The Z6 and Z7 are Nikon’s first attempts at a full-frame mirrorless camera system. Although it took Nikon many years to finally come out with its own mirrorless system, it was definitely worth the wait for many Nikon photographers. Nikon got a lot of things right with its Nikon Z-series cameras: compact and lightweight design, superb handling and ergonomics, lag-free high-resolution electronic viewfinder, effective in-body image stabilization, solid build quality and weather sealing, wonderful image quality with class-leading dynamic range and high ISO performance, competitive video recording features, and an intuitive user interface – all leading to a great overall experience for a Nikon shooter.
The Nikon Z system shows that Nikon is more than capable of bringing out solid products with highly competitive features to the market, paving the way into the future with a brand new Z mount. All things considered, the Nikon Z system is a remarkable achievement that really shows the hard work Nikon engineers put into it.
While there are a lot of things to like about the new Nikon Z-series cameras, we identified a few issues that Nikon should address as soon as possible. Most of all, the inability to hide shooting data on the LCD screen in live view is a strange omission that makes composition more awkward in many cases. Especially since Canon and Sony’s competing cameras have the ability to “Clean Display” the rear LCD, it feels very odd that the Z6 and Z7 do not. It is one of the few glaring flaws on a camera that otherwise feels extremely well-designed for field use.
Second, the autofocus system is something Nikon should definitely focus on in order to be able to compete with other mirrorless systems on the market – it leaves a lot to be desired for tracking moving subjects. While we found autofocus performance to be excellent and reliable for still subjects, it is not at the same level as Nikon’s DSLRs for tracking subjects in AF-C.
Lastly, it is sad to see Nikon remove certain buttons and features that have been present on its DSLRs, whether it is the metering button or the two-button quick format feature. Although the custom function buttons are very useful, there aren’t enough to add back all of the options that have been taken away.
Still, these shortcomings don’t overshadow our takeaway: The Z cameras are very impressive mirrorless options, and they are a pleasure to carry around and shoot with. When testing the new Nikon “S” series lenses in a lab environment, I was astonished by what I saw. The fact that a kit 24-70mm f/4 lens is able to surpass Nikon’s $2,400 pro-grade 24-70mm f/2.8E VR in sharpness completely shocked me, and the 35mm f/1.8 is on another playing field in terms of image quality.
The Z6, in particular, is an amazing value at just $2000, with few missing features compared to the $3400 Z7. Personally, I am a stills photographer, but seeing that Nikon is releasing a firmware update to bring 12-bit 4K RAW video to the Z6 via HDMI is simply incredible. That fact, combined with the Z6’s high-quality oversampled 4K video with no crop factor, means that this is Nikon’s best camera ever made for video – and it doesn’t sacrifice stills quality to get there.
What’s exciting is that this is all just the beginning. I can only imagine how the upcoming professional Z-series lenses will perform on ultra-high-resolution camera bodies when they come out. It looks like Nikon is designing these lenses to be able to handle way more resolution than the Z6’s and Z7’s 24.5 MP and 45.7 MP sensors…
Overall, Nikon has done a remarkable job with the first iteration of its mirrorless system. Personally, I am happy to have bought the Z6 along with the newly-released lenses, and I am looking forward to seeing and testing all the Z-series lenses and cameras Nikon is planning to bring out in the near future. If you have any questions or special requests, please let us know in the comments page of the review.
Where to Buy
B&H is currently selling the Nikon Z6 body for $1,996.95 (as of 11/11/2018). You can add on the 24-70mm f/4 lens for $600, which we recommend. Nikon is also running a special through B&H where you can trade in any used camera for $200 – plus the value of the camera – for the Nikon Z6.
- Build Quality
- Focus Speed and Accuracy
- Image Stabilization
- Battery Life
- Image Quality
- High ISO Performance
- Size and Weight
- Metering and Exposure
- Movie Recording Features
- Dynamic Range
- Speed and Performance
Photography Life Overall Rating
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