Nikon Z6 review: Second impressions after extended use
Last year, Nikon finally made its long-awaited debut on the mirrorless camera market with its Z series, including the full-frame Nikon Z6. With traditional Nikon style and quality, a more attractive entry price point than the Z7, and a growing range of interchangeable lenses, the Z6 made a splash upon release. But after nine months of use, and a recent robust firmware update, we thought it was time to give the Z6 another look.
Read on to see how the Z6 is holding up — and who we think this camera is right for, and whether or not you should invest in the Nikon Z series mirrorless system.
Inside the Nikon Z6: Specifications
First, let’s talk about a few specs and that aforementioned firmware upgrade.
The Z6 features a 24.5-megapixel full-frame (35.9mm x 23.9mm) sensor. It offers 12 FPS continuous shooting speed, an ISO sensitivity of 100 – 51,200, a top shutter speed of 1/8000 second and shoots 4K UHD video as well as 1080p video at 120 FPS. The Z6 also uses Nikon’s EN-EL15b rechargeable Li-ion battery, which is the same battery spec as their standard DSLR line — meaning you get the full power of a standard DSLR battery in a much more compact package.
In other words, the Nikon Z6 shoots high quality photos and video, quickly and reliably, and lasts as long as you need it to.
Nikon Z6 firmware 2.0 update: A big deal
What’s under the hood hasn’t changed from last year, but the firmware the Z6 is running has. The newest update features eye detection autofocus, which means you can track your subject’s eyes, even when they’re on the move or blinking; you can even track multiple people and select who to focus on.
The firmware upgrade also delivers improved autofocusing in low-light conditions (reducing reliance on the Low-Light AF mode), and auto exposure now tracks every shot in continuous shooting mode.
The firmware 2.0 update has made the Z6 even more powerful and reliable than before.
Who is the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera for?
There are two groups of people who will fall in love with the Nikon Z6.
- First, YouTubers and content creators. For on-the-go storytellers, the fast, compact and flexible Z6 is an ideal companion. And its incredible battery life will keep you going all day.
- Second, Nikon enthusiasts. Nikon lovers have been waiting a long time for a Nikon mirrorless, and it’s finally here — and it lives up to the Nikon name.
Why content creators will love the Z6
Content creators will find plenty to love with the Nikon Z6! Here are just a few benefits of the Nikon Z6:
- Specs: Technically speaking, the Z6 has everything you need to capture your vision, whether it’s high-res photos or HD video. It offers full frame shooting, giving you more of the picture to capture
- Features: No matter the situation or scene, the Z6 delivers beautifully sharp photos, with rich, deep colors and natural skin tones. The firmware update makes the autofocus and face/eye detection better than ever, and the improved, fast lowlight autofocus makes night and low-light shooting a breeze.
- Comfort and feel: The Z6 is compact, easy to carry, and flexible. If you’ve used a Nikon before, you’re familiar with the textured, contoured grip featured on their full body cameras; the same feel is replicated here, to great effect. Combined with a small notch to rest your thumb, you’ll never get tired holding the Z6 — you’ll feel like you can shoot all day.
- Battery life: With the EN-EL15b battery, you actually can shoot all day. Battery life in the Z6 is like nothing we’ve seen in a compact mirrorless before.
- Ease of use: The Z6’s LCD screen uses touchscreen technology which, combined with its intuitive menu system, makes navigating the menus and settings incredibly easy. Customizable favorites put your most-needed functions at the push of a button.
- Tested and true: The Z6 is backed by 100+ years of high quality camera/lens manufacturing from one of the world’s most trusted photography brands.
Whether you’re an Instagram influencer, a marketer building your own brand, or a vlogger or YouTube personality, you’ll feel like the Z6 was built just for you.
Things content creators should consider
Mirrorless enthusiasts will no doubt notice that the Z6 is slightly larger and heavier than comparable mirrorless options, including the Fuji X series. The tradeoff, of course, is the battery life and the Nikon grip.
In addition, if you’ve been following the Z6 at all, you’re no doubt aware that it features a single memory card slot. How important this is will depend on each individual user, but the tradeoff is that the slot is XQD compatible, and CF Express compatible. So your single slot will allow you to store more photos today, and future-proof your system for tomorrow.
One other limitation worth nothing: While the Z6’s screen can tilt up and down, it does not flip out and rotate on three axes.
Nikon enthusiasts, your mirrorless option is here
If you’re a long-time Nikon shooter, you’ll find plenty of reasons to love the Z6, in addition to the benefits listed above:
- Distinctly Nikon: It’s the same Nikon feel (and quality) you know and love, just in a slightly smaller and lighter package.
- Backwards compatibility: With the FTZ lens mount adaptor, you can continue to use the high quality F series lenses you’ve been investing in for years.
- Full lens roadmap: There are currently five Nikkor Z lenses in market, including the iconic 50mm f/1.8 S; more importantly, Nikon has already announced seven more specific lenses that will be available by the end of 2020 (including a 50mm f/1.2 S), as well as an additional eleven (as-yet unspecified) lenses available by the end of 2021.
Things Nikon users should consider
The Nikkor Z lens roadmap looks incredibly promising, and the FTZ adaptor is a great addition, but as it stands today, the current lens lineup may not meet the needs of a serious Nikon enthusiast.
Should you invest in the Nikon Z6 mirrorless system?
Time for the moment of truth: Is the Nikon Z6, and the Nikkor Z series of lenses, right for you?
- If you’re a content looking to go mirrorless game, the Nikon Z6 is highly recommended. It’s fast, shoots great photos in all conditions, and its battery life will let you shoot all day. It comes in at a good price point for entry (comparable to the Fuji XT3), and is backed by decades of Nikon quality.
- If you’ve already invested in a compact mirrorless, such as the Fuji X series or the Sony A series, consider your own specific needs before switching.
- If you’re a Nikon enthusiast who’s ready to go mirrorless, there’s no need to hesitate. The Z6 is ready to deliver great photos today, can work with your existing lenses with the adaptor, and you can be confident in Nikon’s commitment to building on and supporting its mirrorless line going forward. And with the 2.0 firmware upgrade, there’s never been a better time to invest.