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Nikon Z7 II Narrows the Gap with Last Year’s Cameras

Two years ago, the Nikon Z7 arrived with a few lenses. Year’s end will finally round-out the lens line.

The Nikon Z7 II has arrived, with solid improvements for video shooters, including higher quality video capture up to 4K60p (3840 X 2160), and support for live-streaming. But with the Canon EOS R5 supporting 8K video, the video resolution support is underwhelming.

B&H Photo Nikon Z6 II and Nikon Z7 II Launch Event

Nikon Z7 II

Good stuff that fixes many of the shortcomings of the Z7:

  • Connectivity and control are improved, with USB-C, smartphone connectivity, dual card slots.
  • For still and video shooters, there are autofocus improvements.
  • A frame rate of 10 fps is possible with dual processors.
  • The camera can be externally powered by certain USB-C power banks.
  • Blackout time between shots is now “minimal”.

In terms of imaging performance, things have scarcely changed from the Nikon Z7: same-resolution sensor, still no pixel shift or multi-shot high-res mode, no star-tracking feature as with Pentax. No advanced features like automated frame averaging. Dynamic range unchanged as far as I can tell.

I’m not finding a single useful improvement for general landscape photography or similar. I’d be delighted to be corrected on that point.

Price

The good news is that with the price drop, you can order the Nikon Z7 II for the same price ($2997) as the Nikon Z7 was, and get a camera with a lot of improvements. The Z7 is now selling for about $400 less.

The better news is that the Sony A7R IV is the same price ($2998). So you can choose purely on features and preferences and lens selection, and ignore the price factor.

In terms of lens selection, many of the Nikkor Z lenses offer really beautiful performance in terms of secondary color correction, bokeh and visual impact. So I encourage readers to look at the system that way. However, neither the lenses nor the camera would be my first choice for landscape, because capture sharpness (optics + camera sensor and features) appears to be well down the priority list for Nikon.

Sweating every detail?

I can’t abide hyperbole that flips-off reality. But hey, it’s election season.

Absolute Immersive Masterpiece — This is the full frame mirrorless camera for those who sweat every little detail. There’s the ultra-high resolution of 45.7 megapixels with no optical low-pass filter. The power of dual processors. 4K Ultra HD video at 60p. The next-generation 493-point autofocus system. High-speed shooting with the buffer capacity to match. Two card slots. Tons of creative features. Flexible power options. Compatibility with a vertical battery grip. Wireless connectivity with smartphones and laptops and so much more.

Great—all good stuff in general usability terms. But for those who do “sweat every detail”:

  • With many of its lenses (most?), Nikon degrades sharpness and micro contrast by mandating sharpness-robbing distortion correction to correct significant pincushion distortion or barrel distortion.
  • The Z7 II EVF remains low-res compared to the Sony A7R IV (3.69M vs 5.76M).
  • The 45MP sensor was eclipsed by the 61MP sensor of the Sony A7R IV 15 months ago and has been around for 2+ years in many cameras. And Nikon lacks both pixel shift and multi-shot high-res mode.
  • Dual processors enable higher frame rate, shorter blackout time and better autofocus, but does image quality benefit in any way?
  • Eye AF failed badly when I tested it this August on my daughter with eyeglasses—so disappointing I did not publish anything—but it is now “better than ever”.
  • 900-second exposures without needing external control is something I’ve mentioned for years, so I have to applaud that. However, Nikon has always delivered “star eater” cameras far from ideal for astrophotography. Nor was I impressed back in August with the Z7 for astrophotography. What exactly does the Z7 II bring to the party, other than easier timing of exposures?

Glenn K writes:

Nikon's new corporate slogan: “Skating to where the puck was”.

DIGLLOYD: love the visual persuasion!

Walter B writes:

Reference the Z7II, right on.  I have the Sony A7R II and Nikon Z7.  Z7 great for roaming about the streets and focus shift shooting [focus stacking].  Miss the E-mount lenses and the adapter does not work all that well.

DIGLLOYD: sounds about right.

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