Nikon Z7 vs Z7 II
Nikon’s Z7-series mirrorless camera is on its second generation, thanks to the release of the Nikon Z7 II. Although the two cameras look similar on the surface, there are quite a few changes under the hood. If you’re wondering about these differences and trying to decide which one to get, this article is for you. In the below comparison, we will be taking a closer look at how the Nikon Z7 and Nikon Z7 II compare to one another.
Nikon Z7 and Z7 II Specifications Comparison
Compared to the general-purpose Nikon Z6 II, the Z7 II is primarily aimed at landscape, architecture, and studio stills photographers who need a high-resolution camera with high dynamic range. Thanks to its 45.7 MP sensor, no low-pass filter, and superb Z-mount lenses, it is able to deliver sharp, high-quality images with extreme detail.
However, the same could be said about the prior generation Z7, which also has a 45.7 megapixel sensor and shares the same excellent lens lineup. So, does the Z7 II actually have any advantages over the Z7? Let’s look at the two cameras’ specifications side by side:
|Camera Feature||Nikon Z7||Nikon Z7 II|
|Sensor Resolution||45.7 MP||45.7 MP|
|Sensor Type||BSI CMOS||BSI CMOS|
|Native ISO Sensitivity||ISO 64-25,600||ISO 64-25,600|
|In-Body Image Stabilization||Yes, 5-axis||Yes, 5-axis|
|Sensor Size||35.9 × 23.9mm||35.9 × 23.9mm|
|Image Size||8256 × 5504||8256 × 5504|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 6||Dual EXPEED 6|
|EVF Type / Resolution||QVGA / 3.6 million dots||QVGA / 3.6 million dots|
|EVF Improved Viewfinder Blackout||No||Yes|
|Flash Sync Speed||1/200||1/200|
|Storage Media||1× CFe / XQD||1× CFe / XQD + 1× SD UHS-II|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||9 FPS||10 FPS|
|Camera Buffer (12-bit Lossless)||23||77|
|Shutter Speed Range||1/8000 to 30 seconds||1/8000 to 900 seconds|
|Autofocus System||Hybrid PDAF, 493 points||Hybrid PDAF, 493 points|
|Focus Detection EV Range (f/2 lens, ISO 100)||-2 to +19 EV (-4 to +19 EV with low-light AF enabled)||-3 to +19 EV (-4 to +19 EV with low-light AF enabled)|
|Eye AF in Wide Area AF||No||Yes|
|Eye AF in Video||No||Yes|
|Video Maximum Resolution||4K @ up to 30p, 1080p @ up to 120p||4K @ up to 60p, 1080p @ up to 120p|
|4K Video Crop||1.0×||1.0× (30p), 1.08× (60p)|
|Video HDMI Out / N-LOG||4:2:2 10-bit HDMI output / Yes||4:2:2 10-bit HDMI output / Yes|
|Video HLG / HDR Out||No||Yes|
|Articulating, Touch LCD||Yes, Tilting||Yes, Tilting|
|LCD Size / Resolution||3.2″ / 2.1 million dots||3.2″ / 2.1 million dots|
|Wi-Fi / Bluetooth||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes|
|Intervalometer + Timelapse Movie||No||Yes|
|Clutter-Free Live View Option||No||Yes; must be assigned to custom button|
|Oversensitive EVF Proximity Sensor Fix||No||Partial fix; EVF won’t engage when rear LCD is tilted open|
|Firmware Update via Snapbridge||No||Yes|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots||360 shots|
|Battery Life (Video)||85 min||105 min|
|Battery Grip Controls||No||Yes|
|Continuous External Power||No||Yes|
|USB Power + Transfer||No||Yes|
|Weather Sealed Body||Yes||Yes|
|USB Version||Type-C 3.1||Type-C 3.1|
|Weight with Battery and Card||675 g (1.49 lbs)||705 g (1.55 lbs)|
|Dimensions||134 × 101 × 68mm (5.3 × 4.0 × 2.7 inches)||134 × 101 × 70 mm (5.3 × 4.0 × 2.8 inches)|
|MSRP As Announced||$3400||$3000|
|MSRP Today||$2300 (check price)||$3000 (check price)|
While the two cameras have an almost identical appearance, most of the improvements on the Z7 II are delivered via hardware and firmware updates. First, the new Nikon Z7 II comes with two EXPEED 6 processors, which improves many aspects of the camera, including its buffer, autofocus, and continuous shooting speed. The Z7 II is able to continuously shoot 1 FPS more than its predecessor, but this is a small change when we compare it to the 3.3× larger buffer. When shooting in 12-bit lossless compressed RAW, the Z7 II is able to capture up to 77 images – compare that to the 23 RAW image limit on the Z7. This means that with a continuous shooting rate of 10 FPS, you should be able to shoot for almost 8 seconds before the buffer fills up. The original Nikon Z7 would slow down after a few seconds…
On top of that, the dual processors make it possible for the Z7 II to shoot 4K up to 60 FPS, with a minor 1.08× crop. (The Z7 is limited to 4K @ 30 FPS by comparison.) It is also capable of outputting HLG and HDR via its HDMI port, which the first-generation Z7 cannot.
Those who heavily criticized the original Nikon mirrorless cameras for their single memory card slots can now relax – the new Nikon Z7 II comes with dual memory card slots. The first slot is able to take both CFexpress and XQD memory cards, while the second slot can take both UHS-I and UHS-II compatible SD memory cards. As with all other high-end Nikon cameras, you can use the two types of media for different purposes – you can set the cards to overflow, back up, or save RAW files in one, while saving JPEG to the second card slot.
When it comes to new firmware features, the Nikon Z7 II is able to shoot timelapses while being able to simultaneously create videos from the timelapse files, which the Z7 cannot. Another firmware tweak is the ability to shoot up to 900 seconds in manual mode without the “T” exposure mode or an external remote (previously limited to 30 seconds).
Speaking of firmware, the update process has also been greatly simplified. You can now load firmware directly into the camera from the Snapbridge app on your smartphone without having to download a file to a memory card first, then loading it into the camera.
The new EN-EL15c battery delivers better capacity compared to EN-EL15b, and with the more efficient processing power of the camera, you are able to get more juice out of it. Although the number of still images when using the EVF has only gone up from 330 to 360 shots (per CIPA), shooting video continuously adds 15 minutes of extra power, which is great.
The new MB-N11 battery grip is nothing like the MB-N10 battery pack – it has real buttons and dials, as well as an extra USB Type-C port. Since the Z7 II has proper connections, it is now capable of managing a real battery grip with controls! If you are wondering why a second USB Type-C port is needed, that’s because the camera can now be continuously powered via its USB port. This means that you can power up the camera through the USB Type-C port on the grip, while using the camera’s other port for things like file transfers. Even the USB Type-C port on the camera by itself is dual-purpose now according to Nikon, so you can simultaneously charge the camera while also running the camera as a webcam.
Nikon also adds features to fix two of the Z7’s most annoying usability problems: a new clutter-free live view display mode, and a partial fix to the oversensitive EVF proximity sensor issue (the EVF won’t engage whenever the rear LCD is tilted open). These were two of our biggest complaints about the Z7, so it’s great to see Nikon putting resources into fixing them – even if the solutions aren’t totally perfect, like having to assign the clutter-free live view display to a custom button, rather than building it into the DISP options.
Next, let’s take a look at the image quality of the Nikon Z7 versus Z7 II. Has Nikon changed anything about the high ISO performance or dynamic range on the new camera?
High ISO Comparison
The Nikon Z7 and Z7 II have identical performance at high ISOs, as you can see from the images below (which are 100% crops). The Z7 is on the left, and the Z7 II is on the right:
Although the pattern of noise is slightly different at the extreme ISOs like ISO 102,400, the overall amount of noise is the same regardless of ISO. This is competitive with other high-resolution mirrorless cameras today, although a bit behind the lower resolution cameras like the Nikon Z6 and Z6 II. See our Nikon Z6 review and Panasonic S1R review for high ISO tests against some of the competition.
Dynamic Range Comparison
Even though high ISO performance is the same, what about dynamic range? Here are two images of the same scene, still 100% crops, recovered from five stops of underexposure at base ISO 64. The Z7 is on the left, and the Z7 II is on the right:
Just like the high ISO tests, both cameras have the same dynamic range performance, with no meaningful differences between the two images above. For reference, here’s how the original image looked prior to shadow recovery:
That’s a lot of dynamic range! To get images that look so clean out of such a poorly-exposed original is pretty impressive on Nikon’s part.
Given that the Z7 and Z7 II have the same dynamic range, all the prior tests we did with the Z7 against other mirrorless cameras are still equally relevant for Z7 II owners. To be specific, we’ve directly compared the Z7’s dynamic range against the Panasonic S1R and Sony A7r IV, and the Z7 came out slightly ahead. We also compared its dynamic range against various 24 megapixel mirrorless cameras, and the Z7 was clearly better than the competition.
As you can see, there is no difference in image quality between the Z7 and Z7 II. Instead, the upgrades are in terms of features: increased buffer capacity, dual memory card slots, better video features, and so on.
All these upgrades normally would come with a price premium. Considering that the original Z7 was released at $3400 MSRP, I expected the new Z7 II to be priced at a similar price range, if not higher. However, when I saw that Nikon actually drove the price of the Z7 II down by $400, I was blown away – that’s a pretty unexpected move on behalf of Nikon, and something many of us Nikon shooters really appreciate. With Canon selling its high-resolution EOS R5 at $3900, and Panasonic’s S1R going for $3700, the only other camera on the market that can match Nikon’s price is the Sony A7R IV, and only because of its current $500 rebate. This makes the Nikon Z7 II the cheapest full-frame camera on the market among its 45+ MP peers – and it has just been introduced!
Of course, because the Nikon Z7 has been out for longer, it’s now selling at much lower prices both new and used. If you’re trying to decide between the Z7 and Z7 II, keep in mind the price difference and try to decide if it makes more sense for you to spend it on the Z7 II or on better lenses for the Z7. I still would recommend the Z7 II between the two, especially if price isn’t an issue, but both of them are incredible cameras. And if image quality is the only thing you care about, again, the Z7 and Z7 II perform the same in that regard.
Personally, I applaud Nikon for focusing on usability improvements with the Z7 II rather than giving us a meaningless megapixel increase. Now they just need to focus on more Z-mount lenses over the next couple years, especially on the telephoto side of things. The lens roadmap looks promising, but we still need some lightweight lenses that go to 200mm and beyond, like a 70-200mm f/4, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, and 300mm f/4 PF.