Excellent general image quality in Nikon both photos and video, acceptable noise level up to 12,800 ISO, Nikon has a silent shutter mode, 4K without cropping in the video, very good ergonomics and handling, compactness, good quality Oled viewfinder, LCD touch screen and swivel, good general responsiveness, excellent sensor stabilization, exposure zebras, focus peaking, up-to-date connectivity, wireless connection.
Ergonomics, design and functions
The full-frame Nikon Z6 hybrid loses in image definition but this allows it to gain in performance, which makes it a better deal than the Z7, in our opinion, for any photographer who can be satisfied with images of 24, 5Mpx (that’s already big!). A beautiful machine, which however lacks a touch of originality.
Just as the Nikon Z7 has the Sony A7R III in the viewfinder, the Z6 is a direct competitor to the Sony A7 III, with a 24.5Mpx full-frame (24x36mm) BSI CMOS sensor, less defined than its big brother (45 , 7Mpx), but a lower rate. Sold for 2,125 euros naked on Amazon at the time of this writing, against 3,449 euros for the Z7, Nikon’s small full-frame hybrid is therefore more accessible. It is also marketed at € 2,619 as a kit with a 24-70mm f / 4 lens.
Before getting down to business, know that the Nikon Z6 and Z7 share a number of characteristics in common, including their chassis (the two bodies are visually identical), their OLED viewfinder and vertically swiveling LCD screen, their Z mount or their physical ergonomics (same buttons in the same places) and software (same menus and functions). This is why we will not come back in this test on what is common to the two boxes. We encourage you to read our review of the Nikon Z7 for more details on the points mentioned above.Here is a summary: the ergonomics are very good, better than at Sony in our opinion, with a more intuitive handling, more pleasant menus, very complete touch-sensitive features and up-to-date connectivity although limited on the storage side. to a single XQD memory card port. We also have some reservations about the solidity of the case, especially with regard to the frame or the seals. Otherwise, we don’t have much to reproach this Z6 with regard to the design or even the autonomy, at least as good as that of the Z7 which had allowed us during our test to reach the 700 photos at the viewfinder.
First of all, note that the Nikon Z6, like the Z7, is extremely fast on and off, as well as for recording long exposure or burst images. In the blink of an eye you are ready to shoot, although it is necessary to turn the lens ring until you get to a notch before you can start working, which is clearly counter-intuitive, but you get used to it. In use, the camera is very responsive, both for navigating the interface and for taking pictures thanks to a fast and efficient autofocus. It even seemed better in low light to us than the Z7. On the other hand, the Z6 incorporates fewer collimators than its big brother, 273 against 493 for the latter. That being said, the coverage remains more than satisfactory.On the burst side, the Z6 is more efficient than the Z7, it offers a maximum frame rate and image size of up to 12 fps in JPG (extended H mode) and 10 fps max in RAW, with a light buffer on paper but a little better in practice: count 30 RAW and 45 JPG. In use, nothing to report about the AF-S mode, while we had a few misfires in AF-C mode, but nothing serious. Finally, although the Nikkor S 24-70mm lens was not stabilized, we were still able to go down to 1/6 second in shutter speed at 35mm, thanks to very good sensor stabilization.
As expected, the Nikon Z6 produces beautiful images with very nice background blur, not as big as the Z7, yes, but better in some ways. Overall, the rendering is similar: the sharpness is still excellent, the colors, identical to those of the Z7, are faithful and vivid, and the contrast ratio is also very good. However, we noticed some differences in the white balance, which we find much more accurate in the case of the Z6, and in the measurement of brightness, which tends to be less likely to underexpose.But where the difference is most felt is the performance of the housing in low light. Indeed, the other advantage of having a less defined full-frame sensor is that the photosites are larger and thus, they better manage the rise in ISO sensitivity. We especially see the difference when we compare the noise level of the Z7 at 12,800 Iso to that of the Z6 at the same sensitivity, the latter clearly has the advantage:However, we believe that the image quality offered by the Z6 remains acceptable up to 12,800 ISO (even if it depends on the use you want to make of your photos), like the Z7 therefore. But you will notice that if the noise becomes significant at 25,600 Iso, the contrast ratio or the colors hardly move (this is not the case with the Z7). This is a great advantage because if we do not try to have a large image, we can even go up a notch, up to 25,600 ISO without fear of getting a washed out shot.
Finally, although on paper it looks poor on the video side compared to the Panasonic Lumix S1 and its range of professional functions, the Nikon Z6 offers very decent performance in this area. The box is not intended for the most demanding videographers but it is capable of filming up to 4K 30 fps without cropping, which already is not the case with all its competitors, and allows to record the images in 10 bits via an external recorder, all in silence. On the other hand, and it is a pity, the device does not allow filming in HDR HLG (the standard for television). You will only have access to Nikon’s N-Log curve.