Nikon Z6 ii vs Nikon Z6 initial review

If you're a Nikon shooter, you've likely been waiting for the next generation of Z series camera bodies to come out. Having pre-ordered one within a minute of that being possible, I was fortunate to get one in my hands in the first batch. While this will not be a comprehensive review, because it's a bit too soon for that, I will give my initial thoughts. I'll start by saying that my original Z6 has been amazing. I have never had to AF fine tune a lens on it, even lenses that normally need it on my DSLR bodies. Any lens I put on the Z6 hits perfectly most of the time and after tens of thousands of photos taken with it, it has earned my trust. I know whatever I take with that camera will be in focus. After all, that's why we all love mirrorless so much, isn't it? When my Z6 ii arrived, I was super excited. My main problem areas for the original Z6, as a wedding photographer, were as follows: -Lack of dual card slots, I won't even try to debate anyone here, redundancy is always better. -Start up time/wake up lag: it takes about a second or so for the camera to be ready to use after turning it on or after it goes to sleep. Some say this is no big deal, but I have literally missed photos because of this. You can't anticipate every candid moment and many are gone within that second, and I have gotten the camera to my eye in time but it would not fire because of this lag- even when I tap the shutter on the way up to my face. Those for me, have been the two main issues. I could nit pick a few other things, like the lack of good eye AF implementation like Sony and Canon have, but I can live with what we get for now. Autofocus performance isn't as instant as a DSLR but it was fast enough for weddings and it was extremely accurate. Any improvements in that are area, I would have considered a bonus. The Z6 ii gives us dual card slots. Unfortunately there is absolutely no difference in the start up time. This was disappointing because I had also recently tried the Canon R6, and it turns on instantly. There is no lag, at all, and it is ready to fire the second you grab it, much like a DSLR. No matter how much you try to get used to it, you will likely miss some great candid moments due to this. For major parts of the day that you can anticipate, it shouldn't be an issue. The addition of dual processors was meant to speed up operation, autofocus, and make it possible to do those things while the camera has to now write to two cards. Autofocus is indeed, snappier. This is especially noticeable in dark situations. The original Z6 would often hesitate for a moment before focusing, the Z6 ii goes straight to driving focus. The downside of this is that the body gets very warm. I have at this time not even tested video, but just taking photos, it gets warm enough to make your hands sweat- I have never noticed this on my original Z6. AF-C focus modes have noticeably increased gain. If you come from D8XX or other 'pro' bodies where you get to set tracking settings "erratic - normal - steady" then it feels like they went from 'normal' or 'steady' on the original Z6, to 'erratic'. On the original Z6, you could pretty much stay in AF-C most of the time, and if your subject was still the lens would stop driving most of the time. On the Z6 ii the lens is almost always making noise driving even when your subjects are very still. I get that they did this to increase tracking performance for fast moving subjects, however it can cause focus to be erratic. For example, with eye detection in AF-C, I tested the same lens on both bodies. On the original Z6 it nailed the eye I wanted in every single frame of a sequence of test shots. My subject was still and so was I. No issue. On the Z6 ii, focus kept wanting to drive and the lens was clicking away. The focus kept jumping from eye to eye and drove the lens between them. And half of the photos were...out of focus. Hmmm that's not good. I then went outside to test on my dog (oh how she hates this). I tried various AF-C modes including animal eye AF. Many shots were in focus but I noticed a lot of photos that were just slightly soft and often slightly focused toward the back of where it should have been. I then grabbed my original Z6, swapped the lens over, and everything was in perfect focus. I have two theories here; either my Z6 ii is slightly back focusing due to manufacturing tolerances, or the added gain in the AF-C algorithm is causing out of focus shots because it is trying to make too many corrections. I would expect that if it's the second, they will make some firmware updates to make it all better. Some new focus modes include eye af within a single point wide box. This sounded like a reasonable idea before I got the camera in my hands (though I think we all hoped for eye af to be implemented like sony and canon). In my opinion, this is worse than just using auto area AF for eye focus. At least there you could select which eye to focus on- with the box you cannot and it just jumps back and forth between eyes erratically. And once your subject leaves the box it stops all together - they should have made it so that you can start on a subject's face, and once it locks, it should track their eyes across the frame. I would imagine that eventually Nikon will cave and give us the proper implementation of eye AF, which is to let us put it on a dedicated button, which grabs eyes nearest to our selected focus point. Conclusion: Unless there is something wrong with the Z6 ii I received, my excitement for this generation pretty much disappeared after testing it out. I'm sure firmware updates will improve it over time but as of right now, I'm actually getting better, consistently sharper results with my original Z6, despite focus on it being a little bit slower. And it doesn't make my hands sweat. Well, I guess we'll see what happens once there are some firmware updates.


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