Nikon Z6 Performance


Timing and Performance

Average to excellent performance for its class.

Startup/Play to Record

Power on
to first shot

~1.5 seconds

Time it takes for camera to turn on.

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.7 second

Time until first shot is captured.

About average startup time to first shot for a mirrorless camera. Switching from Play to Record and taking a shot was about twice as fast.

 

Shutter Response (Lag Time)
M-shutter / EFCS / E-shutter

Full Autofocus
Single Point
(Center) AF-S

0.219/0.205/0.137
second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture using optical viewfinder. All timing performed with the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S kit lens at ~50mm.

Manual focus

0.066/0.058/0.117
second

For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.065/0.056/0.116
second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

In terms of the Z6's ability to determine that it's properly focused when shooting the same target multiple times (with no change of focus setting between iteration, to remove the impact of lens AF speed), its speed was good but not exceptional. The Z6's full AF shutter lag measured 0.219 second with the mechanical shutter (default mode), 0.205 second with electronic first curtain shutter (EFCS) enabled and 0.137 second when using the all electronic shutter.

Manual focus lag was fast at 66 milliseconds with the mechanical shutter, 58 milliseconds with EFCS and 0.117 second with the electronic shutter.

When prefocused, shutter lag wasn't much different than manual focus at 65, 56 and 116 milliseconds respectively, which is good.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance.

 

Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG
(Optimal quality)

0.39 second

Time per shot, averaged over a few frames (we no longer test for buffer depths in single-shot mode).

Single Shot mode
Lossless 14-bit RAW + L/F JPEG

0.42 second

Time per shot, averaged over a few frames (we no longer test for buffer depths in single-shot mode).

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous H Ext.
Large/Fine JPEG
(Optimal quality)

0.08 second
(12.0 fps);
47 frames total;
3.4 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 47 shot buffer, then slowed to an average of 0.14s or 6.9 fps when the buffer was full.

Continuous H Ext.
12-bit RAW (Lossless compressed)

0.08 second
(12.0 fps);
35 frames total;
3.8 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 35 shot buffer, then slowed to an average of 0.15s or 6.5 fps when the buffer was full.

Continuous H Ext.
12-bit RAW (Lossless) + L/F JPEG

0.08 second
(12.0 fps);
29 frames total;
5.5 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 29 shot buffer, then slowed to an average of 0.22s or 4.6 fps when the buffer was full with a lot of variation.

Continuous H Ext.
14-bit RAW (Lossless compressed)

0.11 second
(9.0 fps);
35 frames total;
3.8 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 35 shot buffer, then slowed to an average of 0.19s or 5.2 fps when the buffer was full with a lot of variation.

Continuous H Ext.
14-bit RAW (Lossless) + L/F JPEG

0.11 second
(9.0 fps);
28 frames total;
5.0 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 28 shot buffer, then slowed to an average of 0.25s or 4.1 fps when the buffer was full with a lot of variation.

Flash recycling

N/A

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer depths and clearing times measured with a Lexar Pro 2933x XQD 2.0 400MB/s flash card except where otherwise noted. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slower cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times were quite fast at about 0.4 second for both best quality JPEG and RAW+JPEG frames. (Note that we no longer test single-shot mode with just RAW files, as the results are usually somewhere in between JPEG and RAW+JPEG.)

We tested the Z6's fastest Continuous H Extended burst mode which supports continuous AF but AE is locked at the first frame. Performance matched Nikon's specification of 12 frames per second for JPEG and 12-bit NEF files, and 9 frames per second with 14-bit NEF files. Continuous H mode with full AF/AE support is rated at 5.5 fps for all file types, and the Continuous L rate is programmable from 1-5 fps. When using the all-electronic shutter (Silent mode), the maximum frame rate is a little slower for 14-bit NEFs at 8 fps but JPEG, TIFF and 12-bit NEFs are still rated up to 12 fps.

Buffer depth when shooting best quality JPEGs at 12 fps was good at 47 frames, a few more than Nikon's 44 frame spec. When shooting losslessly compressed 12-bit NEF files, the buffer depth was 35 frames, and 29 frames when shooting RAW+JPEG. As mentioned previously, shooting 14-bit NEFs reduced the maximum frame rate to 9 frames per second, but RAW and RAW+JPEG buffer depths were little changed at 35 and 28 frames respectively.

Buffer-full rates averaged from 6.9 fps to about 4.1 fps depending on the file type, but cycle times can vary a lot when the buffer is full, particularly with 14-bit NEFs.

Buffer clearing was pretty fast with our Lexar Pro 2933x XQD 2.0 card. We measured clearing times ranging from only 3.4 to 5.5 seconds depending on the file type, and the camera lets you adjust settings while clearing.

To see how buffer depths and clearing times varied with RAW file type, we also tested Compressed (lossy) and Uncompressed NEFs, at 12 and 14 bits:

Full resolution NEF
bit depth &
compression
Burst
rate
(fps)
Buffer
capacity
(frames)
Clearing
time
(sec)
Buffer-full
rate
(fps)
12-bit Compressed
12.0
42
4.0
~6.2
12-bit Lossless
12.0
35
3.8
~6.5
12-bit Uncompressed
12.0
31
4.9
~5.7
14-bit Compressed
9.0
41
3.4
~~5.4
14-bit Lossless
9.0
35
3.8
~~5.2
14-bit Uncompressed
9.0
33
4.7
~~4.7
Note: Buffer depths and clearing times measured with a Lexar Pro 2933x XQD 2.0 400MB/s flash card.

As you can see, shooting in 12-bit mode increased the frame rate but didn't have a significant impact on buffer depth, though clearing times were generally a bit higher. And as expected, clearing times usually improved as compression was increased, despite deeper buffers.


Bottom line, the Z6's performance in the lab ranged from average to excellent for its type. Startup and play to record times were about average for a mirrorless. Autofocus speeds were good as was shutter lag, though not exceptional. Cycle times and the fastest burst mode were excellent for its class, even rivalling some pro sports DSLRs in terms of burst rate (if not in AF performance), while buffer depths were pretty good. Buffer clearing times were pretty short, thanks to the use of fast XQD cards.

Battery

Battery Life

Below average CIPA-rated battery life.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Still Capture
(CIPA standard, EVF)
310
Still Capture
(CIPA standard, LCD Monitor)
380

The Z6 uses a custom EN-EL15b rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and dedicated charger, though in-camera charging via USB is also supported. Older EN-EL15a and EL-EL15 batteries can also be used, but battery life is lower and they can't be recharged in-camera.

The CIPA-rated 310 shots per charge using the EVF and 380 shots with the LCD are below average for a mirrorless camera, and keep in mind the Z6 doesn't have a built-in flash which only reduces CIPA battery life (it's fired for 50% of shots in the CIPA battery-life test). We highly recommend getting a second battery for your Z6. As of this writing, a battery grip is unfortunately not available for the Z6, though Nikon is apparently developing one.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of on fully-charged battery, based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions. While real-world battery life tends to be much better for mirrorless cameras, CIPA-rated battery life is still very useful for comparison purposes.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

 



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