but it’s reliable and at the end of the day, that’s all most photographers want and need.

Nikon Z 6II

The Nikon Z 6II is a solid, reliable camera that delivers detail-filled images. It’s a vast improvement over the original Z 6 thanks to the dual processors it now has under the hood. The camera feels great in the hand, it focuses well, it has copious amounts of weather sealing and it just works hard. if you need a dependable camera that will have your back, check out the Nikon Z 6II.