- EXPEED 6 image processor
- Native ISO of 100-51200
- 5-axis Sensor-Shift image stabilization
- 12 fps continuous shooting
- 273-point hybrid autofocus system
- 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen LCD with 2.1-million-dots
- 3.69-million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder with 100% coverage
- OLED top plate display
- Full frame 4K UHD video recording up to 30p
- SnapBridge Wi-Fi with Bluetooth
- Magnesium alloy body
- Full weather sealing
- 200,000 shutter life
I’ve got a Nikon D850 in my camera bag and recently added a Nikon Z7.
The other day, I had the opportunity to shoot with a Nikon Z6 - the Z7’s baby brother, if you will - and took that as a chance to see how good the more affordable mirrorless camera from Nikon really is.
Nikon Z6 Review: Essential Specs
In reality, the Z6 and Z7 share more specifications than not. Those of you that have read my Nikon Z7 review will note that the list of essential specs below looks awfully familiar:
24.5-megapixel full frame back-illuminated sensor
The biggest difference between the Z7 and the Z6 is that the latter has a less resolute sensor at 24.5-megapixels (compared to the Z7’s 46-megapixels).
The Z6 also has fewer phase-detect autofocus points (273 versus 493).
But the Z6 has some things that work in its favor over the Z7. This includes faster burst shooting (12 fps versus 9 fps in the Z7) and a higher top-end native ISO range at 51200 (compared to 25600 for the Z7).
Apart from that, these cameras are highly comparable.
Both have magnesium alloy, weather-sealed bodies. Both have in-body image stabilization. Both have the same gorgeous EVF and the same 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD as well. The list of similarities goes on and on.
Nikon Z6 Design and Build
Having shot with both the Z6 and Z7, I can attest to the fact that the Z6 has the same excellent design and build quality that the more expensive Z7 enjoys.
In short, this thing is built like a tank, and I can imagine it can take a few lumps with no ill effects.
The camera feels good in your hand - even if you’ve historically shot with a bigger DSLR. It has a nice grip, that, while not the same size as the one on my D850, is still large enough for me to feel like I’ve got a good handle on the camera, even though my pinky finger was dangling a bit.
The magnesium alloy construction comes in handy to save weight, given the camera is fully weather-sealed. The camera still feels light in the hand and easy to manipulate.
The controls are easy for me to reach, though I found that I sometimes accidentally bumped the AF-point joystick, which was annoying. I imagine it will be hard for some smaller-handed shooters to easily reach the customizable buttons on the front of the camera, though I didn’t find this to be a particular problem.
The layout of the Z6’s buttons and dials is familiar for Nikon shooters. The biggest difference is that the buttons for resetting the camera and formatting a memory card that you find on many Nikon DSLRs are not on the Z6.
Like on the Z7, the Z6 has a single XQD card slot. I know many Nikon shooters lament this, but I’m not bothered by it.
As I noted earlier, the Z6 shares the same 3.69-million-dot electronic OLED viewfinder as the Z7. The display is beautifully bright and crisp, though live view can be laggy.
The similarly high-resolution LCD is a joy to view. It tilts down by about 45-degrees and up more than 90-degrees, which is a nice feature for getting low-angle and high-angle stills and video.
As with the Z7, the LCD’s touch capabilities are much welcomed. The screen is accurate and responsive, and can be used for a variety of functions, including setting the desired autofocus point.
Nikon Z6 Image Quality
Though some will look at the Z6’s 24.5-megapixel sensor and scoff that it’s so much less resolute than the Z7’s, I found it to produce beautiful details when shooting with a Z-mount 50mm f/1.8 S lens.
Not only were the details quite pleasing, but so too was the performance at high ISOs. The shots were clean and relatively free of noise, even as I pressed higher up the ISO range. Its low-light performance is outstanding.
That’s due in part to the extra stop of native ISO range (up to 51200) as well as the 5-axis image stabilization. The result of that is that you have much more latitude when shooting in dark lighting conditions to still capture good detail.
Speaking of details, the Z6 does an excellent job of capturing highlights. Where most consumer-grade cameras opt to expose for shadows, the Z6 is designed to capture detail in the highlights, which is how many professionals prefer it to be.
Beyond that, I found the Z6 to produce images that have excellent dynamic range, beautiful color, low noise, and excellent sharpness throughout the frame. Distortion and chromatic aberration were not a problem, either.
Nikon Z6 Video Capabilities
Many consumers that buy the Z6 will likely do so because of its robust video-recording capabilities.
Like the Z7, the Z6 sports 4K UHD video, but unlike its big brother, the Z6 does so in full frame. Its oversampled 4K footage is absolutely top-notch and on par with higher-end Sony cameras that I’ve tested, like the a7 III. (Nikon Z6 vs Sony a7 III)
You can shoot slow-motion video at 1080/120p, and you can utilize video settings for still shots (or utilize different settings if you wish).
The Z6’s autofocus system is a champ during video capture, as is its 5-axis image stabilization. The result of that is beautifully smooth video, even when shooting handheld of a moving subject.
External video capture is an option, too, with an HDMI out option to an external recorder for 10-bit Log footage, and internal 8-bit video capture is available up to 100Mbps.
Nikon Z6 Review: Final Verdict
To say that the Nikon Z6 is impressive is an understatement.
Is it perfect? No. No camera is.
But it’s a really good camera, especially given its price of less than $2,000.00 for the body only. Honestly, if I didn’t want the larger sensor of the Z7 for my large-format landscape photography, the Z6 would have been my choice.
It shares many of the Z7’s best features, and since I’m getting more and more into video production, its improved video features are quite attractive.
In the end, this is a class-leading mirrorless camera if you ask me. Though it was frustrating to wait so long for Nikon to get into the mirrorless game, they hit it out of the park with the Z6.