Nikon Z6 Review

Nikon Z6 Review

Mirrorless full format system camera

With the Z 6, Nikon is launching its second mirrorless full-frame system camera at the end of November 2018. With an identical housing and with the exception of the sensor with “only” 24 megapixel resolution and practically identical features, it will be available at a considerably lower price (1,400 euros less) than the Z 7 and thus promises to appeal to a wider range of buyers. Our detailed test report reveals whether the resolution is the only thing one has to do without and whether the image sensor perhaps even promises advantages in the image quality.

Short evaluation

Pros

  • High speed (autofocus, storage time, continuous shooting)
  • Very good image quality up to ISO 6,400
  • Excellent electronic viewfinder (large, responsive and high-resolution)
  • Robust, splash-proof, high-quality processed housing

Cons

  • Wretched slow data transfer via USB-3 interface
  • No eye recognition
  • Small series picture buffer
  • Only one, plus exotic XQD memory card slot

 

The Nikkor Z 24-70 mm F4 S is an “expandable”. Already for the wide angle position it has to be extended a bit. It is retracted for transport so that it is as compact as possible.

With the exception of the image sensor, the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 are absolutely identical in terms of resolution, the number of autofocus sensors and the speed of the series shot. Therefore, this test of the Z 6, which we were only able to test for one week, is largely based on that of the Z 7. However, the Z 6 costs “only” just under 2,450 Euros with the enclosed FTZ adapter, while the set of the Z 6 we tested with the standard zoom 24-70 mm F4 S costs around 2,900 Euros. We were also able to test the new 50 mm F1.8 S on the new Z 6, but we will do the extensive testing of the lens with the Z 7 as soon as Nikon can provide us with this combination.

Ergonomics and workmanship

Nikon’s goal with the new system was not to build the smallest full-frame system cameras, but to build particularly ergonomic ones without throwing the compact aspect completely overboard. With the almost 13.5 x ten x seven centimetre housing, Nikon has succeeded in keeping up with the size class of the current third generation of full-frame system cameras of the Sony Alpha-7 family, but at the same time delivering a more robust housing. With the exception of the base plate and the left side of the housing, which contains the wireless interfaces as well as the connections, the housing of the Z 6 is made of a robust magnesium alloy. In addition, numerous seals are designed to protect against the ingress of dust and splash water into the housing at the level of Nikon DSLRs, such as a D850.

And regarding the D850: The Z 6 is about one centimeter narrower, almost three centimeters lower and one centimeter less deep. Since the weight of the Z 6 with less than 670 grams is also a good third lower than that of the D850, you can definitely say that the mirrorless Z 6 is much smaller and lighter than a comparable DSLR, even though it’s not a small and light camera in absolute terms, but relatively so, and that counts in this case.

However, this does not harm ergonomics. The grip is very well formed and offers even the little finger a good grip with a medium sized hand. Thanks to the generous, non-slip, grained rubber coating, the thumb recess on the back and the incision for the middle finger, the Z 6 lies securely and firmly in the hand. In fact, the camera is so well balanced that you can hold it quite loosely in your hand without it slipping away. With the set lens Z 24-70 mm F4 S, the Z 6 easily cracks the mark of one kilogram. Nevertheless, Nikon has succeeded in creating a compact set lens that fits well to the Z 6, not least due to the pull-in mechanism. Against a slight resistance, it can be extended mechanically and zoomed with an eighth of a turn. It even has splash water and dust protection.

The rear touchscreen of the Nikon Z 6 can be folded up and down, the menus are well-known. The electronic viewfinder is impressively large and high-resolution.

With the exception of the program selector wheel, all controls important for recording are within reach of the right hand. These include the two optimally positioned and pleasantly running multifunction wheels, the four-way selector, the focus joystick and even the switch lever, which is arranged around the shutter release as usual with Nikon. The shutter release offers a well palpable, albeit quite soft first pressure point and can therefore be pressed gently without tearing the camera.

The program selector wheel to the left of the viewfinder must be operated with the entire left hand. While the index finger must keep the locking knob pressed for unlocking, the wheel can be turned with the thumb or middle finger or both together. Accidental operation is thus excluded. Otherwise, only the playback and delete buttons are located to the left of the viewfinder, which are not needed during recording. The AF-On function, ISO sensitivity, video recording, exposure compensation, continuous advance, and magnification buttons have fixed assignments. There are also two function keys between the handle and bayonet. They do not lie directly under the fingertips, so that they are not accidentally pressed. To do that, you have to loosen the grip hand a little to operate it. Good if the second hand supports the camera or lens from below. The upper Fn1 button is preset with white balance, the lower Fn2 button with focus mode, because the Z 6 unfortunately does not have a switch for selecting between single and continuous autofocus or manual focus. By the way, the lens ring can also be assigned another function as an alternative to manual focusing, such as aperture, ISO sensitivity or exposure correction. However, these functions are then no longer protected against accidental adjustment.

Such preassigned, but changeable key functions are advantageous for individualization, but do not make operation more self-explanatory. Otherwise, the operating concept is similar to that of the high-priced Nikon DSLRs. The quick menu or the main menu, which is divided into seven areas, do not give Nikon connoisseurs any puzzles. Here and there there there are specific, partly new functions, but on the whole you find your way around well. However, this does not mean that the menu is particularly clear. Eight menu items fit maximum on the screen, up to five menu pages belong to a category. It’s not always easy to find directly what you’re looking for. The individual menu even contains seven pages, whereby an intermediate level brings some order through the color categorization into this submenu. Fortunately, favorite menu items can be stored in a customizable menu to find them faster. Or you switch it to a menu with the last used menu items. This allows you to find settings that you last changed more quickly.

As with a DSLR, the viewfinder is one of the central elements of a mirrorless system camera, even in the middle class, to which one can count the almost 2,500 Euro expensive Z 6. The 0.8x magnifying and thus enormously large viewfinder resolves fine 3.7 million pixels. This makes it almost impossible to spot the individual pixels, even though the difference to a classic SLR is immediately obvious. Finally, the viewfinder lights up by itself and displays all recording parameters, the white balance and much more with its live image. The viewfinder offers a far-reaching diopter correction, whereby the adjustment wheel must first be pulled out in order to be able to adjust the value, as is the case with an analogue wristwatch. The viewfinder itself offers a large entrance pupil, but due to the high magnification, which by the way is subjectively quite distortion-free, you still don’t have an optimal overview with the glasses on.

The Z 6 is Nikon’s second available mirrorless full-frame system camera. The image sensor has a moderate resolution of 24.5 megapixels and can also capture 4K video. In addition, it is movably mounted for image stabilization.

Thanks to the proximity sensor, the viewfinder activates automatically as soon as you take the camera to your eye. The button to the left of the viewfinder controls whether an automatic switchover takes place, whether only the rear screen is used, or whether the latter remains deactivated. This saves the most power, because the live image only needs to be displayed as soon as you take the camera to your eye. The live image can display grid lines, a 3D spirit level, a live histogram and an exposure preview in the viewfinder or on the screen. The viewfinder image even resolves fine enough to allow an evaluation of the sharpness without magnifying glass or focus peaking (both of course available). In addition, the light amplification ensures that you can still see something in the viewfinder even if it is already too dark for the eye. Of course, powerful lenses still have an advantage here.

With a diagonal of eight centimeters and a resolution of over two million pixels, the rear screen is hardly inferior to the viewfinder. It is a touch screen that can be tilted 40 degrees downwards and 90 degrees upwards. At least in landscape format, this allows shots from frog and bird perspectives on the outstretched arm and virtually replaces a “light well viewfinder”, so that one can also take inconspicuous photographs in front of the chest with a screen behind the camera and even trigger them with a fingertip. With a brightness of almost 750 cd/m², it effortlessly illuminates against the bright sun. The touch function is not only limited to the selection of the autofocus area or the shutter release, but also extends to the displayed parameters and even the main menu. If the Z 6 were not so wonderfully operable via keys, it would certainly be used more often. Anyone who prefers typing on the screen will be pleased. By the way, the viewfinder eyepiece is so far back that the nose does not “stick” to the screen. However, there is no touchpad function while looking through the viewfinder, as the Z 6 offers a focus joystick that many conservative photographers prefer anyway.

In addition to the rear screen, the Z 6 also has an information display on the top of the camera. It displays the most important recording parameters in white, illuminated text. The lighting cannot be switched off, but when switched off this display is also dark and no longer readable.

The Nikon Z 6 offers numerous interfaces. A stereo microphone and headphones can be connected, but Mini-HDMI and the modern USB-C for battery charging are also built in. A Nikon accessory socket is also not missing.

Nikon was generous with the interfaces and built in almost everything the photographer’s heart desires. The rubber covers don’t look too good, but they work. The microphone and headphone sockets should even delight videographers. The HDMI interface of type C (Mini-HDMI) is small enough, but not as mechanically susceptible as the micro-version type D. Nikon has also opted for the modern type C for the USB port, which can no longer be plugged in the wrong way round. Via the USB-C interface, the EN-EL15b battery can be charged directly in the camera, if desired, with up to three amps and thus just as fast as in the external charger. The batteries EN-EL15 and 15a also fit, but cannot be charged in the camera, but only with the included charging cradle. Nikon includes the matching USB cable, but the matching USB charger is not included, unlike with the Z 7. Unfortunately the Nikon doesn’t charge the battery with any USB charger. We couldn’t see a pattern (for example a minimum performance) and so all we can do is try it out. In addition, the Z 6 has a multi-function connector, for example for a clip-on GPS (see photo tip in the links below) or a remote release cable.

What the Z 6 lacks, however, is a flash sync socket. Of course, the Z 6 offers a standard flash shoe with center contact and TTL contacts, but no internal flash. A connection for a functional portrait handle is also missing. A pure Akkugriff however should be in work. That wouldn’t be wrong either, because although the large EN-EL15b is in the shaft, only 310 CIPA-standard shots are possible. The number of pictures depends anyway strongly on the use, with serial picture function it is more, who works much with the viewfinder, will be able to take a few pictures less than with screen use. Bluetooth or Snapbridge also needs energy, although not much. After all, the battery bay is located very far away from the metal tripod thread, which is located in the optical axis, so that the battery can also be changed with a rather large mounted tripod quick-change plate.

There are a number of reasons why spirits are likely to split over the memory card slot. The flap is opened together with the thumb tray and thus generously exposes the shaft. Singular. Unfortunately, the Z 6 lacks a second memory card slot. But even the selected memory card format XQD does not have many friends. It is still considered exotic, the memory cards and readers are significantly more expensive compared to SD. But the cards are more robust and theoretically faster than current SD memory cards. Although the Z 6 with almost 220 MByte per second offers the fastest write rate so far that we could measure (even the Z 7 is beaten by a narrow margin), this would also have been loosely possible with fast SD cards, after all, there are also models with a speed of almost 300 MB/s of these. It’s also annoying that a card reader is practically mandatory, because despite the theoretically fast USB-3 super-speed interface, the data transfer rate via USB cable in our editorial office creeps along on three different computers with less than 40 MB/s (an external SSD connected instead for cross-checking purposes brings it up to a whopping 280 MB/s, a Sony Alpha 7 III manages almost 80 MB/s). The Z 6 is not recognized by the computer as a mass storage device, but as a camera, and is therefore accessed via a slow protocol (MTP). Transferring several 45 megabyte raw files in this way becomes a torture.

Equipment

The program selector wheel of the Nikon Z 6 comprises a total of eight positions. There is even a fully automatic mode in which the camera makes all shooting settings. Nikon, on the other hand, has dispensed with motif preoramas, and that’s fine in this price range. Instead, in addition to the classic creative programs P, A, S and M, there are three user programs on the dial, so the photographer can directly access three different configurations. ISO auto and exposure compensation also work in manual mode, so you can take pictures with auto but fixed exposure time and aperture.

The Nikon Z 6 offers a very well shaped and ergonomic handle. The shoulder display, which provides information on the most important recording parameters, is also practical.

The mechanical shutter offers up to 1/8,000 second short exposure times and works quite quietly. It is also possible to activate an electronic first shutter curtain to reduce vibrations in the individual functions, but this increases the shortest possible shutter speed to 1/2,000 seconds. In addition, the Z 6 offers a quiet release with purely electronic shutter. Then 1/8,000 second short exposure times are possible again, but do not open up shorter exposure times as with other camera manufacturers and also restrict some camera functions. The bracketing functions include classic bracketing, white balance bracketing and even focus bracketing. The maximum number of shots in a bracket depends on the step size. With 0.3 to 1 EV, up to nine shots are possible, with 2 and 3 EV exposure distance, there is a maximum of five shots. This is loosely enough for HDR recordings. In addition, Nikon is able to capture and assemble HDR images directly. The exposure difference and smoothing can be adjusted, and the individual images can also be saved separately from the final result.

The focus bracketing function can be found in a separate menu item and offers various settings from the number of shots to the step size of the focus shift, the time interval, the memory folder and much more. The Nikon can only assemble the recordings on its own, this has to be done on a PC with suitable software.

The autofocus system of the Z 6 works with 273 phase autofocus sensors, which are distributed far to the edge of the image acquisition sensor. From infinity to two meters, the Z 6 focuses with the set lens in less than 0.2 seconds, which is very fast. The shutter release delay is 0.07 seconds, which is fast but not record breaking. DSLRs also reach this level, but some mirrorless system cameras, on the other hand, are much faster. In total, the shutter release delay including focusing is 0.17 to 0.24 seconds, which is a very good value and just as fast as the Z 7. However, the autofocus also works only moderately well with the Z 6 when tracking subjects. After all, there is also a face recognition, but no eye recognition, which would have been extremely helpful for portraits. The precision of the focus is good after all. In darker environments the autofocus doesn’t start to skid, but it becomes noticeably slower. With the native Z lenses, autofocus works fastest, but lenses connected via the FTZ adapter also focus fast, in the AF-S not slower than on a DSLR. AI, AF-S and AF-P lenses work without restriction. The adapter does practically nothing else than convert some air, shield it darkly, adjust the difference between the bayonet support dimensions (F and Z) and of course the connection itself.

The tripod thread of the Nikon Z 6 lies exemplary in the optical axis. The distance to the battery compartment is also comfortably large despite the compact camera dimensions.

The serial shooting function should theoretically achieve up to twelve frames per second. Practically this was only the case in JPEG. With 14 bit raw recordings (compressed) we measured only nine frames per second. The mechanical lock was used, which makes the Z 6 much faster than the Z 7. The biggest drawback, however, is the much too small buffer. While Sony has huge buffers and slow memory card interfaces built into its cameras, Nikon does it the other way round. In JPEG, the Z 6 can withstand the high continuous shooting speed for at least 42 images, which is sufficient for many situations. With a full buffer, at least almost seven continuous shots per second are possible continuously, but after 200 shots at the latest, this is definitely over, the camera sets the maximum via menu setting, which can only be reduced if desired, but not expanded. In Raw, on the other hand, the buffer is full after 31 shots, after which it continues with a respectable 5.3 serial shots per second. At just under 45 megabytes per losslessly compressed 14-bit raw, this is just under 220 megabytes per second write speed and thus a new record in our measurements. A live image as well as exposure tracking during continuous shooting is only possible at a reduced frame rate of 5.5 frames per second. With faster frame rates, the last photo taken is displayed in the viewfinder, which, with a few exceptions, is a real disadvantage of many mirrorless system cameras.

Thanks to the movable image sensor, the Nikon Z 6 can theoretically and practically achieve up to five f-stops longer exposure times without a tripod than without a stabilizer. The sensor is shifted on three axes (horizontal, vertical and in rotation), five axes are compensated: In addition to rotation, there are horizontal and vertical pans as well as camera shifts. Depending on the recording distance, sometimes one is stronger, sometimes the other. For distant motives the swivels are a problem, for the Near ones rather shifts. The image stabilizer is noticeable by a very low acoustic noise, but above all by its effective work. It also works with adapted lenses. If the lens itself has an optical image stabilizer, the lens compensates for the swivels. This is especially useful for telephoto lenses and much more effective. The camera image stabilizer compensates for the remaining three axes. There are no special functions like a pixel shift resolution increase with Nikon.

The Z 6 records videos in a maximum 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) at up to 30 frames per second. In Full HD (1,920 x 1,080), up to 120 frames per second are possible for slow motion effects or particularly smooth motion sequences. The sensor shift image stabilizer remains active and the entire sensor width can be used for filming. With the exception of the trimming from the 3:2 sensor format to the 16:9 video aspect ratio, there is no loss of image angle. In contrast to the Z 7, the video is not recorded using the line skipping method, so all image sensor cells are used, which ensures somewhat better image quality, especially at higher ISO sensitivities. If you want, you can switch on an electronic image stabilizer, which calms the image significantly, but also has some image trimming. The Z 6 tracks the autofocus gently and quite safely. The sound is recorded either via the integrated stereo microphone or via an externally connected stereo microphone. There is also a level indicator with a level control option, and the sound can be controlled live via headphones.

Nikon has installed both Bluetooth and WLAN in the Z 6, which work together in the system named by Nikon Snapbridge. Thanks to Bluetooth, a permanent connection to the smartphone can be maintained in a relatively energy-saving way, so that, for example, geo-information from the smartphone for geotagging the images can be stored in the EXIF data directly when saving. Snapbridge also enables background transmission of small thumbnails. WLAN is activated for everything that requires a higher data transfer rate. It is not only used to transmit high-resolution images to the smartphone, but also for remote camera control via app including live image transmission. Since the second generation of Snapbridge, more extensive camera settings are possible. More details about Snapbridge and geotagging with the Z 6 can be found in the photo tips available via the links below.

The Nikon Z 6’s memory card slot only holds one card in the exotic XQD form factor. The cards are more expensive than the SD standard, but theoretically faster and more robust.

In contrast to earlier Snapbridge versions – this was a big criticism – the WLAN interface is no longer bound to Snapbridge, but can work independently. This enables wireless transfer of photos to computers. Also in the studio, a wireless remote control of the Nikon Z 6 is now possible from the computer, which of course also works wired (so-called tethering).

Picture quality

The Nikon Z 6 is equipped with a 24.5 megapixel 35mm sensor (36 x 24 mm). It is a back-illuminated CMOS sensor, so the photosensitive area is larger than conventional CMOS sensors where the traces are over the photosensitive area. As a side effect, the sensor can also better process light that is not incident quite vertically. This results in fewer color fringes, vignetting and edge blur. In contrast to the Z 7, however, the Z 6 has a resolution-reducing low-pass filter. According to Nikon, the sensor was developed in-house, but is manufactured on behalf of another manufacturer, who in turn uses Nikon equipment for chip production. Even if Nikon does not produce it itself, there is a lot of Nikon technology in it.

In order to analyze the image quality of the Nikon Z 6 precisely, we not only tested it in practice, where the Z 6, as already the Z 7, showed a somewhat dark exposure, but also in our test laboratory. In addition to the Nikon Z 24-70 mm F4 S, the Nikon Z 50 mm F1.8 S was also used, but its test report will only be made as soon as we were able to test it on the higher resolution Z 7.

Large full-frame sensor, even larger bayonet: According to Nikon, this makes it possible to use particularly fast lenses with the Z 6, but you still have to wait a bit for them. [Photo: Nikon]

The Nikon Z 24-70 mm F4 S already shows a high resolution in the image center with open aperture. Almost 58 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm) at 50 percent contrast are achieved in wide angle. When dipping down, the resolution up to F11 can partially increase to 59.4 lp/mm at the image center, after which diffraction reduces the resolution slightly despite diffraction correction by the camera. By the way, with the Z 50 mm F1.8 S we were able to achieve exactly the same maximum resolution of 59.4 lp/mm in the image center, which means that for the question of where the maximum resolution is, the 50s doesn’t bring any advantage, but it does offer a higher image quality overall (for example, with the edge resolution or the lower optical errors). At the edge of the picture, the zoom surprisingly resolves weakest in telescopic position. While a good 51 lp/mm is already present with an open aperture at short focal lengths and 44 lp/mm at medium focal lengths, which can even be increased to around 52 lp/mm at F11, the lens must be stopped down to at least F8 in telescopic position in order to crack the 50 lp/mm mark at all (only 33 lp/mm at F4 and a good 41 lp/mm at F5.6) and even reaches a best value of 54 lp/mm at F11, which means that the highest edge resolution of all focal lengths is achieved here.

The Z 24-70 mm F4 S hardly shows any optical errors. The distortion is perfectly corrected by the camera, even color fringes in the form of chromatic aberrations were not measurable. The situation is different with the edge darkening. In wide-angle and telephoto mode, this loss of light is clearly visible in the corners of the image with an open aperture of up to 1.3 f-stops, even if its course shows itself to be gentle and natural. Dimming to F5.6 helps, from F8 the edge darkening is negligibly low with less than half a f-stop.

The Nikon Z 6 offers ISO sensitivity from 100 to 51,200, which can be extended to ISO 50 and up to 204,800. However, these enhancements are accompanied by various losses in image quality. The signal-to-noise ratio is at a good level of over 40 dB up to ISO 400, acceptable at over 35 dB up to ISO 6,400, and drops dramatically above ISO 12,800. The noise always remains fine-grained, but from ISO 25.600 it shows a slight brightness noise, which increases strongly above ISO 51.200 (all measurements in JPEG format). Colour noise, on the other hand, plays practically no role. Up to ISO 6.400, the Z 6 shows a very high texture sharpness, which then decreases sharply. While at ISO 12.800 there are still sufficient details available, the images show clear losses of fine structures at ISO 25.600 and above. At low ISO sensitivities, on the other hand, there is even a slight over-sharpening, whereby the sharpness artifacts remain within limits.

While the input dynamic at ISO 50 is only a good 10.4 f-stops due to the signal attenuation, it reaches almost eleven f-stops at ISO 100. Up to ISO 800, the input dynamic decreases only minimally, but remains at a high level of over ten f-stops up to ISO 12,800. Up to ISO 102.400, it decreases to a still impressive nine f-stops, but at ISO 204.800 it drops to seven f-stops. With the exception of the signal-damped ISO 50 with a flatter curve, the tonal value transmission shows a clear increase in contrast, especially in the medium brightness range, which leads to a crisp image display. The output tonal range is extremely good up to ISO 200 with a good 250 of 256 possible brightness gradations and then decreases quite linearly with the increasing sensitivity up to ISO 6.400, but slightly more so above that. Up to ISO 400 the value is very good with over 224 brightness gradations, at ISO 1.600 there are good to very good 192 gradations and at ISO 6.400 just under 160 gradations. In addition, the output tonal range decreases more strongly, at ISO 25.600 the value of 128 steps is already significantly lower. The values of less than 96 gradations for all higher sensitivities are no longer within the acceptable range.

The supplied Nikon EN-EL15b battery can be charged directly in the camera. The older types EN-EL15 and EN-EL15a also fit, but can only be charged in the charger supplied with the camera.

The color deviation of the Nikon Z 6 is unusually high for a professional camera. The colors are quite trendy, especially in the area of green, orange, red, magenta and purple. Cyan tones are clearly shifted towards blue. This creates a subjectively beautiful, colourful picture impression, but is anything but neutral. The various white balance adjustment options, including a configurable automatic function, are not really a problem, especially as the manual white balance is extremely precise. In contrast to the Z 7, no increasing colour casts show up in the image at any sensitivity.

As already mentioned at the beginning, the Nikon Z 6 exposes extremely conservatively-cautiously. You could say she avoids the lights like the devil avoids holy water. If you don’t take care of a slight exposure correction before taking the picture, depending on the subject from +0.3 to +0.7 f-stops, the pictures appear a bit dark, but offer a good depth drawing as soon as you work them out with the image processing. Especially in the case of JPEG recordings that one does not actually want to edit, one should pay attention to this. In raw format, on the other hand, the cautious exposure is definitely an advantage, as the necessary drawing can be worked out perfectly, especially as a much higher color depth of up to 14 instead of 8 bits per color channel is available.

All in all, the Nikon Z 6 offers excellent image quality, especially at low sensitivities up to ISO 200, thanks not least to the very good Z 24-70 mm F4 S zoom lens. Up to ISO 800, there are hardly any limitations in image quality, but even up to ISO 6,400, they remain completely within reasonable limits. Depending on the measured value, the Z 6 is one to two, sometimes even three ISO levels better than the Z 7 and thus shows clear advantages of the lower-resolution image sensor with its larger and therefore more light-sensitive pixels. From ISO 6.400 the image quality drops significantly, from ISO 25.600 the Z 6 cannot perform magic and you have to accept significant losses. Nevertheless, the Z 6 is clearly the better available light camera than the Z 7.

Bottom line

With the Z 6, Nikon has succeeded in creating a very good mirrorless system camera, which, thanks to the lower price compared to the Z 7, is likely to appeal to a wider group of buyers with a slight loss of resolution. Due to the lower resolution, it is also the better available-light and sports camera, even if its somewhat small serial picture buffer prevents it from being called a real sports cannon. The case is very robust and ergonomic, in direct comparison even better than the established competition. The electronic viewfinder is a real delight, the viewfinder image is not only large, but also high-resolution, high-contrast and sharp. The large folding touch screen is also impressive. All in all, the camera also offers a very good performance: autofocus and storage times are fast, the continuous shooting rate is high, although not too enduring due to the somewhat tight buffer capacity, which also applies to the battery life. You won’t want to miss the Sensor-Shift image stabilizer anymore, which stabilizes every attached lens, no matter if native or adapted. Videographers will also enjoy the quiet Z 6 with its many interfaces, especially since the 4K video function does not require a horizontal crop and even adds a little extra to the quality of the Z 7. With the photo image quality as the most important discipline of a camera, the Z 6 is completely convincing. It has high resolution, which is not least due to the very good S-Line lenses, and offers good image quality even at higher sensitivities. However, there are still far too few directly fitting lenses, so that the set with the FTZ adapter appears most attractive for the unlimited use of almost all Nikon F lenses and the Z 24-70 mm F4 S, which, however, barely breaks the 3,000 Euro sound barrier.

The FTZ adapter allows the operation of Nikon F lenses, with AF-I, AF-S and AF-P lenses also with autofocus. [Photo: Nikon]

Fact sheet

Fact sheet
Manufacturer Nikon
Model Z 6
Sensor CMOS 35mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm (Crop factor 1.0
)25.3 Megapixels (physical)
24.5 Megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 5.9 µm
Resolution (max.) 6.048 x 4.024 (3:2)
Video (max.) 3.840 x 2.160 30p
Lens Nikon Z 24-70 mm F4 S (zoom lens)
Video viewfinder EVF, 100 % field coverage, 3,690,000 pixels resolution, 0.80x magnification (sensor-related), 0.80x magnification (KB equivalent), diopter compensation (-4.0 to 2.0 dpt), -4.0 to 2.0 dpt)
Monitor 3.2″ (8.0 cm)
Disbandment 2.100,000 pixels
tiltable yes
rotatable
swivelling
Touchscreen yes
AV connector HDMI Mini Output (Type C)
Fully automatic yes
Automatic motive control
Program automation yes
Program shift yes
Aperture priority yes
Aperture priority yes
Manual yes
Bulb long time exposure yes
HDR function yes
Panorama function k. A.
Exposure metering Matrix/multi-field measurement, center-weighted integral measurement, spot measurement
fastest shutter speed 1/8.000 s
Flash
Synchronous time 1/200 s
Flash connection Hot shoe: Nikon, standard center contact
WLAN yes
NFC
GPS external, permanent smartphone connection|wired or plug-on receiver
Remote release yes, cable release, remote control via Smartphone/Tablet
Interval shooting yes
Storage medium
XQD
Sensitivity
automatic ISO 100-25.600
manually ISO 50-204.800
White balance
automatic yes
manual measurement yes
Kelvin input yes
Fine correction yes
Autofocus yes
Number of measuring fields 273
Speed 0.17 s to 0.24 s
AF auxiliary light LED
Dimensions (mm) 134 x 101 x 68 mm
Weight (ready for operation) 664 g (housing only
)1.158 g (with lens)
Tripod socket in optical axis
Zoom
Zoom adjustment manual on lens
Battery life 310 images (according to CIPA standard)
– = “not applicable” or “not available”

Short evaluation

Pros

  • High speed (autofocus, storage time, continuous shooting)
  • Very good image quality up to ISO 6,400
  • Excellent electronic viewfinder (large, responsive and high-resolution)
  • Robust, splash-proof, high-quality processed housing

Cons

  • Wretched slow data transfer via USB-3 interface
  • No eye recognition
  • Small series picture buffer
  • Only one, plus exotic XQD memory card slot

Nikon Z6 Datasheet

Electronics

Sensor CMOS sensor 35mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm (crop factor 1.0
)25.3 megapixels (physical) and 24.5 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 5.9 µm
Photo resolution
6.048 x 4.024 Pixel (3:2)
6.048 x 3.400 pixels (16:9)
4.528 x 3.016 pixels (3:2)
4.528 x 2.544 pixels (16:9)
4.016 x 4.016 pixels (1:1)
3.936 x 2.624 pixels (3:2)
3.024 x 2.016 pixels (3:2)
3.024 x 1.696 pixels (16:9)
3.008 x 3.008 pixels (1:1)
2.944 x 1.968 pixels (3:2)
2.000 x 2.000 pixels (1:1)
1.968 x 1.312 pixels (3:2)
Picture formats JPG, RAW
Colour depth 36 bits (12 bits per color channel), 42 bits (14 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.31), DCF standard (version 2.0)
Video resolution
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 30 p
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 25 p
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 24 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 120 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 100 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 60 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 30 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 25 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 24 p
Maximum recording time 29 min 59 sec
Video format
MOV (Codec H.264)
MP4 (Codec H.264)

Lens

Lens mount
Nikon Z

Focusing

Autofocus mode Phase comparison autofocus with 273 sensors, autofocus working range from -4 EV to 19 EV, contrast autofocus
Autofocus Functions Single Auto Focus, Continuous Auto Focus, Tracking Auto Focus, Manual, AFL Function, AF Assist Light (LED), Focus Peaking, Focus Magnifier
Focus control Depth of field control, dimming button, Live View

Viewfinder and Monitor

Monitor 3.2″ (8.0 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 2,100,000 pixels, viewing angle 170°, brightness adjustable, colour adjustable, tiltable 90° upwards and 40° downwards, with touch screen
Info display additional info display (top) with illumination
Video viewfinder Video viewfinder (100 % field coverage) with 3,690,000 pixels, 0.80x magnification factor, diopter compensation (-4.0 to 2.0 dpt)

Exposure

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement (measurement above 75 % or 2 % of the image field)
Exposure times 1/8,000 to 30 s (Auto
)1/8,000 to 30 s (Manual)
1/8,000 to 30 s (Electronic Shutter)
Bulb Function
Exposure control Fully Automatic, Program Automatic (with Program Shift), Aperture Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual
Bracketing function Bracket function with maximum 9 shots, step size from 1/3 to 3 EV, HDR function
Exposure compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV with step size from 1/3 to 1/2 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO 100 to ISO 25.600 (automatic
)ISO 50 to ISO 204.800 (manual)
Remote access Remote release, cable release, remote control via smartphone/tablet
, remote control from computer: certain functions
Picture effects Blue, Brilliant, Landscape, Monochrome, Neutral, Pop Color, Portrait, Sepia, Toy Camera, 18 more image effects
White balance Auto, Cloudy, Sun, White balance bracket, Fine tuning, Shadow, Flash, Fluorescent lamp with 7 presets, Incandescent lamp with 1 presets, From 2,500 to 10,000 K, Manual 6 memory locations
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 12.0 fps at highest resolution and max. 42 stored photos, low speed 1-5 fps
, with AF-C max. 5.5 fps
Self-timer Self-timer with intervals of 2 s, special features: additional 5, 10 and 20 seconds forward, 1-9 shots with 0.5, 1, 2 or three second intervals
Timer Timer/interval recording with max. 9,999 recordings, start time adjustable
Shooting functions AEL function, AFL function, live histogram

Flashgun

Flash no built-in flash availableFlash shoe
: Nikon, standard center contact
Flash range Flash sync time 1/200 s
Flash functions Auto, Fill Flash, Flash On, Flash Off, High Speed Sync, Slow Sync, Flash On Second Shutter Curtain, Flash Exposure Compensation from -3.0 EV to +1.0 EV

Equipment

Image stabilizer Sensor shift (optical)
Memory
XQD
GPS function GPS external (permanent smartphone connection|wired or plug-on receiver)
Microphone Stereo
Power supply Power supply connectionUSB charging function
Power supply 1 x Nikon EN-EL15 (lithium ions (Li-Ion), 7.4 V, 1,030 mAh
)1 x Nikon EN-EL15a1
x Nikon EN-EL15b310
Images according to CIPA standard
Playback Functions Video editing, crop images, rotate images, protect images, highlight / shadow warning, playback histogram, playback magnifier, image index, slideshow function, zoom out
Face recognition Face recognition
Picture parameters Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, Noise Reduction
Special functions Electronic spirit level, Grid can be displayed, Orientation sensor, Live View, User profiles with 3 user profiles
Ports Data interfaces: Bluetooth, USBUSB type
:USB 3.0 SuperSpeedWLAN
: available (type: A, ac, B, G, N)
AV connectors AV output: HDMI output Mini (Type C
)Audio input: yes (3.5 mm jack (stereo with power supply))
Audio output: yes (3.5 mm jack (stereo, 3-pole))
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod socket 1/4″ in optical axis
Case Splash guard
Features and Miscellaneous Expeed 6 Image ProcessorSilent
ModeDust Data
Capture (Capture NX-D)
Eyes SensorSnapbridgeActiveD-LightingMulti-exposure
(add, brighten, darken)
5-Axis Image StabilizerExposure Brackets
(Flash, Acrive D-Lighting)
Adjustable Microphone LevelTime-lapse VideoElectronic

Image Stabilizer (Video)
Timecode RecordingN-Log-Output

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 134 x 101 x 68 mm
Weight 664 g (operational)

Other

included accessories Nikon BF-N1 (Camera Cover) Lens AccessoriesNikon
BS-1 (Hot Shoe Cover)
Nikon EN-EL15b Special BatteryNikon
MH-25a Charger for Special BatteriesNikon
UC-E24 USB Cable Carrying Strap
AN-DC19, Eyepiece Cover DK-28, USB Cable Clip
optional accessory Nikon EH-5c Power SupplyNikon
EP-5B Battery Compartment Adapter CableNikon
MB-N10 Battery / Battery Grip

 

 

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Peter Dench
I am Peter Dench. Digital Photographer, born in London 1972, currently living in Deerfield, near Chicago. I have numerous photography expositions and also working in model photography. In this website, PhotoPoint, I usually review cameras provided by local dealers in Illinois and by the manufacturers. Sometimes I, Peter Dench, review lenses too, but only when I have a suitable camera for them. Please let me know in the comments if I can improve any of these articles.