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Nikon Z 6 Review

Nikon's new full-frame mirrorless cameras give you two options, here we're looking at the 24mp full-frame mirrorless camera, the Nikon Z 6, with high-speed shooting.

| Nikon Z 6 in Mirrorless Cameras

Nikon Z 6 Review: Nikon Z6 With 24 70mm (3)

Quick Verdict

The Nikon Z 6 offers a 24mp full-frame sensor in a more compact mirrorless camera body, with a high-resolution electronic viewfinder, and high-speed continuous shooting at 12fps. There are currently three lenses available for the camera that help keep the camera system relatively compact, and the camera delivers great image quality, with excellent noise performance. 

+ Pros

  • More compact body than FF Nikon DSLRs
  • Excellent image quality possible
  • Great noise performance
  • High-quality 4K video without crop
  • Compact lenses available
  • 3.2inch tilting touch-screen
  • High-resolution electronic viewfinder
  • Built-in 5-axis image stabilisation
  • 12fps continuous shooting
  • Excellent build quality

- Cons

  • Single XQD card slot
  • Short Battery life


Nikon Z 6 Review: Nikon Z6 Body (6)

The new Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 are Nikon's brand-new full-frame mirrorless cameras, with a large electronic viewfinder, a 3.2-inch tilting touch-screen, and the option of a 24mp or 45.7mp full-frame BSI CMOS sensor. The Z 6 and Z 7 use a completely new Z lens mount that is larger than the mount used in Nikon DSLRs, Nikon says this is so that they can develop lenses with the highest image quality possible, setting new optical standards for the future.


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Now available is the Nikon Z 6, with a 24mp sensor, the less expensive of the two, so let's find out how this performs.

Nikon Z 6 Features

Nikon Z 6 Review: Nikon Z6 With 35mm F1 8 (3)


The Z 6 features a 24.5mp full-frame BSI CMOS sensor. The camera has a 5-axis sensor-based image stabilisation system, that works with Z mount lenses, but also works when you use a Nikon F lens with VR, with the FTZ adapter, so that you can benefit from both image stabilisation systems. The system is said to give up to 5-stops of image stabilisation.

The camera offers 12fps continuous shooting, at full-resolution. 

The focus stacking feature, first seen in the Nikon D850, has been improved so that there is now a mono preview available so that you can preview what it is going to look like. Flicker reduction is included to help when shooting under fluorescent lighting. There's also an electronic shutter option, for silent shooting.

Focus is taken care of with 273 phase detection AF points on the sensor, which covers 90% of the frame. The camera will focus down to -4 EV (with a lens that has an aperture of f/2 or faster). There's AF tracking, Pinpoint AF, and face-detection focus. The camera uses the EXPEED 6 image processor, which includes a new "Mid-range sharpness" setting, on top of the other sharpness settings. 

The camera body is weather-sealed to the same standard as the Nikon D850. 

The camera uses the Nikon Z mount, and initially, there are three lenses available, with more to follow:

  • 24-70mm f/4, which is a premium kit lens, that is collapsible, meaning you need to extend the lens to 24mm before you can start using it. It extends as you zoom to 70mm. 
  • 35mm f/1.8
  • 50mm f/1.8

The new Z-mount lens range offers a customisable lens ring so that you can choose whether to use it to set the focus, aperture, or another setting. The FTZ adapter will work with up to 93 Nikon F mount lenses. 

Nikon Z 6 Review: Nikon Z6 With 24 70mm (4)

There's a locking mode dial on top, with 3 customisable user settings (U1, U2, U3). There are all the usual shooting modes, including P, A, S, M, and to switch to the video mode you use the photo/video switch on the back of the camera. There is an Auto mode, but no scene modes. There are a number of "picture control" options available, with different colour styles, which can be customised. You'll also find a number of "Creative Picture Control" presets, with effects similar to the digital effects you get on other cameras. 

Here's how the Z 6 and Z 7 differ from each other: 

Nikon Z 6 Nikon Z 7
24.5mp BSI CMOS sensor 45.7mp BSI CMOS sensor
273 PDAF points 493 PDAF points
ISO100-51200 (Native) ISO64-25600 (Native)
ISO50-204800 (Extended) ISO32-102400 (Extended)
12fps continuous shooting 9fps continuous shooting

Video features - The Nikon Z 6 records 4K (UHD) video at 30fps, using the full-frame of the sensor, and Nikon says they oversample from 6K, giving 4K footage with "spectacular fineness and detail". You can also record FullHD video up to 120fps. Video recording also benefits from the in-camera five-axis optical Vibration Reduction (VR) system, and the camera offers electronic image stabilisation which can add to the stabilisation system.

Wi-Fi / Bluetooth - Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are built-in to the camera, and can be used with Nikon's SnapBridge software. This lets you transfer JPEG images, shoot stills, and record video remotely. 

If you've already read the Nikon Z 7 review, then you might want to jump straight to the Performance section

Nikon Z 6 Key Features

  • 24.5mp Full-Frame BSI CMOS sensor
  • 3.2inch 2100K dot tilting touch-screen
  • 3.69m dot EVF, 0.80x magnification, 100% view, with dioptre correction and eye-detection
  • Top LCD display - showing shutter speed, aperture, ISO, battery, drive mode and remaining shots
  • Z-Mount, with 16mm flange distance, and 55mm diameter
  • 273 phase-detection AF points 
  • ISO100 - ISO51200 (extends to ISO50 and ISO204800)
  • 12fps continuous shooting
  • Locking mode dial, with 3 custom user (U) modes
  • Two front function buttons, Fn1, and Fn2
  • 4K UHD video recording, FullHD 120fps video
  • 5-axis sensor-based image stabilisation
  • Dual-axis electronic level
  • XQD memory card slot (with side access)
  • Headphone, microphone, USB-C, HDMI and remote ports
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Compatibility with Nikon flashguns
  • EN-EL15 battery compatibility, EN-EL15B needed for USB charging

Nikon Z 6 Handling

Nikon Z 6 Review: Nikon Z6 Body (3)

The Nikon Z 6 camera body is the same as the Z 7, so there are no surprises here. The camera body is weather-sealed and build-quality is excellent, thanks to the magnesium alloy body. Even the weight of the two cameras is the same. 

There's a large SLR style grip for your hand, with a front and rear command dial. There is a soft rubberised texture surrounding the grip, and this also extends round to the back of the camera, as well as the left-hand-side of the camera. The rear grip for your thumb is large and provides a solid point of contact. The top shutter release button, and surrounding on/off switch will look familiar to anyone who's used other Nikon DSLRs, and the layout of buttons around this is also the same, giving quick access to exposure compensation, ISO and video recording. 

There is a back AF-ON button, so you can setup back-button focusing. There's a joystick underneath this, as well as the Nikon i button. The labelling of buttons used should be very familiar to Nikon DSLR users, as these are very similar to other Nikon DSLRs, although the layout is slightly less spread out. The locking mode dial features an Auto mode, as well as P, S, A, and M, plus three customisable user modes, U1, U2, and U3.

There's a top LCD screen which displays the shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO speed, battery life, shooting mode, and remaining shots.  

Focus performance - The Nikon Z 6 has 273 phase-detection AF points, which covers 90% of the frame. Pinpoint AF is available, as well as focus peaking to assist with manual focus. Face detection focus is available, but the camera does not feature eye-detection. Focus is sensitive down to -1 EV in normal shooting conditions, or -4 EV with low-light AF active. Focus was reliable, with a very good success rate, especially in good lighting conditions, so much so that we didn't need to constantly check photos for correct focus after shooting. You can use the touch-screen to set the focus point, or you can use the joystick on the back, making it quick and easy to precisely set your focus point. 

Nikon Z 6 Review: Nikon Z6 (2)

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) offers a large, and high-resolution view of the scene, with 3.6m dots, and 0.80x magnification. With dioptre adjustment, it's easy to adjust it to your own personal view. We were impressed by the resolution and clarity of the display. 

Nikon say that the "EVF view rivals any Nikon DSLR."

The 3.2inch tilting touch-screen is large and clear, with a high-resolution of 2100K dots. The screen tilts up so that you can use it as a waist-level viewfinder, and the screen will also tilt down. You can use it to change settings, scroll through the menus, as well as set the focus point. Pressing the i button will bring up a number of on-screen controls, and you can use the touch-screen to change these as well or simply use the 4-way controller if you're not a fan of touch-screens.

In playback pressing the middle OK button will automatically take you to a magnified view of the photo showing you 100%. The 100% view is also signified by the zoom bar going green, just like on other Nikon DSLRs.

Nikon Z 6 Review: Nikon Z6 (3)

The menus follow the same layout and design as other recent Nikon DSLRs, and each section is colour coded, to help you more quickly find your way around the options. There’s a dedicated video menu section, something you don’t always find on some cameras. The “MyMenu” section can be customised, so that you can add your favourite settings, giving you quicker access.

There's side access to the single XQD memory card slot. Some people will find this a deal-breaker. Others will not. For most people, it will mean you’ll need to buy an XQD card and reader unless you manage to get one free with the camera, as some retailers are offering this. If you don't have an XQD memory card reader, then you can leave the memory card in the camera and connect it to your computer using the provided USB cable, although make sure you connect it to a USB3 socket on your computer for the quickest transfer speeds. 

Underneath the camera is where you'll find the tripod socket, as well as the battery compartment. The camera will take the same EN-EL15 battery as previous Nikon DSLRs, however, if you want to use the in-camera USB charging feature, then you'll need to use the EN-EL15B battery provided with the camera. Charging is via the USB-C port on the side, and you can charge the camera using a USB power bank (with the camera switched off).

Nikon Z 6 Review: Nikon Z6 Body (1)

Battery life is rated at 310 shots for the Z 6, and 330 shots for the Z 7, according to CIPA testing standards. Nikon is working on a battery grip for the camera, which will extend the battery life.

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Photographs taken using the Nikon Z 6

Baldongan ChurchThe BoysFinal BlueFirst of the lastBlue 2BlueNice Day for a dipNo, you're not getting any....Beach Hat sellerThats AmoreThe DealDisembarking the party busThe AudienceDance like no one is looking...Medellin Street Photography

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Niknut Avatar
Niknut Plus
13 3.7k 82 United Kingdom
4 Dec 2018 11:36AM
£2700??........don't think my state-pension will run to that !!WinkSmile
Cynog Avatar
Cynog 11 3 United Kingdom
5 Dec 2018 10:01AM
Did you actually test the battery life, or just rely on CIPA figures? I ask because many reviewers say they get over 1,000 shots on a single battery.
joshwa Avatar
joshwa Plus
13 927 1 United Kingdom
5 Dec 2018 10:47AM
Hi Cynog, unfortunately connecting the camera to the PC via USB cable to transfer images requires the camera to be switched on, which drains the battery. After image transfer, switching the camera off lets it charge via the USB cable, so unfortunately reliable battery life was not possible during the review period. Obviously different shooting settings will result in different battery life figures, therefore using CIPA figures gives a level playing field which can be compared with other cameras.
ThomasT Avatar
ThomasT 10 2 United Kingdom
5 Dec 2018 12:14PM
What's the point with no fill flash.. which I use much of the time. Add a flash and it becomes a huge cam. How many amateurs are out in the desert and jungle to need the weather-proofing? Guess I'll have to settle for Lumix for my 2nd cam. The 43 sensors are now very good, Ken Rockwell says and shows us.. after testing the crazy priced Sony.. I just need to wed the Lumix to the lightweight small Voigtlander 40mm f0.95.
KennyP Avatar
KennyP 11 2 United Kingdom
5 Dec 2018 2:10PM
the camera has only one card slot and zero ability t fit a grip with focus and shooting buttons on like normal DSLRs. I'm glad I went for the D850 because for me, until they improve the functionality of this camera-which they should have done before releasing it-I'll stick with dslrs. and I havent even mentioned Nikon users with third party lenses who have found their glass doesnt work on the new adapter. sorry Nikon. massive own goal.
wnpayton Avatar
5 Dec 2018 5:26PM
I have a d500 and d7100 both have double cards and I have never needed a second card yet
lemmy Avatar
lemmy 16 2.9k United Kingdom
5 Dec 2018 7:43PM

Quote:I have a d500 and d7100 both have double cards and I have never needed a second card yet+
We are all different - I wouldn't buy a main camera body without twin slots.

My feeling is that far from being an own goal, the mirror-free camera is the future for Nikon (and everyone else). Once the global shutter is available, there needn't be a single moving part in a camera.
sjjs Avatar
sjjs 8
27 Dec 2018 5:56AM

Quote:Nikon Z6 Pros
- Compact lenses available

I'm sorry...? What on Earth are you on about?

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