The Nikon Z7 II is the update to the original Z7, one of Nikon’s first-generation full-frame mirrorless models that debuted in 2018. At first glance, both the Nikon Z7 II and Z7 may look very similar, but on closer inspection there are some key differences that might make all the difference for some users. In this Nikon Z7 II vs Z7 comparison we’ll analyse the specifications of both cameras and ultimately help you decide whether you should sell your Nikon DSLR or original Z7 and upgrade to the Z7 II.
- Both cameras: Full-frame (FX 35.9 x 23.9mm) 45.7MP backside illuminated (BSI) sensor
The Nikon Z7 II boasts the same full-frame 45.7MP backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor that was found in the original Z7. As such, the Z7 II also offers the same native sensitivity range as the original Z7, running from ISO 64 to 25,600.
- Nikon Z7 II: Dual Expeed 6 engines
- Nikon Z7: Expeed 6 engines
This is one area where the Z7 II stands apart. Nikon has paired the Z7 II’s sensor with two Expeed 6 processing engines. This is the first time Nikon has ever given one of its cameras two processors. Not even its powerful flagship D series DSLRs had this.
This extra processing power helps boost the Z7 II’s maximum continuous shooting rate to 10fps, an increase from 9fps on the original Nikon Z7. This power boost is also what’s needed to enable Eye Detection and focusing in video mode, which is new to the Z7 II.
Perhaps another key difference between the two cameras is that the Dual processors enable the Z7 II to focus in lower light than the Z7, and the Mark II is sensitive down to -4EV in Low light AF mode.
- Both cameras: Hybrid with phase and contrast detection
Like the Nikon Z7, the Z7 II offers the same hybrid autofocus system that uses both contrast and phase detection. Again, just as in the original Z7, this system provides 493 AF points that cover approximately 90% of the image sensor. This means you can focus very close to the edges of the frame.
In each autofocus mode, Single (AF-S) or Continuous (AF-C), both cameras have five AF point selection modes. However, the choice depends on the AF mode. In AF-S mode there’s Pinpoint AF, Single-point AF, Wide-area AF (Small), Wide-area AF (Large) and Auto-area AF. However, in AF-C mode this becomes Single-point AF, Dynamic-area AF, Wide-area AF (Small), Wide-area AF (Large) and Auto-area AF.
Both cameras also offer the same subject tracking capabilities, which you enable in Auto-area AF mode by pressing the OK button to activate a tracking point. You then simply position this over your subject, half-press the shutter and the camera begins to track your subject. In AF-C mode, both cameras adjust their focus if your subject distance changes.
- Nikon Z7 II: 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) at 60p
- Nikon Z7: 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) at 30p
Like the Z7, the Nikon Z7II can record 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video. However, Nikon gave videographers a real bonus by bumping the maximum frame rate from 30p to 60p in the Z7 II. Being able to record 4K video at 60p gives one a lot more flexibility, particularly if you want to create slow-motion effects.
And speaking of slow motion, both cameras also shoot Full HD video at up to 120p.
Video is 8-bit if you record internally to a memory card in the Nikon Z7 II or Z7. However, you can increase this quality to 10-bit 4:2:2 with (or without) N-Log in both cameras by connecting an external storage device via their HDMI port. Once the bit depth is set to 10-bit via the HMDI options in the menu, you cannot record video to an internal card.
Both cameras also offer timecode for when you’re editing video from multiple cameras. Focus peaking and zebra display are also available in both the Nikon Z7 II and Z7, as are timelapse movies.
With a compatible Atomos recorder connected, both the Nikon Z7 II and Z7 can record video as Apple ProRes Raw. However, you can only unlock this feature at a Nikon Service Centre at a cost of £179/$199.
- Both cameras: 0.5-inch 3.69-million-dot electronic viewfinder
Nikon has used the same QVGA 0.5-inch, 3.69-million-dot electronic viewfinder for the Z7 II that is in the original Z7. This EVF display 100% of the image that will be captured and provides 0.8x magnification.
Nikon optics are also built into the viewfinder.
- Both cameras: 3.2-inch 2,100,000-dot tilting touch-screen
Some were hoping for a vari-angle LCD with the Z7 II, but Nikon stuck with the same 3.2-inch, 2,100,000-dot tilting touch-screen on the back of the Nikon Z7 II as is on the Z7.
The touch control can be used on both cameras to select the AF point, zoom into or swipe through images, even navigating the menu and making setting selections. The main and Info menus are also navigable by touch.
- Nikon Z7 II: two slots, one for SD and one for XQD or CFexpress
- Nikon Z7: one slot for XQD or CFexpress
This is one of the big differences, along with the dual processors. Many of the complaints about the original Z7 were centred around its single XQD memory card slot. With the Z7 II, Nikon listened to its users and added two memory card slots to the Z7 II. One slot accepts XQD or CFexpress cards while the other accepts SD-type cards and is UHS-II compliant.
Either card can be used for storage, with one working as an overflow or back-up. It’s also possible to direct JPEG and raw files to different cards and to copy images from one card to another.
What’s more, the addition of an SD card slot is good news for anyone currently using a Nikon DSLR that uses the same media and is thinking about making the switch to mirrorless.
Because of the additional memory card slot and processing engine, the Z7 II is ever so slightly deeper (2mm / 0.1-inch) than the original Nikon Z7, but from our tests this small increase isn’t noticeable.
Should I sell my Nikon Z7?
You’re probably reading through this Nikon Z7 II vs Z7 comparison and noting that there’s not a whole lot of difference between the two cameras. If this is what you’re thinking, you’re absolutely right. There aren’t a whole lot of differences between the Nikon Z7 II and Nikon Z7, but the Z7 II is by no means a light refresh.
The addition of a second Expeed 6 processing engine may have been necessitated by the Z7 II’s Eye Detection and focusing capability in video mode, but it’s also given the camera a big power boost with faster frame rates for video and burst shooting.
The extra memory card slot is also a real bonus. It means you can keep shooting for longer without having to stop to empty your card. Or you can create a back-up of your content while you work.
And for those shooting mostly video, the boost to 4K at 60p might be enough to consider an upgrade.
Overall, the Nikon Z7 II probably doesn’t offer enough new features to motivate existing enthusiast users of the Z7 to upgrade. But professionals who bought the original Z7 should really consider selling and making the upgrade. There are enough new features and performance enhancements to resolve all of the niggling issues people had with the first generation.
The Z7 II should also appeal to those Nikon DSLR shooters out there who have been reluctant to trade in their existing cameras until Nikon released a viable mirrorless option. To those photographers out there: you should definitely trade in your DSLR and swap to the mirrorless Nikon Z7 II. As well as all the features outlined above, the Z7 II is well-built and weatherproof, offers superb handling and its menu system is excellent.
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