Now that Nikon is on its second generation of mirrorless cameras, our readers might be wondering how the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II compare in terms of features and image quality. While these cameras are quite similar in many ways (even having identical control layouts and the exact weight), there are plenty of differences under the hood. If you are thinking of buying either the Z6 II or Z7 II, this article will help you understand the pros and cons of each.
Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II Specifications Comparison
Before I talk about image quality, let’s first discuss what these cameras are used for, and show their differences in terms of key specifications. While the Nikon Z6 II is targeted as a general-purpose mirrorless stills and video camera with its 24 MP sensor, 14 FPS continuous shooting speed, and 273 focus points, the Nikon Z7 II is a more specialized offering with a high-resolution 45.7 MP sensor. Both cameras offer hybrid autofocus systems, with on-sensor phase-detection and contrast-detection AF, capable of actively tracking subjects when recording high-quality 4K videos.
Ergonomically, there are practically no differences between the first and the second-generation Z6 and Z7 cameras. However, Nikon added quite a bit of horsepower in the second generation cameras with dual EXPEED 6 processors, in addition to significantly increasing camera buffer. A secondary SD UHS-II compatible memory card slot has been added, and now both cameras can be used with a real battery grip that features buttons and dials.
Let’s take a look at the specifications of the two cameras in more detail:
|Camera Feature||Nikon Z6 II||Nikon Z7 II|
|Sensor Resolution||24.5 MP||45.7 MP|
|Sensor Type||BSI CMOS||BSI CMOS|
|Base ISO||ISO 100||ISO 64|
|Native ISO Sensitivity||ISO 100-51,200||ISO 64-25,600|
|In-Body Image Stabilization||Yes, 5-axis||Yes, 5-axis|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0mm||35.9 x 23.9mm|
|Image Size||6048 x 4024||8256 x 5504|
|Image Processor||Dual EXPEED 6||Dual EXPEED 6|
|EVF Type / Resolution||QVGA / 3.6 Million Dots||QVGA / 3.6 Million Dots|
|Flash Sync Speed||1/200s||1/200s|
|Storage Media||1x CFe / XQD + 1x SD UHS II||1x CFe / XQD + 1x SD UHS II|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||14 FPS (12-bit RAW), 10 FPS (14-bit RAW)||10 FPS (12-bit RAW), 9 FPS (14-bit RAW)|
|Camera Buffer (12-bit Lossless)||124||77|
|Max Shutter Speed||1/8000||1/8000|
|Min Shutter Speed||Up to 900 sec||Up to 900 sec|
|Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter||Yes||Yes|
|Exposure Metering Sensor||TTL metering using camera image sensor||TTL metering using camera image sensor|
|Autofocus System||Hybrid PDAF||Hybrid PDAF|
|Low-Light Sensitivity||-4.5 to +19 EV (-6 to +19 with low-light AF enabled)||-3 to +19 EV (-4 to +19 EV with low-light AF enabled)|
|Focus Peaking / Peaking Colors / Levels||Yes / Red, Yellow, Blue, White / 3||Yes / Red, Yellow, Blue, White / 3|
|Video Maximum Resolution||4K @ up to 60p, 1080p @ up to 120p||4K @ up to 60p, 1080p @ up to 120p|
|4K Video Crop||1.0 (30p), 1.5x (60p)||1.08x|
|HDMI Out / N-LOG||4:2:2 10-bit HDMI Output / Yes||4:2:2 10-bit HDMI Output / Yes|
|HLG / HDR Out||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes|
|Articulating Touch LCD||Yes, Tilting||Yes, Tilting|
|LCD Size / Resolution||3.2″ / 2.1 Million Dots||3.2″ / 2.1 Million Dots|
|GPS / Wi-Fi / Bluetooth||No / Yes / Yes||No / Yes / Yes|
|Intervalometer + Timelapse Movie||Yes||Yes|
|Firmware Update via Snapbridge||Yes||Yes|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||340 shots||360 shots|
|Weather Sealed Body||Yes||Yes|
|USB Version||Type-C 3.1||Type-C 3.1|
|Weight (with Battery and Card)||705 g (1.55 lbs)||705 g (1.55 lbs)|
|Dimensions||134 x 100.5 x 69.5mm (5.3 x 4.0 x 2.8″)||134 x 100.5 x 69.5mm (5.3 x 4.0 x 2.8″)|
|MSRP As Released||$1,999 (check for sales)||$2,999 (check for sales)|
As you can see, while both Z6 II and Z7 II offer very similar features, there are some differences that might make one camera more preferable over the other, depending on your needs. Are you primarily interested in the video features of these cameras? If so, the Z6 II is arguably a better choice than the Z7 II, since its 4K video is downsampled from the full width of the sensor at 1.0x crop. Sensor resolution is the main difference between the cameras, with the Z6 II featuring a 24 MP sensor, while the Z7 II has a much higher resolution 45 MP sensor. For some photographers, lower resolution images are preferable, since they take up less space and don’t require as much computing power to work with. Others, who primarily engage in landscape, architecture and product photography will prefer 45 MP in order to make larger prints.
Interestingly, Nikon decided to go with a slightly higher-end autofocus system on the Z7 II, which has a total of 493 focus points, while the Z6 II is limited to 273 focus points. However, these numbers don’t mean much in the real world, because the autofocus performance of the two cameras is very similar. In fact, when shooting in low-light situations, the autofocus system on the Z6 II has better AF detection range of -4.5 EV to +19 EV, while the Z7 II has -3 EV to +17 EV. In addition, the Z6 II has a faster continuous shooting rate of 14 FPS compared to 10 FPS on the Z7 II. Add a large buffer that can accommodate 124 RAW images (vs 77 on the Z7 II), and it appears that the Z6 II is better suited for fast action photography – that’s 8.9 seconds of continous shooting vs 7.7 before the buffer fills up.
In short, if you don’t need more than 24 MP of resolution and if you shoot lots of video content, the Z6 II is a better choice, especially considering that it is $1000 cheaper. However, if you do the type of work that could benefit from high-resolution images, then the Z7 II is the way to go.
Next, we will take a look at how these two cameras differ in high ISO performance, side-by-side.
Nikon Z6 II vs Nikon Z7 II High ISO Performance Comparison
Nikon did not update the sensor technology on its second-generation camera bodies, so we can expect the two to be identical in their performance to their predecessors. Let’s take a look at how the two differ at ISOs above 800. In order to compare 24 MP versus 45 MP side-by-side, I downsampled the Z7 images to match the Z6’s resolution. The Z6 is on the left, and the Z7 is on the right:
Although both cameras look great at ISO 800 and 1600, we can already start seeing differences in noise performance, with the Z6 looking a little cleaner.
At ISO 3200 and 6400, the Z6 clearly looks better than the Z7. This is especially noticeable in the red and pink swatches. Although the Z7 is still the sharper file at both ISOs, I am starting to prefer how the Z6 looks. But especially at ISO 3200, it is a bit of a toss-up:
The Z6 starts pulling away at ISO 12,800. Pay attention to the green, pink, red, and gray swatches. Although the Z7 still shows reasonable performance, and remains slightly sharper, the Z6 performs better overall at this ISO:
By ISO 25,600, it is clear that the Z6 is ahead in noise performance, and the extra noise in the Z7 has essentially eliminated the sharpness advantage. The better file here is definitely the Z6’s:
And at ISO 51,200, the Z6 not only wins in noise but also detail and sharpness, leaving the Z7 clearly behind:
Lastly, at ISO 102,400, the Z6 is far ahead of the Z7 in every way, including brightness. However, both images are pretty much unusable:
The takeaway here is that the Z6 is the better camera in noise performance at high ISOs, while the Z7 is better suited for lower ISOs.
Which Camera Should You Get?
Unless you really need the extra resolution of the Z7 II, the Nikon Z6 II is clearly a better choice for most photographers out there. It is significantly cheaper, has better autofocus and continuous shooting capabilities, a large buffer that fits more images (since files are smaller), and it performs better in low-light situations. Keep in mind that 24 MP is a sweet spot for most types of photography including portraiture, wedding, travel and event photography, so if you primarily shoot in these genres, go with the Z6 II and don’t look back. If you have an extra $1K laying around, put it towards an excellent Nikon Z prime like the Z 50mm f/1.8 S.
However, if you find 24 MP to be limiting for larger prints or client work, then the Z7 II has its place as well. It will give you a very clean image at ISO 64 with plenty of detail and dynamic range.
If you find this article useful, please consider checking out other comparisons of the second-generation Nikon mirrorless cameras:
Sorry, no time to write the comment. Let me go to the shop to get Z6ii as you said. Thank you.
Z611 it is, thank you
Very helpful and concise.
A very helpful discussion . Do you anticipate any significant improvements that nikon will make to the Z6II or Z7II that would be worth waiting for. I do a lot of landscape photo and do not print any thing larger than 18X20. Would the Z6II be adequate for this?
Thank you very much for this information. I been using a Crop sensor and wanted to move on with a full frame. Not having all the information need it, my favorite choice was a D850. Now is clear for me to make a clear decision. I am not ready to jump with a Z9 and Nikon is having also supply chain issues as well. Been looking almost everywhere for this type of information, simple and concise. Z6ii will be my next step before any Z9ii will come out. Besides, that 1000$ will go along a nice glass or batteries lol. Thanks again.
Thank you for explaining all the differences between the Z6 II and the Z7 II. We can clearly see that in the digital noise department, the Z6 II is the clear winner. However, I have a query. Assuming I am ready to put the Z7 II files through Topaz DeNoise AI, then what would your recommendation be? I understand that putting every file through the NR software is a pain, but let’s say, I am willing to do that. Would you then consider the Z7 II over the Z6 II? Basically, my first choice is landscapes, followed by wildlife photography.
Hoping to hear from you. Thanks in advance.
Thank you for the practical in-depth article as ever. I am an amateur and recently upgraded from D5100 to Z6II. I had started getting fond of bird photography due to my present location and the new mirrorless was a good compromise. Coming from an entry-level crop body I love the improvement. I use Z6II with Nikkor 200-500 f5.6 (F-mount with adapter)
However, I find it difficult to focus mostly in one particular scenario where a small bird is sitting on an electric wire. Auto focus areas in AF-C such as Wide area small, dynamic and even single point don’t work at times.
So, I have to go to AF-S pin point or try to find the nearest electricity pole in the same focal plane and once I acquire focus I go back to the bird. Then the AF-C seems to work better. But this means that I often lose my shots as small birds tend to be restless and keep hopping in quick succession.
Do you have any specific advise for how to acquire focus in such a scenario from your experience.
Excellent article, thanks so much! I am torn in 2 though, coming from a D800E. I do not ever shoot video and shoot Resorts. However, I am best at people photography strange as that may sound! For low light situations, I generally use ISO 100 and longer exposure times. My clients print an occasional hoarding but mostly use the images online and for brochures / single page ads. I therefore feel the Z6II is the wiser choice. I would welcome any advice, thanks in advance 🙏🏽😊
How about the crop factor and color image quality, when the Z6 ii is recording at 4K 60 fps, versus the non-cropped Z7 ii at 4K 60 fps ? The Z7 isnt cropped in 4K 60 fps, correct ? I find that cropped images have worse color ? I’ve seen this in youtube videos.