Two of the most interesting mirrorless cameras today are the Nikon Z6 II and the Canon EOS R6. Although they target slightly different audiences, they also have a lot of similarities. Today, I’ve put them head-to-head in everything from specifications to image quality.
We’ll start by looking at the specifications and features of the two cameras:
Nikon Z6 II and Canon EOS R6 Specifications
|Camera Feature||Nikon Z6 II||Canon EOS R6|
|*Canon’s official specifications say the EOS R6 can autofocus from -6.5 EV to +20 EV. However, Canon assumes an f/1.2 lens at ISO 100, while other manufacturers assume an f/2 lens at ISO 100 for this specification. Thus, the standardized focusing EV range for the EOS R6 is -5 EV to +21.5 EV. Read more at EV explained.|
|**The Nikon Z6 II official dimensions do not include the depth of the protruding viewfinder. To match the standards of other manufacturers, roughly 15 mm (0.6 inches) must be added to the Z6 II’s depth measurement, for a total of 85 mm (3.3 inches).|
|Announced||October 14, 2020||July 9, 2020|
|Sensor Resolution||24.5 MP||20.1 MP|
|Sensor Type||BSI CMOS||CMOS|
|In-Body Image Stabilization||Yes, 5-axis||Yes, 5-axis|
|Sensor Size||35.9 × 23.9 mm||36.0 × 24.0 mm|
|Image Size||6048 × 4024||5472 × 3648|
|Pixel Pitch||5.94 µm||6.58 µm|
|Native ISO Sensitivity||ISO 100-51,200||ISO 100-102,400|
|Image Processor||Dual EXPEED 6||DIGIC X|
|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||1× CFexpress / 1× SD UHS-II||2× SD UHS-II|
|Max Continuous Shooting Speed||14 FPS||12 FPS mechanical / 20 FPS electronic|
|Camera Buffer at Max FPS||124 images||240 images|
|Shutter Speed Range||1/8000 to 900 seconds||1/8000 to 30 seconds|
|Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter||Yes||Yes|
|Exposure Metering Sensor||TTL metering using camera image sensor||384-Zone Metering|
|Autofocus System||Hybrid PDAF||Hybrid PDAF|
|Autofocus Detection Range (f/2 Lens, ISO 100)*||-4.5 to +19 EV (-6 to +19 with low-light AF enabled)||-5 to +21.5 EV|
|Internal Video Modes||4:2:0 8-Bit||4:2:0 8-Bit, 4:2:2 10-Bit|
|Video Maximum Resolution||4K UHD @ up to 60p, 1080p @ up to 120p||4K UHD @ up to 60p, 1080p @ up to 120p|
|4K Video Crop Factor||1.0× (24p and 30p), 1.5× (60p)||1.07× (24p, 30p, and 60p)|
|HDMI Out / LOG||4:2:2 10-bit HDMI Output / Yes||4:2:2 10-bit HDMI Output / Yes|
|Articulating LCD||Yes, tilt only||Yes, tilt-flip|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2″ Diagonal LCD||3.0″ Diagonal LCD|
|Rear LCD Resolution||2,100,000 dots||1,620,000 dots|
|Wi-Fi / Bluetooth||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||340 shots||360 shots|
|Weather Sealed Body||Yes||Yes|
|USB Version||Type-C 3.1 Gen 1||Type-C 3.1 Gen 2|
|Weight with Battery and Card||705 g (1.55 lbs)||680 g (1.50 lbs)|
|Dimensions (L×H×D)**||134 × 101 × 70 mm||138 × 98 × 88 mm|
|MSRP As Released||$2000||$2500|
|Current Price||$2000 (check for sales)||$2500 (check for sales)|
There’s a lot of green in both columns above, which means this is an exciting fight. Nikon has slightly more megapixels, a bigger EVF, and extended 900 second shutter speeds. Canon has a tilt-flip rear LCD, a higher frame rate, and a bigger buffer.
Ignoring price, it’s fair to say that the Canon EOS R6 is the more advanced camera in some important ways. It’s simply able to push way more data through the imaging pipeline: 20 FPS for 240 frames compared to 14 FPS for 124. For sports and wildlife photography, that puts it clearly ahead (even more so considering that the EOS R6 has one of the best mirrorless autofocus systems we’ve tested; see our Canon EOS R6 review for more about that.)
But taking price into account, it’s a tougher comparison. The Z6 II costs $500 less at the time of this article’s publication, which is a lot of money to put toward a lens or tripod upgrade, or simply keep in the bank. For photographers who don’t need the wicked-fast shooting of the Canon EOS R6, the Nikon Z6 II definitely represents a better value.
Still, the wicked fast shooting must be emphasized. If you’re a sports or wildlife photographer who’s on the fence between these two cameras, I recommend the Canon EOS R6 even at the higher price. 20 FPS with a good buffer and top-notch autofocus system is enough for almost anything, and while the Z6 II is hardly terrible in these areas, it does lag behind (especially in autofocus tracking performance).
Of course, the differences are largely academic to a lot of photographers. If you’re already a dedicated Nikon or Canon shooter, it doesn’t make much sense to jump ship to either of these cameras and spend thousands of dollars replacing your lens lineup. Camera companies constantly leapfrog each other, and chasing the one that has a temporary advantage will just leave a hole in your wallet without improving your photography.
Image Quality Comparisons
How do the Nikon Z6 II and Canon EOS R6 compare in image quality? Let’s first take a look at their dynamic range performance. These are 100% crops from the Nikon Z6 II (on the left) versus the Canon EOS R6 (on the right). The Z6 II image was downsampled slightly to match the EOS R6’s resolution. Both images were underexposed by five stops and boosted in Lightroom:
The Canon EOS R6 has perhaps the slightest bit more noise (see the purple color swatch at the top), but the differences are so small as to be insignificant.
What about highlight recovery? Here are images of the same scene that have been recovered from four stops of overexposure:
The Nikon Z6 II has the slightest bit more color in the yellow swatch at the top, but it’s hardly relevant. The dynamic range here is as close as you’re likely to see in cameras from different manufacturers, and it’s excellent in both cases.
What about high ISO performance? Not to spoil things, but it’s pretty similar once again. The images below are 100% crops (Z6 II downsampled slightly), with the Nikon Z6 II on the left and the Canon EOS R6 on the right. Here’s ISO 1600:
That’s a very similar performance. Up to ISO 51,200, I can’t see any meaningful differences. At ISO 102,400 and 204,800, the Z6 II has a bit more discoloration than the EOS R6, but it also retains some low-level details a bit better. Neither is ahead of the other, but both are excellent overall. The images look usable up to ISO 12,800, and you can even push it to ISO 25,600 without totally ruining image quality. That’s pretty impressive.
Which One Should You Get?
Clearly, the Nikon Z6 II and Canon EOS R6 have some similarities – most of all in image quality. While the two cameras trade punches in specifications, the Canon EOS R6 pulls ahead thanks to its huge buffer, 20 FPS shooting, and excellent autofocus system. However, it’s also $500 more expensive, so photographers who are happy with “only” 14 FPS and a less flexible focusing system can save a good bit of money.
Between the two, even as a Nikon Z user myself, I would recommend that most photographers who don’t have ties to either brand go with the Canon EOS R6. As I see it, the improvements are worth $500, at least if you plan to do sports or wildlife photography. (Both are pretty equivalent for portraiture, thanks to the excellent eye-detect autofocus systems on both cameras.)
That said, my ultimate recommendation is to just stick with the brand you’re familiar with, unless you only have weak ties and switching won’t be very expensive. The Nikon Z6 II and Canon EOS R6 are really fantastic cameras, and both are priced competitively. You can’t go wrong either way.
Thanks for the in-depth review. it is super helpful and clear.
Thank you for the in-depth review. It was really helpful overall. I was however hoping I could get your thoughts on the two compared cameras for handheld outdoor macro photography. I’m really torn between the Z6 II and the Canon R6. I’m currently shooting with a D750 and don’t have a large investment in Nikon. I’m just genuinely unsure which would better suit my needs and not many people seem to be discussing mirrorless cameras for macro use. Thank you kindly
Should said this article only compare dynamic range, photo quality and fps. I don’t see others like focusing accuracy/tracking, low light, IS, and lense availability,. All of these will go to Canon R6 and make the price different to Z6 II. Both of them are good camera for thier price point
Pretty sure I mentioned autofocus a few times, including tracking capabilities, as well as having a whole section on low light/high ISO performance. As for lens availability, it all depends on what you need. I don’t think either the Z or RF system has an advantage there yet. The Z has more wide-angle options and the RF has more telephoto options.
Why downsize the samples? If you are comparing camera to camera then it should be image taken to image taken
Otherwise, the crops would look totally different and they’d be even harder to compare. I get what you’re saying, but we’ve still found this the easiest way to compare images from cameras with different resolutions when it comes to high ISO tests.
Hi Spencer. A very interesting and thorough article once again. May I take this opportunity to warmly congratulate you about your overall work and presence on the various social media and websites you are active in. Kind personality, clear messages, in-depth analyses and excellent communication skills — like very few others out there. Your articles and videos are among my most favourite photography education material. :-) I have been shooting on a (12.3-megapixel) NIKON D90 for the last 11 years and I am now thinking of making a move. I have been considering NIKON Z6 II and Z7 II but apparently (and wierdly) they lack at least two things which I consider important: a fully-articulated screen as well as AE Bracketing (at least according to DP Review). I don’t have any strong ties with NIKON (I have only been using one — 18-200mm — lens) hence I have the luxury of looking at other options too. CANON EOS R6 seems very interesting, the only “weakness” I find being the not-so-high sensor resolution (20 MP). I am mainly doing street/architecture and landscape/nature, photography, I sometimes magnify and print to c. 50x70cm, I sometimes crop and I submit images to photography competitions internationally. Bearing in mind my above-mentioned profile and needs, and based on your rich experience, would you think R6’s resolution would comfortably suffice, or it would be marginally satisfactory at present and soon make my life difficult?
Thank you for the kind words!
The Z6 II and Z7 II both have exposure bracketing, unless I’m misunderstanding what it is that you want.
That said, the EOS R6 has enough resolution that it’s not a problem for what you’re planning to do. If you really care, you could go for the EOS R instead, which has 30 megapixels but isn’t nearly as good for action photography. For street, architecture, and landscapes, it may be a better fit for you, and also costs less at $1700 currently ( www.bhphotovideo.com/c/pro…/KBID/6400 ). Here’s our review: photographylife.com/revie…anon-eos-r
All of these cameras are going to be a nice improvement over the D90, so no matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong.
Hi Christos, I also used a D90 from the day it was released until a couple weeks ago. Instead of the obvious Nikon Z6 II, I bought an R6 with the 24-105mm F4-7.1 kit lens. I am incredibly happy with the camera. It actually reminds me of my old D90 and is almost the same size (although the R6 feels lighter). The colour, high iso, ergonomics….everything is excellent. I tried a Z6 II but I did not like the ergonomics and I also do not like that older Nikon lenses will not auto focus with the FTZ adaptor. It just seems like such a half-a$$ solution. The 20mp of the R6 is more than enough, trust me. When you combine a modern sensor with in-body image stabilization it makes more of a difference than megapixels. I think the R6 would blow your mind! Everything about it just works. Instead of manual focus, I can override that and can rotate the lens to control ISO, Exposure Comp, WB or whatever else I feel like programming it with. It’s just killer in everyway.
@Mike, I completely disagree with you when you say Nikon implemented a half-a$$ solution. How in the world can you expect a pre-AI Nikkor lens or even the Nikon -S rangefinder lens with short flange distance (dating back to 60’s) to be able to AutoFocus on a Z6II ? The construction of classic lenses simply does not allow this, heck there wasn’t even AF technology back then — so if you understood how AF technology works, you will not be making such a strong statement.
In fact, I’d argue Nikon made an excellent adapter that allows lenses from 60 years ago work on the Z6II. Do you think Canon R6 will be able to on a FD-mount lens ? Prove me wrong.
Nikon Z will autofocus with AF-S lenses introduced in 1996; not with AF nor AF‑D (1992) lenses.
Canon R will autofocus with EF lenses introduced in 1987.
Enjoyed the comparison even though I’m not in the market for either camera. As a D850 user, I’m patiently waiting for a Z8 (and the D850, in the meantime is a wonderful tool). I disagree with you on the color chart comparison where it is said the highlight recovery is not much different in the yellows. Assuming my calibrated monitor is properly showing the yellow patches, I see a noticeable difference in the yellow and red patches. That’s me. I agree that for wildlife photographers the R6 is hard to beat given its focusing ability. As to frame rate, it’s hard to get truly excited by the difference between 14 and 20 frames. Great wildlife and sports photographers lived with much lower frame rates for generations and got stunning images. They would have died for 14 FPS. Still, very much enjoyed the piece. Thanks.
Thank you, David! The highlight recovery photos are open to interpretation, but to me, it’s not enough that I consider the differences relevant. As for frame rate, I think anything beyond about 10 FPS is enough for 99% of sports and wildlife needs. The real factors at that point are focusing and buffer performance (and incidentals like EVF lag, blackout time, and rolling shutter with the electronic shutter).
Here (Switzerland) the kit price is similar (body and kit lens) but the basic Canon kit lens is not really as good as the Nikon kit lens in terms of IQ or speed is it. (but more range)
The issue for me are the lenses, Canon are either fast/perfect and way beyond my budget, or slow and a bit lame, little middle ground. Nikon win here big time for me, whether zoom or prime. Only reasonably priced native 70-200/300 and macro missing right now.
Thanks Kevin, and I completely agree! It’s not just a comparison of two cameras, but also two lens and accessory systems. If the Nikon Z lenses suit you better than the Canon RF lenses, it makes sense to go Nikon. I’m a big fan of the Z lenses so far.
Nice comparison Spencer. All the cameras and lenses are so good nowadays. Thanks.
Thank you, Amit! No kidding. It makes my job hard as a camera reviewer – I’m close to giving everything five stars all the time :)