Launched in tandem with his elder brother, the Z 7, can the cheaper Nikon Z 6 make a path in its own right?
In the recent weeks, we have reviewed the sophisticated Nikon Z 7 with its high-resolution 45.7MP sensor, advanced phase-detection autofocus, high-speed continuous shooting and 4K video, but we’ve also looked forward to getting our hands on its younger sinbling, the Nikon Z 6.
Z 6 is a half resolution at 24.5 megapixel and the AF points
We tested the Z 6 paired with the new Nikkor Z 24-70mm F4 S kit lens and the Nikkor Z 50mm F1.8 S prime lens. The Z 6 might be a cheaper alternative to the Z 7, but it still has a magnesium alloy body with comprehensive weather sealing and a 200k shutter life. You get roughly half the number of AF points of the Z 7 at 273 but they are spread across 90% of the image area, so the coverage is broader than your regular DSLR.
The Z 6 has IBIS (in-body image stabilisation) with up to five stops of shake compensation. The continuous shooting mode is pretty amazing too, with speeds of up to 12 frames per second for both JPEGs and raw files and at a side note, if you shoot raw you are capped to 12-bit files at the speed. If you want 14-bit files, the speed slows down to 9fps.
When tested, the buffer capacity is average at 37 raw files in top speed or 44 Large Fine JPEGs.
The Z 6 brings good news for videographers, though. First, it offers full-frame uncropped 4K video downsampled from oversampled 6K. Second, it’s possible to capture 10-bit video to an external recorder with Nikon N-Log, for extended dynamic range when grading your video later.
Build and handling
The Z 6 is very slim but slightly larger than Sony’s Alpha 7 series. The grip is better compares to the Sony A7 series, especially with larger lenses. There’s an optional Nikon MB-N10 grip available too for long focal lenses shooter.
Nikon’s new Z mount design is rather unique, where Sony and Canon make mirrorless lenses as large as their DSLR counterparts at the cost of having the camera unbalanced, Nikon’s first three lenses are much more balanced. The 24-70mm F4 is particularly neat, with a simple retracting mechanism to shorten the barrel when it’s not in use.
With the smaller body, it also means you don’t see many dials and function buttons around the body itself although there
The touch panel is very responsive, some of your favourite settings can be stored and be made short cuts. The user interface and icon layout and controls are easy to read and clear to see. The ability to move the focus point and release the shutter by tapping on the screen is very useful when the camera is being used at a low angle or in odd positions.
To find fault with The Z 6’s autofocus performance is not easy, especially when using its Z mount lenses, which are too fast and stealthy, you may end up using the autofocus beep to confirm you got something. It’s fast and responsive in continuous autofocus mode too, even the object is moving forward to the camera, we can still get sharp focus, making the Z 6 is a very productive camera for sports and fast actions photography.
Although there’s no viewfinder blackout at burst shooting mode, we still can feel there are still some lag in between frames, this also means, the electronic viewfinder is not close enough to optical ones as yet. With the IBIS in the Z 6, shooting video handheld is effective at, though not so much at freestyle run around videography, where it smoothed out smaller, jerky movements but produced some awkward framing shifts with larger movements, which you’re still going to need a proper stabilising equipment for this kind of work.
Like the Sony A series peer, the Z 6 really performs is in low-light shooting. Its lower resolution means it has a one-stop ISO advantage over the Z 7, offering up to ISO 51,200. When you’re shooting in low light, you often need to shoot as silent as you can, thus, the Z 6’s silent shooting mode is a major advantage in museums, theatres, social events and many sports.
At some scenarios during our test shots where subjects are taken in the dark where our naked eyes can’t see effectively, and yet the images captured by the Z 6 were bright, brilliant and detailed. The smoothing increases and detail reducees at the highest ISO settings, but this is a camera you could push up to ISO 6,400 or 12,800 in dim lighting without any visible inferiority to your pictures.
It is unfair to say the Nikon Z 6 is going to be somewhat overshadowed by the Z 7, but it’s a much more versatile and active camera, not to mention its affordability. The trend of having the high-speed model and a high-resolution model in the same series also happens with other brands too, apart from Sony, recently, we witnessed Lumix jumps into the full frame mirrorless bandwagon too.
- Sensor: 24.5MP
full frameback-illuminated CMOS, 35.9 x 23.9mm
- Image processor: Expeed 6
- AF points: 273-point phase detection AF, 90% coverage
- ISO range: 100 to 51,200 (exp. 50-204,800)
- Max image size: 6,048 x 4,024px
- Video: 3,840 x 2,160 at 30p, 25p, 24p
- Viewfinder: EVF, 3,690k dots OLED, 100% coverage
- Memory card: XQD
- LCD: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,100k dots
- Max burst: 12fps (focus locked on first frame)
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
- Size: 134 x 101 x 68mm (body only)
- Weight: 675g (body only, with battery and memory card)
RM9,686 body only. For more information, please visit www.nikon.com.my