Ever since Nikon introduced the Z Series in 2018, the camera lineup has grown tremendously. As of 2023, the Z series now totals 9 cameras. The first two, the Nikon Z6 and Z7, are currently on the second generation Z6 II and Z7 II. In between, Nikon also released the Z5 (a budget full-frame mirrorless camera) and later the headline-grabbing Z9 at the top of their lineup.
As for Nikon’s APS-C cameras with a smaller sensor (which they call Nikon DX cameras), we now have the Nikon Z50, Zfc, and Z30. In this article, I’ll take a look at the general specifications of these nine cameras and see how they compare to each other.
To make it easier to compare the Nikon Z cameras, I created two large tables that show all the key specifications of the Z lineup side-by-side. The first table covers the Z5, Z6, Z6 II, Z7, Z7 II and Z9. Meanwhile, the second table covers the Z30, Zfc, and Z50. Please note that there is a lot of information here, and some of it had to be compressed to fit.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the key specifications:
|Camera Feature||Nikon Z5||Nikon Z6||Nikon Z6 II||Nikon Z7||Nikon Z7 II||Nikon Z9|
|Sensor Resolution||24.3 MP||24.5 MP||24.5 MP||45.7 MP||45.7 MP||45.7MP|
|Sensor Type||CMOS||BSI CMOS||BSI CMOS||BSI CMOS||BSI CMOS||Stacked CMOS|
|Highest Native ISO||51,200||51,200||51,200||25,600||25,600||25,600|
|IBIS||Yes, 5-axis||Yes, 5-axis||Yes, 5-axis||Yes, 5-axis||Yes, 5-axis||Yes, 5-axis|
|Image Size||6016 x 4016||6048 x 4024||6048 x 4024||8256 x 5504||8256 x 5504||8,256 x 5,504|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 6||EXPEED 6||2x EXPEED 6||EXPEED 6||2x EXPEED 6||EXPEED 7|
|EVF Resolution||3.6 MP||3.6 MP||3.6 MP||3.6 MP||3.6 MP||3.6 MP|
|Media||2x SD UHS II||1x CFe||1x CFe + 1x SD UHS II||1x CFe||1x CFe + 1x SD UHS II||2x CFe/XQD|
|FPS (12-bit RAW)||4.5 FPS||12 FPS||14 FPS||9 FPS||10 FPS||20 FPS|
|Buffer (12-bit RAW)||100||35||124||23||77||1000|
|Fastest Shutter Speed||1/8000||1/8000||1/8000||1/8000||1/8000||1/32000|
|Longest Manual Exposure||30 sec||30 sec||Up to 900 sec||30 sec||Up to 900 sec||Up to 900 sec|
|AF Points||273 points||273 points||273 points||493 points||493 points||493 points|
|Focusing Range, EV||-2 to +19 (-3 to +19 with Low Light AF on)||-3.5 to +19 (-6 to +19 with Low Light AF on)||-4.5 to +19 (-6 to +19 with Low Light AF on)||-2 to +19 (-4 to +19 with Low Light AF on)||-3 to +19 (-4 to +19 with Low Light AF on)||-5.5 to +21.5 (-7.5 to +21.5 EV with Starlight View on)|
|Eye AF||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, with subject recognition|
|Eye AF in Video||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Max Video Resolution||4K||4K||4K||4K||4K||8.3K|
|Video Slow Motion||60FPS||120FPS||120FPS||120FPS||120FPS||120FPS|
|4K Video Crop||1.7x||1.0x||1.0x (30p), 1.5x (60p)||1.0x||1.0x (30p), 1.08x (60p)||1.0x|
|Maximum Video Quality||4:2:2 10-bit (HDMI)||4:2:2 10-bit (HDMI)||4:2:2 10-bit (HDMI)||4:2:2 10-bit (HDMI)||4:2:2 10-bit (HDMI)||Raw 12-bit (Internal)|
|N-LOG||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (and N-RAW)|
|HLG / HDR Out||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|LCD Type||Tilt||Tilt||Tilt||Tilt||Tilt||Vertical/Horizontal Tilt|
|LCD Size||3.2 Diagonal||3.2 Diagonal||3.2 Diagonal||3.2 Diagonal||3.2 Diagonal||3.2 Diagonal|
|LCD Resolution||1.04 MP||2.1 MP||2.1 MP||2.1 MP||2.1 MP||2.1 MP|
|Wi-Fi / Bluetooth||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||470 shots||310 shots||340 shots||330 shots||360 shots||700 shots|
|Battery Grip Option||MB-N10||MB-N10||MB-N11||MB-N10||MB-N11||Built-in|
|Continuous Ext Power||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|USB Version||Type-C 3.1||Type-C 3.1||Type-C 3.1||Type-C 3.1||Type-C 3.1||Type-C 3.1|
|Weight (with Battery and Card)||675 g (1.49 lbs)||675 g (1.49 lbs)||705 g (1.55 lbs)||675 g (1.49 lbs)||705 g (1.55 lbs)||1340g (2.9lbs)|
|Dimensions||134 x 101 x 70mm||134 x 101 x 68mm||134 x 101 x 70mm||134 x 101 x 68mm||134 x 101 x 70mm||149 x 149.5 x 90.5 mm|
|Price||$1200 (check current price)||$1600 (check current price)||$2000 (check current price)||$2500 (check current price)||$3000 (check current price)||$5500 (check current price)|
Nikon’s DX cameras:
|Camera Feature||Nikon Z50||Nikon Zfc||Nikon Z30|
|Announced||Oct. 2019||June 2021||June 2022|
|Sensor Resolution||20.9 MP||20.9 MP||20.9 MP|
|Sensor Type||BSI CMOS||BSI CMOS||BSI CMOS|
|ISO Range||ISO 100-51,200||ISO 100-51,200||ISO 100-51,200|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.7mm||23.5 x 15.7mm||23.5 x 15.7mm|
|Image Size||5568 x 3712||5568 x 3712||5568 x 3712|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 6||EXPEED 6||EXPEED 6|
|EVF Resolution||2.36 MP||2.36 MP||N/A (no viewfinder)|
|Media||1x SD UHS I||1x SD UHS I||1x SD UHS I|
|FPS (12-bit RAW)||11fps||11fps||11fps|
|Buffer (12-bit RAW)||35||35||35|
|Fastest Shutter Speed||1/4000||1/4000||1/4000|
|Longest Manual Exposure||30 sec||900 sec||30 sec|
|AF System||209 points||209 points||209 points|
|Low-Light EV Range (f/2 standardized)||-2 to +19 (-4 to +19 with Low Light AF on)||-2.5 to +19.5 (-4 to +19.5 EV with Low Light AF on)||-2.5 to +19.5 (-4 to +19.5 EV with Low Light AF on)|
|Eye AF in Video||No||No||Yes|
|Max Video||4K @ 30p||4K @ 30p||4K @ 30p|
|4K Video Crop||1.0x||1.0x||1.0x|
|HDMI Out||4:2:0 8-bit||4:2:0 8-bit||4:2:0 8-bit|
|HLG / HDR Out||No||No||No|
|LCD Size||3.2 Diagonal||3.0 Diagonal||3.0 Diagonal|
|LCD Resolution||1.04 MP||1.04 MP||1.04 MP|
|Wi-Fi / Bluetooth||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||300 shots||300 shots||330 shots|
|Battery Grip Option||None||None||None|
|Continuous Ext Power||No||No||No|
|USB Version||Type-B 2.0||USB-C||USB-C|
|Weight (with Battery and Card)||450 g (0.99 lbs)||445 g (0.98 lbs)||405 g (0.89 lbs)|
|Dimensions||127 x 94 x 60mm||134.5 x 93.5 x 43.5mm||128 x 73.5 x 59.5mm|
|Price||$860 (check current price)||$960 (check current price)||$710 (check current price)|
There are dozens of specifications variations between the camera bodies. Generally speaking, though, the biggest differences involve the camera’s sensor size, sensor resolution, and processing power – and, of course, price.
Overall, I’ve found the Z series cameras to be quite versatile. I’ve shot extensively with all of them except for the Nikon Z30, and I found that even the cheaper cameras can produce great results. But let me go through each camera one-by-one to explain if they’re the right choice for you.
At the bottom of the stack is the Nikon Z30. This camera is Nikon’s entry level body – the cheapest in their lineup at the moment. The biggest difference compared to the other Z-series cameras is that the Z30 has no viewfinder. Instead, the camera is operated entirely via the fully articulating rear touch screen.
Nikon is pushing the Z30 as a video-oriented camera for “content creators,” but it’s not really an advanced camera for video shooters. It even lacks a headphone jack, let alone more advanced video features like 10-bit recording or Log profiles for color grading.
Then again, the Z30 does at least have a fully articulating LCD, video eye-AF, and a tally light (which lights up when it’s filming). These features aren’t groundbreaking, but they are at least a nice iteration that makes it a bit easier to film video on the Z30 relative to most cameras. If you don’t need a viewfinder, you can save some money with the Z30 compared to the Z50 or Zfc while otherwise getting very similar specs.
In terms of lenses, I’d pair the Z30 (or the Z50 or Zfc) with Nikon’s 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens for general use. You should also consider the Nikon Z 40mm f/2 for video and portraiture.
The Z50 was Nikon’s first APS-C camera in the Z system. It’s an upper-entry-level camera, roughly in line with Nikon’s D5000-series DSLRs.
To that end, it lacks in-body image stabilization (IBIS), it only has a single UHS-I compatible SD card slot. However, it retains the more traditional electronic viewfinder of the full-frame Nikon Z cameras, while still being smaller, lighter, and cheaper than the full frame options.
If you want a viewfinder for easier handheld photography, the Z50 is a nice upgrade over the Z30 for an extra $150 or so. Between the two, it’s the more competitive camera overall, although they’re not too different.
The Zfc bumps up a few minor specs compared to the Z50. The biggest is that the LCD is fully articulating, whereas the Z50’s LCD only tilts up and down. However, the main reason to spend an extra $100 on the Zfc instead of the Z50 is to get a retro-themed camera.
Nikon did a nice job styling the Zfc to evoke its old film cameras in design. However, if you’re on a budget, it’s probably wiser to spend your money elsewhere, like lenses. It’s up to you. By the way, if you’re buying used, go with the Z50. It’s currently selling for much cheaper than the Zfc on the used market.
Now we’re onto Nikon’s full-frame (FX) mirrorless cameras.
The Nikon Z5 is the most budget-friendly option among Nikon’s FX cameras. In fact, it is one of the cheapest full-frame cameras on the market today.
It does lack some advanced specifications, admittedly. The continuous shooting speed of 4.5 FPS isn’t very fast. The camera sensor itself is an older generation that doesn’t do quite as well in very low light. And the 4K video capabilities are more limited, due to a heavy 1.7x crop.
Other than that, most of the features are very similar to the more expensive Nikon Z6 / Z6 II, making the Z5 a great deal. I consider it the best deal in Nikon’s entire Z-series camera lineup, in fact. I’d get this instead of any of the DX cameras if you’re able to spend a bit more. (The Z5 also goes on sale for $1000 at least once a year.)
Z6 and Z6 II
The Z6 and Z6 II offer a better sensor and better AF performance over the Z5. The Z6 II additionally adds dual EXPEED 6 processors, which boosts the autofocus systems, increases continuous shooting frame rate, and improves video features.
While the Z6 version is somewhat older, it’s still a competent and versatile camera. I’d expect a third update to these cameras coming soon, probably with better autofocus tracking for sports photography (one of the few complaints about these cameras).
Z7 and Z7 II
Above the Z6 series, the Nikon Z7 series adds basically nothing except more resolution. Rather than a 24 megapixel sensor, it’s a 45 megapixel sensor. (The base ISO also is 64 instead of ISO 100, which is great for landscape photography.)
Despite being a higher megapixel body, the Z7 is still quite fast, able to do 9 or 10FPS, albeit with some viewfinder and AF limitations. For landscape photography, it’s hard to beat either of these cameras. They’re some of the best on the market (and the original Z7 is selling for some very good used prices these days).
At the top of the heap is the Nikon Z9, a pro level, flagship camera for $5500. The camera has a 45 megapixel sensor, 20 FPS shooting, and a 1,000+ RAW image buffer.
On the video side, the camera is equally capable, with support for internal recording of 8K 60p video – RAW video at that. If you’re considering this level of camera, take the time to read our extensive review of the features and performance.
Where applicable, you can read our in-depth reviews of these six cameras here:
- Nikon Z50 Review
- Nikon Z5 Review
- Nikon Z6 Review
- Nikon Z6 II Review
- Nikon Z7 Review
- Nikon Z7 II Review
I hope you found the above comparison useful for choosing which Nikon mirrorless camera is right for you. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments section below!
as a beginner which is the best for me. I take good pictures but am not knowledgible about the tech part, I want quality but something a person like me can handle.
Would love to see the Z fc added to the matrix
Consider it done!
Thanks Spencer for all the detailed reviews and settings you post. It helped me with d750 and now recently with z6.
Hi, I just wondered what the mentioned “Improved EVF” actually means? I ask because DPR said the Z6ii viewfinder was identical to the Z6, with the same (too low) refresh rate
are UHS 1 and UHS 2 cards interchangeable?
Only if your camera supports UHS-II. The Nikon Z FX cameras do, while the Nikon Z DX cameras only support. UHS-I. (UHS-II cards are faster if your camera supports them.)
Great info on the Nikon mirrorless cameras. Perhaps in the near future it would be nice to compare the Nikon, Fuji and Canon mirrorless families. Unfortunately I am stuck with the D750 and a lot of glass.
Thank you for the very useful chart.
It would be worth pointing out the 14fps maximum frame rate of the Z 6 II in its Extended High mode is only available with Single-point AF-area mode and, when recording raw files, with 12-bit depth NEF Raw. In all other respects the maximum frame rate in the Extended High mode of the Z 6 II and Z 6 is the same.
Likewise the native maximum frame rate of the Z 6 II and Z 7 II are the same as the respective native maximum frame rates of the Z 6 and Z 7.
Spencer, you left out one thing: the Z50 lacks any sensor cleaning system, putting it in the same league as… the D3400/3500. I don’t think there’s any justification to omit sensor cleaning (even the D3300 could do it) so although I am an APS-C shooter, I’m not switching to Nikon mirrorless right now
The Covid pandemic and the subsequent postponement have given Nikon enough time to put up Z6 and Z7 on steroids,so also are going to be the launch of Z8 Z9.It is upto the Nikon users to make the best use of it
It’s certainly “interesting”. If I’d been Nikon’s marketing manager, there are differences there that wouldn’t have been my choice – but I guess that’s coloured by what I need, and I don’t have access to market figures. That said – I do wonder, sometimes, whether the manufacturers really do either – none of them ever seem to listen to their customers, they’re more interested in promoting what they’ve decided on, instead.
Price is one factor – the D850 is still one hell of a camera, but since its release the price has dropped about 30% – still high, but definitely more affordable. At USD$3 grand/AUD$5.5 grand, the Z7 II would be of more interest to someone else. I’d still have to start all over, replacing all my glass, and the cost would be prohibitive. Of course I could use an adapter – but why, when the glass is already OK without one, on my existing cameras?
Sorry to sound like a wet blanket – the idea is good, and Nikon has to keep moving on, moving forward. I’ve just been left behind, I think. This range is for a whole new generation of photographers.
I am still waiting for their pro mirrorless model to be released. The battery life on the mirrorless is horrible. The adapter is not ideal but better than replacing all my pro glass. I still love my D850s. When a better model is released I might give it a try … but there is no reason to replace all of my glass if I do. If they sold a mirrorless model specifically for F mount lenses, you would not be able to use the Z lenses, so I guess the adapter saves them from releasing 2 mounts for each new model. There’s nothing they offer that makes me want to buy one … but if they made an F mount mirrorless I would be more likely to buy one.
You Fan lease the adapter on the camera. This will transform ist into an F mount mirrorless :-)
I hate the Semi-intelligent Auto correction!!! of course it‘s „you can leave“ and „it“.
In practice the battery life on the Z6 is fine – about the same as my D850. I’ve only had two occasions covering more than 50,000 images where I needed to move to a second battery – and both were unusual situations. For high volume work I’m typically getting 1500-2000 images on a single battery charge. For lower volume work that does not involve bursts, I typically get 800-900 images on a charge.
You have to balance the things the Z cameras do better than a DSLR. For example, the Z cameras focus more accurately than my DSLR – little need to fine tune AF and a hybrid Phase Detect Contrast Detect AF. I use 4-5 different AF modes on the Z6.
There are new AF modes and new ways of accessing functions so if you embrace the differences and customize your camera to match what and how you shoot, it works very well. It’s rare for me to access the full menu during a day because all my frequently used functions are accessed through iMenu or Fn buttons.
The Z lenses are really quite good. You don’t need to upgrade because the FTZ adapter works well, but if you are considering a new lens, in all cases the Z lenses have been outstanding.