Z6II - First Impressions


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Feb 6, 2015
Reaction score
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I picked up my new Z6II body this week, along with 24-70mm f/2.8 and 85mm f/1.8 Z-mount lenses. I actually purchased the first generation Z6 right before Nikon announced the Z6II, so I had a few weeks to get my feet wet before returning it to get the newer body. For some background, check out some of my prior posts, Upgrade path to full frame - DSLR vs. mirrorless, and Z6 - First Impressions.

  • The ergonomics are exactly the same as the Z6, however they changed the dimensions just enough that L-brackets from the first generation Z6 won’t fit right, and it will be at least a few weeks until something is available.
  • The FTZ adapter is the same, but I recently learned the part underneath that protrudes actually houses a motor used to adjust the aperture on F-mount lenses. It's still weird that it protrudes below the bottom of the camera body, but at least I understand why now.
  • The native Z-mount lenses are amazing, with lightning fast focus that is almost completely silent. The 24-70mm f/2.8 lens is a bit heavy for such a small mirrorless body, but significantly smaller and lighter than the F-mount versions, and still pretty manageable. The 85mm f/1.8 is nice and light, and feels pretty balanced on the body.
  • As far as lens selections go, my original plan was to go with all primes, however I opted for the expensive 24-70 f/2.8 for 2 main reasons - you can’t buy Z-mount f/1.8 primes for $200-400 like you could with F-mount, and various tests have shown that the 24-70 f/2.8 is as sharp or sharper than many of the primes at the same apertures. Unless I need a wider aperture or want a lighter weight kit, I don’t know if it is worth the added cost for those primes. I'm also curious how the bokeh from the zoom compares with the primes, as that could make a difference as well.
  • I didn’t really have a lot of issues with battery life with the first gen Z6, and the Z6II comes with an EN-EL15c battery, which actually has a larger capacity (1900 vs. 2280 mAh)
  • Switching between focus and AF area modes is just as tedious as before, but I’m getting used to it. They are set independently, so for example if I want to switch between AF-S single-point and AF-C auto area, I have to change 2 settings every time. Unlike Nikon's DSLRs, it does not remember that I want different AF area modes depending on whether I am in AF-S or AF-C.
  • EyeAF works at least as well as on the Z6, which I found to be quite usable. I haven’t used it enough to get a good feel for whether it is noticeably better, but I really wasn’t missing a lot of shots before. I read somewhere that it does a little better with sunglasses, so I’ll have to give that a try.
  • I’m not sure if they fixed the issue where it would you could not force DX lenses to be used in full frame, as I traded in most of my F-mount gear towards the new body. On the plus side, the Z6II only cost me about $350 out of pocket, so no complaints there!
I don't have any sample photos to share, since Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw do not yet support the Z6II. Hopefully there is an update soon!
I don't have any sample photos to share, since Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw do not yet support the Z6II.
Through a little research, I learned a common trick to be able to import Raw files into Lightroom before a camera is supported in Adobe Camera Raw by editing the EXIF header. Simply change the Camera Model Name from "Nikon Z 6_2" to "Nikon Z 6" and Lightroom thinks it is the first generation Z6 and can import it. In this case, I don't expect the rendering to be much different when it is supported, as it is almost the same camera and the exact same sensor, so hopefully I won't have to go back and re-edit these later.

There are plenty of apps that will allow you to edit the EXIF data, many of which are not free, so I opted for a command-line tool called ExifTool, which is available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. It's not as user friendly as the ones with a pretty GUI, but it gets the job done.

For this fix, the command-line is:

exiftool -model=“NIKON Z 6” filename

where filename can be a single NEF file, a list of NEF files, or the name of a folder to edit all.
The ergonomics are exactly the same as the Z6, however they changed the dimensions just enough that L-brackets from the first generation Z6 won’t fit right, and it will be at least a few weeks until something is available.
That was quick. It looks like Kirk already has a new version of their L-bracket available for pre-order.
Impressive rig Adam (I'm assuming). Your lens selection sounds impressive too. Looking forward to your upcoming photos.
May be a while before I own one...a long while. Just bought a refurbished D750 for my 35 yr old AIS primes.
Nice job on the comparison/review! I wish more reviewers gave the kind of details you did. For instance the body dimensions changing enough that the L bracket doesn't fit. While probably not a deal breaker for anyone looking to upgrade it can be an unforeseen frustration that most reviewers never bother to comment on.
What improvements do you see with the Z6II over the original Z6?
What improvements do you see with the Z6II over the original Z6?
Based on my real world use so far, EyeAF and subject tracking seem to work a little more reliably. Other than that, there's the obvious stuff like the 2nd card slot. Any future firmware updates that require additional processing power will certainly benefit from the 2nd processor, and probably won't be available for the first generation Z6. And lastly, the faster buffer means higher FPS in continuous shooting, which I don't care that much about, but more importantly the blackout period between shots is less noticeable which makes it much easier to keep a moving subject in frame.

But realistically, slightly better EyeAF and subject tracking, and I wanted the newer camera that was more likely to see firmware improvements in the future.
I did my first shoot using a tripod with both native and adapted lenses, and the design of the FTZ adapter made it a very frustrating experience. All of my Arca plates protrude too far forward when mounted on the body, blocking the FTZ adapter from being attached, so the plate needs to be removed to attach/detach the FTZ. When attaching an Arca plate to the FTZ adapter, all but my smallest plate get in the way of attaching/detaching the adapter from the camera unless turned 90 degrees, which means repositioning the tripod head. Switching lenses becomes a significant disruption to the flow of a shoot. This L-bracket can’t come soon enough!
Last edited:
Using this small mirrorless body with a full sized speedlight on the hotshoe is pretty much a non-starter for me. The weight never bothered me on DSLR bodies, but the same speedlights on this small mirrorless body with less of a grip feels so unbalanced that I can't imagine using it this way. Fortunately this is something I rarely do; in fact I recently sold my SB-700 and only held onto my Godox TT600 manual speedlights. I would think a smaller, and unfortunately less powerful option would be much more usable, unless the overpriced battery grip makes it easier to hold.
I would think a smaller, and unfortunately less powerful option would be much more usable, unless the overpriced battery grip makes it easier to hold.

Sounds like you need something like the old Graflex Speed Graphic cameras had. A dual grip bracket that holds the flash on the right and on the left a pistol grip with cable release, the camera mounts in the middle. The whole thing looks like a control yoke on an airplane, but it held it steady and the grip was sure.
Some quick updates after a few weeks of use.
  • The 2nd card slot is a life saver. I've never forgotten a memory card before, and always configure my camera not to shoot if it doesn't detect a card. That being said, I forgot my memory card in my computer twice last month. I didn't even notice until I went to import images into Lightroom because it just wrote to the 2nd memory card.
  • Apparently "z6ii" is a hot metadata tag on Flickr. I've been tagging all of my images with z6ii as a reminder to go back and change the camera model in the exif once supported by Lightroom/Camera Raw, and as such all images shared to Flickr have this tag. They also get 10-20x the engagement of other photos.
  • Having to change focus mode and AF-area mode separately is still a major pain. I haven't found a quick way to switch between AF-S Single Point and AF-C auto area with eye/face detect. This is the 3rd time I've mentioned this because it interrupts workflow every time. There must be some way to assign a shortcut to make this more seamless, but I haven't found it yet.
  • High ISO performance is amazing. ISO 3200 looks great. ISO 6400 is still usable without applying additional noise reduction. even ISO 128000 isn't too bad.
  • Overall this camera has been a joy to use, the Z-mount lenses are all an improvement in AF speed, sharpness, and CA, and I have very few complaints.
I discovered something pretty frustrating with Z-mount lenses during a shoot this weekend.

If I focus on a subject, then switch the lens to manual, it retains its focus point as expected and I don't need to refocus as long as the camera and subject don't move. This is very useful when taking family portraits when I am in them, I just need to mark where to stand and leave sufficient depth of field. However when I turn the camera off and back on again, it resets the lens's focus point. That means if I have a delay in shooting, then want to resume, I have to stop and refocus because it is no longer focused on the subject. This appears to be specific to Z-mount lenses, as I did not have this issue with the 2 adapted F-mount lenses I tried.

It's a minor annoyance, but yet another thing that interrupts workflow while shooting.

Update: On the Z6II (and I presume the Z7II), this can be changed in the setup menu under Setup > Save focus position > On. It sounds like this is a known issue with Z-mount lenses where the camera will focus the lens to infinity whenever it is powered on, even if it is set to MF, that was addressed in the 2nd gen bodies.
Last edited:
Here are some additional notes on EyeAF that may be helpful.

A recent shoot I did with my family provided a good illustration of both the strengths and weaknesses of EyeAF on this body. Since I was in the photo, I used the built-in timer with a wireless remote.
  • The first part of the shoot, I had the modeling lights in my strobes turned up pretty bright and used AF-S Auto Area with EyeAF. In good light, EyeAF worked flawlessly, never missing focus. It didn’t always pick the same subject, but with sufficient DoF, that didn’t really matter. I would up not using these shots because my son complained that the modeling lights were too bright and his eyes were closed in almost every shot.
  • The next part of the shoot, I left everything the same but turned down the modeling lights to 20%. I figured it should be enough to focus, but not so much that it was uncomfortable to have on. Without good lighting, the camera missed focus every single time. It looks like EyeAF fell back on Auto-Area, found the edge of the softbox in the foreground, and locked focus on that in every shot.
  • After figuring out how to configure the camera to stop resetting the lens’s focus after cycling power, including when set to MF (see previous post), I was able to just prefocus on the subject and leave it set when I used the wireless remote.

Side note, the Z6II will fire the flash as fast as the flash will recycle. There was some discussion of this in a previous post, but I had no issues whatsoever.
  • For the shoot below, I used the camera’s built-in timer/intervalometer to shoot bursts of 9 shots with a 1s delay between shots, and the flashes fired every time.
  • On another shoot, I had the camera set to continuous shooting (high) which is around 5.5fps, and again the flashes fired every single time.
  • For anyone wondering, this is with a Godox Xpro-N wireless transmitter, Flashpoint Xplor400Pro strobes, and Godox TT600 speedlights.

EyeAF with insufficient lighting
20201207-DSC_0586a by adamhiram, on Flickr

Pre-focused with AF-S Single Point
20201207-DSC_0641a by adamhiram, on Flickr
Some more updates; I am basically treating this thread like a blog now.

FTZ adapter
I am glad I have the FTZ adapter so I can use F-mount lenses, especially in focal lengths not otherwise available natively. However the design of this thing still just seems bad. I did a shoot where I used a tripod and alternated between 85mm and 135mm for wider or tighter shots. However the 85mm is Z-mount and 135mm was adapted, and the FTZ adapter canon be connected or disconnected when there is a tripod plate on the camera body. That meant I had to stop to move the QR plate from the body to the FTZ adapter and back any time I switched lenses. The L-bracket I have on order can't get here fast enough. Also, if you hold the camera by the grip with all of your fingers while removing the FTZ adapter, it will crush your pinky every time.

En-EL15c battery
This doesn't really impact anything, but I tend to keep spare batteries charged, and whenever I put a fresh EN-EL15c (the new, higher capacity version) in the camera, it reads at 94-96%. It is always 100% if I use it fresh out of the charger, but strange that it seems to lose that little bit in just a few days. It could just be how the Z6II measures remaining charge, and it doesn't seem to impact battery life in any significant way, I just like to see 100% with a fresh battery.

Weather sealing
I spent almost an hour shooting in the snow, and the weather sealing is great. No moisture got inside, the cold temperature didn't seem to affect anything, and I was able to shoot without worrying about the weather. Two observations: the ridges on Z-mount prime lenses (I was using an 85mm f/1.8s) are so narrow that they hold water droplets that can't be easily wiped off, and if the viewfinder is set to automatically switch between the LCD and EVF when it detects it is held up to your face, it only takes one snowflake or drop of water on the eye sensor to fully disable the LCD until you can dry it off.

Auto area AF, eye/face detect, and subject tracking in snow
This was the first time these automatic AF modes failed me and it was a little disappointing. I took photos of my kid playing in the snow, and understand that it may be hard to detect a face, let alone eyes, when everything is covered up in coats and hats and other warm apparel. However I expected auto area and subject tracking to work flawlessly - what could be easier than a kid in dark or colorful clothing on a completely white background - but it continually hunted and couldn't seem to find the subject. Perhaps it was the falling snow that threw it off; it was snowing pretty hard and every shot was full of snowflakes in the air, so the AI may not have been smart enough to adapt. However single point and dynamic AF modes worked just fine and I was still able to get some nice shots.
Now that I finished building my new kit, I figured I would summarize what I put together and share some final thoughts.
  • Nikon Z6II with FTZ adapter. It made sense to go the mirrorless route since that's where the industry seems to be headed and where Nikon is focusing their development. I didn't have a lot of full frame glass, so a used full frame body would have meant spending a lot more on F-mount glass that wasn't as sharp and may not hold its value in the future. For $50, the FTZ adapter to be able to continue using F-mount glass was a no-brainer.
  • Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 S lens. I originally wanted to stick with primes, but couldn't decide between the more useful 50mm and more interesting 35mm focal lengths, and I didn't want to give up the wide end or the versatility of a zoom without needing to carry multiple lenses. Reviews have shown this lens to be as sharp or sharper than most primes at comparable focal lengths, I just don't get f/1.8.
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.8 S. I replaced my beloved F-mount 85mm for faster focusing and much less chromatic aberration when shooting into bright light, and have been very pleased. While intended primarily for portraits, autofocus is fast enough to track
  • Sigma 135mm f/1.8 ART. This was the equivalent working distance I was accustomed to when shooting at 85mm on a crop sensor, and it really is a beautiful lens. It is adapted using the FTZ, and works flawlessly, albeit a bit heavy. I really liked the 105mm focal distance as well, but with nothing available natively, the Sigma was too big and heavy, the Nikon F-mount was prohibitively expensive, and it just wasn't that much different from 85mm to seem worth carrying.
  • Kirk L-Bracket. Kirk developed a new bracket specifically for the Z6II and Z7II, and it does a great job fixing the issues I had with with tripod plates and the FTZ adapter. It is very useful having an Arca plate permanently attached, especially for vertical shooting. I went with Kirk as a known reputable brand, with built-in tool storage in case the mounting screw ever comes loose, and included an integrated QD socket. Very nice build and perfect fit.
  • Really Right Stuff Arca clamp. To make use of the L-bracket on my bigger Manfrotto tripod, I needed to convert the head from RC2 to Arca. This RRS clamp is built solid and holds very well. It also needed an inexpensive Boss adapter to mount on a Manfrotto head.
  • Really Right Stuff QD swivel. I love my BlackRapid strap, and I recently learned of this system that is apparently used in the firearm industry. I found the QD socket in the L-bracket to be more convenient than attaching and detaching the BlackRapid screw-in FastenR, and for $12 this was an easy modification. If I didn't already have the strap, BlackRapid makes a version that comes with the QD swivel.
The smaller and lighter body coupled with sharper, faster-focusing (and nearly silent) lenses were just what I was looking for. Autofocus using traditional DSLR focus modes seems on par with my D500, and the newer Auto-Area modes such as subject tracking and eye and face detection work very well, especially after using them enough to understand their strengths and weaknesses. The gaps in the lens lineup are getting better, but everything still comes with a higher price tag, and being brand new means there isn't much of a used market. I also found it a little frustrating that Nikon initially launched f/1.8 primes, then skipped over f/1.4 and went right to f/1.2. I probably don't need f/1.4, but an extra 2/3 stops of aperture would have been nice, and the price and weight of their f/1.2 primes aren't something I'm looking for.

Most reactions