The Nikon Z6 II: Our Verdict
As crowded as the mirrorless market is today, the Nikon Z6 II still holds its own and stands out as one of the best all-around cameras available. It wouldn’t be our first choice for wildlife and action photography, but it’s capable enough that you can still get great wildlife shots with it if you know its limitations. And for almost everything else, it matches or beats any $2000 camera out there.
Nikon remains a powerhouse in the camera world – and especially the lens world – and the Z6 II’s many improvements over the Z6 are very good signs from our perspective. It’s clear that Nikon listened to customer feedback when designing the Z6 II, as shown in usability improvements like the EVF sensitivity fix and the new clutter-free display in live view. Changes like these aren’t as flashy as a megapixel increase, but they add up to a smoother and more functional camera for real-world photography.
At the same time, there are still some things that Nikon can fix for the next iteration of the Z6 series. In fact, you can look at the same EVF sensitivity fix and the clutter-free display mode to see where Nikon still has room for improvement. The EVF proximity sensor is just as sensitive as ever; Nikon now just disables the EVF when the rear LCD is tilted. It’s a “symptoms” fix – albeit a clever one – rather than a fix for the underlying problem. As for live view, it’s great that Nikon added a fix for such a major issue, but the only way to enable the new clutter-free display is to assign it to one of your (not quite numerous enough) custom buttons. A better and more intuitive solution would have been to include it in the normal cycle of DISP options instead.
Similarly, while Nikon has been slowly chipping away at our Z-series wishlist, there are still a few underlying features that remain to be added. For example, there’s still no way to save your chosen Drive Mode to U1/U2/U3 or assign it to a custom button. These aren’t big enough issues to take away from the broad successes of the Nikon Z6 II, but they’re irritants that Nikon could fix – even with a firmware update – to make the Z6 II run more smoothly.
Here’s our summary of pros and cons for photographers considering the Nikon Z6 II.
- Excellent image quality in every respect, particularly at high ISOs
- Exceptional Nikon Z lenses and future-proof Z System lens mount
- Well-designed button layout and intuitive menu design
- High-magnification EVF with no lag or headache-inducing flickering issues
- Fast, highly accurate single servo (AF-S) autofocus
- Eye-tracking continuous servo (AF-C) autofocus works very well
- Low light AF-S autofocus is among best in class
- Dual memory card slots rather than a single XQD
- New clutter-free display option in live view
- When rear LCD is tilted open, the EVF no longer activates erroneously
- Higher FPS and much larger buffer compared to the Z6, making for a better action camera
- Slow motion 4K video now possible (60 FPS) along with ultra-slow motion 1080p (120 FPS)
- Significantly improved timelapse features
- New 900 second manual shutter speed option
- Compatible with MB-N11 battery grip, which has vertical controls
- Continuous external power over USB now possible
- Somewhat better battery life compared to previous generation Z6: 340 vs 310 images per charge (and better when using the rear LCD)
- Small and lightweight design optimized for travel photography (similar to other mirrorless cameras, but still impressive)
- Very competitive starting price of $2000
- Z lens lineup still lacks many telephoto options
- AF-C for tracking fast-moving subjects like birds still has room for improvement
- LCD is tilt only, not tilt-flip or dual-axis tilt
- No sensor shift mode for ultra-high resolution photos
- Clutter-free live view display only works if assigned to one of the custom buttons
- EVF sensitivity sensor is still too sensitive, even though the temporary fix works pretty well
- Lack of illuminated buttons
- Drive mode cannot be saved to U1/U2/U3 or assigned to a custom button
- Self-timer turns off each time the camera is turned off and back on
You’ll notice that the list of cons is shorter than the list of pros, and most of the cons fall under the “would have been nice” category rather than being essential. On balance, the Z6 II is a clear upgrade over the Z6 for almost any genre of photography. It’s obvious that Nikon actively listened to customer feedback when designing the Z6 II.
For existing Nikon users who want a lightweight, good value camera for travel or event photography, the Z6 II is our top recommendation. It’s one of the best all-around cameras on the market today, with amazing high ISO performance, a great lineup of native lenses, and excellent eye-tracking autofocus. The camera’s biggest flaw is its autofocus tracking speed for fast-moving subjects, at which point it falls behind most of the competition.
Our verdict? While we would not recommend the Nikon Z6 II as the first choice for wildlife and sports photographers, it’s not terrible in that regard, and its feature set is a great match for almost everything else. As such, the Nikon Z6 II receives our highest honor, the Gold Award.
We hope that you found this review of the Nikon Z6 II to be helpful in making your decision. If you want to purchase the Nikon Z6 II, you can thank Photography Life for all the work that went into this review by using the link below to buy to our trusted partner B&H Photo Video:
- Nikon Z6 II Body Only, $2000 (check current price)
- Nikon Z6 II with 24-70mm f/4 lens, $2600 (check current price)
- Nikon Z6 II with 24-70mm f/4 lens and FTZ adapter, $2700 (check current price)
On the following pages of this review are some more sample photos from our time so far with the Nikon Z6 II, along with reader comments.
Nikon Z6 II
- Build Quality
- Single-Servo Autofocus
- Continuous-Servo Autofocus
- Image Quality
- High ISO Performance
- Dynamic Range
- Size and Weight
- Movie Recording Features
Photography Life Overall Rating
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