Basic Specifications
Full model name: Nikon Z7 II
Resolution: 45.70 Megapixels
Sensor size: 35mm
(35.9mm x 23.9mm)
Kit Lens: 2.92x zoom
24-70mm
(24-70mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 64 - 25,600
Extended ISO: 32 - 102,400
Shutter: 1/8000 - 900 sec
Max Aperture: 4.0 (kit lens)
Dimensions: 5.3 x 4.0 x 2.7 in.
(134 x 101 x 70 mm)
Weight: 24.9 oz (705 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 12/2020
Manufacturer: Nikon
Full specs: Nikon Z7 II specifications
45.70
Megapixels
Nikon Z 35mm
size sensor
image of Nikon Z7 II
Front side of Nikon Z7 II digital camera Front side of Nikon Z7 II digital camera Front side of Nikon Z7 II digital camera    

Nikon Z7 II Preview -- Now Shooting!

by Jeremy Gray
Preview posted: 10/14/2020

Updates:
12/22/2020: First Shots added
01/19/2021: Gallery Images added
02/02/2021: Field Test added

 

Nikon Z7 II Field Test

The Nikon Z series is better than ever with the Nikon Z7 II

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 02/02/2021

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens at 33mm, f/8, 20s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The Nikon Z7 II is Nikon's latest high-resolution full-frame mirrorless camera, and after spending considerable hands-on time with it, it's clear that it's another great camera from Nikon. The Z7 II builds upon the strong foundation laid by the original Z7 from 2018, introducing improved performance and new features while retaining the same design and image sensor as its predecessor. There are not massive improvements across the board, but the improvements are notable and of high importance to many photographers.

In this Field Test, I will discuss what makes the Z7 II an excellent camera while addressing the improvements it has made over the Z7 and what still needs work moving forward.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 280mm, f/4, 1/500s, ISO 2500.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Nikon Z7 II Key Features and Specs

  • Full-frame mirrorless camera
  • Nikon Z mount
  • 45.7-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor
  • Dual card slots
  • Dual EXPEED 6 image processors
  • Up to 10 frames per second continuous shooting
  • 77 frame buffer depth when recording 12-bit raw images
  • 493-point phase-detect autofocus system
  • Eye AF for human and some non-human animal subjects
  • 4K/60p video recording with 1.1x crop
  • Full frame 4K/30p video recording
  • HDR HLG video recording
  • 1080/120p video recording
  • Compatible with Nikon's new vertical battery grip
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Can be powered via USB-C
  • Available body only for $3,000 USD and in a kit with a Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 lens for $3,600
Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens at 27mm, f/8, 5s, ISO 64.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Z7 II body and design: Z7 II body has few changes, and that's mostly a good thing

If you put the Z7 II next to the original Z7 model, you'd be forgiven for not being able to tell them apart. The body design is the same, at least externally. The camera has the same size and shape, which is reasonably compact while still very comfortable. The 3.69M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder returns, as does the 3.2" 2.1M-dot tilting touchscreen.

The Z7 II is practically identical in appearance to its predecessor, the Z7. Further, it is identical to the Z6 II, save for the logo on the front.

The viewfinder and LCD are quite good already, but it would have been nice to see an upgrade to both. The EVF has a 60fps refresh rate, which is fine, but a 120fps panel would have been a welcome improvement. I also hope that future Z cameras implement a higher-resolution EVF. However, the EVF and LCD have reduced viewfinder blackout now thanks to the Z7 II's second processor.

Concerning the LCD, it's plenty sharp, but a tilt/swivel design would be an excellent change. The Z7 II's display can tilt up and down, but not to the side, making it a bit less useful when working in portrait orientation and when recording video. On a positive note, however, the EVF automatically disables when you tilt the rear display, which is a nice attention to detail.

The Z7 II's rear display can tilt up and down. The display cannot swivel, which is disappointing. The touchscreen display itself does work well, however, even in challenging light.

In terms of the overall feel and the control layout, the Z7 II is great. When holding the camera, the front grip is comfortable, and it's deep enough to provide a good grip on the camera, even when using a heavier lens like the 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR. The shutter release is in a good location and has a nice feel. Surrounding the shutter release are ISO and exposure compensation buttons, which is great. I also like how Nikon implements ISO controls in the Z7 II. When you hold down the ISO button, you can change the ISO setting manually using the rear command dial and toggle Auto ISO on/off using the front command dial. To adjust how Auto ISO functions, you must use the menu system, but that's understandable.

The overall control scheme is good. It would be nice if the Playback and Delete buttons were in reach of your right hand, but there's limited space on the camera, and the buttons to the right of the display are all useful. The joystick is used to move the AF point and works well when shooting, but you can't use it to navigate menus (something I find annoying). The directional pad works well enough for menu navigation, although you can use the touchscreen if you want, as well. The 'i' button on the back of the Z7 II brings up a customizable on-screen menu of useful, quickly adjustable settings. By default, this menu now includes access to Eye AF, which improves overall usability.

The Z7 II's rear design is quite good. Buttons are located in convenient locations. The joystick used for controlling the AF point works well too, although I wish you could use it to navigate menus, especially when trying to adjust settings while shooting. By moving the joystick, the Z7 II automatically goes back to its shooting mode.

Internally, there is a major design change. The Z7 has a single XQD/CFexpress card slot, which is a concern to many photographers. Without a second card slot, there's no way to backup images as you shoot. The Z7 II adds a second card slot, a UHS-II SD card slot, in addition to the existing XQD/CFexpress slot. This second card slot allows for easy backup of images as you shoot but can also be used for overflow or to separate video/still image files. It is important to consider that the XQD/CFexpress slot provides better performance, so if you are writing to the SD slot, you will see a difference in maximum performance. Nonetheless, it's great to have the second slot, and SD cards are certainly more affordable. I'm sure many photographers already have some they can use with the Z7 II.

Although Nikon released a vertical grip for the Z7, it didn't add additional power to the camera and was a lackluster grip, to be honest. Alongside the Z7 II (and Z6 II), Nikon released a new vertical battery grip, the MB-N11 Multi Battery Power Pack, which roughly doubles the battery life of the Z7 II. The grip is comfortable to hold and is an excellent addition to the Z7 II. Plus, the grip has a USB-C port, which is useful. If I were purchasing the Z7 II, I'd get the new grip as well. That said, the grip costs just under $400, so it is by no means an inexpensive addition to the kit.

The top of the Z7 II is designed well. Primary exposure controls are located near the shutter release, which is great. The top display is easy to read and is useful when shooting.

Overall, the Z7 II is a well-designed camera. The overall form factor of the camera is as good now as it was in 2018. The Z7 II has a distinctly Nikon feel while being more compact than something like the D850 DSLR. There are compromises made with a compact, lightweight camera body, but none are significant. I hope Nikon introduces a new display in the EVF with higher resolution and a faster refresh rate down the road, however. Also, a touchscreen with an additional axis for tilting and swiveling would be a nice upgrade. To some extent, I am nitpicking a well-designed camera body, but there is room for improvement.

Image quality: Z7 II delivers the same fantastic image quality as the Z7

The Nikon Z7 II, alongside the Z7, is Nikon's best mirrorless camera for image quality as the new camera uses the same 45.7-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor. The sensor has a native ISO range of 64-25,600, and the sharpness, tonal range, and colors at ISO 64 are excellent. The dynamic range is fantastic, too, allowing photographers to capture scenes in exquisite detail.

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens at 70mm, f/8, 1/20s, ISO 64.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens at 34mm, f/8, 0.4s, ISO 64.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

When shooting at low ISO settings, the Z7 II produces flexible RAW files, allowing for considerable latitude when adjusting exposure, shadows, and highlights. While exposing to the right is ideal in most situations when you intend to process RAW files, the Z7 II's sensor also performs extremely well when you need to boost exposure during processing. It's nice to know that if you either overexpose moderately or underexpose by a considerable margin, it's easy to address during RAW processing.

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens at 21mm, f/11, 1/5s, ISO 64.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

At high ISO settings, the Z7 II does a good job considering its high megapixel count. At ISO 6400, 8000, and even 10,000, the Z7 II produces good color, contrast, and tones. The dynamic range is less, of course, but the overall image quality is quite good. Consider the night sky image below. I made significant adjustments to the image during processing to bring out additional details in the Milky Way, but the overall image is still sufficiently clean. There is noise, but the grain is quite fine, and I don't find it distracting.

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens at 15mm, f/2.8, 10s, ISO 10,000.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The story changes when considering JPEG images shot at high ISO. The Z7 II, like the Z7 before it, is overly aggressive with its in-camera noise reduction, resulting in little noise, but at the cost of a soft final image. I think it's better to have detail and grain than a very smooth image that looks artificial.

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens at 20mm, f/5.6, 10s, ISO 6400.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

When it comes to colors, the Z7 II performs well. The camera produces images with good color accuracy and pleasing tones.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens at 200mm, f/2.8, 1/200s, ISO 2500.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens at 24mm, f/8, 1.3s, ISO 64.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Overall, the image quality is very good. Images are sharp and detailed across a wide range of ISO settings and shooting scenarios. RAW files are excellent, offering impressive dynamic range and a lot of flexibility during processing. JPEG files look good, too, although, as mentioned, noise reduction can be a bit heavy-handed. The Z7 II delivers good, accurate colors. Altogether, there's a lot to like with the Nikon Z7 II's image quality.

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens at 50mm, f/8, 1/10s, ISO 64.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Autofocus and performance: Second processor is most noticeable when pushing the Z7 II to its limits

Autofocus

The addition of a second EXPEED 6 image processor has numerous impacts on the Z7 II's usability. While the autofocus system itself is mostly unchanged, it is improved, nonetheless. The Z7 II has the same 493-point phase-detect autofocus system, covering about 90% of the image area in horizontal and vertical directions.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 280mm, f/4, 1/640s, ISO 280.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Low-light autofocus has been improved, and the Z7 II can focus in about half the available light as its predecessor, bringing its low-light AF rating down to -3 EV. In real-world use, autofocus in dim conditions proved to be pretty good. There are some instances of hunting in poor light, unsurprisingly, but the performance felt more agile and accurate than the Z7 did when I went hands-on with that camera.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 280mm, f/5, 1/1000s, ISO 8000, DX image area capture.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Autofocus features are also more robust. Nikon has significantly updated the Z7 since its release, but the Z7 II has even more going for it straight out of the box. The eye AF functionality, which works fairly well overall, can now be used in Wide-area AF mode. This mode allows you to constrain eye AF to a selected portion of the image area. Unfortunately, you cannot change the Wide-area AF box's size, which I hope Nikon adds via a firmware update. The Z7, on the other hand, can only use eye-detect autofocus in the auto-area AF mode.

Overall, the Z7 II's autofocus works well. The 493 AF points cover most of the image area, which is very useful, and autofocus is quick and accurate in many situations. Continuous autofocus is an area of some weakness, however. While the Z7 II can adequately focus slower subjects, faster subjects prove challenging for the camera.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 280mm, f/4, 1/1000s, ISO 1100, DX image area capture.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Likewise, subject tracking works well in some situations but struggles a bit with fast subjects, and the mode itself is cumbersome to operate. You must enable AF-C and select auto-area autofocus before you can access subject tracking. As I mentioned in my Z6 II Field Test, it'd be great if there was a one-touch solution to enable/disable subject tracking, rather than the user needing to select specific settings before the option is available to them.

The Z7 II's autofocus performance is good and better than the Z7's, but it's not great for every situation. Fast action is challenging for the Z7 II when using continuous autofocus or subject tracking, for example. However, for subjects such as portraits and landscapes, the improved eye-detect AF, excellent autofocus coverage, and improved low-light AF combine for a great AF system.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 280mm, f/5, 1/1000s, ISO 5000.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Performance

The second EXPEED 6 image processor pays dividends with continuous shooting performance as well. When using the CFexpress card slot and recording 12-bit RAW image files, the buffer is 3.3x larger in the Z7 II than the Z7, increasing total frames to 77 frames per Nikon's specs. This is an impressive increase.

I also did some testing with different parameters. Using a Sony XQD card rated for 440 Mb/s read and 400 Mb/s write speeds, I captured about 65 14-bit RAW+JPEG (Fine) images using the H drive mode. With the fastest H+ drive mode, the buffer filled in just under 40 frames. Recording only 14-bit RAW files, I got about 200 shots in H drive mode. H+ drive mode decreased significantly to 54. If you want 14-bit RAW files rather than Nikon's 12-bit quality for its testing, you can still expect a pretty good buffer depth. Importantly, the buffer clears quickly. The buffer cleared in 6-7 seconds when recording 14-bit RAW files at H+ speeds, for example.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 280mm, f/5, 1/1000s, ISO 4500, DX area image capture.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

In addition to faster speeds and improved buffer depths, the extra processing power afforded by the second EXPEED 6 image processor has led to a reduction in EVF and LCD blackout times, which further enhances the continuous shooting experience.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 280mm, f/4, 1/1000s, ISO 3600, DX area image capture.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The Z7 II uses a new version of the EN-EL15 battery. The EN-EL15c lithium-ion battery that powers the camera has the same form factor as previous iterations of the battery, making the camera backward compatible with EN-EL15a and b batteries. When using the EL-EL15c battery, battery life is improved by about 20%. The camera is rated for 410 shots (versus 330), although real-world use can be better than this rating. When using the EN-EL15c, you can charge the battery via USB-C, provided you are using a power delivery-capable cable.

Although not new or improved, the 5-axis in-body image stabilization works great in the Z7 II. You can use the IBIS alongside adapted F mount lenses as well, although the system then works across three axes rather than five.

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 98mm, f/8, 1/80s, ISO 64.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The second EXPEED 6 image processor results in improved overall performance. The Z7 II is snappier and more agile than its predecessor, and continuous shooting speeds, buffer depths, and the overall user experience are all better.

Video: 4K/60p video is a significant new feature, and the Z7 II is a good video camera

The original Z7 can record 4K/30p video, which is good, but the Z7 II takes things further with the ability to record 4K/60p video. However, 4K/60p video can only be recorded internally in 8-bit, and there is a slight crop. The 4K/60p video is about 93% of the FX frame width. The 4K/60p video looks pretty good in terms of video quality and exhibits good detail. It's also useful when you want to have 4K slow-motion footage, as you can have 2x slow-motion by editing the footage to 30fps playback or 2.5x slow motion at 24fps.

Nikon Z7 II 4K Sample Video Compilation #1
3840 x 2160 at 30 frames per second. See bottom left corner of individual clips for shooting information.
Download edited video (798.4 MB .MP4 File)

You can record 4K/30p (25/24p) video using the full width of the image sensor, which is nice, and the quality is a bit better than 4K/60p video, although I don't think it's quite as crisp as the Z6 II's 4K video output. You can also record 10-bit and 12-bit (external only and after a paid upgrade at a Nikon authorized service center) at 4K/30p and below as well.

As you increase the ISO, 4K video performance drops off a bit, as expected, although it looks pretty good up to ISO 6400 or so, in my opinion. Autofocus performance is good, and the Z7 II can record video using Eye Detect AF, something its predecessor cannot do. There can be some focus hunting in low light situations, but I found that autofocus was mostly accurate and decisive. For users wanting to focus manually, that works well, too, and the Z7 II includes focus peaking. The Z7 II, unlike the Z7, allows users to change the manual focus rotation direction with Z lenses (except for the Noct lens). It's a great option for those who need it.

Nikon Z7 II 4K Sample Video Compilation #2
3840 x 2160 at 30 frames per second. See bottom left corner of individual clips for shooting information.
Download edited video (1.36 GB .MP4 File)

In addition to 4K video recording, the Z7 II also records Full HD video up to 120p frame rates. It's not a special slow-motion mode; the camera just records a 120p video file. In the video above, I slowed down a 120p clip to 30p in Adobe Premiere and upscaled it to 4K to match the resolution of the rest of the video. The 1080p video actually held up quite well when upscaled.

The Z7 II is not quite as capable of a video camera as the Z6 II, especially once the Z6 II receives a free update adding 4K/60p video, which should be happening in February. With that said, the Z7 II is a more capable stills camera for high-resolution photography and still maintains an impressive set of video features and delivers good overall video performance. The improvements Nikon has introduced in the Z7 II are all great. The Z7 II is a versatile camera for photographers and videographers alike, even if it's not the best tool for a video-heavy user.

Shooting experience

Modes and special features

I enjoyed my time with the Nikon Z7 II. It's an easy camera to use, and it is a powerful photographic tool. For photographers who want to spend more of their time shooting and less time editing files, the Z7 II includes many great tools. There are 20 Creative Picture controls, allowing you to fine-tune the look of your images. You can also perform basic RAW processing in-camera, including numerous image edits and a cropping tool. It's easy to transfer these files to a connected smart device using the Z7 II's built-in Wi-Fi/Bluetooth and Nikon Snapbridge. You can also update the camera's firmware using Snapbridge, which is a great new feature.

Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens at 64mm, f/8, 1/5s, ISO 64.
Cropped to 2:1 ratio, but otherwise unedited. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

For photographers wanting to do a lot of processing on their computer, the Z7 II has a good Focus Shift shooting mode. You can adjust the number of shots the camera records, the focus step width, interval, exposure lock, silent mode shooting, and more. It's a cool feature for macro photographers and people wanting to get more depth of field in landscape images. I have a focus-stacked image below:

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 lens at 24mm, f/4, 15s, ISO 4000.
Focus stacked image. The sky image uses the shooting settings above. The foreground is a focus stack of images captured using the Z7 II's focus stack functionality, which were then edited and stacked in Adobe Photoshop. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the sky RAW file. Additional source files are available in the Gallery and are images 0991 through 0996.

The Z7 II also has an excellent built-in timelapse mode. Via a dedicated menu, you have control over the interval, shooting time, exposure smoothing, silent mode, image area, resolution/frame rate, focusing method, and where images (if you want them) and the final video are stored. I have a couple of time-lapse videos below. The final footage is detailed, and the camera makes it simple to capture time-lapses without sacrificing creative control. In both videos below, I disabled exposure smoothing, and the final output is 4K/24p.

Nikon Z7 II 4K Time-lapse Sample Video #1
Time-lapse video presented at 24 frames per second. Exposure smoothing on, focus locked with first frame.
Download Original (383.6 MB .MOV File)
 
Nikon Z7 II 4K Time-lapse Sample Video #2
Time-lapse video presented 24 frames per second. 6s exposures with 2s interval, recorded for 45 minutes. ISO 3200. Exposure smoothing off, focus locked with first frame.
Download Original (234 MB .MOV File)

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens at 16mm, f/4.5, 10s, ISO 3200.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 210mm, f/4, 1/1250s, ISO 720.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Nikon Z7 II Field Test Summary

An improved camera that delivers great performance and features

What I like most about the Nikon Z7 II

  • Same great build quality and design
  • The second card slot is a big improvement
  • Second EXPEED 6 image processor improves performance
  • Image quality is excellent
  • Good all-around video performance
Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S VR lens with 1.4x teleconverter at 280mm, f/5.6, 1/250s, ISO 160.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

What I dislike about the Nikon Z7 II

  • There aren't many singular huge improvements
  • I'd prefer a tilt/swivel display
  • Autofocus performance, while good overall, is not excellent for action

How is the experience with the Z7 II better than the Z7? The Nikon Z7 II looks almost identical to its predecessor, and it has the same image sensor and autofocus system. However, there are many improvements, some small and others more significant, that all add up to make the Z7 II a significantly better and more capable camera than the original. The Z7 II is unquestionably a more polished camera with refined performance and a robust feature set.

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens at 24mm, f/9, 30s, ISO 200.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

For Nikon DSLR owners still waiting to make the upgrade to a Nikon mirrorless camera, the Z7 II is an amazing place to start. If you want excellent high-resolution image quality, great features, and reliable performance, the Z7 II is the camera for you.

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens at 14mm, f/8, 1.3s, ISO 64.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

 

• • •

 

Nikon Z7 II Product Overview

by Jeremy Gray

The Nikon Z 7II (hereafter referred to as the Z7 II) has been announced alongside the Z 6II. The Z7 II builds upon much of the same excellent technology as is found in its predecessor. However, in many key areas, the Z7 II's capabilities and performance have been expanded and improved. Make no mistake about it, the Nikon Z7 II represents a significant upgrade over the Z7 and promises to take Nikon's mirrorless Z system to new heights.

Nikon Z7 II Key Features

  • Full-frame mirrorless camera
  • 45.7-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor without optical low-pass filter
  • Native low ISO of 64
  • Dual card slots (CFExpress/XQD + UHS-II SD)
  • Dual EXPEED 6 image processors
  • 10 frames per second continuous shooting speeds
  • 77 frame buffer depth when recording 12-bit raw images
  • 493-point phase-detect autofocus system
  • Eye AF for humans and some non-human animals
  • 4K/60p video
  • HLR HLG video recording
  • 1080/120p video
  • Compatible with new vertical battery grip
  • Can charge via USB-C while shooting
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with wireless firmware upgrades

Camera body & design: Identical design but improved functionality

The Nikon Z7 II has essentially the same design as the original. The camera features the same fantastic 3.69M dot OLED electronic viewfinder and a large 3.2-inch 2.1M dot tilting LCD touchscreen as its predecessor. Nikon has added a new feature to the Z7 II's displays as well -- the ability to turn off all shooting information -- giving you a clean view through the viewfinder or when using the LCD.

The Z7 II, like the Z7, is constructed using magnesium alloy and includes extensive weather sealing. The camera may be smaller than Nikon's pro-oriented DSLRs, but the Z7 II is built to the same rigorous professional standards.

The Z7 II weighs approximately 24.9 oz. (705g) with the battery and memory card inserted. The camera has dimensions (width x height x depth) of 4.3 x 4 x 2.8 in. (134 x 100.5 x 69.5mm).

While the Z7 II looks like the Z7, there are some key new features. Many photographers were displeased with the Z7's single XQD card slot, and Nikon has heard the complaints. The Z7 II includes a CFExpress/XQD card slot, as before, and adds a UHS-II SD card slot. This is great for photographers who want to use a second card slot for backup, overflow or even separating still image and video files onto separate cards. It's also worth considering how easy it is to find affordable SD cards. Most photographers likely have a handful of SD cards around already.

Image sensor & shooting modes: Same 45.7-megapixel BSI CMOS image sensor

The Z7 II uses the same excellent backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor that is found in the Z7. The sensor has a native ISO range of 64-25,600 and promises ultra-high resolutio as well as  high dynamic range performance.

In terms of shooting modes, the Z7 II offers the standard fare, plus additional neat options. The camera includes 20 creative Picture Controls, each of which can be fine-tuned to your liking. The Z7 II includes multiple exposure functionality. Multiple exposures can be done via the Retouch menu and include different selectable layer modes. Further, there's a Focus Shift mode and focus stacking features. For fans of long exposure photography, the Z7 II includes selectable in-camera shutter speeds as long as 900 seconds, a feature first seen in the Nikon D810A and then D780 DSLR cameras.

Autofocus & performance: Improved autofocus features and overall performance

In many ways, the Z7 II's autofocus system is like that in the Z7. The camera has a 493-point phase-detect autofocus system and all AF points are on the image sensor itself. This system covers about 90% of the image area, so the AF points are quite densely located. The Z7 II includes eye-detect autofocus for both human and some non-human animals, such as dogs and cats. A new feature is the addition of eye AF functionality in Wide-area AF mode, whereas before it could only be used in Auto Area AF mode. Further, you can now access eye AF settings via the camera's iMenu, giving you a quick way to enable the feature on the fly.

Further, low light autofocus performance has been improved, although it's not clear how these gains were achieved. The Z7 II can focus in roughly half the amount of light as the original Z7 camera, bringing its AF sensitivity down to -3 EV.

With its new second EXPEED 6 image processor, the Nikon Z7 II promises significantly improved performance across the board. Nikon told us that users can expect "more power, more speed and new features." In terms of shooting speeds, the second processor adds an additional frame per second of continuous shooting, bringing the new maximum speed up to 10 frames per second. Further, when using CFExpress with 12-bit raw image files, the Z7 II has 3.3 times buffer capacity, increasing the total to 77 frames.

In addition to improved speed and buffer, the new processing power results in a reduction in the time the camera needs to display each captured image, thereby minimizing blackout time when shooting through the viewfinder or using the LCD. With a greater ability to focus on the action in real-time, it should prove easier to track fast-moving subjects in the frame.

While not a new feature, it is also worth noting that the Z7 II includes 5-axis in-body image stabilization. Most native Z lenses do not incorporate image stabilization into the lens itself, but for those that do, such as the native Z-mount 70-200mm f/2.8 S lens, the two systems work in concert. Also, when using the optional FTZ adapter to mount F mount lenses on the Z7 II, the camera's IBIS continues to work, although it becomes a 3-axis system in this case.

Video: 4K/60p video is here with Nikon's mirrorless camera system

The Z7 II can record 4K/60p video, which is a sizable step up from the 4K/30p recording limit of the Z7. When recording 4K/60p video, you can only record 8-bit video internally and there is a small crop (about 93% of the FX frame width). The Z7 II can also record HDR (HLG) video when using an external recorder over HDMI.

The Z7 II can also record 12-bit raw video externally, although it is a paid upgrade enabled at a Nikon facility. When recording raw video, the Z7 II records in FX format in Full HD and in DX format when recording 4K video.

The Z7 II can record Full HD video in 120p and can record soundtracks as well, allowing for speed ramping in post-production. There is also a built-in timelapse movie feature, which now comes with the option to simultaneously record raw images. The Z7 required you to select video or stills, but you couldn't do both.

In terms of usability, the Z7 II now offers Eye Detect AF when recording video, a feature lacking in the Z7. For users of other camera systems, the focus rotation on Nikon Z lenses can be difficult to get used to. To alleviate this issue, the Z7 II allows the user to change the focus rotation of all Nikkor Z lenses save for the f/0.95 Noct lens, which is not a focus-by-wire optic.

Ports, power and accessories

The Z7 II has a USB Type C port, Type C HDMI port, built-in accessory terminal, stereo mini-pin jack for audio input and an additional port for audio output. The camera includes built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality as well.

The USB port can be used to power the camera using an external power source while shooting. The built-in wireless functionality has interesting benefits as well. You can update the camera's firmware wirelessly using the Nikon SnapBridge app on your smart device. Further, you can connect the Z7 II to a PC or Mac and use a free wireless transfer utility to automatically move images to your computer as you shoot. The Z7 II also works with Nikon's Webcam Utility software, which is currently in beta on Windows and macOS.

In terms of battery life, the Z7 II uses a new version of the EN-EL15 battery, the EN-EL15c. With this lithium-ion battery, you can get approximately 380 shots when using the EVF and energy saving mode enabled. When using the monitor, you can expect about 440 shots per charge. The energy saving mode adds 20 shots per charge in each case. When recording video, the Z7 II and EN-EL15c battery delivers 100 to 105 minutes of recorded video.

Alongside the Z7 II, Nikon has announced a few new accessories as well. There's a new MB-N11 Power Battery Pack with vertical grip, and when using the grip, battery life is extended up to 1.9 times. The vertical grip includes a secondary USB-C port for standalone charging and for simultaneous connection with additional external devices. Nikon has also announced new WR-R11a and WR-11b wireless transceivers.

Pricing and availability: New features, improved performance and a lower price at launch

The Nikon Z7 II will be available as a body only configuration and in a kit with the existing Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 standard zoom lens. The body-only will launch with a suggested retail price of $2,999.95 USD. Notably, this is $400 less expensive than when the original Z7 launched. The kit will retail for $3,599. Both the body-only and kit will begin shipping in December.

Nikon has also announced a WR-R11b remote controller, which will be $200 in a standalone purchase. It is available with the transceiver for $280. These products will be available in December. The new MB-N11 vertical power grip has a suggested retail price of $399 and will be available starting in November.

Nikon Z7 II vs. the Nikon Z7: Recapping what's new and improved

We've discussed various new features and improvements the Nikon Z7 II offers over its predecessor, the original Z7, but it's worth giving a quick summary of the Z7 II's primary advantages.

  • Power and speed: The Nikon Z7 II includes dual EXPEED 6 image processors, versus the single processor found in the Z7. The second processor results in the Z7 II capturing 12-bit raw images at 10 frames per second, versus the 9fps offered by the Z7, and with a 3.3 times larger buffer (77 frames versus 23). The newfound processing power also results in reduced blackout time compared to the Z7.
  • Autofocus: The Z7 II includes Eye Detect AF in both Auto Area and Wide-Area autofocus area modes. The Z7 delivers Eye Detect AF only in the former area mode. Further, the Z7 II has Eye Detect AF when recording video, something its predecessor doesn't offer. In terms of autofocus sensitivity, the Z7 II can focus down to -3 EV, whereas the Z7 can focus down to -2 EV.
  • Video: The Z7 could record 4K video, but only at 24/25/30p framerates. The Z7 II adds 4K/60p recording. Further, the Z7 II can record HDR (HLG) video, another feature missing from the original Z7.
  • Storage and charging: A big knock on the original Z7 is its single card slot. For some users, not having a second card slot is a big deal, especially for those who like to have immediate backup of images in their camera when photographing events. The Z7 II addresses this complaint by adding a UHS-II SD card slot in addition to its CFExpress/XQD card slot. The Z7 II can also accept power over USB-C when using a USB-C to USB-C cable, a feature lacking in the Z7.
  • Usability: Upgrading the firmware in a camera is often a hassle. With how regularly Nikon has been adding features to its Z cameras, the team wanted to make firmware upgrades a simpler process. The Z7 II can upgrade its firmware wirelessly through the Nikon SnapBridge mobile app. Speaking as people who must update firmware a lot, this promises to be a great new feature. Additionally, the Z7 II has a couple more usability perks. The camera now allows the user to remove all info from its display, including when using the EVF, offering a clean view for easier composition. Further, you can access Eye Detect AF settings via the iMenu now, making it a very quick process to change autofocus settings on the fly.

 

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