Nikon Z6 Review - Photography Life (2023)

The Nikon Z6 was announced in August of 2018 alongside the higher resolution Z7. Both Z-series cameras marked the company’s entry into the full-frame mirrorless market, a category of camera that many Nikon shooters had anticipated anxiously for years. But it was always a question of “when,” not “if” Nikon would satisfy the mirrorless hunger, as the demand for such cameras remained steady and even increased despite the camera market’s overall decline. The Nikon Z6 in particular – being the more affordable of the two Z cameras – is a critical part of Nikon’s future plans. But how does this camera hold up in practice? Read on to find out…

With other camera companies like Sony, Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, and Leica already having years of experience in mirrorless technology, including pro-grade cameras, Nikon’s relatively late timing with the Z6 and Z7 was quite interesting. As we have seen in the past, launching a new system is not an easy task; it usually takes two or three generations of cameras to finally appeal to the masses, and time was not on Nikon’s side. All the while, the company’s now-discontinued Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras served as a harsh reminder that the new Z series cameras needed to be positioned well on the market or else risk almost immediate failure.

Nikon’s strongest asset was its large and loyal audience of F-mount DSLR users, including the over 100 million Nikkor lenses that have been sold since the company’s inception. Therefore, it was important for Nikon to not only develop a reliable, advanced mirrorless camera system on the first generation but also to allow existing Nikon F mount lenses to be used without any serious drawbacks or limitations. On top of that, the new Z camera system had to be future-proof for potentially the next several decades, should mirrorless cameras eventually overtake DSLRs.

For many photographers, the first question about a new camera system is simple: How are the lenses? This question encompasses everything from individual lenses, which must be high in quality, to the overall lens lineup and its versatility. And that is where Nikon made a big, correct decision early on with the Nikon Z-series cameras – to design the Nikon Z mount with the closest flange distance and the largest inner diameter of any full-frame camera on the market today. This not only allows more adapted lenses from different companies to mount on the Z6 and Z7, but also affords Nikon’s optical engineers greater flexibility in lens designs for maximum optical quality.

DescriptionThroat DiameterInner DiameterFlange DistanceAngle of IncidenceFormat
Leica M40.0mm44.0mm27.8mm16.05°Full Frame
Fujifilm X40.7mm43.5mm17.7mm35.34°APS-C
Minolta SR42.0mm45.0mm43.5mm11.69°Full Frame
Sony E43.6mm46.1mm18.0mm28.58°Full Frame
Nikon F44.0mm47.0mm46.5mm12.14°Full Frame
Pentax K44.0mm48.0mm45.5mm12.40°Full Frame
Leica L48.8mm51.0mm19.0mm33.13°Full Frame
Canon EF50.6mm54.0mm44.0mm16.82°Full Frame
Canon RF50.6mm54.0mm20.0mm33.62°Full Frame
Nikon Z52.0mm55.0mm16.0mm41.19°Full Frame
Fujifilm G62.1mm65.0mm26.7mm28.67°Medium Format

We have already seen this exceedingly high optical quality with the Z-mount lenses, which are among Nikon’s sharpest lenses ever made. If Nikon’s future Z lenses are held to the same standard, there will be no doubt that the Z system has met its goal of future-proofing.

(Video) Nikon Z6 Review After 250,000 Photos

Alongside these lenses and the Z cameras themselves, Nikon also announced a Nikon F to Z “FTZ” adapter, providing full autofocus and autoexposure for more than 90 Nikon F-mount lenses. Older lenses can be mounted and used on the Z6 and Z7, but they will have limited or no autofocus and autoexposure capabilities. Nikon says that a total of 360 lenses are supported by the FTZ adapter, which does not include third-party lens options.

Let’s take a closer look at what the Nikon Z6 has to offer in terms of specifications. Then, we will compare the camera side-by-side with the Z7 as well as other cameras like the Sony A7 III, Nikon D750, and the new Nikon D780.

Nikon Z6 Specifications

  • Sensor: 24.5 MP FX BSI Sensor, 5.9µ pixel size
  • Sensor Size: 35.9 ×23.9mm
  • Resolution: 6048 ×4024
  • Native ISO Sensitivity: 100-51,200
  • Boost ISO Sensitivity: 50 (LO) 102,400-204,800 (HI)
  • In-Body Image Stabilization: 5-Axis
  • RAW Formats: 24.5 MP (RAW), 13.7 MP (mRAW), 6.1 MP (sRAW)
  • Processor: EXPEED 6
  • Dust Reduction: Yes
  • Weather Sealing/Protection: Yes
  • Body Build: Full Magnesium Alloy
  • Shutter: 1/8000 – 30 seconds
  • Shutter Durability: 200,000 cycles, self-diagnostic shutter
  • Storage: 1× XQD slot
  • Viewfinder: 3.69 Million Dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
  • Viewfinder Coverage: 100%
  • Viewfinder Magnification: 0.8×
  • Speed: 12 FPS (only 12-bit RAW, no AE), 9 FPS (14-bit RAW, no AE), 5.5 FPS with AE
  • Built-in Flash: No
  • Autofocus System: Hybrid PDAF, 273 Focus Points
  • AF Sensitivity Range: -3.5 to +19 EV (-6 to +19 EV with low-light AF)
  • LCD Screen: Touch-enabled 3.2″ Tilting LCD with 2.1 Million Dots
  • Slow Motion HD Video: Yes
  • Movie Modes: 4K UHD @ 30 fps max
  • Movie Output: MOV, MP4
  • Movie Video Compression: H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding
  • HDMI Output: 10-bit 4:2:2 N-Log
  • Silent Photography Mode: Yes
  • Intervalometer: Yes
  • Focus Stacking: Yes
  • In-Camera HDR Capability: Yes
  • GPS: No
  • WiFi: Built-in
  • Bluetooth: Built-in
  • Battery Type: EN-EN15b
  • Battery Life: 310 shots (CIPA)
  • USB Standard: Type-C 3.1
  • Weather Sealing: Yes
  • Weight: 585 g (Body Only)
  • 134 ×100.5 ×67.5 mm (5.3 ×4.0 ×2.7″)
  • Price: $1,999.95

A detailed list of camera specifications is available on the Nikon Z6 page of Nikon USA.

Nikon Z6 vs Nikon Z7 Specifications Comparison

The Nikon Z6 was announced alongside the higher-resolution Z7. The two cameras use exactly the same body, but they have some different specifications overall, and the Z7 has a significantly higher launch price of $3400. Here is a comparison between the Z6 and Z7, which only includes the differences between the two cameras:

Camera FeatureNikon Z6Nikon Z7
Sensor Resolution24.5 MP45.7 MP
Sensor Size35.9 ×24.0mm35.9 ×23.9mm
Image Size6048 × 40248256 ×5504
Native ISO Sensitivity RangeISO 100-51,200ISO 64-25,600
Low-Pass FilterYesNo
In-Body Image StabilizationYes, 5-axisYes, 5-axis
Continuous Shooting Speed12 FPS (limited to 12-bit RAW and no AE), 9 FPS (14-bit RAW but no AE), 5.5 FPS with AE9 FPS (only 12-bit RAW, no AE), 8 FPS (14-bit RAW, no AE), 5.5 FPS (14-bit RAW and AE)
Buffer: RAW 14-bit Lossless Compressed4319
Buffer: JPEG Fine Large4425
Autofocus SystemHybrid PDAF, 273 Focus PointsHybrid PDAF, 493 Focus Points
Video ReadoutFull sensor readout (Oversampled)Line Skipping
Battery Life310 shots (CIPA)330 shots (CIPA)
Weight (Camera Body Only)585g (20.7oz)585g (20.7oz)
Dimensions134 ×100.5 ×67.5mm (5.3″×4.0″×2.7″)134 ×100.5 ×67.5mm (5.3″ ×4.0″ ×2.7″)
MSRP Price$1,999.95 (check price)$3,399.95 (check price)

As you can see, the cameras are very similar overall – nearly identical in many respects. If you have read our Nikon Z7 review, you will find that many of our takeaways from that camera are shared here as well. Both the Z6 and Z7 sport the same high-quality magnesium alloy body that is fully weather-sealed, both have the same weight and dimensions, and even many of the in-camera features are the same. There are some differences that stand out, however: sensor technology, autofocus system, continuous shooting speed, video sensor readout, battery life, and price.


Simply put, the two cameras are aimed at different photography needs – the Z6 is a more general-purpose camera for situations where 24 megapixels is enough (which usually will be the case), such as portraiture, travel, and event photography. By comparison, the high-resolution Nikon Z7 is targeted for architecture, landscape, and studio photography where maximum detail and resolution are required.

You can think of the Nikon Z7 as a D850 mirrorless equivalent in terms of image quality, whereas the Z6 is a mirrorless D750. This explains why the two cameras are priced so differently. At the same time, considering that both cameras are pretty much identical physically and functionally (whereas the D850 and the D750 are quite a bit different), these cameras aren’t positioned exactly the same way as their DSLR counterparts. In fact, Nikon positioned the two cameras similarly as Sony has done with its A7 and A7R-series cameras: same body build and ergonomics, different sensors and prices.

For a more detailed comparison of the Nikon Z6 with the Z7, check out our Nikon Z6 vs Z7 Comparison article. Also, you can find dynamic range and high ISO performance differences between the Nikon Z6 and Z7 on pages five and seven, respectively.

Nikon Z6 vs Sony A7 III Specifications Comparison

Next, let’s take a look at how the Nikon Z6 compares to the Sony A7 III:

Camera FeatureNikon Z6Sony A7 III
Mount Inner Diameter55.0 mm46.1 mm
Flange Distance16.0 mm18.0 mm
Sensor Resolution24.5 MP24.2 MP
Low-Pass FilterYesYes
Sensor Size35.9 x 23.9 mm35.6 x 23.8 mm
Image Size6048 x 40246000 x 4000
Image ProcessorEXPEED 6BIONZ X
ViewfinderElectronic / EVFElectronic / EVF
Viewfinder Type / ResolutionVGA OLED / 3,690,000 dotsXGA OLED /2,359,296 dots
Viewfinder Coverage100%100%
Viewfinder Magnification0.8x0.78x
Built-in FlashNoNo
Flash Sync Speed1/2001/250
Storage Media1x XQD2x SD
Continuous Shooting Speed12 FPS (limited to 12-bit RAW and no Auto Exposure), 9 FPS (14-bit RAW but no AE), 5.5 FPS with AE10 FPS
Max Shutter Speed1/8000 to 30 sec, Bulb, Time1/8000 to 30 sec, Bulb
Electronic Front-Curtain ShutterYesYes
Exposure Metering SensorTTL exposure metering using main image sensor1200-Zone
Meter Detection Range-3.5 EV to 19 EV-3 EV to 20 EV
Base ISOISO 100ISO 100
Native ISO SensitivityISO 100-51,200ISO 100-51,200
Boosted ISO SensitivityISO 50-204,800ISO 50-204,800
Autofocus SystemHybrid AF (phase-detection AF / contrast-dection AF)Hybrid AF (phase-detection AF / contrast-dection AF)
Focus Points273 points693 points (phase-detection AF), 425 points (contrast-detection AF)
Eye AFYesYes
Animal Detection AFYesYes
RAW Video ShootingYes, ProRes ($200 fee)No
Video CompressionAVCHD / MP4 Compression with 4:2:0 sampling, 10-bit via HDMI with 4:2:2 samplingAVCHD / MP4 Compression with 4:2:0 sampling, 8-bit via HDMI with 4:2:2 sampling
Video Maximum Resolution3840 x 2160 (4K) at 24/25/30 fps; 1920 x 1080 (1080p) at 120/100/60/50/30/25/24 fps3840 x 2160 (4K) at 24/25/30 fps;1920 x 1080 (1080p) at 120/100/60/50/30/25/24 fps
Audio RecordingBuilt-in stereo microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
Built-in stereo microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
Articulating LCDYes, tiltingYes, tilting
LCD Size3.2″ diagonal LCD3.0″ diagonal LCD
LCD Resolution2,100,000 dots921,600 dots
Built-in GPSNoNo
Wi-Fi FunctionalityBuilt-inBuilt-in
BatteryEN-EL 15bNP-FZ100Rechargeable Battery
Battery Life310 shots610 shots (viewfinder), 710 shots (rear LCD)
Weather Sealed BodyYes, Dust and Moisture ResistantYes, Dust and Moisture Resistant
USB Version3.13.0
Weight (with battery and memory card)675 g (23.8 oz)650 g (23.0 ounces)
Dimensions134 x 100.5 x 67.5 mm (5.3 x 4.0 x 2.7″)126.9 x 95.6 x 73.7mm (5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9″)
MSRP Price$1,999 as introduced (check price)$1,999 as introduced (check price)

As you can see, the Sony A7 III and Nikon Z6 make for good competition! Depending upon the specification you care about the most, you can convince yourself that either camera has the advantage. The Sony has more autofocus points and better battery life, as well as dual SD cards (which I suspect most photographers would prefer over one XQD). Also, of course, Sony has been making full-frame mirrorless cameras and lenses longer than Nikon, so their lineup of lenses and accessories is significantly deeper.

However, Nikon has some tricks up its sleeve as well. It has a higher maximum frame rate (12 versus 10), as well as a higher-resolution LCD and viewfinder. The Z6 also wins out in video, with 10-bit over HDMI versus the Sony’s 8-bit. Plus, if you pay Nikon $200, you will be able to get 4K ProRes RAW video recording capability, which is not an option on the Sony.

(Video) It’s Just A Day In Photographers Life | Shot on Nikon Z6

Nikon’s larger lens mount with a closer flange distance allows more flexibility in designing lenses, as well as easier adaptation of lenses from other brands. For example, there is already an adapter announced to use Sony FE lenses on Nikon Z cameras, while the other way around will not be possible (see our article on lens mounts).

Beyond specifications, we have high ISO and dynamic range comparisons of these two cameras on the following pages. However, their ISO performance is practically identical, and the Sony A7 III wins out by only the slightest margin in dynamic range. So, you are better off picking between the cameras based on things like lens lineup, ergonomics, and the specifications above.

Also, think about which company you would rather buy into. Sony has been innovating at a rapid pace recently, with a great lineup of both lenses and cameras already on their third generation. Nikon, on the other hand, has a tried and true history of making DSLR cameras for professional photographers and is going all-in on the Z system with some excellent lenses, but has a lot of catching up to do. The better choice depends on the photographer in question, and how long down the road you’re thinking.

Nikon Z6 vs Nikon D750 vs Nikon D780 Specifications Comparison

All three cameras have 24 MP sensors and (at least at launch) similar prices, so a lot of photographers will naturally want to compare them head-to-head. At the same time, the three cameras differ quite a bit when it comes to construction, features, and autofocus systems. Let’s take a look at both in detail and identify the core differences:

Camera FeatureNikon Z6Nikon D750Nikon D780
Sensor Resolution24.5 MP24.3 MP24.5 MP
Sensor Size35.9 x 23.9mm35.9 x 24.0mm35.9 x 23.9mm
Sensor Pixel Size5.9µ5.9µ5.9µ
Low Pass FilterYesYesYes
In-Body Image StabilizationYesNoNo
Dust Reduction / Sensor CleaningYesYesYes
Image Size6,048 x 4,0246,016 x 4,0166,048 x 4,024
Base ISOISO 100ISO 100ISO 100
Native ISO SensitivityISO 100-51,200ISO 100-12,800ISO 100-51,200
Boosted ISO SensitivityISO 100-204,800ISO 50, ISO 25,600-51,200ISO 100-204,800
Viewfinder TypeElectronic / EVFPentaprismPentaprism
Viewfinder Coverage100%, 0.8x100%, 0.70x100%, 0.70x
Built-in FlashNoYes, with flash commander modeNo
Storage Media1x XQD2x SD2x SD (UHS-II)
Electronic Front-Curtain ShutterYesNoYes
Continuous Shooting Speed12 FPS (limited to 12-bit RAW and no AE), 9 FPS (14-bit RAW but no AE), 5.5 FPS with AE6.5 FPS7 FPS (viewfinder); 12 FPS (live view with silent shooting and 12-bit RAW)
Max Shutter Speed1/8000 to 30 sec, Bulb, Time1/4000 to 30 sec, Bulb, Time1/8000 to 900 sec
Flash Sync Speed1/2001/2001/200
Shutter Durability200,000150,000 cycles150,000 cycles
Exposure Metering SensorTTL exposure metering using main image sensor91,000-pixel RGB sensor180,000-pixel RGB sensor
Highlight Weighted MeteringYesYesYes
Full aperture metering during Live View for stillsYesYesYes
Live View Focus System273-point On-Sensor PDNo273-point On-Sensor PD
Face / Eye AFYesNoYes
Animal Detection AFYesNoNo
Number of AF Points273 Hybrid Detect AF points51, 15 cross-type51, 15 cross-type (273 in Live View)
Detection Range-3.5 to +19 EV, -6 to -19 EV Low Light-3 to +19 EV-3 to +19 EV OVF; -6 to +17 EV Live View
ProRes RAW Video ($200)YesNoNo
Video OutputAVCHD / MP4 with 4:2:0 sampling, 10-bit via HDMI with 4:2:2 samplingAVCHD / MP4 with 4:2:0 sampling, 8-bit via HDMI with 4:2:2 samplingAVCHD / MP4 with 4:2:0 sampling, 10-bit via HDMI with 4:2:2 sampling
Video Maximum Resolution3840 x 2160 (4K) up to 30p; 1920×1080 up to 120p1920 x 1080 (FHD) up to 60p3840 x 2160 (4K) up to 30p; 1920×1080 up to 120p
Audio RecordingBuilt-in stereo microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
Built-in stereo microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
Built-in stereo microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
LCD Size and Type3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD Touchscreen3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD Tilting3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD Touchscreen
LCD Resolution2,100,000 dots1,229,000 dots2,359,000 dots
Built-in GPSNoNoNo
Focus Shift ShootingYesNoYes
Wi-Fi FunctionalityBuilt-inBuilt-inBuilt-in
BatteryEN-EL15b Lithium-ion BatteryEN-EL15 Lithium-ion BatteryEN-EL15b Lithium-ion Battery
Battery Life (CIPA)310 shots1,230 shots2,260 shots
Weather Sealed BodyYesYesYes
USB Version3.13.03.1
Weight (Body Only)585 g (20.6 oz)750g (26.5 oz)840g (29.6 oz)
Dimensions134 x 100.5 x 67.5 mm (5.3 x 4.0 x 2.7″)140.5 x 113.0 x 78.0 mm(5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1″)143.5 x 115.5 x 76.0 mm (5.7 x 4.6 x 3.0″)
MSRP Price$1,997 (check current price)$2,299 (check current price)$2,299 (check current price)

While these cameras have quite a few similarities, there are key differences between the three that are important to point out. First of all, the cameras have completely different underlying technologies – the Nikon Z6 is a mirrorless camera that feeds the image directly from the image sensor into an electronic viewfinder (EVF), whereas the Nikon D750 and D780 are DSLR cameras that reflect the image through a pentaprism to an optical viewfinder (OVF). This directly impacts the overall size and weight of each camera, with the Nikon D750 and D780 being larger and heavier by comparison. The Nikon D780 is the heaviest of the bunch at 840 grams – a lot more than the Z6.

Second, the cameras have completely different mounts. The Z6 has the new Nikon Z mount, whereas the D750 and D780 have the older Nikon F mount. This has a big effect on what lenses you can use with these cameras. The Nikon D750 / D780 can take pretty much any Nikon F lens out there, whereas the Nikon Z6 can only directly mount new Nikon Z lenses, which are somewhat limited at the moment. To use F-mount lenses on the Nikon Z6, you need to use the FTZ adapter. However, you cannot mount any of the Nikon Z lenses on the D750 and D780 at all. There are pros and cons to both the F-mount and Z-mount. You can read more in our Nikon Z vs Nikon F Mount comparison.

(Video) Nikon Z6 Is STILL The BEST Value Nikon Mirrorless Camera For Landscape Photographers In 2022

Third, the Nikon Z6 has a very important advantage over the D750 and the D780: It has a 5-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system, which can help a great deal to reduce blur from camera shake in images. As you will see further down, the IBIS on the Z6 is amazing and certainly does make a difference when shooting hand-held. It is especially effective with native Z lenses, but it still helps quite a bit with adapted lenses via the FTZ. In fact, thanks to IBIS on the Z6 (and other features, like the electronic viewfinder to easily magnify focus), this camera can breathe new life into older Nikon F-mount glass.

Fourth, the three cameras offer different types of storage media. The Nikon Z6 is limited to one XQD memory card slot, whereas the Nikon D750 has dual SD memory card slots. The Nikon D780 is even better, adding UHS-II memory card support to both slots. This puts the Nikon D750 / D780 at an advantage for those who prefer to shoot to two cards for backup purposes, but as we discuss later, it is not as big of an issue as presented by some photographers out there.

Fifth, although all cameras can use the same EN-EL15 battery (despite the “a” and “b” variants), the Nikon D780 has far better battery life compared to the other two cameras, thanks to OVF and the fast EXPEED 6 processor, as well as losing the built-in flash, which significantly affects the CIPA battery ratings (speaking of flash, the Nikon D750 is the only camera in the group to have one). As you will see later on, for those who rely on using live view via the LCD, battery life on the Z6 is quite comparable to its DSLR counterparts, so it all depends on how you actually use the camera. If you are careful about keeping the Z6 screen and EVF turned off when not using them, you will extend battery life quite a bit compared to the CIPA numbers.

Sixth, for video shooters, the Nikon Z6 is by far the vastly superior option, thanks to 4:2:2 10-bit output over HDMI, including N-log capabilities. Nikon has also made it possible to upgrade the Nikon Z6 with ProRes 4K RAW video shooting capabilities if you are willing to pay an additional $200 for the license. In short, video features are not really a contest; the Z6 comes out way ahead, with the D780 being the second-best in the group.

Lastly, there are differences in autofocus features between the three cameras. The Nikon Z6 is a mirrorless camera, so it does not have the same DSLR phase-detection AF system as what we see on the D750 and D780. As a result, its AF system is completely different, with on-sensor phase detection pixels and other mirrorless technologies like Eye AF and Animal Detection AF. The Nikon D780 inherits some of this functionality through its live view implementation, but it is not as feature-rich.

Let’s now go over the Nikon Z6 in more detail. Please select the next page below.

(Video) Nikon Z6 Long Term Review from a Landscape Photographer

Table of Contents


1. Don't Belive The Hype: Nikon Z6 Battery Life
(Robert Silver Photography)
2. 10 Things to Know About the Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Camera
(Daily Learn Photo)
3. WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHERS look at the new Nikon Z6 II. Hands on first thoughts review.
(Tom Mason)
4. Nikon Z6 Review - Why I switched
(Southern Exposure)
5. The Nikon Z6 has a KILLER FEATURE that no one is talking about!
(Manny Ortiz)
6. Nikon Z6 for Wildlife Photography? | First impressions
(Tom Mason)
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