The Nikon Z7 exceeded our expectations and then some. Now it's time to find out if the Nikon Z6 is an amazing all-rounder. Michael Topham puts one of the first samples in the UK to the test
Nikon Z6 Review: Image quality
For landscape photographers and anyone who demands a 45.7MP sensor capable of super high-resolution output, the Nikon Z 7 gets the nod over its sibling. For serious amateurs, enthusiasts, semi-pros and professionals who fancy a lower-resolution alternative that is well suited to a wider array of applications at lower cost, the Z 6 undisputedly makes the better buy. The sensor offers good scope when it comes to returning detail to dark shadowed regions and users will find they’re able to push high into the Z 6’s sensitivity range before noise becomes obvious and starts to encumber fine detail.
Nikon Z6 Review: Resolution
With Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom yet to support the Z 6’s Raw files at the time of testing, our files were processed using a beta version of Nikon’s Capture N-XD software. The sensor resolves a level of detail on par with the Sony A7 III and what we’d expect from a 24.5MP sensor that is equipped with an optical low-pass filter to reduce the effect of moiré. At ISO 100, the sensor resolves 3200 l/ph. This drops to 3000 l/ph at ISO 800 and 2900 l/ph at ISO 3200. Detail remains high when more is asked of the sensor, with 2800 l/ph being resolved at ISO 6400. The level of detail beyond this point starts to reduce as noise becomes more prominent, however the sensor still manages 2600 l/ph at ISO 25,600 and 2400 l/ph at ISO 51,200. The big drop to 1900 l/ph and 1800 l/ph at ISO 102400 and ISO 204800 respectively highlights that these extended settings should be avoided at all costs.
Nikon Z6 Review: ISO and noise
A close study of our test images taken through the ISO range revealed a very impressive set of results, with shots taken at ISO 1600 being almost as flawless as those captured at ISO 100. Inspect files at high magnification and you’ll notice very fine detail starts to be affected by pushing to ISO 3200 and ISO 6400, but both these settings yield useable results and users shouldn’t shy away from using them when presented by low-light situations. If you’re prepared to apply a little noise reduction in post, very acceptable results can also be achieved at ISO 12,800 as well as ISO 25,600 at a push. Push beyond this and the increased level of noise starts to have more of a dramatic affect on image quality so ISO 25,600 is best kept as your upper limit. The extended ISO 102,400 and ISO 204,800 settings should be steered well clear of; the greatly reduced level of detail is poor when compared to ISO 25,600 and ISO 51,200.