Nikon Z7 II Review

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Announced at the same time as the Nikon Z6II, the Nikon Z7II (more correctly written Nikon Z 7II) is a full-frame mirrorless camera and an update to the original Nikon Z7.

Although the Z6 and Z7 were Nikon’s first full-frame mirrorless cameras, and some might argue the company’s very first serious mirrorless cameras, they avoided that ‘first generation’ feel. They are both excellent cameras. However, there’s one aspect that many photographers feel is a mistake for a high-end digital camera, they each only have one card slot. Happily, the mark II digital cameras correct this and the Nikon Z7II has two memory card slots, one that can accept CFexpress or XQD cards and the other that’s designed for SD-type UHS-II media.

The original Z6 and Z7 got Eye-detection AF with Firmware V2.0. This was followed in February 2020 with a firmware update (V3.0) that extended the Eye detection to animals. However, this focusing just works with stills photography. The Nikon Z7 II and Z6II both have animal and human Eye-recognition AF that functions in stills or video recording.

Nikon Z7 II: Specifications

  • 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

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Nikon Z7 II: Features

Inside the Nikon, Z7II is the same full-frame 45.7MP backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor as is in the original Z7. This is a similar, but not identical sensor to the one that’s in the Nikon D850.

Nikon has paired the Z7II’s sensor with two Expeed 6 processing engines. That’s a first for Nikon, even its flagship DSLR, the Nikon D6, has a single Expeed 6 engine. However, the extra processing power is required to drive the Eye Detection and focusing in video mode. It also boosts the Z7II’s maximum continuous shooting rate from 9fps with the initial camera to 10fps.

Further good news is that the Z7II can be used with external flashguns when shooting at the fastest frame rates. There’s also a new Wireless Remote WR-R11b to control a wireless flash set-up.

Nikon Z7 II: Build and Handling

Nikon has again made the Z7II from magnesium alloy and there are dust and weather-proof seals around all the joints and controls.

Because of the additional memory card slot and processing engine, the Z7II is 2mm / 0.1-inch deeper than the original camera. I strongly suspect that this small increase isn’t noticeable, but if it is, it’s likely to be appreciated by some photographers as the grip will be a fraction bigger.

In other respects, the Z7II looks and feels the same as the Z7. The Z7 feels very comfortable in my hands and I’m confident that the Z7II will as well.

I find that the textured thumb-ridge on the back of the digital camera gives excellent hold and my thumb fits neatly between the rear grip and AF-On and joystick settings just to its left.

That puts the mini-joystick control within convenient reach to shift the AF point and navigate around the menus – although the easiest way to move around the menu and make setting selections is to tap on the screen.

Nikon Z7 II: Performance

Although I’ve yet to shoot with the Nikon Z7II, its image quality is largely a known entity because it uses the same sensor as the original Z7. The processor plays a significant part in determining the image quality from a camera but although Nikon has doubled the Z7II’s processing power, the company isn’t making any claims about improvements in image quality. Getting the exposure, white balance and colour as you want them is far easier with a mirrorless camera than it is with a DSLR because you can see the impact of the digital camera settings before you take the shot. Of course, that relies upon the viewfinder and/or screen giving an accurate preview of the picture. Thankfully, the Z7’s perform well in this respect and I anticipate exactly the same as the Z7II. The Nikon Z7 has a very high dynamic range which means it can capture a wide range of tones in a single image. That’s good news for images straight from the camera, but it also translates into greater scope for adjusting pictures post-capture. On those occasions when you might need to reduce the exposure to preserve the brightest highlights, you can do so in the knowledge that the shadows and mid-tones can be brightened in processing.

The Z7’s raw files withstand substantial brightening well. In fact, ISO 400 images can cope with being brightened by 4 or 5EV with only a slight increase in the noise level.

As the Nikon Z7II has the same sensor because the Z7, we can anticipate the same will be true of the new camera, but we’ll subject it to our full range of tests when we get a review sample to be sure.

Nikon Z7 II: Verdict

By adding a second card slot, the Nikon Z7II corrects the main concern that photographers have about the original Z7. Adding a second Expeed 6 processing engine also boosts the continuous shooting rate, takes 4K shooting to 60P, deepens the burst depth and enhances the low-light capability of the autofocus system. It’s a solid update, although it would’ve been nice to see a crowd-pleasing hike in the viewfinder’s resolution and a vari-angle screen instead of a tilting one. I guess that’s in line for the Z7III.

Check Nikon Z7 II, Nikon Z6 Price and Bundles 

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