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Nikon Z6 Review - Performance

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Nikon Z6 Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.5secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.1secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response  0.1secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.1secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.16secs
Shot to Shot with Flash N/A
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
12fps (42 shots) (H+)
6fps (~ shots) (H)
Continuous Shooting - Flash N/A
Continuous Shooting - RAW 9fps (36 shots) (H+)
6fps (~ shots) (H)

Shutter response and focus speeds are both very quick, and the camera offers a rapid shot to shot time. The switch on time, to first photo, is a little slower than some DSLRs, but the continuous shooting speed is very good. The shutter is quite loud, and switching to the electronic shutter allows silent shooting.


Nikon Z6 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Colour reproduction is very pleasing, with rich saturated colours, and anyone who is a fan of Nikon's colour reproduction will be extremely happy with the results from the Z6. Skin tones are particularly good, as you would expect from a Nikon camera. Focus in low-light was good, with a high success rate. 

There were times when we needed to adjust the exposure compensation so that images weren't under-exposed, but for the most part, exposure was reliable. 

D-Lighting – Nikon's D-Lighting ensures that shadows are not lost, and highlights are kept. There are a number of levels, or you can leave this on Auto. This means that the dynamic range captured by the camera is very good. There is also a built-in HDR mode that will automatically merge a number of shots to record a greater dynamic range. You can, of course, process the raw files if needed.


Nikon Z6 Lens test images

Lens Performance - The camera has built-in lens correction, which includes correction for vignetting (dark corners), diffraction compensation, and auto distortion control (which is on by default with Nikon Z lenses), and we saw very little evidence of these problems in our images, except for some vignetting when processing raw files.

The 24-70mm f/4 lens and 35mm f/1.8 lens both give good out-of-focus background blur or bokeh. We also tried to induce flare, by shooting into the sun, but again, we very rarely saw any problems due to flare. Similarly, we looked for chromatic aberration, and purple fringing, but rarely saw any.

The lenses we used performed extremely well, with sharp detailed images, and it's possible to get even sharper results by processing the files and adjusting the sharpness to your own personal tastes. 

An electronic first curtain shutter option is available, designed to reduce the risk of shutter shock. The in-camera image stabilisation system helps to keep images sharp and help avoid image blur. 

You can shoot JPEG, JPEG+RAW, RAW (NEF), or TIFF (RGB). At the time of writing, the latest version of Adobe Camera RAW (v11.0) does not support Nikon Z6 raw files. 


Nikon Z6 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - The Z6 has a wide ISO range, from ISO100 to ISO51200, which can be extended down to ISO50 (Low 1), and up to ISO2048000 (Hi 2). Noise performance is very good, with usable results up to ISO6400, and even ISO12800. Noise levels increase at ISO25600, and detail drops more noticeably. Colour saturation remains good, even up to ISO51200. ISO102400 shows stronger noise, and colour saturation drops off, so we'd generally recommend avoiding this setting. Noise becomes excessive at ISO204800. Noise reduction options available are Off, Low, Normal, and High. We took these photos using the default setting of Normal, and users of previous Nikon DSLRs may want to reduce this to Low, as the default setting has quite strong noise reduction. 

Noise compared to the competition...

Compared to the Sony Alpha A7 III noise performance appears to be very similar, with a slight edge going to the A7 III for detail, with the Sony retaining slightly more detail at ISO12800 and ISO25600. The Nikon Z6 shows slightly less noise, but with slightly less detail. 


Nikon Z6 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well under tungsten, with a slightly warm result on default settings (Auto1). There are a number of different Auto White Balance (AWB) options, including Auto0 - Keep white (reduce warm colours), Auto1 - Normal, and Auto2 - Keep warm lighting colours. Depending on the subject, you may want your images to be warmer (for portraits) or cooler (for product shots). You can also adjust the auto white balance more precisely if needed. The tungsten preset does a reasonable job, however, we prefer the results from using the "Auto0 - Keep white" option. Auto white balance gives a reasonable result under fluorescent lighting, and there are a number of fluorescent presets available, so that you can choose one that most matches your lighting. AWB performs reasonably well under mixed lighting as well. 


Digital Filters - There are a number of preset colour modes, and these can be customised, with quick sharp (adjusts all sharpness settings quickly), sharpening, mid-range sharpening, clarity, contrast, brightness, saturation, and hue. You can leave this on Auto if you want. 

After going through the standard colour settings, there are 20 "Creative Picture Control" options, which includes presets such as Dream, Morning, Pop, Sunday, Somber, Dramatic, Silence, Bleaches, Melancholic, Pure, Denim, Toy, to name a few. There is no automatic panoramic mode. 


Video - The Nikon Z6 records 4K video at a resolution of 3840 x 2160 (UHD) at 30p (progressive), 25p, and 24p, with stereo microphones built-in. 4K video uses the full width of the sensor, so that there is only a crop at the top and bottom of the image, as the aspect ratio changes from 3:2 to 16:9 aspect ratio, and due to oversampling the results are very sharp and detailed.

FullHD (1920 x 1080) video can be recorded at speeds up to 120fps, with options for 100p, 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, and 24p. You can also record high-speed video at FullHD resolution for video playback at 30p (x4), 25p (x4), and 24p (x5) for slow-motion footage.

Almost the full ISO range is available for video recording from ISO100 to ISO204800.

N-Log video recording is possible for greater dynamic range, and later grading of footage. The built-in sensor based 5-axis image stabilisation helps keep video steady when using the camera handheld. You can watch additional videos on the ePHOTOzine YouTube Channel

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Photographs taken using the Nikon Z6

Irish Pine MartenCongregation of Lapwing'sOrnamental grass seed head.Peacock Butterfly on Buddleia.VickyLivExpectant FacesOld Town HallWiktoriaWakefield CathedralMCU SquirrelStrumble Head Lighthouse - PembrokeIrish Red Squirrel"Fantasy Bookshop""Wildeve"

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Niknut Plus
10 2.7k 82 United Kingdom
4 Dec 2018 11:36AM
2700??........don't think my state-pension will run to that !!WinkSmile
Cynog 7 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 Plus
10 923 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 7 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 8 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.
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 13 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 5
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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