Launched two years ago now, Nikon’s two full-frame cameras, the Z7 and Z6, will soon be replaced by two new cameras called… Z 7II and Z 6II.
A name “II” which illustrates the fact that these two new versions are developments of their big brothers and not complete revisions. No new sensor, new image processor or other new video technology. No burst over 20 fps Alpha A9 style, no 5K / 6K / 8K, etc. Nikon has remained wise (read the paragraph ” A conservatism of reason ») And used the basis of its previous boxes by correcting and improving the score.
What does not change are the fundamental electronic components, design and ergonomics. The frames are similar, the 3.6 million pixel viewfinder is the same, the screen is cool, the sensors remain stabilized at five speeds. On the imaging side, the Z6 II retains the 24×36 sensor of 24 Mpix and the Z 7II the 45 Mpix. And the same Expeed 6 processor is in control … or rather THE processors.
Nikon’s electronics engineers have made room on the motherboard to integrate two Expeed 6. But the two chips do not work together, they each have their own domain. One handles autofocus and subject tracking, the other handles image processing and “digestion”. The benefit is quite significant: while the first Z 7 displayed a 5 fps burst with AF tracking, this burst increases to 10 fps on the Z 7II.
For the Z 6II, the gain is less important since the Z 6 had already benefited from a nice software update: we go from 12 fps to 14 fps with autofocus tracking. But the burst depth is greatly improved and goes to 200 consecutive JPEG images (124 in 12-bit RAW). We are clearly at the level of a sports box!
This dedicated processor would also improve, according to Nikon, the accuracy of AF tracking (Eye AF, etc.), which we will not fail to verify during the tests.
Finally an SD card slot!
One of the major complaints we had with the first generation of “Z” was the memory card. The only slot was in XQD format, a powerful standard, but rare and expensive. And in the case of Z 6 and Z 7, without redundancy.
Nikon’s mechanical engineers have revised their copy for Generation “II” and both cameras now include, in addition to the XQD slot (CFExpress compatible), a magnificent SD slot to UHS-II standard.
Something to satisfy the patients of speed and other professional videographers (XQD) and allow the “plebs” to start quietly with SD. By the way, only the most “nagging” video modes (4K60p, etc.) really need the XQD…
A grip and USB charging
Two other weaknesses corrected: grip and recharging. The first-generation Nikon Z grip only served to add a second battery, with no additional controls.
The new grip, which responds to the sweet name of MB-N11 (true poets these engineers), finally brings electronic contactors and redundant controls allowing use as pleasant in vertical as horizontal mode. As with the burst, this improvement should appeal to sports and / or nature photo enthusiasts.
The other bonus, which can be appreciated in the field, is that the USB-C socket is FINALLY used to charge the device. If they cannot be used during charging like the Panasonic S1R and others Sony A7R Mark IV, this at least allows the device to be recharged with a USB external battery even in the middle of the pampas.
A conservatism of reason
Why did Nikon just launch an iteration of existing cameras rather than launch a completely new camera? The answer is quite simple: the price.
” In a context of crisis, where cameras are more and more expensive, we preferred to develop cameras that photographers can really buy “, We were told at Nikon France.
Undoubtedly an indirect tackle to the cameras of Canon and Sony which now exceed 4000 € (4200 € for theA7S Mark III and € 4,500 for the Canon EOS 5R).
With camera sales volumes collapsing, R&D costs are now on the rise. Developing a new sensor and a new image processor costs millions of euros. It was therefore much smarter for Nikon to “recycle” known components. Pairing two processors to improve performance and improve algorithms for fine-tuning image rendering costs significantly less. In the absence of being able to cut prices, Nikon avoids exploding the painful.
A growing optical ecosystem
Without optics, a sensor is nothing. If the Z system was poor in references when it was launched in August 2018, Nikon has gone all out. With the 16 references (+2 teleconverters) available (including 2 APS-C), Nikon presented a roadmap for the upcoming launch of no less than 10 new references (including an APS-C). Let us note three major zooms: a 24-105 mm, a 100-400 mm and a super 200-600 mm. Once again, this should please lovers of sports and nature photography.
Both boxes will be available in November.
The Nikon Z 6II naked body will be launched at 2199 euros.
The naked Nikon Z 7II will be launched at 3399 euros.