Nikon launched its original duo of full-frame mirrorless cameras in 2018 and then refreshed both models a few years later with the Nikon Z7 II and Nikon Z6 II. The updates weren’t massive, but there were a few key improvements that are likely to appeal to those who invested in the original Z6 and Z7. If you bought a Nikon Z6 you might be on the fence as to whether you should upgrade. In this Nikon Z6 II vs Z6 comparison we’ll explore the cameras’ key specifications to help you make a choice.
Like the original Z6, the Nikon Z6 II is the all-rounder companion to the higher resolution Z7 II in Nikon’s Z series range of full-frame mirrorless cameras. It’s primarily aimed at enthusiast photographers, but it’s also likely to appeal to professional photographers, perhaps wedding photographers, who don’t need the larger files sizes that the Nikon Z7 II delivers.
- Both cameras: Full-frame (FX 35.9 x 23.9mm) 24.5MP backside illuminated (BSI) sensor
Both the Nikon Z6 II and Z6 share the same full-frame (FX) 24.5-megapixel backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor, which produces images with 6048×4024 pixels. That means they measure 51.2x34cm or 20.2×13.4inches at 300dpi.
While that’s not the same level of resolution as the Nikon Z7 II and Z7, it’s still plenty of detail and more than enough for most photographers out there.
In our tests of both the Nikon Z6 II and Z5, noise is controlled extremely well. In fact, only at ISO 51,200 do we start to notice lack of detail in some low contrast areas.
- Nikon Z6 II: Dual Expeed 6
- Nikon Z6: Expeed 6
Looking at the Nikon Z6 II vs Z6 While both the Nikon Z6 II and Z6 use Nikon’s Expeed 6 processing engine, the company has added a second Expeed 6 processing engine for the Mark II. That extra power boost enables the Z6 II to achieve a maximum continuous shooting rate of 14fps – 2fps higher than the Z6 – with full autofocus and metering capability. What’s more, that rate can be maintained for 200 JPEGs or 124 uncompressed 12-Bit raw files.
The Nikon Z6 II also offers the same native sensitivity range as the Z6 at ISO 100 to 51,200, which is expandable to ISO 64-204,800.
- Both cameras: Hybrid with phase and contrast detection (273 points)
Nikon has kept the same 273-point hybrid autofocus system that uses both phase and contrast detection, with points covering 90% of the sensor. However, Nikon has made some tweaks to the AF system in the Z6 II which have improved both tracking and low-light performance.
Low-light shooters will find that the Nikon Z6 II can focus down to -6EV when using an f/2 or faster lens. To put that in real terms, this sort of light level is similar to the light cast by a quarter of the moon.
Nikon added human and animal eye AF to the Z6 via a firmware update after it was released. These have not only been added to the Z6 II as standard, but they also now function in video mode. That’s good news for wedding, portrait, lifestyle and wildlife photographers and videographers.
- Both cameras: 4K UHD at 30p (and up to 60p with Feb 2021 firmware)
The main difference in video between the Nikon Z6 II and Z6 is that the Z6 II has eye detection focusing for humans and animals. Otherwise, the Nikon Z6 II video capabilities remain largely the same as the Z6.
Both the Nikon Z6 II and Z6 can record 4K UHD (3840 × 2160) video at 30p. Nikon also launched a firmware update in February 2021 that gave users of both cameras the option to record 4K video at 60p.
It’s worth noting, though, that this 60p recording option will be subject to a 1.5x crop factor. This means, for example, that a focal length of 24mm will look like 36mm.
Slow motion fans will also like the option to record Full HD video at up to 120p.
Internal video footage is in 8-bit colour, but you can push this to 10-bit 4:2:2 with N-Log with an external recorder via the HDMI connection. This gives you more flexibility for grading and colour matching.
Like the Z6, the Nikon Z6 II also offers Timecode, focus peaking and zebra display, and you can adjust the focusing speed and tracking sensitivity to suit your subject.
- Both cameras: 0.5-inch 3.69-million-dot electronic viewfinder
Like the Z6, the Nikon Z6 II offers a 0.5-inch 3.6-million-dot electronic viewfinder that boasts fluorine and anti-reflective coatings to repel dirt and reduce reflections. Both cameras’ EVFs also show 100% of the image with 0.8x magnification.
There are higher resolution EVFs out there, if this is a crucial specification for you, but the viewfinder on the Nikon Z6 II and Z6 is very good and offers a clear view of your image.
- Both cameras: 3.2-inch 2,100,000-dot tilting touch-screen
Like the EVF, the Nikon Z6 II and Z6 also share the same 3.2-inch, 2,100,000-dot tilting touch-screen. Both cameras’ touchscreens are responsive, allowing you to quickly set the AF point or swipe through images or menu settings.
While the screen tilts, it cannot be tilted through 180°. This means you can’t see it from in front of the camera if you were trying to film yourself.
- Both cameras: 5-axis in-body image stabilisation
Although Nikon uses lens-based stabilisation (VR) for its DSLRs, it introduced 5-axis in-body stabilisation (VR) with the original Z6 and Z7. The Nikon Z6 II also offers IBIS (see which cameras have IBIS) and provides a shutter speed compensation value of 5EV.
- Nikon Z6 II: XQD/CFexpress card slot; SD card slot
- Nikon Z6: XQD/CFexpress card slot
The single, XQD memory card slot (see the best XQD cards you can buy today) was one of the big criticisms of the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7. Thankfully, Nikon listened to its users and like the Z7 II, the Nikon Z6 II has dual memory card slot.
There is one XQD card slot (with CFexpress compatibility added via a firmware upgrade) and a second slot for SD-type memory cards. This new slot accepts SD/SDHC/SDXC media and is UHS-II compliant.
What’s more, there’s an option in the menu that allows users to specify which of the cards is the primary one and then set the second card to act as an overflow or back-up. Alternatively, you can send raw files to one card and JPEGs to another.
Should I Sell My Nikon Z6?
As you can see from this Nikon Z6 II vs Z6 comparison, the Z6 is an excellent camera and Z6 II is better. But is it better enough to warrant upgrading? It really depends on your needs. For enthusiasts and casual shooters, your Nikon Z6 probably still has everything you need.
But if you shoot weddings, portraiture, or even sport and wildlife, the extra power boost from the dual processing engines could be a big bonus. So will the ability to use human and animal eye AF tracking in video mode. These users should strongly consider selling their Z6 and buying a Nikon Z6 II.
It’s probably unlikely that the improvements Nikon made in the Z6 II will entice many existing Z6 users to upgrade, but if you’re a Nikon DSLR user or anyone looking to take the step up into full-frame photography you should seriously consider selling your current kit and investing in a Z6 II.
It really is a solid all-rounder that can do anything. Its build and handling are very intuitive. It’s powerful, fast, delivers great results and is more responsive than its predecessor.
Sponsored: Thinking of selling your Nikon Z6 or Nikon DSLR to upgrade? Get a free instant quote from MPB and find out what your kit is worth. Selling your gear to MPB is easy and secure. Plus get free doorstep pickup and super-fast payment. We’re loved and trusted by more than 250,000 visual storytellers around the world and we’re rated excellent with five stars on Trustpilot. Buy. Sell. Trade. Create.