Nikon Z7 II Review
|Full model name:||Nikon Z7 II|
(35.9mm x 23.9mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||64 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||32 - 102,400|
|Shutter:||1/8000 - 900 sec|
|Max Aperture:||4.0 (kit lens)|
5.3 x 4.0 x 2.7 in.
(134 x 101 x 70 mm)
|Full specs:||Nikon Z7 II specifications|
Nikon Z7 II Preview -- First Impressions
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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