For a number of years now, I have owned a pair of Nikon D750 cameras that I have used heavily for travel photography and videography, but I have been wanting to move up to a more modern version of the camera that has 4K video capabilities. When Nikon announced the Z6 mirrorless camera, I thought it could be a perfect camera to move up to from the D750, so I decided to try one out. After a few months of waiting, I finally received the Nikon Z6, so I decided to take it with me on a trip to New Zealand and see how it works out as a travel and walk-around camera.
Considering that the Nikon Z6 and the Z7 are mostly similar (see our Nikon Z6 vs Z7 comparison article), with the major differences being in sensor resolution and total number of focus points, most of what we have already written in our first impressions review of the Nikon Z7 and our in-depth Nikon Z7 review equally applies to the Z6 as well. However, if you take into consideration the fact that the Nikon Z6 is priced a whopping $1400 lower than the Z7 (thanks to its sub-$2K price point), then all the combined features of the camera give it remarkable value, arguably far higher than that of the Nikon Z7.
Nikon decided to keep the two cameras identical physically, so there are no differences there. The buttons, their layout, all menu and control options are almost identical, making it very easy to switch between the two cameras (in fact, when the two cameras are used side by side, it is impossible to tell which one is which without looking at the label on the front). Both Z6 and Z7 have the same, exceptionally good in-body image stabilization (IBIS) systems. So if one does not need a high-resolution camera and finds 24 MP to be sufficient for their needs, the Z6 looks extremely appealing for any Nikon shooter.
Compared to the Nikon D750, the Z6 has several notable strengths that make it a great upgrade candidate. First of all, the Z6 has a 5-axis IBIS that the D750 lacks. This in itself might make it worth moving to the Z6, since IBIS allows all lenses to be stabilized, whether you are using a native Z mount lens, or an adapted Nikon F lens using the FTZ adapter. Second, the Nikon Z6 has an electronic viewfinder (EVF), which not only allows one to preview the image before capture, but also take advantage of being able to zoom in on the subject, tweak focus while zoomed in and view useful overlay information. So if one has a bunch of older manual focus Nikkor lenses gathering dust, the Nikon Z6 can bring those lenses back to life. Third, the Nikon Z6 has excellent 4K video recording capabilities (as well as 10-bit HDMI output), something the D750 lacks completely. Lastly, there are other advantages to the Z6, such as 1/8000 vs 1/4000 maximum shutter speed, superior / newer sensor and processor, lighter weight and smaller size (we pointed these differences out in our Nikon Z6 vs D750 comparison article). Interestingly, Nikon even kept some of its high-end features such as Digital Split Screen on the Z6, something that the D750 never had. In short, the Nikon Z6 has a much stronger and more appealing feature set compared to the Nikon D750.
And for someone like me who wants to upgrade from the D750 to a 4K-capable camera, or perhaps wants to move from a DSLR to a mirrorless camera, the Nikon Z6 simply looks like a phenomenal choice for the money. True, if one was to evaluate other mirrorless camera systems on the market, there are plenty of great choices out there from Fuji, Sony and other manufacturers. However, if one is invested in Nikon glass and wants to continue using it, the Nikon Z6 and the Z7 are pretty much the only proper options. The only unfortunate part about the FTZ adapter is the inability to use older screw-type lenses – I wish Nikon considered releasing another version of the adapter that can work with those lenses. That might be an unpleasant issue for those photographers who happen to own AF-D lenses. Such lenses will only be usable as manual focus lenses.
Having been shooting the Nikon Z6 along with the Canon EOS R (more on the latter in a separate article and upcoming review), I have to say that I am very impressed by what I see so far. The Nikon Z6 excels in so many areas that it has already become one of my most favorite travel / walk-around cameras (together with the Fuji X-H1, which I also consider as one of the best travel camera on the market). And despite some of the strengths of the Canon EOS R, the Nikon Z6 just delivers a vastly superior experience in comparison, especially when it comes to simple ergonomics, EVF and base features. Shooting with the two side by side, I came to realization that Nikon should have pushed a few high-end lenses with the Z7. The trio of S-series lenses like the Nikon 24-70mm f/4 S, 35mm f/1.8 S and 50mm f/1.8 S are all great, but Canon’s RF 50mm f/1.2 is just breathtaking:
Instead of showing off with the manual focus 58mm f/0.95 that nobody is going to be able to afford, Nikon should have introduced the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S at the time of release and not push it all the way to 2020. Two years is a long time to wait for a lens with such potential. No matter how great the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 S is, you simply cannot compare the capabilities of an f/1.8 lens to f/1.2 for portraiture. It was shocking to see how sharp images look wide open with the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 – it very much reminds me of Fuji’s 56mm f/1.2, which is the only other lens that I have seen so far that can be that sharp wide open.
No matter how camera bodies compare, the outcome of the camera system race at the end of the day is going to come down to lenses. Sony has a pretty big headstart with native lenses and has a more established system at the moment, but if Nikon and Canon don’t quickly introduce both enthusiast-level and pro glass, the gap is only going to widen. Considering the fact that Sony is pretty much only concentrating on one mount, while Nikon and Canon have to continue supporting their DSLR users, as well as the new mirrorless systems, it might take a few years before we can directly compare these mirrorless systems.
Going back to the Z6, I think Nikon really nailed this camera. For the price, it is hard to find a lot of things to complain about. If Nikon improves the AF performance and accuracy of the camera in all lighting conditions, it will be tough to recommend a full-frame Nikon DSLR going forward. Unless Nikon somehow matches the feature set of the Z6 on the upcoming Nikon D760 (which is highly unlikely), my default recommendation for Nikon D750 owners will be to take a serious look at the Z6 before considering another DSLR. I have been using the Nikon Z6 with the Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S and the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 S, and these two lenses have been able to cover most shooting situations when traveling. I would love to see a lightweight 70-200mm f/4 S, but it is sadly not even on the roadmap. Together with the 14-30mm f/4 S and the 24-70mm f/4 S, it would have made a killer trinity kit!
Stay tuned for a detailed review of the Nikon Z6 within the next few weeks. For now, we are giving it our big thumbs up!
Eagerly awaiting the full review… When can we expect it to be finished? :-)
Hi Nasim, does the Z6 have the ability to shoot still pictures while shooting a video (pressing the shutter button to take still photos while video continues to record), i.e. the Live Frame Grab feature on D4s or the equivalent feature on some Panasonic mirrorless?
Nasim, thanks for your excellent review. After using DX bodies (D70 > D90 > D7100) for 10+ years I was ready to make the move to a full frame. The D850 is just too high priced right now and was considering a refurbished D810 or a D750. I pre-ordered the Z6 on the day it was announced and got it shipped a little earlier than the expected 11/30 release.
Purchased with the 24-70/4 kit + LTZ adaptor, I’m seeing some great results from both the new S lens and my G1 Tamron 70-200/2.8. The autofocus tracking is not great but am hopeful through a firmware release that some of that will be sorted out. Still just getting used to the ‘Zix’ and confident I made a good decision. No camera is perfect but Nikon sure nailed it with the Z6.
thank you for your article. What do you think about the followings, will they be introduced by Nikon?
– A more expensive FTZ adapter, able to drive AF / AF-D lenses? I think there are still lots of people using them (I’m one, and I’m happy with mine :)
– a Dx Z mount mirrorless? In my humble opinion a good product if some light and performing Dx Z lenses will be introduced too.
My dream would be the following (Dx) lenses will be made:
— (zoom): 16-35 f/2, 28-105 f/4, 70-210 f/4
— (prime): 24 f/1.8, 50 f/1.4, 85 f/1.8, 135 f/2.8
Sebastiano, one can already manual focus old lenses with the existing adaptor. I don’t think a special AF-D adaptor would be a big business and I already can hear buyers complain about how slow it is and how much energy it draws out of the rather small battery. I’d say there are more urgent accessories to design first.
DX-S lenses? No. You can already switch a Z to DX if you fancy this format. Nikon would be very stupid to go that way. Currently we can choose only 3 native FX lenses and the roadmap, it’s really necessary to get the additional 6 lenses in 2019 ready. Nikon would also be very stupid to compete with Fuji on their APS-C turf – they do have a lot of lenses (just no real fast long teles) and they deliver very high IQ – if you’re about to invest in APS-C, why wait? It’s already there, just without a Nikon logo.
Also, Nikon already wasted some money on their half hearted attempts going small mirrorless. All “1” camera bodies were attractive in size and weight, they just threw out a lot of different versions and each new one brought new features and killed other cool features. I was often at the edge to buy into the system but for that kind of money I wanted more. Small lens selection was another nail to the coffin.
Thank you for an excellent appraisal of this new camera in a real-world scenario.
Can you add a few comments about your experience using the SnapBridge functionality? I recently engaged SB on a D850 and was sorely disappointed. I am wondering if it works more reliably on the Z series.
Have you ever done a review of post processing software. Supposedly Adobe is the leader. But I have been using Corel for years. Aside from their tedious installation process, it is a great product.
Perhaps it would be useful to show a portrait shot using the 50/1.8S to compare to the Canon 50/1.2? The 50/1.8S has been shown on other sites to be as sharp as the Zeiss Otus 55/1.4 wide open, among other things.
thanks for the short comparison between the D750 and the Z6. I also took the Z6 in my hand and after a while compared to the D750 I realized that I won’t buy the Z6. But, this is not only true for the Z6, but also for the other DSLM cameras. For me, the optical viewfinder is the decisive criterion! For me it is still not replaceable by a very good electronic viewfinder, there are still differences. Who knows, the future DSLM models might be even better, but I doubt it. If you also consider that the optical viewfinder doesn’t need to be switched on, so no power is needed and the battery of the camera lasts longer, it’s also higher from the practical value of such a camera. For me, a DSLM is not an alternative to a DSLR, but merely an addition. But of course there may be other photographers who are looking forward to a Z6/7 and can work very satisfied with it.
Many greetings from Germany.
Totally agree with your comments:
I already own the D750 & D500 that for me are to big to carry on a trip. The D750 for landscape & the D500 for BIF and mostly everything else.
I look at the Fuji XT20; XT-2; XT-3 for travelling and ended with the cheap D5600 that I am more than happy that I use with my already own Nikon 50 F1.8 & Nikon 10-24 F3.5-4.5. The fuji would have cost me at least 3000$ cdn , to be stuck with another set of lenses that I already own with Nikon.
For me that was out of the question, because it didn’t make any sense for me as an amateur. To get great results in post-processing I use DXO Photolab 2 with its great denoiser calledd “Prime”
No worry. In DSLR era, Nikon lens could deliver same optical quality as Canon, sometimes even better. For mirrorless era, nikon’s mount is BEST in the industry. We should believe the amazing fast nikon S lens will come soon. For manual focus lens, actually it’s VERY EASY to use on nikon Z because of the focus peaking function. For landscape, manual focus lens are definitely OK. Nikon get a very good 1.8 lens series for DSLR. I think these 1.8 might sell much better than their 1.4 siblings. S 1.8 is light weight and very friendly for traveling and hiking. S 35 1.8 is superior to 35 1.4G and 1.8G already. The three S lens already prove nikon’s superior mount and superior optical quality statement. We could looking forward to see what nikon will do with 1.2 lens and even faster lens. BTW, road map is always subject to change, nikon may bring forward some lens and postpone some lens. As for S 70-200 4.0, I believe similar lens will release sometime in the future, even though it’s not in current road map. Once again, road map is subject to change.