The Nikon Z5 is the cheapest full-frame camera introduced by Nikon to date. At $1400, it has a lot to offer in such a lightweight, compact, and rugged camera body. Many of our readers might be wondering how this camera differs from the Nikon Z6 that was released two years ago, so I decided to put together a comparison that shows the differences between these cameras. We will first start out with ergonomic and body differences side-by-side, then talk about features.
Nikon Z5 vs Nikon Z6 Ergonomics Comparison
First, let’s take a look at the front of the two cameras:
As you can see, both cameras look very similar, with very slight differences on the top (due to the moved PASM dial), and a smooth finish on the right side of the mount on the Z5. Size-wise (both width and height), the cameras are identical.
Next, here is how the two cameras appear from the top:
Nikon basically moved the PASM dial from the left to the right on the Z5, removing the top LCD screen. The PASM dial itself got slightly modified. While you need to press the center button to change the camera mode on the Z6 (which is great, because it prevents accidental changes to camera mode), it is now a simple dial on the Z5. The removal of the LCD screen is a bummer for those who are used to it, but that was one way for Nikon to reduce cost on the Z5. Other than this, everything else is identical.
Lastly, let’s take a look at the backs of the cameras:
Once again, the cameras are nearly identical. The buttons, the rear LCD, their placement, and access is the same. The only difference is on the right side – since the Z5 has dual SD card slots, its memory card door is a bit taller in comparison. Another difference to note, which is not visible in the image, is the lower resolution of the LCD screen on the Z5. As shown below, it has 1,040k pixels vs 2,100k pixels on the Z6.
Nikon Z5 vs Nikon Z6 Specifications Comparison
Next, we will take a look at how these two cameras compare in terms of their technical specifications:
|Camera Feature||Nikon Z5||Nikon Z6|
|Sensor Resolution||24.3 MP||24.5 MP|
|Sensor Type||CMOS||BSI CMOS|
|In-Body Image Stabilization||Yes, 5-axis||Yes, 5-axis|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 23.9mm||35.9 x 24.0mm|
|Image Size||6016 x 4016||6048 x 4024|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 6||EXPEED 6|
|Viewfinder||Electronic / EVF||Electronic / EVF|
|Viewfinder Type / Resolution||OLED / 3.69 Million Dots||OLED / 3.69 Million Dots|
|Flash Sync Speed||1/200||1/200|
|Storage Media||2x SD UHS II||1x XQD / CFexpress|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||4.5 FPS||12 FPS|
|Max Shutter Speed||1/8000||1/8000|
|Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter||Yes||Yes|
|Exposure Metering Sensor||TTL metering using camera image sensor||TTL metering using camera image sensor|
|Base ISO||ISO 100||ISO 100|
|Native ISO Sensitivity||ISO 100-51,200||ISO 100-51,200|
|Autofocus System||Hybrid PDAF||Hybrid PDAF|
|Low-Light Sensitivity||-2 to +19 EV||-3.5 to +19 EV|
|Video Maximum Resolution||4K @ up to 30p, 1080p @ up to 60p||4K @ up to 30p, 1080p @ up to 120p|
|Video Crop||1.7x Crop||Full sensor width|
|HDMI Out / LOG||4:2:0 8-bit HDMI Output / No||4:2:2 10-bit HDMI Output / Yes|
|Articulating LCD||Yes, Tilting||Yes, Tilting|
|LCD Size||3.2″ Diagonal LCD||3.2″ Diagonal LCD|
|LCD Resolution||1,040,000 dots||2,100,000 dots|
|Wi-Fi / Band||802.11a/ac/b/g/n / 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz||802.11a/ac/b/g/n / 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz|
|Bluetooth||Yes, 4.2||Yes, 4.2|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||470 shots||380 shots|
|Weather Sealed Body||Yes||Yes|
|USB Version||Type-C 3.1||Type-C 3.1|
|Weight (Camera Body Only)||590g||585g|
|Dimensions||134 x 100.5 x 69.5mm||134 x 100.5 x 67.5mm|
|MSRP||$1,399 (check current price)||$1,999 (check current price)|
Looking at this comparison table, it is clear that these two cameras have a lot in common. Similar resolution, same processor, same EVF, same autofocus system, and very similar ergonomics. However, there are some small differences between these two cameras worth pointing out.
First of all, the Nikon Z6 has two big advantages over the Z5. It has a much faster continuous shooting rate of 12 FPS vs only 4.5 FPS on the Z5, which makes the Z6 a more desirable camera for photographing action. Second, it has a much better 4K video shooting capability, including 10-bit N-Log over HDMI, as well as 4K filming without any built-in crop factor (compared to the Z5’s big 1.7x crop). Those aren’t important for stills shooters, but they could be a fairly big deal for those who want to use the Z5 for serious video needs.
Other than these, there aren’t other serious advantages over the Z5. The LCD on the Z6 has more resolution, but most people are probably not going to care about that. The sensor on the Z6 is slightly better as well – it uses a BSI (back-side illuminated) sensor vs a front-side illuminated sensor on the Z5. This should give a slight advantage to the Z6 in terms of high ISO performance, but not to make a big difference in the real world.
Where the Z5 leads is in dual memory card slots, for those who consider it to be important, and especially for those who already own SD memory cards and do not want to buy expensive CFexpress / XQD cards. Another advantage is the new EN-EL15c battery, which provides noticeably better battery life performance on the Z5 vs the EN-EN15b battery on the Z6. At this point, it is unclear whether the Z6 can take advantage of the new battery, but if it does, this one could be a wash.
Lastly, let’s not forget about the big price difference in MSRP between the Z5 and Z6. While the price of the Z6 has come down quite a bit in the past two years, and one could even buy a used or gray market Z6 for about $1400-1500, it is great that Nikon priced the Z5 at $1400. We can expect the price of the Z5 to come down in the next few years, which allows more people on a tight budget to get into full-frame.
Overall, Nikon has done a remarkable job with the Z5. For enthusiasts looking for a very capable full-frame camera, it is a great choice at a very reasonable price point.