Nikon has just announced the second generation of their full-frame mirrorless bodies, updating the Z 6 and Z 7 to Z 6II and Z 7II. These feature updates improve some crucial areas of camera performance, but is it enough to keep them competitive? Check out the features that have changed and decide for yourself.
Firstly, the bodies are the same. Other than some slight differences to accommodate things like the new vertical grip (finally!), all the buttons and controls have remained in the same positions. This makes interoperability between cameras a breeze, but also reflects the very small degree of change involved in this update. With that out of the way, let's talk about what’s actually changed.
The cameras now feature dual EXPEED 6 processors. These power a number of the camera’s features, so more power is always welcome. In this case, the greater available power has allowed for increased frame rates, with the Z 6II now able to shoot at 14 fps and the Z 7 at 10 fps.
More processing power also means higher potential frame rates for video. Now, the cameras can do 4K at 60p, up from the more limited 4K at 30p of the last generation. While this isn’t a class leading spec, considering other cameras are capable of 8K, it’s realistic and well implemented. I’d strongly expect less heat related concerns connected to this level of performance.
One final area of speed-improvements is with autofocus. In both regular and low light, performance has apparently been improved. Eye and face detect AF has been added to the Wide-Area (L) mode. Low light AF has an “improved… detection range”. Apparently the Z 7II can work down to a crazy low -3 EV.
To support the faster speeds, the buffer has been greatly expanded. In both cameras, the buffer size has more than tripled, a particularly impressive feat in a 45 megapixel camera where I never hit the buffer limit to begin with.
The single CFexpress/XQD card slot has finally been paired with an SD card slot. For me, this is way bigger than a single card. While I didn’t have reliability worries, I instead had an issue with the absurd cost of the XQD form factor for less performance-oriented shooting. I’m looking forward to just being able to throw a stack of SD cards in the bag when going for a hike or similar.
Video has received a host of additional updates, with support for 10-bit N-Log and HLG, as well as optional 12-bit ProRes raw. Even small changes like the ability to flip the orientation of focus rings to match other cine lenses show the attention to detail in this update.
The cameras also support USB power draw, enabling longer battery life than would be possible with just the built in battery. They mention “Portions of the information display can be hidden with still-image shooting and video recording, allowing an unobstructed view of the scene,” which hopefully refers to being able to finally get a clean, composition focused view via live view.
The cameras now support the MB-N11 vertical grip. Since release, the Z cameras have been missing a true, button rich vertical grip. This looks like a perfect option, intercompatible with both the Z 6II and Z 7II.