For Beginner to Pro: The Nikon Z 6II and Z 7II Make Great Video

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The outsides may say, “Stills,” but what is inside each camera screams, “Video!” The Z 6II and Z 7II from Nikon continue the company’s photographic excellence and expand on the Z 6 and Z 7’s breakout performance with twice the low-light sensitivity of the original cameras. The Z 6II and Z 7II are both full-frame cameras designed for still shooters and filmmakers ranging from beginner to pro. From the perspective of the video shooter, the full-frame sensor helps you create cinematic images, no matter what your skill level, without compromising the image quality.

Nikon Z 7II Mirrorless Digital Camera
Nikon Z 7II Mirrorless Digital Camera

Trust Your Gut

The 24.5MP sensor in the Z 6II is certainly no slouch. Full frame, with UHD 4K resolution, this BSI sensor exhibits excellent low-light sensitivity. Teamed up with the power of two EXPEED 6 processing engines, the camera can process images faster, allowing it to support 4K 60p shooting (in DX crop mode), as well as Full HD at 120 FPS, and time lapse in 4K. Two built-in card slots accept different cards, from CFexpress (Type B) and XQD in one slot, to SD cards in the other. This allows you to keep using your current cards, and transition to different formats over time as your needs expand. When you are ready for the ultimate in 4K resolution, take a long look at the sensor housed in the Z 7II, or check out the stunning images that the 45.7MP sensor captures. With such a high resolution and pixel density, Nikon has removed the OLPF filter from the sensor, resulting in stunning images with fine detail and no compromises, suitable for wide-angle shots, landscapes, and super-crisp close-ups.

Beyond resolution, the images captured by the sensor in the Z 7II have a tremendous dynamic range, and the camera features ISO ratings from 64 to 25600 for maximum color depth and clarity an any rating. As with the Z 6II, the Z 7II has dual EXPEED 6 processors. The combination of sensor and processor enables the Z 7II to record UHD at 60p with only a 7% sensor crop (in FX crop mode), and UHD 30p, as well as Full HD at up to 120 fps with no crop at all. Since the main difference between the two cameras boils down to the sensor resolution and data capture, and other than that the two are very similar and share almost all the same features, the Z 6II makes a perfect “B” camera to the Z 7II.

Focus Control

One neat feature shared by both cameras is the ability to reverse the direction of the focus ring. If you have ever experienced swapping between Nikon lenses and other lenses, then you know the surprise you get when you are used to focusing one way, and suddenly have to start thinking about focusing the lens in the other direction. Why Nikon lenses focus in the opposite direction of most cine-style lenses is a question shrouded in the mists of history, but it has been this way for decades, and Nikon isn’t changing the direction in which its lenses focus. This isn’t an issue, especially given that when manually pulling focus with a follow focus device, you could put on a gear reverser, and this would let you pull focus on the handwheel as you are used to, taking advantage of your muscle memory. Here, Nikon has helped filmmakers who pull focus straight on the lens. With the Z 6II and Z 7II, you can flip the focus ring direction and resume focusing in your normal way, allowing you to swap between Nikon and other lenses without having to think too much about it.

Autofocus

Autofocus has become a prized function in mirrorless cameras, and the Mark II versions do not disappoint. With 90% of image coverage, the Z 6II features 273 points, while the Z 7II with its higher resolution sensor features 493 points. Both cameras feature a rich set of autofocus modes that take advantage of their autofocus capabilities. It is worth pointing out that both cameras have twice the low-light AF sensitivity of their predecessors, and this is a welcome upgrade for shooters who are capturing cinéma vérité at night and don’t want to call attention to themselves or the camera with lighting, but still need to have the images they shoot be in focus.

I Spy

Nikon’s Eye-Detection AF is a great tool for the beginner and seasoned pro alike, especially when you are working without a focus puller. You can set the cameras to look for and find your subject’s eyes, and lock focus onto those, no matter where they move in frame. For animal lovers out there, Eye-Detection works not just on human subjects, but with dogs and cats, as well. Nikon’s Wide-Area Mode gives you even more control over Eye-Detection, because you can define the area that the camera searches, allowing the camera to focus on eyes in one part of the frame, while disregarding the eyes if they move to another part of the frame, allowing the others to go out of focus for great dramatic images. The autofocus features make these cameras suitable for capturing family memories, birthday parties, street narrative, events, dramatic moments, and even long-lens portraiture. Although pioneered for still shots with the Z 6II and Z 7II, the same AF functionality is available when shooting video.

Smooth and Steady

Running around shooting all day, no time for a tripod, and who needs a lock off shot anyway? Both the Z 6II and the Z 7II have 5-axis VR image stabilization built in. Smooth out your shots as you learn your craft, or take advantage of the stabilization to create handheld moves that you wouldn’t otherwise dream of. Use NIKKOR Z lenses and get the full functionality of the image stabilization, and be free to roam around unencumbered by shoulder rigs, gimbals, Steadicams, or tripods, knowing that your images will be shake-free.

Fix It in Post

Hopefully, you won’t have to fix it in post, but the Z 6II and Z 7II provide you with a choice of HLG and RAW via an available external recorder, HLG for HDR video files or 10-bit N-Log captured to an Atomos Ninja. With these cameras you can also output 12-bit ProRes files, and with a paid firmware upgrade you can record Blackmagic RAW over HDMI, too. This provides you with tremendous control for getting the most out of your image, so that the final images will be a matter of choice and not one of making do.

The Wrap

From stills to video, beginner to seasoned pro, the new Nikon Z 6II and Z 7II make a tremendous pair of cameras ready to take you forward into the future of your creative vision.

If you have any thoughts about, or experiences with, either camera or the Nikon Z-mount lenses, please feel free to share them in the Comments section, below.

1 Comments

I've been shooting with the Z7ii and new Z lenses since December of last year. Most amazing camera and lenses I have ever used! I love the new lenses and what Nikon has done to improve upon the already amazing D850 style Nikon DSLRs and F Mount lenses. 

IG: elmore_dan 

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