Photography News 86 Web

Big test

Big test

PRICE: £1999

NIKON.CO.UK

THE Z 6II HAS 273 ZONES COVERING AROUND90%OF THE IMAGE AREA, JUST LIKE ITS PREDECESSOR

SPECS

› Prices Z 6II body £1999, Z 6II with 24-70mm f/4 kit £2549, Z 6II with FTZ adapter kit £2139, Z 6II with 24-70mm f/4 and FTZ adapter kit £2679, Z 6II Essential Movie kit £2909 › Sensor 24.5-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor with dual Expeed 6 processors › Sensor format 35mm full-frame 35.9x23.9mm, 6048x4024pixels, 12-bit or 14-bit Raw capture in compressed, uncompressed or lossless compressed › ISO range 100-51,200 (expandable to Lo ISO 50 and to H2.0 204,800 equivalent) › Shutter type Vertical travel focal plane mechanical, electronic front curtain, electronic › Shutter range 30secs to 1/8000sec, extendable to 900secs in manual mode. B, time, flash sync at 1/200sec › Drivemodes Fastest rate 14fps (12-bit Raw), 10fps (14-bit Raw) › Metering system Matrix, centre- weighted, spot, highlight-weighted › Exposuremodes PASM, U1, U2, U3 user modes › Exposure compensation +/-5EV › Monitor 2.1m dot tilting 3.2in touchscreen, 100% frame coverage › Viewfinder 3.69m dot OLED EVF › Autofocus Hybrid phase-/contrast- detect AF with AF assist, single AF, continuous servo AF, full-time AF (in movie mode only) › Focus points andmodes 273 phase detect points in single AF – usable in single-point, pinpoint (photo mode only), dynamic area AF, wide area (S), wide area (L), wide area AF (L-people), wide area AF (L-animals), auto area AF, auto area AF (people), auto area AF (animals) › Video 4K UHD 3840x2190 60p/30p/25p/24p, 1920x1080 120p/100p/60p/50p/30p/25p/24p, 1920x1080. Slow motion: 30p x4, 25p x4, 24p x5 › Video formats MOV, MP4 › Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI-C, USB-C, 3.5mm stereo jack audio in, 3.5mm stereo jack audio out › Other key features In-body five-axis image sensor shift IS, Lens shift VR with VR lenses, focus bracketing, time-lapse movie, active D-lighting, picture control system, multiple exposure, HDR, dust and drip resistance › Battery EN-EL15c Li-ion › Storagemedia 1 x CFexpress type B/XQD slot. 1 xSD UHS 11 compliant › Dimensions (wxhxd) 134x100.5x69.5mm › Weight 705g body with battery and card Contact nikon.co.uk

focus lever and we’re talking a camera with good handling characteristics. The Z 6II has USB-C charging, but if you need greater capacity and enhanced vertical shooting, there’s the option of the MB-N11 battery grip at £359, which can also accept two batteries that can be hot-swapped so there’s no power loss to the camera. This grip also has a shutter release, input dials and a focus lever, plus there’s a USB-C port and the two batteries can be charged with the grip off the camera. We've seen several recent cameras withmonitors that can be angled to face forward for vloggers/selfie shooting, but that’s not available on the Z 6II. It can be tilted for high-/low-level shooting and has a touchmonitor with touch shooting, touch AF and touch playback functions. One feature missing is touch and drag AF, which is handy when using the EVF, and faster than the focus lever. There is the menu option of having every other AF point working that does speed up focus lever operation. The Z 6II does give the option of an info-free EVF andmonitor image via the movie record button, but annoyingly this resets on power down. Speaking of autofocusing, the Z 6II has 273 zones covering around 90% of the image area, just like its predecessor. My sample arrived with the old firmware, but updating is simple and takes a fewminutes. Of course, once updated, I couldn't do a direct A/B comparisonwith the previous firmware, but the ability to pick upmore quickly on smaller faces did seembetter as the subject moved around the screen.

The very best current AF systems are remarkable, highly sensitive and limpet-like once the subject is acquired. And, while the Z 6II is very good, it’s perhaps a level or two from the very best at the moment. Low-light AF sensitivity, however, is up there with the best. The spec says the camera can autofocus in light as low as -4.5EV, with the menu item low-light AF giving evenmore at -6EV. In practice, using the camera at night, the Z 6II in normal AFmode focused speedily and accurately on dimly lit street scenes, where the Z 7 I also had withme struggled on both counts. Continuous shooting capacity on the Z 6II with its mechanical shutter is up to 14fps in H+mode ( from 12fps on the Z 6), with single AF and 12-bit Raw. Inmy test, I actually got 15fps and 113 compressed 12-bit frames before the camera paused for breath. In 14-bit lossless compressed, I got a little under 11fps, but got the 190 frames. With the silent shutter in H* mode, the continuous shooting rate was down to 8fps in 14-bit and 13fps in12-bit Raw, with 178 frames at that rate. The test was done with a Lexar CFexpress B card, with a full buffer taking less than six seconds to clear. The Z 6 was a very good, capable camera, especially if you consider it was Nikon’s first attempt at full-frame mirrorless. By addressing some shortcomings and coming out at the same price the Z 6 did three years ago, the Nikon Z 6II has the credentials to attract DSLR owners thinking of switching over. WC

Last month, we had the Z 7II on test. This issue, it’s the turn of the Z 6II, a 24.5 megapixel, full-frame, mirrorless model with an awesome array of features for stills – it’s very endowed for pro movie shooting, too

Our test sample had the latest firmware, v1.10, made available in late February. This update offered improvements to the Z 6II’s face detect skills in auto area AF (people) and wide area AF (people) modes, working well even when the subject was small in the frame. It was also significant for movie makers, with 4K UHD now available in 50p/60p (APS-C only) and Raw video output when using Blackmagic external hard drives. Nikon sees the Z 6, and now the Z 6II, as a hybrid, with a strong movie feature set, and the Raw-enabled Z 6II is being sold in an Essential Movie Kit for £2909, including an Atomos Ninja V, FTZ adapter, a Smallrig quick release camera cage and various accessories. Externally in control layout and menu structure, the Z 6II is typically Nikon, with key controls including compensation, ISO and on/off controls on the right, along with two input dials andmovie record button. Add a good- sized and prominent AF-ON button, an equally usable stills/video switch and RIGHT The Z 6II has a tilting touch monitor for low/high level shooting, but no option for forward facing for vlogging and selfie shooting

WORDS AND IMAGES BY WILL CHEUNG

NIKON REFRESHED ITS full-frame Z 6 and Z 7 cameras last year, and while the Z 6II and Z 7II aren’t radically different from their predecessors, they are worthwhile evolutions with key additions. Both have two dual card slots, a CFexpress B/XQD and SD, and there’s been a ramping up of processing power with the addition of a second Expeed 6 processor. This means superior performance, notably in autofocus. The one card slot on the Z 6/Z 7 has been a bone of contention, especially as it was expensive to feed. It was originally XQD, but nowupdated to XQD and CFexpress B. Perhaps Nikon should have taken the Sony route andmade the Z 6II/Z 7II take both CFexpress A or SD, or gone for two SD slots.

52 Photography News | Issue 86

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